Soapbox race safety barriers
I'm currently thinking about the different types of safety barriers for soapbox courses, because the traditional approach - bales and tyres - has a few problems.
Small bales and tyres are fine for course delimitation and, when in big piles, padding in front of fixed hazards like sign posts, etc, but when hit at speed they are too easily knocked out of the way and offer little or no crowd protection. Also, small bales are easily damaged and can be ruined if they are rained on. Plus, spectators find it almost impossible not to sit on them.
Large bales will give good protection for spectators, but need machine handling to put them in place and are very unforgiving to drivers and carties when they come into contact with them at speed.
I had looked at water filled plastic barriers used on kart tracks and road works, but they are prohibitively expensive, so I'm working on a new technique using tyres. The plan is to bolt three or four tyres together in towers, and then fit eye bolts on either side so they can be chain linked together. This should give a barrier that will deform when hit, so decelerating the cartie in a much less abrupt manner than a big bale.
Other advantages are that the raw materials - tyres - are easily obtained as garages will be happy if you take them off their hands. Putting them together in enough volume might take a while, but that's a one off time expense. They should need very little maintenance. Storage and transport might be an issue, but they would be very resistant to weather and as a bonus they are a good place to put sponsors banners and are not very comfortable as seats. And they'd look really good, especially if painted (e.g) red and white.
I've acquired enough tyres to make 5 towers (approx 3.3m of barrier), and I'll keep you posted on progress as I build and test them.