Big Yella

Building Big Yella

Well it took me 20 months, a bit of determination, a lot of planning and some dirt and grease on the hands, but it's finished. Phil Parry is my name. I live in Queensland, Australia and I'm a technical illustrator, (with a design drafting background). This is the story of how I came to build my custom trike 'Big Yella'.

Big YellaIt was April 2004 when I discovered a restored 1965 Beetle sitting under an apricot tree in my fathers' backyard that he was minding for an old friend and was now covered in bird poo and apricot juice. My daughter had recently gained her drivers licence and, (at the time), was keen on Veedubs. The deed was done, we bought the Beetle and I drove it back home some 1780 klms, (1106 miles). Sadly on arrival back at home the old 1200cc donk was starting to complain about the long journey. However, enroute I'd already decided to upgrade to a 1600cc engine for that extra power. Old engine engine in and that was the beginning of Big Yella.

Slurping on a cup of coffee, I looked at the old retired 1200cc engine now sitting on my garage floor and admired the simplicity, the efficiency, the engineering genius of a German engine that has barely changed in design since it was first developed in the early 1930s and I thought to myself I'd love to put the that engine to some use. From out of the ether, the thought of building a VW trike came to mind. No big deal' you might think and that's fair enough.....except the only trike I had ever seen was on a documentary with Scotish comedian Billy Connolly, and that was a converted Harley-Davidson and I hadn't given it much thought thereafter. So having experienced devine intervention, I strolled into the kitchen and proudly announced to my dear wife and son my plan to construct a VW trike. They looked at each other in disbelief for a moment and my gorgeous wife of 28 years said, "Oooookay get the trike and I get the new kitchen". "Yep!...that didn't go too bad then" I thought to myself, and the wheels of imagination began to whirr in my head.

Now, I must say, that I've always believed in doing a task, whatever it is, to perfection, and that anyone....and I mean anyone, can do anything, and I mean anything, as long as they use some common sense, a little planning and a fair bit of determination. So the first step was sourcing what information was available on the web pertaining to trike and motorcycle design and then deciding what was bull dust and what was fact. Having now developed a Big Yellareasonably sound idea of what was required, I began the layout and design stage. Here in Australia the regulations determining the construction of any private vehicle are very stringent. In fact I believe that if a vehicle can pass compliance regulations in OZ, it would pass in any country.

With the basic plans now drawn up, I fortunately had the presence of mind to contact the state authority, (Dep't of Transport), and inform them of my intention, not that that caused any dramas, they simply gave me the names of 3 local compliance engineers. I make this point because many home builders, for whatever lame reason often decide to invest months building their pride and joy, then when they've completed their masterpiece, they then contact the local authority to have it approved for road use. That's about as smart as leaping from a plane at high altitude and checking you've strapped your parachute on with the wind blasting through your nostrils...dah!

Without going through every step on construction of Big Yella, (which would take 20 months), it's easier to say that whilst looking at the finished project as one complete unit might seem a daunting task to tackle for any would-be builder, you must view such a project as a series of smaller elements that culminate as the finished product. What I'm saying is one step at a time. Certainly, you must have an idea in your mind as to what the finished design will be, but don't get bogged down trying to plan everything to the last fine detail before beginning your journey. Chances are it won't happen that way anyhow. The frame is one element, then the front-end, then the fibre glass mudguards and so on. Each element has it's own problems to be overcome, but again, with common sense and Big Yellapatience, a solution will be found and you then move forward to the next step. And so its goes until finally there's nothing more to do except sit back with a beer, (or a Bundy and Coke if you live in Queensland, Australia), and enjoy the fruits of your labour and experience the sense of pride and satisfaction that only you can feel on your achievement.

Enough of the sermon for today. I hope you enjoy the photos of Big Yella, (the last photo has the original VW in the background), and maybe get inspired to build your own machine one day. Oh just a couple of things. Yes... my wife did get her brand new kitchen, from the floor up, which I did myself and took 5 weeks of building time away from my trike. And as for the orignal old 1200cc engine that started it all, well it never got used. You see, I ended up with a 1600 engine as well and the 1200 was sold to a sheep shearer who's restoring an old 'splitty' a couple of thousand miles away in a little one horse town in the dry Australian outback. And as for my daughters' VW that started it all. She fell out of love with the manual gear change and purchased a Jap 4 door automatic and then sold the little Beetle. Oddly enough, I was the one who bought the Beetle from ain't life strange!


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