Burt Munro’s spirit lives on

*One of the above is true!

Deep in a former crumpet factory in Adelaide’s western suburbs Spog and the Volts on Salt One team are hard at work on an electric racing bike they believe will have the grunt to take out the world record.

A former professional go-kart driver, Spog has assembled a dedicated team who over the next couple of months will prepare the bike for their assault on the record. In late March 2011 they will wheel a mighty quick bike out onto the salt flats of Lake Gairdner in outback South Australia.

On the 10 mile straight track, the mass of lithium (LiFePO4) batteries will discharge their magic in a few minutes and Spog and Volts on Salt 1 will travel at unspeakable (ie we’re not telling you yet) speed.

To learn more about this must-attend event go to http://www.dlra.org.au/ Already it looks like having a big turn out. Spog recently went up to the Lake Gairdner site and said it was all looking fantastic. The event seems to be very well organised as it has been running for over twenty years.

In the meantime the Institute of Backyard Studies site will be the place to keep track of the Volts on Salt developments.We’re proud to be associated with Spog and his crew’s efforts and salute the spirit of Shed Scientists everywhere and Burt Munro  of World’s Fastest Indian fame in particular.

Good on you fellas for having a RED HOT GO!

For further information about electric vehicles, check out the Australian Electric Vehicles Association website on http://www.aeva.asn.au/

Mid January update

The VOLTwerks crew have been putting in a few late nights lately. The two Advanced DC L91 motors fell into place after many nights, working frantically for a technical inspection in Gawler this Sunday (23rd January). The original frame, a 2001 Suzuki GSXR donated by a mate who rode it into the back of a parked car and decided that it would be better as a contender for the electric land speed record, has been heavily modified. It will be considerably heavier than the original bike as weight is an important factor in racing at higher speeds.

The batteries – LiFePO4 – have turned up, all 240 of them, which will deliver 150 volts of power through a Soliton Motor Controller.  As for the bike speed that will result from this much power… only the Lake will tell in late March. There should be heaps of people turning up for the tests. (see http://www.dlra.org.au/ )



February 1st update

Despite the fact that it has been murderously hot in Adelaide in the last few days (and in a shed with a low roof it really cooks) the VOLTwerks team have been hard at it. They’re hoping to having a working bike running in two weeks and ready for dyno tests in three weeks. Despite this cracking pace, the team has introduced a radical new element to the design at this late hour: they’ve added a third motor to go in front of the other two main motors. This motor, a 20 HP brushless DC outrunner motor from a very large radio controlled model helicopter, will accelerate the bike from 0 to 30 kph. A clutch will then disengage this small motor and the two large motors will then kick in. The logic behind this third motor is about energy efficiency: the considerable force required at starting (and thus the heat generated) will be borne by this motor. The clutch mechanism will have to be smooth…

The engine mounting work has continued and about 2/3 of the batteries have been tentatively put into place in the space where the fuel tank would have once gone. Each of the small batteries can put out an astonishing 100amps of current!  These batteries are joined up through the Soliton motor controller which discharges energy as required. So much power is dangerous – there’s lots of warning in the instructions about how a spanner dropped across the terminals will vaporise…

The remaining 1.3 of the batteries will be distributed about the bike, including along the swing arm (the forks of the back wheel – shown below on a jig). “Pistol Pete” a legendary gun metal fabricator, has been brought in to help with the rebuilt swing arm, which Spog estimates is about 4 times heavier than the original.  It’s built like a loco. Crew Chief Rocket Rodders has been putting in long hours helping with the fabrication and keeping some quality control to the design. Another vital team member has been Dr Jeff who is the guru of all things electrical. The team is doing good things. Everything thus far seems to be going to plan although there’s a hell of a lot of work to go yet. Bring on March!


Mid February update

Work is progressing and the shape of the creature is emerging

rare shot of The Spog minus helmet overcoem with emotion as the true shape of his vision emergesEven without the tailpiece its looking good

9th March update

With up to 5 people working on the bike up to 18 or 20 hours a day, the pressure is really on at the Voltwerks.

Resident boffin Dr Jeff has been putting in long hours soldering up an enormous amount of circuitry that will evenly control the battery charging and discharging. Nearly all the standard parts of the bike such as brakes, throttle have been reinstalled on the original frame and in many cases beefed up. As the bike needs to be heavy to prevent wheelspin at high speed, there is ample opportunity to add heavy weight in terms of robust structural design – as long as the additions all fit within the streamlined fairing. There’s also been a very nice bright orange paint job -it’s going to look good as well as go like hell.

One anticipated problem is the dissipating the rapid heat build-up in the motors from putting a colossal amount of electricity in a short time and then cooling them down again after the run. Spog and Rocket Rodders have built a cooling system that pumps coolant through an ice tank and then in coils around the motors and also cools the Soliton Controller. This is about to be put together and trialled and when the circuitry is finished and a few more bits fall into place, the moment of truth will take place… very soon.

Spog's lisits of millions of tasks to do. Note the bottle of Coopers memory aiThe Spog half way through another long day


Heavy rains in the South Australian desert have made the roads to Lake Gairdner impassable, cancelling the March 2011 DLRA meeting!

The Volts on Salt team, after months of incredibly hard work, are gutted. Especially when the bike was so close to being ready. A showdown with the competition sometime in the next few months is still on the cards if a suitable venue (ie a disused airstrip in good condition) can be found.

In the meantime, VOS1 runs, and beautifully smoothly at that.(You tube clip cming soon)

Spog and the boys are going to take a breather but are committed as ever. Stay tuned.

What do we know about Henry Hoke?

Hoke’s Bluff - never easy to find

Contemplation of Henry’s work always provokes thought: indeed, profound thought. What is this widget really for? What was he thinking when he made this? Why bother? What is the point of anything? Henry Hoke was (potentially at least) our own Thomas Edison, never fully recognised … but right to the end, he was a sceptically thoughtful yet energetic man whose activities ranged far and wide across the broad fields of human endeavour. I believe that for his colossal efforts Henry deserves, at the very least, a dusty, inconspicuous corner in the Temple of Fame. Henry Hoke’s life promised so much yet the specific details often remained elusive: the few scraps that remain are like the glimpse of magnificent vine-covered ancient ruins through a dense jungle. They tantalise us and pose more questions than they answer.hokesblufftoday003-new-col1.pngWe know, for instance, that he was raised in the small town of Hoke’s Bluff, now a ghost town – sometimes there, sometimes not. His father, Silas Hoke, was the town’s pharmacist and librarian and of slightly sinister character. His mother Beryl was a leading figure in the Ladies’ Blacksmithing League, an organisation described as midway between the Hell’s Angels and the Country Women’s League. It is almost certain that Henry gained his early mechanical and metalworking skills from his accomplished mother.We know that he worked for a period in the Merchant Marine and as an automotive mechanic and a shearer. Despite our painstaking forensic reconstructions and laborious research, the mighty jigsaw that is Henry Hoke still has many empty spaces. It is time to redress the outrage that we have, until now, neglected a true prince of inventiveness in our midst, a man whose life’s work towers above us like a monument to colossal pointlessness. I leave you to reach your own conclusions about Henry Hoke’s astonishing life and work. I’ve got no idea. Readers are encouraged to help fill in any details they might of Henry’s lfe and activities by clicking here.loadballslite2.png