2 Days to go.

by Ben N on August 31, 2015

I managed to get some more work on the cycle today!

After finally finishing off the last few pieces of aluminum, I built a wood framework around the trunk, based on the coroplast piece I had already cut. I was using a very light-weight plywood. It’s sturdy enough to be a shelf, without adding much weight. I also like that it’s a light color. One thing I’ve always found to be true is to make the inside of dark things a LIGHT color. Finding something in the bottom of a black bag in the dark is always trouble. Light colors are good for interiors!

IMG_5027Next, I set to work building the hatch for the cargo compartment. This is a door that goes over the opening in the fiberglass backrest. I made a template from some scrap coroplast, trimming it to fit, shaping it, and finally copying it to some 1/2″ plywood. I installed a pair of flat hinges at the bottom to connect the door to the frame.

To install the lock, I drilled a 3/4″ hole near the top. A retaining ring goes on the back, then the tumbler slips in, a big nut on the back, the lever, and tighten it all with a screw. I can open and close the hatch with just the key, and use it as the “handle” as well. I stuck some thin closed-cell foam weatherstripping around the edge to seal the hatch. It also makes the hatch and lock close firmly, instead of rattling!

Next, it was finally time for the coroplast!
I only had one full-sized sheet, which would have to cover BOTH sides of the motorcycle. The framework is about 5 feet long at the bottom and 3 feet at the top. I figured that as long as I cut the 8 foot long plastic at the right angle, I would be alright. Sure enough, I managed to measure twice and cut once, and ended up with two perfect pieces.

IMG_5036I clamped the half-sheet to the left side of the bike and looked to see how it would lay out. Basically, I stabbed holes with an awl through the plastic into the holes I had already drilled in the aluminum framework. I did the ones on the top first, then worked my way down. After I did that, I trimmed the excess plastic on the bottom. There was enough sticking up on the top that I decided to simply fold it over, instead of cutting it off. I figured that that tied the sides in to the top, further reinforcing the structure.

Once I was all done, I basically did the same on the right-hand side.

One bit of trickery I still had to deal with was mounting the rear turn signals. They are an odd curved shape, specifically designed to match the curved rear end of the scooter. Instead, I wanted to move them up high and attach them to a boxy structure. I finally decided that the best way to attach them would be to drill a hole through the steel bracket they were already on, and then bolt that to the aluminum angle that the brake light was attached to.

IMG_5047I drilled a hole through the bracket. As I was lifting the turn signal up to position, it slipped out of my hand. CRACK. The light bounced off the pavement. As I picked it up, I could hear the terrible rattle of something broken. On closer inspection, there was only a small crack in the corner, but the diffuser over the LED itself had come loose. I would have to take apart the entire light to fix it.

IMG_5048I set down and dug around for a way to fix it. After fiddling with a flat-blade screwdriver for five minutes, I managed to pry the lens off the rest of light without otherwise damaging it. Inside, I simply snapped the LED diffuser back in place, right on the circuit board. The crack didn’t look bad. It should be fine if I leave it alone. Luckily, I happened to have some RTV sealant handy, so I applied that before putting the light back together.

As I was bolting the turn signal to the frame of the bike, my neighbor across the street, Greg, stopped by. He was out mowing his lawn, and his curiosity wouldn’t let him stand it any longer. I explained about the bike, the battery pack size, why I was building this weird tail on the cycle, and about the LOOP THE LAKE trip.

He told me about his fairly recent motorcycle trip, taking the ferry across Lake Michigan and then heading north, including crossing the Mackinac Bridge.

“I bet it gets windy on the bridge sometimes,” I mentioned.

“Oh, they close it if it’s too windy!” replied Greg.

Yipes. I already have people asking me how the bike will handle with a cross-wind. Now, that might not even be an issue, an ENTIRE BRIDGE could be closed. Oh well, there’s always the ferry.

IMG_5053While chatting with Greg, I plugged in the turn signals, then flipped the bike on to check them. The right signal glowed – constantly – Oh no. It really WAS broke! After checking all the wiring again, I realized that I had mistakenly plugged the license plate light cable into the turn signal connection. While the brake light uses a completely different connector, the turn and plate light use identical connections. After swapping for the right wires, the turn signal worked as intended.

Greg went back to mowing his lawn, and I continued working, installing the left turn signal light. I also bolted in another small piece of angle aluminum which should help keep the turn signals from vibrating. I tested the lights and they all work. With the license plate back in place, technically, I think the cycle is finally street legal once more!

I put the piece of coroplast on TOP of the cycle and popped in the plastic fasteners. After that, I taped some joints with cut pieces of self-adhesive vinyl. It should be pretty waterproof now, although after I did it, I noticed how the shiny black vinyl looks like garbage bags. I do not want a cycle that looks like it’s held together by garbage bags!

IMG_5060Other than an unusually high amount of self-inflicted damage, it was a pretty good day. Yes, I was wearing mechanic’s gloves. NO, they don’t stop crushing injuries or spinning drill-bits…. ‘Nuff said.

IMG_5065Only two more days to go. I still have lots of things to do, including packing, seeing my little girl off to her first day (ever) of school, and dealing with more red-tape from the county to get my garage rebuilt. But, the big things on the bike are done. Except for the seat. I don’t actually have a place to sit yet. I suppose that if I want to ride 1,000 miles on an electric motorcycle, the battery box should at least have a little padding.

Like I said…. details.

Stay charged up!

-Ben

 

 

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