Sam Barros on Junkyard Wars!

All your labs are belong to us!



Me with the season's new hosts. On May 30th I was informed that I had been selected by RDF media to be on the internationally broadcasted TV show "Junkyard Wars": It all started in march 16th, when I received an e-mail from  the Junkyard Wars episode planning team asking some questions about electromagnetic accelerators; they found me from my webpage, PowerLabs and figured I'd be the person to talk to about building some kind of rail/coil gun in a junkyard. After a short discussion on the subject I was invited to be on the show. Half an hour later the assistant producer called me with more questions and again after a short discussion he asked me to send in an application form and video.
 The application deadline was march 18th, I was traveling on March 22nd, and I had University mid term exams until March 21st. After explaining this to him my deadline was extended another week. On March 21st I finished my last exam at 3PM, called up a friend, grabbed a video camera and started running around campus filming my application video. Filming began on the Mechanical Engineering building, went through the metal and wood machine shops, the advanced space propulsion laboratory, then outdoors to the frozen lake superior, back indoors to the electric engineering building into the enterprise machine shop, the water jet cutter room, then up to the student development complex in the gymnastics room, and finally the video ends at 6PM in the parking lot of the SDC with me flaming a snowbank. I hooked the camera up to my computer, captured all the video, added some old footage from my webpage and some experiments I filmed earlier on, put on a cheesy sound track, a couple of pictures and exported it to a VHS tape: all in one day! As one might expect it is nothing spectacular. I sent the video along with my application on FedEx priority and 3 days later a phone call came in from the producers saying that they had loved my video and I was one of the finalists! That same day one of their Engineers interviewed me, asking mainly about my welding skills and education background. I had made it to the finals, and, 2 months later, was selected to participate in the show.

 The show aired on Tue, Jan. 20, at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET/PT
 It will air again this Sun, Jan. 25, at 3 p.m. ET/PT
 You can read about it at the TLC Junkyard Wars Mega Wars Page:

Spiller Thriller

Tue, Jan. 20, at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET/PT
Sun, Jan. 25, at 3 p.m. ET/PT

The two captains have 10 hours to build earth-shredding machines that can carry a 25-gallon vat of liquid across rough and rugged terrain without spilling a drop. As if that wasn't difficult enough, in a Junkyard Mega-Wars first, our teams will switch vehicles for Round 2 of the challenge and try to spill as much liquid as possible from the other team's vat. The team that keeps the most liquid in their vats after both rounds takes home the victory.

Col. Dick and Hackett's first challenge is to pick their teams from a diverse lineup of ace welders and top-shelf fabricators. If they pick the wrong mix of talent, they will pay for it later. There's Chris, a hard-core custom motorcycle maker; he'll drag any slackers to the finish line. Sarge is an over-the-top ex-wrestler and Army-trained welder; he's great at following orders and taking chairs to the head. Sam is a brilliant engineering student who's dying to put down his books and get his hands dirty. Johnny is a rebel hot rodder who loves engines; he's a perfectionist, but with only 10 hours to build, that could mean peril. Marie is a young mechanical engineer; for her, no vision is too complex to be engineered into reality. Then there is the highly caffeinated Chicko � a designer with explosive energy and talent to match.






 Here is my application form:

 Welcome future Junkyard Warriors!

 Please fill in all of the fields below. When complete, please print out a copy of your completed application. Mail your application, a current photo, and your application video to the address at the bottom. Good luck!

 Personal Information:

Address:                          ------

State or Province:            Michigan
Phone:                   ------
Age                                 21   years
Date of Birth                 
13 February 1982
Weight                           150
Gender                           Male


Please rank yourself in the following areas:


No Experience





Metal Cutting




General Mechanics

 Tell us something amazing about yourself.

 I have been competing in and winning science fairs (state, national and international) ever since I started middle school. I can also run up a wall and do a back flip.

 What are your hobbies and interests?

 What would be your ultimate challenge on Junkyard Wars?

 I would like to see the two teams compete to see who can build a full scale remote controlled automobile and race against each other on a track involving jumps and obstacles: the first car to be destroyed loses. 

 Please record a video no longer than 5 minutes. (Videos must be submitted as
VHS, VHS-c, or mini-DV. Please do not send in Hi-8 as we cannot view it)
 In your video, please include the following:

1)     Your name, your age, where you live, and your occupation.
2)     Tell us about / demonstrate your favorite machine or tool and help us understand why you love it.
3)     Tell us about an incident on junkyard wars you have particularly loved or loathed and why?
What makes you a Junkyard superstar?
5)     You have one minute to impress us with your mechanical, engineering or bodging skills. Go!

 For your amusement, here is Sam Barros' Junkyard Wars Application Video . The video is 5minutes 30seconds long and is 20MB, DIVX format (requires DIVX codec to play). Bear in mind that the entire video was filmed, edited and produced in one afternoon, following the guidelines above.

 My Junkyard Wars Experience:

 All the participants for my episode.

 Here are all the participants. From left to right: Sarge, Marie, Hackett, Chris, Dick, Myself, John and Chiko. The participants were picked out into two teams (red team and blue team) by the captains (Hackett and Dick).

 Taking a break with one of the girls working on the set. The number one thing about the build day is that it was incredibly HOT! It was 109F and I was standing under the hot california sun in a junkyard, surrounded by hot metal, wearing fireproof overalls and a welding mask, operating a 5000F Oxyacetylene cutting torch for hours cutting large pieces of metal for our project (some times 15 feet up into the air, hanging upside down) and dragging them back to the build bay. I got to do most of the metal cutting, which involved the oxyacetylene torch and a plasma cutter which cut slice through metal like it was butter when it worked, but it didn't work more often than not. I think we went through at least 10 cutting tips. I also got to do my share of welding on a MIG machine and did some more work with measuring and cutting metal with a saw, a grinding wheel and an angle grinder. Halfway through the build I got really dehydrated and had a headache that persisted through to the next day. Hackett, our team leader, works as a welder so that was his main contribution, and he did an excellent job at that. Marie is an engineer, like myself, and did most of the measuring, cutting and also helped a lot with the design, that had been pre-established by Hackett. Chris builds custom motorcycles and worked quickly at many tasks, including a ton of welding and assembly. Overall I was very happy with the way our team worked. We managed to build an awesome machine that did work in the end, and I learned a lot in the process. The competition itself was totally crazy: Everyone got the truck stuck in a ditch, and it would stall every time. When I got it stuck, it took me almost all the time allocated for the run was out, so I had to race it across the entire off-road course as fast as I could.
 The staff present during the build day and on the testing day were all awesome people that I would love to work with again. Above is a picture of me with one of the (nice looking:) girls working on the set.
 Spending a week in Hollywood was a total blast too... I shopped my JYW money away in Beverly Hills during the day, and partied all night at the clubs in Sunset Boulevard: living the life of a TV star while I could :) I look forward to doing it again!

 Post airing comments:


 Here is some of the media coverage I received for being on Television (again:):
Daily Lode
Michigan Tech Media Relations
MTU Mechanical Engineering news
Daily Mining Gazette
TV 6


Questions? Mail me!

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 Last update 11/02/10


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