Craig Vetter and John Keogh Design P 2
The Search for Fuel Economy

Pages from a Designers' Notebook

Freedom Machine
The goal: 100 mpg at 70 mph, into a 30 mph headwind, with four bags of groceries.
Chap. 39: Working with John to get a good illustration
"Streamlining is easy to say but streamlining is hard to do"

(My favorite quote) John and I discuss the problems of streamlining.

Before I had the chance to explain the changes I wanted to make, John was making drawings.
From John's first sketches, I could see where our major differences were going to be.

John Keogh wants to make the Last Vetter Fairing "Really Pretty"

I like "Really Pretty, too. But first, I need a kit that could actually be shipped and made by the customer. The customer has to be able to afford it, too.

Years of designing and making Windjammer Fairings taught me a lot.

For example: If we think we are going to sell 100,000 parts, we can pay $100,000 for tooling and get parts for $1.00 each plus the cost of the material. In Windjammer days, I could get exactly what I wanted because we had "numbers". There is simply not enough market to justify special tooling for a streamlining kit . We will have to be resourceful.

Streamlining is easy to say but hard to do.

How many customers (worldwide) will there be for a streamlined fairing kit? 20? 50? Certainly not thousands. Therefore the Last Vetter Fairing Kit will have to be made with minimum tooling at minimum expense, with as many "found parts" as possible. We are not likely to get our dream design... but at least we can end up with something.

I have to get this concept across to John who is probably used to pretty much getting the shape he wants.

Designed to be a kit:





Look at the pretty curves John has used in his first sketches above. Kit builders would never be able to afford such parts. The cost of molds would be too expensive. The parts from those molds would be too expensive. Streamlined parts are really big! They would probably weigh too much on the bike, too. They would cost too much to ship!

Streamlining is easy to say but hard to do.

A simple streamlined body design is needed. From the beginning, I intended body to be made of bulkheads wrapped in sheet stock. The bulkheads needed to be "nestable" (meaning that they needed to stack together in a tight small package) to be UPS-able. The sheet skin can be sourced locally or sent rolled up.

To keep the cost of a kit as low as possible, the parts must be readily available and inexpensive. For example, the headlights lights are from a Prius car. They are the only headlights I could find that fit smoothly into my streamlined shape. Prius lights are not exactly right but - with them - we get flush turn signals and running lights - free. And, how can you beat $120 a set on EBAY? Therefore, Prius lights are a fixed part of the design.

Needless to say, there is a lot to consider in designing the ultimate streamlined body kit that does what we want, at a price we are willing to pay.

You are getting a peek here at what is involved.

An easy-to-ship, easy-to-make, fits anything kit.
My sketch and notes of Dec 7 to John explaining bulkhead and sheet construction

The bulkheads on my prototype are built up from aluminum. Kit bulkheads will be very thin fiberglass or vac-formed thermoplastic sheet. They will be wrapped with a stiff skin make a strong and light weight streamlined body. I like a new material called TPO because it can be ordered in bright silver. Silver is the only proper color for a streamliner.

Nose bulkhead:

The nose fits around the Prius headlights which fit into my streamlined shape better than anything I can find. Prius headlights are cheap, too.

The nose has the air intake for the radiator. It must also incorporate the "Smiley Face" cut-out for the front wheel. The Helix has a 12" front wheel. A 16" wheel would be best, I think, so the nose needs to accomodate that, too.

Seat bulkhead:

Provides a seat back for riding, a door for accessing the storage compartment (that will carry 4 bags of groceries) This bulkhead serves as structure for the rear streamlining.

Its generously rounded sides help the oncoming air "slip around" the vehicle.

The seat height needs to be as low as possible. We can always add foam if the rider needs to be raised.

Rear bulkhead:

Provides rear structure for the wrap-around plastic skin.

If a tail is never used, the lights and license plate can be placed on the back side.

Tail bulkhead:

Fits into the rear bulkhead providing a secure socket for the tail. A hinge allows the tail to fold up against the right side if parking is a problem.

The very end is simply a blade of plastic.

Think of the body as being made like a paper cup
A thin skin wrapped around the end bulkheads makes a very strong and lightweight structure. Just play with a coffee cup sometime and you will see how strong and light it is. If the bike falls over - which it will - such a skin would be easy to replace if damaged. Bulkheads can be spaced at different intervals making it easy to make the streamlined body longer or shorter.

Very convenient.

But not as pretty as we would like.

We simply cannot make it with these pretty tail curves

We cannot afford to be using non-DOT labled headlights, either. I know you are not particularly happy with the Prius lights but this is what we have to work with.

Dec 9, 2010: Getting closer...

All I gotta do now is get John to make the rear out of straight lines at the rear and we will be done.

Reader Gene writes: Hi Craig:
I thoroghly enjoywhat you are doing and completely agree

The John Keogh drawing looks like and updated version of your 1981 streamliner to me. Have you noticed? Keep up the good work. It's fascinating and right on.

Left: Me and my first Streamliner in 1981

There is only one shape that is streamlined: Round at the front and pointed at the rear. All streamlined street machines will look like this - if and when energy becomes precious.

Reader Josh wrote: "I just read up about the 1981 "high Mileage Luxury Touring Bike" and at 108 MPG, why design another? maybe that milage was at low speeds? Please explain the difference between this older model and the one you are working on now. Thanks."

Great idea Josh.

Dec 10, 2010: Almost finished

A few more suggestions and insistence on straight lines for the tail and we'll finish up:

Above: I sent my final sketch and notes to John Dec 10
And then, John Keogh produced his masterpiece for us:
John and I are both pleased with the result.

What is important is that the shape is independent of the power source:

If gas powered, it will consume less gas

If electric powered, it will consume less electicity and need fewer batteries

I thanked John by E mail:

"Well, I hope our industry is changed for the better by our work. I will redo my web page and set the stage for making the tooling for this final "Last Vetter Fairing"

I need a new platform to begin with.

I have asked the major maunfacturers for assistance. I need 2 of the same machines to start over with... 150-200 cc, step thru, liquid cooled...

Maybe your illustration will help them understand that this can be a quite attractive project.

Lets stay in contact.

Thanks again, John."

To which John replied: "Absolutely Craig, let me know how you get on with the companies and if there's anything I can help with. JK"

Revised April 20, 2011

Posted Dec 17, 2010 Anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight in 1903