Duke University Motorsports is a student group that designs and builds open wheel, single seat race cars to compete in the Formula SAE competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The team consists of Duke students from both Pratt and Trinity, in all classes. The purpose of the team is to provide students with a way to gain practical design and manufacturing experience in a fun and challenging setting.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Back in Action

Yesterday marked the second Saturday work-day of our semester, and we have definitely hit the ground running! There's something really nice about walking up to the garage and hearing every air tool and powered device creating parts for the new car: the sound of progress.

At the very beginning of the semester, I was invited to attend Maurice's final senior presentation on the fuel tank design for the new car. He did a fantastic job, touching on all of the key design points as well as showing all of the effort he put into creating the fuel tank. We consider ourselves lucky to have had the opportunity to have Maurice come by the garage and work with us, and we're definitely looking into developing a more concrete fellowship between engineering student groups and local high schools for the future.

Maurice giving his presentation

Alright, well back to the car...So we had a slight mishap with the carbon fiber intake. Last semester, we put the intake together with a small amount of epoxy to seal it, and then applied carbon fiber on all of the seams waiting for the Spring to apply the final coat of epoxy and vacuum bag the entire assembly. Well, it was that time, and we also carbon fibered our wax runners to have a nearly finished air induction system.

Vacuum bagging the intake and runners
Unfortunately, things did not go so well. As we were applying vacuum to the plenum/diffuser assembly (right in the pic above), the center of the plenum began to implode on itself, and after 24 hours under vacuum, the center of the plenum became too weak to potentially run on the car. Also, the diffuser developed a kink in its side while under vacuum, which basically means that the entire intake up until this point was garbage. Ooops.

Melting the wax from the runners
Luckily the runners turned out alright, and we were able to successfully melt all of the wax from the carbon fiber outer casing. We've been hard at work getting the intake redone, making some small modifications to the design in order to avoid this issue in the future. The first change we made was in the brace by adding a vertical member to prevent any implosion at the center. The second major change is that we've switched up our epoxy of choice to Hysol, which is much stronger, but slightly heavier. I personally don't want to have to redo the intake again, so we're making sure to not cut any corners or potentially make a bad mistake.

New intake design
We're also making a new diffuser/restrictor so that we can have a new intake system with the new epoxy.
Prepped diffuser/restrictor mold
So far, everything is going smoothly with the new intake design, and we're actually working on this during the week so that we don't intrude on all of the other work we need to do on Saturdays.

When we were looking at the frame, we noticed that there was a slight error in the rear, specifically with the location of a cross-brace and the x-brace located at the very back of the frame. The first Saturday back, we decided to jump right on that so that we could have the frame ready.

We had Justin chop away at the old tubing while we prepped the new frame tubes for fitment, and the end result turned out very well.

New rear of frame
Yoshi was also hard at work preparing all of the A-arm suspension tubes with Emily, and they're almost at the point of welding. They bounced back and forth between the garage and the student machine shop, either working the tubes on the jig and the grind wheel or making inserts on the lathe.

Suspension masters at work

Yesterday, we were also able to accomplish a big chunk of work as well. David, who's been hard at work machining the drivetrain and WHUBs components on the car, decided to work with Jackson on designing and manufacturing a new plate for the buttons and lights on the dash for the car (ignition, shift light, neutral light, etc.). For us taller drivers, our knees take a beating when driving the car because they ram into these mounting plates, but the new location should completely eliminate that.

Machining the plate
Kevin was working on all of the steering component stuff, going through all of the SolidWorks, making a list of all of the components we will need, and checking inventory to see if we have enough material to make the entire system.
Working the CAD
The last major goal we completed this weekend was to get the engine for our new car ready to go. This involved taking the flywheel and alternator assembly for an old motor and swapping it onto the new engine, as well as chopping off the rear mount. At first, I just thought that the engine was missing the alternator cover, but when I really looked into it, I saw that it was actually missing these key components. However, with a little bit of luck and the trusty repair manual, we were able to knock out the swap in under an hour.

The removal of the stock rear engine mount was more of a stress release than anything else, but in the end, it turned out great.

Chopping away
That pretty much sums up the start of the semester for Duke Motorsports. On a side note, we pulled the tape off of the garage door, and it looks pretty sweet! We're still looking for some thick silver pinstripes to put over all of the lines and do some last minute touch-ups, but we're very happy with how it looks.
Our garage door
And Chef Yoshi came up with a new way of warming pizza up using the electrics heat gun. I can't say I tried it, but he seemed to be happy with how it tasted...

"Cooking" in the garage

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