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The «Arfa» (Harp) off-road vehicle

The basis of the design is the 1983 invention of a light-weight snowmobile by Vyacheslav Laukhin, a DIY tinker from Tula.

Author: Nikita Klyusov
Review of references: Natalya Dedevich, Maria Pokatayeva

The basis of the design is the 1983 invention of a light-weight snowmobile by Vyacheslav Laukhin, a DIY tinker from Tula. It was reported in the popular magazine "Modelist-Konstructor" in 1984. Initially, "Arfa" was designed for trips to the Polar Ural Mountains allowing for the characteristics of this region. Being a car mechanic, the author was also an experienced tourist well familiar with the North and, in particular, with the Ural Polar region. The snowmobile received its exotic name due to the arty-crafty outline of the frame when disassembled for transportation to the place of use.  

Snowmobiles of this design were used in a 1075 km long expedition from Vorkuta to the Yamal peninsula. When travelling in the north, an alien person needs adequate «physical support» matching not only the objectives of the trip but also the extreme climate. For lack of specialized technologies, the first prototype model was incredibly simple but reliable at the same time: it lent itself to maintenance and repair even in the field. The frame was made from 25х25 mm square tubes; the steering barrel was a steel tube; a ski was made of plywood of several layers; and the pair of wheels was a combination of tubes from the К-700 tractor and disks made of plywood. The engine T-200 was a product of the local Tula machine-building factory. The result was a vehicle capable of travelling on virgin snow, operating reliably at low temperatures and climbing slopes with a gradient of up to 25 °.

Such vehicles are still made by DIY tinkers in various localities. This long life of the model may be explained by the fact new localized developments absorb not only the advantages but also introduce modifications depending on the local context and purpose of use. One of the vehicle’s key components that is often modified is the wheel. Initially, the wheel was a tube from a tractor tire; however, frequent punctures and regular slipping of the disk prompted the next stage in the evolution of the design. By way of overcoming these disadvantages, DIY tinkers experimented with the tube, reinforcing it with rubber strips from old tires used to racking together the tube and the disk; also, a rubber strip was mounted along the central line around the tube to increase its service life. The experiments were successful but the open parts of the tube are still exposed to punctures. So, what would be the wheel for the off-roader of the future?

The project is an attempt to visualize an off-road vehicle of the same design but with the above problems solved (first of all, esthetic and ergonomic ones). Some of the components of the design are presented "dimly" only hinting at the overall design of the vehicle and expressing its image and driving qualities. To improve maneuverability, the low pressure tires are replaced with Mecanum wheels. The air-cooled engine from "Voskhod" motorcycle allows it to travel at a speed of up to 80 km/h on a rough terrain. In contrast to the analogue, the heavier wheels prevent it from rolling over at bumping on an obstacle hidden in the snow. The windshield protects the face and hands against wind. The steering rack has a damping element absorbing the roughnesses of a cross-country terrain. Stylistically, the design displays bionic forms blending the transport with northern landscapes.

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