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TS: Diesel Corsair heads to energy competition
Sunday 13 Apr 2008, 10:15
Filed under: Humboldt | Tags:

Better not let Mike Arnold of the anti-railroad forces see this, Diesel is the bad word of environmentalists. Good job folks. More positive thinking and doing will help the world.

Times-Standard
Article Launched: 04/08/2008 01:24:09 AM PDT

John Driscoll

The Times-Standard

Allan Swanlund, clad in an olive flight suit, slipped into the cockpit and buckled himself in.

Ivan Sack clasped a cord on the middle of the fuselage and gave a yank. The diesel engine clanked to life, as diesel engines do.

It may look like a plane, and be fashioned after a plane, but the vehicle will never leave the ground. Instead, it’s designed to roll for 1,000 miles on a single gallon of diesel.

College of the Redwoods team Diesel Corsair is heading to a track in Fontana today to compete in the Shell Eco-marathon America’s competition, a contest to ferret out the most energy-efficient vehicle designs in the country.

Swanlund laid his foot on the gas pedal and motored away from the diesel lab, making a couple of runs before coming to a halt.

”It runs real smooth,” Swanlund said. “This thing will coast for days.”

Ivan Sack, professor Gary Sack and team member Nathan Brown gathered at the back of the automobile, looking for problems.

”There’s way too much friction in that drive line,” Ivan Sack said.

The rear brakes weren’t working either, but neither problem seemed difficult to fix. The team has made many changes to the car in recent months. They moved the front two wheels toward the center to get a tighter turning radius. They consulted Henderson Center Bicycles about tires, and the store donated high-tech racing wheels. After breaking a
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piece of molded Plexiglas, they had to build another.

”It’s amazing how slow every little project goes,” Gary Sack said.

The car is 12.5 feet long and will weigh only 290 pounds including the pilot and the 5 hp Hatz 1B20-X engine. Shell provides teams using fuel with an 8.5-ounce fuel vial. The goal is to go as far as possible on the least amount of fuel. Last year a team from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo got 1,903 mpg using gasoline.

The team isn’t overly concerned about winning, just having a successful run. Mostly, they are interested in rubbing shoulders with the other competitors, who will bring a wide range of technologies including solar and fuel cells to the track.

Asked what they hoped to get out of the trip, Ivan Sack said, “Primarily, just to make the scene.”

John Driscoll can be reached at 441-0504 or jdriscoll@times-standard.com.

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