Lessons learnt from James Mays Motorcycle Diary

4 Jan

Yesterday BBC2 aired the latest of James Mays Toy Storys, his attempt to build a motorcycle out of Meccano and drive it all the way around the Isle Of Man TT race circuit.

He managed this, but had to do a lot to the bike to make it all the way around.
A couple of the things he did could be classed as cheating.
Like using the golf cart motor.
Like rebuilding the back wheel out of parts they made themselves.

Like all first tries at anything, a lot can be learned from it.

Choice of bike style – Motorbike with side car.
This was James’ first mistake really and everything went downhill from there.
If he’d built a trike then he would have had a lot easier time.
The bike only had power from 1 wheel, trying to move 2 fully grown adult men AND the bike itself too.
A trike would have had power to BOTH back wheels, it would have coped a lot better up the hills.

Choice of propulsion – Chain drive.
Oh dear James, if you saw how much time & effort you put into something which could have been done SO much easier with a simple gearing system using cogs and sprockets. To be honest, I thought the chain would be the first thing to go.
Using the motors to drive just one wheel was always going to be a bad idea.
This is why it was so slow.
The motor system Simmy designed wasn’t a bad idea, it was just poorly implemented.
If he’d looked at his motors like batteries and placed them in series, it probably would have given a lot more power.
Rather than using the overly complex method of trying to gear them up.
With a trike they could have done direct drive, using motors to drive one wheel each.
They used 3 sets of motors, I would have used 6; 3 on each back wheel – effectively doubling the power.

Choice of power – battery.
I’d still use batteries, I just wouldn’t be swapping them out every 2 miles.
What was really needed was some sort of dynamo system to recharge the battery as you drive.
These already exist, I’m sure there is some way to look at how the electric cars do it & adapt that into Meccano.

Time Constraints.
And I’m not talking about how long they had access to the course for.
I’m talking about how long they took to build the thing.
This isn’t a project you do in a few months.
You need at LEAST a year to design, test, prototype and eventually build this kind of vehicle.

If I am honest, I don’t believe James took any part in the design or building of the bike.
I’m pretty sure Simmy did 99% of the donkey work.

If you did this again, and took longer to build a better, more efficient bike I believe the trip around the island could be done in at least 8 hours, if not quicker.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: