Louie Skebo has visions. I don't mean that in the mental health sense of the word. Skebo's vision is that he can build a truck that'll sear itself into your memory, just like it can put a nice sear on a whole chicken. When you cook with Skebo, you're cooking with fire.
We caught up with Skebo to find out the story behind the truck, behind the YouTube channel, and behind the flame-licked chicken itself. But first, let's fill our bellies with a little of Louie's down-home Ontario "thrust cuisine". Find a nice, fresh whole chicken and a salvaged Motorlet M701 single-stage turbojet, and follow along at home.
Is your appetite whetted for more jet truck? Let's continue. Skebo runs site (and YouTube channel) called PowerModz, specializing in snowmobile powersports. He's also a keen fan of bolting jets onto things that probably shouldn't have jets bolted onto them. That fondness is expressed by a separate channel, where Skebo "jets" various objects. How long can a full can of Coleman lantern fuel withstand the Motorlet's 1,970 pounds of thrust? We're glad you asked.
Hmm. Coleman makes a sturdy can, and they should be commended for it. Skebo makes an impressive jet-powered Land Cruiser, and he should be commended for it as well. Why'd he build it?
"The idea was simple. I had the 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ75, I then found an advertisement in a local online forum for a jet engine—what I call "the dumpster jet". It only made sense that I made the first off-road jet truck in the world."
Fair enough. Simple plans are the best plans. And the jet itself is interesting: the Motorlet originally powered an L29 Delphin, a Czech jet trainer. Skebo's goal isn't to set some sort of land speed record, or bragging rights. No, in Skebo's words, "it is mainly to just have my own jet truck that I can race other off-road vehicles with, like a snowmobile."
This is getting better and better, in my opinion. According to Skebo, it's not a very economical plan, but it is a lot of fun. "It consumes 3.5 gallons of fuel a minute at idle, and burns just about anything from vodka to bunker oil," he notes. But it wasn't as simple as just bolting it onto the old Toyota. The jet needed a fair bit of work.
"When I went to see the engine, it was half immersed in water. The combustion chambers out of the water had pounds of mouse nests in them and the gear box was open on top and was full or water and decaying leaves."
After a lot of work, some fabrication, and the addition of the starter and igniters, Skebo was able to fire up the jet for the first time. This was nerve-wracking, of course.
"When you sit in a plane and fly somewhere you are far removed from the jet engine, when I am in my truck my head is 2 feet from the intake—admittedly it makes me wonder what the hell I am doing, but when it gets spooled up it is the most fun thing I have ever done."
Driving the jet truck isn't for the faint of heart. As you'd expect, he's dying to see how fast it'll go, but first he'll have to do something about the transmission. Skebo says that he "can only get to 2nd gear before I have to just put it in neutral and let the jet do its thing—otherwise the transmission just slows it down." In addition, he says you have to slow down even sooner than you would normally, due to the peculiarities of the turbine.
"With a turbine engine you always have to think a few seconds ahead of the engine because of the rotational mass. So if you want to start slowing down, you need to do it about 10 seconds before you would in a normal vehicle. If you don't you've given the jet engine 10 more seconds of time to propel you even faster, and with a jet engine on a 4x4 that kind of speed isn't so safe."
What does the future hold for Skebo's jet truck? Well, like any guy with petrol in the blood, he wants to make it faster. A new burner, or perhaps a more efficient jet that he can add an afterburner to, are on the horizon. In the course of testing whatever setup he decides on, many more objects will face the flames. "I'll experiment with burning many different objects," he notes cheerfully.
Before that, there's more offroading in the future. Subscribe to the PowerModz channel and look out for more jet truck videos—and more thrust-cooked random objects.