Monday, March 5, 2012

Here is the press on the project so far:

Hopefully there will be much more!
The vehicle is currently in Minneapolis and the electrical hook up is under way. While the design and construction in fresh in my mind, I thought I would create this little blog about the progress of our project and continue to update the journey. For this project to get to the next stage, which is a re-design and re-engineering of the vehicle, and from there, a prototype, molds and many more technical details need to be addressed. It is an exciting project and has much promise. We will hopefully have all the electrical issues taken care of by May and hopefully will have the vehicle road worthy by June.

The team of people who contributed to the project, at our launch party, which sent the vehicle up to the electricians to plug the batteries to the motor, and hook up the lights, as well as the tablet touch screen which will give stats on batter life, power generation etc. Left to right around the car: Pete Peters:Welder, Mike Cichanowski: Founder Wenonah Canoe, Lyon Smith (Me):Designer, builder,Rich Kronfeld:Partner in the project, Bob Dahse:Battery and electric motor consultant.

The window shield had to be made bigger, so I had to create a new mold and have it vacuum formed, in time for our launch party, on March was down to the wire getting this thing finished up.

The project was taken back to the Wenonah Canoe factory, where I constructed the body and revisions were made to the windows, and the front section where the suspension met the body.

After all of the issues were figures out with the chassis, and there were a lot of them....It was time to fuse the body and chassis together.

I had been doing research on chassis design while creating the body, and had come up with what I thought was a good solution to the problem of how to get the suspension attached to the body. I worked with a local welder, who was extremely helpful and patient, as I worked throught the process with him of designing a chassis to fit inside of the body, as well as figuring out suspension, mounting points etc etc....
My concept with the net version of this project is to create a center structure of out of carbon fiber and lose most of the aluminum chassis.

The clear coat was sprayed on, after, long days of using the DA sander to make the body as smooth as possible.

MAybe the hardest part of this process, was getting the door to fit correctly. It had a tendancy to warp and figuring out the structure and correcting for warping took quite a while. But for the next round, I figured out an easier way to do this.....

Some progress shots showing the foal core being put inside of the plug and the windshield design in progress. The windows ended up being to small, and had to later be revised. A function vs athstetic issue.

After everything was bonded correctly, I had to finalize the the door and window layouts. They were drawn on the body and them cut out with an air powered saw. My son Rex helping out.

This is the carbon fiber before it was stretched over the plug.
The lower photos show the rough bonding of the two halves of the body. It took a lot of sanding and filling to get the shape back to the original shape of the plug. The next round will involve molds, as well as vaccuum bagging....

The two halves of the body were then fastened together, with strips of oak and screws, then bonded together with carbon fiber.

The carbon fiber was laid on and we sprayed resin and used squeegees to press it to the plug, to get rid of excess resin and take out the air bubbles. A finishing cloth was also used over the carbon fiber. The exterior shell of the body consisted of two layers of different carbon fiber and a layer of finishing cloth.

There are a couple of different directions this process could have gone at this point. Since the budget was such a constraint, I chose to do a one off, and wrap the plug with a carbon fiber and resin skin, one half at a time, the aluminum foil was used as a mold release, along with PVA, which was sprayed over the foil. It was still a bear to get off!

After the overall shape of the body or what is called the "plug" was build, it was fared in with bondo and sheet rock mud I only used sheet rock mud because of a the low budget on this project, for the re-design, I will only use bond.

3d rapid prototypes were created from my 3d model, I went through 3-4 different prints, until I found the look I was going for. During this design process, I was working with a partner in Minneapolis, so I had some input from him, which in some ways may have helped the overall design, but in some ways the creative as well as technical design. There were some things that need to be re-designed, and again, going throught this process is the cost of admission to learn how to make something and imporve upon it in the next go around.

After the skeleton was created, I filled in the spaces with chunks of foam, and started sculpting the shape. Trying to make it as simetrical as possible.

I mounted the sections, which were at 8" to sheets of foam. I would have done this differently, looking back on the project, but that is the price of admission for something like this, you learn as you go.

I would like to fill in the gaps and explain how this project went from a 3d rendering, to a fully functioning, human, electric hybrid.

Full sized prints were created, of the top, side and sections of the body design.

This is where the project is currently.