One of the long-lost traditions in Cub Scouting is the construction and use of a Cubmobile. What's a Cubmobile? Why, it's good, clean, Cub Scout-powered fun on wheels, that's what it is!
There are several different styles of Cubmobile, and in fact, you can really make it however you want to as long as you meet the minimum specifications:
Limited steering radius (for stability in turns)
Brakes (usually a drag brake)
Seat belt (you know, for kids!)
Hard rubber wheels (the inflatable kind were not recommended for some reason or another)
A handle at the back (to push with or pull from? Not sure on this one...)
Every driver wears a helmet (that's a no brainer)
We followed some easy-looking plans we found on the web. I purchased some wheels (those were half the cost right there!), a 2x4, and some bolts, washers, screws, and nuts. I had a bit of plywood laying around, and some scrap 1x2; the majority of the seat cushion was a donation of an outdoor seat cushion, to which I added some plastic grocery bags for added bulk and the leg of one of my old pairs of khakis as a covering. To augment the stopping power, I cut a 6" section out of an old bicycle tire and stapled it to the bottom of the brake lever.
I had about 2" of blue paint left over in the bottom of the can from when we made the Electric Current sailboat with the Boy Scouts two summers ago; I had to break through the crust that formed on the top in order to get to the paint, which was so thick that I had to add some water in order to make it usable. The orange paint was a donation from one of the parents, and the black and white paint I had just laying around.
Yeah, I know. It seems like I've got a lot of stuff "just laying around" at my house, but that's what enables me to do these kinds of projects!
I wanted the Cubs (and remember, these are first graders,) to have the chance to take part in the building of this thing, so I brought the parts and some tools to a Den meeting. Before the meeting though, I cut all the parts to size, predrilled all holes, and preassembled the cart in order to ensure that it would go together smoothly. So yes, I built the Cubmobile, then took it apart so that the Cubs could build it. And at the risk of giving away the ending too soon, I took it apart again in order to paint it, then put it all back together again.
After we assembled it at the Den meeting, we gave it a test ride out on one of the side streets in the neighborhood. Here are a few safety rules that I learned that seemed like common sense, but apparently aren't common sense to Tiger Cubs:
Don't stand in front of the Cubmobile, especially while it's moving.
Only one person on the Cubmobile at a time.
If it looks like you're going to run into the curb or a tree or a car, turn the Cubmobile away from that object.
If you're pushing the Cubmobile, don't push so fast that you lose your footing and fall.
Don't taunt the Cubmobile.
Okay, that last one I borrowed from SNL's Happy Fun Ball disclaimer, but you certainly shouldn't taunt the driver of the Cubmobile because "the Cub Scout gives goodwill."
Oh, and those rules made me think of one other thing: pushbars. The Cubs were pushing the Cubmobile from the rear axle, which had them hunched over almost touching the ground, and made it pretty tough for them. So J and I took a trip to Lowe's with a vague idea of what I wanted, and a determination to do it cheaply.
We looked at PVC, but I thought it would be too flimsy and breakable. We looked at plumbing black pipe and at copper pipe, but both would be too expensive. Then we looked at electrical conduit, which would have been perfect but it didn't have the right kinds of connectors to do what I was envisioning in my head...so I changed my vision. I had in my mind a T-style handle, with the bottom of the T anchored to the Cubmobile and the arms of the T angled out for easy pushing. Instead, I settled for two upside-down Ls, using two-eared conduit straps to anchor them to the Cubmobile. The problem with that was that the conduit started to twist in the brackets, which I corrected by drilling through the strap and the conduit and putting a screw through the strap and conduit and into the wood.
There's another whole post that I should make on the Tiger Cub insignia that I painted on...that was quite a feat in itself, and I daresay it took longer than putting the Cubmobile together in the first place.
A movie of the Cubmobile in action: