Friday, February 6, 2009

Frozen Shuttle Van Technology Saves Life - An Art Car Story

Shuttle Van Frozen Rear Thrusters
Shuttle Van Frozen Rear Thusters
Shuttle Van Frozen Door Handle
Shuttle Van Frozen Door Handle
Shuttle Van Frozen Side Panel
Shuttle van frozen Side Panel
Shuttle Van Frozen at Night
Shuttle Van frozen at Night

I got this email today and its a reminder that a lot of good people are having a rough time with this crazy weather. Its also a great story of the positive and life saving aspects of owning an art car. The story is about the Shuttle Van Art Car and written by Bill Viereck about how the Shuttle Van Technology saved his bacon not having any power due to heavy frost.

"So when do you fully realize the payback on the undetermined investment made in your art car? Well, start with a deadly ice storm that encapsulates younder 2+ inches of solid rock and devastates all infrastructures around you. No power, no water, no heat, no dice.

My search through camping supplies, used on various multi-car odyssey's, uncovered battery lighting and a sterno burner complete with three cans o' heat. Now hot tea and camp coffee was awesome, but an ice melt sponge bath is a horrific trauma. However, the inch-thick slab of ice on the roof of a good sized doghouse will provide enough non-potable water to flush your toilet a few times. You'll need lots more sterno, though.

My 2000 watt generator was purchased to operate the Shuttle Van's systems during stand-around appearances and to recharge at campsites lacking power. A gallon of gas will run a 1700 watt fog machine (or a typical space heater) for about four hours in favorable weather. My lawn tractor kindly donated almost three gallons of old gas. At the peak of the storm when temps were down to 16 degrees, three hours of heat were a very special treat.

Later 48 hours of entombment, my civilian vehicle had to be moved to escape the new overhangs of trees threatening from above. After working through the better part of daylight to chisel enough away to move that car 12 feet, I turned my attention to the Shuttle Van. All four passenger doors were sealed under the 1/2 inch layer over all vertical surfaces (six times that on the horizontals) but I chipped around thrusters, etc. and accessed the rear tailgate. I wedged my middle-aged girth into the crawl space and reached the two isolation switches for the battery banks. If you're forced to design systems in your art car to handle 111 amps of power drain, you've got some juice available for indoor camping. Fully charged when the power went out, Shuttle Van's reserves could provide some heat for a few hours or operate various other low-consumption devices for much longer. An extension cord stretched from my stranded spacecraft to my satellite receiver just in time to catch the evening news, none of it good. 200,000 customers out of power in NW Arkansas alone, with no clear estimate on restoration. I used the available amp-hours to keep a phone charged, run a portable DVD and a light for well over 24 hours.

Once that initial charge was exhausted, the battery banks offered the advantage of storing the power produced by the gennerator rather than having to use it as it burned. My last gallon and a half of rationed gas gave me 6 1/2 hours of charge for the Shuttle Van, a fresh-brewed pot of real coffee for me and about and hour of heat for my cat.With that I made it to the point of escape, carving 1500 sq. ft. of ice shelf off my driveway and breaking free of the property to buy six gallons of gas and a bucket of chicken.

Do I love my art car? Yes, and I owe my art car. After this Apollo 13-type experience I feel inspired to do more, after I clear nine acres of formerly wooded hillside. Still without power after nine days and eight cold nights I long for hot showers and a warm bed but am able to compose this anecdote on my computer thanks to Shuttle Van technology."

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