Church Pod build

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Thanks to jonrev I now have this fine bodywork to make into something to pedal. What I won't be doing is trying to get in and out of that opening at my age. A circus contortionist might be able to do it and not look ridiculous but I've no intention of calling for help as I get halfway in or out and realise I'm too fat, old and decrepit to complete the manoeuvre. This means a tilting bodyshell hinged at the front. This in turn means fixing the rear panel to the chassis as it won't clear the seat otherwise. One other alternative is to tilt at the rear point but that then requires a means of ensuring it doesn't get blown open as I hit 40mph (my bike hits 36mph on my commute down a big hill). I'm expecting to use polycarbonate in the windscreen but thick PVC for the side. By doing that and judicious use of velcro I can fasten the side screens down enough to provide rudimentary rainproofing but roll them up in summer for the wind in the place where my hair would be if I had any.



My wild guestimates from measuring pictures on screen against known things such as tyres were spookily accurate :oops: in that a regular pedal system will not fit by quite some means and the oval crudely drawn here is a good approximation of the required space for one.



I therefore either need to place a blister on the bodywork, cut a hole in it, or move to a non-regular pedalling system such as linear. I am utterly useless with fibreglass and I can't think of any way to modify the body without ruining it aesthetically so modifying the pedals it is. After extensive trawling of various already invented options, this one seems most likely to be used.


Edit - video works fine on youtube if you click it.

More measuring shows if this system is used but slightly rotated about an hour clockwise in the picture it will stay within the body and leave my foot here at furthest extension and 5" of clearance under my foot. The big advantages over truly linear are no extra chains, no catching up with the system on each stroke before adding anything to the power and a std bottom bracket can be retained for adding electricity to the effort. It won't be as efficient as a regular pedalling setup or we'd be using them everywhere already but it's about the best that will fit the space IMO.



When I originally saw the yellow Church Pod body on ebay some time ago I was thinking of a trike (tadpole) but I'm now convinced a 4 wheeler is the way to go. One rear wheel must be completely behind the body and if suspended be sufficiently far behind to allow clearance for that movement. A 4 wheeler can have the rear wheels further forward, either side of the body thus keeping length down. Also with the position of the rider / driver, their weight is a way behind the front wheels so one rear would not provide enough stability IMO so a full set of wheels it is. I have in mind a Chinese ATV axle at 22mm.



At that size I'm hoping / expecting it to be butch enough especially when suspended. Also at that size I can slot on some bosses to mount the relevant threads for three freewheels. There'll be one for the drive and one at each end (RH thread and LH thread) to provide drive to the freewheeling hubs that will attach to the ends. The end threads on the axle are M16 and by the miracle of modern thread altering technology I have some M16 to M12 studding adapters. This will allow the slotting on of freewheeling front hubs using the disc brake mounts to drive them like a Rhoades car. This will give me a freewheel diff setup. The outer wheel will simply freewheel ahead of the driven inside wheel.





The disc brake mount on the axle will then be useless as the wheels will simply freewheel so the discs on the wheels will provide both drive and braking.

At the front I'm thinking of using more Chinese ATV parts, namely the front wishbones of a kids Quad. The front track is going to be 1050mm (rear about 930mm) or so to fit the body so there's plenty of room for them though they will add weight. As well as comfort, independent front suspension will go some way towards solving the usual problem of keeping 4 wheels in contact with the tarmac.



It looks an easy enough job to slice the upright about enough to mount a 20" bike wheel.

Any and all thoughts welcome.
 
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WRT getting in and out.
I can see it might definitely would be an exercise in sideways limbo dancing mixed with some anti-gravity belt action.
But, if you put a hard seat in there and a lazy-susan turntable affair you could probably poke your rear end in the opening while holding onto a grab-handle inside the pod and lower yourself in.
Then tuck your legs up and spin round. My MIL used such a thing in all of her cars to aid entry/exit. It worked well.
 
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The gullwings sounds like a challenge. I could extend the frame up to hold the centre panels in place then hinge the whole side. I could even make it Lambo style beetle wing doors.

