VK3CKC's eLecTricks Trike Design and Build.

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So far, my testing is turning out OK except for the lack of low speed gearing which I will address shortly, and a propensity for dropping the rear chain when pushing backwards if necessary for a turn that can only be completed that way. Both fixes viewed as easy when I get the time.

Another successful experiment that I need to share:

Do any of you have any sick SLA batteries? I recently discovered that my two 12V, 9AH SLAs had become more than a little sick after sitting around for a while and were not appropriately responding to charging. They were also immediately dropping to 9-10V with only 150mA of discharge current. I recalled that I had been going to try something that I had seen in a YouTube video quite a while back. This is how it turned out:

1: Carefully remove the top panel from the battery with a knife or screwdriver to reveal the rubber caps on the cells.
2: Remove the rubber caps.
3: Top up each cell with water. Yes, that's right, the video mentioned water but I would use distilled water - if I had some.
4: Replace cell caps and top panel.
5: Charge.

I didn't have any distilled water left, so I used tap water after considering I really had nothing to lose. The charging process took longer than it had recently been taking, indicating that the process may have worked. The immediate voltage drop no longer occurred and now, all looks fine again.

I do have another battery that I labelled years ago as usable (barely), plus some I was given as no longer usable that I will also try to rejuvenate. It is worth a try.
 
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Testing continues. I have now ridden about 50km with a few minor issues fixed. Had to add a little more length to the front chain, re-modelled the mid-drive gear selector lever to a T-bar, shifted it to a more visible place in front of the seat and later lengthened it (no longer a T-bar as I found it would encroach on the family jewels too much), lowered the height of the mid-drive derail wheel which also put it closer to the mid-drive sprockets and removed a chain rattling tendency with highest gear selected, fixed a rear tyre puncture, various odds and ends, etc. Placed some channel-type stuff on top of the 6 x 4 trailer, used the same stuff for front wheel ramps to make loading/unloading easier. It was more awkward than heavy due to the trailer height. Yes, I can still lift it all.

Will have a look at updating images in a day or two, including the trailer arrangement for those who have a cartage problem. Have another short ride to do tomorrow morning.
 
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There was a post on AZ somewhere about how to transport a trike. This is what I fitted to my 6 x 4 trailer - three channels for three wheels. It didn't cost much but involved lifting the trike to position the front wheels into the rear of the channels and pushing it forward sufficiently far for the front wheels to sit between the horizontal bolts at the front end. That stops it rolling, tie it in place and you are ready to roll.

One problem, it was getting awkward to lift and place in position at it wanted to roll over as it rested only on the rear wheel until placed on the trailer. However, a solution was at hand.


Two x 2m lengths of channel were used to make two ramps.

It was easy to set the spacing for loading but as the trike was at the wrong end of the ramps when unloading, not so easy. Fixed it by making a spreader bar with 2 x 70mm lengths of the channeling. Just drop the ramps into the short lengths on the spreader and you are ready to offload.

Now that I have managed to post the images again, there will be more images to follow.
 
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An easier way would be to shift all three above channels to, say, the left side of the trailer rather than the centre, reverse the second trike, run its front right wheel in the same channel used by the right wheel of the first trike. This would only require two more channels, a full trailer length one for the rear wheel of the second trike and a shorter one for its left wheel. This makes the whole customisable as required. Same ramps could be used for either trike but might need adjustment for a different track width.

The channel only costs $AUD4.50/metre and is made to any length on the spot where I can get it now. The first lot on the trailer is of a lighter gauge and was left over from a shed installation.

See what you've done? Another project. It's now added to the list. I had fleetingly considered it earlier as I do have the occasional need to transport a second trike.
 
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Back to the eLecTricks build:

I managed to find a front disc braked wheel that could be used for the trike rear wheel that does not require a derailleur. Its matching mate had been disassembled some time back but it now provides a disc braked hub with an 8-speed cassette for the mid-drive. It didn't take long to locate it. This enabled me to start the design of the rear end, in concert with the front section as it has to match up where they are connected.

Dropouts at the rear end hold the rear wheel axle as would ordinarily be expected as, in this case, they are only required to hold the standard front bicycle wheel. Straight chainstays will be carried forward, with mounting for the rear or top end of the suspension shock. A gusset will be provided on both chainstays to provide strength for the shock mounting and general reinforcement of the rear end.

The suspension pivot is the mid-drive connection on the front section. The front end of the rear section connects at this point via two pillowblock bearings and spacers. The details of this connection will have to wait for the moment.

