Great things often come from small beginnings. Such is the
case with Greenspeed, a student club from Boise State University in Boise,
Idaho. Dave Schenker, founder of Greenspeed, started the club with the idea of
sharing the power of biofuel in its purest form, vegetable oil, and breaking a
land-speed record at the same time.
Editor's note: Greenspeed was featured in our Nov 2012 Diesel
Tech magazine issue in the Shop Talk section. The following is the full account
as written by the Greenspeed team.
Photos will go live on our Facebook page Wednesday, Nov. 7!
Go to our page and 'like' us to know right when they are uploaded:
Greenspeed: Five Guys, a Girl, a Garage, and a World Record.
Greenspeed, a student club at Boise State University in
Boise, Idaho and founded by Dave Schenker, became a student group in June of
2010. As Dave saw it, what better way to share the power of bio-fuels then to
use its most raw form, pure vegetable oil, and put it in the tank of common
truck souped-up to take world records on an international stage? Dave was
joined in this idea by Electrical Engineering junior Adrian Rothenbuhler, and
after finding their advisor (John Gardner Ph.D, Director of the CAES Energy
Efficiency Research Institute), it was May of 2011. The group moved into their
newly donated shop from member Jen Kniss with a handful of their personal tools
and a used 1998 Chevy S10 from craigslist. Finals had just ended for the
semester and it was time to begin their work stripping and rebuilding their
used truck with a diesel engine from a 1993 Dodge Ram.
They had just two and half months to construct a vegetable
oil powered truck from the bare frame to a finished speed machine before Speed
Week's time trial season began the following August. They had the same two and
half months to simultaneously raise the funds and parts needed for the project.
With a starting budget of zero, it was going to be difficult.
The group could be found all hours of the day for those
months, and often late into the night, on the phone, grinding metal, welding
modifications to the frame, and even napping in their cars between hours of
Dave made hundreds of calls to the over 70 sponsors who
rallied to support the project and its total cost came to nearly $125,000 in
donated parts and funds.
Because of the short timeframe, Ultimate Transmission let
the team use a mockup transmission to modify the truck while the race
transmission was prepped at the Ultimate shop. Parts were arriving everyday at
the Greenspeed shop, and fabrication largely revolved around what parts arrived
the previous afternoon.
The time spent designing the truck prior to the summer
allowed the team to move quickly as the parts arrived as the deadline for Speed
Week approached. In the meantime, Dave forged a working relationship with the
Southern California Timing Association's (SCTA) Jim Dunn and Steve Davies as
they reviewed the truck's construction and design every few days to assure they
would meet SCTA regulations before Speed Week's Tech inspection.
On the eve of Speed Week's open tech inspection, Greenspeed
arranged to have their remaining parts shipped to the Salt Flats - they would
have to finish the truck on the Salt. The engine was being assembled by Big
Twin Diesel and was dropped into the truck just in the knick of time. With the
truck on the trailer and Boise State helping to fund the week's worth of travel
and accommodation, the crew packed their tools, welders, generators, and tents
on a trailer and drove the 6 hours to Wendover UT- just outside the famed
Bonneville Salt Flats.
As they pulled into the tech inspection area of Speed Week
headquarters, a swarm of inspectors and spectators gathered to view the truck
and one inspector asked: "How long you been working on this project, about
2 years, yeah?"
The inspectors walked through the truck's components and
safety features starting with the 10-pt roll cage and frame reinforcement with
over 200 feet of 1.75" by 0.120" wall D.O.M tubing and the four-link
rear suspension using FKRodends (of monster truck and BAJA1000 fame) designed
by Patrick Johnston. Safety features also included 20 pounds of DJ Safety fire
suppression for the driver and engine at Dave's fingertips. The cockpit glows
green from Adrian's full telemetry system gathering data from nearly 35 sensors
for (among others) temperature, pressure, hall effect and speed - all
accessible through Jen's networking system via a web server in real time. The
106mm primary and 64mm secondary Turbonetics ceramic ball bearing turbos
provide upwards 100 pounds of boost, and are held together with SS and aluminum
piping and clamps from Vibrant Performance. The waste gate is electronically
controlled to keep the turbos at their optimum efficiency (custom Greenspeed
innovation by Dave and Adrian).
