The Search for Fuel Economy

Pages from a Designers' Notebook

Oct 14, 2008

Chap. 19: Finishing the Streamlining

Dealing with problems never before solved

Look at this mess. I never finished it last summer when I left for the midwest. The tail-light sticks up way too high. The mirrors and turn signals stick out. Air blows in around my arms. The stock Helix headlight is a flat plate in the wind. Now that I have dealt with side winds, it is time to finish the streamlining.
Trusty Cardboard Aided Design (CAD) provides a template for yellow plastic. I rivited the plastic on and cut away anything that my body hit in actual riding on the road. I am bringing the rear skin forward to meet the front.
A Little History:

When I designed my first frame mounted fairings in 1966, I designed the fairing so the handlebars would not hit the fairing at full lock. This arrangement provided good rider protection. All frame mounted fairings have followed this design.

Today, we want good rider protection but we also want to burn less fuel which means streamlining. The gap between the rider and the windshield hurt streamlining. Thus, the problem is:

"How do I smooth in the transition between the moving handlebars and the fixed fairing?"


My first job is to make an aluminum bulkhead to locate the windshield where it has proven to work. This bulkhead will be frame mounted.

The sides of the bulkhead are bowed out to clear my arms at full lock. What I want to do is make a fixed bulkhead that I can continue to the rear in a smooth, streamlined shape.

Now it is time to saw off the old handlebar hardware that I so carefully designed and fabricated last July. Chapter 12. It served me well, lasting over 2,000 miles.
This is how you make a symetrical bulkhead. The metal is shaped with a hammer pounding the aluminum between the open jaws of a big vice.
Dodge Caravan Lights
I began measuring headlights on cars in parking lots. The headlights from 2001-5 Dodge Caravans looked promising. I found some on EBAY for $78 and decided to take a chance.
Having chosen plastic "Christmas Tree" fasteners to hold the yellow plastic made it easy to peel the skin away. Altho the fasteners get a little torn up, they can be re used.

The lights fit in amazingly well, but not perfectly. The main bulkhead is about 2" too far forward to allow them to be aimed exactly straight forward. This will be easy to correct when I make a mold for the front.

In the meantime... these lights look good to me. I will just use one headlight. The Helix probably does not have enough electrical output for both lights.

Hard mounting the headlights

These lights are going to be great! I trimmed the yellow plastic with scissors and stuck the skin back on with the plastic barbed fasteners.

Astronaut "Digger" Carey contemplates 100 mpg @ 70 mph, into a 20 mile headwind, with four bags of groceries

"Digger" told me about travelling at Mach 18, entering the atmosphere with 1700 degrees outside the window. I met Digger Carey a couple of years ago when he was the Master of Ceremonies for the AMA Hall of Fame Inductions. Digger and his wife, Cheryl travel around the USA on their Gold Wing, giving inspiring talks to America's school children.What a guy!

Sorry but I must leave again for a few days...

I attend the AMA Hall of Fame Inductions every year in Ohio. The AMA has always been my favorite motorcycle organization.

Master Index to the Last Vetter Fairing Story

This page posted Oct 14, 2008