Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding the building and creation of mutant vehicles in Black Rock City
dustydan
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Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by dustydan » Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:08 am

Hey burners,

After being to the playa a few times, a group of ppl from our camp decided to get together and try to create something fun. We already have quite a few ideas which should complement playa esthetically and, at the same time, be functional for the community but we wanted to know the CONS and PROS on building the art car. what were the challenges ppl faced while working on the project? Starting with the application process and ending with traveling to the event and storing the vehicle. Are there any hidden caveats we're not budgeting/preparing for?! All of your input and advice is sincerely appreciated!

DustyDan

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Meat Hunter » Mon Nov 30, 2015 10:26 am

The first questions that i would ask would be not so much about building the art car, but after a number of individuals put different amounts of money and sweat equity into it:
(1) In whose name will it be titled?
(2) When the group splits (and they eventually will split) who will own the vehicle?

Good luck with your project and I am looking forward to seeing it on the playa.
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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Sham » Mon Nov 30, 2015 11:33 am

Several of our camp mates own various art cars and mutant vehicles. Each owner is responsible for their vehicle in every aspect--maintain, transport and fuel. Most of these vehicles are used year round, so the owners get some great satisfaction and fun from them. Once a vehicle becomes a group effort, all hell breaks loose. Try to avoid an artcar by committee.

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Nov 30, 2015 1:47 pm

I've been building and owning these things a really long time.
What Sham and Meat Hunter have said is exactly right. Very right.
Beyond that, I can give you lots of solid info and advice, but we need to narrow down this wide-open topic.
It all starts with what you can haul. Have you got a truck and a trailer, and how big?
Next question, what skill set are you working with? Are any of you good mechanics and/or fabricators?
What conditions are you working in, big shop, backyard, rented urban space?
Mutant vehicles are a keleidescope of engineering. They can be a redecorated golf cart (which is lame and getting harder to license) all the way to a full custom creation.
What have you got in mind?

To give some answer to what you asked, the cons are many. Expensive and troublesome describe most of them. Bringing an MV to Burning Man usually means bringing tons of spare parts, lots of tools, and spending at least one whole day or night wrenching in it to fix something.
Drunk or irresponsible random idiots will run up and jump on while you're driving. People sometimes expect taxi service. People grab or step on or break stuff on it.
You don't get to drink because you have to drive and yes you can get a real DUI out there.

Pros? They're fun when they aren't hell!
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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Ratty » Mon Nov 30, 2015 4:59 pm

Well put Capt. I think a lot of people envision themselves cruising around like 'dragging Main St.' Ha! I was married to a drag racer. A year of drinking coffee out of grease smeared mugs through the night. Then a few seconds of glory, (or not). I can only imagine that at the burn it becomes a daily chore. Cleaning, fixing, replacing repeat.....
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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by uncle sticky » Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:04 pm

MV's are what makes BM BM. They are the most uniquely playa artistic genre, and as such, you must build one. Be forewarned, it's going to suck. I've built four now, and it always sucks. This last year, I scaled way back to make it easy. It wasn't.

Building it was very time consuming and frustrating. Lighting is always much more complex than you think. I almost got banned from the boards because of heated discussions about towing the thing out there. Most of my lighting got destroyed in transport. After a few good days or cruising, my clutch failed. That was a pretty good year. You end up being a slave to the thing, and your entire camp wants to ride on it, which means you get to herd cats, and then have a constant parliamentary debate to get anywhere and see anything.
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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by dustydan » Tue Dec 01, 2015 8:55 am

I'm happy to see all these responses already and can't thank enough all of you for your support and advice. So what we've envisioned so far was: submit the MV app for a few different concepts (never done that so any pointers on this would be most helpful too), once approved, to buy a school bus (or something similar), build it out first in the backyard, disassemble it and store the parts inside the bus while driving it to the BM. park it nearby after the event. I know this sounds simple and easy but we realize it won't be once we get going with the project... Now with more specific questions we have about the project.... What's the application process like? Are there any specifics we need to pay attention to? What's the best "material" to use for the project? We're thinking wood, pvc, fabrics, led lighting... We're hoping to apply for night permit as well, what's the best way to lit up the MV? Taking into consideration all of the elements, what are the mechanical challenges we're most likely to encounter out on the playa (air filter, overheating, etc). How stringent are the folks at the dmv when inspecting MV? That's all I could think of right now...plz don't hesitate to point out anything we haven't consider!!!

dD

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Dr Helix » Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:17 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:I've been building and owning these things a really long time.
What Sham and Meat Hunter have said is exactly right. Very right.
Beyond that, I can give you lots of solid info and advice, but we need to narrow down this wide-open topic.
It all starts with what you can haul. Have you got a truck and a trailer, and how big?
Next question, what skill set are you working with? Are any of you good mechanics and/or fabricators?
What conditions are you working in, big shop, backyard, rented urban space?
Mutant vehicles are a keleidescope of engineering. They can be a redecorated golf cart (which is lame and getting harder to license) all the way to a full custom creation.
What have you got in mind?

