Saturday, September 28, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Project..... Slow And Steady Progress

The last couple of days have brought slow and steady progress to the velomobile project.  I completed skinning of the majority of the body and also laid down fiber glass into the inner lower sections of body.  Just this morning I glassed just one side of the lower bottom section of the body.  This alone took 2 1/2 hours time.

With the completion of installing most of the foam strips on to the velomobile framework, the body now is really shaping up nicely. I had to put the body up on saw horses at this point to be able to get inside the rear section of the body to do the fiber glassing on the lower section.  It made the task just a little easier. 

Everything looks nice and straight in these photos and so it will be an easy task to sand the body out when it comes time to put the outer fiber glass on.  The nose of the velomobile is still quite stubby at this point and is on my list of things that need to be done yet on the project to get the shape just the way I want it. 

With the body of the velomobile up on saw horses I could not resist getting photos of it to show all of you how good it looks with almost all of the skin now on it. With the body up this high it is a bit deceiving as it looks much bigger than it actually is.  I measured it and at this point it is 7.5 feet long, 34 inches wide and 32 inches tall.  I will end up stretching out the body to an even 8 feet by the time I am done with it but for now it is getting to be quite an impressive piece of engineering.  At this point slow and steady progress is far greater than no progress at all.   Time once again to put my tools down for the day and smile. Enjoy the photos.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Project Continues.... 236 Hours And Counting

I have been blessed once again today with terrific weather to work in my garage on the Terratrike Velomobile project.  The skinning of the body is still moving along with the addition of the strips needed to complete the rear underside of the body today.  

The body of the velomobile once again has been turned upside down to add the outer foam strips to the rear of the structure.   I have the interior of the body completely fiber glassed now so that the rest of the strips could continue to be added to the build.

The shape as you seen is very smooth and I am very pleased with the progress that I have been able to make on it in such a short time. The body is resting on small strap cradles that keep the styrofoam from being damaged and the body of the velomobile off of the floor.  This then is covered in plastic sheeting so I do not mess up my garage floor with glue and fiber glass resin.  It all works out very well.

To add the rear strips to the framework today took around four hours time.  Lots of cutting and fitting had to be done to get all the pieces glued in place nicely. It's like a big jig saw puzzle except you have to make your own pieces. If the hot glue gun could glue the parts on instantly the time to put the foam strips on could be reduced greatly.  But as I have to hold the parts in place until the glue cools it adds a lot of time to the build.

This is a good shot of the inside rear of the body. Lots of framing is needed to get this nice shape. All of it is styrofoam and fiber glass.  Quite strong and light weight. This is where my computer work has paid off to get this far with the accuracy needed to make such a shape. 

I will be adding the foam strips to the front of the body next and then the rest of the glassing on the inside of the body can be completed.  I also have the rear flashing tail lights figured out and plans set for the completion of the rear of the velomobile. This being the addition of more foam and fiber glass to round out the tail end and set the mount for the rear lights.  But for now the body will have to be completed inside so that final shaping can take place on the outside.  Lots and lots of work to do yet before I can get set to have it on the road.  Total hours with the work I completed today comes to 236. So the hours are stacking up.  Stay tuned for further developments.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Body Skinning Progressing Nicely

It's been a few days since my last post so I thought it best that I get everyone caught up once again on the progress that I have been making on the TerraTrike Velomobile project.  As I have said in earlier posts the process of putting a skin on the framework of the velomobile is a rewarding but time consuming task.  Luckily I enjoy this part of the build so it does not seem to be a chore.  So progress is being made no matter what.

 With the progress on the project that I have completed today both sides of the velomobile have been skinned to the level that you see here.  The top framework that is yet to be skinned will be the hood that will open up so that I can get in and out of the vehicle.  I still have to mount the hinges for the hood and then it will be cut out from the body and then skinned to match everything else.

 The left side of the interior of the body has been fiber glassed at this point so that is one more step out of the way.  Once I have the right side interior glassed I will then continue finishing the installation of the remainder of the foam strips on the lower portion of the body.  This will be easily done by flipping the body upside down once again.  

