Jan 6

Jan 6, 2005

I suck!

I'm having a hell-of-a time trying to glass a new fairing lid.

I received a new fairing bubble I had ordered a while ago from Zzipper Road Fairings. It's made from Lexan and it's a bit more scratch proof and stronger than the bubble I'm currently using. Plus, it's larger so hopefully it will allow room for a helmet. I'm planning on experimenting with a variety of shapes and materials to learn what works best.

To be a 'daily-use' velomobile the Rocket needs an easily removable top - something that can be slid away while riding for extra venting when climbing hills. So I thought I would fabricate a brand new fiberglass canopy with the new bubble in place. The idea is to split the bubble in half and either slide the rear half back, or rotate it backwards somehow - not sure exactly yet (ideas?). Since the clear canopy isn't stiff enough to mount any hardware to accomplish this, I need a fiberglass platform.

I carved out a nice shape for this platform out of styrofoam, then cut down the Lexan bubble to resemble my original bubble. I placed my fiberglass material over the foam plug and proceeded to paint on the epoxy, but had a hell of a time keeping the dam glass cloth stuck down to the foam plug! It's drying now and I'm afraid it's very close to a total disaster. Not sure how salvageable it will be after all the wrinkly, bubbly, fiberglass/epoxy dries.

I remembered something I had read somewhere once about spraying 3M adhesive onto the dry cloth and plug before wetting out with epoxy. When I read this, I didn't really understand the reason for the glue, but now I think I get it. So, as a test, I sprayed some 3M photo mount contact cement on a scrap piece of fiberglass cloth, and a random chunk of styrofoam and that did the trick! Now I can fold and cut and position the glass cloth perfectly before even touching the messy, sticky epoxy. It works perfectly! I'll wait until my messed-up lid dries tomorrow and sand off all the rough edges and folds, and try it again this time using the spray glue approach. I'm just not sure how to add a second or third layer of glass using the spray glue... I suppose I could pre-glue 2 or 3 layers of cloth together before wetting out.

Does anyone have any hints or suggestions for me?

Here are the shots and details of the project:

This is a lexan bubble covered with masking tape to protect it from scratches. It fits into a styrofoam platform that will fasten to the top of the fairing. I will cut it in half and add drawer sliders to the rear half so that it can be slid back. Note that the built up area behind the bubble has not yet been sanded down to shape.
View from the front
This is a rear view mirror fairing that will be mounted to the platform. I started by gluing together 5 rough-cut pieces of styrofoam.
Then I use an exacto knife to cut out a rough shape.
More scultping with the wire brush
And finally sand paper for a very smooth surface
Before applying the fiberglass, I pressed a wire brush into the foam to make tiny pin holes over the surface. Then I coated it with epoxy and micro balloons before adding the fiberglass cloth.
This shows the mirror fairing covered with fiberglass. For some reason, I didn't have any issues with the glass cloth pealing away on me.
Fiberglass cloth laid over the foam plug, ready for epoxy
It's hard to see in this image, but this shows the edges lifting up after the epoxy was painted on.
There are bubbles and areas lifted off the of foam that won't stay down. And yes, I tried a cut-off tamping brush, and nothing seems to work.

This is funny: Check out these two videos shot by Ben of my Banff trip attempt. They both include me holding my mike open on the two-way radio so you can hear what it sounds like inside the fairing. On one of them you can hear what it sounds like when I drift over to the rumble strips - not fun.

Clean Ride.WMV

Rattle.wmv

So I placed an order today for some Pantour suspension hubs - we'll see what kind of difference they make to the ride quality, rumble strips, bump steer, and I'll test the rolling resistance again to see if they effect that at all.


TCR Do LIST:

1. Strut slot sliders - Simplify to a folding cover
2. Canopy Bubble - make a sliding convertible top
3. Front wheel well - Make glass version
4. Wingnuts for fairing mounts
5. Electrical - rechargable battery with a panel with switches for rear strobe and front headlight
6 Add a second front caliper brake
7. Make a portable wind trainer using the (mini-rollers)
8. Look into painting the fairing
9. Find a helmet that fits in the bubble
10. Add second brake

TOTAL distance on TCR1
866 km


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