Friday, January 28, 2011

Base Edge Stiffener

One of the tweaks I have been working on for the Borealis V3
This is  the rolled edge that stiffenes the velomobile and is a handy spot to grap for getting in and out.  It also provides a spot for the door to land on keeping it nice and flush with the rest of the parts.  We lay up this part up in a separate mould and than bond it to the  base.  Used some graphite and basalt in the part with a bit of glass.  Its nice and stiff but not too heavy.  The extra bit of stiffeness this adds means I can take some material out of  the side of the base.  This will make the layup a bit quicker to do as there will be less pieces of kevlar to cut.

Borealis V1.... Borealis V2 ....Borealis V3

A brief explanation of the differences between the various versions.

Borealis V1 is the original version.  I have been using this now for four years.  It fits onto the older QNT or now the Sprint NT(narrow track) from Inspired Cycle Engineering from Britain.  The Sprint NT is still available from ICE.  It is not on their website but if you ask they still have frames available.

Borealis V2 a recent upgrade of the orginal.  The biggest change is that the top is now about 5 cm lower than the original.  The reason for this change was to improve the sight lines for shorter riders.  Unless your really tall this is  version for you.  I think it has also improve the speed a bit with the reduction of the frontal area.

Borealis V3 is a completely new shell that fits on the Sprint trike.   The tooling for building it is almost completely done.  Apart from being wider to fit on the Sprint it is also much quicker to assemble.  The base comes completely assembled so yo only have to drop the trike in place, add the rear fender and wheelwell covers before bolting the top on. 

All the versions can now have suspension of all three wheels.  You can upgrade the trike with a front suspension upgrade kit form ICE.  When I started this project the QNT was the only non custom built trike that came with rear suspension.  This plus the fact I like how it handled makes it an excellent base for a velomobile. With the front suspension added the Borealis is very comparable to most custom designed velomobiles.  It is very practical vehicle for everyday use.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Bolted the first latch onto my door to try it out properly.   I will bond the post part in place on the door in the production version.  You would only use bolts if it was a retrofit.
This is the normal position it would be in with the shock cord pulling closed. To open or close the door you would pull on the cord attached to the bottom of the latch so the bottom of the "L" shaped part can clear the back edge of the front section.  When closing the door you have no choice but to latch it as the door sits up on the front section sticking up 11 cm from its closed position.  To see the road properly with the door in this position is impossible. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rain and the new sportcar car(pickup trucks)

I have a section where I ride along the highway for 3 km.  Last night is was particularly wet and dark so I was noticing the traffic go by more than normal.  The pickup trucks seemed louder than before but its always noisier along this section in the rain.  The highway has an 80 kph speed limit but mostly it more like 90 or a bit more.  The road has a modest shoulder mostly about 5 feet wide but narrower in some spots.  At the end of the flat section there is a traffic light which I normally have to stop for.  At the light the stop line for the cars is back a bit from the intersection and I have room to pull ahead of the traffic up to the crosswalk on the shoulder.  From here I can see the left turn light for on coming traffic change so I can time crossing the intersection a bit better than the cars.  I am normally across the intersection before most cars realise that they can go.  About half the time if there is a pickup sitting beside me at the light they give it extra gas to pass me.  This is especially bad when its a diesel truck.  I guess they think their truck is a sports car.  It used to annoy me a lot but now I just chuckle to myself when it happens.  In that one acceleration they used more hyrdocarbons than my velo will in a year.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Door Latch

I have been working on making a door safety latch that will hold the door closed if you forget to latch it in place with the shock cords.  The inspiration for this comes from the latch used on car hoods.  My first attempt was quite useless so I just gave up for a while.  I knew there had to be an easy way but sometimes the simplest solutions are the hardest to come up with. 

If you have enough speed and hit a bump the door can fly open.  The door just opens all the way missing you entirely but is quite a shock when it happens. It is also possible to damage the door when this happens as all the force is concentrated just in front of the composite hinge.   Here's a photo of the "L" shaped latch.
The  graphite latch weighs in at 7 g so the cord to pull in back with weigh almost the same.  The shock cork to act as the spring will be even heavier.   The latch itself may have to be a bit more robust at the pivot point so it could ends up being almost 10 g.  I haven't finished the mould for the post it gets mounted on yet but that will be done soon.  For those of you without this on your Borealis I am making it so it can be retrofitted in place with a couple of bolts. 

