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Carter County Schools win third straight Battle of the Build at Johnson City Area Home Builders Home and Outdoor Show

John Thompson • Feb 25, 2020 at 9:22 AM

ELIZABETHTON — For the third year in a row, the Carter County School System has claimed the championship in the annual Battle of the Build contest at the Johnson City Area Home Builders Association at the East Tennessee State University Minidome.

This year’s winning entry from the Carter County Schools is a “car-b-que” — a front half of a 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle, with a large barbecue grill installed in what had been its hood. The back end of the vehicle was replaced by a towing system.

Each of the county’s four high schools specialized on a particular part of the project. Students from Hampton High School handled the engineering and design work. Cloudland High School specialized in the welding, Happy Valley High School focused on the electrical wiring and electronics, and Unaka High School provided the paint and body work. Happy Valley teacher James Monroe said the students from each school specialized in one area, but during the many weeks of work, got involved in many other areas, broadening their experience and knowledge.

Monroe said the students began working on the project as far back as October and lavished a total of 900 man-hours on the project. In the process, they learned a lot of new skills.

There was the design and engineering work. Then there was the electrical work, which included a direct current battery that was recharged through an alternating current plug hidden beneath the gas cap. The direct current not only ran the lighting of the propane fuel for the grill, but also ran all the indicators on the dashboard.

There was also a lot of high profile welding that had to be performed. On top of that was the paint and body work on the front end of the Beetle. It had to be showroom quality.

All that attention to detail certainly paid off. In addition to winning another first-place finish in the Battle of the Build, the quality attracted a high price when it came time to sell the car-b-cue. As always, the winning entry was auctioned and the winning bid was for $1,600. Monroe said the funds will help defray the costs of the upcoming state championship competition.

The hours spent on the project mirror the many hours spent working on the winning projects from the Battle of the Builds in 2019 and 2018. Last year’s entry was a regulation-size pool table installed in the bed of a 1968 Chevrolet truck bed.

The 2018 entry was even more whimsical, a large portable chicken coop.

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