Jeff Bales builds a speedbike streamliner - Lunatic Fringe

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7/29/03
Well, I made a set of molds using a chopper gun to save time, but the catalyst pump pulsed during the lay-up and caused all kinds of problems. I've made molds this way before an didn't have problems, but that's the way it goes. You get in a hurry and things go haywire!  I do not recommend using a chopper gun to make the molds unless you can risk having a problem.

Here's what I've had to do: 
1) refinish the surface of the patterns 
2) re-make the molds 
3) drag the first set of molds out into the shop yard like a dead carcass.

The molds had hot spots and cold spots from the pulsing of the catalyst pump which caused deviations. Aaah! The molds could actually be rendered useful with some work, but I don't feel like messing with them. I already have finished and completed the mold for the canopy again and begin laying up the mold for the main body tonight.

The process that I'm using is still quick, but I've done it by hand to remove the risk of having a catalyst pump problem. I'll get some pics out soon.

Fortunately, I have a newfound friend named Justin Mace who is very experienced with the development of laminar flow wings for experimental aircraft. He has already donated time to help refinish the patterns prior to making the current set of molds. It's nice to have some help at this point! I've been exhausting myself.

Justin has seen the foil design for Lunatic Fringe run in the computerized wind tunnel simulator and is impressed by the .0011 to .0009 drag numbers that range from a Reynolds of 7,500,000 to 10,500,000. He feels that the bike has a good chance of being quick and has volunteered to pit crew for me at Battle Mountain. We'll get a pic of him put up here, too. His experimental aircraft wings have a pointy leading edge like Lunatic does. He's also got a few tricks up his sleeve that he developed on his own to enhance the qualities of laminar air flow. We'll be putting a few of those to the test on this bike. Thanks to Justin, things are getting back on track.

News about the semi-linear drive system... I'm able to overpower the one-way clutch mechanism. I can't use it for the race at this time. If a remedy evolves down the road we might be able to try it out. It slipped when I exerted about 300 pounds of pressure using the right leg. The left side held at that level of effort. I really appreciate the effort that TRB Systems put forth to get the system to me, though. It wasn't designed to function for the application that I'm trying to use it for, but it was worth a try.

Assuming that no other major glitches surface, the parts will be pulled from the mold this weekend. Parts for the bike itself are beginning to show up at Ajo Bikes. As soon as the fork and wheels show up, we'll be off to making the frame... real quick-like. =)

8/1/03
Things are going really well at this point! I made my first canopy in the mold as an experiment last night to see how light I could make it. It held together with plenty of strength but couldn't hold its shape with pressure.
he real canopy will be laid up tonight. More bike parts are coming in, too.

Now that I'm past this mold hurdle everything else is so simple by comparison!

8/10/03
Here I'm hammering on the canopy mold to remove the pattern. I've got 110 psi going through the hose to deliver air into the mold. It helped a lot! It gave a resounding POP then the mold jumped up off of the pattern. =) The mold was laid up with 3 layers of 3 oz. chopped strand mat and some honeycomb ribbing for extra strength. No gel-coat was used... remember, I'm in a big hurry!

The mold is off of the canopy. Yeah!
Close-up showing the piece of tape over the air hole used to blow the mold off of the pattern... very useful for popping out parts, too!
Now it's time to make the female mold for the main body. This shows tape and metal flanges on the main body.
Honeycomb is held on the sides of the main body with homemade putty.
Close-up of the fiberglass securing the honeycomb.
First layer of vinylester and chopped strand mat in mold.
Layer of extra glass along edge to help resist flex.

