Group 23: Gate 4

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At this stage in the project, Group 23 was tasked with reassembling the Barbie Dune Buggy Power Wheels. Each step of the rebuilding process was logged and recorded via photograph. After gathering information based on the reassembly, new-found information was compiled with that which had gathered during previous Gates to draw more detailed conclusions about the project.

Project Management: Critical Project Review

Once again, it was pertinent and important to assess how the group has been functioning throughout the completion of the gate.

Cause for Corrective Action

As the project comes to end, our group still seems to be working well together as a unit. By now everyone has a well-defined role in the project and group meetings run more efficiently.

From our last corrective action plan we decided to have group members have certain tasks done before each group meeting so we could focus our actual meeting time on putting the project together and collaborating with each other in case anyone had difficulties with their task. We have continued with this plan for Gate 4. The project managers set the tasks for each member and a tentative time that the task should be completed by. The group members are then responsible for sending out their finished part of the product for other group members to review.

We have made one small change to our management plan for the final steps of the project, to have a more extensive editing process. On the last gate our group lost many points because we accidently overlooked some parts of the rubric. Once all group members have submitted their parts of Gate 4 we will go through and make sure all parts are accounted for and make sure the project flows together well. This was a unanimous decision and was made to better the performance of the group.

Product Archaeology: Product Explanation

The bulk of this Gate centered upon the reconstruction of our previously-dissected product. The steps of the reassembly process were recorded and analyzed, and new conclusions were based off the process as well. These conclusions included what type of design revisions the group would make to the product.

Product Reassembly

Definition of Scale of Difficulty

Table 1. Scale of Difficulty
Scale: Description: Length of time: Example:
1 No tools were necessary

Very Little thinking required

< 3 minutes Insert hood to body of power wheels
2 Simple tools used for intended purpose

Slighty more knowledge needed for proper reassembly

3-6 minutes Securing rearview mirror to dashboard using screws.
3 Simple and intricate tools required

Generally a higher knowledge needed for reassembly
More force needed for reassembly

6-9 minutes Lock washers added to wheel and hubcap system using hammer force.
4 Mainly intricate tools required

A greater amount of force needed for reassembly
Group analysis may be needed to reassemble part

9-12 minutes N/A
5 Variety of tools needed and may not be used to intended purpose

Large amount of force needed
Group analysis required to determine reassembly method

