Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Here's A Prius Mod You Probably Have Not Seen Before


From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle...
Edward Kramer knew his Toyota Prius was a she, but the exact name escaped him.
“The name is associated with the paint,” Kramer said. “My wife remembers these things.”
Wait for it.
While she remembers the names, he designs and tinkers with the hardware. In this case, it’s a white bumper guard made of tube steel on the front.
Yes. Mr. Kramer has welded a steel frame and connected to his Prius.
It’s a standard look for a pickup or an SUV. Not so much for a Prius. But Kramer has his reasons.
I can't wait.
He lives just outside Gardiner, and he and his wife drive the Prius about 1,000 miles a week on the gravel roads and highways of the Paradise Valley. Deer and elk are all over those roads too, and Kramer worried that, if he ever hit one, it might total the small car.
“The poor animals, they don’t know what to do,” he said. “They see those headlights, they’re blind.”
I almost get this. I do. I mean, on one hand, the Prius is one of the safer vehicles on the road, no matter what it is you're running down at midnight on a lonely highway on the other hand, good ol' steel.
More than that, he worries that cars aren’t built as tough as they could be. Slamming into an animal could total a car in some cases, and he thinks that better engineering could prevent that. 
“Vehicles aren’t built so that they withstand anything,” he said.
And here's where we leave reality and trip daintily down the road of "I likes 'em tough" fantasy.

The word totaled today doesn't mean what it once meant. Cars are designed with crumple zones that are supposed to, well, as the name suggests, crumple. That saves lives. We know that for a fact. What it doesn't save is the vehicle. We know that as well. Often times a less than fatal accident, even ones where the occupants walk away unscathed, can sometimes cause damage in excess of the vehicles value. That's totaled.

The problem isn't engineering, it's viewing current engineering through the lens of old school engineering. In the olden days, build 'em big, build 'em tough was the paradigm and that's why those older vehicle are tanks made of sheet steel wrapped in girder-like bumpers. The problem is, of course, what we've learned in the half century or so since then. And that is, the problem with build 'em big, build 'em tough is, the rather delicate gelatinous bags of protoplasm piloting these vehicles usually died in crashes even if the vehicle could be driven again. That was viewed as a less than optimal result.
Putting a bumper guard on the Prius was his response. So when they bought the car about two years ago, Kramer designed a bumper guard and had it built at Mike’s Off Road.
It has served him well, though it has mostly been fending off rocks and curbs so far.
“It’s kind of fortunate, we haven’t had any trouble with animals since we put it on,” he said.
Yeah, his animal shredder on the front will probably only, much like the crumple zones of the car, survive one megafauna impact. But don't let me ruin your safety fantasy.
He wants to modify the guard a little bit, make it slide backward when it hits something. He’ll work on that when he has more free time. In the meantime, it is good enough.
So he wants to build in a crumple zone on his non-crumpling bumper guard.
And, by the way, the car’s name is Pearl.
Pearl is a very nice name.