Friday, September 21, 2007
Seasons over, projects for next year!
Ive wanted a disc wheel for the track for a while, but either not been able to afford one or got outbid at the last minute on ebay. It got to a point this summer where i just gave up and decided id make my own. Ive been working with composites for 5 years and built boats, sail spars and bike frames from carbon fiber, so i feel pretty comfortable with the material, this is just a new project for me. The first part of the project, and the one I'm least comfortable with, is machining a hub body.
Even a composite disc wheel needs an aluminum hub to seat the bearings, axle and hold the cogs/lock ring. Its pretty crucial that the threads be the right pitch and depth for the cogs to mate, that the bearings press in tightly and that the parts i make interact with parts made by any bike company. Ive got some basic machining experience, and luckily MIT has a "hobby shop" where students and staff can learn to use very nice equipment like milling machines and CNC lathes. I pretty much learned how to drive a lathe while making the first hub body, and I've posted some pics below of the result. Its a prototype, so hubs #2 and #3, which are already started, will be a little different.
What I've made is a pretty basic hub that is designed to bond to the composite disc on the large central flange. It will accept "Phil" axles and bearings and is a standard 120mm. It will also take a standard cog and lock-ring. This prototype is single sided, but the next ones will be flip-flop (fixed/fixed), the other main difference is that this one takes older phil bearings and the next ones will take their newer track specific bearings.
I'm moving into a work space October 1, so things should move along this fall and winter. Next on the list..
-find a steel tooling plate, basically a very flat surface, to mold the disc on.
-mold the disc and bond in the hub body
-think of a great name for my wheels!
I should be able to build each wheel to the riders needs. Heavier, more powerful riders get stiffer stronger wheels, lighter rides can ride lighter wheels, and if I ever made a road version, it could be more compliant to handle rougher pavement.
I'm hoping that Ill be selling custom wheels once i figure out the process, my goal is to be taking orders by mid spring. So keep pushing me on this project and maybe next summer the track team will have a wheel sponsor!