the newsletter of the Solar Bus
- The Solar Bus Survives Attack at SolarFest
- Solar Bus Has Surgery and Quits Smoking
- Report from Gathering of the Vibes
- 4th Annual Solar Jam and Rally to be held on Sept. 23rd
- Other coming of Solar Bus appearances
- Time to schedule a school visit from the Solar Bus
View a short slideshow from SolarFest 2007
This year's Vibes festival was at a new location, and who can imagine a better place to have a four day music festival, than at the BEACH! The organizers of the event gave us a great spot in the non-profit village.
This year we took everything to the next level. In addition to our regular solar displays like the solar fountain and solar oven, we offered "Solar 101" classes that were mentioned in the event program. And we showed solar powered movies at night.
At night, the other new addition to our presence emerged. As in previous years we supplied solar powered lights to the non-profit village. But this year we added a new attraction - solar powered movies! After the bands stopped playing (around midnight or 1AM) we used duct tape to hold a queen sized bed sheet to the side of the bus and a donated video projector powered by the solar energy stored in our batteries showed cartoons and other "shorts" through the night. People gathered around, brought their sleeping bags, and snuggled on the grass to enjoy the films. A chorus of snoring grew louder through the night and made everyone feel at home. We had a pretty big crowd and by the time the sun came up several people were still there watching Bugs Bunny make a fool out of Elmer Fudd. And I made sure everyone knew the movies they were watching were powered by the sun. It's demonstrations like this that I feel are the most effective because people get to experience solar energy, not just read or hear about it.
Another small attraction we added is a solar powered grasshopper and frog who battle it out. Sometimes they appeared to be dancing, or even kissing, while other times they resembled a professional wrestling match. Surprisingly, the grasshopper came out on top most often, as the frog often bumped off the side wall and flipped over. We're working on a video of this "Solar Battle" we'll have up on our website soon. By the way you can pick up a solar grasshopper or frog in our online store.
As I have come to say, there's a reason they call it the "Vibes." This year was no exception and probably the best year for the Bus. So many people stopped by to check out our displays. The weather was great, short of one rainy day out of four. We really got a chance to perform our mission this year at the Vibes - to show people that solar energy really works, and to inspire. Special thanks to volunteers Ken, Mark, and Forrest for helping out, and the event organizers for welcoming us and letting us "do our thing!"
- Hear an interview with Solar Bus driver Gary Beckwith on "Vibes Radio"
- Photos from Gathering of the Vibes
You read that right. The Solar Bus is on the patch. Her smoking problem was so bad, she had to have surgery.
As mentioned in previous newsletters, the Solar Bus was showing some signs of mechanical problems. Considering the 250,000 miles on her engine, we were concerned. One of the symptoms of her troubles was billowing smoke when the engine was cold. We really didn't like putting all that smoke in the air, considering our mission, even if it was biodiesel or vegetable oil smoke. And to make matters worse, it takes a long time for her to warm up and for the smoke to disappear. One time we even got an email from someone driving behind us, complaining that we were polluting too much.
So it was time to bring her in. After talking to many mechanics, we knew it was one of 3 things and none of them were cheap to repair. If it was "engine wear" there was no way we could afford to fix it - that would be over $10,000 to address. We were really worried.
Well the stars were shining on us that day when we drove 177 miles to a special Cummins mechanic who was familiar with the type of engine we have. He found the problem and had it fixed in just a couple hours. Then he took some time to adjust the valves, brakes, and clutch, and gave her a lube job! We drove back with a smile, so thankful it wasn't something worse.
So the good news is, the Solar Bus has quit smoking, and she's in good health. She's ready to roll, and without a cloud of smoke following us! Thanks to Mahoney and Sons in Brentwood, NH for the good work.4th Annual Solar Jam and Rally