Apr 14, 2007

Friday the 13th

Unluckiest day of the year!

It all started out well. We got up early, did some finishing work on the vehicle and went on a tour. Halfway through the NASA AMES tour (in the biggest wind tunnel you'll ever see, 150 ft tall!) Kacey called and said their was a problem with the rear wheel disks. No problem, we pull the wheel disks off and get Mucker ready for the design presentation at 3.

The design presentation even went well. The judges seemed impressed, we were well prepared and got to say pretty much everything we needed to say. Afterward we took our time getting back to the rooms. Once there, we took Mucker out to practice vehicle exchanges for the endurance relay event on Sunday. Dyan took the vehicle first, rode it around in a circle and came back to exchange with me. Once she was out, I hopped in and was about to strap my seatbelt down when- CRACK!- the vehicle fell three inches on the left sound.

I hate aluminum.

If you've ever heard aluminum break, its a pretty sickening sound. This is my third aluminum frame to fail, two of which I helped build. It was a fatigue fracture across a weak weld on the front right wheel mount, where the weld didn't get proper penetration. We were just lucky it happened while it was standing still.

The team came together pretty well. Dolan would be proud of our teaming. A solution was designed and approved before 6. We had most of the materials we needed with us. A team let us use some steel and tools that we needed. A big band aid was made by 11:00 and we might be able to ride in tomorrows spring event. I didn't handle it so well. I was disappointed that it broke and frustrated that we were in a catch 22 situation. The aluminum wheel support had been glued to the carbon fiber frame, so the aluminum couldn't be welded without breaking the bond and the aluminum couldn't be fixed properly without welding it. In the end we created steel brackets to JB weld and bolt to the aluminum, hopefully reinforcing it enough to prevent any more problems.

Some other teams brought interesting stuff. Rolla did the usual improvements to their iterative design. Portland State did some really interesting design and testing, including a full sized wind tunnel test to verify computation fluid analysis. Oregon State brought an upright and Chico has a super low frontal area. The really impressive bike was Cal Poly's. They brought a carbon body tub two wheeler (the only other team that really brought carbon framed vehicle) that was just perfectly elegant design. I think we did pretty well, but Cal poly will be hard to beat.
Pictures of Mucker(before the accident), I'll get more up here ASAP.

No comments: