The Search for Fuel Economy

Pages from a Designers' Notebook Readers comments P2

Chap. 6: The Final Shape

April 17, 2008: Final sanding

I have stared at it enough and it is time to remove the last 1/4". All those grooves and sections are the result of the liguid nails squishing out in areas that I did not expect. The oozed glue makes "hard spots" that must be cut out before I can do final sanding. It just looks bad. It won't affect the pattern.

Read the shadows

You can read the shape better in the shadow line. Irregularities show up best there. I keep moving the part around so the shadow is where I am doing the final sanding.

Something fishey here

This is the shape! Or, at least, the left side of the shape. It is time to grid it with 3 1/2" parallel lines to match the 3 1/2" blocks of foam that I will cut and assemble into the right side.

Look closely

Between my legs is an X-Y laser projector. It projects a perfectly vertical and perfectly horizontal red beam. Set-up is very important. Notice the foamboard grids on the ground and above. these insure that I am directly in front of the section I am tracing. The pieces of foamboard behind me are an attempt to shade the afternoon sun to more easily read the laser beam.

Tracing the laser beam

Now it is just a matter of drawing a line over the red laser beam. I move the laser beam projector 3 1/2" to the left and draw another line. Thirty-five setups later, I am done.

Left side all gridded

Next, at each of the 35 "Stations" I will make an exact cardboard template of that section. Then I will cut of the 35 shapes from 3 1/2" foam and stack them up in reverse order to generate the other side.

In the meantime, I must figure out how to move this thing around. It is big and heavy and there are no handles.

Today, I was interviewed about this project. click here to hear that broadcast:
30 Minute Radio Interview on Fuel Economy

Where I explain the things I have learned on AM 1240 KNRY, Cannery Row, Monterey California, April 19, 2008

Are you getting the idea?

Through the magic of PhotoShop, I have put the gridded out shape over my Helix to see how it looks compared to the existing foamboard body. See how the widest part... the red line is in the same place? I am resigned to the fact that my head will stick up, in an un-streamlined-like manner. I do this because I do not know any way to fit inside, and peer out thru a bubble that will mist up in the rain. There are no windshield wipers - that I know of - that work on soft plastic.

Besides, if I could get all the way inside, I would have to make the area around my helmet really big so it does not bang around. Until then, I have decided upon an "Open cockpit."

Open cockpit is romantic, actually. Here I am in my 65 hp "FlyBaby in 1975. Riding around on my Helix with the long tail feels very much like flying this plane.
This page updated April 19, 2008
Chap. 3: Road Testing the Long Tail Mar 28, 08
Chap. 1: Streamlining Saves Fuel Feb 20, 08
Chap.2: CAD Streamlined Body Mar 8, 08
Chap. 4: Planking with Foam Apl. 5, 09
Chap. 5: More Wind Testing Apl. 7, 08
Chap. 6: The Final Shape Apl. 17, 08
Chap. 7: Decisions about Details May 10, 08
Page 8: Making the Center Bulkhead June 1, 08
Chap. 9: Rear Bulkhead and Truck bed June 8, 08
Chap. 10: Finish Rear and go for ride June 17, 08

If you have not yet watched my DVD, How they Got 470 mpg it is time to get it for the basic foundation for what we are doing here

Chap. 11: Finish the Tail June 29, 08
Chap. 12: Heading for Ohio, July 13-23, 08
Introduction to Fuel Economy
Chap. 13: Riding in the Midwest July 24, 08
Chap. 14: Vintage Days Ohio, July 25-7, 08
Chap. 15: Summary to date Aug 12, 08
Chap. 16: Adding Weight to the Front Sep. 1, 08
Chap. 17: Truth and Motorcycle Design Sep 4, 08
Chap. 18: Where should the weight be? Sep 25, 08
Chapter 19: Finishing the Streamlining Oct 14, 08
Chapter 20: Streamlining the Handlebars Nov 4, 08
Chapter 21: Unexpected Problems Nov 11, 08
Chapter 23: Getting my feet in and out Dec 19, 08
Chapter 22: Streamlining is working Nov 25, 08
Chapter 24: Streamlining is beginning to work! Jan 1, 09
Chapter 25: Tuft Testing Mar 2, 2009
Chapter 26: Starting Over April 9, 09
Chapter 27: More Ideas for Starting over April 20, 09
Chapter 28: Show time! Aug 1, 2009
Chapter 29: Getting the big parts right Dec 10, 2009
Chapter 30: First evaluation from an outsider Dec 20, 2009
Chapter 31: Visit with Allert Jacobs Dec 24, 2009
Chapter 32: Prius Headlights Jan 18, 2010
Chapter 33: New Gears Feb 17, 2010
Chapter 34: New Mileage Records April 25, 2010
Chapter 35: The Quail Gathering of Motorcycles May 9, 2010
Chapter 36: End of the line with the Helix June 19, 2010
Chapter 37: Vetter Challenge Oct. 9, 2010
Chapter 38: John Keogh helps out Dec 8, 2010
Chapter 39: Working with Keogh Dec 17, 2010
Chapter 40 and up (Work continuing in 2011)
Designing the Last Vetter Fairing

Chapters 1 thru 39 (2007-2010)

Chapters: 40 thru 51 (2011)

Chapters: 52 thru 61 (2012)

Chapters 62 thru 68 (2013)

Chapters 69-up (2014)