This shot gives you a good idea of the work involved in glassing the inside of the velomobile.  Lots and lots of little cavities to be glassed.  In the photo you can see the fiber glass cloth that has been laid in and has yet to be saturated with the fiber glass resin.  All the other sections in the photo have already been completed.  The resin makes the fiber glass cloth almost transparent when it has been applied.

This photo of the nose of the velomobile looks pretty good.  Once all of the interior glassing has been completed then I will turn to the task of sanding everything smooth and evening out the entire surface. With the foam still bare this is an easy task as long as I do not have a lot of differences from one side compared to the other.  It's all a matter of sanding here and filling in there to make it all balance out.

This is a nice shot over the rear of the velomobile.  I like the shape and how it's all turning out.  There rear of the vehicle still will have additional foam and glass added to it to eliminate the blunt rear end that you see here.  I also need to clean up the outer edges of the cockpit too.  It all takes time to get it just right. 

 The front end of the vehicle is also still to blunt.  I will build this up with additional foam to get a more rounded shape.  Something that will make the velomobile slide through the air a bit more easily.

I like the look of the foam strips on the framework.  That is one of the great things about applying the strips to the framework.  Each strip is hot glued into place one at a time and they are very flexible so it is easy to get the nice flowing shape that I have had in mind from the start of the project.
  Total hours now on the project have come up to 228.  Again 100 hours of that was just for the designing of the vehicle.  Not to bad really with the way it is coming together.  I can rest my tools and my tired body again for the day and admire my progress. Hope you enjoy the photos.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Skinning Has Started

After all of the construction that has taken place over the past weeks I am happy to say that I have started putting the skin on the TerraTrike Velomobile.  This as I have said earlier is not a difficult task.  In fact I find it very enjoyable as the vehicle really starts to look like something at this point. 

I started with the rear protrusion or blister as I call it that is right behind the driver.  I thought I would get the hardest part on the velomobile to skin done first.  Actually to skin this section of the body is not hard but the glassing of the inside was the tough part. Here the first few strip are hot glued to the framework of the velomobile.

  Here half of the blister has been completed and trimmed.  Just to do this little section of the body took around four hours to complete.

I completed the skinning of the blister and the top rear of the velomobile and then fiber glassed the inside surfaces.  This was the difficult part of the process. It was tight quarters to reach inside the body when it was turned upside down and with the rear inner platform for the body mounts it made it even more difficult to see where I needed to see to get the job done.  I felt like a contortionist trying to reach into this area at times but I did manage complete the task.  This morning this section of the body had stiffened up nicely and I was able to do preliminary sanding on the outer surface.  Already it is looking good. 

Working for another 2 1/2 hours this morning I was able to skin the upper side of the body.  Just to lay down four eight foot strips took two hours to compete.  It is a slow process but as you can see it is worth the effort. 

 After a total of five hours work I  called it a day and laid my tools down to admire how well the body is starting to look.  I have not even begun to sand the outer surface of the body yet and from what I can see it will take very little effort to the body ready for glassing on the outside. I will skin the opposite side of the velomobile next and then start the glassing of the interior.  This will be much easier than the rear blister as the bottom as well as the top of the vehicle is open so there is lots of room to work and see what needs to be done. 
   Lots of tasks to do yet on the project as I still have to work out the hinges for the front hood, set up a flashing tail light, more rear body detailing is needed and hopefully get signal lights working for the project.  One other thing I need to do is create two small access doors at the rear of the vehicle so that it will be easier to reach and see the rear mounts for mounting the body of the velomobile to the chassis.  If I leave these access doors out it will be near impossible to reach the rear mounts.  I have the location for these doors figured out and will  have to work out the fine details to create the new access doors for the project next.  So lots to do here at the Tinker's Workshop but I am happy the progress is really starting to show with what I got accomplished in the last few days.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Body Mounts Are Installed

The last couple of days have been spent getting the hard mounts installed into the body of the velomobile.  These mounts which I put together a few posts back are the wooden blocks with the threaded inserts mounted in them so that the body mount can be mounted on the frame of the TerraTrike and then on to the body to hold it in place. This is not a difficult task to do but care must be taken to get it right the first time as  to correct a mistake after it has been installed would be a royal pain. Luckily I managed to get it done without a lot of drama.