To give some answer to what you asked, the cons are many. Expensive and troublesome describe most of them. Bringing an MV to Burning Man usually means bringing tons of spare parts, lots of tools, and spending at least one whole day or night wrenching in it to fix something.
Drunk or irresponsible random idiots will run up and jump on while you're driving. People sometimes expect taxi service. People grab or step on or break stuff on it.
You don't get to drink because you have to drive and yes you can get a real DUI out there.

Pros? They're fun when they aren't hell!
So are you calling my little truck a "redecorated golf cart?" Oh the shame! The hurt! And to think I let you drive it.
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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by ranger magnum » Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:59 pm

One more thing no one brought up....

Liability.

If someone gets really hurt or dead, you are in for years of litigation, even if you form an llc. Plus what captain said. And everyone else.
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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Admiral Fukkit » Tue Dec 01, 2015 7:02 pm

Dr. Helix... almost every past Burning Man is a blur in my mind but I specifically remember trading MVs with you and driving your extremely cool rig! Love it!! That is not simply a gold cart with tin foil and xmas lights! I'm a huge fan!

So about DMV licensing... presenting several possible concepts isn't a good idea. The DMV cannot work with that. Your application needs to be very specific. They can't make a decision to invite you or not unless it's very clear exactly what you intend to bring.
When attempting to license a bus-based MV, an important point is to "mutate" it ENTIRELY. There should be NO bus showing.
It should not look like a bus holding up whatever-it-is. It needs to be "magic".
The best way to light an MV all depends on what you're building. That's a whole topic in itself too.

Buying a school bus is a whole huge topic in itself. There's a very long topic on eplaya titled "School Bus 101" that you need to look up and read. There's a forum, skoolie.net, devoted to school busses, definitely go check that out too. DO NOT buy a bus before you read up on the eplaya thread at bare minimum! There are great deals to be had, and terrible lemons to avoid.

It's a big undertaking and a lot of shit to deal with, but to those of us who love these things, it's all worth it.
Or not, maybe we're just gluttons for punishment. Welcome to the asylum!

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by dustydan » Tue Dec 01, 2015 9:33 pm

Looks like admiral has lost his ship .....

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Sham » Wed Dec 02, 2015 4:57 pm

I would aim to have your MV benefit a larger part of the community. In other words, have it transport lots of people. As was said before, completely mutate the vehicle with a clear theme in mind and add a very creative façade and funky lighting. Work to make your MV the most exciting and outstanding rolling piece of art on the playa. If that is your aim, you are nearly 100% insured to be licensed.

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Dr Helix » Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:31 am

Admiral Fukkit wrote:Dr. Helix... almost every past Burning Man is a blur in my mind but I specifically remember trading MVs with you and driving your extremely cool rig! Love it!! That is not simply a gold cart with tin foil and xmas lights! I'm a huge fan!

So about DMV licensing... presenting several possible concepts isn't a good idea. The DMV cannot work with that. Your application needs to be very specific. They can't make a decision to invite you or not unless it's very clear exactly what you intend to bring.
When attempting to license a bus-based MV, an important point is to "mutate" it ENTIRELY. There should be NO bus showing.
It should not look like a bus holding up whatever-it-is. It needs to be "magic".
The best way to light an MV all depends on what you're building. That's a whole topic in itself too.

Buying a school bus is a whole huge topic in itself. There's a very long topic on eplaya titled "School Bus 101" that you need to look up and read. There's a forum, skoolie.net, devoted to school busses, definitely go check that out too. DO NOT buy a bus before you read up on the eplaya thread at bare minimum! There are great deals to be had, and terrible lemons to avoid.

It's a big undertaking and a lot of shit to deal with, but to those of us who love these things, it's all worth it.
Or not, maybe we're just gluttons for punishment. Welcome to the asylum!
I was just working you Admiral. Driving your boat was a highlight for me as well.

