The iglide car crosses the border! Michigan to Ontario, Canada

Let’s look back a few days as iglide on tour took on the USA/Canadian border yet again!

After leaving Chicago, the iglide car racked up a few more miles and headed to Kalamazoo, Michigan, marking the 10,000th North American mile of the tour. The car started in Anchorage, Alaska with 25,000 miles on it, and has reached 35,000 in just six short weeks! Time flies when you are driving the iglide car across the country!

The iglide car crosses the border! Michigan to Ontario, CanadaThe iglide car on the first day of the North American tour in Alaska. Little did the car know that it would have racked up 10,000 more miles six weeks later.

In Michigan, the car made a large number of customer visits to an incredibly wide range of companies. The iglide car met customers that use igus products in medical beds, amazing welded assembly systems, and, being in Michigan, a number of automotive applications!

While iglide bearings are used in a number of applications inside the iglide car, and millions of other automobiles manufactured each year, a number of igus products are also used in the manufacturing process itself!

igus’ line of Energy Chain cable carrier systems are used in a huge range of applications, including on manufacturing robots, like those in car-building plants. Energy Chains guide and protect cables and hoses that supply energy and other resources, without the risk of snagging on the many other moving parts in any busy plant. Triflex Energy Chain Systems allow for multi-axis movement – like the twisting motions of a robotic arm – without compromising cable protection.

igus’ line of linear products, known as DryLin, are also widely used in manufacturing plants. DryLin linear bearings and slides use the same self-lubricating properties of our iglide bearings, making them a reliable, clean solution. They will not attract dirt and dust, as they don’t require sticky lubricants, and unlike traditional ball bearing systems, any dirt and does that does find its way into the bearing will either be pushed aside by the sliding motion, or will meld into the plastic material without increasing the coefficient of friction.

Despite the wide range of applications and industries, the iglide car is still well received at all customer visits.

The iglide car crosses the border! Michigan to Ontario, Canada.2Customers are always so intrigued by how spacious the little car actually is. They are always surprised at how much legroom there is! 

The iglide car crosses the border! Michigan to Ontario, Canada.3

From Michigan, iglide on tour headed North to Detroit, and crossed the International Ambassador Bridge into Canada. The suspension bridge is privately owned by Grosse Point billionaire Manuel Moroun thorugh the Detroit International Bridge Company in United States, and the Canadian Transit Company in Canada. The bridge is the busiest international border crossing in North America in terms of trade volume. More than 25% of all merchandise trade between the US and Canada cross over this bridge.

The iglide car crosses the border! Michigan to Ontario, Canada.4 The iglide car crosses the border! Michigan to Ontario, Canada.5When the cars cross the bridge they cross over the Detroit River, they pass through two countries on one bridge. 

As the car crossed the border, the bridge’s border control was only concerned with one thing – how to enter a German license on their computer system! They loved the idea of the tour, and were curious about where the car was from, and where else it had been. They even took a car-shaped sticker to remind them to follow the blog as well!

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Once the car arrived in Canada for the second time along the tour, it was able to see a different side of Canada from the Yukon it explored early in the tour. Expecting to see bison, pronghorn, and mountains, the car instead saw miles of cornfields and dozens of wind turbines. The only animal to be seen was a muskrat!

In Canada, the car made more visits to customers, traveling with igus team members from both the USA and Canadian offices. With skilled staff memebers all over North America, the iglide tour has been like a bit of a family reunion!

The iglide car crosses the border! Michigan to Ontario, Canada.7

After a few more wonderful visits, it was time to travel back over the border to Detroit, where the iglide car spent the afternoon sightseeing.

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In Detroit, the car drove to the monument to boxer Joe Louis, known as “The Fist” in the middle of downtown. The statue is a memorial to the famous boxer, who is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. Commissioned by Sports Illustrated Magazine, it represents the power of Louis’ punch both in and out of the ring.

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After a long run of international travel, the iglide car headed south, towards Cleveland Ohio, where we met with members of the press who have been following the iglide tour since the beginning!

Look for us on the road,

Kayla

Vancouver to Seattle

As we were approaching Vancouver we drove through Fraser Canyon which is an 52 mile landform of the Fraser River that descends rapidly through narrow rock gorges in the Coast Mountains en route from the Interior Plateau of British Columbia to the Fraser Valley.

Vancouver to Seattle

This is the only region in Canada that is home to poisonous snakes. We were also lucky enough to see rams jumping into the cliffs! As we drove through the canyon the landscape quickly changed from forests to mountainous desert.

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One of the main attractions in Fraser Canyon is Hell’s Gate.

