The Big Rig is my second attempt at a self-standing two passenger dog-powered vehicle. This vehicle was built by Rhoades Car, and as such it’s a more of an industrial vehicle build predominantly for warehouses and large facilities which necessitate the use of riding access vehicles. I bought this vehicle because of the price and availability, and for the factory standard issued electric motor option. It also came from the factory with an interesting canopy that would help keep the driver dry, which made it a good choice for use in either sun or rain.
Unfortunately, because it was designed for industrial use, it is extremely heavy and sluggish. Its two car lead acid batteries add to its weight and bulky awkwardness. I took on the project of customizing the Big Rig for the WooFPAK on my own, without factory assistance. Modifications included dog attachment points that allow me to hook dogs on the sides like the Low Rider, and additionally I modified the front end to allow the dogs to pull the rig as a more traditional sled on wheels.
I did run into several complications with this design. The problems primarily stemmed from the heavy weight and asymmetrical mounting position of the heavy lead acid batteries, leading the whole rig to suffer from uneven weight distribution. Therefore, to provide a counter-balance, I had a custom assembly frame addition fabricated. This had the added benefit of securing the dogs away from any access to the wheels and other moving parts. Unfortunately, this of course added to the weight all the more and put extra strain on the motor and batteries.
Considering the excessive weight, my next issue became breaking. The Big Rig, like the Low Rider, was built with simple bicycle breaks, which were insufficient to stop all the forward momentum of the batteries and frame and heavy motor. My first attempt to find a solution was to use hydraulic breaks. These helped, but did not solve the problem. I finally had motorcycle breaks retrofitted to stop this beast! But nothing could compensate for its erratic balance problems, which continued to create handling and navigation difficulties.
This bike functions best on smooth, concrete, hard surfaces… roads, sidewalks, etc. We had tried it on unpaved bike trails and it provided almost no power to compensate for any unevenness in the path created by hills or substrate resistance. These unsuccessful attempts on traditional trails lead me to conclude the Big Rig is not fully equipped to function successfully on trail rides. At this time, I have officially retired the Big Rig and reserve it for use with research projects and basic training for the dogs.