New-found friend Justin lays up first layer of what may become bike frame. This composite laminate will be easy to cut and turn into a strong bike frame.
Honeycomb was laid up next.
The laminate was sandwiched in between two boards, and then weighted during the cure to properly impregnate the material.
Second layer is fiberglass cloth (eventually two layers) laid in over the chopped strand mat, then wetted with vinylester.
Honeycomb strips were added to make it beefy!
Putty holds the honeycomb in place since this is a hand lay-up, not vacuum bagged. This goes really fast.
After glassing a narrow strip over the honeycomb to get maximum strength, the honeycomb laminate is then covered over to protect the honeycomb from getting wet or damaged and losing its strength.
The canopy is molded, oh, baby!
I tried laying under this thing to see if I fit... I do!
At 16 pounds, it's not bad for a hand lay up and it's really, really strong. I can stand on it.
The main body 3 piece female mold is now cleaned and ready to make the part... go, go, go!
8/12/03
To make the main body fairing I began by carefully laying in fiberglass mat and vinylester to the edges of the molded area. I didn't want glass going past the molded edges so that it would be easy to trim later. There is 'glass on the top and bottom of the fins.
Putty with micro-spheres was then applied to all areas where the molds come together. This will make an easily sand-able seam, plus makes the fins solid. I bolted it all together in a hurry before the putty cured. Excess mostly squeezed inward.

The putty was smoothed after mold assembly, then 'glass was applied over it to connect the panels.
Honeycomb was then puttied in place and 'glassed over. This is going to be really rigid. I don't want the sides to bow with the build up of air pressure as the bike comes to speed. 
8/14/03
I pulled the main body fairing out of the mold... YES!

Untrimmed it weighs 46 pounds. The canopy weighs 16. So, we're looking at somewhere around 60-65 pounds after it's been trimmed fitted and painted, plus the bike weight, plus me. This'll work! I had estimated a bike+fairing weight of around 80 pounds. My computations of potential speed were based upon 80 pounds for the bike. For a race with a -1.19 degree slope it's perfect!
The main body could probably have been about 6 pounds lighter, but I wanted to be sure of stiffness and strength. It's got those, no problemo. Now, to do the dressing of the parts this weekend and install tabs to align them will be fun, fun, fun!  The fins molded very well and will dial in quickly with a sanding block to remove flashing. It's so nice to have a composite fairing to work with instead of a wooden pattern. Yeah! The molds worked very well. The parts are formed well. All is well in my little world.
8/21/03
O. K. boys and girls, its time to kick it in overdrive. The following pics are from one nights work. 'Did some body work, fit prep and cutting.
The fairings line up just fine. I sanded inside the upper fairing rim to prep it for the addition of tabs. I'm actually laying up the alignment tabs tonight as I take a break and update the site.

Front and rear, everything's fine.
Wheel openings are located and cut. Butterfly opening for the front will be dialed in after the frame is in the bike to achieve minimal cut.
Ground clearance will actually be about 1/2" less than this.
Ah, my new set of Pantour wheels. The disc brakes aren't attached yet. The front is a 1" travel with heavy duty elastomer. The fork is from a new EZ
tandem. It's cheap and already set up for disc brakes and designed for a long bike. EZ answer! A pair of 20" 451 Stelvio tires will get this thing rolling along, oh, baby!

