potential challenges

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To my mind, the most interesting challenges are those which force the teams to do everything themselves. The steam-powered car episode, for instance, was disappointing in that the seeding of the scrapheap was so blatant. The fewer specialty items that have to be provided for the teams, the better.

Centrifuges - the teams are presented with massive drums filled with oil and water whipped up into a frothy emulsion, and they must build centrifuges with which to separate out as much of the two liquids as they can in a given period of time.

Handcars - human powered rail vehicles, traditionally seen in Western movies with a "see-saw" mechanism for two men to propel themselves across the landscape, which would have to compete in speed trials, a tug-of-war, and to determine which machine can climb the steepest grade while towing their opponents' vehicle with all eight members of both teams on board. Best two out of three wins.

Electric generators - no seeding of the yard with anything more useful than several spools of copper wire, so the game here is simply to make a functional generator capable of lighting a handful of household lightbulbs, or perhaps to see who can make a high-wattage bulb glow brighter (something more interesting than a needle bobbing about on a meter, at any rate). Teams could make either AC or DC generators; if necessary, the show provides rectifiers on the day of the challenge.

Iron - the teams are provided with a supply of raw iron ore and as much coal or wood as they require. They must build crushers to pulverize the ore, smelters to render it into metal, and some sort of forge at which the blacksmith experts can work the iron. The first team to produce a useful tool wins.

The Post-Apocalypse House - the teams must show the softer side of their inner caveman by turning their work areas into weatherproof shelters, complete with indoor plumbing, hot and cold running water, and furniture. Victory in this competition would presumably be based on how comfortable and aesthetically pleasing the results are, as well as functionality.

Printing Press - the teams are provided with plates and must build their presses around them. The winner is the first team to print 100 legible copies.

Piledrivers - the teams must drive wooden posts into the bed of a trench or canal 3-4m wide, then bolt some sort of catwalk onto them so the team members can cross without getting wet. Teams can either build a boat or try to cantilever their mechanisms out over the water.

Stills - teams have to salvage automobiles and convert them to run on ethanol, and then build stills to distill their fuel. The stills are allowed to run for some set period of time, and the competition between the vehicles is not a race but a distance trial -- who can travel farther on the fuel they made the night before?

Waterwheels - already done windmills, so why not? Big, low tech machines have a certain Iron Age appeal to them.

War - a special two-hour Junkyard Wars Battle Royale! In the first hour the teams must build a defensive wall at least 20m long and 2m high using anything they can find, but with three stipulations: the wall must support a catwalk one meter wide running its full length in order to discourage the construction of welded "cages" of pipes and conduits; the wall must be free-standing, with no pilings or spikes driven into the ground to help support it; and there must be a gate and working drawbridge at the center of the wall. The producers will no doubt want to supply a water-filled trench as a sort of moat to complicate things in the second hour, during which the teams must build siege engines with which to assault the wall built by their opponents. The winner is the first team to open their opponent's gate, either by battering it down or by breaching the wall and opening it from the inside. No fair climbing over the enemy's wall -- they have to go through!

Just my $0.02

-- Nick Bennett (nsb@teleport.com), January 12, 2001


i like the war one. sounds like that came out of the dark ages

-- Robert (Robo_man80@hotmail.com), January 13, 2001.

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