Rear wheel dropouts were cut from a length of flat steel and drilled for clearance holes for the rear wheel hub axle. A slot was then cut so that the axle would slide in an out of the dropouts. Suitable lengths of 20mm square tubing were then cut for the chainstays. One end of each was cut to allow one face (side) to wrap around at the rear end by 45 degrees, thereby saving welding separate end caps. The chainstays were then notched on the long side so that the dropouts could be inset flush with the chainstay inside face and they were then tack-welded in place. The chainstays were then put aside until the mid-drive was ready to fit to the front section.

This image shows one dropout tacked to a chainstay and one chainstay cut and ready for folding the end cap around to cover the open end.


Both chainstays completed with tack-welded dropouts.

I hope to get a couple of spacers machined for the mid-drive tomorrow. I will then be able to complete the rear section and attach it to the front section.
 
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As users of the Bafang e-Assist conversion will know, the conversion comes with a single chainring, the size of which is chosen at the time of purchase. Mine is actually a 46t.

Consider what happens with such a chainring when the conversion is fitted in place of a 28t, 38t, 48t chainring set. It is obvious that the available gearing with the same rear cassette. Without putting too fine a point on it, the gearing range will be somewhere between that which was available via the 38t and 48t original chainrings. This means that the low gears that were available from the original 28t chainring will be missing, so will those of the 48t chainring. You may have trouble starting on up grades without the motor, and find that you will end up spinning if trying to ride at speed. There shouldn't be any surprises now that you know that it exists. Someone on the old forum mentioned that he had added another chainring but there was no detail of how it was done. I offer the following info for anyone contemplating a fix.

I have spent quite some time over the last week or so trying to retrieve some of that lost gearing by adding a smaller chainring to my Bafang system. My Hilgo transmission copy more than makes up for the loss of the high speed gearing and I have not yet managed to pedal at a cadence of 60 using the highest available gear.

The Bafang supplied chainring is mounted with five Allen head studs and is easily removed. The correct fitting of the chainring is such that the offset places the teeth closer to the motor than its centre. I managed to find a 28t chainring with five spokes, within a set of three that was rivetted together. Separating them was just a matter of drilling the rivets out. As fortune would have it, the stud holes were not on the same radius as the Bafang chainring. Also, as fortune would have it, the 28t ring had an offset centre, allowing the stud holes to fit neatly between the spokes of the Bafang ring.

I cut a steel disc from some 1mm plate, with a hole in the centre the same as the Bafang ring. I bolted the 28t ring to the disc and placed it against the Bafang so that the 28t offset was in the same direction. A 13mm spacer was cut from some aluminium. Five longer mounting studs were then placed through the Bafang ring, the disc with the 28t ring, the spacer, and into the original stud holes on the Bafang motor. Job done and I only have to fit a front derailleur.

Low gearing from the 28t chainring should now be speeds 0.6 of that available from the 46t alone. I haven't ridden it yet but that change, providing, if you like, a cruising range or a climbing range, with the Hilgo transmission, should do quite nicely, giving me high speed as well as the ability to climb up brick walls - if I can find tyres with sufficient grip.
 
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A brief test ride on the Warrior with the lowest possible gear selected showed what I think will be more than enough low gear. Although, through necessity, the test was on level ground, I would expect that I will not be riding up any rise that is now too steep to ride. The front derailleur has not been fitted yet.

Unfortunately, I now have to make an adjustment to the front chain tensioner. One modification breeds another.
 
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My Warrior test trike is now back in operation with dual chainrings on the Bafang motor.

The additions consist of the original chainring and an additional 5-spoke, 28t chainring bolted to a disc and held in place by 25mm x 5mm studs through the original chainring to the motor. An easy modification for those who want/need more low end gears with a Bafang drive. I still need to put a derailleur back on it.

By the way, Amazon have a range of Bafang components including a 4-spoke adaptor spider for those who want to use other brand chainrings.
 
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I just had to try a steel wheel. Simplified construction: I drew up a design of a 16-spoke wheel centre to fit a 48-spoke rim. Then traced it onto a used sheet of <1mm steel, small drilled the centre and cut it out. Cut a length of steel flat that was 2 x the thickness of the sheet shorter than the inside diameter of the wheel rim to bend the ends of each spoke at right angles to make spoke-to-rim mounting tabs. The tabs are bent inwards to the rim so that the spokes will be splayed somewhat. Placed the spokes inside the rim, held each spoke carefully in place and drilled through the nipple holes. Placed appropriate sized small bolts through nipple holes and spokes, attached nuts and tightened. Impressed with how this "roughie" worked and it didn't seem significantly heavier than a standard wheel when I picked it up. Just realised that, in this image, there is no hub, so it will be, as expected, heavier. That doesn't worry me. It would look much better if painted.

