Introduction: Velomobile Three Seat Electric Car

Picture of Velomobile Three Seat Electric Car

Environmentalist? Give this a try!

The problem: Need exercise and local transportation
The first solution: Electric bike kit! (excellent parts from ebikes.ca)

The new problem: It rains here. A lot.
The second solution: A zero emission vehicle with a roof.

The plan is to make a car that is light weight and pedal powered with electric and solar assist.


For now this is a build log and collection of messy notes. I'll add more over the next few days until school starts again. Feel free to subscribe and check back in the spring (of 2013) when I hope to have the front wheels on.

Minirant: I was trying to sell my neighbour on electric bikes and she said "It rains a lot here". Which is true and it got me thinking; is it crazy that in our culture we use two tons of steel as an umbrella and call it normal? A tonbrella as it were. This vehicle is my first attempt at a more practical solution to the rain issue.

Step 1: Prior Art

Picture of Prior Art
At Maker Faire 2012 in Vancouver I saw a couple electric cars. One was a Porsche (converted by my childhood friend it turns out). The other was made of door skin and a lot cheaper to make; plus it can go 60km/h 37mph.

This plywood car was called the Fauchet = faux + Mochet
Georges Mochet made pedal powered micro cars in the 1940~50s.

Mr. 1JohnFoster (from http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=25315&start=30) made his Fauchet electric car out of 1/8" plywood using a stitch and glue boat building technique.  http://fauchet.tripod.com/



Stitch-and-glue seems like a construction method that is quite useful: it requires no specialized tools, no mold (unlike fiberglass), little skill/experience, cheap materials. We'll find out shortly.

(Will add image credits once the notation system is fixed)

Step 2: Measure Driver

Picture of Measure Driver

Custom made for a person like this:
inseam: 70cm = 27 1/2"
thigh ground to crotch barefoot 34 = 13.4"
shin ground to knee bump 43 = 17"
torso sitting ground to shoulder bone 56 = 22"
arm shoulder bone to palm fingers up, palm forward 56 = 22"
hips 41 = 16"

Step 3: Make Seat Mockup With Pedals and Measure It

Picture of Make Seat Mockup With Pedals and Measure It
Seat to floor: 12.25" plus padding
Seat flat length (short so can extend later) 9"
Lumbar angle rise 22.5 run 13.75: arctan (22.5/13.75)= 58.5704deg
Thoracic angle: (from lumbar angle +10.305) = 68.9
Seat / back junction to BB center (critical!) 33 1/8"
BB center to floor: 10 3/4"
Seat junction to thoracic 11.5" along lumbar board (note thoracic board is 1.5" thick)

My leg clearances:
32 from floor knee height max (no clearance)
24 from floor max toe height (heel on pedal)
22 forward from seat junction much less knee clearance needed.

Step 4: Suspension and Steering Research Notes

Picture of Suspension and Steering Research Notes

Research different kinds of front suspension and steering systems.

J-arm seems to be intrinsically anti-roll bar like. Very simple.  Maybe affects caster? Used in 1980s Odyssey buggies.

Double wishbone: heavy complex, takes up space, high performance.

Dunebuggy style: long straight lever with shock: very simple! Could be Mcpherson variant?
http://www.tmanskarts.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SD3jRdFolI

Macpherson suspension is most common in cars. Few parts, easier to work on, cheaper.

Ackerman steering

caster
camber:  negative camber is bottoms out
toe: front wheel drive toe out, rear wheel drive toe in.
body roll: run the shock from the outside of the arm to the CENTER of the car to eliminate body roll (according to SoCal dune buggies).

Step 5: Sketchup CAD

Picture of Sketchup CAD

Draw it up and check for places where heels, knees etc. would hit the body. Revise to fit on plywood sheets.

Check for possible center of gravity problems. Put weight well inboard of a line draw between front and rear wheels.

Step 6: Flat Layout

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Flattery is a Sketchup program that unwraps curved shapes but it didn't want to work on my ancient laptop so I unwrapped manually.

Step 7: Draw on Wood

Picture of Draw on Wood

After some trial and error I figured out it's best to plot points from a single corner. Eg. 35" down the sheet of plywood and 24 1/3" over from the edge.

I used a tape measure, a long T square and a long L square.

Step 8: Cut Out Shapes

Picture of Cut Out Shapes

Jiga jiga jiga.

