Thursday, March 15, 2012

Milan Velomobile coming to North America

When I first saw the Milan velomobile on the internet I thought it was rather interesting looking and liked the idea that it was a somewhat different approach to velomobile design.   I wasn't sure if I could get used to the idea of the bumps and how they looked.  I finally got to see one in person during ROAM and it looks much better in person than in pictures.  I then had short test ride and decided that I should built it or something very similar.  It has taken since then to make the right arrangements so we can  build the Milan GT(formerly Milan MK2) and the Milan SL for the North American market.

The plugs for the Milan GT will arrive here in about a month.  Hopefully the moulds for the Milan GT will be built before the plugs for the Milan SL arrive.  The plugs for the Milan SL will leave Germany about the time I get the Milan GT plugs.  We should have our first demo models done by mid summer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New Signal/Running Lights

This LED light is three 2W LED's  mounted on a heat sink and bonded inside the shell.  It is a bit painful to look at directly from less than 20 feet.  They look lots larger than the standard LED light used and are quite visible even in fun sun. 

Here you can see the clear casting sticking through the shell.  After bonding them to the inside of the shell I carefully sand it flush with the exterior.  After sanding to 600 grit I then polish it with cutting compound.  The result can be seen below.

If you look closely you can see the LEDs mounted on the white disk along with the red and black wires.  Even with the somewhat involved installation procedure these lights end up being the same or less work than our  previous ones.  On the previous ones I had to solder 16 resistors and 16 LEDs on a board and than cast clear resin around them to create the light.  After this was done you still had to cut a hole in the shell and bond them in place.  The new ones  are way brighter with the same energy consumption.  An added bonus is you can make them fit the shape of your velo perfectly.  Some hand eye co-ordination and patience required.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Second Thoughts on New Velo

I haven't done any more on the new velo just yet.  Some more thinking about how to proceed though.  Rather than build a one off velomobile from the plug I may just use the plug to create stations for a cedar strip velomobile.    The big advantage of using strips is that they tend to fair thenselves quite nicely.  This means you can get away with relatively few stations.   You would at a minimum need staions at the front and back of the front wheels, shoulders and the front and back ends.  One thing that would disappear is the two bumps for the knees and feet becoming just one ong bump.  It is tempting to just smooth out the front in one easy round shape but this makes the velo more suspectable to side winds.  The bumps actually help in cross winds by breaking up the airflow so you do not get pushed around as much.  It still happens but at higher speeds.

The primary reason to try this is out of curiosity to see what can be done. Cedar strip construction can be lighter than a fiberglass construction.  In some circumstances you can rival the performance of carbon fiber construction.  After all wood is a composite material that has been under development for millions of years.  Adding just a little glass and epoxy to both sides of the wood core adds some amazing properties with vey little weight gain.   I suspect that you could eliminate most of the wheel well structure commonly found in velomobiles and mount the front suspension struts to the shell.  You would still have to stiffen the shell in some areas to do this.   If it works out as well as I think it can I would consider offering plans or at least station patterns. 

This may well be a case to too many projects and not enough time.  What is most likely to happen is that I will work on the plug a bit more, stablize it with a layer of glass on the outside and then set it aside until I have time to come back to it. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More on new velo

Here are a couple of pictures of the frame patterns I made of the first side to use as guides to make the other side the same.

When you take them off and transfer them to the other side you discovery that the sides are quite different.  It is quite easy to make the first side but matching the second side is always a lot more work.

Here is a bit more progress on the other side.  The front is starting to take shape.  It's hard to tell from the picture but there is a slight peak down the center of the nose that defines the shape quite nicely.  The bumps for the feet and the knees will cause lots of grief.  Getting them similar on both sides will be more work that the whole back end.  Anyway the usual thing has happened, I like the second side a bit better than the first.  This is particularly true in the shoulder area.  The area where it is the least defined is the door opening where I still have to figure how it will be done.  I am leaning towards having a fixed size opening without a door, just a foam lid like the Quest etc.  For access to the front chain ring I am considering a removeable hatch that is bolted in place.  You do need good access when assembling the velo but after that's done you rarely need to service this area. This will be particularly important if there are no footholes.   I don't like the head bump yet.  It ended up being a bit out of line as I just shaped it by eye without doing any measuring.  I will most likey cut it off and stick it back on measuring carefully this time. 

Just in case you are wondering why the second side is a different colour its because I ran out of the blue gelcoat which was custom colour match for a repair we did.  So I switched to a green we have and rarely use.