DIY Weekend: Mutant four-wheeler for road, rail

New Crave series kicks off with the Hennepin Crawler, a quirky, functional four-wheel contraption made from 90 percent found parts.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
  • Third place film critic, 2021 LA Press Club National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards
Leslie Katz
2 min read

Hennepin Crawler
One person can pedal the Hennepin Crawler on flat ground, though it's built for four riders, each with free-wheeling multigear crank sets. The desert crawler was built, among other things, for getting around the Burning Man countercultural arts fest. Clifford Hill/Sassy Monkey Media

DIY Weekend, a new Crave series spotlighting readers' do-it-yourself creations, kicks off with the Hennepin Crawler. Members of Krank-Boom-Clank, a three-person kinetic industrial arts collective in Santa Rosa, Calif., spent one night a week for six months building the quirky contraption, one of their "mutant ride-able sculptures of delight (aka 'freak bikes')."

Built for four riders, the Crawler can handle both street and limited railroad-track cruising at The Great Handcar Regatta (and, of course, the playa at the annual Burning Man countercultural arts festival).

DIY Weekend graphic

The creators of the Crawler (Clifford Hill, Skye Barnett, David Farish, and former Krank-Boom-Clank member Dan Kirby) built the Hennepin improv-style from about 90 percent found parts, including discarded lawn furniture; truck, antique Cadillac, and VW Bug parts; an old dune buggy seat; spools of aviation wire; old bike bits (handlebars, cranks, pedals, sprockets, and chains); and an antique doorknob. It rolls on 4-foot diameter culvert pipe with some 900 parts per wheel.

The team scavenged most of their components with the Hennepin Crawler in mind, but others were "waiting patiently in our studio to be incorporated serendipity-style," Hill says.

Though the creators originally envisioned a box frame for their art car, plans changed when they chanced on a discarded free-standing yard hammock frame. Its sectional multitube crescent design was reassembled into curving dragon-spine lines that the Krank-Boomers found to be lightweight, flexible, strong, and easy on the eyes.

The Crawler, they say, "represents a melding of alternative transportation innovation, human-powered kinetic sculpture, recycling functional garbage, and a prankster's notion of inflicting bewildering beauty upon an unsuspecting public." For those who want to lend a whimsical, Jules Verne feel to a party or event, Krank-Boom-Clank even rents out the Hennepin Crawler. But at $4,700 (plus a fee for handlers), it will cost you more than a clown.

Making of the Hennepin Crawler (photos)

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Next up in DIY Weekend: From retro arcade machine to electronic sculpture.

To share your DIY project, simply e-mail a description of 350 words or less, including all the geeky ins and outs of your invention, plus relevant links and photos, to crave at cnet dot com. Please put DIY Weekend in the subject line.