Larry Lem builds the Beluga Speedbike
Larry Lem builds the Beluga Speedbike
A project by Larry Lem
Page 1     Page 2      Page 3
I sanded off the paint and slathered on the Bondo. Eventually, the Bondo held the halves together and I removed the straps. I added enough Bondo to extend the nose by an inch. (I shouldn't have cut off the pointy nose.)
Once done, the combined front plug was way too big and heavy to handle. I could not figure out how to support them and attach the tailbox plug. I had to cut them apart.
Upon separation, I could see the thickness of the Bondo on the plywood base. I had added more Bondo to one side than the other. The green line was the center line of the front bottom plug. The red line is the new centerline of the complete bottom. They're off by a 1/4" at the nose. It was too late to rejoin them and sand off the extra Bondo. I was running out of time.
Top and bottom plugs, female molds 

To make one large bottom plug, I had to figure out how to attach the bottom tailbox test piece to the bottom front plug.

I attached the front and rear together with plywood, 2x4s, drywall screws, etc. and spent considerable time getting the parts aligned.
I reinforced the bottom tail test piece with plywood. 
I attached plywood bulkheads to the insides of the top tail and mid tail. 
For the large top plug middle section, I cut a section from the old top test piece and attached it to the tail piece.

I attached both of these to the top front plug using the same method that I used with the bottom sections.
Working on top and bottom plugs.
I had to build up the canopy area in the middle section. I hot-glued some PVC and conduit in place as filler material.
Top view of Bondo on cockpit area. Note the shoulder areas sticking out. I found that the angle at which the tailbox joined the forward sections of the fairing was too sharp. I made horizontal cuts in the fiberglass tail, peeled back strips exposing the bulkhead, ground off 1/2" of the plywood bulkhead, then hot-glued the fiberglass back down to the plywood.
Bondo on PVC canopy area. 
I built up this area to fit a Garrie Hill Varna clone bubble.
Top and bottom plugs done - a major accomplishment. I think this was the first week of August, and there were less than two months to make parts, details, fit to the frame, and test. I started taking a lot of vacation days to finish on time. 
Plugs done 2. 
Start of female fiberglass layup over bottom male plug. 
Adding noodles to bottom female mold. 
Adding noodles to top female mold. 
Bottom female removed from plug.
Top female mold on plug. 
Much difficulty pulling the top female mold off of the plug. I attached steel brackets to the mold to provide something to grab. Still no-go.
I decided to lay the female mold and plug on the ground, anchor the female to a concrete-filled tire, and pull on the plug via an eyebolt. Success!
Bottom fairing from the female mold. Resin-heavy, no vacuum bagging. A Kevlar layer around the rider.
Actual bottom fairing part!
I cut out the front wheel hole, reinforced the hole, built brackets to mount the bottom to the frame,  and glassed into the bottom. 
Adding front frame bracket. 
Front frame bracket completed. 
Rear fairing brackets (not straight and not corrected because now I'm in a big hurry)
Crooked rear frame brackets to match crooked fairing brackets
Top to bottom fairing guides. Guides stick up from bottom, not the top, so that when top is placed on the ground, the guides won't bend or break. I used roughed up .125" Lexan.
Around this time, I dislocated my left shoulder playing softball. The head of the humerous ended up under my pec. The emergency room prognosis was that I'd be wearing a sling and could not lift anything with my left arm for a month. There was only a month to go before Battle Mountain. A few days later, the orthopedist revised that prognosis saying just not to do anything stupid. Within a week, things were feeling better.
The Battle Mountain plan had been that Tom Amick and I would split the ride every other night, so we could both gain valuble streamliner experience. With my screwed-up shoulder, Tom would have to help if we were going to have a vehicle to ride. The following weekend, Sean Costin rode to a new WRRA hour record for unfaired recumbent bikes. Tom and I helped Sean, then Tom spent the afternoon helping me lay up the top fairing.
More difficulty pulling the top female fairing out of mold. I hammered some elecrical conduit into the shape of handles and glassed them in to provide something to grab. I strapped the female mold to a pole and pulled on the handles, but the fairing wouldn't budge.
I resorted to using a hand winch. I anchored the mold to a post, the fairing to a hand-winch, and the hand-winch to my truck. Success!
Top on bottom supported by landing gear.
Whole fairing new unfinished fairing #2.
Whole new fairing unfinished fairing 3. 
Steering limiter so the tire doesn't rub on the fairing. 
Steering limiter installed. 
I was going to run the September Piru 20 km TT with the bike and bottom fairing. With female molds, it was easy to make a top tail and top front fairing.
I found that my toes hit the top and couldn't use the front top for the TT. My knees touched as well. This meant I wouldn't fit in the full top either. I ran the TT without the front top. Because the course has some rolling hills, I went slower than I normally do with my lowracer. 
Miscellaneous steps to completion