> 12 minutes N/A


Table 2. Steps of Product Reassembly
Step: Part Addition and Process Description: Difficulty Rating: Process Photograph:
1 The shifter box system was reassembled by inserting the shifter between the switches then putting the cover on. A Philips head screw driver was used to screw in five Philips head to secure the parts together. 2
Step 1
2 A Philips head screw driver was used to screw four Philips head screws into each black gear box. 2
Step 2
3 The gear boxes were then inserted into the gear box cavity and lined up with each motor. A flat head screw driver was used to screw two flat head to connect the motor to its respective motor. 2
Step 3
4 Each gear box was then set in the gear box cavity and then the rear axle was manual put in place through each gear box and securing part of the body. 1
Step 4
5 The white wheel guards were then manually attached to each gear box, by sliding it on the rear axle. 1
Step 5
6 The rear wheels were then added to both the left and right sides. This was done by manually sliding each tire onto the rear axle until is rested on the respective tire. 1
Step 6
7 The rear hubcaps were then added to both the left and right sides. This was done by manually sliding each hubcap onto the rear axle until it rested on the respective tire. 1
Step 7
8 The wheel guard/tire/hubcap system was secured by adding a lock washer. The lock washers were fastened by applying pressure using a hammer and a wrench. 3
Step 8
9 The rear VW hubcap centers were added to both the left and right sides by manually inserting it into the respective cavity and using a hammer to set into place. 2
Step 9
10 The wires were then run from the motors through the rest of the cabin of the power wheels. 1
Step 10
11 The wire covering was then snapped into place at the center of the bottom of the power wheels body. This was done by manually adding force. 1
Step 11
12 The black pedal depression button was then inserted through the pedal casing. The casing was then snapped into the cabin then the pedal was snapped into the casing. A Philips head screwdriver was used to screw one Philips head screw to the base of the pedal to secure it in place. 2
Step 12
13 The battery was then placed in the battery holding cabin and the battery plug was inserted. 1
Step 13
14 The battery securing device was partially slid into position then a washer, the securing spring, and a second washer were added. Then the battery securing device was slid all the way into its original position. A lock washer and black cap nut were added to secure the system 2
Step 14
15 The trunk cover was manually snapped into place. 1
Step 15
16 The steering wheel axle was then slid through the steering cabin. 1
Step 16
17 The steering L axle was inserted into the white steering boot from one end and through the steering wheel axle and steering cabin on the other end. 2
Step 17
18 The steering axle was secured to the steering base using the L axles and lock washers. The lock washers were secured using force applied by a hammer. 2
Step 18
19 The windshield was attached to the windshield frame by using a Philips head screw driver to insert eight Philips head screws. 2
Step 19
20 The rear bumper was secured to the body of the power wheels by using a Philips head screwdriver to insert five Philips head screws. 2
Step 20
21 The front bumper was secured to the body of the power wheels by using a Philips head screwdriver to insert four Philips head screws. 2
Step 21
22 Both the left and right side guards were attached to the body of the power wheels by using a Philips head screwdriver to insert two Philips head screws each. 2
Step 22
23 The radio console was then manually inserted into the dashboard console. The front cover of the radio was then snapped on. 1
Step 23
24 The steering base and steering axle system was secured to the body of the power wheels by inserting four large Philips head screws using a Philips head screwdriver. 2
Step 24
25 The front wheels were added to each side by manually sliding each wheel onto the L axle. The hubcaps were added in the same manner. 1
Step 25
26 The front wheels and hubcaps were secured with lock washers which were added by using a hammer. One black cap nut was added to each side. 2
Step 26
27 The right and left front VW caps were inserted into the center of each hubcap and then secured in place using a hammer. 2
Step 27
28 The steering column was then manually inserted into the steering base and the steering axle system. 1
Step 28
29 A lock washer was then used to secure the steering column to the steering base. A hammer was used to add the lock washer. 2
Step 29
30 Both halves of the steering wheel were secured together by using a Philips head screw driver to insert five Philips head screws. 2
Step 30
31 The steering wheel system was then added onto the steering column and secured with a lock washer that was secured in place by use of a hammer. 2
Step 31
32 The center of the steering wheel was then inserted in the middle of the steering wheel and then secured using two Philips head screws. This was done using a Philips head screw driver. 2
Step 32
33 The seat was then inserted by manually forcing the lock tabs into place on the body of the power wheels. 1
Step 33
34 The roll bar was then inserted manually by forcing the lock tabs into the body of the power wheels. 1
Step 34
35 The dashboard console was then secured in place by using a Philips head screw driver to insert four Philips head screws. 2
Step 35
36 The rearview mirror was secured to the dashboard console by inserting one Philips head screw and securing using a Philips head screw driver. 2
Step 36
37 The hood was attached by manually fitting it into place. 1
Step 37
38 The windshield system was added to the power wheels by manually inserting the lock tabs into the body of the power wheels. 1
Step 38

General Process

The Barbie Dune Buggy Power Wheels was originally assembled in two general ways. The first way is in a permanent manner, meaning, that the consumer is not meant to be able to take apart the specific connection. Examples of this are the lock washer connections and the plastic boot steering connection. These connections were assembled in a way that the design team viewed as the safest for the passenger, and the most economical as well. The second general category of assembly was a non-permanent method where the consumer can disassemble the part for maintenance or repair reasons. Examples of this includes the trunk cover to access the motors and the hood to access the battery.


