Rebuilding Terry's Streamliner Pt. 1
Updated Sep 20 2014
2013: Fresh from the Vetter Design Works 2014: Looking a little tired

34,000 miles is a lot of miles to ride in a year on any motorcycle. But Terry Hershner did it between May 2013 and May 2014 on his electric Zero.

We never had the chance to build a proper tail for him. When our friends at Virginia Tech sent two students to my shop in California, we finally found the time. Terry is on the left. Malith is behind to the right. Stephen kneeling in the foreground. The first thing we did was to remove the old tail. Actually it was falling off by itself.

A great number of people had signed their names on the tail of Terry's Streamliner. Zero's dealer in LA, Harlan Flagg of Hollywood Electric, has Terry's original streamlined skin on display in his store.

Terry has discovered that he likes carrying people

Well, streamliners are "Babe Magnets".

He asked if we could somehow change things to make carrying another person a little more comfortable. Terry was willing to give up some streamlining if we could do this.

We hatched a plan.

The first thing was to lower his seating position

Yes... Terry is sawing off the Zero frame "horns"

The Zero's frame "Horns" held the seat very high. Too high for us. We could not see any reason for them so we cut them off. The rear tire has been propped to its maximum "up" position.* We were hoping to get the new seating position that low. You can never make a seat pan too low. You can always add cushioning to raise it.

*We would soon discover the hard way that we did not raise the wheel high enough.

With the horns off, the seat could be 9" lower!
I like to design with triangles because they are simple, strong and light. I figure things out first in wood and cardboad because I can change things fast when I see mistakes or have a better idea. Our Virginia Tech students had a hard time with this. They were used to generating designs in Solid Works, sending files to the laser cutter in Roanoke and assembling perfect pieces.

They had never done anything this big. They had never had to file real pieces to fit.

"Centerlines" and "Reference Lines" became real issues between us.

We had to learn how to deal with each other.

Terry wanted to lower the CG (center of gravity) and bring it forward
His two extra heavy battery packs had been mounted high at the rear, with the weight behind the rear axle. This made his bike impossible to pick up if it fell over. The new location was represented by the plywood box, above. Compare the plywood box location to where the battery packs were, within the steel frame being held by Stephen and Malith.

Little by little, we built and rebuilt the tail structure, making the components compact and strong.

When it seemed strong... even tho it was made in thin wood... it was time to begin making it from aluminum. But not before a good pizza dinner.

Designers works best with pizza. Two pizzas.
Stephen Shickel makes it from real aluminum
What it is like to work in my shop: Recollections from Malith

"This trip is definitely one of those experiences I will never forget. It truly has been a pleasure working alongside you and Terry. The things I have learned within those two weeks from everyone I have met is truly something that can never be found or taught anywhere else and I will always cherish and carry them with me and implement them in my future works and throughout life. Being able to work in your shop creating and making things from simple sketches to the real functional thing is what I always yearn for. Although we never had the chance to see the completed product of the bike, I was glad that we were able to keep iterating and were always improving what we currently had. Yes, there were instances where it was frustrating to spend much time and work on certain parts and then have to completely change the design. But that was also the fun of it, it was one big learning process."

Malith Waharaka, on loan from Vrginia Tech

"If something could be improved further than what is currently in front of you, then why not do it. That's what a good design process is about. It's about failing and finding your mistakes early on so that the finished product is thus flawless. I really enjoyed every bit of this trip. Waking up early for coffee and meeting new people and hearing their stories, going out and buying materials, working long hours at times and at night in the shop with Terry, and spending quality time with your family and friends is unforgettable."

"By the end of the two weeks I felt as if Stephen and I were kind of like family in a way. If I were to do it again, which I would be more than happy to do, I would like to extend my stay for another week. For future students to come by and apprentice with you, I think they should stay a little longer than what Stephen and I did. Three weeks seems a reasonable amount of time to get a project rolling and hopefully completed. It would also be more time to take in and familiarize oneself with the surrounding area of Carmel/Monterrey. Although I loved working in the shop, I did want to check out and explore the towns a little more than we did. In all, Stephen and I had a great time out in California visiting your place and we both wished we could have stayed longer. I'm sure we will meet again but thank you again Caig for the memorable time."

  Malith Waharaka

I like working with students and look forward to being able to do this more.

Master Index to the Last Vetter Fairing Story

Updated Sep 20, 2014

Posted June 14, 2014