Thursday, November 27, 2008


Sorry for the lack of updates recently; I sometimes forget that people read this blog. With Phase 1 of the Splinter project complete, I am concentrating on graduating next month and getting a job before plunging fully into Phase 2, which is getting the car running. We have been having a good time taking the prototype version of the Splinter around for sponsors, colleagues and friends to have a look at. Thanks for sticking in with us over the last couple years, and look for the Splinter at the PRI show in December in Orlando and at the AWFS in Las Vegas in July. We are also looking forward to seeing a small feature by Robert Cumberford in the January issue of Automobile Magazine.

Friday, September 26, 2008

25 Sep 08

Spent most of the morning getting my laptop running again. It failed in the middle of the presenstation at VT last week, and we are going to be seriously needing that thing. Aaron was up to the job, fortunately. In the afternoon, I worked on the butterfly panels some more. The inner edge of each panel has some waves that show up in the clearcoat where I clamped the trim piece on. I was cognizant about not clamping them on too hard, but I think it would have been impossible to do it without reblocking that area. The amount of difference it takes to become a visible dip or wave in the surface is probably something like 10 thousands of an inch, and it was bound to move that much. Next time, the trim should definitely go on first.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

24 Sep 08

I spent most of the day at school today, because I have a lot of stuff to do for graduation and other things. Before I left, I cut some triangulating brackets for the steering arm bosses on the front suspension uprights that will beef up the joint. I have a lot of block sanding to do tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

23 Sep 08

I jacked the Splinter up this morning took the front tires off. I had a bunch of errands to run and emails to write, which took me most of the middle part of the day. Ben came out to work on some benches, and we went to Wendy's for lunch. Chris came by to drop off a piece of glass that we might be able to use as a spare, and he fixed a small crack that was forming in the windshield while he was here. Later in the afternoon, Ben and I moved some steel with Hunt at his place, and Hunt and I took it to the scrapyard and dropped one of the wooden wheels off at JT's on the way to get the tire taken off. That one wheel has a leak, so we wanted to take the tire off and reinspect the seal around the center section of the rim. When we got back, I took the uprights off the front suspension so that we could reinforce the steering arm boss. I called it a night at about 7:30pm.

Monday, September 22, 2008

22 Sep 08

I had some major cleanup work to do in the shop once we got back from VT, so I spent most of the weekend doing that. It feels good to have the shop mostly back in order. I had the shop clean enough for the car to be rolled back in by Sunday, and Ben helped me pull her out of the trailer. We have a bunch of work to do on her yet, so it will be back to it starting today. I really want to get the headlights and taillights in soon, and the whole body needs to be resprayed. Time to get to it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wood Week at Virginia Tech

We just got back from Blacksburg, Virginia late last night after taking the car to Virginia Tech's Wood Week. I met Paul Winistorfer, the director of VT's Wood Science department, at IWF several weeks ago, and we decided that the car would be a good thing to have at their event. After spraying the car again on Tuesday night, we got up early on Wednesday to get everything ready to go. Ben and Aaron helped, and Aaron, Hunt and I left a little after lunchtime. We showed up in Blacksburg at about 5:45pm and went straight to the Inn at Virginia Tech, where I gave a short presentation about the car at a scholarship reception. We went to the hotel to crash that night and got over to the school at 7:00am for breakfast and a meeting. An hour later, we rolled the caravan over to the drill field and unloaded the car right onto the lawn underneath a tent. We spent the day hanging out around the car and talking to people about it. At about 4:00pm, it was time to head out, and we loaded up the car and hit the road by 5:00pm. We got back at around 8:45pm and were all tired. Paul and all the students and faculty at VT were some of the best people we have had the pleasure to talk with about the car, and we wouldn't hesitate to go back.

Monday, September 15, 2008

15 Sep 08

I had some clean-up on the car to do this morning, so I started by sanding the taillight surrounds and going over some of the areas on the body that needed to be blocked. When Hunt came up, we finished adjusting the front suspension. Ben came out and put some flush-mount eyelets in the floor of the trailer to get use for holding the car down. I had to go to school this afternoon, but I fit a piece of bent plywood inside the rear body section to support it better. When I got back from school, I riveted and glued the piece onto the car. I also added some angle brackets inside the rear wheel well. Once I got this done, I took the rear wheels back off to make sure everything was locked down on the suspension and to get the wheel wells cleaned up. Hunt came up and sanded on the body with 400grit to prepare for spraying tomorrow. I finished at about 11:00pm and called it a night.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

14 Sep 08

Front suspension work all day long today. Hunt and I both crawled under the car at least 217 times between us, because when you adjust 1 parameter, all the other ones move, too. Once we finally got the front wheels located properly front to back, we saw that the caster was off, so we had to readjust that. Then, we found that the leaf spring wasn't centered over the upper A-arms, so we had to pull it out, shave it down, and stick it back in again. Everything turned out well by about 10:00pm, and we called it a night.

