Shown here is Ted Taraschuk laying down one section of the first layer of fiberglass over the foam mold. The foam was first skim-coated with a hard automotive body putty known as Bondo, then sanded perfectly smooth. Both sides of the 8' wide rig are within 1/8" of each other symmetrically. The Bondo-covered foam was then sprayed with a fiberglass release agent, and then waxed with a special automotive mold-release wax.
A resin and catalyst mix is then rolled over and into the sections of fiberglass mat. Fiberglass is added section by section, and layer by layer until several layers are covering the whole upper section of the front end of the rig.
At the end of this day, we had three layers of fiberglass laid-up on the AirFlow hood. The resin and catalyst mix is exothermic, so after a 9 hour day of adding layers of fiberglass, the hood was getting too hot to continue. We added 3 more layers of fiberglass mat, for a total of 6 layers, a few days later.
One can see by these fiberglass pics that the AirFlow rig does not have the traditional look of a other class 8 rigs. Other Class 8 rigs slope-in the hood starting at the firewall under the "A" pillars. Then they highly swoop the wheel wells over the tires and then drop-off the swoop in front of the doors. This "old-school" automotive design is based on 70-80 year old automotive theories and mind-sets.
One of the best examples of those old-fashioned designs is shown by the pic below on the left of a 1941 Willys. Obviously, contemporary Class 8 trucks don't have the pointy nose like the Willys. They just cut-off the point of the hood and have that big, dumb, square diesel truck radiator as part of the body! At least back in 1941 they got it right and placed the radiator inside that pointy nose. They ducted the radiator engine cooling air through that lower horizontal lower body grill. So all other modern Class 8 trucks took the best part of the 1941 Willys design and destroyed it, by cutting off the pointy, aerodynamic front end, and exposed those big, dumb, square radiators.
The AirFlow rig is based-upon the more modern 21st. century design of a Bullet Train. After all, if you were building a new design Class 8 rig, and you wanted superior aerodynamics and fuel savings, what would you base your design upon? A 70- 80 year old design, or a 21st. century design that travels up to 350mph on a bullet train???
05/31/11 - BUILD PICS
Here is a shot of our new Dynasys APU installation.
We are extremely impressed with the quality components and the outstanding workmanship of the Dynasys unit. This beautiful Dynasys unit just screams out quality. And its 12 horsepower diesel engine will consume much less fuel than the 450 horsepower Cummins diesel will during sleeping and break periods where we need environmental control of the interior of the cab. And it will, of course, allow us to comply with all anti-ideling laws.
Here is a frontal shot of the installed Dynasys APU with one section of the tractor side skirt removed.
Not only is this thing built extremely well, it looks great too. With its black crackle powder coat finish front, its way cool Southco latches, and brushed stainless-steel sides and top, it's a winner!
Thanks to our good Friends and Partners at Dynasys!
1. - Spine
2. - Ribs
The last major piece of the AirFlow rig that needs to be completed is the hood section. Here, we are installing hand cut 2" tall foam blocks, section by section, layer by layer. Kinda like how the Aliens taught the Egyptians how to build the pyramids. Cutting and installing the foam in a geometric progression like this is tedious and very dirty work. But hey, somebody has to do it. The rib and spine geometry was plotted directly from SolidWorks CAD data.
Here, our good friend and Master Automotive Craftsman, Ted Taraschuk, is roughing-out the basic shape by whittling away and sanding the foam to the contours of the AirFlow Solid Model CAD Assembly. The foam is built up very high in some areas, due to the nature of the foam block assembly foundation construction. Then, it has to be precisely cut and sanded to the exact shape of the proposed AirFlow rig. A coat of resin is then added to the top of the foam and allowed to dry. Then a release-agent is applied over the resin layer. And finally, layers of fiberglass will be installed, sanded, primered, and painted.
Ted has over 40 years of custom automotive fabrication experience. He routinely works on high-end, exotic Cobra Replicas and Ford GT40 race cars at his day job as Lead Fabricator at ERA Replica Automobiles, in nearby New Britain, Connecticut. ERA Replicas is one of the few shops on the east coast capable of large scale, one-off, custom specialty projects.
