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MAX Update No. 30: When in Deer Country, Roll with It

Man, I sure hope I don't get kicked out of PETA for this.

I'm replacing MAX's aluminum windshield frame with something more substantial — a steel tube the same size as the roll bar. It will support the roof (coming soon) and provide a smidgen of side impact protection (more of that coming soon, too).

The trouble is that I live in deer country, on Eight Dollar Mountain in rural southern Oregon. It's bear country, too. I've seen bear in the Kinetic Vehicles driveway and our secretary, Jacky, shooed one away from her trash cans last winter, “Bad bear! Scat!” I suspect the bear ran away out of fear that Jacky was rabid.

It's even cougar country — my friend Dave, who has appeared in this blog a couple times, dang near tripped over one in his mud room this April.

But mostly it's deer country. Seeing a deer here is no more surprising than seeing a cow in Wisconsin.

MAX roll barI find deer charming. Every time I drive to my cabin and find them frisking about, converting my garden to venison, I can't resist calling to them, “I'm home, deer!”

Besides, they help the economy. I have a friend who is saving for his daughter's college tuition thanks to public interaction with deer: He drives a tow truck.

I hit a deer with a motorcycle once. We were both trying to dodge and we outsmarted each other. Although neither of us was killed, neither of us particularly enjoyed the experience. If I'd been driving MAX, the deer would’ve come over the hood and right into the cockpit with me, which wouldn't have improved either of our moods.

So MAX is getting what I call an auxiliary roll bar. But if local accident statistics are any guide, deer strikes are a lot more common than rollovers. I'm not sure how to discuss this in the brochure …

How's this? “The Kinetic Vehicles auxiliary roll bar helps keep wildlife in its natural environment.”

Photo by Jack McCornack 


Browse previous MAX Updates.
Read the introductory MAX article, Here Comes the 100-mpg Car.
Visit the Kinetic Vehicles website for more technical details on MAX.
mary saunders_3
7/10/2009 1:24:41 PM

My dad made a roadster in the 40's that he wall-papered. It was so unique that his rich friends traded their fancy rigs to use it on weekends. This leads me to wonder if you can use that swimsuit material as a top-dressing to decrease drag?

bill goodrich
7/10/2009 10:12:54 AM

Jack, As uncle Rice noted, aluminum is signifcantly lighter; actally about one third of the weight of steel, as I am sure you were already aware of. However the strength can also be comparative with steel; Steel has a yield strength starting around 36 KSI to a higher yield of 80 KSI, but the yield strength of Aluminum can range from about 14 KSI for 3003H2 to 30KSI for readily available 6061-T6 material to around 48 KSI for a 7075-T6. Just keep in mind the higher the yield strength the more stringent the welding requirements will be, like pre-heating and how the material is cooled. Lastly, the bending strength is also directly directly related to the OD of the tube; A thinner wall with a large OD is much stronger than a thickwalled tube with a slighly smaller OD. Enjoy, your updates!

jack mccornack
7/6/2009 7:05:04 PM

UncleRice, the nose is useful as a sacrificial smasher-upper for slowing the car down, same way as the plastic foam filled bumpers on store-bought cars. It's not going to save the deer, but it might make a difference to me and my passenger. This deer strike thing is more than theoretical. Tom, a young man who works here with us, got his driver's license on Friday and hit a deer on his way home Monday--good think he was driving a Metro instead of MAX.

7/2/2009 10:03:14 AM

It gets really bad when you can tell your son that you can get a bigger buck with your car than he gets with his bow. Has happened twice now. In both cases the deer got away, probably became food for the coyotes, but such is life in the country. Luckily my insurance company doesn't count animals against me.

7/1/2009 7:12:40 PM

It sounds like you are in the same spot I'm in. You almost need a hunting license to drive. I lost a rusted out Datsun PU to a deer. I'm not sure how the height of MAX's nose lines up with a deer's belly, but you may want to reinforce the nose so it doesn't smash too badly when it has to deflect a deer at 70 MPH. A side note: Aluminum is about 4 times lighter than steel and about half as strong. This means an Aluminum frame for your windshield is not a bad choice, as there is a potential for you to make a windshield frame equally as strong as your steel one for about half the weight, or twice as strong for about the same weight.