Tuesday, November 19, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Electrical Parts, Body Work and Wheel Covers

The last week or more has been kind of crazy here at the Tinker's workshop with all that I have been working on.  So I thought it best to try and get caught up on my posts here and let everyone know what I have been up to.  So here goes.
  The first order of business has been the continuing work on the signal light housings for the velomobile.  Just yesterday I received in the mail the LED's that I had been wanting for the  housings in the vehicle.  I wanted to be able to see if the signal lights were on when I am riding in the vehicle.  Without an indicator light it would be impossible to know for sure.  So this is what had to be worked on first. 

I was able to mount three LED lights into the panels for the signal lights.  You can see them just ahead of the toggle switch.  The two larger openings in the panel will be where the wiring will be fed into and out of the control panel for the signal lights in the body of the velomobile. 

Here the lights are turned on and to say they are bright is an understatement to say the least.  This will be really good in bright sunlight as well as at night as it should light up the interior of the velomobile while the lights are running.

This is what the signal light control panel will look like once it is mounted in the black enclosure. Should look really good once I get that far in the construction.  

The next portion of the velomobile project has been the continuing work on shaping and smoothing out the body for the final fiber glassing that will be done on the outside skin.   As you can see from this photo the rear of the velomobile is getting a bit smoother with the additional resin micr-balloon mixture (white putty) that you see here.  The shape is coming right along and I am more than happy it is turning out as well as it is. 

Another good view of the rear on the opposite side of the velomobile.  I will be happy when I can finally fiber glass it all as at this point the styrofoam is still quite fragile.  It can be dented very easily.

In this picture I have been working on the fit and finish of the front hood.  I wrapped the body of the velomobile with Handiwrap plastic to keep the putty mixture from sticking to it.  I then was able to fill any voids between the hood and the opening with the resin micro-balloon putty mixture and let it dry. 

Another view of one of the front seams of the hood and body of the velomobile. 

Once the putty mixture had dried all I needed to do was remove the plastic wrap and lightly sand the top surface of the hood.  This gave me a nice straight edge that will match up nicely with the body. 

This is what the hood looks like once it is closed.  A perfect fit.   Once I get the hood all dialed in then I can turn my attention to the rest of the body. 

In this shot you can see that the hood still needs a little work but is coming along nicely with the edges lining up pretty well. 

Continuing on now was the first attempt at making fiber glass wheel covers for the velomobile.  I started with a couple of layers of one inch styrofoam glued together to get the right thickness that I needed for the male blank for the wheel covers.   I weighted the panels down with a couple of full paint cans and let the panels dry over night.

I then marked the center of the new two inch thick panel and cut a one inch hole in the middle of it using the hot wire tool you  see below.

This tool comes from a company called The Hotwire Foam Factory.  and I have used it extensively with all of the foam and fiber glassing projects that I have built over the years.  A great tool that you plug into power and it heats up the steel rod.  I then only have to plunge it into the foam and follow my circle that I drew. It is cut out in less than a minute with very little mess.  A great tool for this kind of work.

 I next added an attachment to my hot wire table for the blank that I just completed.  This attachment is nothing more than a piece of wood that I can adjust on the table with a vertical wooden dowel to receive the foam blank for rotating.

With the blank placed on the vertical wooden dowel all I needed to do is move it into position on the hot wire table and rotate the foam blank to cut a perfect circle with the heat from the cutting wire.

 Can't get any better than this for perfectly round pieces of foam for the wheel covers.  

The next step in completing the foam blank for the wheel covers was coming up with another new jig for the hot wire table to cut the conical shape for the wheels.  This attachment uses the same mount that I used to cut the disk out with only this time it is mounted vertically on to the hot wire table.   The table is then tipped at an angle to get the desired shape I was looking for. 

Here is a closer view of the jig.  All of the parts other then the top piece with the wooded dowel in it were put together from scrap wood in the shop  Not exactly pretty but it does the job rather well. 

The foam disk was then placed on the jig, moved into position on the table and then rotated to get the right shape.

After cutting the foam blank into the conical shape I sanded the top surface and then puttied any irregularities that I found.  This was then let to dry overnight and more sanding followed the next day.  Once I was happy with the shape of the blank I covered it with Handiwrap plastic to keep the fiber glass from sticking to the foam blank.

Here the eight ounce fiber glass cloth is laid down over the foam blank.  The nice thing about using the fiber glass is that once the part is completed it is a seamless piece. 

Here is what the project looks like once two layers of fiber glass cloth have been laid down with the resin applied to them.  The cloth goes almost transparent because of the resin. 

I let the resin dry overnight and as you can see I have my first wheel cover made. I trimmed the cover to shape using my band saw which made quick work of it. The wheel cover is very light weight at only four ounces and will easily be ready for paint. 

Here is what the first attempt looks like on one of the front wheels of the velomobile.  It was not a complete success as the conical shape had to much of an angle cut on the foam blank and the cover needed to be a little bigger in diameter.  The wrong angle on the male foam blank makes the cover stick out past the center hub by half an inch.  Not a total loss with this try as I learned how to correct the error in the angle and if a double layer of eight ounce cloth would be stiff enough for the parts.  It is and so the learning process continues.  I also was able to mark out the positions of the spokes on the wheel cover so that when it comes time to mount the cover to the wheel using zip ties it will be an easy thing to accomplish. 

Here I've cut out a new blank for the wheel covers that is a bit larger in diameter and I reduced the angle on the hot wire table so that the wheel cover will lay on the spokes hopefully perfect this time out.  It's all a learning process so it all takes time.  You can see the difference between the first wheel blank on the right compared to the new blank on the left.  After some more sanding I will lay up another fiber glass wheel cover and see how it turns out.  Keep your fingers crossed for me and I'll let you know how it turns out.

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