Tuesday, October 22, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Signal Light Housings And More

With winter weather approaching sooner that I would like I have been working as fast as I can to get as much done on the velomobile in my unheated garage.  Luckily with the help of a small space heater and the heat given off by my halogen spot lights it warms up just enough to get something accomplished.  So here is what I finished work on just yesterday.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been posting images of the velomobile project with holes in the body.  Yesterday I was finally able to finish the installation of the housings for the signal lights that will be mounted into the vehicle to fill these holes.  This worked turned out very well but took several days to accomplish as only half of the signal lights could be mounted at one time and then the rest on the next day.  

These housings (white up front and yellow in the rear) each took 10 1/2 hours to print on my 3D printer.  Nerve racking to say the least while waiting all that time and hoping that the part would not fail in the process.  All the parts turned out beautifully and so my hat is off to the Makerbot company and their Replicator 3D printer that I own. 

The smaller white framed opening in this photo is one of the access panels that will make it easier for me to mount the body on to the frame once all the body work has been completed.  This opening will have a small panel that will close up this hole and match the rest of the body. 

The signal light housings will hold the LED signal lights and will have a clear plexi-glass window that will cover up the opening and finish off the mountings.  This also will keep the air flow smooth around these lights once the body has been completed.

The signal light housings had to be fitted into the body of the velomobile and luckily this was not a terrible task to undertake.  In this photo you can see the housing being test fitted as it rest on one of the inner ribs at the front of the vehicle.

This rib needed to be cut so that the housing would sit as flat as possible on to the inner surface of the body.  I marked the rib for cutting and used a Dremel tool to remove that section of the rib for the installation. 

Now the housing is able to be put into the correct position into the body and can be fiber glassed into place.

With the opening already cut into the boy it was an easy task to get the signal light housing lined up to be mounted.

Here is a couple of photos of one of the rear access panels so the body can easily be mounted to the frame of the vehicle.  The outer skin will be sanded and fiber glassed to encase the white framework of the opening and so all that will be seen is the outer cover plate once the work is complete. This process will also be done on all of the signal light housings as well.  

This is a good view of the back of the velomobile now with all of the housings mounted into place.  This housings make the vehicle look a lot more complete now that they are done and the open holes in the body have something to fill them.  The only reason the rear signal light housings are yellow compared to the front housings is that I used what plastic I had on hand in my 3D printer to make the parts.  All of the housings will be painted to match the color of the body once I get that far so it really did not matter what color the plastic for the housings was used while printing them at this point. 

The next task that I managed to get a nice start on is the construction of the tail light housing assembly.  This took me some time to figure out just how to finish off the rear of the velomobile and be able to access the tail lights to turn them on and off without having to dismantle anything in the process.  The blue framework that you see in the image above was the order of the day.  It is an access door that is magnetically held closed and is used to open up to turn the tail light and brake light on or off.  Additional styrofoam will be added to the top and bottom of the housing assembly to finish off the rear of the vehicle. This foam will be shaped to match the rest of the body and then will be fiber glassed.

This little assembly of the rear door was a challenge to say the least when it came time to actually building it.  The hardest part I would have to say was trying to bend the plexi-glass into the correct shape that you see there. 

 I created the small v-shaped jig that matches the shape of the door assembly and was made using 3/4 inch plywood scrap I had laying around in my shop and a small piece of 3/4 inch aluminum tubing for the top. 

I then used a couple of wood clamps to hold the wooden panel up against the plexi-glass and keep it in place. In this photo I left the protective film on the plex-glass just so you could see it better. In reality this film had to be removed before I could heat the plastic with a heat gun in order to bend it into shape.

The little jig served it's purpose very will as I was able to get the plastic bent (with great care) into the shape that you see here.  After this was completed the plastic had to be marked and drilled for the mounting holes in the v-shaped pieces of the door frame.  Luckily this was another simple task of marking the plexi-glass with a Sharpie pen and then taping off the inside to protect it when I drilled the holes using my drill press.  Lots of little steps to get a great result.   The next task will be to construct the tail end of the velomobile out of styrofoam and fiber glass.  Luckily that I can accomplish in my workshop where it is nice and warm so it will be a pleasant task to work on.  As usual I'll post the photos of this portion of the project once I get further along with it.  For now I am happy this little assembly is behind me and it will be a nice detail in the rear of the velomobile when it is completed.  


  1. What type of plywood did u used? It should be really hard and sturdy. Anyway thanks for sharing your work. Looking forward to seeing the final product. Signal Tower Lights Distributor

    1. Hello! The plywood used for the small jig was just standard AC plywood. Nothing really special about it. One thing I did realize after making the bent lens from the jig was that I could have used a much thinner piece of Plexiglass for that part of the build. Also the Velo was completed in July of 2014. Pull up the posting that I did on it from the directory here on the blog to see how it all turned out.