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Andy Douglas' streamlined lowracer project
Scroll down for a running log of progress, or:
Click HERE to learn about the bike (a Pharobike Lowfat) and the mods I've made.
Click HERE to learn about the shell (made using John Tetz's foamshell method)
Click HERE to learn about building the male plug, used to mold the foam.
Click HERE to go to the color studies page (HELP ME PICK A COLOR! VOTE TODAY!)
Click HERE for the Plastazote foam molding test pictures and discussion.
Click HERE for the lowracer design considerations page. I will eventually build myself a bike, but with the Pharobike becoming the basis for a streamliner, it may not go into a shell.

01/17/02 update: I've done some test-molding of various thicknesses and densities of Plastazote. Interesting results... a page has been added showing them.
01/16/02 update: I started working with the plug templates and Styrofoam last night. As Tetz predicted, it's difficult to drill a clean hole in Styrofoam. I need to do work on the technique a bit to keep the foam from shredding and making the hole irregular. It also came out crooked for some reason, depsite my use of a drill jig. A minor problem. I used the poorly drilled piece for hotwire practice. This is going to work just fine.

I also consulted with John on foam choices. It doesn't look like I'm going to e able to use the HD80 on the top and bottom after all, because it can't be molded into compound curves that easily. So I'm going to go with 0.4" LD45, which should be a bit easier to mold.
01/14/02 update: I got some Plastazote color samples from Rubberlite. Some of the colors are great, others are awful. Right now the leading contender is black topsides and bottom, with medium blue (like that used on Tetz's foamshell) nose sides and yellow tail sides.

Tetz has learned that it's possible to weld the foam. We're both experimenting with this.

The plug spine (a 1" copper water pipe) and first pieces of Masonite and insulation foam have been purchased. The Masonite might not work out... the edge degrades very easily. I might have to resort to some sort of hard countertop material or even plywood, which would be much more expensive. We'll see... I should be doing the first templates and carving some test pieces of foam this week.
01/08/02 update: I've finalized the design, which incorporates a reshaped headrest. The patterns for the bulkhead templates (used as guides when carving the plug foam) have been printed out. Next is assembly of the templates (the largest takes up nine legal-sized sheets of paper... they need to be fit together, trimmed to their final shape and glued to the hardboard).
12/31/01 update: Lots happened over the holidays. I took measurements of my body on the bike to determine the required clearances inside the shell. These measurements were turned into a simple CAD model and superimposed on the shell drawing. Everything fits, and I was even able to trim the size of hte nose a bit. See the shell page for full details and images.
12/17/01 update: Development continues. I put O-rings on all the idlers, which completely silenced the drivetrain and improved chain clearances a bit. I received and fit a new front wheel with a Pantour suspension hub, which is great. I put on a rear rack. Plus a lot of other stuff. And I weighed the bike yesterday... including all the mods AND the rear rack, it totals only 25.5 pounds. Full details are on the bike description page.
12/12/01 update: The direction of tthe project has changed enough that the organization of this page no longer makes sense. I've split it up into three different articles. Current news and developments are still here... click on the links to visit the other articles.

Update 11/8/01 - I've mounted the 349 wheel and it fits PERFECTLY, but it required the purchase of a special super-adjustable V-brake from Pauls Components that allows roughly double the vertical adjustment of the pads as a conventional V-brake.

I've also done the initial mounting of the shell and to my surprise and delight it requires almost no modifications.

Update 10/28/01 - John Tetz just gave me a gift of great value... his first foam shell, which he is no longer using. It fits the Pharobike reasonably well, and will require only some tweaking to make it work. This is the shell he crashed at 40 mph in when his Sachs hub locked up, so it's got some gouges in it... it's also a bit dirty and tattered, but is in surprisingly good shape for all that.

So in the course of two weeks or so, I've gone from the scribbling stage to almost having a real live streamliner on the road. Weird how life works!

This rig will serve to teach me about living with a streamliner. I will eventually make my own shell using the lessons taught by this one. And I will eventually build my own bike, even if it doesn't wind up as a streamliner.

I've done a few mods to the Pharobike already. The tiller has been eliminated in favor of a Kalloy adjustable stem off a hybrid bike. The stock BMX handlebar was removed in favor of a very short (14") bar... the short length is necessary to fit inside the shell. The result is very sexy, but feels a bit twitchy to me based on a very short ride. This is probably due to the short bar with essentially no offset. It does look like a 349 wheel will fit in the fork without any problem, so I may try that... the larger wheel will create more trail and should make the bike a bit less zippy.

Update 10/25/01 - Being a first-class procrastinator, I have done little with the project since last spring. The basic concept remains the same: 16/26 SWB lowracer made of carbon tube with a Euro-style carbon seat.

Just last week, something happened that caused me to take a new course. I made a deal to purchase one of the few Pharobike Lowfats in existence. While this is not a perfect design, it's about as close to John Tetz's little bikes as anyone has ever come.

This will now become the basis for my first streamliner effort. I expect to learn a lot from it that I can apply to future work. It also will save me many, many hours of building and debugging a bike.