14. Final Assembly

August 18, 2008

I thought this was an amusing picture of my improvised solution of how to epoxy the windshield coaming into place. 

September 1, 2008

All the body panels increased their concavity during the process of being fiberglassed on their interior surfaces, so the front and rear bonnets had to be re-spread with glued-in "ribs," here with added blocks for the screws that are attaching the hinge-blocks.

I used the disc grinder to dig out a groove, and filled the bottom of it with an epoxy-coated string, to make a rain-gutter under the front edge of the front bonnet.

I used masking tape to form the front edge of this gutter, which runs along the top of the steel tubing that was handily in place underneath the block that catches the edge of the bonnet and is held out from the rest of the windshield coaming by washers. Epoxy coated some lightweight glass mat to make the actual gutter.

The front bonnet, attached to its hinges.

Every solution brings more problems. I had to improvise a means of spreading the "tumblehome" of the bonnet so that it would close without catching on the main power cables. 

September 4, 2008

There is much empty space above the motor, so it naturally evolved into a cargo area. The platform slips out of position when necessary, and holds a grocery-bag-sized plastic kitchen trash bucket. 

Starting to look like a real car.... 

The body panels are attached to their original forms with a few drive screws. 

October 2, 2008

Mike and his helper of Glass Magnum mobile service came and popped in the windshield without problem. Right after this, I applied spar varnish to the entire body.

I built the original rim of the chain guard (later discarded as unnecessary) with sheet polyethylene, and the black plastic tubing used as the corner join was taking up too much space, so as usual I had to back up and re-engineer it. Fortunately, the polyethylene was the perfect shape and material for a mold to fashion the rim out of fiberglass, so I tacked it into place with finish nails. Then I laid up some mat, epoxy-wood-dust as a coving putty in the corner, and bias-cut cloth on the inside surface. 

After removing the polyethylene mold, I laid up more layers of mat and cloth on the exterior, wrapping over the corner. Aluminum mounting cleats are in place on the face of the guard. 

October 22, 2008

Finally, the big day! I was so excited the night before, I couldn't sleep more than about 2 hours. I rented a U-Haul pickup and a flatbed trailer from Beehive Rentals, parked in front of the XP, set up the ramps, and naively drove it on without guidance. Fortunately, I didn't scrape the side rails, run off the ramps, or hit the front rail. I came close! I felt delirious, like I was in some altered state of consciousness. 

I got the custom lettering from eDecals.com, which has a cool online customizing dialog tool for making anything you want. "XP" is for experimental, so much trial and error went into the making of this vehicle. "Humm" is the sound of the electric motor, and a jab at the Hummer. "E" is for electric, of course. 

The State Trooper just wanted to be sure there were no existing VIN numbers on any of the parts, and that nothing was from a stolen vehicle. I had to wait two days with the XP on the trailer for this 10-minute appointment, because I found out after going to DMV that VIN number inspections are only done on Fridays. Small detail... who would ever think it was important to mention? 

The christening of the XP with its VIN number at the DMV office was the end of this long and expensive process. The counter person had to call their supervisor out to review the vehicle definitions to decide what category the XP fit into ("stabilized motorcycle"). The supervisor commented that "You creative people are always causing us problems," with an ironic smile. The next hoop for me to jump through is insurance, and Markel American turned me down because it "looked too much like a car." Progressive had a category into which I could fit: zero-emission vehicle.

What a relief, to finally have the XP declared legally born! 



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