Funfact: you don't need to drill a hole or start on an edge to start a cut with a jigsaw; just tip the saw way forward and eat into the wood like with a sawzall. This is sort of like a plunge cut.

Step 9: Drill Drill Drill

Picture of Drill Drill Drill

Drill holes along one edge to prepare for copper wire stitching.

Clamping identical pieces together and drill both at the same time to speed up the work.

The slightly harder part is drilling matching holes on the other piece of the seam.

Step 10: Wash Hemp

This might be unnecessary.

Most fabric comes new with starch sizing. This might interfere with the glue.

So I washed the canvas with a bit of laundry detergent. I hand washed because the edges were unhemmed.

The trick I learned from hand washing down sleeping bags is repeated rinses. Rinse until you're prepared to drink the rinse water.

Step 11: Stitch

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Snip bits of copper wire and stitch up some seams. I started with the wheel well to make my mistakes since it's fairly hidden.

Step 12: Glue!

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Prepare a rounded squeegee. I found a bit of 2" scrap wood, rounded it out and sanded it smooth.

Mix wood glue with thickener until peanut butter texture. I got a garbage bag full of semi-fine sawdust. Proper fine wood dust might have been better; my thickened glue rolled up and stuck to the squeegee a lot. I massaged the glue back down with my finger and it seems OK.

Moosh glue into seams covering the copper stitches. Smooth down with rounded squeegee (may need to give it the finger too).

Step 13: Trouble With a Thick Floor?

I'm using 1/2" plywood for the floor but it's way thicker than the doorskin I'm using elsewhere. I'm concerned that when I bend the floor and stitch it to the walls, the stitches will tear right out of the walls as the floor tries to spring back straight. Maybe I'll cut an arc in some lumber and screw the floor to that to hold it's shape at least until the seams are stitched, glued and taped...

Step 14: Bending Thick(ish) Plywood

Picture of Bending Thick(ish) Plywood
Success! The back was less curved and bent easily with the aid of some curved ribs. The front not so much. I tried screwing some ribs on but they started to punch through the plywood. Blasting the plywood with a heatgun did nothing. Cutting 1/3 into the plywood made it a lot bendier. I did a bunch of cuts 1" and 1/2" apart. I used two main ribs and a few more mini ribs to keep the very end of the plywood flipped up.

Step 15: Stitch and Glue Some More!

Picture of Stitch and Glue Some More!
Here's where the thing starts to take shape. I tried abandoning the copper wire method and had pretty good success with hemp string. Instead of doing surgery style stitches with individual copper wires I drilled my holes in an alternating pattern and whip stitched the pieces together.

This innovation using string opens up a lot of possibilities with different stitch patterns. It would be possible to lock the panels together in perfect alignment using a stitch where the string passes in between the panels.

To thread the string, I used a needle of sorts made of some thinner steel wire (the wire used to tie rebar together in foundations) bent in half. This pinched onto the string and held it nicely.

Step 16: Reshaping the Nose (Rhinoplasty)

Picture of Reshaping the Nose (Rhinoplasty)
Yeah, this is my first nose job. I didn't like the curve of the hood or I cut the sidewalls wrong. But I think I can fix it. I let the hood panel curve naturally and stitched it in place. This left a substantial gap that the fillet glue would have squished out of. So I used a plastic bag as an anti-stick layer and put on temporary panels to block the filler glue from pushing out.

Step 17: Glue AND Tape at the Same Time!

Yes, I'd forgotten some sage advice from Mr. 1JohnFoster: Lay your fiberglass on BEFORE the fillet filler is hardened. This lets you squish out air pockets more easily since they fillet won't have cruddy divots solidified in place yet.

This is especially important since I can't see any air pockets because I'm not using fiberglass tape. I'm using strips of hemp canvas instead. This canvas is not transparent when wet. Also I'm not sure how well it wets out with the goopy glue I'm using so I mooshed lots of glue on both sides.

I used 10 oz hemp canvas.

I cut the canvas into 3 1/2" wide strips.

Hemp sack material might have wetted out better.

Step 18: Glue Heater Cocoon

Picture of Glue Heater Cocoon

I'm using Tightbond 3. It's cheap, sort of waterproof, easy to work with and stench free, plus it's non-toxic. Way nicer than epoxy.

The only drawback is it needs temperatures above 8 deg. Celsius to cure properly. So I put a heater in the car and covered the whole thing with three layers of plastic. I made sure the plastic would be a safe distance from the heater. This should hopefully ward off any frosty temperatures at the glue cures overnight.

