Saturday, 25 August 2012

Kate's steering plate replacement

After Kate's steering failure on the way home from CV and Beyss refusing to have anything to do with the the Evo-K problem I ended up having to buy a replacement steering plate from them as the fastest way to get Kate back on the road.
Unfortunately I don't really trust the soft aluminium steering plates - the photo below shows the replacement plate already showing signs of bending after 1000km of road riding - keeping vehicle load 20kg below the stated maximum, 18mph average, 46mph maximum speed - hardly taxing conditions. The original plate on the opposite side had similar distortion.

Not really trusting the soft aluminium steering plates I have, with the help of a friend and a couple of small-order custom fabrication shops, created my own plates in stainless steel. Many thanks to Geoff for translating my source image into a CAD file that the laser cutters at Yorkshire Profiles could work from - the result was this rather beautiful part... for just £8.54 per copy!

The photos below show the sequence of removing the old and fitting the new plates...

Original parts in situ, with the brake caliper removed:

Detail of the old alu plate - I've already replaced the rear rose joint with an automotive quality part. I've had a few failures of these joints during rework, the others will be replaced as funds allow. I'm unsure whether I'm expecting too much from these parts, whether UK riding, with hilly conditions leading to higher speeds and higher loads is more extreme than most velomobile use or I've just had a couple of 'bad' ones.

Suspension pillar removed...

New plate fitted to suspension post using matching 304 Stainless 'angle iron' bracket made for me by Metal Stock. I originally bought sections of right angle stock but found the drilling hard going. Renée at Metal Stock offered a fabrication service so these parts arrived finished and ready to go...


Suspension pillar back on Kate...

Collection of rods hooked up and ready to go...

And brake plate dropped back into place...

So, repeat for other side, check tracking and ready to go...
All set for a test ride tomorrow morning :)

Friday, 24 August 2012

Updated Toolkit

I got caught out last week riding Kate. I had a mechanical failure, ok, kind of self-inflicted - a plastic chainguard I'd made disintegrated jamming the chainwheel and I didn't have a tool with me suitable to cut it away. So, after needing to get a lift home I've updated my toolkit...

I've added (at the bottom) a Leatherman Skeletool and (in the middle, edge on) a 7mm spanner. They're both retained with small sections of 3M Dual Lock - kind of like velcro but there is only one 'type' and it will stick to itself.

So the Lezyne wallet now holds:
Skeletool (pliars, wire cutters, knife)
Crank Bros multitool (allenkeys, screwdrivers, chaintool)
Mini tyre levers (worked surprisingly well on a 28mm Durano a few weeks ago)
Repair kit
7mm spanner (fits cable clamps on Sturmey Archer drum brakes)
Set of spare cables.

Obviously added to that when out riding is phone, cash and cards.
Unfortunately, if you like this toolkit and would like to follow suit, this 'large' Lezyne wallet that will hold an iPhone has been replaced by a smaller version. This is the 'Smart Wallet Elite' if you're searching for 'new old stock'.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Kate goes for a ride...

... and takes 8 MINUTES off my previous best time for the 9.5mile (15km) hilly circuit through the grounds of the local National Trust property (big country house open to the public).

Ok, now she is repaired this Evo does fly!

Now I need to put in the seat time, get used to the handling and build up my speed and endurance. Distance is fine, but covering the ground quicker needs some work. I do a 90 miles each way trip to visit my parents which took 5hrs on Kate but was usually 6-7hrs on Whitey. I'm hoping to take another 30 minutes off that time with practice :)

Kate spends the day with The Doctor...

The damage before starting... the 'wing' took the hit and separated at the join of floor and wall. The 'joining strip' being pulled back here had a very weak bond and is the part in the last post with the pitting in it.

The kit laid up and ready to start the 'messy' bit....

An outside view of the area being worked on - here with a plastic layer over the top ready for the vacuum bagging being done on the inside in order to avoid any voids like the ones we'd found during the prep work.

'The Doctor' is in and applying the vacuum bagging to the inside of the repair - I got all over excited about the carbon lay up phase and forgot to take those photos!!!

In goes the wadding to soak up the excess resin that the vacuum forces out of the repair...

Ah, here we are - some of the fresh resin-soaked carbon prior to the vacuum doing it's job...

Pump going - note the darker patches on the wadding as it soaks up spare resin.

And the 'console' now 'unplucked' and 'clamped' in place with a bolt to ensure a good bond and to provide backup to the exotic aerospace 'will not come undone' glue.

All fixed - just leaving me to do the finishing work - several (ok, many!) iterations of fill-drink tea-sand-repeat until the outside looks close enough to the original...

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Kate Reborn!

Below Kate's inside left and right wing following Lee Wakefield's beautiful repair. Spot the difference!

OK, the left side with no obvious join is the repaired side! In the first photo there is what looks like black tape. On the repair side this had separated from the bodywork and Lee was able to do his Super Hero impression and just rip it out. Investigation (and the photo below) show that the join was full of air bubbles - a little worrying for the quality of the rest of Kate :(

And the outside after my efforts at fill-tea-sand-repeat...Not beautiful but it is good enough to get her back on the road. I'm waiting for a new rear tie rod and am hoping to get her back together for a test ride on Wednesday evening...

I'll post tomorrow night with a few more photos of the rebuild work underway...

Monday, 9 July 2012

Dead Kate

So Kate has carbon damage. Kate has metalwork damage. Kate is not well...

