Having heard the challenge announced as a Biggest Meanest Demolition Machine on this green and pleasant land (or at least something like that) I needed to ensure the team were up to speed on what the machine was intended to become. This was going to be an incredible challenge that needed muscle power and heavy steel construction work. If any team would be able produce the results I was CONFIDENT that the 'Chaos Crew' could meet the challenge. The first requirement was a vehicle that could be used to mount the demolition arms and the 'Muncher'. This was the transit van found in the heap, although the rear floor area was rusted beyond imagination. We needed the material for the moving arms of the machine but first the scavengers Spike and John returned with steel that was far to large and heavy so I needed to prompt them to keep returning to the heap to try again and finally we found exactly what was needed. The first arm needed to be 2.5 metres long and second arm needed to be 2 metres in length or the 'concrete muncher' would not have enough reach. The work in the build area is proceeding well between the team captain Andy and myself as we remove the rear of the transit van and make general preparation. Even though the floor was rusted the team came up with a great suggestion to mount the rotating turntable, that they also found in the heap, directly onto the rear axle of the van by using support columns. The next important thing was the hydraulic rams and the hydraulic control system. The team searched and initially kept saying that they could not find any large hydraulic rams, we needed a larger diameter hydraulic ram because the larger the diameter the greater the pushing force is exerted for a given pressure. Finally they found the old Army trenching machine and using the team captain Andy's two-way radio we managed to identify the rear and inner rear hydraulic rams. These were found to be held in place with seized pins and therefore using the 'Gas Axe' (oxy/butane cutting equipment) the boys performed an excellent job in removing the required items without any damage to the components needed. EXCELLENT ..... but we still need a control valve to make it work. This seemed to prove difficult because Spike and John could not understand precisely what I was trying to explain about the control valve block in the Army machine ..... I am becoming concerned ......... still concerned ...... then one of the team returned with a valve block unit that was apparently at the rear area of the heap BRILLIANT ! A hydraulic pump has been scavenged, I do not recognise this pump and need to ensure it is adequate for the job. Physical size is a good guide as to the flow volume that may be produced, but in which direction does it have to rotate in order to pump hydraulic oil in the correct direction. If we get our sums wrong at this stage then the whole thing will basically 'suck' instead of 'blow', a worrying thing at the best of times. We test this by pouring some oil into the larger of the two pipes that were found connected to the pump, the large pipe is always the suction pipe to take oil from the oil tank. We then turn the pump slowly by hand to see if the oil is correctly taken into the large pipe or if indeed it just pushes the oil back out. We find that the pump needs to rotate anti-clockwise to work correctly so the next question is which direction does the engine turn ?. We turn the key to start the engine, well actually not a key but more of a large screwdriver that can be jammed in the hole to make it operate...but there you go, anyway looking at the front of the transit engine it turns clockwise BRILLIANT because this means that if we mount the anti-clockwise pump drive shaft directly to the front of the clockwise engine crankshaft the all will be well. Work is progressing well and the whole team are becoming involved in the in the build area, BUT we still need items from the heap. The crew went out and found the hydraulic oil tank from the Army machine, but we still need one more ram. Apparently we have used all the gas needed for the Gas-Axe and the team needs to wait for more supplies. We decide that although we originally wanted four hydraulic rams to provide four separate operational functions, due to only three available hydraulic rams and the obvious constraint of time we decided to make the first arm, known as the boom, a fixed construction instead of being able move it hydraulically, this change in direction was to be our later downfall in the construction. We still desperately need to find the thick steel needed for the construction of the crushing jaws at the business end of the machine. This was finally found at the far end of the scrapheap and it is VERY heavy. The Chaos Crew take this in their stride and put the heavy plates into the quad trailer to bring back. I see the steel and think FANTASTIC. The crew are so responsive to anything that is required to be done, I mark out the first stage on steel plates for the pin, they gas-axe a hole. We pin the hole that forms the pivot and then draw the shape of the crusher jaws, they gas-axe the shape to suit. We make the rear section the team weld it. We all discuss the mounting of the important large diameter hydraulic ram, think of options, try different ideas, and finally we all agree (thankfully) on the original solution as per the earlier drawing board. Whilst all the above is going on I strip