Monday, December 30, 2013

A Maniacal Push!

That's what it's going to take to get this bike done on time. Keep in mind its mid July 2010 and there is only a month until the rig departs for Bonneville so lots to do. Craftsmanship and sweet fitment will quickly give way to the mantra, 'Moving Forward'. Next up is a test fitting and massaging of the nose, center seat section and tail. Once the parts are fitted over the frame we can figure out how to attach them to the frame and to each other and while i have a good idea how to do this i need some hard numbers to machine to.

Test fit with leathers, boots, and helmet so we can be sure everything fits. The front fairing seems a bit low and needs clearance for the helmet. I am perched a bit precariously with everything being propped up by 2 x 4's and some clamps but it got the job done and quickly. Moving forward!

As much as i curse wood and its dusty byproduct it does have its place even in a machine shop. The notes you see in black reading through the fiberglass were written on the fabric prior to layup so i could remember which pieces went where during the layup process. Easy to forget when there are ten pieces and three different shapes among them. Obviously you can go to you-tube and watch hundreds of videos on all of this, and i highly recommend doing that, but no videos as it relates to Land Speed Racing motorcycles. So maybe this is helpful especially as we are cheating like crazy to get to the finish line, meaning skipping lots of steps that would have easily added twice as much work while only yielding a product 20% finer and lighter.

This is the buck for the belly of the tail section. If you look closely at the first photo in this post you can see a wire form behind my boots, that is where this part will end up. I won't bore you with the same repetitive details already reviewed in the previous posts, but be sure this part was fiber glassed, bagged, demolded, trimmed, sanded , fitted and went out for paint with all of the other parts. Damn that was a lot of work!

Fast forward two weeks and we are back from paint and fitted with nifty stainless button head Dzus fasteners.Wayne Quick, father of flat-track pro #58 Jake Quick, handled the paint work and did a sweet job and managed not to critisize us too heavily for our ham fisted bodywork.

HANDSOME! Still lots to do, cut a windshield, foam blocking for the knee area, assemble air shifter, etc. Dan, Greg, and Marty are all chipping in big time here and in fact have taken off of work here and there to put in some daytime hours. Thanks again brothers.

BIG PICTURE! I probably sound like a broken record but thinking big picture without getting stifled by the minutia of bodywork details is how you get this shit done in three months instead of ten unless you have the luxury of working on this stuff during the day. Bike leaves for Bonneville in 24hours. But before that the next post will answer the question: "Why a 125?"

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Painfull hours......

Body work is the most painful part of motorcycle building. I think that's why you see so few efforts in this department outside of manufacturers and the handful of masochists offering one-off hammer-formed  fairings. It is also a design exercise more subject to a proper, and often public critique, than a bike which might just be a creative assembly of parts which might include bullets, sharp pointy things, or antique bathroom hardware. This critique, bound to happen at least more than once, will need to be taken with a grain of salt by the designer as the rules of streamlining set in many racing categories define the start stopping point of fenders, fairings, and seat/tail sections. So while there may be a a reason for every turn, radius and edge in your design it may just fall on deaf ears as this tends to also be a subjective kind of thing. Now onto more bodywork discussion.

Here is the nosecone ready to be prepped for glass work. Note; Having previously mentioned that body filler works poorly on this soft carving foam, i did use some body filler here to build up a low spot. It sort of worked but the transition from filler to foam is a bit bumpy. Not much i can do with the foam being so soft but this will result in less filler on the fibreglass parts in the end. The body parts are a constant juggling of time, cost, weight and performance.

There are no photos of nosecone bagging or prep, i find it difficult to stop and take photos sometimes, just this shot of the finished fiberglass nose on the left side of the table upside down. We had just completed molding in the fender to make it all one piece to help keep things more slippery and to keep salt out of my face while riding. It seems there is a turbulence or maybe a vacuum occuring between the nose and the fender when they are separate parts thus creating a salt storm inside the nose while at speed. Hoping this uniting of the nose and fender resolves this. As you can see its tough to keep things orderly during the wet layup process.

