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!!


Joel said...

that sounds great. if only you had more time to cast metal rather than load people onto the "funk blast" ride. err, funk blast was before your time, um, tearing nerd tickets to the sci-fi museum. BOO-YAH!

really though, it does sound like you are making great progress.

Graham Motzing said...

i've got a tight nikasil hookup in milwaukee. one of our cranks found a guy, and he did two of his cylinders 'just for the hell of it'

i'll get some more information and a production rate if you're interested.

the hard part about nikasil is the fact that it has to be finished with a diamond hone, which isn't exactly something you can pick up down at harbor freight...

i've also got a couple vespa questions and a few ideas i want to run biya.

i'll email you on second thought.


Graham Motzing said...

Hey Josh,
I cant find your email anywhere. I'd like to bump noggins about this and some stock vespa questions.

If you have a sec could you email me motzingg at gmail.

Josh said...

Graham -Email sent.

Funk Blast: ACTIVATE!

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