Before I started, I reasoned that only one disc should be required with the spokes splayed to suit inside and outside nipple holes and a DIY hub could even be narrower.

It became obvious that the rim must be straight before starting as there is no adjustment available during construction.

Would I use it in a build? I think so but I need to mount it on a hub first.
 
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For those who have been looking at this thread, awaiting developments, it is now time to share more of my random eLecTricks build processes so that you can “ride” along with me because that is what AZ is all about. The build actually started around January 12, 2018 and has been delayed through side issues, time out for testing future gizmos so that they would be ready once the trike itself was finished, and now, days that are too hot for working and or riding. To give you an idea, as of December 23, 2019, there have been 839 homes destroyed, some 300 others damaged in four Australian states this summer and we have international firefighters on the ground. Hundreds of fires burning at some times. We have had some days around 45C here and at one place, in South Australia I think, reached 47.7C.

Build progress and design/decision notes and images have been kept all along the way, waiting for this day and I need to bring this thread up to the present day. Many things that will be incorporated down the track have either been incorporated into my now heavily modified Warrior which has been used for some testing and refinement.

Anyway, just mentioning that a lot more info is about to appear on this thread.
 
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It has been mentioned many times on the AZ site that builders do not stop at one. I now know what is meant by that. My Warrior, except for the steering and front wheel hubs, was built essentially as per the plans, and was an experiment upon which I hung much gizmology and gadgets to the point where I just had to come up with a purpose build due to running out of hanging options. This also started out as something of an experimental build , meaning that it was nowhere near completely designed before starting. Visualise a slightly trickling water hose laying on a level concrete pad and you’ll get the idea. The water meanders all over the place, splitting into several streams at times in the quest for an approach to professionalism. Design a drain and it will follow the drain. Anyway, enough of the philosophy, let’s get to the build.

I am putting these words into a document in which I hope to keep ahead of the AZ thread, releasing dribs and drabs as it all unfolds.

As the Warrior rear end had been replaced with an MTB suspension rear which was giving sterling service, I started eLecTricks with an MTB rear end. I decided at the time that eLecTricks should have a mid-drive similar to what I had installed on the Warrior. This started out as a conventional 3-chainring set with an additional large chainring installed against the original large chainring to take the drive from what would be a single chainring from a Bafang e-Assist conversion.

The first version had the mid-drive mounted within the bottom bracket space of the rear end. I had ground the left hand side spoke flange off the hub so that I could slip an extra sprocket spaced a good chain thickness from the largest cassette bracket. It was more than a little fiddly to arrange but I eventually got it mounted there and spinning freely in position. The rear end was connected to a length of 40mm square tube via the donor MTB suspension pivot , and running towards and beyond where the front wheels would be.

A bracket to form part of the suspension system was fitted to the front boom and a mesh seat that I had made for an aborted build was sat in position and its future was considered as waited for the next big development.
 
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Update to March 2018: Fabrication of front wheel spoke flanges commenced. Discs were cut and drilled for the 48-spoke wheels that I intended to build. As I didn’t have any hubs ready, a wooden block was fitted between each pair and two wheels were laced up to ensure that all was well so far. They were put aside, awaiting further development.

Steel tube was purchased for the front wheel hubs and left with a local Mensshed for machining to suit the bearings that I had purchased. The bearings accommodated a 5/8” bolt for the axle.

There are those who say, "Suspension is not required on a tadpole trike." My response to that is that they have never ridden one off road. There is nothing like comfort when you are riding and why not try and make it as comfortable as possible? I consider rear suspension as a minimum.

Front suspension systems for trikes can cover a variety of designs that range from simple to quite complex. Designs include a flexing cross spring, sliding piston and spring on each steering knuckle, swing arm with compression spring or polymer, double wishbone, to mention a few. There is also a requirement to preserve steering angles during suspension movement. You do not want steering changes to occur when you hit a pothole or bump.

The question facing you is, "Which one shall I use?" I decided that whatever I used had to be effective, but also fit within the DIY engineering constraints that one has. In my case, I chose double swing-arm design, with the intention of designing out potential wheel and steering angle changes during suspension operation. The front suspension components were made up and also put aside, waiting on the wheels.
 
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A tadpole trike does not stand up too well on its own when there is nothing at the front to hold the two front wheels.

I found a floor-mounted stand used for fitting a bicycle to to form a variable resistance excercise machine. I removed everything that I didn’t need, leaving what was basically a folding A-frame with a spring-loaded clamp for holding onto a bicycle’s rear axle. This made a very nice stand for a front-wheel-less tadpole build. It even comes in handy for keeping the rear wheel off the floor for testing, wheel truing, etc.