The center section of the bodywork will need to support my weight with my knees and toe of my boots touching down on the thinner section which I call the running board. This is the thinner rib near the bottom of the part. If you look closely this foam rib is a separate piece held in place with hot glue and will not be prepped like the rest of the buck, so it cleanly seperates from the fibreglass part, rather it will live with the finished glass part so we have some structure where all the weight will be. Does that make sense?

Lay-up complete and vacuum on for the right hand side of the center section. Once complete we will flip it over to layup the left hand side. In the end the left hand side and right hand side will screw to each other through mating holes in the chassis.

The right hand side of the center section getting fitted to the chassis. I have added the 1/8" thick foam to the back of the part to gain a little strength here and there. The bulge on the running board is clearance for the expansion chamber.

Right hand center section as seen from the other side. The white material is resin mixed with micro balloons to give the resin some thickness without it getting heavy. I used it to seal off the foam running board inner edge and help give me a smoother sand-able area where the left hand side will be fitted up and massaged to fit well. That's all for now, final fitment and paint in the next post.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back to Bodywork

We left off with the sculpted wire and wood form having been measured and the drawn up in AutoCad. I then printed out full scale 2D profiles, side, top and end views and glued these to foam blocks that were a near net shape. The profiles allowed us to rough out the shapes with a tree saw blade, the long course blade cuts quickly through foam. Dan was going to tackle the tail and i was handling the nose and center section with the aid of some sur-form tools and coarse sandpaper. Many other hands pitched in here and there as well so if i don't mention your name forgive me, the 90 hour work weeks at this point are now a blur.
 Two pieces of  foam were glued together with the seem line down the center to produce our rough shape, but the glue seem is disintegrating a bit during sanding. This is one of the downsides of using 2lb. foam. Again the upside is it's quick to form and quick to the finish line. The green clay is a quick way of filling in the seam line. Body filler works poorly on this light foam because it is so much harder and doesn't allow for any finish sanding because the foam around the filler is so damn soft. So soft in fact that rubbing your hand against the foam will remove the foam! Dan did a really nice job with the carving work.

Now the foam buck would normally be finished off with primer and filler and polished out so a mold can be made off of it. WAY TO MUCH WORK! Time is of the essence so this male form will be used to be molded against rather than into, like a traditional mold. So instead of primer and filler i found that masking tape will seal off the foam.  Rubbing along one edge of the tape will stretch that edge allowing it to deal with the compound curve. There is a limit though and you can end up with wrinkles but who cares, we're moving forward. Packing tape works as well, it just doesn't like to stretch. The really sharp curves just get a heaping handfull of wax. Even if some of the foam sticks to the fiberglass the foam is so soft it will break and sand off quickly. Yes the buck is compromised but when you most likely only need one finished part it represents reasonable time management. That is Janina and Dan, now married with twins, helping out. This would not have been completed in 2010 without there help and Janina's impeccable cooking!
 Thats Dan looking as proud as i do with our successful layup and vacuum bagging. Yahoo! 

Here is the tail section after we removed it from the buck and have molded in an air scoop. We also sanded the interior surface and applied one layer of 1/8" thick foam, the green shading, and one layer of fiberglass over the foam to give the part some rigidity. It works surprisingly well. This green foam is generally used for infusion molding but i find it works well to reinforce and its easy to taper its edges with sanding.
Looking into the air scoop which was beautifully carved by Dan. Again the scoop, like our other bucks, was a positive shape and would be a 'lost buck' format. We covered the foam buck with tape and wax and then wrapped it in fiberglass. Once hardened we carved the foam out of the interior yielding our hollow scoop. This part was then deftly integrated into the tale. It will ultimately mate up to a molded air-box under the tail section. Next I'll go over the center section as it involved a new set of molding issues.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Before we venture back in time again i thought a fresh shot of the current team / maniacs, and mention of our current sponsors would be a good idea. Every person in the photo and every graphic on the bodywork represent the vast number of ingredients necessary in making this bike possible.

The Maniacs: (I refer to them as maniacs as who else would take well earned time off and spend it with us at Bonneville baking in the sun for 5 days) From left to right, Tom Pheffer, Susan Hereth, Kerry McQuaide, Me, Peter Huntstein (graphics supplier) Ann Rose, Dwight Eyrick, Alicia Katsur, Chris Bernard, Eric Omland, Aiden Eyrick (the little maniac) Chris Nealon, Mike Thomas, Chris Cosentino, Scott Calabrese, and Andrew Anderson.
Special thanks go out to Tom Pfeffer, Scott Calabrese, Billy Gillis, Marty Lennox, and Chris Cosentino all of which labored heavily and brought in new sponsors for 2013.

