Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Body Panel Inserts

Now that the molds have been made and we'll begin making the actual body parts, there are a few things that need to be addressed, one of them being the need for Aluminum inserts.

In the areas where we'll bolt things to the body panels such as hinges, latches etc. we will need some reinforcement to prevent the bolts from pulling out of the fiberglass, and to give us the ability to tighten down the bolts properly by spreading out the load not just through the fiberglass but through the Aluminum plate, thus preventing deformation of the body panel.

Above is a picture of the plasma cutter at work cutting out some of the 1/8" thick Aluminum spacers. You might ask why we're only plasma cutting the inserts and not using the more accurate, cleaner method of laser cutting. The answer to that question is that in production we will definitely laser cut all of the flat stock for accuracy, cleanliness, and to save time, but for now when we need the parts quickly, may have to make some small changes to them, and since they will never be visible (they will be sandwiched between the outer skin and the inner liner before we bond the two together) we can plasma cut them using the plasma table. This method by the way, is far superior in accuracy and in the time required to cut the parts by hand, particularly for some of the oddly shaped parts.

Check out the Build Page for more pics.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Engineering Spirit Alive in the Community

Recently, we received an email from Community Member Kevin Willey (TwoShoes) regarding a project he took on to make a shifter knob.

Needless to say, this is recycling at its finest. We applaud Kevin for his ingenuity, and figured there's no better way to let it be known than to share how he did it with the rest of the community. Consider it a source of inspiration...

"Recycling to the max? All the aluminum used in the casting was scrap from my shop. The smelter itself was made from an electric element from a discarded dishwasher, modified to fit tightly to the bottom half of a camp stove propane bottle. Heat retention blanket for the smelter was some old header wrap I had in the shop left over from another job. The casting method I used is called 'loss wax casting' except in this case I used pink insulation foam, retrieved from a local construction site, saved it from the land fill. I simply carve the master, coat it in drywall plaster and pour in the molten aluminum. The drywall plaster was about to be thrown out since it was too old and chunky to be used for drywall any longer. Even the power cord for the electric element was recycled. For a first casting it turned out fairly well, my method need some modification, however I am very happy with the result. Next up is a skull, going to be fun."

Go Local!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Milled Center Section - Ready for Molds

A big step in the process to making the Rally Fighter Body a reality has been completed.

The hand finish work has been completed, and the pattern has been sprayed with Duratec surfacing primer, and polished as evident by the reflections from the shop lights. The surface is now ready to produce molds.

See the Rally Fighter Build Page for more pictures!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Milled Center Section - Smoothing the Milled Surface

Our body tooling supplier has been working at a fast pace (by no means are the frequency of my posts indicative of their apologies for keeping you waiting) to have the molds for the hand-laid fiberglass parts complete and ready for shipment here to Wareham. As I mentioned previously, the patterns don't come off the mill ready for mold making.

The images in this post show the next step of sanding the ridges left from milling to end up with a smooth surface consistent with the CAD data. The blue areas you see on the center section are areas reflecting low spots in the mold. The blue color comes from applying a dye (Dykem) to the surface of the pattern.

As the pattern is sanded, the dye on the high spots of the pattern is sanded away, leaving the low spots clearly visible. This is a process used in mold shaping, auto body etc and although old school, it's highly effective. Once all of the high and low spots have been smoothed out, the next step of mold generation will begin...stay tuned!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Milled Body Patterns

After the buck was built, the fiberglass was applied, and the milling compound packed on, the buck was positioned on the milling table for the inception of the rally fighter to commence. However, as the photos show, the pattern doesn't have the proper finish to generate a mold right from the mill. The surface will have to be refined by hand to remove the ridges left by the mill. Once that is done, the pattern can then be used as a plug, over which fiberglass can be laid to create the molds. From that stage on, the plug will serve as the master pattern to create new molds as they deteriorate from pulling production parts.

Stay tuned for updated photos on the center section once the pattern has been smoothed out and is then ready for the mold making process to begin.