I'd need my legs off to get through that door.
 
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OK - no gullwings as I've now bolted, riveted and glued the body together. The rear panel will not be attached as it can not tilt with the rest so must be fixed. I've made a start on the rear axle by making the attachments for the three freewheels. One to drive and two to act as a diff with left and right threads. Getting the excess metal out of the inside of the BB caps was a bit of effort. No amount of drilling or rotary burrs or flap wheels would make much of a dent in them. In the end I had to lathe them and even that took a while. They only just clear the 30mm axle and centring them was just a case of wrapping a couple of layers of insulation tape around the tube. They are welded to only one half of a double split clamp so the other half can still be undone. The brake discs have had a couple of bolts added to them and this will provide the actual drive to the wheels via front hubs. I managed to find a longer piece of 30mm axle tubing so the track will be almost identical now front and rear. The bolts in the discs will be welded in to add strength back the discs that I have removed by drilling them. Oh the fun I had drilling stainless again. I'll only weld them once I'm happy all is working though.







 
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Back axle now complete bar the pillow block bearings. Doesn't look much for 6 hours effort. :( It didn't help that the 12mm drill I got to make the spacers twix 30mm tube and M12 bolt wouldn't fit the lathe's 10mm chuck! The lathe tooling protested yet again and turned the drill down. The differential works perfectly by hand and any test under load is way off. Getting the freewheel parts out of the 9 speed cogs was much cursing and hammering as it simply wouldn't undo. It had to come out as the multispeed freewheel won't fit over the tube so the freewheel parts had to come off and I then welded it to a single speed. The smallest cog just clears the tube.





Next up the main chassis while I wait for the bearings and rod ends to mount that axle to arrive.
 
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Looking at window fastenings and face a choice. The windscreen will be polycarbonate and is straightforward. The side windows will be PVC that will roll up and fasten like a tent window might via a small bit of strap and press stud. When unrolled to fill the hole I'm thinking of either velcro at the sides and bottom or magnetic strips. I'm leaning towards velcro as a stronger fastener but welcome any thoughts. The magnetic strips will look neater in not collecting detritus but I'm not sure they'll hold, particularly if the pvc wants to re-roll itself.
 
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The chassis is started. It will be a simple ladder chassis with twin main beams. A single main beam wasn't going to be butch enough and two main beams supports the body better. The chassis is designed to sit slightly proud of the front body as a protector against minor bumps against walls etc.



Here's the persuader nudging it back into alignment after some warping.



The Quad wishbones intended for the front.



And here's the first in place.



I'm hoping / expecting I can find room to tie the tops of the suspension units together but will wait until I have the pedal system in place first so I can more easily see clearances.
 
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Great to see you're getting the Pod underway. Really looking forward to seeing it on the move and drawing the crowds. It will be a real head-turner.
I spent a long time with a pile of tubing trying to work out what went where but could find almost no info at all and just gave up with the 3d jigsaw and went the same route as you with a ladder frame type chassis and quad bike bits. Unfortunately my aim was an IC engine power source which entailed the mass of regulations and impossible paperwork which makes home built cars crazy hard to get legally registered so I gave up. The pic here shows one of only two I managed to find which showed the original spaceframe. (Note the seat actually poking out of the rear). Looking forward to following your build.

PS great to see someone with a workshop as untidy as mine. Wives just don't understand that untidy doesn't mean unproductive and 'No I don't want you to help tidy it thank you dear' My new garage/workshop is nearing completion and my leg wound is being treated twice a week so I'm hoping to get going on my first 'bent before too long.

All the best
John
 
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I tidied it up before those pictures! That's the result of a lifetime of "I might find a use for that at some point" coupled with the certainty of needing anything thrown away exactly two weeks after you got rid of it. The latter has happened so often I now think it's Newton 4th law of motion.

That picture confirms I'll have enough room to tie the suspension units together at the tops.
 
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A thought occurs (dangerous things thoughts) that I could use a rack and pinion like one of these....



