|Alex Smith's Vortex|
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Vortex 3-wheel Vehicle
17' Wind Turbine
Bradly GT II Kit Car
1966 Ford Fairlane GT
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This page will show detailed information concerning how I constructed/assembled the chassis.
The chassis is be beginning point in the process of building. To be honest in this phase the vehicle looks more like a boat/hydroplane than it does a 3 wheel vehicle...
Many times my wife has come out to see what I was working on only to say "So Which End Is The Front".
The basic chassis is constructed from exterior grade plywood. I know the first thing in your mind is WOOD? Yes, you have to remember that the first cars that were made were constructed primarily with wood, except for suspension and drive train. Things have come a long way since then and once the chassis construction is completed you totally encapsulate it in fiberglass. It is this 'glassing that gives it it real strength, if done properly it should be as strong as steel - if not more!
The original plans called for using 1/2" plywood. Being a wood worker and working with plywood for a long time I have a lot of reservations in using 1/2" plywood - it is almost *never* flat and is always twisted in one way-shape-or form. Oh sure it is in the store when you buy it, but bring it home and the next day you look at it and whoomp it's twisted.
I used 3/4" plywood on most of the construction because is much more stable than 1/2" and remains flatter, making it easier to work with. I know that I will increase the total weight but I figured only by about 75 lbs.
(Footnote: Later on in the project I learned that this decision has some ramifications to it, firstly it does throw off the measurements of a number of pieces and you have to adjust accordingly. Secondly in addition to my decision to use 3/8" bolts instead of 1/4", 2x2 angle iron is needed instead of 1-1/2"x1-1/2". If I had to do it all over again I would have used 1/2" birch plywood as it is extremly stable and flat, this is slightly different from baltic birch, as baltic birch only comes in 50"x50" sheets while birch plywood comes in standard 4'x8' lengths. The birch plywood is slightly more expensive, but in the scheme of things when the total project cost is looked at it is actually a small difference...)
Lucky for me when I started the chassis, it was right before Christmas, so I had 3 long weekends each of 3 days to begin this phase.
I used the top of a wood-working bench as the base in which to build/assemble the chassis on, and used lengths of 2x4 lumber to space the chassis off from the workbench surface . Be sure that you have a good flat surface to build off from, as this may introduce a 'twist' to the chassis.
When I build stuff I try to take all of my measurements off from a single datum line (or in this case 2 perpendicular lines) in a single direction, I find that errors can creep in taking measurements from multiple points/directions. Keep all of your measurements coming off from this common point so as not to compound slight discrepancies.
Below shows the progress, if you have the plans I also mention the component number(s) that are involved so that you can see the orientation as well as in which component laps the other - VERY IMPORTANT!
I highly recommend that if you don't have a small pancake air compressor and brad nail gun that you serioiusly consider purchasing one for this project, otherwise you will need lots of clamps and work in smaller stages until clamps become free!!! In the end it saved me an enormous amount of time and greatly speeded up the assembly of the chassis...
I would like to thank Paul and Mary Kay Schreiner from PS Composites in helping me with the job of fiberglassing the chassis, without their help it could have been overwhelming to do this piecemeal by myself!!!
Click on the thumbnail images to see a larger image as well as descriptive text:
Basic chassis - Done!
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