Thursday, April 10, 2014

Velomobile Parts Are Being Primed And Painted!

Today has been a good day at the Tinker's Workshop with the first coat of primer and paint finally being applied to some of the parts for the velomobile project.  I like this part of any fiber glassing project as it will help me get even closer to a nice smooth surface for final paint after I sand on it a bit more.

Here once again is a photo of the hood for the velomobile before primer is applied.  It looks nice and smooth but in actuality it has many flaws yet which the primer will reveal when I start sanding on the part again.  

Here the hood has the first coat of primer sprayed on it.  Already the look is a vast improvement over what it looked like before it was sprayed.  The shiny spot that you see on the right side of the part is only that way because the primer was still wet when I shot this photo.   More sanding and primer will be done next until I am happy with the result and I can start putting on the final coats of paint.

The next parts that were on my list for primer and paint today was the fiber glass wheel covers that will be on the velomobile.  These will cover up the wheel openings and make the  velomobile that much more streamlined.   Here is a shot of one of the covers on one of the front wheels to show you how it will look when mounted.   The shape is exactly what I want for the velomobile but in this shot has not been primed or painted yet.  

Here is one of the wheel covers after a couple of coats of primer and bright silver paint have been applied.  This will make a really nice looking wheel cover when mounted on the velomobile.  The texture of the fiber glass cloth is a nice touch that I had not even considered when I was making the part. 
  I have the body of the velomoile just about ready for primer and will post updates on it's progress when I get that far along with it.  Check back again soon as I hope this portion of the project will be ready in the next week or so.  Happy Tinkering!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

3D Printed Futuristic Motorcycle Model

I have always had a fascination with anything futuristic or Scifi related.   Be it photos, movies, models or what have you.  Last fall I had an idea for a model of a futuristic motorcycle bouncing around in my head and so I designed the model in my computer. Then I 3D printed the parts expecting to finish the model in short order.  That is about as far as I got and so it set on my work bench waiting to be completed all this time.  With all the other projects that have passed over my work bench over the past months I was surprised to even find time to work this overdue project.  So that is the subject for today.  

Here is what I came up with.  I wanted this computer model to become something real I could hold in my hands and still be able to be printed on my 3D printer. I like the idea of an enclosed motorcycle and also to be able to once again use skateboard wheels for the model. Like the Indy car racer I had completed some time back shown above.

The front and rear forks of the model are exactly the same so making them would be an easy thing to do. I knew that I also wanted to make a streamlined body that would be easy enough to 3D print.

In this computer image you can see an exploded view of the model and all of it's components.  The only thing that is not correct in this image is the fact that the red body is actually in two pieces..split down the middle.  This was designed this way so that I could easily print the body on my 3D printer and then join them when the model was assembled.

Here is a photo of almost all of the 3D printed components that make up the model.  In the upper left corner of the photo is the windshield before it has been painted.  The rear window is just below the windshield smoothed and painted black.  A big difference to be sure. 

This is a good shot of the right side of the body just after it was 3D printed.  As you can see the shape is what I was after but it is far from being ready for paint.  A lot of sanding and priming of these parts were needed to be done next to get to the smooth finish I was after.  Just to print one half of the body took around four hours of print time.

Here once again is the windshield and now both sides of the body after they have been sanded and primed for the first time.  They look a lot better but still have a little ways to go yet to be ready for paint.  I wet sanded these parts again several times using 220 grit sand paper and priming them over and over until I was happy with the parts.

This is how the model turned out after many hours of 3D printing, sanding, priming and painting.  As you can see my time prepping the model has paid off with a very smooth looking paint job on all of the components.

The model stand 4 inches tall, 8.5 inches long and 2 inches wide. 

This will make a nice addition to my collection of models and matches perfectly with the computer model that I started with.  Would make one heck of a vehicle if it were for real.  With no exhaust pipe it would have to be.... electric?  Another project idea for another day. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Proper Place For The Tinker's Workshop Spade Bits

As with most workshops there are always tools that are laying around that get moved from place to place and they never quite find a home.  The Tinker's Workshop is no different other than the fact that now I have the capability and space to equip the shop with some unique tools to remedy this problem.  Point in case here has been my collection of spade bits that I have acquired one by one over the years and have stored in of all worse things...... a plastic bag.  I finally got fed up with this arrangement and designed a proper storage box for these invaluable bits.

The box I designed I knew would be put into the workshop and did not have to be a work of art.  But I could not resist the temptation to design a few features into the box that would make it easier to find and give it a little style at the same time. 

The box needed to hold eight bits ranging in size from 1 1/4 down to 5/16 inch.  This presented some interesting design problems as not all of the bits were the same length and definitely not the same width for the holes they are made to cut.  I originally was going to lay the bits out flat as shown in the photo above but this only made the box even larger and more difficult to design and make. So I placed the bits on edge to reduce the size of the box needed for the project. Along with the bits being placed on their side I made a recessed area that ran across the width of the box to make it easier to get my fingers between the bits to select which one I needed when I was using them.  

As you can see the bits slid nicely into the 7 1/4 x 4 1/4 inch enclosure.  Like almost all of my projects, I had to make some test parts to make sure the bits would slide in and out of their respective slots easily.  Everything looks to be a perfect fit. 

One last thing that was needed in the box was a simple display to help me figure out what bit was what while they were placed on edge inside the box.  I solved this problem by printing a bit size chart inside the lid of the box in the order that the bits are lined up in the container.  The bars that run vertically in the lid  are there to hold the bits in place while the lid is on the base.  The box can then be rotated in any direction (upside down and side ways) without having the bits fall out of their assigned recessed slots.  