During the reassembly process, in general, there were no large challenges that were faced. One minor issue was the addition of the lock washers to their original location in the product. During disassembly many lock washers were mangled or deformed in certain ways. So in the reassembly process hammer force was needed to straighten the lock washers out and put them into position. Another minor issue that was faced was the reassembly was the inserting of the steering column. Originally the steering column was inserted into the steering base in correctly so it did not fit into place correctly. Through simple visual analysis it was determined that the steering column was backwards. Other than the minor issues stated above there were no other challenges faced during the reassembly process.

Assembly vs. Dissection

The assembly process differed from the disassembly process mainly because of a time factor. The assembly process was a far quicker process than the disassembly process of the Barbie Dune Buggy Power Wheels. The main reason for this is that the removal of certain components, such as the lock washers was not intended to occur in the product’s life, so the removal of such parts was extremely time consuming. The method of reassembly was essentially the exact opposite of the disassembly.

Design Revisions

Replacing Lock Washers with Nuts and Bolts

Figure 1. Model of Lock Washers Currently Used

A number of connections in the Barbie Dune Buggy Power Wheels system were attached using lock washers, also known as force fit washers. These connections included the wheels along with a number of parts of the steering mechanism. These washers are very challenging to remove and once they are removed they are almost useless if one tries to reattach them. The result of this is that it is almost impossible to make substantial repairs or alterations to the vehicle. Replacing these force fit washers with bolt and nut connection methods would help to make maintenance on this vehicle easier. This would help to make the product both more economically sound for the customer and more environmentally friendly. If owners of vehicles were able to do routine maintenance on the item it might extend the life of the product and thereby make it have a lower cost per usage. It would also lower waste since small parts could be replaced as they failed rather than replacing the entire unit. It could also help the product be desirable to a larger demographic if the manufacturer also provided options for some parts. An example would be the possibility to add different motor options or different wheel types. This would allow people planning to use the device in different environments to make adjustments so that it fit their needs.

Figure 2. Model of Proposed Nuts and Bolts

It is also clear that there are a number of reasons that the manufacturers may have chosen not to implement this change. One of the core reasons may be safety and legal issues. While allowing people to make changes to a product does help to increase longevity and versatility it decreases reliability. Once a nut had been removed there is no guarantee that the person doing the work will tighten it back to a sufficient level and a failure to do so could result in a piece coming loose and possibly causing injury. Another reason the manufacturers may have made the decision they did is economical. While increased longevity of a product is beneficial to a customer as a producer one wants to sell as many of their product as possible and if the product can be kept alive by replacing parts it is less likely that the consumer will purchase a new one. Another consideration may have been cost of machining. Using nuts would have required another machining process since grooves, which were not needed for the force fit washers, would have been required.

Padded Steering Wheel and Windshield Body (Impact Safety Precautions)

Figure 3. Current State of Steering Wheel and Windshield

The next design revision made by Group 23 is the addition of padding on the windshield body and steering wheel. These will act as safety precautions in case the toy is in a collision. Even though the toy does not move at relatively high speeds and there are seatbelts that go across the lap of the user, if the user did get in a collision there is a chance that they would be thrown forward. Depending on the user’s height their head could hit either the steering wheel or the body of the windshield causing injury to the user. Right now both of those components are made of hard plastic. Group 23 proposes that padding be added to both of these components to decrease the chance of injury. It is a similar idea to child-proofing a house by adding padding to sharp corners and edges.

Figure 4. The proposed design revision would require use of foam such as that in this figure.

Economically, this design revision would add an increase to the price of the Barbie Dune Buggy. However, the increase in price would be small as the design revision only requires a small amount of foam padding and a material to upholster the component. Consumers also may be more willing to pay the higher price for the increased safety measures. Safety isn’t the only societal factor this design revision will create; adding padding to the steering wheel will also make the car seem more realistic. In actual vehicles, components aren’t made of hard plastic; they usually have some fabric or material covering. Adding padding to the steering wheel will make the Barbie Dune Buggy more realistic and appeal to the user.