Step 19: Wheelwell Redesign

Picture of Wheelwell Redesign

I wanted a stronger wheel well. The one I'd made had all straight pieces so it lacked rigidity and probably couldn't be sat upon. So I've designed one with each piece curved to give it stiffness. The trouble now is that it has so many dimensions, it's bogging me down... first world problems.

Yeah this wheel well's a bit gross. Oh well.

Step 20: Aligning Pedals?

Aligning pedals is tricky. I've set up two bikes side by side and I'm trying to get the two bottom brackets lined up but it's hard to get everything in position.

Step 21: Pedals Aligned?

Picture of Pedals Aligned?
I think I've done it.

Step 22: Chop Off the Slack!

Picture of Chop Off the Slack!
Flight of the Conchords had an episode about someone dissing rappers who then cut his whole body off... I did something similar here.

 
With the bottom brackets as aligned as they're going to get. I locked everything in place and chopped off the rest of the bike frames.

Step 23: Practice Welding

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Because I'm not a very good at it yet.

Step 24: Weld on Crossbrace

Picture of Weld on Crossbrace

Now the pedals can go 'round and round.

Step 25: Gear Up

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There was a gearing problem. It was too slow so I'm adding yet another stage to the transmission.





And I've busted out an early-release second generation Stokemonkey motor. I should install that before I put the wheel well in...

Step 26: Front Wheels and Suspension Materials

Picture of Front Wheels and Suspension Materials
24 inch wheels with disk mounts and 20mm axles. Also some tubing for the front suspension arms. Aw yiss.

It was hard to find the parts to make a 20" wheel with a disk mount. I wanted smaller wheels to withstand lateral loads. 1JohnFoster used 26" wheels without incident but I wanted to err on the side of caution. He also kindly gave me some parts including hefty hubs that will probably make their way onto a recumbent trike at some point.

Step 27: Front Struts

Picture of Front Struts

I'm making these from $#!++y shocks from a mountain bike but they're going to be too wimpy. It would be better to use proper struts or at least motorcycle front shocks. 

I had to shim the shocks with a bit of flattened mild steel wire so they'd fit tightly.

There are two sizes of 1/4 inch taps. Use the correct one.

Step 28: Disk Brakes

Picture of Disk Brakes

Breaks on a bus, brakes on a car
Breaks to make you a superstar

Cause I'm Kurtis Blow and I want you to know
That these are the breaks...

Step 29: Motor (Start Small)

Picture of Motor (Start Small)
I'm starting with a ~400 watt motor geared down for cranking up hill. It's cheaper/less risky to start small.

Step 30: Reglue Redo

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The rear right side panel somehow beveled itself the wrong way. I was in denial but it had to be reset before I put on the wheelwell and seat. Sooo, chop cut slice, brace, fill glue tape. I put three vertical boards on the inside and screwed them to matching boards on the outside. The outer boards are longer and wedged so as to force the correct bevel shape.

Also the problem probably originated from a slight alignment or tension issue which I think I also corrected by chopping and resetting the upper seam just behind the seat... hopefully.





Success! 

Step 31: Beef Up Strut Connection Area (and Clamping Using Magnets)

Picture of Beef Up Strut Connection Area (and Clamping Using Magnets)
I should have done this before I put the side panels on. It would have been easier to clamp simply by laying them on the floor with weights on top. Oh well, now I'll have to get inventive. My first thought was to make a big clamp to squeeze everything in place but I ended up using psychotically powerful magnets instead.


I got the magnets to make a Hugh Piggott style wind turbine generator but I haven't built that yet...


Step 32: Redo Wheelwell (again)

Picture of Redo Wheelwell (again)
The back wheel well was beveled in the wrong way on one side. This made it tricky to install without cracking the side panel. Sooo I'll try cutting the seam and redoing it with braces to maintain the correct orientation. The door skin I'm using has a natural curve to it which prefers not to be ignored.

This time I braced it in place for a few days whilst the glue set deep inside the fillet. It worked

Putting the wheel well in also required some butchery.

Success!