01/26/11 - BUILD PICS
Even with all the advanced aerodynamics and the greatly reduced parasitic losses built into the AirFlow Truck prototype, the driver is still one of the most important factors in the fuel economy equation. To that end, we gave him or her the most advanced Class 8 cockpit available anywhere.
Some highlights of the new custom interior of the AirFlow Truck prototype include:
- Custom grey automotive carpet (covered by heavy clear plastic while in our shop) backed by 5 layers of a material called Mass Back. Mass Back is a carpet insulator and a sound deadener and has been used in new Corvettes since 1986. But the Vettes don't use 5 layers. Then again, they aren't sleeping over a 1/4 ton, 200 degree transmission radiating heat upward into the cab like a blast-furnace during the summer.
- Custom black lower dash panel with ballistic fabric and black leather added to enhance contrast.
- Custom black leather and grey carpet door panels.
- Two ASA Electronics Voyager 7" Heavy Duty Multi-Screen Rear View LCD Monitors, one on each side of the steering wheel. These monitors are ergonomically placed along the driver's line-of-sight to both rear view mirrors. They greatly enhance safety as they completely eliminate blind spots and also eliminate the large fuel-robbing hood-mounted round spotter mirrors and their extremely aerodynamically dirty brackets.
- A 9" high definition monitor directly behind the steering wheel that ties into the engine computer. This video panel is used by the driver to monitor the engine precisely for world record fuel economy runs.
- A Garmin Truck-Specific Nuvi 465T GPS Unit with BlueTooth. This GPS Unit will soon be replaced by Garmin's amazing, brand new, yet to be released, Dezl 560MLT GPS Unit.
- A Cummins Road Relay Trip Computer below the right Voyager monitor and the stereo unit.
We could have used fuzzy-dice, several hundred dollars worth of shiny chrome switches, handles, and other assorted useless crap, a glowing skull shifter handle, and a shiny chrome suicide knob on the steering wheel.
But we felt this interior was more appropriate on a truck working in the second-decade of the twenty-first century.
Thanks to our good Friends and Partners at ASA Electronics / Voyager and Garmin!
We initially considered completely eliminating the OEM "A" dash panel and replacing it entirely with the LCD monitor. However there was no easy way to surgically remove the air gauges and their alarms, and the warning annunciator panel from the OEM unit. And our hardware and software interface does not currently report air pressure information. So we decided to mount the 9" LCD panel right above the OEM "A" panel. This way, we can still see all three air gauges, hear their alarms, and see the warning annunciator lights above the LCD display. Future AirFlow Trucks will not have any old-fashioned "steam" gauges at all, and will use "all-glass" panels, incorporating both engine information as well as the outside environment.
11/17/10 - BUILD PICS
Shown here on top of the Cummins ISX is our new air induction system, and the new Heavy Duty Air Filter assembly from K&N Filters.
Thanks to our good Friends and Partners at K&N Filters!
At this point in time, we are just about done under the hood. Basically, we only have two things left. First, we need to build custom mounts and then install and wire our two new Flex-a-lite 16" electric fans. These two electric fans http://www.flex-a-lite.com/auto/html/trimline-fan.html will only operate when the air conditioning system is operating, day or night. Second, we need to plumb the intake of the K&N Filter to the OEM airbox. Both relatatively minor and easy tasks.
This pic details the driver's side of the two part custom saddle assembly and mount that we fabricated for the new K&N Filter.
A quick close-up of the left side coolant tube routing and the WindMaster Revolution Fan.
This view shows the various plumbing of the completed air induction system, the charge air system, the air conditioning system, and the coolant and cooling systems.
09/14/10 - BUILD PICS
Shown here and below are the first pics of our new Horton WindMaster Revolution cooling fan installation. This revolutionary new fan system directs the hot air from the radiator into the center section of the fan, and then it is expelled out the perimeter of the fan.
