We make lots of wheeled vehicles in schools, using cheap components. But they are cheap because we buy them in bulk from specialist stores. Producing a version that can be made at home, using materials from the recycling bin, has been an interesting challenge. If you can come up with any improvements – please get in touch (Contact).

To make this vehicle you will need:

  • 4 milk bottle tops

  • 2 bbq skewers

  • a drinking straw

  • a piece of cardboard

Warning: The making of wheels from milk bottle tops is a task for adults.

The idea is to use the bbq skewers as axles for the milk bottle top wheels. So that the wheels fit snugly onto the skewer, you will need to make a 2mm hole in the centre of the milk bottle top. i have tried two ways of doing this:

  1. Drill a hole with a 2mm bit
  2. Punch out a hole with a panel pin, using a hammer

Either way, I would recommend putting the top onto a piece of scrap wood before drilling or hammering.

Next, cut a rectangular piece of cardboard, and cut the skewers so that they are 2 cm wider than the cardboard. Make up your axles by fitting a wheel at either end of the skewer. If the hole in the wheel is too small, you may need to shave off a little wood with a pencil-sharpener. If the hole is too big and the wheel is loose, trying wrapping a piece of paper or masking tape around the end of the skewer to ensure a tight fit.

Next, fit two straws on the cardboard. They should be parallel and near the ends (though, of course, you can experiment with both positioning and angle if you make more vehicles!).

Finally, remove a wheel from each axle and slide it through the straw, replacing the wheel once the axle is in place.

When you have successfully built one of these vehicles, you make like to make a balloon powered version: see Balloon Power

For careers linked to this investigation see Transport and Aerospace

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