Soapbox race safety barriers

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I'm currently thinking about the different types of safety barriers for soapbox courses, because the traditional approach - bales and tyres - has a few problems.

Small bales and tyres are fine for course delimitation and, when in big piles, padding in front of fixed hazards like sign posts, etc, but when hit at speed they are too easily knocked out of the way and offer little or no crowd protection. Also, small bales are easily damaged and can be ruined if they are rained on. Plus, spectators find it almost impossible not to sit on them.

Large bales will give good protection for spectators, but need machine handling to put them in place and are very unforgiving to drivers and carties when they come into contact with them at speed.

I had looked at water filled plastic barriers used on kart tracks and road works, but they are prohibitively expensive, so I'm working on a new technique using tyres. The plan is to bolt three or four tyres together in towers, and then fit eye bolts on either side so they can be chain linked together. This should give a barrier that will deform when hit, so decelerating the cartie in a much less abrupt manner than a big bale.

Other advantages are that the raw materials - tyres - are easily obtained as garages will be happy if you take them off their hands. Putting them together in enough volume might take a while, but that's a one off time expense. They should need very little maintenance. Storage and transport might be an issue, but they would be very resistant to weather and as a bonus they are a good place to put sponsors banners and are not very comfortable as seats. And they'd look really good, especially if painted (e.g) red and white.

I've acquired enough tyres to make 5 towers (approx 3.3m of barrier), and I'll keep you posted on progress as I build and test them.


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let us know how you get on

let us know how you get on as I'm sure that we could all help out and possibly bring them to the event. Storage is deff going to be your big problem. One idea may be to work with the local farmers as they often use tyres for weighing down tarps. You could maybe get a sharing arrangement.  
azuma | September 17, 2009 - 21:57

safety barriers

Stephen, Just a thought, prompted by your mention of water filled barriers used at road works, etc. How about using 25 litre plastic containers, as used at Belchford for chicanes? These are very readily available second hand, cheap (probably free), a doddle to handle, could easily be linked together and could be filled with water from a bowser when in position.
Anonymous | September 21, 2009 - 20:55
scottishcarties's picture

Good point - that might work

Good point - that might work quite well, although I'm not sure how you'd join them together strongly enough.

The tires idea looks good so far, but it's a lot of work putting them together.I've only got two made up so far, and haven't done any crash testing with them yet.

scottishcarties | September 21, 2009 - 21:58

Soapbox race safety barriers

25 litre containers have moulded in handles that could be tied together easily with ropes. This would have the benefit of being able to link as many barrels as were needed for any particular hazard and the resistance to impact could be tuned by varying the amount of water in the barrels. The 25 litre containers could be easily stacked for storage/transport and would be very easy to put out and take down. They are also easy to paint and could be made quite attractive to look at - quite important for prospective sponsors. I suspect that they would be relatively gentle to any cartie colliding with them as well. Peter
Anonymous | September 22, 2009 - 08:25
scottishcarties's picture

Worth a try...

It'd certainly be worth a try. My concern is that, with the link being across the top, carties would tend to push underneath the barrier rather than move it as a whole, but testing would easily shown if that's a problem or not. Any suggestions where I might source some? Where do you get yours from?

How wide are they? If they are small enough to fit inside a tyre, they might also be useful for use in conjunction with a tyre barrier as you might be able to slot them down inside the tyre "tower" to add more weight if needed.

scottishcarties | September 22, 2009 - 10:26

Source of plastic containers

Stephen We source ours from a local farmer who is only too pleased to be rid of them. They are used widely to distribute agricultural herbicides and the like and have to be thoroughly washed out before disposal, so are completely safe. Normally, farmers actually have to pay to dispose of them! I have also found bulk suppliers on ebay Dimensions generally in the region of 46 cm x 28cm x 23 cm. For the drums to fit in a tyre, the tyre would have to be quite large and therefore heavy already. I have thought about the linking problem - what about lying the drums on their sides? - Any ropes linking the containers could be placed behind the wall of drums. Typical advert for suitable drums:
Anonymous | September 22, 2009 - 15:57

How about these

How about these suggestions.

What about using the 2 rows of water containers? the 1st empty so the rope could be passed through them and a 2nd row of filled ones to act as ballast. This means a safer barrier as the initial row will collapse and minimise driver injury rather than hitting a virtual solid object. The second row can then be figure of 8 tied with each other and or with the front row.

Another option is to tie the empty containers to the straw bales, which means no water needs to be brought onto the course.

azuma | September 29, 2009 - 16:31

How about these

I am sure there are various ways to construct 'things' that can be linked together to form a safety barrier suitable for Cairngorm Extreme. However whatever was constructed there would be a serious storage and transport problem unless the items were flat stackable or inflatable. Correct me if I am wrong but setting up and taking down the safety barriers for Cairngorm will have required something like 10-12 lorry loads and probably 4-5 days work depending on the distance traveled. From a logistics point of view delegating the problem to those who had the required equipment was the sensible course of action. At the time I did pass comment on my conserns regarding big bales simply because they are brutes to handle by hand and too solid if hit head on by a cartie. There are realy good deflective road type mini barriers available to hire or buy. I can see the sense in The Scottish Cartie Association owning some of these and I suggest that raising the necessary cash to buy some would be a lot easier and probably more fun than spending hours on end collecting materials and roping them all together. We have 7 months available to get our heads together to come up with fund raising events. The winter months are a good time to have local hall dances, Disco's, Bingo nights, sale of works etc. etc.
peasnbarley | September 29, 2009 - 18:22

Barriers for Trolleys

We use small hay bales and they do have a problem if hit hard The big bales are too big and to hard to hit and move. They have a motorcycle race here in Nelson NZ on New Years day and they were using the big bales and a rider crashed and got quite badly hurt so the next year they moved to wood sacks filled with recyclable plastic milk and drink bottles . These are quite big, 700 x 700 x 980 mm, but are light and easy to move around but do a good job on absorbing impact ... they can be clipped together along the back side with 4" nails or similar ... so each one does 1 m of track if you lay on their side ... you just have to sew up the tops you can get the white nylon , polypropylene and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) packs should all be readily available in Scotland as used ones from wool brokers ... here there are tons that people use for gardening etc.... you could get plastic bottles from your local recycler and return them after the event and just fold up the bags and shore somewhere. Forms a pretty good barrier .... does not look that great .... but you could stencil logos and ads on them on the side that faces the track just a thought yours Tim
Tim Bayley (not verified) | May 3, 2012 - 11:41

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