Is the junkyard "seeded" with appropriate parts? : LUSENET : Junkyard Wars : One Thread

I have caught the first four US broadcast episodes of Junkyard Wars, and thoroghly enjoyed them. One question though - do the organizers "seed" the junkyard with appropriate parts prior to each competition? It looks like some of the critical items (like the tires used on the Power Pullers and the aircraft propeller for the amphib vehicle) were too new looking to be actual junkyard refugees. Also, sometimes (but not always) the engines appear to be conveniently "placed" on the ground for teams to find, rather than having to be wrenched out of old vehicles. Any comment? Cheers, Paul Kile

-- Paul Kile (, July 13, 2000


Ive been to many yards and there have always been thing that you could not imagine laying on the ground.

The seeding was a conversation I had with a friend. I thought there had to be some form of seeding involved. The show with the anphib cars and the diesel rover was to much to luck. Then the show with the sunken mini's.. they had plenty of 50gallon drums for that show. The ampphib cars show had a strugle to get the 4 or 5 they needed (not to mention the foam they poured around the drums).

reguardless even if it is seeded, its still a challenge to create the machines involved.


-- speedy (, July 19, 2000.

I have also been to scrap yards and there are many things everywhere. I don't think parts are seeded. They might have a lot of scrap come to that particular scrap yard, but other than that they find them in the yard. Also many things are pulled out of vechicles and such during the search for the teams. The only time they didnt was when they built the artillery guns and the fuses just seemed to appear in the hands of the team.

-- Matt English (, November 24, 2000.


-- K Berkheiser (, November 24, 2000.

In the episode where one team built a blimp, it was quite amazing that the team could find an almost full roll of mylar. . .

-- Andy Wikenheiser (, November 24, 2000.

The Scrapheap Challenge junkhyard was purpose built for the show near the Millenium Dome site (this info was on the web-site somewhere early in the summer, but seems to have vanished now). It was definitely purpose built and does get seeded, but you'll also see continuity to it if the episodes are watched in the right order. The van the navy ripped the roof off of is in easy spot in at least two other episodes (one a before shot, another a definite after).

-- Kevin Tessner (, November 24, 2000.

First off: it helps to understand the purpose of the show -- its stealth science education - tricking 10 year old kids into watching an explanation of how a wing works. They sit thru the mini-lectures bcause they get rewarded afterwards with someone making precision adjustments with sledgehammers. When chosing challenges, its the education that drives the choice. The competition is partly to make it addicting, and partly to give the kids the idea that actually designing and building something might be a lot of fun.

Yes, this is a "rich" junkyard. There are all sorts of neat things to find. And unlike some, there is a lot of stuff that isn't metallic. (usually its construction debris -- the plywood we found had clearly been a concrete form in a prior life) -- Its mostly what you get, when you don't have the yard workers picking over the good bits. The set was a corner of a real working scrap yard. On the other side of the wall, there are cockneys in hydraulic claw loaders, tossing cars thru the air. You have to wear a hard hat when you go to the bathroom. (its out by the truck scales). When stocking the yard between episodes, the random lumps of steel plate is just dumped over the wall from what they have sitting around. But yes, they will add extra stuff to make it possible to complete building a machine.

The basic rule for seeding: If its not possible to safely improvise a part with the time and tools provided, they will provide something that can be pressed into service. It will require some ingenuity to make it work, it will never "just bolt on". If there are specific safety regulations, the relavant parts will always be provided. For example, things like safety valves, regulators, and gas tanks will be planted, and will have their certification paperwork sitting in the directors briefcase. (and if we happen to find such a part that isn't one of the known good ones, they don't let us use it)

But: Just because they give you a part, that doesn't mean its clear sailing. For example the wheels you mentioned. Sure they were there, but none of the differentials in the yard came close to fitting the bolt circle. If you wanted to use them, you had to make it work.

And this brings up another point: That same helpfull crew that hides essential parts, can just as easily remove them. They made sure that there wern't matching differentials for those wheels. In the fire fighting boat episode, there wasn't a pump to be had. Both teams had to make a pump. And not just a wimpy one, the burning shed was supposed to be 50 feet away.

As to engines, yes, there is sample bias in the junkyards you visit. What happens in a conventional junkyard, is that if a car comes in with a running engine, the engine is pulled and sold. Only dead engines are put out into the yard. As a junkyard owner, you don't want someone wrecking a $200 engine to get a $2 part. In this yard the teams are taking the place of those yard employee's that have the job of pulling the good ones out. Teams get their engines from the same places people that sell used engines get them -- from cars whose owner has decided to artfully customize his vehicle; with the help of a tree, broadside.

Yes, this is TV, and they do have to make sure they have two machines, with at least one of them likely to complete the course, and the other at least able to fail in an instructive way. The shows cost close to half a million dollars per episode to make, and the producer is betting that money on half a dozen amateurs. But they do have a surprisingly light touch. We did have ample opportunity to open fire at both feet.

The time limit is pretty real. You get an hour tools down for lunch, and credit for the time that the hosts spend disturbing you. If nothing else, a second day of a film crew adds a lot to the price. And they may only have the test site for a specific day, so you really do have to finish on something like on time.

I can assure you its not scripted, what happens is up to the contestants. The teams really do not find out what they have to build until that morning, on camera. The producer has been very suprised at what the teams made sometimes.

-dp- Organizer, The New England Rubbish Deconstruction Society; The NERDS The first US team to compete. Watch us build a submarine December 6.

-- Jeff - The NERDS (, November 24, 2000.

Thanks for the peek behind the scenes Jeff. Of course it all makes sense when you consider that this IS a TV show after all, and the producers need to be reasonably sure that there will be something to show in the competition at the end of the show.

It's refreshing to see proof that not ALL of us Americans are poised to call foul (or a lawyer) if there isn't a boring disclaimer proclaiming the obvious.... but would rather get down to making things happen! (lol - probably a result of your being from New England rather than California)

Can't wait to see the sub - if they accept our application, maybe we'll see you in the finals! (TWO American teams? Wouldn't that be a riot?)

Tim Watson

-- Tim Watson (, November 25, 2000.

Depends what series we wind up in. TLC has its own version with american teams only, an american host, and some american cars on the pile of junk. (it was shot in the UK, on the same pile of scrap metal as the british series). That series will show in Jan/Feb.

Since we were in the brit series last time, we may try to repeat there. (had a lot of brits (who have seen the whole run) asking for us to return) Otherwise, it would be a delight to meet you in the final. (they aren't otherwise accepting applications from yanks for the british series)


-- Jeff - The NERDS (, November 25, 2000.

OK, lets get this straight kiddies: the correct term is "salted" not "SEEDED". Too many damn engineers in this group (just kidding)!

-- cool star (, January 06, 2001.

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