Sunday April 29, 2002  
Build day at the Learning Channel's "Junkyard Wars"


Junkyard Wars is a popular TV techno competition where two teams are assigned a project concept - the "Challenge".  Once the official Junkyard clock is started, the teams have a mere 10 hours to evolve and discuss a logical machine; scrounge through the junk yard for useable components; AND finish fabricating "something".  Seems like all teams finish, but few ever get any real testing in prior to the actual competition.  Competition day is the true test of the machines.  Only one team can win.  They go on to the next challenge round and possible eventual fame and glory as the Junkyard Wars champions!  Some very good potential machines end up losing because of minor details that are simply overlooked in this intense and hectic battle of minds and fabrication time limitations. Serious stress!  Awful time constraints.

Each teams is composed of three enthusiastic builder/fabricators plus one "expert" - a preselected specialist in aspects of the "challenge of the day" who assumes the leadership role.  The show also has an additional unbiased (?) expert, called the "judge", who provides occasional color commentary with the show's host.

On many of my past engineering projects it was easy to spend a full day doing analysis and optimization of a single part!  I was proud that we completed Robosaurus in just one and a half years!  It would be quite a mental change of pace to do a complete a project in 10 hours and to try to stay cool and collected as that 10 hour gong approached.

Tristan Chytroschek, originally from Britain, was the segment producer for RDF Media's Junkyard Wars who first contacted me in early March about being one of their "experts".   This originally was for a segment to be filmed in August.  Sounds like great fun - fine.  After a few more calls back and forth, Tristan and his director changed my role to a "judge" and asked if I could do an episode much earlier.  Still fine.  We did it the end of April.

Tristan was the creator of the "Challenge" for that episode.  All I can conclude is that he is downright evil and demented (and also quite funny).  Very nasty challenge!  After the fact, I am very glad that I was assigned to be a judge rather than an expert.  As a judge, I could sit back and objectively evaluate the ongoing design progress without all the stress of the people actually in the fray of the battle.  During the building phase, I became aware of  a couple of technical boo boos both teams made with their designs and engineering (they had NO time to do any decent analysis on anything, nor could they always find adequate strength materials in the junk yard heaps), but I was not allowed to discuss these matters with either team. For the record, I have to also mention that I too missed a couple of essential physics points myself.  It all comes out on competition day! 

Of course, all team members, experts and the judge had to sign legal documents (just like on "Survivor") that we would not tell anyone what the "challenge" consisted of or which team won.  For that you have to watch the show!

See Doug as a Junkyard Wars JUDGE
on Wednesday September 25, 2002!
(In Southern California, "The Learning Channel" is channel 73)

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Cathy Rogers, Doug, Pam
Cathy is the creator of this entertaining and surprisingly educational series.  She was also the shows talented, humorous host for years. Cathy is currently the president of RDF Media America and has passed the hosting work on to Tyler and Karyn (below).
Junkyard Wars originated in Britain 7 years ago. It became quite the hit there and was imported to the states two years ago.
Canadian Tyler Harcott currently co hosts the show with MTV's Karyn Bryant.

Tyler knows of some of my other patented inventions.  He was previously host for "I Dare You - the Ultimate Challenge" when Bob Correll crashed the KiteCycle attempting to jump over 3 tractor trailers parked end-to-end!

First the introductions:
Team 1 - The Custom Cruisers

(L-R) Expert Jim, Broyles, Brewsir (team captain) and Willie.

Team 2 - The Wenches with Wrenches

(L-R) Expert Hanz, Geri, Pammy and Alicia (team captain).

The girls grew up with drag racing dads.  Two have been welding since teenagers!

Announcement of the "Challenge".

Host Tyler describes the details of the competition task to the assembled teams.

Then the Junkyard Wars clock is started.

Tristan Chytroschek is the RDF Media's Junkyard Wars segment producer who came up with the nasty challenge for The Custom Cruisers and The Wenches with Wrenches!  If you look close, you can see the delight and deviousness in Tristan's eyes as he sees the teams groan when told of their "Challenge"!
The Wenches work area (shown here) is right across the wall from the Cruisers shop area.  Both groups are continuously observed from above by a safety officer. 

All team members and most of the 60 workers on the set all wear radios. The safety officer can instantly remind someone to put a hard hat on, gloves on, etc. before they work with any of the machines or start welding.

The freshly painted floor of each shop area is a giant Junkyard Wars logo.
The Wenches with Wrenches battle plans start to take shape!
Expert Jim and Custom Cruiser team captain Brewsir discuss some fast build strategies.
Host, Karyn Bryant, spends a few moments reviewing the Custom Cruiser's plans and progress with Brewsir.
Karyn next visits the Wenches with Wrenches to see how their machine is coming.
Host, Tyler Harcott, and judge Doug up in the "Judge Chat executive office" (more junk on top of a pile of junk cars).  This is a good observation post for seeing what both teams are up to.  Here we are getting ready to do take five for one of our comment sessions.  We are both wired and after each take, Cathy and the director makes some instant recommendations on what to talk about next or to redo and improve on what we just did.
Hanz, the expert for The Wenches with Wrenches, takes a well deserved break.
Go! Go! Go!  Only 3 hours left!
Hey Tyler, I think I did a pretty decent job as your judge today.  Can you arrange to have some more Junkyard Wars medals of valor (nuts and washers hanging from my lapel) added to my uniform for tomorrow?
(The "valor" is for staying objective even after Geri and Pammy kept bribing me with nice hugs whenever they went out searching for parts in the Junkyard!)
10 hours later......
The end of a long, whirlwind day!

Frazzled and dirty, but still smiling, the  Wenches with Wrenches team calls it a day.

Just as dirty and apparently even more weary than the Wenches team.  Looks like Custom Cruiser's captain Brewsir is catnapping WHILE standing up!


Link directly to the Junkyard Wars COMPETITION pictures