April 26

April 26, 2006

First lowracer ride of the season, getting the M5 ready for some serious mileage, getting CriticalPower up and running, the rear wheel fairing and some chain guides made with this really cool moldable plastic called ShapeLock.

The cleanup of M5 took way longer than I expected - probably about 2 days worth of work. The chain needed cleaning and lengthening, both tires needed replacement, I fixed the wobbly front wheel hub, moved the SRM crank over from my triathlon bike, installed the 155 mm cranks, replaced the bottom bracket and installed a new rear view mirror. Most importantly, I measured and re measured and measured again the geometry differences between CriticalPower and the M5. I had to get the bottom bracket distance, seat angle and head angle EXACTLY the same as CP. Thankfully, the only major geometry change was accomplished by adding a bit more curve to better cup my ass. The exact curve of the seats is slightly different for both CP and the M5. Now my training on the M5 should be directly applicable to CriticalPower

I purchased a new 3 liter hydration bag and a new rear pannier. There's lots of room in the bag to hold my repair kit, plenty of food for long rides, and some clothing for weather changes.

My first ride of the season felt great! It was a bit slow, and I can feel the different position in my sore legs, but it otherwise felt pretty great to be back on the lowracer! Very comfortable riding compared to the tri bike for sure! It's a bit slower than last years version of the M5 due to the geometry differences. As you might recall, last year when I started training, CriticalPower was going to be a camera bike and the seat angle was really low. Check out the comparison. By the time I ended up raising the seat back and adding a canopy bubble to CriticalPower streamliner, I had to make some quick geometry changes to the M5 to resume training with the new body position. A change that late in the training season was tough, and wasn't planned, but I had no choice - a camera and monitor just wasn't going to work. The new higher back M5 is a bit slower than the super laid-back version.


I got the new clincher wheels onto CriticalPower, cleaned up the chain, added some chain guides, installed the new painted fork, re-wired the SRM powercontrol and sensors, installed the 155 mm cranks onto the SRM pro, and checked and tightened all the bolts and fasteners. She's ready to rock!

After a quick spin around the block, everything felt great!


Check this stuff out:

Ben found this stuff called Shapelock. It's basically these tiny plastic pellets with a really low melting temp. You pour a few teaspoons of the pellets into some boiling water, stir with a fork until the clump together and turn clear, then you can form it with your fingers into any shape you want. After it cools, it's VERY hard and tough. Perfect for making tight fitting clamps and other plastic fittings. I used it to reinforce the chain guides I made.

I will also use it to make special clamps for my radio and iPod.


I made some really great progress with the rear wheel fairing. While I was on vacation, Ben finished up the foam plug by coating it with a few layers of fiberglass and painting and sanding a high build primer over it. Then he pulled a fiberglass wheel fairing off the male plug.

Producing a composite part from a male mold (if the mold is male it's called a plug) works OK - not the best way, but certainly way faster than building a female mold from the male plug, then pulling a part out. After vacuum bagging, the final part needs surface work. The tiny folds in the glass or carbon material need sanding down and the piece needs a good coat of high build primer and sanding, but the amount of work for a on-off part is much less than making a female mold.

It cut the fiberglass fender out and was surprised at how well it fit over the wheel! Since the glass is very thin, the edges flare out and press up nice and snug against the main body fairing. I ordered a rubber trim seal, but I don't think I'll need it.

Since entry / exit into and out of the streamliner requires complete removal of one fairing shell, this rear wheel fairing needs to be mounted onto CriticalPower frame, not the main body fairing. The way that I plan to accomplish this is to add some carbon tabs to both the front and the rear of the fairing. The tabs will be inserted into slots in the frame and secured with an aluminum bolt that will go through both the frame and the tab. This way, there won't be any fasteners exposed to airflow.

I cut shapes out of a 1/16" thick sheet of carbon plate and temporarily glued them onto the wheel fairing using a hot glue gun which really works great for a way to hold parts in place while you epoxy / carbon reinforce the whole assembly.

Then using 3M spray glue, I wrapped a couple layers of carbon fiber fabric around all the joints). After lightly wetting out with epoxy and allowing to cure for 8 hours, the assembly is super tough!


And finally, I wanted to show you this slick way of vacuum bagging a small part with a vacuum - or bag. We needed to add a stiffening rib to the middle of the fairing shell, so instead of bagging it, Ben laid down the coroplast strip, carbon fabric and wetted it out. Then he added a layer of release film and a breather blanket. To provide the pressure, he dumped a pile of sand on it all. It worked great!


Here is the new TODO list:

1. Communications! - I ordered 2 Chatterbox GMRS-X1motorcycle two-way radio systems from HelmetCom. These babies will let me plug in my iPod AND cell phone and use them seamlessly with the two-way radio. I have them now and after a quick preliminary test, they seem to work just great. My only concern is preservation of music quality - it seems that the sound from the iPod goes through the amp in the ChatterBox and results in a bit of a background hiss. I'm not sure what is causing that - could be the noise cancelling circuit - not sure.
2. Nutrition / hydration fillers - we are moving the food, water and battery access areas to the top behind the canopy top so I don't have to get out every time we need to refill water, food or replace the battery. I might plan on getting out every 6 hours or so rather than every 3 hour interval pit stop. I got some new hydration bags and we ordered some tubing and bulk head fittings.
3. Fairing ribs - Done.
4. CHAIN GUIDES!!! - Done
5. New clincher wheels - I found a RENN 650 rear clincher on Ebay and the same seller was offering a 700 HED 3 carbon rim front wheel so I bought them both. I'll simply add my carbon wheel discs to the HED, and the RENN should be good to go.
6. Fairing paint and polish - We need to coat the fairing shell with a thick epoxy based primer and sand and polish it smooth. This will seal up all the pin holes and hopefully improve the chances of obtaining some laminar flow. Bob - a guy just down the street from me is going to paint CriticalPower - it's scheduled to be delivered to his shop tomorrow.
7. Rear wheel fairing - Almost done.
8. New Canopy bubble - Almost there. I need to make one with thicker PETG. Or maybe not.
9. Canopy bubble nose lifter - I need to invent something to lift the front of the bubble up about 1/4" to allow the airflow to evaporate any condensation that may build up on the inside of the canopy. The was a problem in Alabama when it got cold at night and we had to cut a large hole in the front of the bubble.


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