and inspect the hydraulic control valve block. I find that the block is not entirely suitable due to some fittings and pipework not allowing the correct function. I decided to strip the unit to inspect the porting chambers and understand how this particular control block works. I am silently personally now concerned, have we taken on to much ? I must make this control block work ! I finally decide and act. Alternative fittings are sourced, the pipes are altered, the relief safety valve is inspected. From the pile of hydraulic hoses we find the ones needed for the job. Things are indeed again coming together. It is at this stage that many people outside of the Chaos Crew team would have felt things were not running well. We into the seventh and eighth hour of a ten hour build and the machine does not yet really look like a machine. It is only the name that is 'Chaos' not the actions, we all know exactly what we need to do and we WILL make it all work. The oil tank is mounted to the back of the transit, the team have worked a fantastic job with the mounting of the hydraulic pump to the front of the engine. They did not only mount the pump they installed a universal joint to take up the difference in movement, and the team installed a torque arm to allow the pump the ability to find it's own rotational centre so that the drive shaft does not break. It DID NOT break. The connecting hoses are being installed from the oil tank to the pump, and from the pump through the drivers cab to the control block. There are then many hoses to the various hydraulic rams. Spike asks me the question "Do you want me to sort out the baggin ?", I have no idea what he is talking about and so as to avoid embarrassment I say "Sorry Spike I didn't hear you !". Spike repeated "Do you want me to sort out the baggin ?" so I simply said "Yes OK !" and decided to watch what he proceeded to do. He went straight to the hydraulic hoses and began to tighten the connections and I THEN REALISED that the "baggin" he referred to was in fact the hydraulic hoses, or any large amount of hoses for that matter. I have now become aquatinted with the Doncaster team's local dialect. The muncher jaws have been completed by Andy, Spike and John and are ready for fitting to the end of the arms of destruction. Using an available engine lifting hoist the heavy steel jaws are rolled across the floor which covered in oil and sweat of the day towards the final destination at the pinnacle of the machines arms. The team ask for me to advise on the placement of the pivot hole and the gas-axe is again brought into use. At some time during the build a hose from the oxy/butane bottle becomes damaged and causes a sea of flame to roll across the floor whilst Spike looks calmly on and the team captain Andy takes control by turning of the shut-off taps on the gas bottles before I can even reach the fire extinguisher. The team do not show any sign of panic, the Chaos Crew are 'calm' but very intent. Time is running away from us. The jaws of steel are now fitted and ready. Time to make the first operational tests. We first ensure that the hydraulic pump receives oil from the tank. Failure to do this would destroy the pump if it was run without oil as it would seize up. PROBLEMS, no oil is coming from the tank. Why ?. The tank is full of oil but it wont come out the bottom hose. I remove the top inspection plate from the tank and using my hand I feel inside into the murky fluid that will not flow and find that the tank has because of it's standing without use, caused the oil to 'gel' and form a protective seal around the internal gauze filter element. I clean the filter and all is now well OIL DOES FLOW ! We start the engine. A pressure gauge is installed to monitor the pressure in the system for safety. Oil does pump but still things are not quite right as the equipment will not move. HELP ! What is happening ? I think carefully, it is now clear to me that there is air trapped in the rams. We loosen the connecting fittings one end at a time and operate the system from the opposite end each time to push the ram fully in one direction to expel the unwanted air. We do the same again in the other direction. We do the same to the other rams. We are running out of time now into the final tenth hour. We test again ..... the "MUNCHER" roars into life lifting the operating arms towards the now dark evening sky. The muncher jaws now open like a monster ready for feeding and the machine swings towards Robert, Cathy and the Judge as if to say "DID YOU DOUBT MY STEEL HEART WOULD BEAT ?". We are ready to challenge the structures laid before us. They WILL be destroyed.
