It will be spring soon and with spring comes the annual AVAM Kinetic Sculpture Race.

Waayyyyyy back in 2011 the DC Couchsurfing group got together to raise money, design and build an entry for AVAM’s Kinetic Sculpture Race (KSR).  Friends used their skills to help with different aspects from fundraising, cad drawing to fabrication.  We even had team members donating bikes for parts.

Couch FrameCouch

While pretty simple looking on the outside, the couch was pretty complex and took us a few months to build.  This was a KSR race entry after all and it needed to be able to tackle the city by land and sea.  It had to float.  On top of the tubular steel frame (made from an old trampoline), we fitted a 12″ thick 3’x 6′ block of styrofoam.


Steering is pretty neat as we were trying to hide the front wheel under the coffee table the best we could.



Three people can ride at once.  Power goes from the three cranks to an idler with freewheeling gears.  This makes it so riders can rest and take turns.  Power is then transferred via a beefier farm chain to a lawnmower differential so we can get this thing to turn.


While we were off to a great start, our day ended early.  We bent an axle, likely during the enthusiastic Le Man’s start, and that eventually led to a broken axle at the bearing. We packed up about a mile in and drank away our sorrows in the very neighborhood Siri and I would move to a year later.

It wasn’t all a waste though.  Our breakdown was spectacular enough that we won the coveted Golden Dinosaur Award that evening. Those of us who were still upright had gone to the ceremony for the free beer and were pretty well sloshed when we went up to receive our statue.


After a few years sitting in the bushes I finally have the space and tools in Baltimore to resurrect this machine.  We can fix it.. we can make it better.  I’ve brought it down and am announcing our 2016 entry.  We’re hoping to find support from the local bike and couchsurfing communities.

Things we’d like to accomplish:

  • Move bearings outboard to be closer to the wheels.
  • Repair broken axle.
  • User stronger wheels with better brakes (moped wheels?)
  • Re-grease cranks as they’ve sat in the elements for 5 years.
  • Possibly add derailleurs so we can have multiple gears.
  • Testing, testing, testing.

As it sits today.