Balloon Powered Vehicle

Here are the assembly details for  a lightweight balloon powered vehicle made from plastic foam (not polystyrene!).You’re going to need a large space to test them because they go very fast!

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Use a pencil sharpener to partly sharpen the ends of the axles and use them to pierce a hole in the foam chassis by holding firmly then pushing and twisting into position using the large cut-outs to help keep you lined up.
Try to get the axles lined up properly or your vehicle will go in a circle!

When making the hole for the rear axle be careful to position the hole low down in chassis or the wheels when fitted will not touch the ground!

Try to ensure that the axle holes are parallel to each other so that the wheels and axles are lined up properly in the finished vehicle.

The wheels are held on using small plastic push-on axle clips made from plastic tubing.

The lightweight foam wheels have a plastic bearing inserted before fitting to the axle then securing with the axle clip.

A standard party balloon is attached to a length of plastic tubing using an elastic band. The tube acts like a ‘jet engine’ giving a uniform stream of pressurized air which pushes the car forward.

The tube is then fitted to a block of foam, the tail-piece, which fits into the hole in the chassis at the rear.

You can try using different sizes of jet tube. What difference would that make to the performance of the car? Would it go faster or further or both?

It takes a little practice to blow up the balloon and place the vehicle on the ground ready to go.

Try to have your finger ready to gently block the hole so as to stop the air escaping but don’t press too hard or you’ll push the tube back through the hole in the foam tail-piece.

When testing the balloon car you will notice that the balloon sometimes flops about and pulls the car to one side or the other. We can improve the design of the car by adding something to keep the balloon in line with the chassis and stop it flopping about. A single strip of card can do this if folded into a ‘V’ shape and placed into one of the vacant holes in the chassis so that the free ends support the balloon at either side.
Alternatively two separate strips can be attached using tape or paper pins to the chassis as shown above.

See the ‘Resources for sale’ pages for class sets of balloon car kits.

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