Manufacturers may not have added the padded features due to the economic reason that the padding would cost more. This affects the manufacturers two ways. The first is that this added feature would result in a higher material cost to them. The second is that the higher material cost would transfer over to a higher cost to the consumer. For the consumer there would be a trade-off of a higher price for greater safety. Another possibility that the manufacturers did not add the padding to the Barbie Dune Buggy Power Wheels was that foam will deteriorate over time and become messy and a health hazard for the children.

Implementation of Rubber Wheels

Figure 5. Current state of the wheels

Replacing the plastic wheels of the Power Wheels vehicle with rubber wheels would create a substantial improvement in the product. These wheels would not be completely made of rubber for this would be very costly to the consumer. Along with this, completely hardened rubber wheels would add to the weight of the vehicle causing a decrease in the life of a battery charge. Instead, the outer rim of the tire would be made of hardened rubber while the hub caps would be made of plastic. This way the vehicle would have improved traction while still retaining the lightweight benefits of plastic. Improved traction would be very attractive to the customer due to child safety concerns. A higher coefficient of friction would keep the vehicle from slipping on possible dangerous surfaces such as ice or water. With this, the rubber wheels have a slightly better ability to absorb shock. Plastic wheels are at a higher risk of cracking when compared to hardened rubber.

Figure 6. Model of proposed modification to wheels

Unfortunately there are several drawbacks to the addition of rubber tires. First, because rubber is more expensive than plastic, it would create in increase in the overall cost to manufacture the product. Secondly, the rubber used for the wheels will not biodegrade easily causing a negative impact on the environment. This is because the environment is responsible for degrading the rubber; and if the rubber is designed to withstand environmental elements while operating on the vehicle, the rubber wont biodegrade easily. To offset this environmental impact, the manufacturer of the vehicle could possibly use recycled rubber. The positive impacts of the rubber wheels onto the vehicle outweigh the negative effects.

Implementation of Headlights

Figure 7. Current design of headlight stickers

Another core revision that Group 23 would make to the Barbie Dune Buggy Power Wheels would be to add simple, functioning headlights to the product. Currently, the car only has faux-headlights represented by stickers. Adding actual operating headlights would significantly increase the safety of the product, which is a major societal concern especially since the product is geared for use by young children. Though the Power Wheels is intended to be operated under parental supervision, this is often not the case. Without supervision, children may decide to drive the Power Wheels in the street instead of the safety of the sidewalk, driveway, or lawn. During the day, motorists would be able to see and hopefully avoid collision with children using the product in the street. However, at night, the Power Wheels, along with its passenger, would simply blend into the darkness of the road until it would come within range of a vehicle’s headlights. At this point, it may be too late for a motorist to brake or swerve and the Power Wheels would be hit, causing severe injuries to the child operating it. The addition of headlights to the product would ward off such a tragic accident by giving the Power Wheels a presence at night that could be seen and avoided from farther away.

Figure 8. Possible headlight to be used in proposed redesign

Adding headlights to the product would add some cost for the consumer that could make it less competitive with other such products on the market. Especially in today’s declining economy, the increased price that the product would obtain with the addition of headlights could cause consumers to choose less pricey alternatives. However, for most parents, the safety of their children would outweigh saving what would be a relatively inconsequential amount of money on the product. If that economic factor would be a large concern that would greatly impact the sale of the product, then perhaps another alternative, like reflective strips, would be considered instead. Either way, increasing the visibility of the Power Wheels at night from its current state (of no visibility) would be an important and necessary improvement to the product. The addition of headlights to the product would also cause a decrease in battery life as the light bulbs would serve as yet another draw on the product’s battery power. However, using low-power lights such as LED lights would reduce the impact that headlights would have on battery longevity.