02/27/2016 Another progress report. The exciting news is that we are doing Pikes Peak again this year, but this time with two cars. An evolution of our 2015 Open class winner D2 and an evolution of the 2012 Unlimited class winner. As before there will be a sponsor blog with all the details on that effort, but what I will say here is that a big part of the D2's evolution is the new bodywork. We've been working hard on making that happen. The door mold is the first one to be done at Willamette Pattern. It makes both right and left outer door skins in one layup.
The nose is now in progress. Back at the shop I've been sanding, bondoing, and sanding on the tail pattern. Conveniently, I can do this while running the CNC mill so a lot of machined parts are getting done at the same time. Today the final coat of primer was sprayed. Next is 1200 grit sanding, minor touch up of any imperfections with bondo, then polishing. Then on to the remaining parts.
As with the nose before, seeing the pattern in the flesh led to some hand-carved modifications which I think make the design more refined and coherent. The changes are subtle but, to me at least, they make a difference. The most important one which is not readily apparent from the pictures is that the tail now matches the nose much better. The lighting on the raw foam pattern below hides it a bit, but there used to be a hard flat edge about 3/4" wide all the way around the tail. It's a little more noticeable in the orange rendering. The final product has a thin lip like the nose opening. Now the nose and tail look more like they're part of the same car.
While all this is happening, our Pikes Peak D2 is making an appearance at the World of Speed museum in Wilsonville - it's an awesome facility with lots of cool cars. A must-see for any car enthusiast living in the area, or even just passing through.
03/08/2016 The final sanding and polishing of the tail pattern is done and it's ready for making the mold. The manual work is a nice change but now my hands are sore and I'm ready for a break. No such luck though, as three more patterns need to be prepped and our workload is such that I get to be the one to do most of it.
Mold construction will start as soon as the nose is done, perhaps as early as tomorrow. This is what it looked like last week.
We are also getting ready to cut the canopy and upper door patterns which will form the coupe upgrade kit.
And of course all the while a lot of machinining is getting done, as well as many other things.
3/16/16 Among everything we have going, it's time for us to move to a new location. We signed the lease on the new place yesterday. We've been in the current space since the beginning in 2008 and it has worked well for us. There have also been a lot of changes - including in the neighborhood, and its evolution is driving businesses like ours out and replacing them with restaurants, bars, condos and dispensaries. Not a complaint. Life goes on and so do we. The equipment is scheduled to move on the 25th (yes, even the 25,000 lb layout table) and our goal is to be fully moved by the end of the month.
Before then we've been working hard to get as much of the machining and assembly done as possible. For example this includes getting the Stiletto exhaust done.
Also turning 25lb chunks of heat treated alloy steel into custom drive flanges. Not quite done yet but getting there.
The machining queue is long and some things have been on it for a while so it feels good to finally knock them out.
Another Sector111 Drakan chassis is now finished and has been dropped off for powdercoat.
Assembly wise we're building a few pedal sets, using the parts I machined last week.
And of course the bodywork mold making and pattern sanding continues as well.
On top of all this I've been doing a lot of design stuff, there is patent related work to do, and the D47 chassis tubes have now been made and are on their way to us, for two cars. Oh, and taxes need to be squeezed in there too. I'm probably leaving some stuff out (in fact just realized that I know I am, but that's for another time and pretty exciting stuff if it works out).
3/23/16 We are now in the middle of the move. It's a lot of work in itself but other work is happening still, at the same time. There will be updates on D47 and Stiletto blogs soon but this one gets the most visible progress for the moment. Case in point is the pattern for the coupe canopy. Since Willamette Pattern is right next to us now, it would be advantageous to get it sanded and back to them before the move for making the mold, since it's only pushing the cart two blocks vs pulling a trailer a few miles. We picked it up today and will attempt to get it done in a week. Not really likely, given everything we need to do, but worth a shot.
After wheeling it to our shop the first thing is to try the fit of the windshield. The windshield is from a production car, for a number of reasons, and it was scanned some time ago. The actual fit is subject to accuracy in each of the following steps: scan -> convert point cloud to solid -> clean up the model -> design canopy to match -> generate model of pattern -> machine foam. The result is very good, better than I expected in fact. I mean I do have a fair bit of confidence in the technology but the opportunities for errors were plentiful.
Whether we get it done in the next week or next three, done it will get. There may now be a chance that we can run the canopy at Pikes Peak, albeit in a preliminary form. If we can, it will significantly help the aero so it's worth the effort.
3/25/16 This particular post has very little D2 content and is in this blog simply because applying primer to the canopy pattern is the last official bit of work we did in the original facility.
In this way, it's less likely to get dented in the move (all dings are fixable of course, but still).
Mostly, this post is about the move. We've been here since October of 2008. The place has worked well for us all in all, but the changes in the neighborhoods and our own evolving needs now dictate that we go elsewhere. The new place is an industrial building with a 7,200 sq ft shell and lots of mezzanine storage. The stacked nature of the office/storage space, combined with the ability to keep van and trailer outside, will result in a lot more usable space for making cars than we've ever had before. It's financially advantageous too.
As one might imagine, after being in one location for 7.5 years, we've accumulated a lot of stuff. Some of it is junk but most is really cool. Also some of it, like the equipment and machinery, is quite heavy. Moving is always disruptive and moving a manufacturing business especially so.
The new location is actually an older building that is getting some updates in preparation of our occupancy, so that throws a few extra challenges into the mix. I won't bore you with the routine details and will skip right to the fun part - how does one move a 25,000 lb cast iron table? Well, you hire professionals who have the equipment and experience. Metro Machinery Rigging, in this case.
We have been shuttling trailer loads of miscellaneous stuff for a couple days now, stacking them in an area that won't interfere with insulative wrap that's being applied to the entire building. Since the insulation crew needs full access to the ceiling, we've had to schedule certain sections to be done first, where the heavy stuff will go, then others later after it's in place.
Today was the heavy moving day. Metro guys showed up with two semi trucks and a pickup pulling a trailer. The forklift rated for 30,000 lbs is cool.
The big table was the first to move. One side of it was raised with a 10-ton jack (tried the smaller forklift just to see if it will work and the table didn't even twitch). Then heavy-duty casters were put under the legs, and the table was towed to the overhead door by a chain. We left the next Sector111 Drakan frame on it since an extra 300 lbs on top of 25,000 is not a big deal and we move two things for the price of one.
Next task was to pick the table up with the big forklift and put it on the trailer. Since the table is positioned lengthwise and its weight is very close to the rated capacity of the lift, picking it up in this orientation didn't work - note the air under the lift's rear tires!
So the table was pulled out on rollers further into the parking lot, and picked up from the side. The massive tires are feeling the weight.
In this orientation it's close but workable and the table is successfully deposited on the trailer.
The rest of the equipment is much easier and all goes smoothly. Soon the trailer is ready to roll to the new location and the forklifts are loaded on the other one.
At the other end the unloading proceeds without issues even as the wrap installation continues (it's nice to be able to just pull the semi right in!). These guys obviously know what they're doing. They are done by 3pm without any mishaps.
When all is done, the machines look a bit lost in the vast space. Lots of room to add more, which is eventually in the plan.
The welding table is now in a completely separate part of the building. The new setup will let us separate various functions (machining, welding, composites, assembly/service, inventory, storage) much better than before.
It will take a few more days for the insulation to be completed, while we continue moving the rest of our stuff. Then we clean up the old place, run air and wiring in the new one, arrange and organize everything, and get cranking on the Pikes Peak cars and D47. Plan is to ramp up operations starting a week from today (or sooner, if we can). Lots of work ahead!
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