Building the Badwater Solo SSC Cart – part 3

Nobody told me it would take this long and be so much work. I certainly didn’t expect it. I feel like I am working for Ford Motor Company building one of their prototypes. Geez. We are now closing in on the finish line of the cart completion and it is a rolling cart.

Badwater Solo cart undercarriage view

The under carriage of the Badwater Solo cart.

The wheels are set and mounted. It rolls like a high performance hot rod. On flat, it almost rolls itself. On any down grade it will get away from you. Seriously, this thing cruises and will need a great braking system, but up-hills, it will still be a bear at close to 300 pounds of weight. So the brakes are what I am working on now. The cart is getting high performance road bike brakes at each wheel. It sounds easy, but this is a pain too. Special length cables, mounting locations and functionality, and the levers that you pull on even need customization. The details are intense. And I thought this would be easy. Just getting to the start line is an ultramarathon.

Just the frame and mounted wheels weigh in at 51 pounds. This is before the coolers, brakes, insulation, or anything else – Just the rolling frame. I wanted it to come in at under 30 pounds, but the material that goes into it is extensive. I could have saved 7 or 8 pounds, but that would have been at the sacrifice of strength and durability.

When the cart is ready to add food and water, I expect it to be close to 90 pounds. Then add in 21 gallons of water at 8.34 pounds each equaling 175 pounds, plus food, supplies, clothes, gear, and now the cart will probably weigh in at a staggering 285 pounds. Imagine pushing that over the mountain passes in Death Valley at 120+ degrees. I am starting to doubt my saneness (insert nervous laugh here). I was expecting it to be under 250 pounds. The extra 35 pounds can be the difference between my success and failure at breaking the Badwater Solo SSC record.

This week will be mounting the coolers, brakes and insulation plus getting it ready to receive a skin. There is still a lot of work to do and I am now under five weeks away. If I wasn’t training and running to burn off this excess energy, I’d be very nervous.

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2 Responses to Building the Badwater Solo SSC Cart – part 3

  1. Todd J says:

    Your nerves will settle once you get to Furnace Creek. You know this course and what it can throw at you, so no worries there. Hopefully you’ll be able to get the cart at least a fair amount of the way up the portal road (until it gets too steep), and then you can backpack it the rest of the way.

    I am rooting for you, buddy!

    • admin says:

      Thanks Todd
      Getting over Town’s pass will be a major mental success as much as physical. That’s one big-ass hill. I am thinking that I will leave the cart at Lone Pine intersection and backpack the last very vertical marathon. It is risky because of running out of water, but I think will make a big difference. We will soon see.

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