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Hells Gate is an abrupt narrowing of British Columbia’s Faser River, located immediately downstream of Boston Bar in the southern Fraser Canyon. The towering rock walls of the Fraser River plunge toward each other forcing the waters through a passage only 115 ft wide.

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The name Hells Gate was derived from the journal of explorer Simon Fraser, who in 1808 described this narrow passage as “a place where no human should venture, for surely these are the gates of Hell.” Long before the arrival of Simon Fraser, and as early as the end of the last ice age, Hells Gate was a First Nation’s congregation ground for settlement and salmon fishing.

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Once we arrived in Vancouver it was time for some site seeing. We took a bike tour along the sea wall and saw the Olympic Torch from the 2010 winter Olympics. When the flame is lit it stretches about 30 feet into the sky. It is only lit for special occasions because it uses so much fuel. There are four separate torches that surround one larger one in the middle.

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Our last stop was to an award winning Gelato shop, Bella Gelateria, owned by one guy who frequently is in the shop giving out his recipe for people to try at home. The city itself is extremely clean, not overly crowded and feels very calm compared to other cities such as New York, Los Angeles or even Boston.

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On our second day in the beautiful city of Vancouver it was time for customer visits. Jeff, the iglide® sales representative for the Vancouver region led the visits. The first stop was a local gelato shop offering over 253 flavors of Gelato including various exotic flavors such as curry, aged balsamic vinegar and garlic.

Vancouver to Seattle.8 Vancouver to Seattle.9

This gelato shop uses igus® bearings in various parts of their waffle cone makers.

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They were looking for an alternative to regular bearings because lubrication was messy and expensive for the food industry. This solution helped them perfect the waffle by not burning or under cooking it. It also saved them money by not wasting ingredients. Their waffles became so popular that they created their own business that primarily sells waffle makers because they make the perfect waffles. The owner Raffaele spoke about igus® bearings saying, “it was really the saving grace for our machines.”

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Our second visit was with a bicycle manufacturer. They use our bushings in three different locations. To the bike industry, lightweight is very important, iglide® bearings are about seven times lighter than metal bearings. igus® bearings are also stiffer making the bike more durable when being used in high intensity circumstances such as down hill mountain biking which is very popular in the north west.

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Joanne, the Research Technology Program Manager said she loves working with igus® because when they are working on a new bike and have new ideas igus® send them test products within the month and works closely with them on what bearing is best.

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Check out this video from iglide® on tour in Taiwan, to get to know how you can improve your bike by using igus® bearings:

https://youtu.be/FKtf8SzC5DA

After the two customer visits it was time to head off to Seattle.

Look for us on the road,

yours,

Kayla and Sascha

iglide bearings for bicycle applications

Today, the car took a drive to one of igus’ customers in the bicycle industry.  With all their advanced characteristics, iglide plastic bearings are a perfect choice for use in all sorts of bicycle applications, including in pedals, shocks, and suspensions.

Because of their light weight, bikers love plastic bearings, as they don’t weigh their bikes down the way metal components can. Because of their special features, like vibration dampening properties and resistance to dirt, chemicals and water, bike manufacturers choose igus in their designs as well.

igus’ original iglide bearing material, iglide G300, is widely used by bicycle manufacturers, in bike shocks and pedals, because it helps alleviate the company’s long term costs, as well as maintenance by their customers. The G300 material is able to absorb high shock loads that occur when biking across mountainous, uneven terrain, and while traveling at high speeds. The G300 bearings are also able to handle very high loads, perfect in a bike’s pedals, absorbing the shock of the rider pedaling. This vibration dampening and load-absorption makes for a more comfortable ride for the customer.

iglide plastics bearings are also self-lubricating, meaning there is no need for maintenance from the manufacturer or the customer. Without grease or oil, there is also a lower chance of bearing seizure and rider injury, as lubricant can be washed away or compromised in extremely wet or dirty riding conditions. With self-lubricating plastic, dirt and water does not affect the coefficient of friction.

 Even Olympic level cyclists use igus bearings in their bikes! Olympians including Sabine Spitz, who took the gold in Beijing in 2008, use igus in their bicycles’ suspensions (Sabine’s bike used iglide plastic bearings in the suspension fork). At the Athens Olympics in 2004, mountain bikers using bikes with lightweight igus plastic bearings took the gold, silver, and bronze medals. You can’t compete with that! 

Through the Yukon

We have started our journey into the Yukon, driving along the famous Alcan Highway, the only road for 3,000 miles. The Yukon is known for its miles and miles of undisturbed wilderness, which includes many species of animals, countless lakes, creeks, and other unexpected surprises along the way.

