Lucy Pet Products — a mobile spay and neuter clinic — is set to break the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the longest and heaviest parade float with its “Lucy Pet’s Gnarly Crankin’ K-9 Wave Maker.”
The 125-foot-long tropical floral paradise weighs in at 140,000 pounds. It features an 80-foot-long ocean of water with a 5,000-gallon tank and a one-of-kind portable wave machine that cranks out a tube for pups to ride every 45 seconds.
To reliably power the float, Lucy Pet Products President and founder Joey Herrick tapped Ford Motor Co. to provide a gasoline 6.8-liter V10 gas truck engine.
“I contacted Ford, and said listen, we need an engine transmission, would you please put one in the world’s heaviest and longest float, and Ford said, ‘Yes, we’ll do that,’” Herrick told Trucks.com.
Herrick went to Ford engine because the truck maker supplied the engine for a 2011 float he commissioned that holds the current world record – 116 feet and 100,000 pounds. At the time, Herrick was president of Natural Balance Foods.
Winning the Rose float gig caps a good year for Ford’s heavy truck business.
The Dearborn, Mich., automaker is taking business from rivals such as Daimler Trucks’ Freightliner brand and Navistar International Inc. since introducing new work trucks in the Class 6 and 7 weight segments last year.
The trucks are used for beverage and food distribution, for moving and storage and as utility vehicles, digger derricks, box trucks, dump trucks and tow trucks — big vehicles not unlike Rose Parade floats.
According to industry data obtained by Trucks.com, purchasers have registered 11,751 Ford trucks in the segment through September, a 55 percent increase over the same period a year earlier. That gave Ford a 19.9 percent share of the Class 6 and 7 truck market, an increase from its 14.3 percent share in 2015.
In tapping Ford and builder Fiesta Parade Floats, Herrick is reestablishing the team that contributed to the current record.
Ford sent Fiesta a stock V10 engine mated to a heavy-duty automatic transmission, Tim Estes, president of Fiesta Parade Floats, told Trucks.com. This engine makes 320 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, and is available for both F-650 and F-750 trucks. But this was no simple plug-and-play design job, he said.
“The V10 had a lot of power but still needed slow speed and high torque,” Estes said. “We installed a heavy-duty transfer case to gear down so the engine is going about 750 rpm. It’s much like being on a bike in a high gear when you’re pedaling like crazy, but not making much distance.”
Estes’ biggest challenge was to reconfigure the computer that controls the engine, which took an engineer three days to complete. The float drives the route at just 2.5 mph. The design team has set a cap on the engine control computer that prevents the vehicle from ever travelling more than 25 mph.
Although the float travels the parade route at walking speed, the engine still needs some capability to be transported the eight miles between Fiesta’s warehouse in Irwindale, Calif., and the parade start line.
There are also no air bags in a parade float, so Fiesta had to override the system to allow the engine to start.
Estes said his team believes “there is one-in-a-million chance of anything going wrong.” That’s a good thing. There are no backup parts to fix the engine should something happen.
If there’s a glitch, it may come on the 6.5-degree downhill slope the float will navigate when it makes its way east from Orange Grove Boulevard onto Colorado Boulevard. The turn happens just shy of “camera corner,” where both national and international television networks are stationed to capture footage of the parade for viewers in every part of the globe.
The float’s water tank is designed to deal with the grade change. There is a 3,000-gallon catch tank underneath the wave machine that will pump water back into the larger pool to avoid any seepage.
Overall, the parade takes about 2.5 hours to complete.
Despite Herrick’s choice to use Ford over GM for his masterpieces, Estes says he primarily uses Ford and GM’s Chevrolet engines to power his floats. Most are V8 motors, which have “perfect gearing and the right combo of automatic transmission and transfer case for the torque.”
“I am always working on the gearing, but both types of engines work well,” Estes told Trucks.com. “I do wish I could find one standard engine for the spare parts. I have 30 chassis all made up of all different parts.”
The engines used for floats also experience an atypical lifecycle compared with regular work truck engines. Estes said that because the engines run only about 30 hours or 45 miles per year, he turns them on about every two weeks to “get them to temperature.”
This year, 12 floats of the 44 floats in the parade are made by Fiesta, including the “Tournament of Roses Queen’s Float” that carries the Rose Queen and her six princesses.