The month of November brought much progress. The A45 car has had all of it's body, axle and components stripped and is now just a frame. Team members have been busy working together to brainstorm ideas on how to improve over last years design and to redesign problem areas as well.
The biggest effort this past month was the removal of the old axle. In years past we have used aluminum for our axle and have been fighting cracks and weld failures. We liked the idea of using aluminum to help reduce the amount of weight on the car, but paid the price by breaking an axle at a rally last season. The build team decided to strengthen the front axle by using chrome moly over steel. Chrome moly has properties that will increase strength without adding much weight to the car frame. The build team is creating designs and building mock up axles that could be used. The biggest challenge will be attaching the new chrome moly axles to the aluminum frame in such a way that will not reduce the integrity and function of the axle.
Overall, last years design for both cars were successful. We are trying to find ways to improve the overall function and performance of the car. One area is the canopy design. The car's canopy helps to deduce the aerodynamic drag on the car by not allowing air to enter inside the car while on the track. Currently the canopy does not sit tightly on the car and bounces around during the rally. Another area that the design team has been working to improve is the front nose on the car. In an attempt to reduce drag, we are designing and testing new nose designs to find one that gives the best result.
There is still a lot of work to be done, but the main focus will be the reconstruction and design of the 45 car that will be moving from the standard class to the advances class. The 48 car will again race in the advanced class in it's final year of competition. The team will continue to work on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and plans to put in a few long days over the Christmas break to stay on schedule.
January has been a cold, but busy month. New team members have been learning how to operate the machines, studying how the car is built and getting used to late work nights. Other progress is being made on the reconstruction and design of the front axle and strengthening of the steering components. Progress has been slow for the A45 team, but we are moving forward.
The good news is that there are many new members on the Power Drive team this year; with that comes new training and learning how the electric car is designed, fabricated and assembled. Everyone has been patient and willing to teach new members how to weld, machine on the lathe and how the car will be built. The new team members have done well and are going to be a valuable part of the team. They have also brought many new ideas that we hope will help in building a successful car.
The majority if the time and effort has been the rebuilding of the cars front end; specifically the front axle. We currently have the aluminum axle off the car and are in the process of fabricating the new steel axle, spindles and brake mounts. With more than 5 parts being manufactured at once, it sure feels like there is a lot going on. Soon everyone will have finished their parts, and we hope everything will all fit together correctly.
Finally, a few small, but needed projects are being done to help the upcoming Power Drive rally season run smoothly. The tool box is being organized and re-stocked with needed parts. The wiring for the car is being inspected for any insulation loss or cuts, and the ends are being cleaned to help reduce the resistance in the wiring system. It’s enough to keep all the team members busy.
The goal for the month of February will be to have a rolling chassis, and then to install the wiring and meters into the car for a test of the upgraded axle and steering.
With most of the work effort being focused on of the rebuilding of the A45, the A48 has seen little work. The main goal for this car will be to correct the problems with the spindles and warped brakes from last seasons wear and tear. This car will also serve as a training car for new drivers in the upcoming rally season.
Last season the team thought it would be an improvement to the braking system to incorporate 8” brake rotors. Over the course of the rally season, we found that these rotors were thin and would warp; this in turn caused problems with the brake pad and rotors rubbing and creating too much drag on the front wheels. So to remedy this problem, we have chosen to return to the 6” rotor and upgrade to a thicker rotor, in hopes that this will reduce the amount of friction and adjustments we would have to make each week to keep the brakes from rubbing.
At the state rally last season, our volt and ammeter finally had taken enough abuse and stopped working. After further inspection, we found that the wiring going into the meter had worn through due to vibration and location next to the steering. So to prevent the loss of such important pieces of equipment, the team is looking to move and better protect the meters inside the car. It is also important that the driver is still able to read the meters while driving.
After much debate, the team has decided to leave the aluminum front axle on the A48. Both axles have been broken and repaired over the past 3 season, and the team agrees that the repairs will hold up for one more rally season. Another deciding factor was that the time, money and destruction of the beautiful paint on the front of the car would not be worth it.
