Vertical Climbing Vehicles

Can you get a car to climb a vertical face, well yes! It’s not easy, especially when you’re dealing with crumbling textures and falling rock. You’re not exactly going against physics but you’re going damned close.

Speed alone won’t get you up a vertical surface. It is important that the surface you’re climbing is completely dry. You also need to give your vehicle a thorough inspection prior to attempting the climb. There are significant pressures placed on a vehicle when it attempts to make such a climb. Additionally, you want to be sure that everything in and on the vehicle is secured, the vehicle may be able to maintain a tenuous grasp when going vertical, but the stuff in your cup holder probably won’t.

Speed isn’t the answer to the problem of a vertical climb, it’s power. Welcome to the world of rock crawler buggies where tires need to be especially low and the center of gravity for the bodywork must be low as well. The engine cannot be close to the tires so typically it requires an electronic drive.

The tires must have a strong grip in them but there’s difficulty here too. Under normal circumstances, gravity is pushing down on the car and the tires – we’re moving into aerodynamics again here by the way – but now we can’t use gravity. So how does the vehicle get grip?

The solution is a paddled tire using the vertical force itself to grip it to the wall. With the center of gravity at the front of the vehicle and also as near to the cliff as possible it ensures the car is kept as stable as possible. Were this not the case the car would flip back and fall off the cliff. The best length of car, when you calculate it, is about 11.5ft (3.5m).

Another variable is weight. The engines need to be kept as light as possible. This goes against conventional thinking associated with off-roaders. One might think of a vehicle like an SUV or Land Rover, but these are no good for scaling heights.

A climber needs to be able to reach 60mph in 1.5 seconds and can only weigh up to about 575lbs (260Kg).

How does it reach the required angle? Before the car can travel up a 90-degree surface it must first climb a 70-degree surface, an impossible angle for most cars. For this reason, you need a strong stunt driver as it’s quite a scary angle and may involve some sliding backwards before reaching the cliff itself.

This is unfortunately just speculation as no car has yet been able to scale up a 90-degree cliff, even though a Jeep was reported climbing up the Sand Hollow State cliff in Utah. It doesn’t seem to hold that much water though. For one thing, a Jeep is too heavy a vehicle to confidently climb a vertical cliff. Secondly, the Jeep seems to be at a jaunty angle as if it’s not exactly climbing. Thirdly, the car is shown at the top of a cliff (perhaps winched down from the horizontal surface?) not halfway down where the aerodynamics could be seen at the fullest effect. Don’t believe all you read on social media!

Getting Children Interested In Cars

There are hundreds of ways of getting children interested in cars. As may be understood if you regularly follow us, it leads to hundreds of careers and side projects – go karting or visiting a racetrack for instance. But it ultimately comes down to the child themselves.

We just wanted to point to some, in case you have some time off this Christmas and want to do something fun with your kids.

Lo Tech

There are many different craft videos out there, telling you how to make a car out of popsicle sticks or even matchboxes (the business Matchbox was named after the practice of homemade cars). For the more technically minded there are videos on making battery-powered toy cars and propeller cars. There are videos about general propulsion and how exactly they move designed for young minds.

Or you could choose one of the many balloon cars designs, whether out of cardboard or out of Lego. It teaches children about propulsion, as the balloon deflates the car goes faster. Or you use a zip line or rocket to propel it. Again, videos to make these items are available online with simple research.

Robot Cars:

There are several online challenges out there for those who wish to design their own. Robot cars can be customized into different designs and by following online guides, step by step instructions are needed to bring about positive results. An Arduino car for instance works through a USB and microcontroller. It creates its own path through obstacles.

An Elegoo robot car (as well as various robot tanks) can be programmed online via code. It could take some time to become an expert.

Remote Control Cars:

Remote control cars may be thought by some as yesterday’s toys by some but options include:

  • Those which can be controlled via Wifi
  • Those with a HD camera
  • Those which may be driven in all terrains

There’s even one made for the Nintendo Switch that works with VR (Virtual Reality) to impose a virtual racetrack onto your floor. You can drive the remote-control car around the virtual track and compete with virtual opponents.

There’s a range of colors too, including camouflage green and metallic blue.

Other ways to Play, er we mean Experiment…for education…

Even with regular toy cars your child can make ramps out of cardboard, wood or plastic. Sticking a block in the way in a car could teach about what forces cause a car to stop for instance. They can also alter the height and length of a ramp to see how fast a car goes when launched by gravity.

Another thing to look at is the size and weight of a car. Why do small cars start quicker but larger cars in the end go faster? They can also experiment on which surface works for the toy car.