Royal Blue: I met one of the owners at Americade 2013 when we stopped in to give a presentation on the merits of attending Bonneville. I think they liked amount of very blue surface area  on the bike making it a fine candidate for their 'wash and wax' all in one product. We used there genuine Brazilian Carnuba to take that handsome paint job to the next level and keep it there. Another sponsor from the great state of Ohio.

Markertek: A long time sponsor of our racing program. Your go-to guys in the broadcast audio and video world. Need a special cable made, to include fibre optic, they can knock it out and while your there you can pick up any support gear to include the finest gaffers tape in the world.

Swagelok / Albany Fittings: Valves, tubing and fitting for fluid and gas control product. All made in the USA in Ohio. The Local distributor of Swagelok product, Albany fittings, poked there head into my machine shop after dropping parts off at a clients facility next door and fell in love with the 125cc Partial Streamliner and then took great interest in the full streamliner project. Both fluid and gas will need to be distributed and managed on the new bike and Albany fittings has the engineering smarts to do just that.

YoYodyne: Suppliers of parts for race bikes but more importantly passionate about racing. They helped us out with our data aquisition needs and outfitted the bike with a Starlane system that has made the tuning of our bike on the salt, less of an educated guessing process to decisons based on reality.

Cosentino Engineering:  Chris Cosentino has year after year offered encouragement, support, and most importantly key engineering solutions to our go faster issues. Chris also makes the trek out to the salt and works flat out to make our goals possible in the often grueling conditions. He also gave a me a rear brake rotor in 2010 as seen in a previous post. There you go Chris, ARE YOU HAPPY?!! Chris recently engineered a two wheel drive KTM950 adventure bike utilizing some of the Christini two wheel drive parts: Well done sir!

Rev-It: Rev-It supplied us with a sweet set of leathers, undersuit, and gloves. Like always there sizing system and phone support yields the correct fit on the first try. Check them out in this fine photo taken by Scooter Grubs,, from our 2013 record run:

Thanks again to all of our sponsors for making 2013 a year to remember!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

1634 Days......

....since my last post. Why so long?
As you all know the economy went into the shitter in 2009 and really it started for me in 2008 when i first  noticed the phone ringing less and less. The wonderful clients who love our custom architectural metal work and our sponsors who help with this hobby run amok decided along with the rest of the world to stop spending money. Who could blame them. So all focus went into keeping the business afloat.
Fast forward to Spring 2010:  A few previous clients and sponsors asked me if we needed help getting the land speed thing going again, i waited about two seconds before responding with a 'what the fuck do you think?' All kidding aside i was incredibly gratefull and thrilled to start the crazy adventure all over again with no time for blogging, only building.
I will be posting photos with comments at least once a week now to get you all up to speed with what has gone down over the last three and a half years with what is the most aerodynamic 125cc partially streamlined motorcycle around.

So we left off with the frame cut in half and mounted into a fixture so we could extend it to reduce frontal area.
We then filled in the middle with some steel tubing, the 'ladder bar' looking thing. Very narrow and very rigid allowing me to bring my knees in very close together to reduce frontal area while still being strong enough to resist any torsional frame flex which might make for a sketchy ride.

A shot from the rear quarter also illustrates the lack of enthusiasm often displayed at 11:00pm on a Tuesday night when you are working for beer and pizza.

Dreaming of 200MPH in a 125cc streamliner.

 Next was a mock up of the bodywork. I cut up the old bodywork as a starting point and added to it with plywood, cardboard and aluminum welding rod. Hot glue holds it all together. I measured all the parts and then drew them up in AutoCad to create some 2D profiles to be used in cutting and carving foam blocks into the shapes to be used for molding the bodywork.

Shot from the rear quarter, it just might be handsome in the end. A reminder to anyone reading this: I find blogging to be tedious at best, but i have had so many requests to document what we have done that i find myself compelled to give it a shot. My apologies for the very basic writing. Enjoy!