Finished creating a wheel well !

After final sprays of gel-coat over the tail, turtledeck, manhole opening and the lower rear sides, I masked those areas off to keep them clean. I’ll sand and prepare the entire main body when all the areas are ready to go.

I began on the right side wheel well. Earlier in the build I made a notch on both left and right sidewalls. The notch denotes the axle line which was fine, but now I need to cut out that area. To keep track of the axle line I scribed a line into the gel-coat on the underside, using a utility knife. This will be easy to sand and fill later.

After determining the axle location I traced around the tire, and cut out a recess just large enough to have the tire set in the recess. I’m designing for 28mm Continental Contact Speed tires; 35mm Kojaks also will fit.

P1040735
28mm Contact Speed tire in place, using a spike as an axle. Line marked on the body is 3cm wider than tire.

Then using the marker and string setup seen in the photo (along with a spike serving as the axle), marked off a circle 3cm wider than the tire.

Using a combination of power tools I cut the larger circular area out, and sanded it smooth. I went into this without a clear design in mind and was creating on the fly, so I wanted to apply expanding foam on the entire area, easier to sand and shape. The tape is simply masking tape, covering over some large gaps. I don’t want the expanding foam to try and wedge the body apart!

P1040739
I cut the green foam back a bit deeper than needed and sprayed with foam primer spray paint.

I sprayed the area with Rustoleum Foam primer, let that dry, and then applied expanding foam. The plug is on the spindle so it’s easy to rotate onto it’s side.

P1040741
Two part expanding foam for a shaping surface that’s easier to work.

You can just see a wedge of foam sticking out in the center. I cut french fry-shaped pieces of 6# polyisocyanurate foam and wedged them into a hole drilled at the axle line. At this early stage I wanted to make sure the wheel well stays centered.

P1040744
Keeping track of the axle point.

I purchased the steering and suspension components from Katanga. I was very pleased that it was shipped to me almost fully assembled, so I didn’t have to figure that out.

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Pleased that Katanga sent the steering/suspension components almost fully assembled.

I detached the right side strut assembly and bolted the wheel to it. I also used some zip-strips to engage the brake, which makes it a lot easier to handle.

P1040742
Tire mounted on strut assembly. Zip strips to engage the brake.

Thinking about the air and turbulence in the space between the rear of the tire and the vertical wall of the wheel well. The air stream going past the body wants air to flow that same direction. But the wheel and spokes on the upper portion of the wheel are trying to move air in the forward direction…

I figured at least I could try and move the shock tower back out of the turbulence. The top of the tire barely moves left or right when turning, so it doesn’t need much depth. Measuring from the outer “skin” to vertical wall of the wheel well: at the bottom 10 to 11cm, and the top is 5cm deep. Here’s a photo from the underside.

P1040750
Looking into the wheel well, viewed from the underside.

And looking down the side, towards the rear:

P1040751
This is looking along the sidewall toward the rear of velomobile.

The length of the struts was going to force me to make a very tall wheel well. In the past I’ve converted both the WAW and the Milan GT to elastomers rather than springs. I’ll go ahead and replace the springs that came in these struts with elastomers.

I couldn’t find any more elastomers in the workshop, so for now I used the springs that came out of the Milan’s suspension instead. That lowers the top mounting bolt by about 2cm. The benefit of the elastomers is being very easy to change where the wheel centers in the wheel well, by cutting the length of the elastomer.

The spring on the right is the new one that was in the strut. In the center are the springs from the Milan GT. On the left is the dampener assembly. The springs rest against the axle bolt inside the strut tube, the dampener rests against the top of the spring. At the bottom of the dampener you can see the threaded end; that is the top of the strut assembly and bolts through the body at the top of the wheel well.

P1040737
Changed springs from red to red/blue, to shorten by 2cm

Here you can see the shortened strut assembly next to the stock configuration. It doesn’t change the length of the strut but lowers the shoulder on the dampener, allowing me to create a lower height wheel well.

P1040738
The shortened strut assembly is the upper one; look closely at the shoulders of the mounting areas on the left of photo.

I purchased a couple packs of these foam sanding blocks, they come in a 10 pack. These have been very handy in smaller areas that I can’t get to with the orbital sander.

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foam sanding blocks proving to be very handy!

Here, working on the shock tower area

P1040753
In areas like this, these are much easier to use than squares of sandpaper

I left the wheel well edge sharp while I created the circle. I made sure I was satisfied with the curves first, before using the air sander to round over that edge.

And before rounding over that edge I taped some kraft paper over the completed opening and marked off the shape. I made sure to also mark off the axle centerline, the top axis point of the strut assembly, and marked the apex of the curve between sidewall and underside of the plug. I’ll use this as a template for the left side wheel well, should make that creation go faster.

P1040756
Left the edge sharp and marked off a paper template.
P1040755
Paper template; marked off so I can line up and mark off the left side wheel well.

Once I had the template made I used the air sander to round over that edge, did one small repair batch of body filler. Ready for first spray of gray gel-coat!

P1040758
100 micron filter screen. Final pour from a quart can; definitely would have blocked the spray gun.

During the last couple sprays of gel-coat I experienced blockages in the spray gun, during the spray, that severely restricted the flow. There is a filter screen in the spray gun, but it was getting blocked because of hardened bits of gel-coat in the mix. So I purchased a bunch of cone-shaped filter screens, 100 micron. Works well; I poured out the final 200 grams out of a quart can, had a lot of chunks in there. Definitely would have blocked up the spray gun’s screen!

So, here’s the wheel well prior to spray:

P1040757
Ready for first gel-coating!

And here it is after spray!

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First coat molding gel-coat!

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