TLC's Junkyard Wars...FAKE?

I got hooked watching Junkyard Wars on the Learning Channel,Apparently set in a UK junkyard, filled with British junk, with Brittish Hosts and teams.
Lately, One of the hosts is an American, and the Yard is now full of AMERICAN junk, even though its clearly the same UK junkyard. Furthermore, the teams had to make the SAME
contraptions as the earlier UK versions, sometimes using the SAME JUNK!!!
Are the contestants given a script (like pro wrestling)?
Did they import a couple hundred tons of american junk all the way to England?

Um, it’s not fake. The teams actually build the stuff they build. But they junk isn’t always exactly “junk”. They make sure that the junk is appropriate for the challenge. IE, during the tractor pull, they make sure they are engines and tires lying around. For the glider challenge there was a junked airplane lying around. This is not an accident. That doesn’t mean the show is fake, exactly.

Might I commend to you the handy-dandy “Search” feature? It would have guided you to this thread (which should look strikingly familiar), which in turn referenced this thread and that thread.

The consensus is apparently, as Lemur said, that it is not faked, but rather carefully prepared. The show would suck if they were given a task, and critical components simply weren’t in the junkyard, wouldn’t it? So they stock the junkyard with some appropriate junk. As an engineer who has built some kluges that look remarkably like the products of the show (often under deadlines), I can tell you that there is always a critical problem at the last minute–even on real projects. My last circuit design sure as hell wasn’t scripted.

I watched JW for a while and enjoyed it until I became convinced that it was staged. Some evidence:

  1. A team never totally blows its deadline. If it were real you’d expect that occasionally one of the machines just wouldn’t work and the other team would win by default. But both teams always get something working for the final challenge.

  2. By the same token, teams never finish early.

  3. The junkyard is conveniently seeded with junk that will make the teams’ jobs neither too hard or too easy. For example, if their task is to build a lawnmower they might find a half-dead motorscooter they can use as a starting point. But if their task is to build a motorscooter all they’ll find is wheels and an engine.

  4. The teams are very good-natured about wise-cracking with the hosts even when they’re supposedly under extreme deadline pressure. If it were me with only fifteen minutes to make some critical welds or lose the game, I don’t think I would stop and turn off my torch to chit-chat about how nervous I was.

The degree to which it is faked is unclear. I think the teams do do all the labor themselves, and that the winner really is determined by how the machines perform in the final challenge, but I suspect that the show’s producers are playing fast and loose with how the junkyard is stocked, how much design help the teams get, and how the time is counted.

Not true. Almost all teams need to take advantage of the one hour of time they get on the second day to add final touches. In one episode on the first season, the deadline was extended two hours because neither team had finished.

Not true. On the land yacht episode, one team finished more than an hour early and just sat around for a while.

The seeding is hardly “convenient.” Things like engines and boilers would not be safe to use without proper documentation, and many of those types of things are seeded. The teams are not told where they are, but they are required to clear parts with the production crew before using them.

You’d be nervous. These guys are professionals who do this type of stuff every day. And it seems to me most of the conversation is initiated by the hosts.

The producers only seed the junkyard to make it possible to build the machines, and make sure the contestants are using safe parts. Everything else is left pretty much up to chance. I reccomend you read this page by one of the teams from the first season. It’s very informative.

I know the show you mean, I watched the UK version (and have seen some of the US eps too)

My WAG is that because each team has an expert on them, the producers can control what happens. I think that the experts are given some guidance because the two teams never, ever choose to build the same thing. They always conveniently choose to approach the problem from different angles. Of course, the teams have thier own knowledge and skills, but the expert is there to advise and guide thier plans.

But, I still think the show is cool, no matter how much of a set up it is. It is something I would love to have a go at, but I have no technical skills at all, other than the fact that I can hit things with a big hammer and can lift/pull/push things.


Look, guys, even “Jeopardy” and “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” are “fixed” in that there are certain rules the contestants have to abide by, time limits and whatnot.

Think of JunkYard Wars as a Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor Real Man’s Game Show. :smiley:

Sure they “seed” parts… but as the ‘Nerds’ site listed above mentions, they also “sweep” to a certain extent, too.

How does that change anything? You WATCH the teams build their whatever-it-is.

Put it this way- Would the show be the LEAST bit different, if the teams were given a well-equipped shop that included a large rack of fresh, uncut materials as well as a small warehouse of new, wrapped and labeled parts, and told that had to build the machines?
They still have to BUILD something… and believe me- I’m a dirt-under-the-fingernails, welding-slag scars on the forearms, grinding spatter embedded in the glasses, soot-in-the-nostrils do-it-yourselfer- that just building the machines is a major challenge in and of itself.

Sure, they give you tape, glue, wire, nuts n’ bolts, cable, rope and so on, as well as raw square tube, conduit tubing, plstic sheeting and whatever. Who cares?

Same goes for the different-approach concept: who cares if Team A is told to make a One Big Sail yacht and Team B is told to make a Twin-sail Catamaran style? (Personally, I’m sure the teams are free to choose however they want to do it to get the job done.) Same situation- they’re already being told WHAT to build, who cares if they’d be nudged in a certain direction to build it a certain way?

And anyway, coming from a guy who’s accidentally set more things on fire with an acetylene torch than you’ve had hot dinners, it’s still a Great show. :smiley:


My suspicions were raised when they started finding rocket motors in the junkyard :slight_smile:

Relax, would you rather watch “Junkyard Wars” or “People scratching their arses because they can’t find anything to put their design together.” Besides, If I could do half of what they can I’d be happy.

And remember that the whole purpose of the show is not the competition aspect, but the educational aspect. Really, it’s rather hard to learn much from a bunch of guys standing around discussing why it’s impossible to build a safe, working air compressor entirely out of junk in ten hours. Or perhaps going to great lengths to explain why scrap metal is not the best choice for constructing a blimp. Plus, it would be hard to convince anybody to actually use an entirely handbuilt coal boiler.

From The Nerds website, it seems that the experts know about the challenge, and get to request the presence of necessary items. The teams do not know anything much about the challenge ahead of time. While not as cool as simply rummaging through an actual junkyard, I don’t see that they’re really dishonest about it or anything.

I think it’s cooler with them having to struggle with ill-suited parts. Building is impressive, but building with junk is new and different.

That was explained on last night’s episode. The host said it would be illegal to leave liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen (and by extension, aluminum perchlorate or other solid chemicals) lying around the junkyard. He said they hid ten motors of varying size around the junkyard for the teams to find.

I am not a rocketeer, but I do know that in the U.S. (and I assume the U.K.) the rocket motors that were used require a license. They’re not something that you can just pick up at the local hobby shop.

I’m looking forward to next week’s show, where they build and fly aircraft.

Kali is cute.

There’s also times when a required part is nowhere to be found and a reasonable facsimile must be created. Example: in the hovercraft episode, one team had to make a propeller out of a fence post with a chainsaw.