We begin the day apprehensive about the possible reliability of our complex machine. Our concern is about the drive shaft for the hydraulic pump because of the strain and power it will be required to provide. Our concern is based upon the fact that because the pump did not have it's own special splined coupling unit, the pump is being driven by a shaft 'manufactured' by ourselves, this has never been done before like this. The day however proved that this item remained totally intact and successful. We prepared the machine for the day by ensuring that all the hoses were free to move as we operated the arms. The team discuss how we would approach the challenge and who would carry out which task. We felt our machine was ready for battle. We felt we were ready for battle. During the initial dummy runs for the camera the team were talking about the oppositions machine and how it may perform. Our team were all of the combined opinion that when the Beach Boys made their machine it would not be up to the task and that we WOULD win, but from the beginning of the challenge day we became more and more aware of the amount of time that the 'Judge' was spending advising the opposing team about their machine. The Judge had convinced them that the machine's ram did not have the required 'weight' and 'mass' and helped them to obtain a heavy steel rod from the stock rooms at the power station, our own team agreed that this would indeed change the stakes. We now have to win in order to prove our machine against the increasing amount of people involved with the opposing project, a five man crew and a Judge. The challenge began. Our machine starts and we slowly but confidently approach the first wall. Like a beautiful dream the 'Muncher' eats into the wall bringing it quickly to the ground. Another bite from the brickwork and far to quickly DISASTER STRIKES. A steel support bracket that we welded to the first arm (the boom) has broken away causing the complete equipment to crash to the ground. The reason for this failure was our miscalculation in use/design of the rotating turntable platform for the arms. The rear base of the arm was welded to the top area of the steel 'H section' cross-member and the forces on this cross member caused it to bend rearwards. When this bent rearwards the support bracket was ripped from it welded location causing the failure of the structure. IS THIS THE END FOR THE CHAOS CREW ? We ask 1stAD (Mark) if this is considered as the end for us or can we proceed to fix it. WE GO FOR THE FIX IT OPTION. In comes the welding gear and our team find some steel that can be used as a support. The muncher arm is lifted with the assistance of nearby equipment and brought back up into position. Spike performs his fantastic welding techniques to the new brackets. The cool of the Chaos Team is turning into a race against time to get back on line and catch up, and to win. The repair is done ! We are back in the running and the wall continues to be eaten by the Muncher only now we introduce the brute force of the Chaos Crew in order to meet the challenge. We now use the levers at each side of the machine to not only position the arms as needed but we now use them to SWING THE MUNCHER WITH FORCE, ENOUGH FORCE TO PHYSICALLY KNOCK THE WALL TO THE GROUND. The wall at the first location is now no more, but the opposition has already moved on to the next building. We drive our machine of destruction to the next build and continue the demolition. The arms of our machine lift the Muncher's Jaws to the roof area where it bites into the brick and lifts the roof from the building. Oh No! now the machine is loosing coolant water from the radiator and new water supplies are fed into the veins of the engine. Still the wall comes down. The other team are still just in front and we are catching up. The Crew are feeling more confident that we can pass the opposition, when ............... BANG !!!! the hydraulic fitting at the front of the machine breaks into two parts squirting oil out into the fresh air instead of under force to feed our machine's hunger for more. Once again it is Spike to rescue as we remove the problem fitting and have to first clear the oil before it can be welded back into place. The fitting is repaired. During this time Andy has been crimping the problem area of the radiator to stop the loss of water. We go back to the task and complete the demolition of stage two. Onward to stage three where the opposition are well into the challenge. The Chaos Crew's team captain Andy instructed us all that we must now go for the kill ..... WE ARE TO RAM THE WALL WITH THE MACHINE! We proceed to the third and final challenge area where our machine is moved into position ready to reverse and ram into the wall. The Jaw's of the Muncher are positioned in the direction of most damage. Andy reverses into the wall but does not hit it clean and square on, instead he catches the area of the wall that angles away at 45 degrees causing a massive gouge in the walls surface but not enough to bring it down. As Andy starts to move the machine forwards ready to try again I manipulate the arms and bite the top of the wall causing the top sections to come away and fall to the floor. Another bite cause more bricks to crash to the ground. Would we be able to catch up? NO ! At this point the ongoing hard ramming action of the Beach Boys finally won the day leaving the Chaos Crew only a few layers of brick from success. After all the planning, the hard work, the sweat, and the problems we were so close. We did not feel like loser's we felt like winner's to have even managed to build such a complex machine and still have it running (with an little ongoing help of course) right until the end. When the Beach Boys completed the challenge we thought that we had damaged a hose near the muncher jaws but this was not correct, indeed the hose's outer covering took a blow but the hose was still perfect to function. At the close of the day the Chaos Crew creation still worked just as it did at the start, it could still be working now if the challenge was greater and took longer, then our machine could have won, but that is another story to be left for another day.