There’s also the possibility of marking out a racetrack on the floor with colored masking tape. It comes down to how much mess you want your child to make!

Depending on the age of your child and the amount you’re able to be involved with the project the “shed projects” that involve building the car or obstacles before using them seem to fascinate more than the items you may find in the stores. However, both are useful if you want to teach about science and technology, or pass on your passion for cars to your own kids.

If your child doesn’t enjoy getting their hands dirty, there’s still encouraging your child to draw various types of cars and trucks, just whatever piques their interest. Car design is a great career and who knows where the next car startup will come from. If you get them to keep it up, you may have a genius on your hands. They’ll be working for Elon Musk – or one of his competitors – in no time. Maybe they’ll be the next Elon Musk?

Car Color Matters

When considering a new vehicle, we car guys (and gals) often consider key functionality.  Number of passengers, storage capacity, engine size and type, etc.  We do also choose color, but how much thought goes into that decision?

If you live in Arizona, for instance, a black or other deeply tinted color means that we will likely be running our air conditioners from about March through October.  We’ll have to be careful when opening the doors as the handles can reach ridiculous temperatures, and, unless we chose a light-colored interior, we’ll scald our hands on the steering wheel as well.  This is why most people in hot climates prefer lighter tones.

One must also consider their driving habits when choosing a color.  Bright, flashy colors like red, orange (okay, atomic tangerine), and bright yellow stand out and are easy targets for state troopers on the lookout to meet their citation quotas.  White, grey, and tan vehicles are much less often noticed and typically sail past a brightly colored version of the same car, idling by the road while the nice police officer writes them a $400 speeding ticket.

In some cases, insurance companies have been known to have differing rates based on the vehicle’s color.  While it is not generally a blatant question on a form, the vehicle’s color is identified by the manufacturer when it is receiving its VIN number.

So, whether you are buying a new or used vehicle, take a moment to consider the implications of the color options available.

Best of the Web: Car Toy Projects

Were coming out with our own story about toy cars that help you share your passion for cars with your kids. But we found this one and thought it was really good. So build a car with your kids and share something you love.

12 Self Propelled Car Projects & More

Welcome to make it move STEM challenges!  Our Summer STEM activities are all about things that go, move, fly, bounce, spin, and more. Use the materials you have on hand to invent your own simple machines designed to move in some way, shape, or form. Get ready to design, engineer, test, and re-test your own things that move with the following STEM activities for kids.

Link to original Story

What’s the Deal with Food and Cars?

I have a friend who refuses to let anyone eat in his truck, he doesn’t even like people to drink water in his vehicle.  I have another friend who sees the footwell of the passenger side as the waste bin, tossing in fast food wrappers, receipts, cans, cups and straws, and the list goes on.  I’m not a particularly messy person, but if you get into my car these days, there’s a reasonable chance that you’ll be putting your foot on top of an empty bag, cup, or straw sleeve.

When I first brought my new car home, I did everything I could to keep it spotless, inside and out.  Yet somehow, at a point in time I cannot recall, my museum-clean car turned into a back-alley dumpster.  Just how does this change happen?

Do you eat in your car?  Do you allow “clean” foods like carrots or celery, or maybe a well-wrapped burrito, but draw the line at crumbly bits like cookies, crackers, or the worst of all – powdered donuts?  One could say that if you allow any eating in your car, you’re flirting with disaster.  One bad spill of the wrong thing and the resale value goes down the drain.  However, I suspect that the majority of you are willing to take a chance and at least have a cup of coffee once in a while.

Eating in cars has been a thing since families went on cross-country trips, since the invention of drive-in restaurants.  Cars have evolved from mostly metal and basic fabrics, with no accoutrements for handling food stuffs, to highly synthetic materials with heated and cooled seats while brandishing an arsenal of cup holders and mini-table elbow rests to accommodate our ever-expanding waist lines.

It is an oddity that while on one hand it has become easier to manage food in a vehicle, and on the other, nearly impossible to clean them.  Maybe the next iteration of vehicle selections will include options for eaters and non-eaters, who knows.  Until then, I’ll continue to perform my monthly ritual of hosing down the weather mats from the latest spilled milk incident, and my buddy with the truck will continue his regular passenger pat-downs.

Happy driving and … bon appetite?

Different Types of Car Jobs

Your ideal car job may involve racing round a track or chauffeuring a famous A-lister, but what other car jobs are there?

There are a huge number of driver jobs available. Many couriers are self-employed, as are Uber and Lyft drivers – working on behalf of other companies.  Some are employed chauffeurs or over-the-road semi drivers, pounding the pavement for a living.

