The welcome mat was extended to us this morning as we visited the well-appointed campus of Matthew Flinders Anglican College, an independent prep-to-year 12 school located in Buderim on the Sunshine Coast. We were there to see the famous Flinders eBeast and to see what the future holds for this restored, Tesla-battery-powered Land Rover.
The staff and students were generous with their time and well able to answer my many questions. The last six months have proved challenging, with changes in staff, the removal of the building which previously housed the Flinders eBeast, and the ever-present threat of Covid-19. However, it appears that the conversion is 90% complete, and now, in the words of the Design and Industrial Technology teacher supervising the work, Mr. Brendon Gallaher, “We have to do the 10% that will take up 80% of the time.”
We met with three year-12 students who were the core group working on the car. They all assured me that this project does not affect their studies for university entry. Damian is planning on doing a bachelor of science and mechanical engineering. He is currently doing up a Nissan Skyline at home. Sam has aspirations of working in the aerospace industry and has done the CAD design work for the car. His parents want a Rivian! Lucas plans to train as a pharmacist and sees the eBeast conversion as a worthwhile hobby. They work on the car after school, during lunch hours, and during school time.
While the students were fitting the custom-made door trims, they discovered yet more rust that will have to be cut out, and the door treated. “What’s your plan?” the community asked. “That’s a bit hard when you are working through solving one problem at a time. It is a constant education in team problem solving,” says project lead Ed Wright, who is Head of Learning and Innovation at the college. This is just what the high-achieving students of Flinders need to succeed at university and in real life. I did mention to the boys that both the University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology have EV racing teams!
Flinders boasts an Innovation Club and an Electric Vehicle Club, both of which are involved in the work on the eBeast. An older model car was chosen for the conversion because of the ease of access and the simplicity of the drivetrain. However, you then have to deal with rust and the availability of body parts.
The project involved work with James from Traction EV, who provided some synergy, as he is also working on Land Rovers — with several in his yard awaiting conversion. The college was able to share information and parts. Some parts have been able to be sourced from British Off Road.
The Flinders eBeast has a power point (for making a coffee!) and a PTO for a winch — in case a diesel forby gets stuck and needs to be rescued. The work on the eBeast will broaden this year and involve teachers and students from more disciplines — for example, secondary Design and Industrial Technology students will be working on replacing some of the worn out front dashboard. This will involve designing and creating 3D printing components and then reconstructing the dash. Secondary digital technology students have plans to add a tablet to the dashboard to display speed, mileage, weather forecast, and to stream radio and music. And the Flinders EV Club are keen to add speakers! The college is also looking to involve younger students in the primary school to help design the inside upholstery.
The gold sponsor for the eBeast is Ken Mills Toyota Nambour and Maroochydore and the silver sponsor is the school’s parents and friends. There are also bronze sponsors in ASI Solutions and BFX Furniture.
The school is calling for more sponsorships, and with financial support the eBeast could have some eCubs? Come and see the Flinders eBeast at the Noosa EV Expo and Street Fest on Sunday, 19 June.
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