The lid for the spade bit box fits firmly in place and with the black painted base stands only 2 1/4 inches high.  The embossed lettering on the lid will make it easy for me to identify what is in this little case when I need the bits for the next project that comes along.  Far better than trying to find that awful little plastic bag these bits have hidden in all these years.  Score another one for my Makerbot 3D printer!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Velomobile Body Sees The Light Of Day!

  Spring has shown up bright and warm today so with the newly created larger wheeled cart for the velomobile I was easily able to work outside today on the project.  The winter has been nothing less than depressing here in the Midwest so to see a warm bright sunny day is a welcome sight to be sure.  

The cart as you can see from the photo above helps hold the velomobile securely and with the larger wheels can easily traverse my grass lawn.  So with the velo out in the bright sun light I pulled out my trusty orbital sander and started the first pass of smoothing out the body.  With the body completely fiber glassed now all of the inner foam has been sealed up and is quite protected from damage in just moving the velo around while working on it.  If you have been following the progress of this project you surely must have noticed that now the velo is loosing it's pink color.  YEAH!  I'm glad to see that it is finally turning white with each coat of micro-balloon mixture that I apply to the outer skin.  This coating of resin and micro-balloons fills the weave of the fiber glass cloth when applied and left to cure.  Once it has dried than the sanding process begins to get a nice smooth finish for priming and painting.

With the orbital sander I was able to smooth out the outer body in a couple of hours.  This was great progress today.  The only problem with sanding on the body with the orbital is the sound that it generates when it is running.  It's like sanding on a big drum.  WAAAAAAHHHHHH!  I think I woke up the entire neighborhood with all the noise I was making.  I didn't have anyone come into the yard to see what I was up to so the vehicle will still be a big surprise once I get it completed and rolling down the street.  Also with doing all of the sanding outside I was able to keep my garage a lot cleaner and not have to worry about all of the dust floating around.  So it is all good.  
  I'll have to start putting on the second coat of micro-balloon mixture on the body next which will make the body even whiter and smoother once it has been sanded out.  There is some hand sanding that will need to be done around the signal lights and the tail light assembly but this should not take a great deal of time.  After the second coat of putty has been sanded smooth I will start priming the body with gray primer.  This will really make the flaws in the body show up which is good so that I can continue sanding and priming to make the body as smooth as possible for painting.  So check back again and hopefully you'll see a lot more progress.  One last thing.... I  have been keeping track of the hours that I have spent on this project so far.  The grand total now has risen to 529 hours.  I figure it will be around another 100 hours before I am done.  Maybe less if I am lucky.  Either way I am having fun with this project and that is what really matters. Have a good day tinkering!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Velomobile Progress & Cradle Improvements

This week brings new progress to the velomobile project along with the  support cradle that I have for it.  With the build of the velomobile it was necessary to rest the body on to a special built cradle during it's assembly.  This cradle has made the build process much easier as I am able to move the body around in my garage very easily by having casters installed on the assembly. This cradle with it's nylon web straps hold the body securely without damaging it during the build.  But looking forward I find that the two inch casters will not do at all if I wish to work on the body outside of the garage and in my back yard.

To make it possible to roll the cradle out into my backyard when the warm weather finally shows up I decided to add a few more pieces to the cradle assembly.  I first removed the two inch casters and added axle assemblies made up of 2 x 4's and 1/2 inch plywood support plates. To these axles I then mounted seven inch wheels I found at my local Menards store. This makes up a rolling cart that also has the potential for some great coaster carts for kids.  I helped build a bunch of them when I was a kid so it was and easy thing to come up with for the velo build.

The front of the new cradle assembly is designed with a center pivot point that is steered using a simple rope mounted to the outer gusset plates. 

At the center of the front pivot point is 1/2 inch bolt that runs through the original framework of the velomobile cradle, several spacer blocks and into the lower front steering axle.  The spacer block was needed so that the front axle would swing freely when pulled from side to side using the attached steering/pull rope and not rub against the outer mounting bolts on the original cradle assembly.

The gusset plates for the front and rear axles were glued and screwed on to the axles and wheel mounting plates using deck screws.  A hole was drilled through the front axle gusset plate to mount the pull rope.

Here you can see how the axle for the seven inch wheels are mounted using 1/2 inch bolts through a small 2 x 4 block on each end of the axles.  These bolts are then held in place using lock nuts just tight enough to hold everything together but not so tight that the wheel does not spin.  The pull rope was fed through the front gusset plate on the front axle and then a knot was tied on the back side to hold it in place.

With this photo you can see how much more ground clearance that I have for the velomobile construction.  The seven inch wheels will roll nicely on my lawn now so I can keep the dust and out of my garage when the weather finally warms up and I want to do sanding or painting outside.  The new car only raised the body up six inches so it still is at a good working height.

At this point with the build I have the velomobile completely fiber glassed inside and out. I will have to start the process of puttying the body to fill the weave using a mixture of micro-balloons and resin. and checking over any spots on the body to make sure I have not missed anything while I was glassing.  I also want to look for any imperfections that need to be smoothed out at this time too.  The rear blister behind the drivers compartment has already been done and has been sanded smooth.  This gives the body a nice white coating so I will be more than happy when the rest of the body is the same way.  Lots to do yet but with the new cradle improvements it will make it a lot easier and nicer to work outside under a shade tree in warm weather.  Until that time I'll keep plugging along in the garage to keep the project moving forward.