Sunday, 30 November 2003 17:00

Owner Rich Evans competes on TLC Junkyard Wars

Written by Karyn Hendricks
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So what does a body man do to recuperate from the day-to-day stress of operating a collision repair business? In the case of Rich Evans, owner of Huntington Beach Bodyworks, his idea of rest and relaxation is to hang out in a junkyard, pull down his welding mask, and build machines out of junk. 

Junkyard Mega Wars is a Discovery TLC program where two groups of skilled artisans set up shop in a junkyard and compete to build a machine out of materials in the junkyard within an allotted time limit. When the projects are finished, the teams then challenge each other to see which design actually works best.
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Teams constructed their "cranes" entirely from parts in the junkyard.
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The barrels were used to weight down the front end of the crane during lifting.
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The red team -- Rich Evans, Pat, Shane and team leader Crash.

Evans felt that this was right up his alley, so when the folks at TLC contacted him (through a referral by actor Ice-T), he jumped at the opportunity to apply for a slot. He sent in a video showing his skills and answering questions such as "what is your best tool?" Just three weeks before shooting was to begin, Evans was notified that he had been chosen to compete in two episodes.

This season there are two team captains. For each episode they choose up teams after reviewing the tapes sent in by the applicants. The captain of the red team is Crash, with Bowser at the helm for the blue team. The team leaders do have prior knowledge of each episode's challenge so they can begin devising a plan of action.

Cliff Hangers

Building the "Cliff Hanger" was a test of strength versus science. In just ten hours, each team was tasked to build a giant crane capable of lifting heavy car parts of up to 500 pounds.

The pool of talent available to the two team captains for this event included Evans -- the body building car customizer, the enthusiastic knucklehead Shane, order-taking Army diver Pat, metal sculptor Hackett, high school shop teacher and task master Mr. Miller, and all-around bad babe, Chopper Girl.

After winning the "hubcap toss," red- team leader Crash chose Evans first, followed by Pat, who can weld underwater, and Shane, a designer of underwater robots. Were they planning to build a submarine? Custom bike builder Chopper Girl, Mr. Miller, not noted for his patience, and Hackett, an expert welder, comprised Bowser's blue team.

Next the teams joined up with the captains in the work bays to learn what the build would entail. Crash made a simple drawing of the proposed crane and a list of parts with soapstone on a piece of steel. Once the build is revealed, two team members go out into the junkyard jungle to scout parts and one stays behind with the captain to prepare for building.

The red team decided to build a boom with two A-frames mounted into the flat bed of a pick up truck with one A-frame welded to a pivot to move up and down; the other A-frame provided support.

The blue team plan included finding a ladder truck with a working turntable; then two steel beams are mounted one on top of each other to the turntable. The upper beam would slide out giving the crane reach.

At this point, the game begins in earnest with the search for parts in the junkyard. A certain element of strategy now comes into play. Not only is each team looking for parts for its own build, but can also play "keep away" with parts the other team needs to complete its design.

Evans, known primarily as a painter, had the chance to show off his welding skills. Evans points out that while he is known as a painter, the true backbone of his skill is as a fabricator. "I basically became a painter out of necessity. At the time, I couldn't find a painter with sufficient skill, so I learned to do it myself."

Beyond the design of the crane itself, it was necessary to craft the tools to pick up the objects that ranged from a car engine to bowling balls. The red team made a bunch of different attachments for the end of the crane to pick up the various parts. They cut a 30-gallon drum in half to make a clamshell scooper. A set of claws was fabricated as well. The scooper and the claws were propped open so once an object was secured inside, the stick was pulled out to secure the objects inside. They even took magnets out of speakers and glued them to rope so they could pick up smaller items like hubcaps.

After ten hours, with all the last minute chaos portrayed on "unscripted" programs, both teams completed their cranes and retired to rest up for the next day's challenge.

Challenge: will the darn things work? The morning of the challenge, each team had a couple of hours to go over their builds to make sure everything was safe and secure. Then the teams had an hour to pick up as many pieces as possible. Each piece counted as one point, whether it was a 500- pound motor or a bowling ball, so it was necessary to develop a game plan to determine which parts to go after.

After an exciting battle, the red team prevailed by a score of 11 to 8.

Evans believes that teamwork was the difference between winning and losing. It was a major team effort. He points out that the blue team was able to work faster with what they had, but the red team worked together more. Plus the red team had some members who had operated cranes and were experienced in their use. The blue team also spent too much time trying to pick up several items at a time, which proved to be their downfall.
Evans explained why he enjoyed his stint on Junkyard Mega Wars and looks forward to participating in future episodes. "I live for a challenge, to do something that no one else will do. The biggest part of the challenge is having the skills to back up your work."

He also points out what a great marketing tool an appearance on a show like this can be -- where you get to show off your skills under pressure and be more recognized. The Huntington Beach Bodyworks logo has now been seen worldwide.

To be continued . . .

Evans has already participated in another episode called "Visionless Valet," in which the challenge was to build vehicles and devices to navigate their way through a mind-bending junk maze. The catch: they had to navigate blind - no windows on the vehicle. This time Evans is on Bowser's blue team. Did he win?

Episodes of Junkyard Mega Wars run in rotation on TLC. Catch a few episodes and maybe you'll end up spending your vacation in a junkyard.

To learn more about Evans' adventures in marketing, visit www.huntingtonbceahbodyworks.com.


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