Monday, November 30, 2009

Dark Crystals

So as of my last post, things seemed to be ramping up quickly towards producing some side-draught daelim / tomos / polini intakes, and then suddenly nothing. I remade some wax positives and invested them properly in plaster, which is what failed the first time. Everything was ready to pour and then ...nothing. This was caused by a cross section of me being broke, bad weather, and some otherwise good developments. I've managed to pick up a freelance design gig with a local company. They currently import, sell & distribute electric bicycle and scooter components and are currently developing a hybrid human-electric vehicle for use in local delivery routes for small parcels. Liz calls them space cars. I've been developing vehicle concept sketches in conjunction with the larger engineering efforts. Its a pretty awesome project, and I'm pleased to be a part of it. Here are a few of the rejected ideas from the first round of sketching:

(I'm not sure what my disclosure agreement will allow me to show, so this image may disappear.)

The success with the blue goo capturing useful geometry off the intake and Naz's MHR cylinder has made me 'git rill' about producing cylinders. The biggest obstacle is keeping costs down. Pistons are really difficult to produce because of the tight geometric, mechanical, and metallurgical tolerances they must adhere to. As such, making my own pistons -even though Burt Munro did it- is beyond my capability for now. So I'll have to buy any piston that goes into a kit I make, the kit will also need some light machining, and then be nikisil plated.

Just between the nikisil plating and piston cost, we're talking about $235 per unit before I even account for machining/honing fees or my own materials, nevermind my own time and trouble. If I were to order enough jugs plated and enough pistons, that number might drop to $110 per unit, but that requires me to have enough cash in fist to make such investments. These numbers bummed me out pretty hard for a minute & made me research the process of nikisil / nicom plating in general; which I've always viewed as an esoteric black magic, wrought with bloody ceremonies and bejeweled cloaks.

Turns out, you can leave the chickens at home, as it's basically the same as nickel plating (electroplating) with some secret sauce. The secret sauce is in part composed of silicon-carbide, which is not terribly expensive if you can find it in the right purity and grit. So if I set up my own electro-plating rig, presumably in the kitchen next to the crock-pot and toaster, I can get the costs down tremendously. This does create another problem, though, as the only way to be sure that the nikisil formula is correct is to produce an experimental series of cylinders, build some motors and test them 'til failure. Unless someone can think of a DIY way of analyzing the chemical composition of existing cylinder liners? hrrmm.... I do have a furnace...

If your weekend isn't set yet, Liz and I will be at Urban Craft Uprising this Saturday and Sunday. Liz will be selling her wares (Blue Diamond Stamps) and I will be eating cookies and drinking beer. My otherwise great cat, Jack, barfed on my clean laundry last night so I should probably go deal with that now. Bad Kitty!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mass Production / Massive Potential

So my recent dickering around with the blue goo has produced flexible master molds I can use to make copies of the shapes modeled. The Peugeot / Tomos / Polini reed side draft intake mold isn't quite perfect yet, but I decided to have a go anyway using candlewax -which is part of the problem. The potpourri fragrances, however, are an aromatherapy solution. Sooner or later, I'll man up to some microcyrstalline wax for some super serious molding. I'll also switch up to a Urethane-based master mold, which is tougher for repeat usage, and has better rigidity qualities for accuracy.

I also copied Naz's MHR scooter cylinder, though reproducing this will be slightly more involved. The master here, is of just the internal port structure and port layout. It would need to be adjusted for the specific stroke and crown heights to go into another motor, I would also have to construct a mold of the exterior... so yes, we're still aways off yet. But! We are getting closer to a nightmarish post-apocalyptic world where 20hp Jawa 207's and Batavus HS-50's rule the streets with an iron fist and the Gilardoni Peugeots, Hobbits, Derbis rock back and forth in the corner crying. Keep the dream alive, buddy! Don't stop believin'.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Science Updates

So the last time I worked with this stuff was about 3-4 years ago, and it's fun to use but the demold time is 6 hours. Every time I want to do or change something it takes awhile. I'm not quite finished here, but you can see whats going on:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

oohhh... Smell that Science

Fancy Chemicals?
20+HP Malossi MHR LC Scooter Cylinder?

