11. Designing the Body

June 29, 2007

Sheet polyethelene and some plastic tubing to join the corners makes a light, waterproof wheel well. 

Temporarily mounting of the wheel well to test for fit. 

Oh no! Where's the front axle beam? After the test drives, I noticed the left front tire rubbing the top of the shock mount on an extreme right turn, and the camber, which was adjusted all the way out, was still tipped in at the top. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that the beam was bent back on the left side by a few degrees, and the upper left control arm was also bent. The best advice I got was to replace those parts, so here we go again, two steps back to make one step forward. 

I had to adjust the length of the steering column to accomodate the new front beam, and because the frame was built to ride level with the bent beam, it now rides a half-inch lower on the right. I don't care, I'm happy to have new gaskets, ball joints and boots included in the rebuild, the original beam didn't have those. 

In my excitement to get the XP-Humm-E ready for its first test run, I forgot to install this monster disconnect plug on the battery side of the controller. 

I jacked up the rear of the XP-Humm-E to install this pan of corrugated plastic under the motor. This will keep dirt and water out of the ventilation fan for the controller as well as the motor. 

Finally, I'm ready to make some test fittings of forms onto the body. Using a flexible curve as a pattern, I eyeballed the first form and cut notches to fit it into the frame so it can be bolted to a steel upright. 

These strips are temporary to test the sequence and shape of the forms so that I can obtain smooth curvatures without much twisting of the strips of wood. Now that I can begin to visualize the actual body in 3 dimensions, I am really getting excited. The curved pieces of plywood on the ground are experiments that failed. I went through alot of half-inch plywood, but it was free from a construction site. 

The rear, the aft, of this 3-wheel "boat," was a bit tricky to design, but the sloping lid was dictated by the need to shed rain from any luggage that would be stowed under it. All the forms are being held in place by C-clamps until the design is final, and then they will be bolted to the frame. 

Looking again at the aft forms, you can see a slightly sexy reverse curve in the center strip of the lid. The "transom" is immediately in front of the rear wheel, angling down and forward. Painted black, it will be virtually invisible. Or I could use a nice piece of mahogany veneer... 

Raw Port Orford Cedar is sitting inside the hull of my 20-foot sailing canoe. The finished body of the XP-Humm-E will have the warm amber glow of this lovely wood. 

August 18, 2007

I have to admit I get "imagineering blocks" and cannot proceed further without a rest from the project followed by some intense concentration on, and visualization of, the next step. I felt like I wasted some good weather days to make progress, and such is life. It feels good to be moving forward again with the front end body design. 

This lovely piece of mahogany is the front "stem piece" of the hull, tying everything together to a point. The strips along its backside create a rabbet for the hull strips so there is a smooth line from this "bumper" into the body. 

The bumper, mounted on the frame, with the headlight nacelles in place. 

I decided to get the headlights installed into the nacelles before stripping because the mounting screws were so difficult to line up, and hopefully will never need to be removed. The wood strip bent around the outside is for the attachment of body strips, and the turn/marker light frame is hung below the headlight. 

The beginning of the cargo shelf above the motor and controller. It will lift up and out when the cargo hatch is raised, and have low rails along its edges to prevent goods from slipping off into the side panels. 

I had to add some wood furring to the steel frame of the windshield so I would have something to staple the wood body strips into. "Liquid nails" adhesive worked great for this job. 

September 5, 2007

Thinking about driving in the rain, I saw a hole already in place at the end of the gutter in front of the windshield, so I glued a clear vinyl tubing into it to run the rain out below the body. 

I added a second layer of 1/8-inch mahogany plywood to the frame of the rear window (foreground) so I would have something to staple the wood body strips into. I also added a couple of stiffener strips of wood along the lower edge of the acrylic plastic (still paper-sheathed, in background) to dampen vibration. 

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