This week's special challenge pits the Anoraks,
winners of the 2004 series, against the Catalysts - Gary, Tim, and Shane
- winners of the 2001 series and of every Weld Cup Final since. Their challenge
will take twenty hours to complete. It's a build-your-own juggernaut contest,
capable of pulling four times its own weight in timber. It'll be judged
on load-to-weight ratio, and there can only be one powered axle.
With the Anoraks is Mark Hale, a lorry engineer
who specialises in custom-build trucks. They go for something powerful,
geared, with lots of traction. They want a large flat bed, with ballast
on the back, and will need to construct a towing hitch to connect. The
ballast will determine whether the front is too high, too low, or just
right; that and the towing hitch will be the key builds.
The Catalysts have Richard Vincent, who builds
tractors and engines. They head for a basic tractor shape, with a much
larger engine. They'll have no real traction problems, as their trouble
will be finding the right engine, and making sure the towing hitch is strong
Lorries are hard to miss, even on the heap, and
the Anoraks find their truck, with a turning engine. Turning, but not going
that well. For the Catalysts, their tractor has everything but the seat.
The Anoraks' lorry is well buried, and it's some
hours before they can remove all the debris and free it for work. They
also need to bypass the fuel system, and then bypass the door, and repair
two flat tyres. Once the lorry finally arrives back home, they have to
strip off as much weight from the lorry as possible: excess weight on the
lorry could count against them.
The Catalysts have problems: they need to modify
the oil system, as the original engine would take in an oil-air mixture.
There's a difference of opinion on whether they need a six-inch-thick towing
hitch or something more simple. The gearing on their engine seems to be
stuck so that the lowest gear can't be selected. And they have no tyres.
Not a happy warren of bunnies.
On day two, tyres are the requirement for both
teams. The Anoraks get a lot of tyres, the Catalysts get almost none, and
the Anoraks get first pick of the tyres. The Anoraks find a lot of ballast,
twelve barrels giving almost 2.5 tonnes, and their build is in good shape.
Things go from bad to worse on the other side of
the fence - expert Richard spends most of the morning tinkering with the
engine, connects everything up - except the oil filter. Oil everywhere.
The team have four workable tyres, and attach lengths of pipeline to the
one drive axle so they fit. Weight comes from 250kg of water on the front,
and solid tyres made from concrete. It's finished, but no-one seems to
have much confidence in the machine.
Come testing day, the Anoraks will go first. They
start with one tree trunk (1.3 tonnes), and both teams manage to pull without
really breaking sweat. The second pull is four trunks, about 5.2 tonnes.
The Anoraks make it, the Cats lose traction early, turn the engine up to
max, only to see it rather expire under their feet. The Anoraks almost
manage the third run, making 50m of the 60m course pulling fully six logs
and 7.8 tonnes. Had the ground been harder, had there not been much rain
in the previous weeks, they may well have made it. They've done more than
enough to win.