Keepin' it Nerdy, that's how we like it. Makin' stuff with extra science!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Polini Cup Finale: The Agony & The Ecstasy

Mosquito Fleet has no shortage of awesome people. A lot of people pitched in to help me out at the last minute, literally! The last several weeks, prior to the Polini Cup, were a near constant buzz of activity to try and finish the bike and otherwise get ready to roll. Parts need customizing, refitting, assembled and disassembled and reassembled in order to chase down all the little details. Getting a bike together is really just a laundry list of all kinds of tiny projects which are hard to predict just what's going to happen. This increases with every customized part you have, as they all need tweaking here, etc.. I realize I'm preaching to the choir, but there are some folks, with say a brand new stock Tomos, or an otherwise easily tuned bike who don't understand why I couldn't just build this bike in a day or two.

In the final day or so, I realized that if the bike was going to be finished, it would get built on the bus, or at the track. So I focused on gathering parts and doing the things I couldn't on the road. The bike was mostly in one piece at this point, but the goofy lawnmower belt I had on the bike, seemed to be getting zero traction on the variator, and thus the engine wasn't cranking over. Additionally, other than the condensor (hot) lead cracking against the engine, when throwing the flywheel by hand, I had no verification of spark. So it was a very fresh bike that went on that bus.

Meanwhile, since I was the only fleeter going to race, Jihee crafted some BAD ASS Nerd Speed T-shirts to rep, which is still blowing my mind!! Thanks to Phil for grabbing a shirt for me during my ultra-busy moments. I was working on the bike up until a 1/2 hour before boarding the bus. We drove through the night on friday, collecting a few puddle cutters en route (Nice to meet BFA, Jesse & Joe of Uphill Battle) and at first light, I started to wrench on Plan B. To my knowledge it needed to be completely cabled, to have the not-turning-over issue resolved and set up for ignition. Since I had a healthier clutch with me, I started work on that. Joel 'Gunshow' Kvernmo jumped right in and helped me build up the bike, basically from that point through the rest of the day - and some of the night.

Together we disassembled the old clutch and rebuilt it around the slightly better one, using tools in the Bus's toolbox, some of mine and stuff we bought at a truck stop. After that was rebuilt and reinstalled, a new problem surfaced. Early in the build, I noticed that the rather meager stock Si subframe had been tweaked out of straight. I attempted to lever it back into true, but without the proper tools, my leveraging seem to only stress the subframe further. So instead of running the wheel on crooked, I shimmed the mount bolts to straighten it out. But this created a new problem, as the distance shimmed now meant the clutch couldn't be fully secured, because of the threaded distance, or the fully secured clutch was locking up the clutch pulley against the subframe. Joel and I tried a number of different shimming combinations and couldn't make it happen. It was very frustrating to have to choose between a crooked wheel or a loose clutch. At this point, considering all the other existing problems, I truly doubted that the bike would ever see the track. Phil finished his driving shift and jumped into fray, he convinced me that we should just keep finishing the bike and until we had exhausted our options. So together we all cabled the bike and got the clutch/wheel situation to a compromise. Some time thereafter we arrived at Atwater and Phil, Joel and I kept working on the bike. Using another bike to 'wheel start' Plan B, we tested for spark, which was dead until we borrowed the HT Coil off of Phil's Astro-Daimler. Once we had confirmation of spark, we begged some fuel off a creature and tried bump-starting the bike. At near sprinting speeds, the bike would crank over and bark. With the sun already set on Saturday, running down the access road next to the track, Plan B finally started for the first time. Phil, Joel and I then spent the next few hours trying to adjust the rather persnickety Tillotson carb. Joel did this for the most part, based on his experience with his own Tillotson. At some point we realized that tuning the carb in the cold night wouldn't help us the next with the sun up, so we quit for the night.

