You know how sometimes you get together with your buddies and say something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t it be crazy if we quit our jobs and did _________ together for a living?” Edwin Olding and Ethan Schlussler followed that thought through to completion by creating their own business. Grind Hard Plumbing Co is a YouTube channel that showcases the wacky, mismatched off-road creations of Olding and Schlussler (see videos below). A few of their inventions involve putting a Honda dirt bike engine in a toy Power Wheels Ford Mustang Barbie car, chopping up a dirt bike frame to build a snowmobile engine powered off-road scooter and hotwiring an abandoned Toyota Tacoma and turning it into a rock crawler.
“It started out as a crazy idea, something for fun,” said Schlussler. “It quickly turned into something big enough to be full time. We make money from YouTube ad revenue and sponsorships.”
In a single year, Grind Hard Plumbing has amassed 342,000 subscribers on YouTube, resulting in 36 million views. On Facebook, the views are approaching 200 million.
“We realized that people on the Internet and our subscribers really love ridiculous, outlandish, overpowered stuff with engines that should never have been put into things,” Schlussler said. “It’s kind of our theme.”
Where the magic happens
Grind Hard Plumbing’s headquarters are in Sandpoint, Idaho, on Schussler’s property. All of the initial creations and tests are completed on the acreage and then tested out there or in neighbouring Washington, Oregon or British Columbia.
Ethan Schlussler turned an abandoned Toyota Tacoma into a rock crawler. — Photo courtesy Grind Hard Plumbing Co
Both Olding and Schlussler have backgrounds that helped spur the lightning-quick ascension of Grind Hard Plumbing Co. Schlussler was a construction worker prior to Grind Hard and has experience in mechanics, fabrication, welding and heavy equipment operations. Olding’s experience lies in filming and editing. He used to do wedding videos, commercials and documentaries. As such, Schlussler does the fabrication and design of the machines while Olding takes point on filming and editing.
“It’s a joint effort, but we definitely have our specialties,” said Schlussler.
Because the pair of creative collaborators were freelancers, they had the opportunity to dive into their new business venture without hesitation.
“It was easy to take time off for both of us because we’re self-employed,” said Olding. “We took a six-month leave from our previous jobs and put it all in to see if we could make it happen. By the end of it, we had more than enough momentum to keep it going.”
Happy, happy, joy, joy
If nothing else, Grind Hard Plumbing Co is all about having fun. It’s how the inception of the name and company took shape.
“I thought that having cool cars with the plumbing logo on the side of them would be funny and eye-catching,” Olding said.
One of Grind Hard Plumbing Co’s creations is a powered-up off-road scooter made from a chopped-up a dirt bike frame and snowmobile engine. — Photo courtesy Grind Hard Plumbing Co
With a name picked out, Olding set out to create a logo, choosing a toy Power Wheels Ford Mustang Barbie car. Of course, the toy itself was nothing special. It required modifications and more power. Schlussler recommended a motorcycle engine because of its small size and built-in transmission. Olding opted to install the engine up front so he could drift it.
“I thought it would be fun and awesome for me because I hadn’t built anything at the time and I figured building something smaller would be easier than building a full race car,” Olding said. “We did it together, made the video together, and promoted it together. It took off in such a big way. We saw that we could make a potential revenue stream from it and have a lot of fun and get paid to do whatever kind of nonsense we wanted. That was a priority for us.”
“We try to do something that’s never been done before—at least that we know of,” said Schussler. “People have put engines in Power Wheels toys, but nobody had done it with the engine in the front, with a dirt bike engine or made it fast. Ours goes over 70 miles an hour (113 kilometres an hour). As far as we know, it’s the fastest one by far.”
Edwin Olding of Grind Hard Plumbing Co knows how to portray a pretty picture with this Power Wheels Barbie Mustang with a BR VZ21 mini turbo charger. — Photo courtesy Grind Hard Plumbing Co
With their name, logo and first creation complete, Grind Hard Plumbing was off and running. Even with their early success, Olding and Schlussler have maintained a frugal, economic approach to acquiring parts and equipment.
“We use the junk we have laying around rather than buying expensive new stuff,” said Schlussler. “We find trash old snowmobiles, go-karts and dirt bikes on Craigslist that are worn out. We buy those and take the engine and other parts out of them to make crazy stuff.”
To adopt Grind Hard Plumbing Co’s template as your own, follow the handy guide below.
Lights, camera, action, destruction!
Once the sick new ride is completed, it’s time to let Olding’s filming and editing skills shine.
“We have really pretty videos with nice music and lots of cinematic shots,” said Olding. “We make it really entertaining to watch even if you’re not super nerdy into how things work. Then we thrash it until it breaks and fix it again.
“When I was learning to build things on YouTube, I was seeing these guys build cool things but they were never testing them, breaking them or bringing them up to top speed. You see someone build something for months and then he finally rides it and he’s putting it around the yard. It’s depressing.
“We put a big focus on testing it every step of the way, going hard until we break them, seeing what the weak points are and then rebuilding them. I think that makes it a lot more entertaining.”
As it turns out, 342,000 YouTube subscribers agree wholeheartedly with Olding. Kudos to Grind Hard Plumbing Co. Here’s to many more creations, fix-er-uppers and wild, crazy shenanigans.
Edwin Olding and Ethan Schlussler enjoy taking their fully-caged convertible BMW E46 drift car for a rip. — Photo courtesy Grind Hard Plumbing Co
How to DIY (Do It Yourself)
You don’t need to be a super genius to create a rad ride. All it takes is a little creativity, elbow grease and these helpful tips from Ethan Schlussler:
- Find a body, chassis or shell that you want (on Craigslist or a similar website).
- Find an engine (perhaps from an old dirt bike).
- Stuff it together however it has to go.
- Fabricate all the little pieces using scrap metal that you have laying around or pieces of other vehicles, such as snowmobiles.
- Buy an old go-kart, if necessary (it’s cheaper than buying individual parts new).
- Test it out every step of the way (start the engine as soon as you can).
- Take it for a rip to make sure everything is working, even if it’s not close to being finished.
- Modify as necessary.