I can't echo enough the importance of making sure you have an interactive element to your MV. ESPECIALLY if it is a small one. Most of these "little" MV's are viewed as a thinly veiled attempt to have a personal vehicle to tool around in. I have a small semi truck and trailer car that I built that can haul 4-5 in the trailer. I volunteer on Art Tours for the Artery with it and also pick up random people out on the playa and their gear. It also has a handicap ramp that folds down for wheelchair folks. They roll up and in and we're off. And the most common question that I get when people see it is "what's it made from?" I think all these things have helped me year after year in being invited to bring it out to the playa. And I am always looking for ways to make it more versatile so that I continue to be invited.
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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by trilobyte » Fri Dec 04, 2015 7:06 am

A couple important things to consider. First, money. It will cost fuckloads more than you think or want to spend. No matter what your budget is. I'm a logistics and project management guy, and believe me when I tell you that "spiraling out of control" is a best case scenario when building your first, and probably also your second mutant vehicle. Second, work. It will require a lot more work than you think. From simple mechanical stuff to structural, electronic, and lighting stuff, everything will take longer than you think. Your team needs to be committed and willing to put in ridiculously long hours in their spare time (outside of work and whatnot) for months and months, and even then you will almost certainly wind up scrambling to get ready to leave for the playa.

If you're doing it because you're passionate about the art and the project, and you think you can make something awesome that makes people go "oh wow, that's awesome!" then by all means, go for it. If it's anything other than that, reconsider the idea or at least keep it on the back burner until it becomes a passion project that you're all willing to pour heart, soul, and wallets into.

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Sham » Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:15 am

The transporting of my artcar from the east coast to the playa (which included several stops for artcar events etc.) was around $15K. Once again, if your thoughts on building a MV is just for some easy convenience to get around the playa, consider a bicycle for that. Depending on what design and base you choose for your MV, you can plan on spending around $50K for something presentable. You can possibly plan for other uses for your MV, such as various parades during the year or some advertising when not on the playa.

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Captain Goddammit » Fri Dec 04, 2015 12:54 pm

Well now you can certainly do an MV for a lot less than $50k!!
I have a small fraction of that into mine.
But if you insist on bus-size, it could get there easy if you haven't got lots of skills and resources.
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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by trilobyte » Fri Dec 04, 2015 5:06 pm

I've given this a nudge to the newly created 'Building Mutant Vehicles' board, since that's a better fit.

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Paperman » Fri Dec 04, 2015 10:05 pm

Well it's better too be safe then sorry? If you have a small car, truck that you aren't serious about the paint and you own it, then I can help you with modifications that can be attached to it on site. I build in a minimal way, then when it works build up from there. We can use wood frames and papermache'
to create most any thing. Drive the small truck there unload the very light weight panels and antlers
wings etc. and attach. every part is almost as strong as wood and can be easily repared on site. I'm looking for a vehicle to build on but can't build it here so might have to support someone else's project.
I'm a teacher also , so if you need some help brain storming on concept shoot me a email.

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Captain Goddammit » Sat Dec 05, 2015 12:56 am

That's "art car" thinking, not so much "mutant vehicle" thinking. Decorating a still-streetable car is pretty tough to do and successfully pull off a good MV for BRC. Most arrive on trailers, having been modified beyond recognition or custom built in the first place.
It can be done but remember, "art cars" don't get licensed. vehicles entirely unrecognizable as any existing factory street vehicle do.
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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by dustydan » Mon Dec 07, 2015 9:45 am

Thank you, all - this's been great so far and I hope it'll keep on growing with our project! I'm glad we've decided to create this post as this forum has put so many things in perspective for us since. As a result, we reevaluated our process from creative and budgetary approaches.

We, as a group, understand the responsibility of undertaking on this magical project and, once committed to it, we will see it to the end. We hope for your continued support and open mindness as we believe that esthetically pleasing structured don't have to be expensive if built using creative thinking.

Believe me when I tell you that I'd be the first one to shut down the project if the "wow effect" isn't there - we've been to playa and seen it's creations and wouldn't want to create an eyesore. We wanted our project to be relevant in it's appearance to the environment (playa elements) and functional for the community, like every other MV. So after lengthy research, (which wasn't easy bc all of the MVs out there!!!) we've finally agreed on a concept. To us, visual aspect of the project is a top priority with added value for community use. At the same time, we think durability too as we don't want it to fall apart under duress of playa/elements!