An automotive technician looks at robotics, automotion, quality testing, and assembly planning.

They plan all aspects of the assembly, look at the tooling – how the car is built. There is a massive amount of analysis involved, sometimes a review of time and motion, sometimes to improve the quality of a vehicle’s safety system. This isn’t working on the factory floor, at least not all the time. 

Also attached to a factory is a sales manager specifically focused on fleet sales, more of a business-to-business salesperson.  They concern themselves with specialist accounts – like dump trucks, delivery vans, taxi cabs, police cars, and so forth.

A paint technician works with robotics to ensure the best kind of finish but is involved in all aspects of production which affect the car’s color palette.

A car fleet manager looks after a business’s fleet of company cars, checking in and checking out cars, and ensuring the proper use and maintenance of the vehicle.  They are responsible for ensuring that the vehicles are fit for sale once the company is through with them.

A used car stock preparation manager makes sure that the showrooms are fully stocked as well as updating digital sites – the virtual showroom. According to job specifications, this is more of a job for a people person rather than a consultant.

A diesel truck mechanic helps handle repairs of large transport vehicles, sometimes alone and others as a member of a team. The vehicles are typically handled in a large garage or maintenance yard.

Product owners of connected vehicles (those with driver connected applications/tools) look at the requirements of relevant businesses. What are their goals and how could connected vehicles help them? They liaise with different teams and work out what is feasible. There’s typically some involvement in business analysis.  They look at the requirements for each individual business as regards connective vehicles. Some experience in business analysis is required as you need to work out how the industry is fluctuating.

The After Sales Manager supports the customer after the sale takes place, checking in to see how they are enjoying their new vehicle, sometimes getting feedback about the purchasing process. They supervise the car after sales team and ensure they are competent and that they maintain customer service standards. They look at various marketing campaigns which focus on current owners.

When it comes to pit stop jobs (vehicle repair or maintenance shops) there are positions for tire carriers, tire changers, mechanics and so on, everything necessary to ensure the smooth operation of a mechanic’s ship. It’s definitely all about being a team player.

So, is your dream job listed above? Maybe you have found your secret vocation? Why not take time to apply or maybe take a training course to get you closer?

Foreign Pickup Trucks – Successes and Fails

Mercedes X-Class

What makes an ideal pickup truck to buy and what makes a truck that no one will buy?

Kei Truck

To look at the Kei Truck first; it is called a mini-truck, a very small, but practical, pickup truck. It is built very small and is classified as an ATV in some states. Subaru, Honda, and Suzuki, among others, manufacture the Kei Truck. It was developed from a three wheeled truck which could be seen in Japan even before WWII. It weighs less than a metric ton – about 1,500lbs (700Kg) and has a maximum speed of 75 mph. They are produced outside the US and are used in the fishing and construction industries. Unless you’re in one of a handful of states where they’re classified as an ATV, only Kei Trucks older than 25 years may be imported into the US.

The Isuzu V-Cross PCP is designed for both off-roading and traveling on country roads. There are several features you don’t immediately associate with a pickup such as leather seats, a gun-metal exterior, and heated front seats – just the thing for journeying through the colder states. There’s also a touchscreen and a back-up camera to aid your parking.

Unfortunately, a number of pickups didn’t succeed, like the Mercedes X-Class. This was only used between 2018 and 2020. Although Mercedes tends to make waves all over the car market this was a new area for them.  The engine had two different levels of power and had a design based on the Nissan Frontier. Ultimately it had some problems – it was tricky to turn, requiring an excess of 42 feet (13 meters) and was thought too expensive for most customers, not even reaching 17 thousand sales.

Did you know that a Toyota Hilux features in Back To The Future? If so, you are not alone. This bulky pickup has been available since 1968. It has “sports bars” at the front and a strong towing capacity at the back with the additional robust frame and why not take advantage of the cruise control and a collision prevention control. The music tech is also worth mentioning, the Smartphone integration. There are also test drive available from the website. 

The story of the Mahindra is a whole different affair. Its lack of fuel efficiency held it up during production, although it duped hundreds of US audio dealers into investment. The parent company, Global, was selling utility vehicles in 2004. It managed to obtain 350 potential buyers around this period. Unfortunately, it never got to launch.  Despite being planned for a number of years, the fuel emission certificate was only signed in 2011. Dealers paid to get the franchise but it all came to naught.  Several millions were syphoned into branding the product and even creating showrooms. The company later admitted the pressure was too great.

There are so many brilliant pickups out there it would be surprising if some different fall by the wayside. The working nature of the vehicle is important but so is comfortability and style.

Are Female Truck Drivers the Answer?