This shot gives you a good view of the front axle mounts.  The orange mounts (near both front wheels) are attached to the front cross tube and then an aluminum tube extends vertically to the small yellow mount at the top which then bolt to the hard mounts.  

Here I had to double check the fit up of the front mount to the body and the front deraileur tube.  It turned out that the aluminum tubes in the front mount assembly were 3/8th of an inch to long.  This in turn slid the entire body forward enough to throw off the alignment of the front wheels and the wheel openings.  This would not do so I had to take the assembly apart and make new tubes.  Once this had been completed I reinstalled the assembly into the velomobile and all was right with the world.  

Using a marking pen I traced an outline around the two yellow front mounts so that an indentation for the hard mounts could be cut into the fiber glassed panel. 

After quick work was done to cut out a section of the foam pan with a Dremel tool I then removed the top layer of fiberglass.  Next using a hot wire tool I removed the inch thick foam to make a cavity for the front hard mounts.

The front side of the same panel was reinforced with a triple layer of eight ounce fiber glass.  This make the cavity very solid for the next steps.  I then took fiber glass resin and a micro-balloon mixture to make a stiff putty.  This was spread on to all of the hard mounts where the body would touch them when the body was placed on all of the mounts.  This was left over night to cure so that it would locate and temporarily hold the hard mounts in their correct locations until the final finishing work on the mounts could be done today. 

 I removed the body from the Terratrike frame and the mounts were then ready to be completed.  Here you see the two front cross tube mounts.  I wrapped the perimeter of the hard mount again with foam and filleted all the edges.  This then was double wrapped with fiber glass and resin and left to cure.  It makes a nice strong mount that will look good once it has been painted

 A good close look at one of the front cross tube hard mounts after it has been glassed into place.  The hard mount now is locked in place and will be set up perfectly to mount the body to the TerraTrike once it as been completed. 

Here are a couple photos of the front hard mounts glassed into place.  The white around the hard mounts is the epoxy micro-balloon putty to fill the void in the cavity that was made earlier in the front panel.  Once the putty had been installed it was just a matter of glassing over the mounts to seal it up.

In this shot you can see the rear mounts after they had been completed.  It took me around four hours to get this part of the project done but now the body will mount to the TerraTrike perfectly every time as the mounts are exactly where I want them and the threaded inserts in the hard mounts make the task an easy one. 
  Over the next few weeks I will start laying down foam strips on the framework of the velomobile similar to what you would do to make a cedar strip canoe.  This is one task that I find most enjoyable in this project.  It really will bring the Velomobile to life once it has been skinned. 
  Total time now on the project is around 200 hours.  100 hours for design and another 100 for the construction so far.  But as you can see from this post and earlier posts a lot has been accomplished.  Which makes it worth the effort.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Framework Is On The Chassis!

I had a few little things to do on the framework of the TerraTrike Velomobile project this morning and I was rewarded for my efforts with the first trial fit up of the framework to the chassis late this afternoon.  I am very pleased with what I see so far in the alignment of the body to the chassis so all is going according to plan with the project so far.

 This is a good shot of the left front of the velomobile.  The double row of foam strip on the top of the body will be where the hood will be separated from the rest of the body.  I will cut between the foam strips so that hopefully I can keep everything lined up nice and straight when I want to remount the hood. 

The alignment of the framework to the chassis is looking very good as you can see from this photo.  I was going to drop the chassis another inch or so but the way it looks right now I feel that this will be unnecessary. It also will give me a little more ground clearance in not lowering the body further. The plus side to seeing just the framework on the chassis is I can see where there may be problems further on in the project.  Case in point is the rear mounts for the body to the chassis.  Once the framework is skinned and glassed it will be difficult to see and reach the rear mounts.  So I might have to look at access panels at the rear of the body that can be removed and reinstalled once the body is in place.  Just will have to take a closer look at that when I get farther along with the project.

I was concerned with the size of the wheel openings but after seeing the alignment and clearance around both wheels I am more than happy with my calculations for the design. I will have to work on some wheel covers to hide what is inside the velomobile while I drive it and also get a little more air flow around the vehicle while it is cruising along. 