Thanks to our good Friends and Partners at Horton, Inc!
The WindMaster Revolution fan system has a stationary inlet ring that has to be positioned exactly in the center, and 3/4" forward of the center cooling fan opening. The inlet ring also has to maintain this exact geometry during vehicle acceleration, deceleration, and other engine torque movement events. So one cannot just bolt the inlet ring onto the radiator frame. Hence the custom aluminum frame system we fabricated that supports the inlet ring.
Here is a full view of the beautiful WindMaster Revolution fan system from the driver's side. The WindMaster Revolution fan bears a striking resemblance to the fan section of a turbine jet engine!
Like we said, beautiful.
The AirFlow rig is probably the only Class 8 tractor trailer in North America with a crankshaft mounted cooling fan. The WindMaster Revolution fan is controlled by Horton's wonderful Stratis viscous device. And the Stratis is also a very intelligent fan clutch. http://www.hortonww.com/products/products.asp?/en/11 It constantly monitors the engine computer (ECM) and if the engine only needs 5% cooling from the fan, that's all the fan puts out. Why use that other 95%, and waste all that fuel, if you don't have to?
Don't you just love technology???
06/15/10 - BUILD PICS
Top Secret Photo!
Here is the first peek of a revolutionary, brand new design cooling fan, built by a well-known Heavy Duty Cooling company. We are checking for clearance with one of their engineers in this pic. The AirFlow rig will be one of the first to be running this extraordinary cooling fan system. Stay tuned. We cannot divulge much more at this time as details and the engineering are still being worked out. More to come on this exciting new development!
Here is the intermediate section of the side skirts. The blue material on top of the composite skirt material is just a heavy duty plastic to help protect the finish while the truck is still in our shop being built. Unlike all other over the road rigs, there is no gap between the top of the skirts and the bottom of the cab. Our Computational Fluid Dynamics software program has shown the rolled-inward gap between these two sections on all other trucks contributes greatly to the coefficient of drag. And yes, Virginia, the cab and the chassis suspension are still air ride.
In this pic we see the four Odyssey PC-2150 Group 31 Deep Cycle batteries. These batteries are located under the bunk of the cab. We do not recommend anyone mounting any other brand of battery in this location. These Odyssey batteries are approved to be installed in a human environment. No toxic gasses are emitted from these batteries, unlike lesser quality batteries. These batteries will run the AirFlow environmental system day and night as well as provide 110 volt AC power in the cab. Also shown in the upper left corner of this pic is the 12 volt battery air conditioner system that the Odyssey's will power.
Thanks to our good Friends and Partners at Odyssey Batteries!
03/14/10 - BUILD PICS
Here is a close up of the new Webb Wheel Vortex brake drums and the new aerodynamic VFlap Mud Flaps. The cooling fins on the Vortex drums as well as the five-hundred and twenty-eight vertical slots on the VFlaps, will help with brake cooling, especially since there will be limited outside airflow due to the tractor side skirts. And the aerodynamic flaps will further reduce splash and spray and cut down on drag.
Thanks to our good Friends and Partners at Webb Wheels and VFlap!
This pic is a close-up of the PSI X-ternal Control Box. This unit constantly maintains an adjustable and pre-determined amount of air pressure in the rear tires. It also senses when there is a leak in a tire and electrically sends that info to a red LED warning light mounted on the dashboard.
This shows where the Control Box is mounted in relation to the truck frame and the skirt frame system.
This image shows the aluminum skirt frame system that was fabricated to support the tractor side skirts. Also seen is the PSI X-ternal Automatic Tire Inflation System. This system will automatically maintain the proper tire pressure at all times. In the event of a tire puncture and subsequent leak, the system will annunciate this event to the driver by an LED light mounted on the dashboard. To service or remove the tires, 6 bolts on the frames outer section can be removed in less than 5 minutes, to provide access.
Thanks to our good Friends and Partners at PSI - Pressure Systems International!