February goals for the A48 will be to make the brake adjustments by adding the 6” rotors. Also purchasing and installing the new meters in a safe but visible location.
Progress, progress, progress. February has seen many changes to the A45. The axles are complete and installed on the car. The car has been rewired and installation of the body has begun. Working three nights a week and even on a few Saturdays has helped to keep the car building moving forward.
The first goal was to have the axles and spindles completed and placed on the car. This took longer than expected, but we took extra time to double check our measurements to make sure we didn't miss anything. The biggest challenge was the welding. Senior Garrett McSorley did a great job welding both the aluminum and steel axle design. Garrett used the TIG welder, which took a little practice, and did a great job getting the axles welded solid.
Improvements have also been made to the spindle and brake design. Last year we had problems with the brake pads rubbing on the disc brake. The design change came with the removal of spacers, which we thought were needed to keep the caliper and rotor aligned. We also used thicker metal to keep the rotor from flexing when the brakes were applied. The combination of the two has removed 99.9% of all the brake rub we experience last year. We also hope with this improvement that we will no longer need to make adjustments to the brakes after each rally.
During the last Saturday work day, we started to fit the car with the body. We are again using aluminum trim coil for the body panels. Because of the many bends and shapes on the car, each panel is cut and fit on the car to make sure it matches up with the body panel next to it. The entire body will be fit into place using sheet metal screws to make an exact fit before it is secured using body panel adhesive. It is a long process, but a streamline body will help with efficiency.
The team will continue to work during the month of March to complete the car. We hope to have the body on the car with paint in a week or two and then have time for a test run before the first rally March 26th.
During the month of February not much advancement has taken place with the A48 car. The goal was to fix the axle and brakes on the car, but much of the time has been spent focusing on rebuilding the A45.
The reason for the repair of the the spindles and brakes comes from the broken axle during last years state race. Since then, the kingpin inclination and castor have been incorrect. This has caused steering problems and excessive tire rub going through the corners. The plan is to take a evening and fix everything at once. The biggest challenge has been getting enough help to be able to work on two cars.
No other repairs are planned to the A48 before the rally season begins.
Rally time is upon us! All the work to the A45 has been completed and just in time for a test run and preparations for the first rally. The car was painted, wheel covers finished, meters installed and one final check to make sure everything is in order.
One team member got first hand experience on how to paint a car. Garrett McSorley and his dad spent a Sunday afternoon painting the car at Lift Solutions shop. Garrett said that he had painted with his dad before, but this time was different, it was on the Power Drive car that he had spent so much time building; he wanted to make sure it was done right. With the paint job completed and the beautiful decals from Unlimited Visions on the car, the team was able to show off the car to students and faculty at Louisville High School, everyone was impressed.
The majority of the teams final preparations have gone into testing batteries. Colin Larsen and Tyler Payne had a few surprises when then started testing; two of the good batteries from last year that we hoped to use again this year, no longer tested well. Those two batteries would not last more than 45 minutes. This caused a bit of a scramble and worries about what the team would do to overcome the lack of battery power. Fortunately our Mill Creek NAPA sponsor had two fresh batteries on hand that we could test. Initial testing was not satisfactory, so we had to do some research and investigation on how we could get the most from our batteries. After several test and charging sessions, we think we have two batteries that will last the entire 60 minutes of the rally.
Work has also started on finalizing the documentation portion. With all the pictures, paperwork and notes over the course of the year, much of it has to be organized and put into a portfolio that will be presented for judging in April. The documentation is part of the overall scoring that the team needs to finish well at the state rally in May. Judges will be looking for how the car design was implemented and how obstacles were overcome. They will also be looking for how new ideas and technology were used in the design of the car.
With the first rally snowed out in Lincoln, we will travel to Columbus and West Point for the first two rallies of the season. We hope that all our time and hard work will pay off.