Step 33: Shock Tower Side Panel Bracket

Picture of Shock Tower Side Panel Bracket
These are plates where the top of the strut will connect to the body of the car near the lower corners of the windshield. Smooth curves and a tad of flexibility to reduce stress concentration points... That's the theory at least. The jigsaw wouldn't go around the tight inner corners. Also I made one of these mostly with an angle grinder and that was much easier. Then I got hives all over my body. I must be allergic to the paint or something.

Enter the $5 sheet metal from the scrap yard.

I made a little tap jig to hold the tap perpendicular(ish).

Before painting, wash metal with dish soap and water before painting in order to remove oil etc.

Step 34: Seat

Picture of Seat
It might have been easier to put this in before the wheelwell. That way I would have been able to glue in the seat back by reaching through the rear wheel hole from underneath the car. Now I have to cut out the trunk first so I can access behind the seat.



Step 35: Trunk

Picture of Trunk
Now this took some doing. The challenges are:

-Maintain the curved shape of the rear panel after having chopped out the trunk hole. I
-Reinforce the trunk hood and coping.
-Easy placement of stops for the trunk to close against.
-Proper clearance for the bottom to swing inward.
-Comfortable sitting position for passenger in rumble seat.

I think I've done it. I took some measurements (see video) and laminated two oversize pieces on the inside with my fancy magnet clamp method. I also put some screws through the cut line to act as clamps.

I also used the excellent nail-in-a-drill method. I did this to make little guide posts to line up the panels as I glued them in place inside.



It worked out pretty nicely. I cut the trunk hole with a snap blade knife since it's really thin. This gave a pretty clean cut. There were a couple of unglued spots in the upper corners that I'll have to fix somehow.

I beveled the cut on an angle to make a natural stopper.

Step 36: Wishbone Front Bracket

Picture of Wishbone Front Bracket

A little trigonometry never hurt anyone. Well sort of... Anyway, I trigonometrified the placement of the front wishbone brackets. The challenge here was to make them pivot on the 11 degree forward rake that I'd designed the struts for. The result was a choice; do I have a thing sticking way down to get smashed when I roll over a protruding rock or do I have a thing that sticks way up and is harder to mount?

I chose to have a bracket that cantilevers up from under the car.

Step 37: Wishbone Connection Bolt at Bottom of Strut

Picture of Wishbone Connection Bolt at Bottom of Strut

I needed a 12mm bolt to stick out of the bottom of the strut. It needs to be coaxial with the strut so it will rotate as the wheel steers rather than force the wishbone in weird ways.

I thought of using an aluminum plug to fit up in the bottom of the strut which I could then thread to accept a bolt but I worried that such a bolt might wiggle out since it is rather hidden. Instead I made and attached a U shaped bracket and threaded this so I could screw in a bolt from the inside such that it could never fall out.

Step 38: Front Swing Arm / Wishbone

Picture of Front Swing Arm / Wishbone
Here it is. I used bicycle inner tube as a rubber bushing.

And here's a neat way to extrapolate holes from an underlying piece:

Step 39: Door

Picture of Door
The door and surrounding frame need reinforcement so I layered up more pieces.

Funfact: materials stressed by flexing have most of their load concentrated on their surfaces. The concave side is under compression and the convex side is under tension. Any discontinuities on the surface can concentrate stress at this discontinuity. For example, this is why takeout sushi soysauce packs have a little nick in the side so you can tear 'em apart easily at this discontinuous place. Also, polishing the surface of a material significantly strengthens it probably due to less microscopic nicks.

In light of the above fact I put a continuous horizontal strip of doorskin on the top and bottom of the door and frame.

Also the driver's side has no door but still needed to be beefed up in case someone silly leaned on the window sill.

I ran out of clamps and magnets so I used this awesome pipe clamp trick from Tim Anderson.



Step 40: Steering (temporary)

A short push-pull cable steering system may work nicely. I got a 10 foot cable since that's all they had in stock. A 7 footer might have been better. Bear in mind this steering system will probably have little or no self centering steering.

Step 41: Test Ride

Picture of Test Ride

Step 42: Belt Drive CVT

Picture of Belt Drive CVT


I've had a lot of trouble with my chain drive falling off; I knew I would but I had to start somewhere right. Enter the belt.

Yes, belt drives have ~95% efficiency according to the internerd. They are also cheap, quiet and tolerate misalignment; ie. they're ideal for someone of my purposes. Also they are handily conducive to a nice continuously variable transmission. I thought I had one from my buddy's dead scooter (that cost a bottle of wine and a few bucks)... a look inside revealed that this was a single speed belt drive. That's fine, I'll just have to get creative.