..... and use a single lever for the brakes. Not a std type brake lever but a simple upright pivoted bar next to the seat operating two above the pivot and two under. This would give massive leverage potential to operate all four brakes. Advantage is the car like steering. Disadvantages are regular rebalancing of the brakes and an extra obstacle to getting in and out. These things are 1 turn lock to lock. I'm not convinced this is a good idea but it's something to mull over.
 
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I used the quad steering setup but certainly rack and pinion would be nicer if you can make room for it. The quad I used was a knackered old 200cc Bashan which was strong but heavy built and really the wrong size and shape. I ended up shortening the A arms to about half their length to give me a tunnel to take my legs and feet. The pic shows the original front end and just how little room there was before the cutting operation. After alterations my A arms were a similar size to yours I reckon. I had hell and all trouble getting ackerman steering too. Geometry was all over the place unless the belcrank jobby was exactly as in the quad which put it directly in the way again.
Before I got that sorted the DVLA spoiled everything and I cut it all apart.

I must say I did also find the handlebar steering was a major pain in that it took up a lot of room. A wheel would be far better in that respect but, as you say, it then means finding alternative positions for brake levers etc. Hey- if anyone can sort it you can

John
 
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I finished the other side A arm mountings and had a good measure up. I reckon I can just get tank style steering in though it's tight.
 
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Yes width low downish should be OK I would think. It seemed to get a bit cramped from belly height upwards to me.
I'll be really interested in how your footwell area pans out cos that was where everything got really claustrophobic for me. I tried raising the seat as far as I could to make a more upright sitting position so more room up front but it was a real uncomfortable squeeze.

Please keep the build pics coming.

John
 
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I've made the pedal assembly and the rear frame. The rear frame will probably need to have the central part of the leading member cut away to make way for chain management and I'll then need to brace around the pulleys. The pedals needed a lot of thought and work to get to that stage to keep the pedals reasonably close together and avoid locking the mechanism as it spins. I have about 325mm of fore and aft movement which should be ok and the whole assembly will need to go in tilted to both make best use of room and to align the pedal's arc with my projected leg position. Next job is to build the front wheels and then mock the body on the chassis to get the rear panel mounted which will then allow me to mount the rear shock.

 
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The body is now mated to the chassis, being hinged at the front. The rear panel is fixed in place and the rear suspension mounted. The seat is also mounted. Standing through the windscreen and bouncing on the chassis I guestimate anout 3/4 to 1 inch of sag and about 1 1/2 inch of further give for everyday movement. It's not bottoming so there's some left for the really big potholes. Pedal box is next then it's the steering. Now the body is fully attached there is plenty of room for tank steering so that is what it'll get.





 
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That's really excellent popshot. Front section has bags of room with the short A arms and cycle wheel setup. I wonder what you intend for the rear. Are you going to build some kind of rear body section to cover the 'naked' look? That's where I would have problems. I haven't got an eye for design and would struggle to make a good looking addon there. Or maybe you intend to make a large cargo box of some kind to fill out the open space? I'm sure whatever you do you will keep it lightweight or the velo could end up a bit of a tank I would think.
Really impressed and looking forward to the next stage.

John
 
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I'm intending to leave it naked. Not only will that save weight but I doubt I could build anything that would improve it's looks. Having it obviously pedal powered to any rear onlooker will also help explain my sedate pace to them.
 
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Fair comment but those rear wheels look a little bit 'vulnerable' as it stands. I think I would reduce the rear track so the wheels were just outboard of the two bearings to make it more compact but then you'd lose a bit of stability I guess. Plus you then have four tracks to find all the potholes rather than just two.
Nice rear platform for adding electric assist if you decide to go that route. I would think even a fully legal setup could make it a bit easier going on hilly stretches.
I'm looking forward to your first test ride to see how it all pans out. There's some innovation in there that I would never have thought of for sure.
I really love the shape. It will be something special when you're done and right now with the rain hammering down outside again the body isn't just for show- it's decidedly practical too!

John
 
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