The New England Rubbish Deconstruction Society

The NERDS logo


We are the first American team to compete in the British Scrapheap Challenge engineering competition TV series (Junkyard Wars).  The team is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.   We were finalists in the 2000 season, the third shown in the UK, and the second one shown in the US.  In 2006, the team was invited back to the UK, to be part of a special episode commemorating the 200th birthday of Isembard Kingdom Brunel. (this episode has not been shown in the US) The show appears in the US under the name Junkyard Wars.

Hire a NERD: Looking for a Boston based software manager? Consider Jeff Del Papa's resume

Want to try a junkyard build at your next company event? Would you like to have a Junkyard Warrior visit your school? Interested in a team-building event? The Rubbish Deconstruction League has corporate and school programs available. If you are looking for information on the CRMI Catapult Building fundrasing event, it can be found at Be A Siege Engineer

Frequently Asked Questions Lecture series Is the yard seeded?
Competing? Tactical advice. Humor How we got onto the show
A Diary of our first heat Design and build notes - The Nautilus Our audition video (Sewing Machine Magic)
Steam engine - terms and basics of operation Design and build notes - Steam Cars NERDS fashion statement - T shirt ordering.
Press  How Why
Mail  Credits Three season episode guide

The winning team

CrashCrash Our self described mad inventor, Ph.D., and the oldest of the bunch.  Holds a bunch of patents, and restored the Land Rover that he drives to work.  A ham radio operator, he is a devotee of Milwaukee power tools.  In 2007, he eloped with his long time partner, Penny. They now have a son named Stephen, and twin daughters Marie and Grace. We appointed him Captain, since they wouldn't let us call him Chief Designer.  He even decided he liked the job. He also served as a season captain (against Bowser Munson) in the American version of the show.   .

dp>dp (Jeff)The organizer and actual leader of the team (also webmaster, mailer of T shirts, speaker to travel agents, etc.), recumbent bicycle obsessed (I design and build my own, see Frankenbike and Trondholm, our tandem, or the The Busycle), and the most heavily bearded.  (I am told that made me the prime candidate for captain, but I managed to avoid it.)  Besides the bicycles, and this team web page, I build musical instruments, ring churchbells, take pictures with a plate camera, and read entirely too much.  As a side effect of the Junkyard alumni reunion, I have joined Team Tormentum, building siege weapons, primarily for tossing pumpkins.  More details here.

GeoGeo Machine artist, designer, computer scientist, futurist, extreme engineer.  Has former lives in electrical engineering, robotics, and robotic art. Currently, having escaped with his Phd from MIT, can now be found on the left coast, at Squid labs. The first audition was filmed in the Chinatown loft he called home.  Our diver, he got the job of piloting The Nautilus, our submarine. 


Ten reasons why being on Junkyard Wars is better than being on Survivor Ten reasons why Junkyard Wars is better than "Iron Chef"
Imitation - MIT East Campus Courtyard Wars Kevin Bacon Numbers
Thanksgiving special -- recipe for a steam car The New Hackers Dictionary

Our First Challenge

I can finally talk about how we did.  Yes, we indeed won the Underwater Chariots competition.   As a result we will appear, in the first semi-final round, where we will build ourselves a steam car.  Details below.

Take a look at Submarine Design Notes for more details than the TV show has time for.  Peer inside the skin of the Nautilus.

We flew, we built, we conquered.  A delightful, but exhausting time was had by all.

Our Second Trip!

This time we got to boil water, building coal fired, steam powered, race cars.  The opposing team was The Beach Boys, fresh from their defeat of Bowsers "Filth".   All the details that the TV show didn't have time to show, are in Steam Car in a Day . It includes my design notes, a discussion of race tactics, and lots (40) of pictures and annotated drawings.  Also available is a short piece on steam terminology.

Our Third Trip:

RDF: Why all the water?  First we had to move under it, the second time, boil it, this time we will have to move across it, then pump it.  We take on canny Dick and the Strawbridge boys, with their habit of preparing their unwitting opponents for the competition by trying to drink them under the table the night before. I am still working on my usual write-up.  In the mean time, you can read the Channel 4 write-up, and the only time lapse video of us building.

We Get Press

   Boston Innovation's Matt Fellows wrote Team Building? Try Machine Building! about Jeff's team building program.'s Michelle Dellio interviewed Jeff, and Steve Garfith one of the British experts, and wrote Who Wants To Be a Gearhead? This was picked up by Slashdot which resulted in the usual blizzard of hits, and over 100 comments.  The whole team was interviewed by Michael Park, and Fox News  published U.S. Gadgeteer's Appear on British 'Junk' Show. Chris Szechenyi, of the Boston Globe's online edition wrote Turning junk into science.  The paper edition of the Globe ran its own article. We had our first live interview, on Baltimore radio station WQSR's morning show.  Chris Wright of the Boston Phoenix interviewed Jeff and Crash, resulting in Techno Trash: Junk Bonds.  Shortly before our show broadcast in the US, we appeared on The Computer Report show on WCAP radio in Lowell.  While not mentioning us by name, a review of the show in Maxim online used a photo of Crash and I with the Nautilus.

We get mail

Contact the nerds

The Usual

Frequently Asked Questions
Ten reasons why being on Junkyard Wars is better than being on Survivor
Ten reasons why "Junkyard Wars" is better than "Iron Chef"
NERDS fashion statement - T shirt ordering.
Competing? Here's some advice
Episode guide
Links NERDS find interesting
Supporting Cast
Kevin Bacon Numbers
The machinery used in our logo was drawn by Mark Fisher. (check out his page)
Our logo's designer (thanks again Jamie)
SFRevu - Ernest Lilly, supplied photographs of a RDL event
dp's Journal
Thanksgiving special -- recipe for a steam car
Imitation - MIT East Campus Courtyard Wars
A Diary of our first heat (embedded pictures)
Steam engine - terms and basics of operation
Special thanks to The Partsguy for hosting this site

This planet needs a lot more kids that think taking a lawnmower's engine apart is more fun than playing video games.

This entire site copyright 2000-2007 by Jeff Del Papa, and The New England Rubbish Deconstruction Society. We each did our personal pages. Crash gets credit for 90% of the Survivor Comparison and 10% of the Iron Chef comparison. DP gets credit for 90% of the Iron Chef comparison and 10% of the Survivor Comparison.  Jamie drew our logo on a background by Mark Fisher.  Geo did the fancy edit of the audition video.  Crash took some of the pictures used, dp, Susan, Dominic McCarthy, and Jared took the rest.  Tony Finn contributed the drawing of the injector, and Mark Burgess provided the pictures taken at the Donnington exhibition.  DP is to blame for the rest of the text, backgrounds, and graphic design.  Thanks extended to Susan for copy editing Jeff's sometimes tortured prose. Links to the site (or any page within) welcome, let me know if you want a link back.  Any excerpting or off-web publication of material from this site must be cleared with dp prior to publication. (Use of material for educational or news purposes permitted without advance permission if the top-level link ( is included.)