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Racing Towards the Checkered Flag
As promised, I’ve come back to talk about the hybrid FSAE racecar. Great progress has been made since my last post and the team is ready for the competition. A couple of weeks ago we unveiled the car to the public and our sponsors. Let me tell you, the car looked great! Congratulations to all those who’ve devoted countless hours to its creation.
At first I helped out with machining the wheel centers and the installation of instruments and sensors. I spent a weekend observing the wheels being machined and it was very interesting to see. Much time and preparation goes into building such a nice product. The wheel centers are made of aluminum and machined in a CNC mill. Thankfully, a local company was generous enough to donate their time to machine the wheels for us.
I’ve included a picture demonstrating the initial machining of a solid piece of aluminum as well as one of a completed side of our wheel center. To complete the wheel center, the machinist flipped the block, repositioned his machine and continued machining the other side. After being black anodized, the wheel centers look great and we can’t wait to display them on our car in the competition.
What impressed me the most was the level of accuracy that can be obtained from modern milling tools. The machines we used can be as accurate as a thousandth of an inch. To give you an idea of how small that is, if you were to cut the thickness of your nail in 40 pieces, one piece would be a thousandth of an inch!
When I initially joined the team, I my intention was to help out anybody who required assistance. As time progressed, my attention became focused on composite bodywork. This was such a great learning experience!
The week before the unveiling was very stressful. The car had to look immaculate and the bodywork still needed to be finished. In the rush to complete the bodywork for the unveiling, I helped to prepare the molds and lay down the composites.
To make nice looking parts, the molds had to be sanded smooth and molded perfectly. Any imperfection on the mold would show on the fiberglass or carbon fiber. On our car, we chose to have a carbon fiber nose cone for strength and a fiberglass body to reduce cost. After the mold was ready, the fiber was then laid in the mold and covered with a film of plastic. The part was then vacuumed bagged and the resin was drawn into the bag to soak into the cloth. After 8 hours, the part was finally dry – voila! With a little sanding and buffing it was then ready for painting.
The picture to the left shows the resin being drawn in the bag by the vacuum to soak the cloth. When dry, the resin and cloth were fused together to become the finished product.
Well, I think I’ve wrote enough for today, so I’ll wrap this up by wishing you a great summer!
Till next time.
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