Good progress on the CNC plasma table. Since last update: Finished the base, cutting bed, gantry assembly, wiring and setup. It’s pretty much done now. This thing is pretty big in the shop so there were only so many places it would fit… it ended up in front of the cars.
Next up: 4′ X 4′ CNC plasma table for the multitude of brackets and other sheet parts needed for the car. I bought the 8020HD Gantry Kit from Precision Plasma LLC plus the CNC electronics and stepper motors from candcnc.com. This requires building of the stand and cutting bed.
Here’s the steel (plus some tube which will be used for the car frame) and the start of the stand. This thing is big! The tube for the stand is mostly 3″ x 3″ but there are some other sizes and shapes required. I’m MIG welding this stuff in the interest of getting it done.
More fabrication tools to add to the fun! First up is a Pro Tools hydraulic tube bender. Right now I just bought 1 die (1.5″ 6″ CLR 180 deg) to get started on the car chassis. Next is a Tab and Slot 2′ x 4′ welding table. This is a really cool design and affordable compared to the competition. Stuff like Bluco or Stronghand is out of my price range. This did require a bit of assembly but all the laser cut parts went together very well. The stand is also laser cut so it was a quick build. Speaking of welding, I converted my TIG setup to water cooling. I bought a CK 225 torch and a Dynaflux cooler. This required modifying my cart since the cooler wouldn’t fit. This is a pretty small cart but I like the small size and managed to get everything squeezed in. The new torch is smaller and the water cooler keeps it cool really well.
And finally, a Swag Offroad finger press brake for my Harbor Freight press. This is another kit that requires some assembly & welding, but it looks to be a nice piece also. In the process of assembling the press brake, the original Harbor Freight jack gave up so I upgraded to an air/hydraulic model.
After a lot of research, I decided to invest in some tools to do what’s necessary to make the tubes I need.
First up, a CNC plasma cutting machine to do the notching and marking for bends. Enter the Dragon (forgive me, Bruce Lee)
This machine is sold by Bend-Tech It comes with software that will allow import of my SolidWorks model and with some configuration, do the cuts necessary to make tubes that fit together.
I hauled it home on the open car trailer and lifted it off with my Atlas auto lift – a/k/a “poor man’s crane”. After assembly and setup, you can see that it’s very big! This is a “12 foot” machine which means it’s capable of cutting tubes up to just under 12′ long – plenty for my purposes. They make a 21′ machine also but as you can image, it’s even longer. I do still need to figure out where to put this thing!
After a bit of setup and some experimentation, here’s an example of some cuts I made. This is .065″ wall 1.5″ steel tube. The blue circle was drawn by the Dragon and shows you where another tube will be welded. The fit-up is pretty nice!
The part shown is right from the machine – no clean-up or prep. I’m still not completely happy with it but with some work, it will be completely workable.
I got a couple quotes to supply cut, bent frame tubes. This is a type of service where you send the vendor your CAD model for each tube and they do the notching (coping) of the tube ends and do the bends. I don’t want to mention the vendors, because I’m not trying to give them “bad press”. However, I was shocked at the cost. One was about $7,500. I figure I may make more than one of these cars, whether a different version or even another for somebody else, assuming anybody wants one 🙂 So, I decided to do this myself. It will be a significant investment, but it should be worthwhile in the end.
Again, not a lot to show but I will have some updated images soon. I’ve been making final changes to the frame and hope to be getting tube cutting quotes in the next couple weeks.
It’s time to start thinking about some upgrades for the Celette Bench. I’ve been thinking about making a flat deck with 3/8″ or 1/2″ steel plate that would be used when first fabricating the frame. Then, the decking could be removed to allow access to more of the frame (and later, car) while assembling.
Something along the lines of this:
Not much to show on the car but a lot of work has been done. I’ve been finalizing the suspension design, especially the bellcranks and control arms.
The last week of the month, Maria and I went to San Francisco. She had a class on Friday so I made a few visits while she was in class. I stopped by Performance Shock Inc. at Sonoma Raceway park and met Bruce Ritchie, the owner. My purpose was to start choosing shock/spring setups. Bruce was very helpful and gladly pulled a number of parts out of stock so I could see them, measure, take pictures, etc.
I’ve decided to use the Ohlins TTX series dampers.
I also visited Bay Area Metal Fab – a fabrication shop in Benicia, CA. Jerry, the owner, was kind enough to take time to show me his Bend Tech Dragon. The Dragon is a plasma tube cutting tool. It’s pretty expensive for a one-time use so I will most likely start by having the tubes cut by another vendor.
I’m starting to get anxious about getting off the computer and into the shop to start building this thing!
Here’s an assembly view of the current state of the car.
I’ve been asked, “Are you going for a look similar to the Arial Atom?” Nope – it’s just that I haven’t attempted to design any bodywork yet. That will come once the chassis is finalized. I’m thinking I may want to find some help there since visual design is a world unto itself.
On the week of December 5th, I attended the 2016 PRI show in Indianapolis, visited my brother (who lives in the area) and attended a 3 day “Applied Vehicle Dynamics” seminar by Claude Rouelle of OptimumG. The very much enjoyed the seminar and learned a ton. Some of this I can’t put to use until track testing the car, but the knowledge is very welcome for me at this point.
The seminar is more like a 4 day course held over 3 days. Each day was 12-13 hours with minimal breaks and a lunch. The material is fairly dense, too.