Listen to me get confused in the video above when I still thought this was CVT and not single speed.

Step 43: Shorten Front Swing Arms, Bigger Shocks

Picture of Shorten Front Swing Arms, Bigger Shocks

Needed to shorten the swing arms in order to bring the axles 5.5 inches inboard. Pythagorean theorem to the rescue.

Also needed beefier shocks shoehorned in which is kind of an involved process.

Two videos:
http://youtu.be/qHrB2bYJkSw
http://youtu.be/IaqJyWmoY10

Comments

Lokisgodhi (author)2013-06-11

As for the front suspension, you could try looking at the sliding pillar design used on the old three wheel Morgan motorcycle/cyclecars.

BenM240 (author)Lokisgodhi2016-11-18

...and the same sliding pillar (patented around 1909) front suspension was used successfully on the 4-wheel Morgan Plus 8, with V8 power. Wonderfully predictable handling on smooth tarmac, ultra-precise steering too. We could catch and pass the local Jaguar V12 with ease...

snotty (author)Lokisgodhi2013-06-11

Oh neat! Do you mean like this picture? I found some that seem to use a regular double whishbone. I wonder how that sliding pillar would affect steering when braking especially when turning. With the vertical pillar, it seems like there could be steering/pull issues... but I suppose it worked for them. Any thoughts?

Lokisgodhi (author)snotty2013-06-12

Yeah, like that.

It's a simple design but fairly rugged. It also fits in with the period when cyclecars were common.

Here's some more info.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sliding_pillar_suspension

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/93/MorganSuspension.jpg

Another vehicle to look at is the Velorex. A post war Czech built three wheeler made of a tubular steel frame covered with vinyl.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velorex

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a9/Velorex.jpg

DGW (author)2015-04-09

A great low cost project car. Thanks for sharing all your little details and tricks. Many good ideas here. My goal is to make something electric similar to the VW Nils as shown below.

ThriftStore Hacker (author)2015-01-01

What a great instructable!!!! I am currently working on version 2.0 of my electric trike build and there is so much good brain food here for my next build. I like the use of bike tube as a suspension bushings, pipe clamps for gluing, and other various hacks. The drivetrain you have setup inside is great as well. If you want good torque on the cheap go check out my instructable.

I use wheelchair motors for my builds and you can get a powerchair at a swap meet for cheap. You get the motors, contoller/throttle AND a charger all in one.

Thanks for all of the awesome information! Keep hacking!

604johnfoster (author)2014-11-04

Tomoe,

Where can I get the cheapest PVA in GVRD?

John

snotty (author)604johnfoster2014-11-04

Ah, hi 1John. I've been hanging out with your neighbours!

I got my glue on Vancouver Island but it was from a regular hardware store. I used gallon jugs of Titebond III it's waterfproof-ish, nontoxic, nice to work with and like 1/3 the price of epoxy so I wasn't too worried about cost. They had some at one of the marine shops around Granville Island but it was kind of old. Some place like Home Despot should be fine.

Ganhaar (author)2014-05-13

A few comments about velomobile front geometry...

1. Bicycle wheels are designed for minimal side load

2. Velomobiles can develop greater side loads than a bicycle

3. Side loads on the wheel can be reduced a little with a small inward camber

4. Smaller bike wheels (eg20") handle side loads better than larger wheels

To see some examples of steering geometries, check out Electrathon in the USA, EV Challenge in Australia and Greenpower in the UK. These are all competitions for modern velomobiles. Most will have zero or inward camber on the front wheels and greenpower rules even goes so far as to restrict wheels to max 20".

I have been competing for several years and have seen only one car have a wheel collapse (27" wheel) in that time, but I have also seen some college teams put together some complex rigs with tilting wheels to allow them to use large wheels and avoid wheel side loads.

I would recommend stick with 20" bmx wheels and find hubs with the largest axel that you can, at least 16mm and you should be fine.

I would also consider a swing axel for suspension as an alternative to a macpherson strut or sliding hub. Swing axels had a brief history in motorsport between the live axel and the development of wishbone suspensions. Swing axels came at a time when wheels were very narrow but when tyres started to get wider suspensions such as wishbones that could better control wheel geometry were developed. A swing axel is still well suited (simple and easy to fabricate) to skinny bike wheels.

regards

Wayne

OogieMustBoogie (author)Ganhaar2014-10-07

I feel it necessary to correct you, sir. Although smaller bike wheels do take weight from the side more effectively. However, it is untrue that having negative camber will improve this problem. Either straight wheel or even slightly positive camber will help with handling and side weight management.