Through the Yukon

The Yukon Territory is the shape of a right triangle, bordering the state of Alaska. There are very small towns and villages along the way, with hours of driving in between. We spoke with some local people, one man told us that he was sick and had to drive over two hours to the closest hospital. There is also very limited internet and cell phone reception in these towns, so if anything were to happen, you have to use your resources – a survival of the fittest lifestyle is important when living in an area like this.

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The iglide car has traveled miles and miles through rocky, muddy, winding roads. Many other vehicles many have broken down, but the iglide car has had no problem traveling through these conditions. Surely this is because of the iglide bearings we had retrofit into the car, like iglide G300 in the brake pedal. iglide G300 is the all-around (the world!) performer, excellent for most applications. It is maintenance-free, self-lubricating, wear-resistant, and cost-effective. It is resistant to dirt and dust, which is all the car has seen since it arrived in Alaska!

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We’ve made a few stops in Whitehorse and Watson Lake over the 3 days it took us to drive through the Yukon. Along the way, we were able to see a mother black bear and her 3 cubs, a heard of antelope, wild horses and bison, a porcupine, multiple moose, and a reindeer! It was amazing to be able to see these animals completely surrounded by their natural habitat.

Through the Yukon.4 Through the Yukon.5 Through the Yukon.6

There are so many hidden gems in the Yukon. One of the highlights for us was the hot springs in Liard, which is the second largest hot spring in Canada. This hot spring is unique, as the hot springs are on one side, so on that side, the water is extremely hot, but cools down as you move further away. We swam in the hot spring for over an hour – just the relaxation we needed after 3 longs days of driving.

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As we headed out of the Yukon and into the Rocky Mountains, we left behind the gravel roads and found ourselves surrounded by turquoise rivers winding for miles along massive mountains. But, as usual, this was no challenge for our iglide car as it continued cruising through winding, twisting roads up into the cliffs. While the car is still running great without any problems, the exterior is looking a little rough.  What started out as a bright orange on arrival in Alaska has now turned a light brown!

Through the Yukon.8

Into the wild

Abandoned in the woods with nothing but forest as far as the eyes can see – iglide on tour has landed in Alaska, the largest state in the US, with the lowest population.

Into the wild

Currently, Alaska’s population stands at about 710,000 with an area of 587,878 square miles  – bigger than the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th largest US states (California, Texas, and Montana) combined. The first stop on the North American tour is Anchorage, Alaska. Approximately half of the entire state’s population lives here. We were able to take in some of the sights in Anchorage, like Ship Creek, a popular salmon fishing spot. The salmon that you see coming out of the water here could easily feed ten people at a time.

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Another point of interest is Flat Top Mountain, an incredibly beautiful hiking spot.

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The city of Anchorage is filled with amenities that you see in the rest of the United States, like Starbucks and Barnes and Noble, making it a great place to stock up on necessities if you are planning on trekking out away from the city for any extended period of time. To prepare for our journey, we needed to stock up on gas, water, flashlights, and batteries. It was clear how stocking up in the city is very important as we headed north out of Anchorage towards Tok, roughly a 10 hour drive. The journey took us through vast forests and across mountains without any cell phone reception.

Into the wild.4 Into the wild.5

You only need to drive about 10 miles out of Anchorage to wind up in the middle of nothing but pure nature.

Into the wild.6 Into the wild.7

Many of the roads here are in very rough condition. While this isn’t convenient for us, it is no problem at all for the plastic bearings in the car, after all, they are designed to face harder shocks and vibrations than they would ever encounter along an Alaskan road!

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While there is no real civilization outside of Anchorage, you can still spot houses scattered off the highway where people have chosen to live deep within the wilderness. Tok is a small ghost town off Alaska highway 1 with no other population for miles. We arrived very late, about 1:30 AM, to learn that our motel rooms had been sold. Luckily, there was another motel nearby that happened to have two spare rooms.

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On day two, we headed South East out of Tok towards the Canadian border, into the treacherous Yukon.

Into the wild.10

The car got its first American attention at a local gas station as people started taking photos of the car and asking about our journey.Currently, we are moving forward, with about 3,000 miles before we reach our first destination, Vancouver, Canada. Along the way, we plan to stop in Whitehorse and Tatogga Lake, both in British Columbia, Canada.

Stay tuned for more,

Sascha

Photo Announcement

We have just passed over the Canadian border. For the first time, I’m together with the car in a Photo of the Day. I decided to do this today as I make an announcement.

The US and Canada will be my final journey with the iglide car. At the end of August, I will leave for Europe to pursue my studies in Paris. It has been an amazing adventure so far, but now it is time to go back to real life. Soon, I will introduce you to my successor. They have started traveling with me and the car already, beginning in Anchorage. We still have more than two weeks together to see more of the United States!

I will keep you up to date,

Sascha

Photo Announcement