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Taking a Few Steps Forward … and Back

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Rakesh Ravi Shankar, Brandon Cloud, and Dennis Dufrene working on the back cone of ThunderDawg in the Prototyping Lab. At the front of the vehicle is the pressure gauge displays and where the fuel tank will be housed.

March 16

Today we have made several steps forward, but unfortunately we have also taken a couple steps back. Yesterday we completed the windshield mold for HotRod, and today we went to vacuum form the actual windshield. As we were vacuum forming the plastic over the mold, the windshield mold was damaged and the actual windshield cracked. Because of this, our team had to regroup and set out a new plan to fix the windshield mold so that it would not get damaged again through the vacuum forming process. We now have a new approach on how to fix the mold and to successfully vacuum form a windshield for HotRod.

Besides this challenge, we have made a lot of progress on other aspects of HotRod. For example, the headlights and mirror combinations have been wired up and work! We have also been successful in fitting our personally made covers onto these headlights. Our team has also done a lot of body work on the car. It has been primed and is getting closer and closer to being ready for paint. We are hoping that by the end of the weekend, HotRod will be at paint.

We have also made great strides for ThunderDawg today! The back cone, which houses our back wheel and steering components, officially fits and is now connected using button head screws. We have also sanded all of the loose carbon fiber in the inside of the front compartment where the engine is stationed. Also, we filled in all of the holes and caps of the body which is getting us closer and closer to preparing Prototype for paint. As mentioned in a previous post, we have a removable cover at the front end of the car to cover the gas tank and pressure gauges. This cover now has magnets installed to assure an easy removal and replacement so that the fueling process is uncomplicated.  We have also welded the brake mount and steering mount to their respective spots.

Since last year’s competition, we have decided to rewire some of our components on Roadster. We rewired the kill switch on Roadster. Tomorrow we will be working on redoing the headlights.

Though we have had these challenges today, we definitely consider this as a great learning experience in how to apply our engineering abilities to find a problem, formulate a solution, and act on it.

March 17

Our team got an early start this morning! Many members were up here by 8:30 on a Saturday morning; such a rare occurrence for most college kids. By getting to work early, we have been able to get a lot of work done today.

Today our team has been working furiously on the steering for ThunderDawg. It is almost complete and should be finished tomorrow. We are very pleased with the progress we are making on steering and how our first rear steered system is turning out. We have also inserted a new starter gear, engine crank, and piston for the motor.

As for HotRod, we are still doing body work. We have worked on lining up and smoothing out the seams where the hatches close onto the body. It looks as if our goal of sending HotRod to paint by the end of this weekend has been pushed back to Monday or Tuesday. Tomorrow should be a big day for body work and hopefully HotRod will be ready to go to paint. We have also finished the kill switch for the inside of the vehicle where the driver will control the engine. Having this kill switch is not only essential based on rules and regulations of SEMA, but also because of our driving strategy of engaging the engine and then turning it off to coast. Lastly, a new throttle assembly has been fabricated by our team members.

Today, we worked on fixing the headlights and mirror combinations for Roadster. They are rewired and connected back to the top hatch where the driver enters the vehicle. We are very excited that we were able to take out Roadster for some testing today! It is great that our new driver has gotten some experience driving the car. From the test driving, we discovered that there was rubbing of the tires at the hinge on the back hatch. Once our team figured this out, they devised a plan to alter the car so they tires would no longer rub and fixed it tonight.

Having a full day of work has proved to be very productive and effective for our team! We are so proud of our team members for putting in so many hours to finish our vehicles and prepare the cars for competition. We expect to have many more long days before our cars are complete, but we know our team will accomplish it!