PaddyO66 (author)2014-07-20

"Brakes" is the correct spelling. Avid BB-5s are a nice choice of brakes, btw. Simple, powerful, good quality pads available for them, so in the long run, economical. Great instructable! Very informative and inspirational!

wgreenbough (author)2013-11-17

I'm sorry, but I have to speak up and say that the suspension design for this velocar is just plain wrong and dangerous. Velocars and their history is a passion of mine and i'm fortunate enough to have French articles written in the late 1940's on how to build a velocar in the home workshop using basic tools. I'm hoping that it's possible to post an image or an image link as I have a drawing taken from one of these articles that shows how the suspension should be laid out .

Ganhaar (author)wgreenbough2014-05-13

This diagram shows the kingpin axis vertical and the wheel inclined to reduce scrub radius. You can achieve the same with a wheel cambered inward instead of outward as in this diagram and an angled kingpin. I don't know why the old velomobiles had a vertical kingpin and wheels cambered outward.

snotty (author)wgreenbough2013-11-17

Hi, thanks for the heads up. If possible, could you give us some more details about your take on suspensions? I've put in a lot of effort trying to find the simplest practical solution and it seems to be working so far but I'm all ears.

From first glance it seems to me that the diagram you posted would work fine for a vehicle going straight but I'd be too chicken to try it with a bicycle wheel with inward camber since it would feel a lot of lateral force and might fold in half.

wgreenbough (author)snotty2013-11-19

Hello snotty, the steering geometry in the diagram is correct for a velocar and works well having been tested thoroughly by French citizens in need of transport during the war years. Bicycle wheels don't actually fold up that easily unless you're in the habit of trying to slide into corners much too fast. Provided the gauge of the spokes you've chosen for your wheel are adequate for the job, they are properly tensioned and the wheels are true you won't have any problems. I grew up in a family where my Dad and my brothers were tradesmen in the motor and metal trades and because I was interested in vehicles and how machinery worked I was taught how to weld as well as repair my own car. With cars being repaired and rebuilt as a constant part of the background as I was growing up I have a good eye for what is right and what is wrong when it comes to vehicles and I'm sorry for having to say this but having that degree of negative camber on your velocar's wheels isn't safe and isn't good engineering.
Positive camber as in the diagram with minimal or no scrub radius at the tyre's contact point with the road is the safest and most simple layout for a velocar.
This geometry can be easily seen in this photograph of a Mochet Velocar.

 


604johnfoster (author)2013-10-22

Horay! It rolls! How does the steering & front suspension work?

snotty (author)604johnfoster2013-10-23

How does the front steering and suspension work? In a nutshell it works OK. The suspension is based on regular MacPherson strut design but there are no anti roll bars or anything complex like that.

The steering is a simple tie rod between the wheels and a push-pull cable steering system for a boat.

604johnfoster (author)2013-10-22

Brilliant Tomoe, I like the layered plywood approach. Much more elegant than my multi-material methods. I still haven't finished reinforcing mine in these areas, because of the complication of laminating the wood strips I have.

snotty (author)604johnfoster2013-10-23

Yes! This new magnet clamping method opens up a lot of new possibilities for laminating doorskin.

Lokisgodhi (author)2013-06-11

As for the front suspension, you could try looking at the sliding pillar design used on the old three wheel Morgan motorcycle/cyclecars.

604johnfoster (author)2013-05-25

Ooo, that does look hard. I did my wheelwell in cardboard 1st, then transferred it to plywood. Maybe that's cheating on your CAD 1st process. Mine also tapers to the top, more comfy for a narrow bum. Would be pretty tippy with a wide bum in the rumble seat. Also it makes it easier to get bags of stuff in & out of the back. But I guess the taper would be even harder in CAD :( Good luck! I'm building a center stand for mine now, of bamboo, inspired by you. It's been really annoying trying to work on the drivetrain with it just held up by bits of wood and it falling down on my head all the time.

snotty (author)604johnfoster2013-05-25

CAD=Cardboard Aided Design.

