2006 Improvements - planned

Artistic

The 2006 theme is Hope and Fear: The Future.  Given Robo's rather Road Warriorish aspect, I think he's going to stray on the fear side - the smooth, clear art-deco look just doesn't seem to fit - and is a bit of a stretch, given Robo's rough and ready fabrication :-).   Since we're going to have a lot more watts to play with this year, more lighting seems in order, along with some electrically driven motion. Colors seem to be drifting towards desert camo, but that's tbd.  Black would be traditional but a mite warm during the day.  Perhaps not strictly artistic, but I want it anyway - more tunes!  The computer
speakers worked fine w/ the shuffle last year, but louder would be better, as would more songs.

Mechanical

Nothing like a punch list for those little (and not so little) jobs:

  1. First of all, I got tired of having to run my truck every day to charge up RoboShaw's battery.  Since we run a 60W halogen headlight and about 15 watts worth of CCFL tubes, after running all night (well, until 4 am or so) we're easily half way through our 80 amp-hour deep discharge battery.  So let's run an alternator!  Turns out there's not much room and I end up taking the torque converter apart so that I can squeeze a drive pulley in behind it.... and that turns out to be a custom drive pulley, since getting a really narrow 3V (the narrow kind of v-belt found on small alternators) pulley is not easy.  A rebuilt one-wire (internal regulator, no weird wiring) alternator from EBay (orig. for a Chevy Sprint - one of the tiny Nippon Denso units) and a 3V280 V-belt from McMaster-Carr and we're set.  I even took some pictures of the machining process, but not enough.  I still need to work out the slotted arm for the top of the alternator; that's coming next.  I tested the unit wired up to RoboShaw's battery; the engine powers it just fine and we have a happy 14.5 volts at idle.  Hooking up the headlight places a light (heh) load on the engine just as one would expect.
  2. Next comes the rest of the torque converter improvements.  Turns out the shaft holding the sprocket and the driven pulley has gotten kind of hammered out in the keyway... I'm replacing that whole assembly with proper bearings and some hardened, keyed 5/8" shafting I got from McMaster-Carr.  The bearings are from SurplusCenter.com (Burden Sales); they're also sending a voltage gauge and ampmeter to help Robo keep his watts about him.
  3. There was a misfeature in last year's design that placed an undue amount of stress on both the lower tiller arm bearing and the rod ends on the push-pull rods when Robo-Shaw flexed.  This led to a broken weld on the lower tiller arm bearing which made steering more difficult than it should have been.  This year I'm replacing the dual push-pull rods with a single, large-diameter rod with much larger rod ends.  The simple steel-on-steel bushings that I used for the tiller arm bearings are being replaced with some 1" diameter pillow block bearings that did yeoman's duty on the kid's go-kart for years; they're noisy but solid.
  4. Paint - RoboShaw was finished last year just in time, and the last minute work focused largely on lights and tunes.  Last fall I was able to spray (rattle can) the frame with gray primer after cleaning the exposed metal with Metal-Prep (phosphoric acid).  This year I want a proper paint job so Robo doesn't rust up so bad.  The alkali dust seems to remove every trace of oil...
  5. Better storage & carrying capacity.  Drinks, mixers, warm clothes, extra water - all these things need to come along.  Last year I strapped my father-in-law's old army foot locker on the rear; this year a more solid approach is needed.  I sure want some lap blankets on Robo - I and several passengers were half-frozen on some of the outer playa excursions.