Clearly there is a worker shortage in many fields and as truck drivers are a crucial link in the struggling supply chain of goods to customers, there is a huge need for truck drivers in general. As an industry they are trying to hire ten thousand drivers immediately.

Even before the global pandemic logistics companies were being squeezed and they were running out of drivers. One reason is the number of accidents caused by tired drivers, or those suffering heart attack or stroke while behind the wheel. As a result, new health standard made trucking an industry likely to retire you at an earlier age. While the average nurse is over 50 the average truck driver is now 46.

New Truck Drivers

The average age of someone becoming a truck driver is 35, and a number of them are women—more than ever before. It seems many men have left the profession before the pandemic have yet to return. ZipRecruiter says that 83% of drivers are men probably because women don’t consider it a good industry for them, but this may be subject to change.

It isn’t just men leaving that creates extra demand for drivers. Home delivery is up as much as 43% over pre-pandemic days.

One of the main reasons that women might be attracted to the job is that it is fairly well paid. While many careers still require a college degree in order to achieve a well-paid position driving truck falls more into the category of a trade, where a short time of special training and a couple certifications can get you started and additional certifications along the way will open doors to increased opportunity. In other words it can be a faster change than say joining the medical field.

Another reason is that traditionally female dominated industries, like supermarket, retail jobs, and restaurant jobs were hit hardest by the pandemic which put a lot of women into the job search right when trucking needed to hire. The economic instability created a good environment for many people to consider a change of industry.

Yet another reason for women to switch to truck driving is that women already filled a bigger percentage of other CDL (commercial driver’s licence) positions. For those women who already drive minibuses or coaches, a truck isn’t that big a leap.

Short Haul vs Long Haul

Traditionally, male and female workers have shown different priorities in job selection. For example, women doctors are sometimes hesitant to pursue medical specialties, like plastic surgery, instead choosing to stay with family medicine, in order to leave the door open for family planning.

So as women enter trucking driving they are opting for short haul jobs, which keeps them near their families. It’s also a more competitive arena.

Long haul, or OTR for over the road as it’s often called, can make more money and is better suited to Owner Operators. The downside is that your are gone from your family most of the time. In other words because it’s lucrative but difficult and uncomfortable so it attracts drivers willing to buy their own rig instead of working as an employee.

The net effect is that it’s unlikely for women see the most money in their industry. Situations like this are what skew the statistics and make the pay gap between men and women seem larger than it may actually be.

It’s not just family consideration at play in their preference for local routes. While many women are adventurous and tough female truckers rated their safety as 4.4 out of 10 (which may be thought as the equivalent to “fairly unsafe”) in a recent survey. Long haul routes carry a greater potential risk and may be less desirable to anyone who is motivated by security. We’re not saying women are risk averse as a gender, actually statistics indicate it. Women get in fewer accidents which is attributed to a more cautious approach to driving, which is correlated to a lower tolerance for risk in general.

While there is no reason a female truck driver couldn’t do the OTR work they may not find it worth the money.

The Bad News for Any Driver

The bad news is that driving all day is a sedentary lifestyle, sitting in one position all day may lead to blood clots. It can also lead to injuries and fatalities due to accidents of some sort. Not everyone is well suited to driving for ten hours in a 24 hours period, and it’s easy to lose focus. Not that the truck driver is to automatically blame. Driving carries the risk of getting in a wreck so the more you drive the more likely you are to be involved in one, and the more likely you are to be injured in one.

Less drastically, It’s also quite a lonely job with irregular hours. Drivers are more likely to smoke or be obese but there are fitness companies out there which market themselves to truck drivers.

Still the Trend is Changing

In most employment fields, women are growing in numbers and trucking is following suit. Sexual harassment may be a problem since they are still a minority and it’s been a male dominated occupation for a long time. A smart trucking company would implement some training and policies to insulate themselves from potential actions taken by their employees.

A smart female truck driver who became an owner operator or one who took on OTR routes consider taking some self-defence.

Most female truck drivers we’ve talked to tell us it’s not too bad if you have a thick skin and set boundaries. They do not feel they are treated the same as men but acknowledge that it is getting rapidly better.

The practicalities of driving a cab for women is a trending topic of discussed online. It’s no longer difficult to find decorations that might appeal to women to customize the cab. Many designs can be seen on TikTok and Instagram.

As a side note, women are also applying for jobs such as driver managers and have excelled as CDL trainers. Some female truck drivers do earn an income north of six figures.

Time will tell if they take on training for specialty endorsements like hazardous waste or oversized loads in larger numbers, but it’s it’s likely that the trucking industry as a whole is heading toward a 50/50 workforce.