12/01/09 - BUILD PICS
While we have not posted new build pics in several weeks, it is not for lack of work on the project. It just takes an un-believable amount of time and hours for all the detail work to be accomplished. Since we started with a former test vehicle as a foundation chassis for our first prototype, the engine compartment detail was unfortunately not up to all of our Partner's, or our own, high standards. It is now.
Here one can see a close-up of the driver's side of the Cummins ISX. Notice that all the brackets have been re-fabricated in stainless steel, as the OEM brackets were all painted or zinc-plated steel. Those original brackets get rusty shortly after a new truck leaves the dealership. Our new stainless brackets will never rust. Most all fasteners were also replaced with stainless fasteners. Also, we threw out all the junk zinc-plated OEM cable and small hose cushion clamps, and replaced them with marine-grade stainless cushion clamps. The air compressor hose that vents to the head was also replaced. We fabricated a custom one-inch, mandrel-bent stainless tube, with short hoses at each end. This will eliminate any possible future problems from the failure-prone OEM full-length rubber hose.
Seen here is the new cooling system coolant routing on the right side of the ISX. Check-out the beautiful BHTubes stainless-steel coolant tubes, and the new equally-beautiful Delco Remy 300 amp 40si fuel-saving alternator.
Thanks to our good Friends and Partner's at BHTubes and Delco Remy!
Here is a close-up of the coolant routing from the same side. Again note the very high quality BHTubes stainless-steel coolant tubes. Also shown are the custom radiator support and custom shock-tower. The custom stainless-steel vertical vibration isolator bracket assembly for that tube is also shown in this pic.
Here is a close-up shot of the detail on the left side of the Cummins ISX. Since the new stainless Charge Air Cooler tubes (not shown here) are now going downward at a 30 degree angle, as opposed to the original 30 degree upward orientation, we had to relocate the power steering reservoir. The reservoir is now located just forward of the firewall, in the former location of the OEM air cleaner. We will be using a new custom K&N low-restriction air filter assembly, located on the top of the ISX. Cold air will be fed to the K&N filter assembly by two NACA ducts mounted flush on top of the hood. Note the new aluminum bracket that we custom fabricated to mount the new reservoir to the firewall, and all the new Eaton / Aeroquip custom hoses that we fabricated to re-route the power steering fluid. After testing with the engine-driven OEM power steering pump, which contributes greatly to parasitic horsepower and economy losses, we plan on converting to an electric pump and accumulator system and document the fuel-savings from this change.
09/12/09 - BUILD PICS
Here is a frontal view from 45 degrees above. The white tube on the left is a 4" PVC pipe used as a mock up for the new custom stainless-steel charge air cooler tubes.
The accessory drive belt system has been re-engineered to completely eliminate the parasitic losses from the belt-driven A/C compressor, the cooling fan hub, and the fan itself. These items will now be electrically driven.
Thanks to our Good Friends and Partners at Cummins!
Next step is to fit this lower section precisely to the front of the chassis. Multiple tube struts and body and chassis mounting plates have yet to be fabricated, painted, and installed to accomplish this task. And of course the tube grill for the cooling system opening has to be constructed and installed. The grill area opening also has to be physically ducted to the radiator.
Upon returning from Conarc, this lower section piece is still in a very embryonic state. The rough fiberglass edges need to be trimmed, as seen here. Then finishing body work has to be done before paint is applied.
8/17/09 - BUILD PICS
The completed plywood and foam mold for the lower section is shown here, and is now ready for fiberglassing at our composite material vendor.
7/14/09 - BUILD PICS
Here we can see that the work on the wood and foam mold for the fiberglass body has begun. The basic footprint for the grille inlet has been determined and it is shown here located between the lower and second plywood sections.
The new wheels and tires have been installed today. The new drivers side Alcoa aluminum steering wheel and new Michelin Green-One "AntiSplash" XZA3 steering tire are shown here.
Thanks to our Good Friends and Partners at Alcoa and Michelin!
Notice the re-engineered and relocated cooling system, and that the tire eyebrow on this side has been located.
Here we can see a close up of the plywood for the fiberglass mold and the leading-edge aerodynamics.