It had been quite the day. Joel & Phil really made the difference in getting the bike to run, I consider them to be life members of Team Nerdspeed, if they have any interest in that.

The next day, I used Lee's welder to zap the clutch nut, as to prevent it flying off during the race. Then I started tuning the carb again. The tillotson uses a fixed idle jet, and two screws, a low range and a high range, the two screws ranges overlap to form the mid-range. During our tuning efforts, Phil noticed that my variator wasn't operating until the very top of the rpm range, it seems that the bike was overall geared too tall. Instead of the standard 16" wheels most Vespas have, Plan B has 17" wheels, as well as the Malossi overdrive gear set. Combined with the cheesy lawnmower belt, and the not quite right carb settings, Plan B's low-end power was abysmal. The bike stalled when qualifying was sent out, and I scrambled to restart the bike. With a fresh plug, the bike restarted, and I got out right as the white flag dropped, just barely qualifying for the day.

I knew the bike wasn't competitive, but I was thrilled to be able to finally run the machine. If I had finished the bike about a week earlier, I could've sorted out some of the performance issues, but considering the marathon build session I was pretty happy about so much going right. In spite of a Lot of welding on the cases, the engine had no air leaks, the exhaust -also a lot of welding- and no air leaks. The carb has this awkward vacuum aperture that I was able to plumb correctly around the reed valve. The cylinder, despite being old and seized and me porting the shit out of it, had good compression and didn't hurt the rings. To not have to be disappointed all winter for not getting out on the track, was definitely worth being a road block to the other guys on the track. Sorry dudes! -but not really(?) The racing this year was fantastic, bikes have come a long way from the racing back in Ohio and Pennsylvania, when the Gilardoni was hawt shit, and a 21mm was 'probably too big'. The racers out there are really talented and super fun to watch. I look forward to next season, and hope more people come out to challenge the guys leading the way. Oh! It was great to see Travis on the track, who looked good and looked like he was having a good time, too.

Despite the running issues, I'm pretty impressed with the overall feel of the Si chassis, the frame feels rigid, the rear monoshock is great, and the front forks, while spongy by motorcycle standards, are pretty solid for a moped. I will probably end up fabbing a custom subframe for the bike, maybe a water-jet cut aluminum one, per Matt Smith's suggestion? I also need to rework the foot pegs, and the overall ergonomics.

The bus ride home started as an annoying chore, and eventually became a surrealist nightmare. Despite a very successful record to date, the rally season's wear and tear decided to emerge on the Bus at about 5:30AM monday morning, when the coolant filter bracket broke off and the filter was pierced falling against the motor. Scoob's, Phil and I were able to bypass the filter out of the loop and begin our merry way again. Next to fail was a section of hydraulic fluid line. The line burst, and the bus lost both the cooling fan and the power steering. After some limping down the road, Phil was able to locate a nearby NAPA store, who then directed us to a hydraulic systems specialist, where a new line was made up and installed, along with 5 gallons of hydraulic fluid. Back on the road, about 15 minutes along, the radiator overheated and we realized that the cooling fan was not operating, in spite of the new hydraulic line and fluid. We stopped in the next town and searched for options, wheeling into three different garages. The problem was believed to be located around the cooling fan solenoid. A lot of friendly advice was given, and some passing the buck, eventually some attempts were made at bypassing the solenoid, or locating a replacement, but alas it was not to be. So after securing the engine cover into an 'open' position, and opening the side covers, we were able to drive the bus at about 35-40mph indefinitely, usually stopping every 20-30 minutes when the engine would overheat.

My genuine thanks go out to Matt Smith, Phil and Scooby, who were definitely dozers in a bus full of fraggles. We made Portland by midnight, and pulled into the bowling alley around 7am. Total return time, around 35 hrs. I also want to thank everybody in general for being so supportive of my efforts to finish the dang bike, and busting my Awful Hen cherry. More thanks go out to Liz, who helped me out a lot on the last day before leaving, who fixed up the seat I used, and did some fantastic hand-lettering on Plan B.

