BY OLIVIA POOLE —
“The only experience I had going in was how to fix a bicycle. I had no skills,” said Ava Miller, senior.
For the past two months, Miller has been working on the BUILD project.
The program consists of teams of high school students, who have 100 days to take the frame of a motorcycle and rebuild it to a cafe style racing motorcycle.
The finished product is then raced at Road America in June.
“BUILD started around seven years ago, with a group of shop teachers in conjunction with the guy, Tim Dixon who owns the Iron Horse Hotel,” said Kevin Kane, physics teacher.
Kane gathered students to participate for the second time at Shorewood this year.
“In class Mr. Kane talked about the project a couple times, sharing that if we had interest we could ask him about it and set up an interview with two of our mentors and Mr. Kane,” said Calvin Snyder, junior.
“Two years ago I was in a class with Taylor Dennis who would always show me pictures and talk to me about what it was … Ever since, I’ve kept asking Mr. Kane ‘When can I join the team?’” Miller said.
Andy Mauk, head mentor and co-owner of Moto-Scoot, allows students to utilize his service garage, just south of the Urban Ecology Center, and provides the workspace and tools the students need.
The team of seven students, three mentors not affiliated with Shorewood High School and Mr. Kane have high hopes for how the motorcycle will do.
“This year we were given an engine that was refurbished at MATC. All of the teams don’t have the same engine, and last time we weren’t given one,” Kane said.
The bike donated two months ago was run-down and looked nothing like the final product will.
“The first day we came in the bike was super muddy and only had a frame and wheels that were all dusty with spider webs on them, and now that we’re getting our parts back that we’ve painted, cleaned and polished, and we are putting them back together. That’s the most rewarding part,” Miller said.
Three weeks ago they took many parts, the frame and other components to a company in Waukesha that powder coats them. Students had to clean, sand and paint them.
“It was a very interesting process. They [used] very large paint booths the size of a garage, then placed the parts on hangers into ovens the size of garages,” Kane said.
Aside from the mentors, like Miller said, the team had little prior knowledge.
“Had we ever done something like this experience before? Not even close. But it’s really rewarding that we are building something from scratch, making some parts by ourselves; it’s a great creative process,” Snyder said.
Ben Grabowski, Will Lanphere, and Snyder, juniors, and Molly Eder, Jon Georgeson, Joe Kosidowski and Miller, seniors, will have a busy next couple weeks of crunch time finishing the motorcycle before testing it on April 24.
“I have no concerns at all about [not] finishing on time or [not] doing a great job. We have Andy, who is so knowledgeable and there to help,” Miller said.
The students are learning everything from painting to welding to simple mechanical skills.
“It’s a great opportunity, and has been a very rewarding experience for the students as we don’t offer shop classes here, so this is really the only opportunity,” Kane said.
With engine testing at the end of April and the first race at the Blackhawk in May, the project will be coming to close before the school year ends.
“The hardest part is starting from not knowing anything. Sometimes I feel pretty lost when it comes to things like names of parts,” Miller said.
“Some parts are frustrating, [like] when things we’ve worked hard on stuff that doesn’t fit and we have to redo it, which can be unfortunate, but there’s nothing that would make me wish I hadn’t done it,” Snyder said.
The motorcycle will be shown at a contest at the Iron Horse in May, where it will be judged on aesthetics and engineering.
“I’m having a fun time and I’m looking forward to seeing the motorcycle raced in May,” Kane said.