Product: Transport
Machinist's Marathon   (+13, -1)  [vote for, against]
Build it and race it

Simply put, a race from here to there in machines that the contestants build, entirely from scratch. If you want bearings, you must machine them yourself from bar stock. Want an engine? You need to be _good_.

In its first year, the contest will probably be won by some sort of crude single-speed bicycle, but later there would be different classes according to the tools allowed, so that the big teams with CNCs don't drive out the backyard enthusiasts with nothing more than a hacksaw and pop rivetter.

[edit] to clarify, the build and race phases will be separate. Maybe contestants will be given details of the course a week in advance - or maybe six months in advance, given the speed of the average home machinist. Running repairs are, of course, allowed. Encouraged, even - it makes the whole thing more interesting.
-- david_scothern, Jun 23 2007

Baked at [+9,-1]??
What about baker's orginality? I demand a recount! [Macdaddyx1, Feb 11 2008]

"And [normzone], competing in the file-and-hammer category, has broken down another time. The sparks are flying, ladies and gentlemen..."
-- normzone, Jun 23 2007

And we have another winner from the "Fuck it I'll just drop the tools and run school"!(+)
-- Galbinus_Caeli, Jun 23 2007

this is baked in more specific "machines" races- cardboard boat races, soapbox derby, lawnmower races, even robot wars to the extent that they race to bash one another to achieve the finale. and of course there are plenty of automobile examples. My son was on a team that built the race car for his university.
-- dentworth, Jun 24 2007

I don't think it is, [dentworth]. In all of the above, the vehicles will be built from purchased components attached to a chassis built by the team.

The proposal here is different: both the chassis and the components must be built from scratch. The options will therefore be limited by the capability of the machinist as much as by the creativity of the designer.
-- david_scothern, Jun 25 2007

I don't know, it sounds like a really slow and tiresome Scrapheap Challenge. Mind you, seeing someone attempt to build an engine from scratch would be quite interesting... Oh, what the hell [+]
-- theleopard, Jun 27 2007

similar to Scrapheap Challenge (US: Junkheap Wars), but using totally raw materials instead of spareparts. I like.

Personally, I'd be building a skateboard or rollerskates as the first option... and I would also make it a single combined race encompassing build and race. ie. slow build a quick vehicle, or quick build a slow vehicle
-- jonthegeologist, Jun 27 2007

Really, you could just give each team a big heap of iron ore. They'd have to gather firewood, build a furnace, smelt the ore, cast some primitive steel tools (perhaps using ceramic moulds made from clay dug from a riverbed), use these to make more sophisticated tools and then to make a crude vehicle, going and tapping latex from a tree if they want to make some rubber tyres... etc., etc.
-- hippo, Jun 27 2007

Why can't they mine the iron ore in the first place, if we're talking bare bones?
-- theleopard, Jun 27 2007

Bare bones might be useful for digging up iron ore; are reference materials provided, or does it take many generations to acquire suitable knowlege? (Can't say as how I have much understanding of how best to make steel from iron ore.)

Maybe all that should be provided is some warm clothing and a fast internet connection with a good search engine? +
-- csea, Jun 27 2007

How about two groups of babies left to defend for themselves in a small cornered off section of the World? No contact is ever made with these children but they are fed and helped indirectly by a group of civilisationeers, who also ensure that the growing children cannot escape.

See how many generations it takes the modern brain to figure out various engineering practices, inventions and scietific theories, without being taught them. Would be good for tv too.
-- theleopard, Jun 27 2007

...and after a few thousand generations, when both groups of descendants have invented cars, they can race them against each other.
-- hippo, Jun 27 2007

Now, that'd be worth watching!
-- theleopard, Jun 27 2007

Ooh, do I have to boil down the latex tree sap too? Do I have to make the mold for the tires, or can I borrow that? Damn these vague rules!
-- elhigh, Jun 27 2007

Real simple. You are dumped naked in the middle of the African savanah. You have ten thousand years to reach the moon.
-- Galbinus_Caeli, Jun 27 2007

Hey, wait a minute. That makes this baked.
-- normzone, Jun 27 2007

//similar to Scrapheap Challenge (US: Junkheap Wars)//

Therein lies the distinction between our two cultures. We're happy with a challenge, they need a war to make it seem worthwhile. Sigh.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 11 2008

-- jtp, Feb 11 2008

I like this idea. I'd probably end up with a crude pulsejet powered bike on the first run. although realistically, crude steam piston engines would be the go for performance : manufactuting effort ratio.

Grinding bearings that would not ... grind is actually rediculously hard with normal workshop tools. Everything would probably run on greased/dissimilar metal journals, cause they're easy, and not so bad friction-wise. I rather like greased Vee-journals for simplicity and stability. Hell, we've used oil impregnated hardwood bushes in a pinch before - you'd be amazed how well they work.

Sign me up right now. [+]
-- Custardguts, Feb 11 2008

Roller bearings might be easier.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 11 2008

//Roller bearings might be easier.//

How good are you at tolerances, case hardening and precise duplication? Roller bearings are near-on impossible to custom make. You'd think that large bearings would be easy to fab, but they're not. Everything about fabbing rolling-element bearings is hard to do. The required tolerances from roller-to-roller are <1/1000 diameter unless you want to blow the bearing apart in no time. A simple greased <or even very basic oiled> journal is a 3-piece easy task, and is at least 90% as good for a reasonably short life. That and brass is easier to machine, and makes the best journals.

Dead set, we have some equipment here that's very very expensive not to run. If a bearing fails and we don't have a spare, we don't even think about machining one up, despite our well-equiped machine shop. We fly the real deal in, often from sweden or wherever - at huge expense. We've bunged together a few quick fixes of the journal/bush type, even hardwood as I said before, but you just can't conveniently machine rolling element bearings that can compete with a simple bush. Unless you get your tolerances and hardness exactly right, they just grind themselves to pieces. I'm happy to hear from anyone that's done it and had it work, but it'll be the first I would have heard of.
-- Custardguts, Feb 12 2008

Instead, start with two bowls of primordial soup from which the two contestants must spontaneously generate self replicating DNA and evolve themselves until they reach a level of higher intelligence and can build a car.
-- DanDaMan, Feb 12 2008

//How good are you at tolerances, case hardening and precise duplication?// <backs away slowly> Ooops, okay, sorry. </bas>
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 12 2008

" Hell, we've used oil impregnated hardwood bushes in a pinch before - you'd be amazed how well they work."

No, I wouldn't. One year the rider mower I used for my summer lawn mowing job utterly destroyed its front wheel bearings. Dad punched out the remnants of the original bushings and whittled - whittled! - some cylinders to replace them from cured sugar maple. He'd already drilled the holes through the blanks first, but he didn't have a lathe.

For lubrication, he put them in a quart Mason jar full of grease and canned them. When we opened the jar and cut open our tester sample, it was greased all the way through.

Those maple bushings lasted for three years, then I sold the mower with the bushings still in place. The buyer was impressed.
-- elhigh, Feb 13 2008

random, halfbakery