One last thing: Liz & I will be in Columbus, OH. next weekend for Craftin Outlaws, the biggest alternative craft fair in Ohio, and the second oldest in the midwest, which Liz started and ran until we moved to Seattle. If you're in the area, you should check it out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Down to the wire

Hearts on Fire. Because things are moving quickly here, my first idea was to post a montage, specifically the training montage from Rocky 4. Then I watched Observe and Report the other night, which used a handful of f**king epic songs by Queen from the Flash Gordon Soundtrack, so instead I give you the last stand of War Rocket Ajax:

Ultra points to Seth, who's hooked me up with some last minute parts to help get this machine moving. I built the motor Monday, hung it yesterday and have been chasing down small problems all over the place. Last look before it goes in, the intake is large enough to flow a 28mm carb. (should that ever become necessary...) Enough bloggeritering, back to putting this thing together!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Let us "B-gin!"

So the last major hoop to jump through was repairing/replacing the exhaust flange on the Polini cylinder, and fabricating a new header to fit the enlarged exhaust flange. The old & standard exhaust flange dimensions are 22mm outer and 17.3mm inner diameter. The new flange is 23mm ID & 25mm OD. I used pieces of a random exhaust for the new flange and a stock Sachs exhaust to fab up the new header. To accurately recreate the standard Vespa geometry and location, I built a cardboard jig, and used that to accurately sculpt the new flange to fit the old cut marks. Immediately after this was complete, I thought of a faster and more efficient way of doing this. I required a no-bake cookie to console myself.

I then chopped up the Sachs pipe to fit the new flange, which was kinda complicated. When I suspected I was finished, I took my cobbled bits over to Phil's place, where he proceeded to 'turn hellfire into horsepower'©. The flange welding was a piece of cake, but the header geometry I developed was flawed. I took it apart for another go, then back to Phil's where I welded it myself and am ashamed to say, did some Gawd-awful welding. -And to think of the many hours I welded away in CCAD's nearly vacant metal shop. whatevs. So then I rented an enormous angle grinder and fixed all my sloppy blacksmithing on the roof of my building where I undoubtedly made all the babies in the neighborhood wake-up and cry. In your face, infants!

That night I bothered to actually read the section in Graham Bell's book on exhaust headers and through no planning on my own part, the header looks pretty good on paper. It seems like there is tons of power hiding in the nuances of header design. In warfare, military commanders use the expression: "Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics" I think the application here would be: "Amateurs study porting, professionals study headers".

Thrice returning to RJ's weld-o-rama, Phil expertly welded the improved header to the Simonini pipe. Thanks Phil! I'm still waiting on various parts to arrive, and it looks like my flywheel will be fat and heavy for the race. But the bike should be together lickitty split and none too soon. I take back any fence-sitting or half-heartedness towards the paint job, it is f**king magnificent and indeed, Louder than God.

In totally unrelated news, Liz & I have been going to Quiz Night at a bar and kicking so much ASS! we've won the MF'er two weeks in a row now, usurping the reigning champs after several weeks of less than glorious performance. BOOM!

Stealth Pics: (cardboard seat is a mock-up, I assure you)
Bonus Round: I'm looking at this blog, while taking pictures to be used on the blog.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Updates 9/9/09

So, both bikes are still unfit for racing, despite some last minute scrambling. I missed the last round of racing at Atwater, but I am determined to make the season finale in October. Here are some nuggets of the progress. Tite bladez = wheel stripes add around 2-3 mph on the top end. Also a image of the Plan B engine's fuel system. There's a few hoops to jump through, but the last major obstacle I'm facing is the lack of an exhaust flange on the cylinder. Once that's complete and the exhaust has been similarly adapted. I can start building the bike. The paint job overall is somewheres in the sundered veil between amazing and asinine.

