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The Bucky Wagon at UW-Madison Homecoming 2011

October 17, 2011


Here’s a slideshow of all the fun we had over the weekend showing off the Bucky Wagon to students and alumni in Madison for homecoming celebrations.
From the murmurs in the crowd at the homecoming parade, it seems like a lot of students and alumni heard all about the new and improved Bucky Wagon’s journey to this its debut by reading and watching stories about it last week, and for that we owe great thanks to all the local media that helped get the word out:




Lots of very kind print stories were published as well: 
Wisconsin State Journal
Channel 3000
Channel 27
Appleton Post-Crescent
Fox 11 in Appleton
Eau Claire Leader-Telegram


Bucky Wagon: Ready for Launch

October 12, 2011


The Bucky Wagon made the trek back from Appleton on Monday. Now, only some last minute polish is necessary to get it ready for the big debut at the homecoming parade on Friday. Bower and his students had to clean bugs off the Bucky Wagon from its ride home on a trailer, and ride home on a trailer, and every so often a faculty member will stop by the garage to see what the finished wagon looks like with all the lights on at once. Students are still tinkering with things like the programmable message board at the top, and Bucky himself has yet to check out his new ride before the parade. But after a two year journey, the Bucky Wagon will finally be back in action soon.

The Bucky Wagon, with all the lights on high. Note the LED spotlight on the grill, just so Bucky remains visible even during night games.

Pierce Manufacturing did not just stick this plaque in place in exchange for all their hard work–it is covering a small hold in the original body piece that was no longer necessary.


The new steering wheel is smaller, but still easier to handle than the old steering column.


The Wisconsin Alumni Association and the College of Engineering give a huge thanks to Glenn Bower, his students and the corporate donors that all worked tirelessly to make this project a reality.



Building the Bucky Wagon: Hidden Additions

October 7, 2011


Engineers at Pierce Manufacturing didn’t just re-create the stock 1932 LaFrance fire wagon. They have nearly a century’s worth of experience in designing fire engines, and it made sense to use the benefit of their experience to improve on the original design for the Spirit Squad’s unique needs. They redesigned the bed of the truck with better seating and storage than ever before. And new diamond plating and reinforced rails will keep the running boards firm and able to support any number of Spirit Squad members.

Pierce also helped Glenn Bower retool the wagon to better fit the mission of creating a greener vehicle. LED emergency lights now top the wagon and will cut back on electricity use.  Pierce also supplied what appear to be fire hose hookups … but don’t try to use them: Bower and other engineers removed the vehicle’s heavy water pump to reduce strain on the electric motor.

While the engine might not be able to actually fight fires, it will be able to carry more Spirit Squad members further distances. And that’s probably more important in the long run. Bucky isn’t a trained firefighter, after all.

The wagon bed, now with more storage.

LED lights replace traditional spinning lights.


Gauges that disguise the fact that the Bucky Wagon cannot actually fight fires.



Building the Bucky Wagon: New Paint Job

October 4, 2011


The major components of the Bucky Wagon made it through Pierce Manufacturing’s painting facility early last week, and since then the body has been nearly completely reassembled. The hood now has a Pierce logo stamped on the grill, and with good reason–the engineers there have fabricated at least half the wagon’s body pieces, in some cases reinforcing and re-imagining them in the process. But the most striking development is the snazzy new coat of Badger-red paint on everything–the photos don’t even do it justice. Make sure to attend the homecoming parade this year just to experience the full effect.


Mechanical engineering faculty associate Glenn Bower works on assembling the new body pieces.


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