DBLogic at the Stone Soapbox Derby 2016

What's going on?

We may live to regret our decision, but we have decided to enter DBLogic into the Soap Box Derby taking place in our nearby market town of Stone in Staffordshire.

One of our members of staff, who shall remain nameless, suggested it would be a fun thing to do to get us all involved in a sort of team-building exercise and also raise money for charity.

It is taking place on Wednesday 8th June at 7pm. Further details can be found here: http://www.stonefestival.co.uk/wednesday-8th-june.html

We hope you will be interested in following our progress in the planning and building of our Soap Box. Over the coming weeks we'll be adding photos and descriptions of how we're approaching this challenge to this page, so stay tuned for updates.

If you would like to help in any way, either in time, sponsorship or donations (We’ll add your Company logo to the Soap Box and mention in our social media posts).
Our chosen charity is Katharine House Hospice who do a fantastic job providing respite and end of life care. https://www.khhospice.org.uk/.

Regular updates will also be posted on our Twitter and Facebook accounts. In the meantime, to give you an idea what this is all about, here are some photos from the Red Bull Soapbox Derbies over the years.

The build

The Design

The initial design started as all the best ideas: with research on the internet. A quick Google turned up an adult soapbox kart design.
The search did spark a few ideas but there were two main factoring problems... Time and Money. From watching the redbull soapbox races on the TV it quickly became apparent where most soapboxes fail. From this some of the ideas were taken from the online design such as building a simple space frame for the chassis for strength, and the idea of wanting some form of suspension so the wheels wouldn't buckle/become detached from the rest of the vehicle.

You can see from the following images how our ideas and designs progressed. They are only a rough idea but we shall see how close we stick to them/what changes are needed once we commence the build.

The First Build

The first day of the build was a long one. We collected the steel in the morning from local business Land-Marque Fabrication and Powder Coating, who helpfully cut it to length for us.

This first stage was creating the chassis for our soapbox. A good chunk of the day was spent learning how to weld. This took some practice, but our policy of "Just go for it" seemed to work out.

As you can see from our driver testing it for size, we made a lot of progress that day. However, we soon realised that this first part would probably be the easiest as things were only going to get more complex and fiddly from then on.

The Second Build

The next part of the build needed some experimenting with various ideas and ended up being quite tricky with not as much progress as we would have liked. However, the following day went much better and mostly consisted of further planning. This included clamping various parts in place to see how it would look.

The Third Build

This week we were back on track and managed to make some good progress. First we mounted the seat, a repurposed plastic school chair. Then we added a floor made a piece of steel sheet, so our driver’s legs won’t drag along the road. After this we attached the wheels.

The wheels were kindly donated by our neighbours Injectaplas, who have also been providing us with technical advice which has been very much appreciated. Pictured below is Phil in the soapbox holding the steering wheel where it will be mounted, once we confirm how our steering is going to work.

The Fourth Build

For the fourth week, Dave and Phil designed a custom steering assembly, which Land-Marque were able to build for us. We were able to add the steering column, and plan how the wheels would be attached next week.

The Fifth Build

After picking up the steering assembly, we started putting together the steering. As you can see from the photos below, we explored a number of different ways of laying at it out. After we noticed and rectified the issue wheels moving in the opposite direction to that of the steering wheel, it was time to test it.

The Test Run

We took the soapbox to the office carpark to test the chassis by doing some test runs. This also gave the pushers a chance to practice. Despite the lack of the brakes, Phil enjoyed his first drives in the soapbox, as you can see from his grin in the video of highlights the below.

The Sixth Build

This was a relatively productive week. We were able to complete both the brakes and the painting of the chassis.

For the brakes we used wooden blocks, with gate hinges to pivot and a square tube to hold them in place, and we even made a custom brake pedal for it. We used a spring for the hinges to return the brakes and pedal to the resting position.

Once the frame was finished, we cleaned and painted it in black Hammerite to give a durable smooth finish (though a surprising amount of paint ended up on the floor).

The Seventh Build

It was now time to start on the bodywork. We decided to use metal rather than wood for greater strength and went with aluminium as we hoped it would not be too difficult to cut and shape.

To find out the sizes and shapes of the panels that we would need, we put together a rough version of the bodywork from cardboard. We were able to use these pieces as templates when cutting out the aluminium, which was supplied by local Smiths Metal Centres Ltd.

We managed to get most of the panels finished this weekend, which was important as race day is in two weeks and the soapbox still needs to be decorated.

The Eighth Build

Since we were planning on painting the soapbox this week, and we'd be leaving it to properly harden up until the race, it was our last chance for a test drive.

After the test drive, we painted the aluminium green using primers and paint provided by Prohire.

For our sponsors' logos, we had originally planned to use water slide decals, but as soon as we put them in the water, they'd start cracking. Plan B was printing them on photo paper and attaching them with a spray adhesive.

The Ninth Build

The winning team isn’t just the one with the fastest soapbox, there are also points for its appearance and for a pre-race introductory performance by the team.

As our cart is called Roadblock we went with a roadworks theme, including building our very own roadblock out of polystyrene. We also made a white van shaped cover for own soapbox which will form a central part of our performance.

Now race day is approaching alarmingly quickly, we need to get to practising. Come see how this will all fit together on race day. We’ll be kicking off the event as the first car at 7 this Wednesday. See you there!

The Event

The Big Day

Yesterday was the day of the race, so all of our hard work paid off. We were the first team to attempt the race, which we were a bit nervous about because we wouldn't get a chance to see anyone else attempt the track, and we weren't sure how many would turn up for the first one, but the street was packed by the time we were ready to go.

For the performance, we'd built a polystyrene barrier to crash through and a detachable cardboard van that the driver would remove after starting, and even though we'd not been able to fully test them due to the risk of damaging them, they ended up working perfectly.

Overall, we ended up being 4th in our category, which we're very proud to have achieved. Everyone had a great time, and we are very grateful to our sponsors for all their support.

Video of the event