Next topic will be our budget and provisions for overages. To somewhat accurately access our budget with respect to the visual aspect of the project, (not counting in the bus/truck) I proposed to create a "sample" panel which will represent a small portion of what the MV will look like when it'll be finished. Since we wanted to use unconventional materials for the exterior of the MV in conjunction with various lighting effects, I suggested to come up with a 6x6 piece made out of proposed material to evaluate and agree on visual appearance. Once that is established, we could simply multiply it by however much we need to cover the entire bus and that should give us somewhat an accurate estimate of art expenses + frame, truck, travel and about 33% for unforeseen expenses.

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Dec 07, 2015 1:28 pm

So the burning question is, what have you got in mind?!
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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by maladroit » Tue Dec 08, 2015 4:39 pm

I would double cost for unforeseen expenses, not just 33%.

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Dr Helix » Wed Dec 09, 2015 2:24 pm

Sham wrote:The transporting of my artcar from the east coast to the playa (which included several stops for artcar events etc.) was around $15K. Once again, if your thoughts on building a MV is just for some easy convenience to get around the playa, consider a bicycle for that. Depending on what design and base you choose for your MV, you can plan on spending around $50K for something presentable. You can possibly plan for other uses for your MV, such as various parades during the year or some advertising when not on the playa.
Captain Goddammit wrote:Well now you can certainly do an MV for a lot less than $50k!!
I have a small fraction of that into mine.
But if you insist on bus-size, it could get there easy if you haven't got lots of skills and resources.
Wow. 50K just to be "presentable?" I won't quibble with that. Indeed, it may very well be. I'm a small MV guy so and I think I have 5K in mine but the $$$$$ bar is getting higher for sure. And that's sad in a way. Must all MV's be almost professionally done to qualify, with state of the art lights, sound and exteriors? I think as long as you do a good job of hiding the ride and the concept is striking or whimsical, you should not be judged on how much you spent on it. If you can make me guess what it's drive train is you've done your job. Good luck
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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by EspressoDude » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:41 am

Start communicating with DMV sooner rather than later. Some ideas are not going to be approved and it is better to find out early. MV approvals are sometime late spring. This is barely enough time before the event to construct something with enough WOW factor to get on-playa final approval. Lighting: figure on about 5 - 10 times the lighting level in your original plans. EL wire is not enough. 500 - 1000 watts of fluorescent lights / LEDs / spots.
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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by dustydan » Fri Dec 11, 2015 11:31 am

we thought that vacuum cleaner sounded like a fun and at the same time relevant idea/concept..

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by trilobyte » Fri Dec 11, 2015 2:31 pm

I've seen a couple vacuums and dust buster vehicles out there over the years, that's something you could probably have a lot of fun with.

I've never built one or talked to the teams who did, but from what I saw it looks like the part they all struggled with was the bag. Since I didn't talk to them I couldn't say whether they just had design issues, or there were construction issues, or just that the weather was a much bigger challenge than they had expected.

A scale model is a great idea. You might also want to try mucking around in freebie 3D design apps like Sketchup or Blender to mock something up. Having some kind of pre-visualization will not only help you and your team, but would be really helpful in any conversations you have with the DMV (not to mention the application).

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by dustydan » Mon Dec 14, 2015 7:57 am

Does anyone out there have a last year's MV app? Working on drawing up the concept and would like to have a better understanding of what's required... Thanks in advance.

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Sham » Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:11 am


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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by dustydan » Sun Jan 17, 2016 6:18 pm

hello. Hope everyone had nice holidays. We have a question about generator and led lights. Is there a specific LED brand that is known to perform well on a playa? Also what wattage output of LED lights we need to use to light up our art car from inside out (approx 1000 sq. ft) so it will be visible on a playa and which generator we can use to accomplish this task.

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Re: Mutant Car for 2016 cons and pros...

Post by Captain Goddammit » Sun Jan 17, 2016 8:24 pm

As far as wattage required, that's an unanswerable question without knowing a whole lot more about what the MV is and what you're shining light through etc.
You're going to have to try stuff and see. Depending on what your MV is and how much power you need, there are different ways to get the electricity. The stock answer is "Quiet Honda EU-series generator", but I've stopped using those on my MV in favor of a pair of alternators on the MV's engine, deep cycle batteries, and a big pure-sine-wave inverter. I feel that works better than running a generator, and why not use alternators if you have an engine running anyway.
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