To increase toe clearance, I needed to move the bb back by a half inch, but I had to make a new bracket for the bb as the frame member to which the bracket attached sloped upwards to the head tube.
In moving the bb back, I needed to move the seat back. I also needed to lower the seat for more knee clearance with the top fairing. I had about 3/4" behind the seat to the rear tire that I could use.
I dropped the seat a half inch and moved it back a half inch. This also provided more helmet clearance in the canopy, but then made it more difficult to see over the top fairing. I was only looking out through bottom inch of the canopy.
I now had clearance everywhere, but could make any part rub (toe, heel, knee, helmet) if I sat or pedaled in an odd manner (pedalling backwards...). A full-power test would be needed to check the clearances.

Sep 15, 2007 Low-speed tests (0 - 10 mph) Just in front of Tom's house, we tried self-starts, stops, actuation of landing gear. All tests were successful. We each had one crash at less than 1 mph due to stopping on sections of crowned road with the landing gear on the high side. No damage was done.

We made crash panels for first test from leftover doorskin material. Not the best choice since they only bend in 2-D, requiring the use of small sections and lots of tape. We started from the back top and overlapped them to the front bottom like fish scales.
Garrie Hill canopy - I cut the tail off of one of Garrie's canopies to fit. I painted it to block the sun. 

We then took the bike to a flat, straight 2 mile-long road in Camarillo. Everything went fine, the self-starts and stops went well, the ride wasn't too noisy, but it didn't seem that we could go much faster than 35 mph. How were we going to break 60 mph? We noticed that the small size of the skateboard wheel had difficulty rolling over the coarse surface during the starts, and from a dead stop, it was easy to get stuck on a pebble and spin the rear wheel (going nowhere).

During the week between tests, I added expanded polyethylene sheet, 1/4" and 1/2" thick as core material in various areas and laid fiberglass over them. Someday, I'll have to experiment with vacuum bagging, then make a stronger, lighter, monocoque tub bike.
Sep 23, 2007
This was the last weekend before Battle Mountain. It rained on Saturday, so we waited until Sunday. I made crash panels for the second test laying up fiberglass and Kevlar pieces off of the male molds, as well as cutting up older fairing test pieces (glad I didn't throw them away). These fit much better than the doorskin wood. I learned later at Battle Mountain while helping Eric Ware that corrugated cardboard works fine. It is tough and conforms to 3-D fairing bends.
We still had trouble getting over 35 mph. But we were always riding in one direction, then hauling the bike back to the start due to the number of driveways and crap in the shoulder on the other side. On the final run, we decided to ride back to the start and broke into the 40's. We had been riding uphill in the other direction. Maybe it was only a .5% grade, but it made a big difference. This was our first lesson that low drag, low power vehicle speeds are dramatically affected by course slope. If it had been a low-speed vehicle, the difference at a 15 mph cruising speed might have been small. But the differences in a higher speed vehicle were amplified.
Camarillo test 5. 
Beluga test1a.
Beluga test1b. 
Last minute molds for front and rear fairings leading to and from the front wheel. I'd have to attach the parts at Battle Mountain.

Continued on Page 3

Back to the HPV Projects page