I Love Scrapheap

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Dear Scrapheap, I love your program and i would just like to thank you for bein the bes TV Program this Century. One thing - do parts get hidden in the scrapheap because you arnet really likely to find some of that matirial for Blimps in the back of a car??? Also, where is the scrapheap situated??? Thanks From Your Bestest Ever in the whole wide world Fan Ian Williams P.S. I would never mis a program for the world.

-- Ian Williams (I_Williams@denemagna.gloucs.sch.uk), November 10, 2000


Glad you like the show. The Scrapheap is in Canning Town in East London.

There's a few good answers to the question about do parts get hidden: Jeff Del Papa's answer and Dr Crash's answer (Reprinted below as it is hard to find on the Slashdot page).

Is the yard "salted"? Depends on what you mean by "salted".... They do make sure that a grand excess of random parts to make do are available. But there's no pre-defined set of detail plans; I've seen what the "experts" planned out for us in one of our Challenges: there were three different ideas, each one on one sheet of lined notebook paper, no details, no dimensions.... and our result looked like nothing on any of these three "expert's plans".

Some of the most "fun" challenges have been where a critical part is intentionally _purged_ from the 'heap- the challenge becomes to construct that critical mechanism from random iron, and get it to work!

Improvization is absolutely key on the 'heap. I can't emphasize this enough. With ONE exception (safety-related equipment), you will NOT find ANY of your key parts "brand new, in box, with doc set" on the heap. What you will find are numerous broken vehicles, trashed appliances, industrial and construction junk, and machine-shop cutoffs/remnants, which may or may not have been placed on the heap because of the challenge, and may or may not have a functional whateveritis you were looking for. (we know that they in general do _NOT_ clean the 'heap out of helpful bits, because we found previous challenger's machine parts on the 'heap )

The "Experts" are people who've worked with purpose-made machinery in their area of expertise for literally decades. Back in their shops, they have all the proper parts, the right tools and alloys, testing equipment, CAD software, the whole shebang. In short, they have the tools, they have the technology. BUT NONE of that is available on the Scrapheap. The Experts themselves have to learn to scavenge and improvise; anything you can't find or manufacture yourself does not exist, even if you have half a dozen of them back in the stockroom at the company (yes, I've seen an expert nearly tearing their hair out in just this situation).

Bearings have to be scavenged; we ripped some out of a Moped. Need a bigger bearing, with a strong shaft? Use a steering knuckle and CV joint off that crashed Citroen. Box girder? If you can't find cutoffs from someone elses project, cut them out of that shed roof. Heavy electrical cable? Scavenge it from one of the big junked excavators.

The ONE EXCEPTION - wherever safety on the set or British safety law (the equivalent of OSHA) is involved, new parts and tools are always salted. For example, safety valves are always new, freshly tested, with certification papers up in the Director's cupola. If you manage to scavenge a safety-related part that isn't one of the certificated ones, an assistant director will let you know- and won't let you build using the unsafe part- they'll send you back out onto the heap with a hint on where to find the safe part that does the same job.

We aren't allowed to change our own grinding wheel or cutoff disks, for the same reason (they have to be spin tested before use, in a safe area). Explosives and high-flammability materials (and fuel tanks) are likewise covered and there are a platoon of Britain's Finest Firemen standing by for the whole day, as well as paramedics and an ambulance, Just In Case (and my thanks to them!).

By it's nature, the show can be dangerous and everyone on set, contestant or not, has to be on gaurd all the time. There hasn't been a serious injury yet (sprains and strains, that's all), and everyone on the show works to keep it that way. Even if it messes up continuity (and you can see this occasionally, where safety gaurds get added to a machine after "TIME" is called) a safety issue trumps any other consideration of the show.

Hope this helps...

-Dr. Crash (Captain, NERDS, season 3)

-- Andy Bell (andy.bell@rdfmedia.com), November 10, 2000.

The experts are able to "request" generic materials, I asked for lots of old freezers, the panels could be cut up for turbine blades, NO problemo!

When I asked for scaffold poles to build a trellis tower for a wind turbine I was told to run along! They do NOT make it into a lego assembly challenge!


-- Jim Barr (jimb@wandana.demon.co.uk``), April 02, 2002.

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