 I want to test  the latch and see if it can be used as a airbrake for long descents.  The latch would hold the door open about 8-10 cm at the front so this should slow you a bit.  I can try it on the way to work as on one section of the hill I will be at 70+ kph.  Curious to see if this will reduce that by 5 kph or so.   I can tell if it works if it slows me enough so that I don't need to use the brakes for the roundabout just past the base of the hill.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tonights Ride Home

When I came out of the shop to go home the velo had a cm or so of snow on it.  I tried to take a picture but it didn't turn out very well.  It shows off the reflective material quite well in the flash of the camera.
The ride home was quite pleasant.  The roads were mostly bare from cars pushing the skiff of snow aside.  The last bit of the hill home was interesting as the back wheel only had intermitent grip.  The road had been treated to melt the snow but it was just cold enough that it was staring to freeze.   I felt slow riding today but the round trip ended with the same time as the last time(almost to the second).  I may not being doing much riding for a few days as we are expecting to get 15-30 cm of snow overnight and tomorrow.  Then maybe more snow for a few days before it finally starts raining again. 

Sneak Peak V3

Here's what the back end of the Borealis V3 looks like.
I am just doing a test fit of the top back to see how well its fits on the bottom  section.  Everything worked as planned  and the parts fit together well.  I have a new way of fitting the flange into the moulded parts so I wasn't sure how well it would all work out. In the picture it is only held together with a couple of vise grips on the inside. 

From the way its looking now there will be a lot less assembly to fit the Sprint  inside the shell than before.  You will only need to bolt the back top section, wheel well opening covers and the rear fender in place once the  trike is in the shell.  The shell will come with the bottom sections already assembled.  This is necessary as I am bonding the back edges of the bottom section together permanently.  I tried to use flanges here that could be bolted together but the back end it just to skinny for this to work well.   You cannot get the bolts close enough to the back edge of the flanges without putting access holes in the outside of the shell.  This is not something I am willing to do.  It may be possible to mould the parts with recesses at the back for bolts but having the two bottom sections separate doesn't make for much more compact shipping. For more compact shipping breaking the bottom of shell into two or more parts lenghtwise would work.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Velomobile Assembly Tool

These are the  best self locking pliers for velombile assembly. 
 I now have two of these and they are very handy for clamping the flanges that are used to assemble the shell together.  The flanges vary a bit in thickness so you are adjusting regular vise grips to get them to lock.  These self lock on whatever thickness you close them on.  You can adjust the clamping force with the adjustment screw in the middle of the tool.  My only complaint is that when you go to lock them in place they open a bit wider than regular vise grips.  Folks with medium or small sized hands may find them difficult to use one handed. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sprint shell progress

We have now made three of the five major parts for the Borealis shell that will fit on the Sprint trike.  Here is a picture on one that is just curing after having been bagged. 
The next step after it is hard enough is to trim the top edge of the part and add a flange that faces inwards.  This flange matches the one on the bottom half of the shell allowing you to assemble the parts by bolting them together.  Ideally we would like make the flange at the same time as the part but we have found it too complex and time consuming with a fairly high failure rate.  Our solution is to hand laminate the flange on after the part is hard.  If you were building for the lightest weight just bonding the top and the bottom together would be the way to go.  The problem with permanently bonding the top on is that access to the mechanical parts will be limited. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Central Steering

Here is a picture of the partially done jig for glueing up the steering mast and handlebar for the central steering.
In the photo you can see the CNC machined joints that the carbon/glass tubes will be glued to.   The steering mast has about 5 cm of vertical adjustment on the sleeve attached to the steering arm.   When I glue up the next one I'll have a couple more photos.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Light Control Panel

We now have a neat and tidy panel that holds all the switches for the lights.
The bottom switch is Power on/off.  The middle one is for the headlight or if there were two headlights another switch would be added.  The top switch of for the running lights/turn signals.  The running lights are always on when this switch is turned on and only flash when you ask them to.  The two green LEDs will tell you if they are on and also indicate which one is flashing.  The more forward LED is the left side indicator.  The two bolts at the top hold the little board inside the cover with the relays on it that control the running/signal lights.