Email correspondence with Beyss went like this:

Me: The evo is broken - the handlebar fell off.
Beyss: The console cannot be plucked off - we use yacht glue and have tested them.
Me: Mine failed and trashed the evo.
Beyss: The console cannot be plucked off.
Me: I can get the carbon repaired here in the UK. I need some new steering parts.
Beyss:  The console cannot be plucked off. We can repair the evo here at your expense.

etc... (a week of similar messages)

Me: Can I just buy the new steering parts?
Beyss:  The console cannot be plucked off - we use yacht glue and have tested them.
Me: Can I just buy the new steering parts?
Beyss:  Parts shipped, €115 invoice attached.

So here we are... a new steering plate arrived today and I've got Kate back on her wheels. Lee Wakefield has volunteering to help with the carbon repair this weekend. At least one of the trackrods looks to be damaged and needs to be replaced.

At the moment I have two 'working' alu steering plates fitted which should be adequate to make evoKate rideable again but I've got no faith in them. As the next 'mechanical' job in rebuilding Kate I'll be looking at having some more resilient steering plates made.

I wish I'd stayed with the Boys from Dronten...

evoKate's Third Trip - and Last Trip?

(Kate's second trip was a 90 miles each way ride weekend ride to visit my parents - she behaved beautifully).

Even tho Kate had only been in the country for little more than a week it was time to return to the Nederlands for CycleVision. Three days of racing but around 450km of cycling each way to get there. The plan was to camp so it was necessary to rig Kate for luggage carrying.

On the evening before the trip as I was preparing her I noticed that the steering had developed a strange 'thunk' when turning from lock-to-lock. Panic set in thinking I'd have to bail on the trip. I tried climbing into the velo and turning the steering and the sound disappeared. Ok, lets go ahead with the trip and take advice from the manufacturer at CycleVision...

So 5am Ian and Roy arrived and we set off. Ian's Quest was misbehaving and seemed to spend more of the following two days on its back than on its wheels. This eventually ended up with a call from half way across the Nederlands to who agreed to take a look at her at the factory when we got that far. Ian is this Quest's third owner, both the previous owners have had crashes in her but this was no problem for the guys at the factory who happily made repairs and got her fit for the race track.
Big thanks to Theo and Marloes who put us up in their 'shed' for the night before racing - helping us avoid a night camping in a rather impressive storm.

The racing was wet. CycleVision was great - so many people, so many velos, the circuit for most of the racing was rather small, but as this was a last minute substitution following bankruptcy of the planned venue than it was impressive that the event happened at all.

The return trip was going smoothly until we got to Bijk by Duurstede. On a 'S' shaped fietspad crossing of a road I took the left turn, turned the handlebars to take the right turn and the handlebar came away in my hand. Timing could not have been worse as I hit a steel pole in the middle of the cyclepath. This destroyed what was left of Kate's steering and caused quite a bit of damage to the left front carbon wing.

The impact also embedded the left steering plate in the wheel arch making it impossible to even wheel the evo.

My GPS records my approach and impact speed as 10mph. I am rather horrified by the extent of the damage from an impact of this speed and am left concerned about how she would have behaved in a more serious high speed collision.

A local resident had seen the crash and immediately came out to see what she could do to help. I sent the rest of the group on their way as there was little they could do to help and they needed to reach Europort in time for the 7pm ferry.  As I had a recovery policy I 'camped' in her kitchen until a tow truck could be organised to take me to the ferry and rejoin the rest of the group for the ferry crossing back to the UK.

At least I know know what the 'thunk' noise in the steering was about!

Worse was to come with the level of support I've received from the manufacturer following this failure...

Evo-K Collection

Things have moved on with the Evo-K but I've not been posting so now it is time to back track a little, fill in the blanks and bring the story up to date.
The short version - Happy, happy, sad, sad...

After a bit of a muddle finalising the date, June 6th was collection date. With a small manufacturer I find this understandable. My ability to grab a holiday from work is also variable so aiming for 'Jubilee Week' also worked well for me. Getting a flight to Amsterdam that week was a little tricky so the excursion was finally set for the Wednesday.

The flight went well, the train to Venlo was straight forward - much easier than UK trains. The price was the price, none of this crazy phase of the moon, day of the week, how far before your journey can you predict your need to travel. Taxi to Straelen was also easy enough. €30 and in the pouring rain, but easy - just hop in, cross the German border and there.

At Beyss I got to try Kate for size. There is no real adjustment, just the possibility of adding extra seat location slots. Fortunately (and impressively) she was spot on for fit. After a night in a hotel in Straelen I was on the road towards the Nederlands.

I was navigating using OpenFietsMap on a Garmin 800 and aiming to pick up LF13. Long Distance Fietspad 13. The clue seems to be in the name but this proved to be a very long and winding road, sometimes dropping down to a winding path through woodland scarcely narrow enough to get the velomobile thorough. It was also tended towards being rather damp in the afternoon. But I got to the hotel in Hilvarenbeek at around 6pm. The hotel had a cycle shed, hot showers and Dutch Pancakes - just right! And Mika's rather hot pronunciation of 'Whipped Cream' was worth the trip on its own! The Hotel Brabant is a recommended stop for anyone passing through the area...

Learning from Day 1 I plotted a route to towns and let the GPS take the strain. This worked fine up into South Holland before encountering a sudden surprise ferry. The river was only 200m across but I'd missed the ferry by about 15 seconds and the next one was in an hour and a quarter. Bah. Time to get to the ferry back to England was suddenly becoming pressing.

Once across the river it became a bit of a charge to get to Europort in time. The wind was blowing, with even the local cyclists weaving all over the road. The Evo-K was up to the job, merrily passing a number of cyclists on the drag into the wind and towards the ferry.

The ferry left Europort with a warning asking people not to go out on deck because of the Force 8 wind. Oh well, I grabbed a couple of drinks, a quick pizza and headed for bed before things got bumpy.

The ride from Hull to home was uneventful, tho 120 miles in a day was a good run for Kate - the evo's new name.