The 5.9L Cummins engine required no modifications for
vegetable oil, but is tricked out with high performance parts by Carrillo
(billet connecting rods), the 5- axis CNC ported head from C-TECH Performance
makes good use of Hamilton Cams springs and some snazzy Harland Sharp roller
rockers, MAHLE Clevite (fly cut pistons and bearings), Jet-Hot Coating (ceramic
coatings for the pistons), Total Seal rings for a nice tight fit, Dynomite
Diesel Performance (injectors), FERREA (custom valves), ATS Diesel (exhaust
manifold), Pure Diesel Power (push rods), Victor Reinz (gaskets). The block was
completely reworked and rotating assembly balanced by Northwest Motor Machine
and everything is held together with A1 Technologies fasteners. Fuel gets to
the engine via a FASS Platinum Series pump. All of these engine additions were
carefully assembled by Pat Liskey at Big Twin Diesel. After just an hour of
dyno tuning on a Dynojet248 (that's all the team could afford), the truck put down
708hp and 1099ft/lbs of torque at the rear wheels.
Boise's Ultimate Transmission built the custom transmission
based on 47 and 48RE's and some billet parts added to the mix. The rear end was
bolstered with a high performance quick-change rear with 20 gears for available
gear ratios of 1.20 to 3.33. Fuel is provided by a dual-tank system in order to
start the engine on diesel while the vegetable oil is brought up to 185
degrees. (The vegetable oil's temperature is important for proper viscosity
when passing through the engine's injectors.)
After an hour of inspectors milling about the truck,
Greenspeed passed initial inspection with a few required changes and
adjustments to be made, but only 24 hours to complete the changes and get a
second inspection before joining the other vehicles at the start line. Just an
hour and half before the courses would close for the entire event, the starter
went out on the truck. A short was caused by a dropped wrench at the wrong
moment while adjusting the emergency shut off. Scrambling, the crew followed Seth
Feuerborn's lead on an idea and managed to start the truck with just an hour to
the end of the event.
After much rewiring and crossed fingers, the truck made it
to the start line for it's first ever run down the salt - unfortunately it
would only run on diesel for its rookie and 2nd run - otherwise it would have
become the World's Fastest Vegetable Oil Powered Vehicle on its first run. The
officials held the course open for the team to make a second run, clocking in
at 137.681mph. It was a huge moment for Greenspeed as they watched their leader
Dave drive the vehicle on it's own power for the first time down the salt.
The next attempt would mean running on pure vegetable oil
and taking that record, but it was not so easy. At World of Speed, two cracked
cylinders on their first run thwarted the crew. The engine would have to be
repaired in less than three weeks for the team to participate in World Finals
in October, the last event of the year on the salt. Big Twin Diesel, Northwest
Motor Machine, and MAHLEClevite came through with amazing haste. As the team
was packing to leave Boise, Jim Dunn called Dave to break the news: World
Finals was officially rained out. There was only one chance left to get a
record in 2011: El Mirage in November - a nearly 16 hour drive from Boise
After a grueling drive and a single hour of sleep for each
of the members and their helpers, it was a flawless two days at the El Mirage
Dry Lake Bed. The Greenspeed truck became the World's Fastest Vegetable-Oil
Powered Vehicle on its first run down the 1.3-mile course, timed at 139.881mph.
They topped their own record with 155.331mph the following day. Greenspeed's
hollers and cheers could be heard across the El Mirage racer-city as the
records were announced. A week later, SCTA officials made pure vegetable oil an
official fuel for their Diesel Truck class for the first time in history,
allowing Greenspeed to take on other records sanctioned by SCTA.
Following their success on the course, the team was invited
to Washington D.C. for the Washington Auto Show to visit with thousands of
spectators and public officials; including Idaho Senator Jim Risch and U.S.
Department of Transportation's Ray Lahood. Accompanied by Boise State's head of
research Mark Rudin, team members Jenny and Ken Fukumoto visited Capitol Hill
to speak with the House Committee for Science, Space and Technology. Dave had
the opportunity to shake President Obama's hand as he passed through their
display area and the team was featured in an array of news spanning USA Today,
CSPAN, The New York Times, Wired.com and many more.
And it's not over yet. The team is heading to Speed Week
2012 in hopes of overtaking the petroleum-powered diesel record in their class,
currently set at 215mph, with vegetable oil as their fuel. Joining the 200mph
club is their minimum goal this year and work has already begun in their shop,
tucked away in Garden City, ID. More sponsors are being sought for their other
needs, including an enclosed trailer, parts for their new common rail engine,
bigger shop space, and other miscellaneous parts and funding. The team has
taken on new members - some of whom had already been involved since the early
days of Greenspeed. Mechanical Engineering freshman Mike Van Kirk, professional
fabricator Luke Granden, and Electrical Engineering junior Jared Arave will
pitch in as the newest members to get Greenspeed to the finish line again and
ultimately to its new goals.
In addition, the team is investigating its options to make
this student-driven project a permanent part of the Boise State's offerings as
an engaging Engineering environment. If nothing else, the team may decide to
make their efforts a non-profit organization that works closely with education
in an attempt to bolster engineering drives in young adults in a hands-on way.
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