Today I talked with my buddy, Justin, and he's on board for helping me bang out the frame next week. This weekend dials in the seat and completes bodywork prior to paint. Many pics will follow.
8/25/03
Fiberglass was applied over paste mold release around the edge of the main body. After curing this will be mated to the canopy to achieve a good fit or alignment. It was intentionally layered thickly so that there would be room to grind away excess later after achieving proper fit.
Canopy placed over puttied flange to cure. After overnight, it was lifted off with the flange permanently bonded to the upper canopy.
During cure, I used high-tech equipment to make sure that the edges were lined up well. The slightest amount of pressure improved alignment.
The canopy with flange helps keep the fairing sections aligned. Excess material will be ground away.
It dawned on me after sitting many times on the changing seat pattern that the pattern was based upon a real seat, so why make a mold, then a seat? The pattern is now the seat! I'll glass over the custom shaped foam to strengthen it. I adjusted the angle of the bottom to fit the new laid back position. Shoulder areas were removed to relieve stress on the shoulder blades caused by the arms forward position. A neck rest was added to eliminate stress and position the head properly. This seat is really,
really comfortable. I could easily sleep in it. After Battle Mountain, I'll pull a mold from it to make a lighter version. For now, it'll be adequate for the race... I'm tight on time!
Posing to take measurements for frame and make sure that there are no head height interference problems with the canopy.
Leg extension shows us where to put the bottom bracket shell. I actually ended up with 14" of width for my 'Q' factor, more than I thought I'd have. I'm happy about that. There is barely enough room in front for the wheel to turn. I couldn't have made this any smaller and still fit me inside, and still have been able to turn a little. The aerodynamics are more important than anything else. Be faithful to the foil! I'm building everything else to accommodate the foil shape. Fairing first, bike second.
Here's some serious high-tech alignment in action... scrap wood, a permanent marker, and a measuring tape. I fit, the wheels fit, now we'll just connect the dots to make a frame hold it all together. 2" chromoly tubing will suffice.
After making some cuts and filing the edges, its "Time to braze!" Yeah! The final stages have begun!
Justin is jumping all over the frame making part of the project. I'm kind of brain dead from working until 11:30 pm last night on the fairing. It's easy to watch Justin go. I'm doing the brazing and making sure
that the frame fits the bike's needs, but Justin is the one that is alert at this point and is keeping me on track. He even supplied me with the 2" tubing... what a guy. He even points out when I need to do a better brazing job as I sleepily go about my business. The frame is turning out to be simple. We have gussets to reinforce the braze at the main junction. 
Justin flattened the bottom of the joint to minimize risk of high centering the bike if it is used after Battle Mountain for rides without the fairing; smart. The tubing is already marked for head tubes and approximate bottom bracket locations. We're waiting for the rear wheel from Pantour and the custom gears from Warhawk Industries to determine the rest of the bike. They should be here Monday!

The engineer at Pantour, Morten, and Dena have worked closely with me to develop a rear wheel just for use at Battle Mountain. It has lower rolling resistance than their standard wheel and will be very strong. Thanks to Pantour for the killer wheels! Thanks to Ajo Bikes for sponsoring them! This all just wouldn't be possible without the sponsors. What a good group of people.

I've gotta keep my cool! I sat in the closed fairing for only 20 seconds and could feel the stuffiness already. Yikes! I downloaded NACA duct profiles from the WISIL site (thanks Warren) and made stencils to mark locations. The first study was to look at how they would work on the sides at th  rear, but this messes with the laminar flow characteristics... a big no-no. After applying the red stencil, I soon washed them off with acetone,
never to be considered again.
I even considered putting vents on the canopy near where my face would be. Hmm, only if my other vents don't seem to provide adequate air. I
washed these off as well.
Ah, hah! The bottom part of the fairing is a non-laminar surface. I can do it all from there! Entry and exit. Rear reversed NACA ducts for dumping it all out. We'll find out in two weeks if it works.
Furthest forward vents to cool the leg motors.
Central vents located just aft of the seat bottom to vent upward across torso and head with tubing.

I'll put fiberglass sides on the vents after e-mailing these pics to Warren, then flip it over and do a little Bondo work. 

It'll be just like having a cold Arctic blast of air... yeah, right! I'm just glad that I'm
used to the 110 degree days and 3000 foot elevation here in Tucson, Arizona. Every day in the summer is like being in a cooker. I pity the guys that live at cool, comfortable sea level. Ah, hah, there is a reason to live here in the desert, hmm. Maybe (next year) I'll have time to train at the top of our local mountain at 10,000 feet elevation over the weekends. That should help with next year's race. For now, there's no real time for training, just lots
of red meat... yummy.
Click here to go to Page 3 - Making the seat, frame and drivetrain
More soon!

Jeff Bales
Tucson, AZ

 

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