There might be a solution to the drivetrain falling on your head: a gobo stand. These are possibly the most versatile tools in the film industry. A gobo stand is typically a stand with feet and a telescopic mast and a meter-long metal arm with grippers. A mafer clamp or something similar will help grasp oddly shaped objects. In my old career I used these to hold many things in almost any position. With a few 20lb sandbags on the stand's feet you can hold heavy objects in all sorts of odd angles and heights. They cost about $200 and a film rental house will probably rent them for ~$15/day.

Hopefully I'll be at Maker Faire again this year. Maybe I'll see you there :)

604johnfoster (author)2013-05-16

Good progress! I like the hemp&pva innovation. Strut tops anchored to the top vertex is also a good idea. Stronger floor plywood good too, although I think 1/2" is overkill.
I'm not so enthusiastic about the canted front wheels though - will be better for loading on the outside wheel in a turn, but even worse for the inside wheel. The inside still bears weight - you won't transfer really all that much weight, even at the limit of traction.
Also to help keep the CG closer to the front wheels I put the battery pack in the nose, doesn't look like you have much space, or are you going pedal only?

May kWh ride was fun. Zenon had his "future mobile" and I had my "retro mobile". +~10 other 2 wheelers.
Later, John

a1auto (author)2013-04-09

Awesome idea & nice design! (Love the pic too!)

604johnfoster (author)2013-01-24

20mm hollow axle hubs. 20mm is definitely strong enough. The problem is the narrow width between flanges: It's OK for the vertical load when used on a two wheel vehicle, but not nearly strong enough for the side loads you would get cornering at speed. To make it stronger you could make the hub wider by cutting it in half and putting pipe in the middle to spread the flanges out. But then you run into the limitations of the flange and spoke strength. Or use smaller wheels - one of the reasons most velomobiles use 20" or 16" wheels. BMX 14mm solid axle hubs are also strong enough for single sided, at least for 1 person. They can also come made for heavier gauge spokes and higher spoke counts. And you you might as well get built 20" wheels. Don't know if they come with discs these days.

604johnfoster (author)2013-01-21

Hi Snotty,
I'd like to visit your workshop when you have time to start. Also I have a lot of bike & other parts if you want to come over & grab some junk. I (& the Fauchet) live on Powell near Main, DTES Vancouver. I did use bike forks as struts - the black foam at the Maker Faire was just to hold it up because the air seals leak. Not sure about the side loads; since I have 26" wheels on narrow hubs I corner very slowly. We will have to have a race when you get on the road! Or at least a rally - I'm organizing the May kWh ride. I want to see your improvement on my pound-a-brella.
Later,
John

snotty (author)604johnfoster2013-01-24

I'm curious about the front wheels you used. Were they standard bike hubs or where they specifically made to be supported on one side only? I'd like to use standard bike hubs but I've always assumed they's bust the axle off.

snotty (author)604johnfoster2013-01-22

Sure thing! I'm deep in school and my workshop is a day's travel and many ferries away so there won't be much action for a while. I can probably nip by to your shop some time during spring break (Feb 8th 2013). Feel free to PM me with the details. Maybe we can take your Fauchet on a cruse to Justin's warehouse :)

masterfireeater (author)2013-01-11

Hi i was thinking about making a mini tractor from the instructable Mini tractor from go kart parts and i was wondering would it be easier to make it with a gasoline engine or eletric engine.

If you would like to donate to this project you can send a donation with paypal to parkhigley6@gmail.com Thank you for reading

snotty (author)masterfireeater2013-01-14

For me electric systems are way more reliable and cheaper in the long run. My teacher made an electric tractor and said it was cost effective since non-electric tractors waste a lot of fuel by idling. Lead acid batteries were good since tractors need to be heavy. And it was very handy for using inside a greenhouse since there were no emisisons. He had enough charge for a regular day's work and it would charge up ready to go the next day.

Some electric tractors have a solar roof that doubles as its own garage/sun protactin/rain protection. Just park it in the sun and it charges itself.

Tim Anderson made a neat self-charging vehicle. https://www.instructables.com/id/SolarWelder/

BONUS: Electric vehicles can double as a mobile DC welder!

loafers (author)2013-01-07

I love this. I've been hoping to put together something similar to this for a while now. My main concern with putting a body to the frame was always the weight for the motor and operator to push along, what've you worked out the assumed unladen weight of yours to be? How did you go finding struts that'd work for the suspension on something so small and light?

