This is where the team was just before Christmas. This was taken right outside of our senior presentation, so the suspension is off to make it possible to go through doorways. We now have a steering column, a seat, a shifter, a pedal box, and a mounted engine and differential. We’re skipping over most of the ergo stuff right now, as a lot of it had to be changed later on. By the way, teams, build yourself a little cart like this one. 5-ply plywood and a set of caster wheels is all you need. Makes moving your car around a million times easier, especially when you don’t have a rolling chassis yet. It also makes maintenance and transport easier as well. This cart was probably the best thing we made all year. That’s not to say the car was bad, just that the cart was SUPER useful.
There’s a lot of smiling faces, but every one of us was dead tired. An hour before we presented, we were welding the last few things together to get a near rolling chassis ready to present. This team designed an awesome car and made for a memorable Senior year.
One thing that we didn’t change in the Ergo department was the awesome carbon fiber seat. Seat master Dave spent an entire month prepping his mold. He dug up an ergonomics study on seats and plugged in body data based around the 95th percentile male SAE specifies in its rules to design the contours of the seat to make it as comfortable as possible (I don’t remember the study, sorry). We also asked for added thigh support, as lots of self-designed seats (at least on our team) have no leg support, so you have to brace yourself in the car with your knees against the steel tubes. This gets painful. Dave’s work was amazing, as the seat fit every one of our team members perfectly! Spend some time on the seat design, it really makes a world of difference. The mold itself was made possible by a donation from DOW Chemical, who donated all of the insulating foam used to make the mold you see here. Lots of cutting, gluing, sanding, and sealing was done to get this far. Here, Dave is sealing the mold to prep it for the carbon fiber layup later.
Spacers, spacers everywhere! I think these were all for the spherical bearings in the outer control arms. Making these is time consuming, but necessary. Each one is hand cut on a lathe and must be made to tight tolerances to prevent loose suspension components. They are, however, great parts for teaching new members how to lathe properly because they’re simple and material is cheap if you screw up. Integrating underclassmen into the program is very difficult, especially if the team is very loosley organized (many small SAE teams are). Team building early on is so important to keep teams growing and to keep interesting from the school.
Time for a bit of fab porn. Here, we are machining one of the rear rockers to its final shape. UD only has a 2-axis CAD mill, so the rockers are not as complex as on some cars. However with some creativity (and a good machinist), you can still make some light and strong parts. The rockers were all tested in FEA before machining. James Hinchcliffe’s crash at Indy earlier this year is a good reason for slightly over designing your rockers.