Badwater SSC Solo cart part 4 – major design problem

The cart is starting to look complete. The skin is on and the brakes are fully functional. While it is starting to look complete, I found a major design problem. Something that must be fixed or the run across Death Valley will fail.

I installed the coolers on the cart and filled them with water. When filled up to the top the cart holds 28 gallons. That is 7 gallons more than what I need, but is probably close to what the cart will weigh when my food, clothes and the rest of my supplies are added on. The cart will probably weigh in somewhere closer to 300 pounds when it is fully loaded.

After filling the coolers with water, I pushed the cart up and down my driveway. It moves well. Even loaded and on flat ground, it is fairly easy to push. My driveway happens to be steeper than any hill on the Badwater ultramarathon course in Death Valley, so I pushed the cart up my driveway. With almost 300 pounds it is extremely difficult to push the cart up the hill. Luckily by the time I get to any major hills in Death Valley, the cart will be lighter because I will have already consumed several gallons of water. The first major hill is 40 miles into the route. But that hill, called “Townes Pass” is steep, rising from sea level to 4,956 feet over 17 miles.

So what is the cart problem? When I was pushing the cart up and down the driveway the water splashed out of the coolers. Not good! I would loose half my water just from splashing. The water is leaking out because the cooler tops do not have seal. Just plastic-to-plastic without a latch to keep it tight, so the water splashes out easily. Apparently the coolers are not designed to shaken around like this. I bought rubber weather-stripping but it didn’t work well, so I will have to find another type of rubber seal.

When it is filled with ice and has the water-baffles installed, it will be less of a problem, but I can’t afford to loose any water. It seems like I will also need a top latch of some sort, a bungee cord or Velcro strap system. I should have checked this before I built the cart around these specific coolers. So it is back to the drawing board to solve this design challenge.

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3 Responses to Badwater SSC Solo cart part 4 – major design problem

  1. Michael Perlongo says:

    Consider an o-ring seal for your cooler lids. Think of these as perfectly round rubber bands. They are used in all kinds of application where a water-proof barrier is required.

  2. Greg says:

    Seems like there should be a simple design solution to this, but I’m racking my brain trying to come up with something. I keep going back to weatherstripping, which got me thinking about an O-ring of some sort. Could that be installed around the lip of the cooler top?

    As for a latch…remember the metal latches found on the old metal-style Coleman coolers? Those latches always seemed to really lock down the lid pretty tight…maybe combined with the O-ring/weatherstripping you’d have an easy fix.

    And maybe modifying the cooler isn’t the right approach. How about some kind of bag/liner for the cooler, i.e. a large garbage bag or similar that sits inside the cooler and can be sealed once water & ice are placed inside? Lightweight, simple, cheap.

    Another idea I had was instead of using one large garbage bag type of liner was to use numerous smaller bags that could be sealed, like gallon ziploc bags or perhaps sealable bags that are even larger. The plastic/airspace has the potential of limiting the water volume you push/pull, however.

    Thanks for sharing your trials & tribulations with us as you get ready to tackle this great challenge!

  3. Jamil Coury says:

    Try a couple layers of plastic food wrap, then screw those lids on tight, or a thin clear plastic trash can liner if the plastic wrap still leaks.

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