I'm curious to a few things: Do you plan to have more than one drive wheel? Is the driver going to be the only person faced with a set of pedals? Will the pedal operated part of it have gears like a mountain bike?

p.s. The Tonbrella joke gave me a good little chuckle, just thought I'd say so.

snotty (author)loafers2013-01-07

G'day, mate;

Excellent questions! I'll see if I can answer some.

Weight: The wooden monocoque body will probably be around 50 lbs. The wheels could add another 30 lbs or so depending on what I use. I have an old dirtbike back wheel and swing arm for extra strength but a hefty mountain bike swing arm and wheel might work fine at much less weight. The motor I'll start off with is about 10 lbs and the battery is about 9 lbs. So 50 + 30 + 10 + 9 = 99. Somehow I think it's going to get a little heavier though once I add cup holders etc. Later on I plan to upgrade to a Crystalyte 5403 motor at 27 lbs but for now I'm starting small.

How did I go finding struts that'd work for the suspension on something so small and light? Well, I haven't yet. If I can't source anything I'll have to steer away from the MacPherson strut design to something like a trailing arm system or a double wishbone. I'd like to keep it light and simple. I'm thinking I'll try out using half a mountain bike fork on each side as the main strut. This should match the weight requirements more or less. The only problem is I'm not sure about the rotational and off axis loading. Otherwise I might try a motorbike fork or a strut from a very small car/dunebuggy. I think the original wooden car I saw used a bit of closed cell foam sandwiched between two disks as the suspension. It kind of worked.

Drive wheel: I intend to drive with the single rear wheel just like a bike. For those trying this with an electric hub motor, beware of shearing off the freewheel threads on the aluminum side cover. I've seen it happen when there's too much power put through the chain. This is one reason I'm starting with a rear motorcycle wheel; it's strong and meant to take more power than this vehicle should ever see.

Pedals: I hope to have both people in front pedaling using two or three sets of crank arms ganged together in a "W" arrangement. like this guy: http://youtu.be/4LljkekeDD4?t=15m3s
But initially I will have one set of pedals. And yes, I intend to have fairly high and low gears.

Yes, I'm glad you like my tonbrella gag. Maybe this will seem like more of a joke if/when gasoline is expensive like in that classic Australian movie The Roadwarrior.

Anyways, I'm back at school now so please don't wait for me. Go grab a jigsaw and make your own! I'll race ya. Just make sure to share lots of pictures with us.

loafers (author)snotty2013-01-07

Haha, adding a tinge of Aussie to help relate? I like it! I'll respond in no particular order. With Petrol (Gasoline) at $1.60 per litre where I'm at, it's not far from that shocking figure. If I recall it was about $7 a gallon in the movie (about $1.80 per litre) we aren't far from that..

Weight wise, don't forget about the weight of brackets for the motor and battery, or the seat, there's always a lighter material. No less that's not a bad weight. I don't know much of monocoque structural designs and strut suspension. I own an old 4WD ute, with solid axles and separate chassis, if I'm not mistaken, some primitive forms of suspension that've been known to work well (for their era, being back at horse drawn carriages) were sometimes bowed timber (similar to a leaf spring) or even thick leather straps with the axle/beam held tight between the strips. Not sure how successful it may be, but with such little weight compared to even classic automobiles, some planned improvision may at least be fun to play with. My design, due to my knowledge was hence far heavier than yours. I'll see how I go with some new ideas, as you've given me plenty of them. Also, have you considered making a proper framed roof, an aluminium frame and canvas would likely not ruin the look too much I'm sure.

epierce (author)2013-01-03

A fantastic piece of woodwork! What is your motor set?

snotty (author)epierce2013-01-05

I will be using a Stokemonkey motor with a 25 amp controller. This will be waaay underpowered. A machine like this needs 30,000 watts not 1000 watts but I want to start with low power so I don't accidentally overload the car and nobody will drive it too hard at first.

changorey (author)2013-01-04

it would look cool steam-punked!

ray74 (author)2013-01-03

Incredible. Excited to see it complete.

sofiadragon1979 (author)2013-01-03

This is great "MORE I NEED MORE!!!!"

l8nite (author)2012-12-30

this is such a TEASE ! looking forward to the conclusion

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Bio: Careers: documentary filmmaker, DOP, engineering student, practical environmentalist, idealist. Loves: bicycles and when weeds grow in the city. I'm from western Canada, Yukon, Japan ... More »
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