Lock the welder

Race Car Interiors

Since a complete overhaul of my 1972 charger is in order once I get set up in my new shop, I have been relentlessly researching chassis design. I have always wanted a car with a roll-cage, and this is a perfect opportunity. Do I need a roll-cage in a street driven car? not really, but I don't really need much of anything- its all about want. (If your already into cars, bear with me here). When you think about it, cars are attempting to attach four wheels to a hollow sheet-metal box, with maximum interior space to impress its occupants. Obviously the road surface isn't flat, so the suspension system attempts to allow each wheel to follow its own path while keeping the rest of the car stable. However, there are limitations to how stiff car manufacturers can make the "cabin" portion without compromising the interior space that consumers deem so very important. The resulting compromise is that most cars have an inherent amount of flex that occurs throughout them. This flex robs the car of precision control.

To get rid of that flex, almost all racing vehicles have a roll cage built into them. This cage does take up some interior space, but effectively turns the car chassis into a box structure, making it resistant to flexing. By unitizing the chassis, the suspension is much more effective.

Roll cages serve another purpose as well, to better protect the occupants inside. Lets face it, if you are strapped securely inside an indestructible steel cage, not a lot can hurt you right? I tend to agree. It begs the question: what is safer? A brand new car with front and side airbags, very minimal seat belt retention, crumple zones, sub-frames that precisely collapse on impact, etc. OR: I bombproof steel cage with you strapped very securely inside.

My opinion is the cage is safer. why? because all the technology in modern cars (in regards to passenger safety), revolves around average peoples unwillingness to strap themselves in. People hate seat belts- this is obvious. I dont know if it is a disdain for the law, a feeling of claustrophobia, or the misguided belief that being able to "escape" your car in an accident will save you, but people just don't want to wear them.

With this in mind, car manufacturers have gone to the moon trying to come up with other ways to insulate occupants from reality, essentially turning the inside of the vehicle into a rubber room, and allowing the outside of the car to disintegrate on impact to absorb energy.

But what if you weren't opposed to strapping yourself in? I'm not- I kinda like it! What about a better seat belt design, like a "4 point", or "5 point" style that racers use? Now combine that with a cage that is not designed to fail. Lets look at some videos to demonstrate my point....

Typical car designed for people who hate seat belts:


Now a car with a roll cage and effective seat belts (skip to 40 seconds in):


The funny part is, the second crash occurred at far higher speeds, and ran directly into a guardrail, yet the driver is clearly fine.

One last video to demonstrate why roll-cages and good seat belts are better than crumple cars and shitty seat belts. Do you think these guys would have lived if this were a driving a new Toyota Camry?

(and yes they both walked away)


Lets review, roll-cages offer better vehicle control and increased safety, while sacrificing some interior space and taking an extra 3 seconds to strap into. I think I have my mind made up! stay tuned...






Back From Laconia

Well we got home Sunday night after 3 days of hanging out at the worlds oldest bike rally. These days it seems like the worlds oldest people have taken it over though. It is a shame that Laconia has become so bagger/geriatric oriented, because it is an absolutely beautiful place. My hope was that more of the Limpnikie Lot would show up, but it seems like everyone is too exited about the smokeout next weekend. Certainly if the whole lot actually showed up we could have ruled the whole rally, but it didn't happen. A few good things though, we didn't have to pay anyone to set up- awesome! Good thing too because we only sold a few things and if the town goons had raped us like usual it would have been a total bust. We also got to see our friends Leslie, Venom Mike and his crew who have access to a sweet house a few miles from Laconia where we could drink, set off fireworks and catch up. We also got to visit Acme Choppers which was great as usual. Their shop is an inspiration to me- so professional and well equipped. They were even cool enough to give me a frame jig they werent using! Amazing.. I'll post some pics when I get it all set up here. And the best part happened Sat mid day. We were all standing around the Limpnikie rig (basically an 18 wheeler) when all of a sudden there was a huge boom and the whole rig literally hopped up in the air and moved about 3 feet! We ran around and found that a huge tow truck had rammed the front of our truck! This was a big, heavy tow truck too. Anyway.. chaos ensues as a guy opens the passenger side door and slumps out of the cab with a huge gash in his head, and the driver just stays in the cab with a dazed look on his face. After all the cops and EMT people take the two guys away we finally get the low down. Apparently the guys engine stalled about 50 feet away (up hill from us) and the rig just started rolling backwards down the hill. He claimed that when the engine isn't running the brakes are completely useless and there was nothing he could do (?). On the way down the hill he also side swiped a little car and smashed the shit out of my friend Mikes minivan -with him in it, before hitting our rig. Luckily Mike seemed ok and hopped out and began snapping pics of the whole thing (He is arguably the most famous motorcycle photographer ever by the way, www.lichterphoto.com ). Amazingly no one on foot was in the path of this thing when it came down the hill because they would have been squashed into pizza for sure. Anyway, the riding up there is truly amazing and even though I was by myself I had fun just cruising around the lakes and through the fields soaking up the sun (when it wasnt raining). Ok that's all for now- back to bike building to get ready for Sturgis! -L

Occupational Hazzard

So yesterday I was hard at work on my seat pan for my latest bike, and managed to stab myself with a piece of sheet metal. Every once in a while I will hurt myself in the shop, but this one really sucked. The metal entered my wrist and stabbed long ways up into the base of my hand. When I pulled it out I could see the inner workings of my wrist like I was a robot or something- kind of shocking but cool too. Anyway, I ran to the bathroom and stopped the bleeding with some tape- then drove to the clinic down the street. It was closed of course- shit! The initial shock was wearing off and it was really starting to hurt now. Then I went to Guilford and they were open. They put me back together, and I even got to watch OCC in the waiting area! check the pics...

This is where it went in...

it went up into my hand...you can see where it is bulged up.

Doc stitching. Finally gave me some novacane, much better....

finishing touches...

The culprit.