A new show on TLC (wednesday evenings at 9&10) in which two teams compete to engineer useful STUFF made only of parts they can find within a junkyard and within the span of a ten hour time period and without any prior knowledge of the challenge.

The show doesn't hand-pick the best of the best... there is an application process that is open to any team who wants to try.

The show is originally British, called Scrapheap Challenge on channel 4.

i am absolutely amazed by this show. the feats of engineering performed are spectacular. in the first junkyard war i saw two, teams were to build something that could hold a person and fly without an internal power source. the team whose "machine" flew the longest in 3 runs was declared the winner.

one team had a member who was a hobby hang glider, their natural choice was to build a simple hang glider. they found sturdy cloth, created a frame and joined the two.

the other team... i was sure they would fail. they found an airplane in their half of the junkyard and decided to build their machine using it's wings. no way, i thought. no way. it's to heavy. they still needed to add a human to the equation. no way would it fly. instead of putting the tail in the back, they built one in the front. on the wings they made styrofoam stabilizers which also served to steer. this was a great big hulking hunk of metal with a human in the middle of it. and it flew.

the teams were given the option of using a tow rope to give them speed, and both teams made use of it after their trial runs using human power resulted in neither plane getting off the ground at all, though the glider showed much more potential.

with the tow rope, the glider got fairly high, but it was unsteady and not properly balanced and only stayed in the air for a short time on each run, gliding nicely down.

the airplane. to my amazement actually got aloft. i didn't expect it to leave the ground. as soon as the tow rope was released, it had similar problems as the glider. weight and balance made the machine unsteady, and it too stayed in the air only a few seconds.

in the end, the glider won. each time the airplane hit the ground again it hit fairly hard and got a bit damaged. but i'm still amazed that the big hunk of scrap got off the ground.

this show is cool.
Ammendment, November 24, 2000

It's a Junkyard Wars MARATHON! Huzzah! And it's just as good the second time, even knowing who wins the challenges. It's just so cool what smart and creative people can do with JUNK. These are the minds that make Mad Max of Thunderdome post-apocalyptic people with planes and cars movies a real future possibility. This show makes me want to quit my job and go work with my hands so I have some basic skillset that would prove useful should the power someday go out.

A new season is starting soon, and preview clips are showing a submersible vehicle. How cool is that?

I cannot recommend this show enough. Excellent.
I love Junkyard Wars. I'm a junkyard war junkie. However, I strongly suggest that you do NOT tape episodes or record episodes on TiVo, then watch marathon runs of the show for hours on a daily basis.

Honey, the car antenna's not working anymore.

Don't worry I can fix it.

Fast forward 30 minutes, and you have the husband out with a circular power saw cutting through the side of the car so he can reach where the antenna's plugged in and use a bicycle sprocket to replace it.

If you have anything around the house that needs fixing, make sure no males living there get to see this show. EVER. They'll think they can fix it even if it means ripping out the entire wall and they have no other tool to use except a dirty sock.

Favorite episodes:
Off-Road Vehicles. One team built a car from scratch using poles, misc. axels, and a Honda Speedbike engine. The other team got a VW Bug, hacked off the back wheels, and transplanted a Oldsmobile front end to the bug's back end.
Cannons. Anything with explosives is good for me
Amphibious Vehicles. Using junkyard parts to build something that acts as both car and boat? Just absolutely astounding. The race winner's vehicles was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. A diesel jeep with oil drums as floats and a propeller stuck in the middle.
Demolition. Detroy a set of brick walls that vary from 6 inches to 18 inches reinforced thick. One team converted a RV so that there was a battering ram on the back, the other actually got a set of hydrolic pumps working that would pry bricks apart and pull them down.
As the American season of junkyard wars comes to a close this evening I'm unhappy to announce the winners to be the Brothers Long. Unhappy you ask? Well, I've been rooting for the Art Attacks. They may not have been the most effective team, they may not have been the most innovative team, and they may not have had the best engineering skills -- but they were very artistic people. Each invention of theirs was finely painted and something beautiful to look at. The long brothers on the other hand used their farm-born know-how to shove together something that worked and ignored the artistic sides of things.

The final challenge was to launch an egg as high as possible without breaking it. I'm not going to detail the challenge too much since those who are interested will probably watch it, and the rest of you won't care -- but what is neat is how the Art Attacks dealt with the situation, not just the problem. The rocket was beautifully painted once the design and construction was finished, and the Art Attacks danced around the rocket singing "O-Christmas-Tree". Later they play-worshipped the rocket. They had fun with the situation. The Brothers Long made this into a business affair. Their difference in attitude to me made my choice for winner preference incredibly easy. Your spirit must be free before your rocket can soar.

I love this show to death but sometimes I can't help but think it's rigged. They almost have to, it'd be pretty boring if one team didn't finish in time so the other guys ran the challenge alone.

The episode that hardened my belief in this was the "Walkers" episode, where teams had to build legged machines that would carry the whole team along a course.
One team took an approach using hydraulic cylinders, which by principle is complex and dangerous. They ran into many construction and engineering problems along the way. By the time the sun fell, they hadn't even really shown the finished hydraulic control box, a sophisticated and vital system of hoses and valves. No one had ever mentioned or shown how they were turning the engine's (which never started) power into hydraulic power.
Yet somehow the next day, all this is figured out, and they even learned how to operate the thing.

My favorite episode ever was "Amphibious Vehicles" mentioned by Kefabi. The violin playing in the background as the losing team sunk was priceless.

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