This is the last installment in Paul Brodie’s walk-through as he builds the eBee, an electric bicycle that utilizes all of Paul’s framebuilding and motorcycle engineering experience. The final result will be unveiled on Saturday, both here and also at the 2013 North American Handmade Bicycle Show — at the University of the Fraser Valley’s Booth #736.
“One of the last processes was to create the battery box covers, which are suspended under the electric motor. Working with fiberglass / carbon fiber involves making a plug, a mold, and finally, the part. The two parts have to mate, and have a certain depth, so I cut 2 pieces of aluminum to match. Then an aluminum standoff was machined and located ^.
“Using bondo, some 2X3’s and plywood were glued on, and the rough form is starting to taking shape:
“More bondo as the final shape emerges:
“This is the desired shape, so now time for hi-fill primer, and the top coat:
“Painted and waxed several times… shiny! That’s me taking the photo. These are the plugs. Now it’s time to make the actual molds:
“The plugs get sprayed with gel coat, left overnight, then coated with many layers of fiberglass mat to create a strong mold:
“The molds have been separated from the plugs, trimmed, and mounted to plywood. Coats of wax to follow, then PVA mold release:
“This is the carbon fiber cloth: it’s a very flexible weave, and quite delicate. From all the work in the shop, my hands aren’t exactly smooth, and little rough spots on my fingers would catch the cloth and separate the weave. I’ll bet the majority of people laying up carbon fiber in China are women…
“The cloth has been cut and placed in the bottom of the mold, and now additional strips of carbon fiber will be added up the sides. I think the bends are too sharp to only use one piece of cloth:
“This is not true carbon fiber work, as I am adding layers of fiberglass mat over top. I do not have pre-preg carbon, an autoclave and a vacuum pump in which to cure it. My parts will be heavier, but I will have that carbon ‘look’:
“These are the finished battery covers. They are not perfectly smooth. They could be sanded and clear coated numerous times, but there are only a few days left before the show, and my list still has many items left:
“Pinstriping by Paul. UFV sent me on a pinstriping course about a year ago, and I learned a few skills there. I don’t have the patience for the ‘classical’ pinstriping where everything is symmetrical. I like quick, flowing, and random. Classical pinstripers would probably be horrified, but it works for me:
“This little handlebar fairing to house the Cycle Analyst is fresh out of the mold, and needs to be trimmed and mounted:
“It is now Tuesday evening before NAHBS. Justin (Grin Technologies) is helping with the final settings and wiring tweaks before eBee’s First Ride. We also got the speedometer hooked up, which is important, he told me. Our schedules are completely opposite. I have been getting up at 5:40am to teach Framebuilding 101, and Justin regularly stays up to 4am. It is almost midnight, and I have had some gin, so maybe that is why the photo is a bit fuzzy. The night is cold and clear, and Justin is first to ride eBee soon after this shot was taken:
“The Cycle Analyst is completely programmable, and also tells a story. Justin returned from his short ride, and eBee had gone 48.7 kph, which is basically 30mph. Average speed was 30.2 kph, including the turnaround at the end of the block. It is now my turn. I am exhausted, it is after midnight, I have my work boots on, and my blood sugar is low (I am a diabetic). I ride anyway. eBee definitely needs some more setting up. The tires are too soft, forks need a lot of adjustments, and the Rohloff that shifted well on the stand, doesn’t want to now. Probably the cables have stretched. It is pitch black except for the very bright LED headlight that is plugged directly into 52 volts. I cannot even see which of the 14 gears I am in. I pedaled about 3 crank revolutions and then the motor kicked in, and eBee accelerated! She definitely has a bit of go. How soon the motor kicks in, and how hard, is all programmable. During the evening, I managed to talk Justin into coming down to NAHBS, and he booked a flight. He’ll be there Saturday and Sunday. He’s definitely the man to talk to about this very slick electrical system:
“It is now Wednesday AM, and another night with 5 hours of sleep has come and gone. I have to mount the battery boxes, do the final photo shoot of eBee, buy some clothes for NAHBS, and pack the bike and stand into a box. We leave tomorrow at 5:30am.
“eBee was created in 3 months from start to finish. Unlike the 1888 Whippet, where I didn’t keep track of my actual hours, I can tell you that eBee consumed 485 hours of my life. I learned a lot, and have no regrets! Thank you all for reading my story.