Meet Roger: Homework Powered by Root & Vandervoort
Class project leads to bonding time for Australian father and son duo
Luke Visser with his dad, Darren, and the vehicle they made together for a class project. The engine is a 1913 4 HP Root & Vandervoort.
In late 2009, my son, Luke Visser, who’s in grade one at an Australian primary school in the southeast suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, came home with a homework sheet. Luke had to make something related to transport.
After showing the assignment to his dad that night I’m not sure who was more excited about the project! This was the perfect opportunity for Dad to get his son in the shed and do some man-to-man homework, instead of the boring homework like the spelling and reading that mums do. The boys were in the shed most nights and within two weeks came out with the finished project – a vehicle powered by a 1913 4 HP Root & Vandervoort engine.
The front and rear wheels were sourced from a pile of old machinery from the back of the yard, the brass steering wheel was from an old boat, the engine was donated by a very good family friend, the chassis was welded by Luke under the guidance of his father and with some 3-inch channel, and the Borg-Warner gear box was off a 6-wheel amphibious buggy that has a forward, neutral and reverse by pushing a lever backward and forward.
The igniter for the engine was missing, so the boys improvised and came up with the solution of a spark plug and a set of points triggered by the pushrod with a battery coil ignition.
The project puffed and spluttered out of the shed with Luke in control. Inside the tender next to him was his 1-1/2-year-old brother who looked up at Luke and thought he had the most clever brother in the world.
Over the course of the project Luke and his dad took several photos that were put into sequence, and a DVD was produced to show the kids and his teacher at school how he did it.
The vision that Luke and his dad created didn’t take very long. TV and after-school activities were sacrificed, but if you see the look on Luke’s face I am sure he would say it was all worth it! Darren, Luke’s father, has been working on a 1912 Ruston Proctor Colonial traction engine for almost two years taking the engine apart and starting from scratch. Luke scratches his head when helping Dad with the riveting, asking himself, “Why does Dad’s project take so long when we finished my project in two weeks?”