Barstool Racers

Barstool Racer History in Arizona.

25+ years ago friends were sitting around John Norton's Phoenix shop drinking beer and decided they really should be able to drive to the fridge to get a beer. The next day a shopping cart donated its wheels, an old triumph starter motor its heart, and the alcohol induced dream began to become a reality.  The first AZ barstool racer was fairly crude, using a door hinge to pivot the motor and tighten a v belt to drive one rear wheel. The new toy was brought to a Christmas Party at Greg Whites plastic shop, as the evening progressed a warehouse full of racers began placing bets on who could drive the barstool the fastest. An impromptu autocross course was set up in the warehouse, and the stopwatch came out. The next year there where 4 barstools at Greg's Party, the year after that 7, and within a few years there would be about 60 electric barstools racing in and around Phoenix bars, parking lots, warehouses, and dance floors. 

John Norton created Thunderstools and built most of the early barstool racers at the same shop that spawned the idea. Over the coming years he would deliver quite a few of his creations around the globe. My father, Jim Aluria, and I put together a stool of our own design and began to play as well. Our barstool moved the belt tension pedals lower and over the front tires.  The lower foot positioning, and a switch to pneumatic tires helped improve lap times and drivability.  A few years later I built my second barstool racer while working at a Phoenix race shop.  Barstool 2 used two Toyota starter motors each directly driving one rear wheel, and also with independent rear brake drums. The design worked well for setting the chassis into the corner then powering through on the outside tire. I later built a chain drive, twin motor, solid axle barstool nicknamed Space Junk by my Indy team mates. Evolutions continued, and over the next half decade electric barstools would be raced at the Bonneville salt flats, local dance floors, empty warehouses, parking lots, and on ice in America West arena.  Lots of good times were had and a few adult beverages consumed.

Big Chicken Barstools came into being when my former college room mate and I joined forces to manufacture gas powered barstool racers.  Our intent was to build a fun vehicle for the race track that would be able to tow a car, pick up supplies, haul humans around, and take up little space in a trailer.   Over the past 15 years we have built, quite a variety of barstool racers, tandem stools, barstool trucks, and off road stools.  

Several hundred barstools later we are still building custom barstool racers.  Some of our most recent upgrades include hydraulic front brakes, splined steering assemblies, larger engines, and custom fuel tanks.



Its a sign...

Over the Summer our shop had the opportunity to design and build a unique shop sign for our friends at 3A automotive.  Our original design inspiration came from our clients desire to contrast rusting metal with a stainless or aluminum contrasting background/foreground. Our objectives were to draw traffic to 3A's repair shop and clearly communicate the intent of the business at a glance.

We sketched a couple of graphic variations, and design ideas for the sign.   In addition I thought It might be fun to design the panels with a series of stand offs to create drop shadows and depth. We also decide to incorporate multi color led lights between the panels for night time traffic and customers dropping cars off during early winter hours. During the third phase of the project we fabricated and polished some 13.5" wrenches for the sides of the sign to help indentify what the shop was all about.

If you need some custom fabrication or sign work and you like what we do give us a call to see if we can help with your project. 

UTV parts and Accessories

At last, a newly designed and engineered rear cage for the Ranger 900XP

This fresh new concept of integrating the rear cage into the front cage structure, using existing factory parts, solves the big problem of "how do we mount a rear cage?"

Our unique flat panel mounting design solves all the installation issues encountered when buying an aftermarket cage.

Our cage can be installed in under a couple hours. No cutting or modifications needed. Just drill six holes in the bottom mounting plate, with the supplied drill bit, bolt it up and your ready to go.

Big Chicken has been the leader in innovative designs for over 15 years. This unique cage is constructed from 1.75 inch .095 steel tubing, 11 gauge flat plate custom formed and laser cut for a perfect fit. Finally it's sent off to the powder coater for a smooth durable finish. Now a great looking addition to your 900XP is available for only $1499. All grade 8 bolts and nuts, drill bit and instructions included.

This is for model 2014, 2015, and 2016 models

Custom Projects

When a coffin "needs" headers, flames and working turn signals.

