Tuesday, March 2, 2010

GCC Velomobile Build

Updated 3/2/2010

Click on a picture to enlarge!

Greetings! This is a photo documentary of a velomobile build. A human powered vehicle using a recumbent tricycle, and a shell to cover it for protection from weather. The shell also serves to cut wind resistance making it easier to sustain speeds.

It started with a Trice 2009 QNT created in Great Britain. I wasn't looking at the trike specifically, but for the shell. I wanted a velomobile after reading an article in an airline magazine reviewing the phenomena of this kind of travel. After looking at several manufacturers on-line (plus the hand made ones), I selected the Borealis as they were willing to make me the shell and install it if I provided the trike: only catch was they only used the QNT.

I assumed it was a good trike if only that model was being used. I like speed and I needed a fun way to work out. My 10 speed was boring and fatigued my neck on longer rides, not to mention 20 yrs out of date.

After on-line ordering and receiving the QNT, I rode it and determined I needed to make some changes. I made some modifications to better suite my tastes: skinnier tires, wheels, lighten the load removing an optional back brake, replacing the center plastic pulley with a titanium one, and increasing the front Shlumpf chain ring size. Next time, I would try a demo version first, if possible.

In the shop being built: Rainforest Designs located in the outskirts of Vancouver, Canada. Upon completion, I drove the QNT in the back of my pickup ~2200 mi round trip to get it installed into the shell.

Shot on location in Canada: Steve Schleichler of Rainforest Designs checks out assembled unit.

I chose white for what I thought was a match for my job site sign and lettering in green later on. Visibility would be good, so I thought. I took delivery and 2 weeks later got tipped over on an intersection in my home town: deep cracks and scrapes.... I learned about blind spots, visibility, and large pickup trucks like I have (F250s, etc..). Just a few scrapes on me and an awful feeling sliding sideways on asphalt 20'. Below is an impact bend crack, the other side had the scrapes.

I found a local boat repair shop (Capt'n Glass) who did an excellent job matching the gel coat color and repairing the injuries to the shell. Saved me a trip back to Vancouver!

So, increased visibility became a hot topic. I met with a client of mine who happened to be an experienced custom car painter. He also liked the velo and offered to paint it and handle the graphics. We worked together on the design to increase visibility both in the day and night time. Summer nights here in Long Beach are wonderful riding time. I also wanted my company signage on it for advertising purposes: it made sense - I can only leave a job sign up for so long and then it's gone. After that it's word of mouth and that doesn't reach as large of an audience as I need at this time.

This is a shot of some temporary reflective tape I placed on the shell while I was waiting for the design and schedule to solidify. It helped: I had extreme white reflective tape pieces on the tires
for night time - you could see the tire rotation. I also had some green on the sides and back.

In the spray booth pictures.

Once the body was lightly sanded down, white paint, followed by green paint, followed by lettering and pin stripes, followed by clear coat in the spray booth (above). After that, it was fine sanding with water and paper, followed by buffing, and a final shine coat. Reassembly, turn on the lights and electrical system (no motors), and get the hub caps to fit (had to grind the axle nut and washers flush so they wouldn't hit -barely made it). Results below.

I hope to show a few more in-progress shots, and a possible video of this velo in action. Feel free to leave comments, and if you know of anyone who needs home remodeling in the greater Los Angeles area (or even farther for larger projects), see my web site: www.GreenwaldConstruction.com

The site will also have links to my project photos. Be well and safe riding! MG

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