Chap 52: Building the Nose in Designers' Clay
Forty one years ago, I bought my first "Designers' Clay" from Chavant. It is waxy and stiff at room temp and has to be warmed up to use. I took me some time to figure it out. I learned making the Windjammer in January of 1971. A hack saw blade makes a good scraper (above). I used the same clay to shape the tank for the Bonneville TT for Triumph of 1972 and the Liberator Fairing for Harley-Davisdon in 1973. When I am not using the clay, it rests, turned off, in a restaurant Bunn bread warmer.

Last week, I rolled my trusty Bunn clay warmer out and turned it on. By morning, my 40 pounds of designers' clay was warm, soft and ready to use.

Making the streamlined nose for the "Last Vetter Fairing"
Temporary templates show that we have full lock-to-lock. This is important. The temporary templates are now matched up with the nose main frame
A plywood nose silhouette is cut. I want to make it symetrical so the top and bottom can come out of the same mold. All the parts are tacked together to guarantee they will fit correctly

The nose silhouette is separated from the main frame. The nose silhouette is way too big when split in half this way.

It would be a much smaller piece if the halves were split apart and rotated 90˚ (right)

Assembled like this, the nose will cost less to ship. An old fairing-maker like me thinks about shipping.

Sanding the pieces so they fit together perfectly.

Re-assembling the nose components and tweaking all the surfaces to match up. There is a lot of hand sanding work here.

Alan holds the wood pattern up alongside his Ninja 250 frame to confirm fit.

The rear portion will be wrapped in aluminum.

The forward section will be fiberglass.

All this work is being done so you do not have to do it. We will end up with a kit that you can assemble at home.

Streamlining is easy to say, but hard to do. I am trying to make streamlining easy for you.

Alan fits a trial paper skin on his Ninja 250

Notice the belly pan in place to help smooth out the air underneath. The Ninja uses footpegs, not floorboards like my Helix which means the seating position is very different. For one thing, the sides can be extended farther back which should enhance the streamlining. We will be installing a crossbar up front to mount the fairing which will also serve as "highway pegs".

Preparing for the clay
I use building insulation that contractors cannot use because of damaged corners. It comes in 4 x 8 sheets. Building supply places will usually give damaged sheets to you for little or nothing. You need to peel the foil off the sides before using it because the foil messes up the final sanding.

Standard insulation is 3 or 4" thick urethane. It sands smoothly and does not dissolve under body putty. Since this mold will not be painted, I will use my designer's clay to generate the final shape. Here I am filing the foam to about 1/2" smaller than the final shape to leave room for 1/2" of clay.

When I am close to the right shape, I make templates of the "Right" side. With a simple shape like this one, only a few templates are necessary.

The templates are little shapes of scrap cardboard (milk carton paper) hot melted tobether. I need a reliable, flat surface for this job. I work on a block of granite.

I have blown off all the foam dust off and begun to apply the clay. When it is all over, I want to be able to use clay again and don't want it contaminated with foam parts. My old Bunn bread warmer still works fine bringing the clay up to about 105˚F: Perfect temp for mooshing the clay onto the foam. When it reaches room temp, I can scrape it into the final shape.

Time to take pics of the clay alongside the Ninja 250. Using PhotoShop, I assemble pics and put the nose in place digitally. This is as good as I know how to do. Time to take the clay nose to my figlass guy.

Dave will need about a week to make the mold and a set of parts. Then we will be able to fit them on Alan's Ninja 250. If all goes well, I will begin making a new nose for my Helix.

Those of you that will be wanting these parts need to be letting me know ASAP.

The Quail Motorcycle Gathering is May 4th. There is a lot to do.

Master Index to the Last Vetter Fairing Story

Posted Jan 14, 2012