Recently, a friend asked if I could help with a custom casket he had been asked to build. One of his good customers and friends had just lost his father, a man who touched the lives of many on a deep level.  A man who loved his family music, and hot rods. 

The original request was to transform his last transport vessel using traditional flat black paint with flames. Ultimately that plan was modified to customize the casket with similar paint and details to the owners street rod, along with adding the hood emblem and taillights from the car. Over the course of the next 5 days, a number of talented artists and technicians donated their time, materials and care for the family.

I was asked if I could make a set of headers for the project. Originally I thought of donating old Indy car headers I had in the shop. After taking a closer look I decided they would not fit not only physically but also in style. After listening to details of how Mike built his cars I decided to make a set of flat head style lake headers for the coffin. I gathered up some megaphones and cold rolled strap on a Saturday morning then spent the weekend in the shop fitting primary pipes with my lathe and welding up the pipes you see here.   There are some projects that I feel need to be done for the sake of creation and giving. Seeing the smiles, photos taken and response of family and friends, made me thankful to be able to contribute on a very cool memorable project.  

If you would like to see additional pictures of this custom casket check out the BKINTM album under previous work. 


Tattoo Stands

The Worlds best tattoo arm rest

The path to building and refining an infinitely adjustable tattoo arm rest.

Our first tattoo arm rest.

I started down this path to make a tool for a very good friend. I am sure you have a friend or two who is super talented, always there when you need them, and not only likes working with nice tools and equipment, but seems to be able to make their tools do more than anyone else can. The previous sentence describes one of my best friends Butch Fairbanks perfectly. Butch ran Moms Tattoo in Tempe years ago and recently set up a new small private studio. In the process he reclaimed and refurbished most of his equipment that had been on loan, new upholstery, new paint, fabricating non existent parts for his chair, generally making things right, working, and functional. Moms Tattoo was taking shape again however the arm rest he had used for years got cut up to make another piece of furniture while on loan. The replacement arm rest was sloppy, had a big base that got in the way, and is poorly made. Butch rarely asks for anything, he is a networking fiend, and super talented craftsman. If Butch can’t make it he knows more than 100 people who can. When my buddy asked if I could build him a tattoo stand, my answer was absolutely yes!

The baseline for the first stand a napkin sketch with, height, width, number of legs, and the basic form. In a few days I put together the prototype and probably could have left it at that if I didn’t start asking myself questions. How could I make this arm rest function better? Are tattoo artists like mechanics and want or need good quality tools if they use them every day? I decided to make several more arm rests and find out.

My second batch of stands included some changes Butch wanted to make in the overall height. I combined Butch’s suggestions with

Our second generation tattoo stands.

With some input from another good friend and customer over a few beers while talking race cars and commerce, I was convinced making a few changes to the height, the shape of the legs, and the feet used would make the overall design better and easier to use. So I built a few. In my mind the changes we made to the base and upholstery in gen 2 made noticeable improvement to the overall feel and functionality.

We built a handful of gen 2 stands and needed to see how they would compare with the first prototype. We visited 5 shops on the first day we had the Gen 2 stands complete,and found the feedback on the product was really positive. I received some great suggestions on improvements that could be made, and what features traveling artists were looking for. I am really thankful to the artists who took their time to give me their advice and opinions.

Within a day we made a few changes and our Gen 3 prototype. All of the improvements were in the to the design of the base. We widened the rectangular foot for more comfort and stability, and added a wider and stickier foot to the third leg. We made the other two legs a bit longer for a wider footprint and more stability. And made the base unbolt for compact packing while traveling. I was really starting to like the feel and function of our tattoo stand and visited more shops doing research and asking opinions.

The more tattoo artists I visited, the more positive feedback I received on the design. I thought we were really close to having a product that is as good as we could build.

We are currently working on a new batch of Gen 4 stands that incorporate a quick release mechanism to make breaking down the

Our Gen 3 stand with a wider foot, a bigger base circle and travel friendly.

Base has an easier design and requires no tools.  After looking at 100′s of tattoo arm rests and talking with lots of artists with lots of experience kindly willing to share their knowledge, I honestly believe we are making the most thoughtfully made, most infinitely adjustable, and stable arm rests on the planet.

Your personal mechanical artistry specialist,

Mike Ferguson