“I’m always building things,” says Dan Hryhorcoff.
Case in point: Hryhorcoff built an absolutely adorable giant bumper car, a project he says began during the pandemic. The rest of us may have been baking bread when COVID hit the scene, but Hryhorcoff, who lives in northeastern Pennsylvania and also built a submarine, built a giant blue bumper car. It is powered by a repurposed Chevrolet engine and is approved for road use.
Before designing the large bumper car, Hryhorcoff had started building another vehicle around 2013. “When I retired, I decided I wanted to build a car, so to speak,” he remembers. For this project he focused on a 1950s children’s pedal car called the Murray “sad face”. “I decided to copy that and make a big one.” (These Murray models have a front that actually looks like a sad face, but anyone who sees Hryhorcoff’s work will probably smile.)
By developing this big red vehicle, he gained further experience working with fiberglass, a material he had also worked with to build the submarine. “I had a lot of fun with that [Murray car] at car shows and other places, and it attracted a lot of attention from a wide audience,” he says.
“Then COVID came,” he adds. He wanted a new project. His thinking? “Another car project would be good.”
Build the big bumper car
He chose a bumper car. To obtain the raw materials needed for the project, he turned to an amusement park called Knoebels in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, and the bumper cars there. In particular, he focused on the 1953 model bumper car manufactured by a company called Lusse. He liked that it had a sort of 1950s “Chevrolet pickup truck look.”
“I decided to copy one of them,” he says. The approximately eight-hour stay with Knoebels gave him the opportunity to get the information he needed. “I measured, took photos, created templates and everything I needed to copy the car as best as possible.” He decided to make his version of the car twice the size of the base model. As the Scranton Times-Tribune noted in a July article about Hryhorcoff, the bumper car ride in Knoebels dates back to the immediate aftermath of World War II.
[Related: This Florida teen is making a business out of rebuilding old-school auto tech]
Inside, the drive of the large bumper car comes from a Chevrolet Aveo. “I cut off the front of the Aveo and installed it in the back of the bumper car,” he explains. “And the front of the bumper car is a motorcycle wheel.” The single wheel at the front means it can turn very sharply. The outside is made of fiberglass. All told, it’s 13 feet long, 7 feet wide and 5.5 feet tall, making it twice the size of a regular bumper car. A pole on the back mimics the way real bumper cars get their power, except it’s not connected to anything.
A project like this would likely be a bumpy ride for anyone without the experience that the 72-year-old Hryhorcoff brings to the table. “I learned to use a lathe from my father when I was 13, and he was kind of a jack of all trades,” he remembers. (A lathe is a tool for turning metal into a round shape, and a wood lathe is the type of equipment used to make a baseball bat.) He built a go-kart, tinkered with lawn mowers and learned about car repair in a garage . As he describes it, his interest was “all about mechanics”.
After high school, he spent four years in the Navy in the early 1970s, working in the United States repairing radios for F-4 jets, and then studied mechanical engineering at Penn State. After working for a drilling company, he started his own machine shop called Justus Machine.
The bumper car is 5.5 feet tall. Kathy Hryhorcoff
Always immerse yourself in something new
The submarine he built was based on plans for a K350 model purchased from George Kittredge and is called Persistence. “I knew I was building something that if I built it right wouldn’t kill me,” he says. (Watch a video of the sub in action here.) This submarine went to depths of up to 540 feet without anyone on board, Hryhorcoff says, and he himself took it to a depth of about 150 brought foot.
[Related: How does a jet engine work? By running hot enough to melt its own innards.]
Hryhorcoff describes himself as an engineer, not an artist, and prefers to pursue plans and undertake projects where he knows any challenges he might face can be overcome. “Every project I ever took on, I knew I could do it, but I also had to learn something new along the way,” he says. “There were always some unknowns.” But those unknowns, he adds, were within the realm of possibility for him and his equipment, even if he had to learn new things along the way.
“I prefer big projects to a dozen small ones,” he adds.
Watch a short video about Hryhorcoff and this project below:
Source : www.popsci.com