24 January 2013

First Part of the Auto Rickshaw Bed Project: Finding A Place That Might Actually Sell Us an Auto Rickshaw

As I told one of my friends, it's like a race car bed only it's an auto rickshaw.

We have an idea for making an auto rickshaw bed for Muffin. She loves riding in autos. She talks all the time about how she's going to drive one some day. We think it will be a fantastic souvenir of Hyderabad. When we get tired of it being a bed, we can turn it into a bench or some kind of artwork.

Mike's office was closed for the American holiday on Monday, but it was a regular working day for Hyderabad, so we kept Muffin home from school and started searching for an auto to buy. We just want the body, with no engine. Mike had a lead on an auto rickshaw mechanic's district where it was rumored there were salvaged autos to buy. He tracked down a phone number, our driver tracked down a general location, and we hopped in the car and took off.

It took us over an hour to get across town and find the hospital that was the landmark we were looking for. Then our driver had to stop and ask for directions. We were directed to an auto detailer's shop, where you get the decals and stuff that go on autos. So we stopped again and asked. We were directed to a retailer selling new autos. But someone loitering around there knew of a mechanic nearby who sold used ones. So we drove there.

That mechanic only had an auto pickup truck for sale but said he'd let us know if he had any "4-in-alls" (four-person passenger autos). He was working on a couple autos, and one had the engine out of it, so he let us take some photos for our research and planning. Just imagine taking out the front and back seats, and, according to the measurements, a twin mattress should fit perfectly.

One of the guys at the mechanic shop said he had a 4-in-all auto for sale at his house, so we got back in the car and he directed us through a warren of dirt roads until we came to a field with this in it:
He was asking way too much for it, and a lot of the parts we want to salvage are rusted or missing, but he let us take a few more photos. We are having trouble figuring out how to take the front and back apart and modify the chassis so getting some photos of the undercarriage will be useful.

This is what the underside of an auto looks like, in case you've ever wondered:
Somehow I went the whole day without taking a single photo of Muffin.

We're kind of stuck now. There must be some place else we can go to shop for autos but Mike needs to work his contacts for some more information. No one can understand why we really want one and the lack of understanding is a roadblock to getting the information. 


Katie said...

That is such a great idea! I hope that you're able to find suitable auto.

Is there a set fare in Hyderabad or do you have to haggle with the auto drivers for the fee? When I was studying abroad in Tamil Nadu, India, we always had to haggle for the fee!

Stephanie said...

Hi Katie, most of the autos here don't have meters and even the ones that do you have to haggle for the price. After two years here, this weekend was the first time we had an auto with a working meter and the driver used it!

Sarah BTW said...

This is a fantastic idea, what an amazing souvenir to take away from India. How much are you guys looking to get one for, if you don't mind my asking?

Stephanie said...

Sarah, we really don't know how much one should cost. One guy offered one for 3,000 Rs (about $60) which seemed suspiciously low; he didn't have one to show us so we're afraid he only means the front chassis, not the whole thing. Another guy offered one for 10,000 Rs ($200) but it was in such bad shape and was missing some of the parts we want to save that we'd have to do more work and spend more money to refurbish it. Sooo... somewhere between 3,000 and 10,000, depending on the condition and how much work we have to do to it.