With increasing political and cultural emphasis on green technologies, the attractiveness of bicycle-powered cars is on the rise. While impractical in many settings, a pedal-powered vehicle could be an enjoyable alternative in a recreational or casual commuting setting. These vehicles take a bit of skill to construct, but when built on the right foundation, a pedal-powered vehicle can be a rewarding project.
Things you need
Recumbent three-wheeled tricycleAluminium tubingFlat stockAluminium brazing torchFlexible sheet aluminiumHacksaw or electric jigsaw with metal cutting blade1/8-inch PlexiglasPlastic cutting knifeAluminium self-adhesive tape14-volt cordless drill1/4-inch drill bitPop rivet tool¼-inch aluminium pop rivets10 pieces 1/2- by 72-inch square balsam wood stockWood glueHot glue gun
1 Determine the budget for the project. Recumbent tricycles range in price from £650 to £1,625. An additional £195 to £325 will be spent on the tricycle's skin. Choosing the budget for the project can simplify the decision-making process.
2 Draw a rough sketch of the skin framework and final design that will be constructed out of aluminium rod, flat stock and flexible-sheet aluminium. Take dimensions from the tricycle and the rider and create an overall detailed guide of what the project will look like when it is completed.
3 Identify the specific locations on the tricycle to which the fabricated skin will attach to the frame. The skin and supporting aluminium skeleton cannot interfere with the tricycle's steering, cranks or chain drive.
4 Plan every detail of the project on paper, answering apparent questions before beginning construction of the tricycle's exterior skin.
1 Make a full-size model of the skeleton frame, on which the aluminium skin will mount, out of wood and hot glue before beginning construction of the aluminium frame. Balsam wood is lightweight and easy to work with. By walking through the construction process with a wood model, the final version will be simple to complete.
2 Duplicate the wood skeleton out of aluminium tubing and flat stock. Joints should be welded, with reinforcements made with 1/4-inch aluminium gusset plates welded into place on key structural joints.
3 Cut aluminium skin from the flexible aluminium sheets. Fasten flexible-sheet aluminium to the aluminium skeleton with the pop rivet tool. Cover all seams and sharp metal edges with self-adhesive metal tape for safety of the pilot and observers. Sharp metal edges can accidentally scratch or cut the rider.
4 Use the 1/8-inch Plexiglas as a windshield in the design. Set Plexiglas in an aluminium frame that can be mechanically fastened to the vehicle's outer skin when complete.
Tips and warnings
Making a full-scale model of the final project is essential to a successful outcome. If needed, a scale model could be manufactured out of balsam wood and plastic as a preliminary step to the full-size model. By visually creating a smaller replica, many problems will be avoided and questions will be answered before beginning the finished product.
Always wear safety glasses when working with saws.