This give you a good idea of what it will look like inside the vehicle.  I was also concerned about the front mount of the body to the chassis but at this point I may be able to eliminate it all together.  I think the body will be stiff enough on it's own without additional bracing.  This will eliminate a little weight in the scheme of the things to so it is a double plus in my eyes.  The turning radius for the front wheels looks good too.

The cockpit looks to be plenty roomy.  Sliding the body on to the TerraTrike was a breeze.  Now I will have to bond the mounts to the chassis so that everything is lined up properly when I get the body of the velomobile completed and it will then be a easy task to remount without a hitch.

It's been such a windy day today I did not want to take any chances with shooting photos outside but did get this great shot before I slid the TerraTrike Velomobile back into the garage.  I am very pleased with the look of the project and am looking forward to getting the body skinned with foam strips and then sanded, shaped and glassed before much cooler weather sets in.  I still will have to work on lights and a few other little accessories for the project but that all can happen later.  Until then I will sit back for the moment and catch my breath and smile from ear to ear admiring my handiwork.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I am right now.   Have a good day in your workshop too!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Rear View Mirrors

With the return of the hot weather to the Midwest I have retreated once again to my computer room and other tasks that I needed to accomplish for the TerraTrike Velomobile project.  This in case being rear view mirrors for the vehicle.  I needed these more than I could ever imagine while riding my Terratrike around town and now with the progress being made on the velomobile project I thought it the perfect time to design something that should work well with that in mind.

 I wanted mirrors that were small so that they did not add much wind resistance to the vehicle and so I decided on using the blind spot mirrors that most people have on their cars today. 

The mirrors are the right size at only two inches in diameter.  I worked up the design on my computer and this is approximately where they will be located on the vehicle.  I won't know for sure until I get the body near completion and I can sit in the velomobile and see what I can see with them located where they are now.  So once I was happy with the design I started making the parts for the two assemblies.

Here one of the rear view mirror assemblies has been put together.   The parts were only held together with double stick tape for these photos just so I could show you how it will look. So please disregard the poor alignment of some of the parts. That will be corrected once I permanently bond all the parts together.  I want to do some sanding on the parts also to smooth them out further and then paint the housing (without the mirror of course) so that I can get it to match the velomobile when I am ready to paint the entire body. 

 Here are all the components that make up one of the mirrors.  At the very top of the photo is the outer housing.  The first row below the housing from left to right is the backing plate, mirror outer mounting ring, and then the wide angle mirror.  The bottom row from left to right shows a 1/4 inch threaded rod connector, the mounting post which the threaded rod connector slides into, the bottom mounting plate, and lastly a 1/4 inch by 1 1/2 bolt.  

 The mounting post is made up of the threaded rod connector, the mounting post itself, the bottom mounting plate and the 1/4 inch bolt.  This assembly then will be slid into the cavity that is molded into the bottom of the mirror housing.

The mounting post is then glued into the cavity in the mirror housing.  I really like the look of the mounting post and housing together.  Nice and clean.

This photo shows the last part of the housing assembly other than adding the mirror.  The backing plate (the part in the middle) is glued on to the housing of the mirror assembly and is aligned with the inner block by the indentation shown on the part.  Once this is set then the outer ring is added to the face of the backing plate so that the mirror can be centered on to the assembly. 

This photo gives you a good idea of how small and compact the mirrors for the velomobile are.  The fact that I am using wide angle mirrors instead of flat ones should work out when when I am driving the vehicle.  This plus the mirrors are not that far away from me when I have them mounted.  
  Total time to print all of the parts for the two mirrors added up to 5 1/2 hours.  This brings the total tally on the project so far to around 185 hours.  So the time is adding up but the progress is encouraging.  Lots more to do but that is the fun of it all.  
  Once the weather here cools off a bit more I will be able to get back to the building of the body of the velomobile.  In the mean time I am also looking at setting up turn signals for the project.  Hopefully that will all fall into place soon also.  Just will have to see what I can figure out to make that part of the project come together too.  Enjoy the photos and have a good day tinkering!