The front wheel bracket/kingpin is a departure from the usual construction and, although these notes are from another contemplated trike build, I will be using them in eLecTricks. As there are tie-rod ends on the suspension arms, I decided that the different construction method might be in order.

They are created from flat stock of approximately 31mm x 5mm. I placed the wheel on a horizontal surface, resting on the nut that holds the inside bearing in place, and measured the distance to the centre of the tyre to assist in ascertaining the centre point steering dimensions. This dimension was transferred to a CAD program to draw what would become the kingpin angle. This allowed me to draw the profile of the bracket and then create a paper print. The overall length and the position of the required bends were then marked on a length of stock. The three hole centres for the axle and rod end bolts were then located and centre punched. A cutoff disc was used to cut almost through the flat stock at the required bend locations, to make it much easier to bend to shape. A solid weld was then used to fill the opened gaps after bending. Small gussets could be used for additional strength if required and I may include them later.

 
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Not much happened for a month or so, just some random experimentation with seat angles, disc brake adaptors, wheel lacing and some what-ifs. Nothing really finalised.

I had always planned for a mid-drive with a single sprocket drive to a conventional cassette on the rear wheel and set up a modified pedal crank with a large outside chainring added to the three that were already there, and a small inside drive sprocket for drive to the rear wheel. I had been using such a system on my Warrior for some time and it was just a matter of duplication. However, this mid-drive setup was not to last – once I discovered Harry Leiben’s Hilgo mid-drive transmission system, made a rough lashup, and proved that it would be doable.



A lovely scrap heap backdrop.



The first incarnation of the Hilgo was only short-lived. It was changed to fitting the modified rear wheel hub inside the no-long-used bottom bracket. While this turned out to be easy, it wasn't as easily duplicated on the Warrior, the mounting of which was one of the things that delayed further eLecTricks construction. The process was furtuitous in that it brought about some modifications.
 
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This is a little off topic. Has been too hot to do any work or riding with days ranging from mid 30s Celsius through mid 40s Celsius. Fires are ravaging the countryside. For the first time in my living history, the Defence Forces are now getting ready with ships and planes for mass evacuation from near Mallacoota in SW Victoria. Some fires have been burning for more than a month and many have now joined together to increase their front Many, many homes lost in all states.

One fire has crossed over the river border from New South Wales into Victoria and is reported to be now so big, that it cannot be contained without rain and there is none of that in sight.

Probably the most savage and destructive fires that I can ever remember. My thoughts go to all those affected.

A few small fires around here but nothing drastic. They seem to pop up frequently and some are believed to be the work of an arsonist. I've never seen so many and we still have at least two months to go.

Details can be monitored at: The Victorian Emergency Website.
 
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The first mid-drive incarnation ended up being fitted inside the otherwise empty rear end bottom bracket to reduce changes in required chain length with suspension operation. A pedal bottom bracket was fitted to the front boom, idler wheel and chains fitted. A simple chain tensioner was fitted and the mechanics checked to see how it all operated. It worked OK but I didn’t think it would be the final design.

At this stage, the mid drive was using an extra sprocket attached to the inside of the right-hand-side spoke flange. There was a trap hidden from me at the time, becoming obvious at a much later date.

Construction stalled due to a shed cleanup. My tools were conspiring to move to a place of their choosing as soon as I put them down. My car had not been able to fit in its home for far too long and winter was approaching. Never clean a shed up. You won’t remember where you hid everything and no matter what you do in it, it is all towards making it untidy again. Anyway, it took quite a long time but was eventually completed with shortcuts (read not as thorough as it might have been in some places) taken with some of it.

I purchased a SONY FDR-X3000 4k video camera in December 2018 and I was very impressed with it. It has the ability to be controlled by a free phone app and can be set to be powered by either its internal battery or an attached micro USB cable. The setting is a menu option for either external or battery power for recording and it cannot be used for recording and charging at the same time due to temperature buildup. That didn’t present a problem or, not specifically. I got caught many times with a flat battery when despite powering it externally, discovered that it had been using the battery until exhausted. It is a damn good camera.

I began experiencing difficulty getting USB to reliably power the camera and traced the problem to a particular USB cable – or so I thought. I found one that did the job, as indicated on the camera display, then had trouble later, using that same cable to access the video files on the camera. I used yet another cable OK. That just proves that all cables are not created equal - some are for charging/power only and may not have data connections.

The power problem continued to plague me for some time with the real cause eluding me.
 
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