Last night I learned about Short Gamma Ray bursts and Magnetar Stars. I realize this is way off topic.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Highway to the Dangerzone

Here at Team Nerdspeed, we spare no expense with R&D. Thankfully the US Air Force lent us an F-15C Eagle to help figure out which exhaust to use on Plan B. The kids over at Vespa-Ciao.NL chimed in too. The Calibrata & Fabrizi are the hawt shit pipes to have, but after some 9G-force inverted maneuvers the Simonini Especiale emerged as the best of the best, Goose. A real Maverick...anyways, so after it landed and cooled off, Jack and I gave it a thorough inspection.

Also on board is the Tillotson HL360. I got this on the way, then ordered the velocity stack. It's pretty much beyond awesome. Plan B is getting steadily more ferocious and I'm nearly ready to assemble. Giggity!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Takes a big trough t'feed them ponies, man.

So Plan B's case inducted manifold just got finished by the quality aluminum wizards over at Kvichak Marine, where skeeter Matt Smith works. It's totally awesome and off the chain or something. I'm really excited. I also have a Tillotson HL360 on the way. So hopefully after I repair the exhaust flange on the cylinder, I can actually put this motor together. Woot!

Glamour Shots:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sexiness & Unsexiness

So, stuff has actually been happening during the broadcast black-out of late. I managed to get the lights to sort of work on the super cub, I modified a 28t sprocket to fit on the super cub's rear wheel, replacing the original 40t. It gained like 10mph and is alot more nice to ride. I also removed the decked tomos cylinder, dellorto 16mm and modified biturbo off of the Newport, returning to the slower set-up of a stock hi-torque cylinder, stock exhaust and 14mm bing. I blued up my clutch earlier, well, and clutch pad came off of the the rest of it. Luckily Phil happened to have a Clutch and bing jet around to help me wake the machine up. It rides 'OK' now, I did some silly porting to it and it's not quite jetted right, but it runs! The combination of both the super cub's lights and the newport's running meant that Liz and i got to go on one of those ride things they do on monday. It was Liz's first ride in a group, and her first ride at night (ever x2).

On other frontiers, there's more steam building behind the Plan B bike than ever. Updates to follow on that. werd.

Friday, July 31, 2009

At last it can be told...

So, if you look at the custom cylinder, you'll notice it has a third case transfer. It also lacks a piston-port intake. This is because I made the cylinder only compatible with a case-inducted motor. The ZA50 motor pictured here has the reed-block welded to it already. It uses a malossi VL6 reed, usually found on smallframe vespa scooters and certain moped cylinders. (Gilardoni Puch) I actually cut the two huge chunks that became the reed block out of a single piece of aluminum by hand with a hack-saw.

That took F O R E V E R...

The block is pitched to the flywheel side, to create proper clearance for the rear-facing carburetor. My buddy Ratboy did most of the welding, alot of which was pretty difficult, in exchange for a six-pack of cold ones. Rat works at one of the coolest places in the world, and gets to horse around on stuff like the #2 & #3 LeMans winning Ford GT40's from 1969, Amphicars, Nazi Staff Mercedes', Isettas, $300,000 Porsches, Loti, Ferraris etc..etc..

I've actually had this laying around for over a year, but without the custom cylinder it was made for, it didn't make much sense to share. Some of the gross welding on the case transfers I did myself, and I'll probably end up fixing before the cylinder goes on. I'm getting a sense that this motor, while absurdly customized and DIY, isn't going to win any beauty pageants.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taste the Rainbow

I've always thought that the malossi team race bikes always looked great, albeit ridiculous and fruity. Like starburst, skittles kinda fruity. (the Derbi GP1 pictured below, an example) Most race bikes go for a more tough-guy approach, with lots of black, red etc... Anyways, I've always wanted a Malossi scheme racer. As you can see, Plan B's paint is nearly there and very very ridiculous.* =Awesome! Now all I needs is more shop time and a few small parts.

*-funniest book ever written, IMO.