Friday, September 6, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Comes Off The Jig

Progress is moving right along on the TerraTrike Velomobile project with the body being removed from the building jig today.  Higher temperatures have also returned to the Midwest and the garage where the project is being built and so work has to be done early so that I do not melt in the process.
   Yesterday I was doing some fiber glassing and it got so hot that the resin I had mixed for the project cured VERY quickly in the mixing cup. Not a good thing to happen. So I set that part of the project aside and went to work on the mounts for the body in the much cooler workshop.  Here is what I managed to get done. 

 One of the smaller group of assemblies that needed to be built for the Velomobile project was the hard mounts for the mounting of the body to the Terratrike frame.  I started with a 1 x 2 inch piece of wood.  On this piece of wood I marked out six hard mounts that the hardware to mount the body will be attached to.  On each marked out mounts I drilled two 1/2 inch holes.                             

 Here is one of the mounts with the bolts and threaded rod connectors being mounted to it.

 In this photo you can see all of the mounts that will be assembled in this step of the project.  To hold the threaded rod connectors into place a small amount of fiber glass resin and micro-balloon mixture is poured into each hole first. Then the mounts are inserted into their corresponding holes.

 The bottom of the threaded rod connectors are taped off as these will be inserted into the holes of the hard mounts and I don't want epoxy resin to get into the threaded holes.

The bottom of the yellow mounts are covered with plastic wrap to protect the mount from being glued  to the wooden mounting board if to much resin should spill out of the mounting holes during the set up of these assemblies.  The yellow mounts help keep the threaded rod connectors in alignment while the resign hardens.  

After the resin had cured over night I removed the yellow mounts and what is now left is the threaded rod connectors that are imbedded into the wood and encased in fiber glass resin.  This makes a perfectly aligned threaded insert for the mounts and they will attach perfectly every time to the hard mounts.

 Next I fiber glassed the top surface of the strip of wood, let it cure over night and then cut each mount to the correct length.  I then removed the fiber glass that had covered up the holes by using a utility knife.  This left me with six perfectly made hard mounts for the project.

 Here the yellow mounts are once again attached to the newly cut out hard mounts.  With the threaded rod connectors already lined up the process of attaching the yellow mounts was a snap.

Here is a shot of the hard mounts attached to the completed body mounts.  The hard mounts will be imbedded into panels in the body assembly.  Once these have been mounted the body can be removed from the TerraTrike  and the outer skin be applied to the framework of the body.

 Another sub-assembly that I completed in the cooler workshop was the solid foam nose section for the velomobile.  I traced out the shapes I needed off of the framework and started cutting the parts out using the band saw.

 Here all of the parts are cut out and ready for shaping.

 I took a large amount of the foam off of the blanks using a hot wire tool to get them into the rough shape that I was going for.

 This is a good shot of one part of the nose cut into rough shape and the other after it had been sanded into shape for the front of the velomobile.

 Here the top section of the nose of the velomobile is placed into position to check that the shape is correct.  Looks pretty good at this point. 

The next step of the project needed to have the opening cut into the framework for the cockpit of the velomobile.  This then was blocked out using one inch foam strips between the ribs and a 1/4 inch foam strip that ran along the inside of the ribs.

 Here the cockpit has been shaped and glassed.  With the upper cockpit glassed it now is strong enough to be moved around easily without the chance of it breaking. 

 I was able to remove the velomobile body off of the building jig today.  This took a little bit of doing as I was alone at the time.  With a little bit of wiggling I was able to remove the framework that you see here.  It was still a bit fragile at this point as the top brace that you see in the photo still needed to be mounted.  Without this brace the front nose of the body had very little support and a couple of the side stringers could have broken.  I installed the top brace and added additional fiberglass to the weak points just above the wheel openings.  I was just barely able to do the work on the framework at this point today as the garage was heating up again.

 Here are a couple of good shots of the Terratrike next to the velomobile body framework.  With the framework off of the jig it looks a lot smaller.  I will have to put the framework up on supports and flip it upside down so that I can complete the work on the bottom of the framework so it can be mounted on the TerraTrike. Once all of this is done then the framework can be skinned with foam strips and glassed.  This will make the entire structure much stronger and I can move on from there to get the project completed.