13 Sep 08

More suspension work today. Hunt and I worked most of the morning getting the driver's side back tire located properly. We also went to the Home Depot to get some D-rings to mount to the bottom of the car as tie-down points. It was about lunchtime by the time we finished the rear suspension, so we took a food break. After lunch, Caroline came out to help me tighten the plates around the bearing that holds the steering column before it comes through the dash. This is not the first time that her long, lean arms have been a big advantage on reaching tight areas on the car. Once this was finished, we took the driver's side front spindle off and began adjusting the A-arms to locate that tire properly. We had the spindle centered in the wheel well by dinnertime and checked the tire fit. We decided that we needed to bring the tire out a touch more and to give it slightly more negative camber, so we broke for dinner. After dinner, I came out, took the knuckle back off, and unscrewed the heim joints to push the lower A-arm out. Hunt came as I was ready to get the tire on and checked things out with me. We had a few more issues to correct, but the tire was pretty much in the right place with respect to the body, so we called it a night at about 9:30pm.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

12 Sep 08

I went to school this morning and picked up some jam nuts and all-thread on the way back, showing up at about 2:30pm. Hunt worked on the suspension while I was gone. He and I continued work on the suspension for the afternoon, getting one of the rear tires properly located and the other side disassembled. I called it a night at about 7:00pm to go to dinner for Luke's birthday.

11 Sep 08

More truss trim-out detail this morning. I had to scrape epoxy out of the corners of the truss for a while, modifying a scraper to fit in the process. Once I had everything all cleaned up, I started to trim out the leading edge of the truss by chiseling the front edges of my trim laminates square and cutting a piece to run across in front of the them. I also cut a piece of veneer to run over the whole area. Right before lunch, we went to the junkyard to look at the rear suspension of a torn-up Corvette. After lunch, Hunt and I went to work on the rear suspension of the Splinter. We had to snake in and take off a panel on the box channel to gain access to the trailing arms where they mount to the s-panel. Once we had access, we removed the trailing arms and cut off one end so Hunt could weld a different nut onto the end. I did a little work on the driver's side suspension and finished up at about 9:30pm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

10 Sep 08

I went to school for most of the day today, getting back to the shop around 3:30pm. When I got back, I got the truss trim pieces glued down. I had to cut a bunch of wood blocks to spread them apart and to hold them down. I finished at about 8:15pm, right as Caroline got home, and called it a night.

09 Sep 08

I routed the lightening holes back out of the truss, as they were covered over by the new layer of cherry veneer we added a day or 2 ago. It took me a while to get the tacky tape off the borders, but it all looked good when it was finished. Hunt cut the truss trim lamination into 2 pieces using the tablesaw and the planer, and I started fitting it. Before lunch, he and I went to Strutmasters in Roxboro to check out their products and look at using them on the Splinter. When we came back, we cut up an old trailer and put some steel on a trailer to go to the scrap yard. I cut some boards to help me clamp the truss trim pieces down and called it a night at about 8:00pm.

Monday, September 8, 2008

08 Sep 08

I went to school this morning to work, and came back to go to Huntersville with Ben and Luke. We got an invitation to visit Joe Gibbs Racing last week and took them up on it. Rick Orellana graciously showed us around and gave us the full tour, from the car haulers to the engine room to the body shop. That is one incredible organization to see from the inside like that, and all the guys who worked there were really cool to talk to about the car. It was the most fun we had had in a while, and we got back at around 11:00pm.

07 Sep 08

I planed some cherry backer this morning to 1/8" thick and laminated it to the curvature of the truss to make a trim piece. After this was glued up, Hunt and I molded a wheel well. After the wheel well, I laminated a piece of cherry veneer over the truss using 6mil polyethylene on each side of the truss. As I worked on this, Hunt glued another wheel well, and we called it a night after we got it in the bag at about 8:00pm.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

06 Sep 08

I block sanded the body all morning, concentrating primarily on the front fender lines. Hunt researched air springs and made the last 5 sided plywood pieces before lunch. After lunch, we dug one of the wheel well molds out of the storage shed, and Hunt cut the bottom radii off of it and ground it flat and straight. I continued to clean up the body lines on the front of the car and along the edges of the butterfly panels, and we made a gameplan for how to refine the truss. We called it a night at around 7:00pm.

Friday, September 5, 2008

05 Sep 08

I block sanded the body this morning and got Caroline's assistance in putting a mold away this morning before going to school. When I got back, Hunt had made another 5-sided piece that ties in the rear cross-section. I went back to block sanding, which is likely to be the joy of my life for the next 10 days or so. Ben was out back working on the installation for his art exhibit, and Hunt glued up the final 5-sided piece. I finished up at about 8pm, and went in to eat with Ben and Caroline. After dinner, I came back out, block sanded and answered emails until about 10:30pm.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

04 Sep 08

It looked like the sun got us on the rear cross section piece yesterday, because we found out that the part was bad this morning. Not terrible, just not worthy of over 200mph. The sun was hitting that side of the mold hard while we were laying the part up yesterday, and I feel sure that the resin kicked off before we had the part vacuumed down. We started over on it, putting down 5 of the 8 pieces this morning. We had a visit from a nice guy named Doug Foster today, who asked Hunt and me some questions about the car and recorded some of it. After lunch, I sanded the car a little bit, and Hunt got ready to lay up the last 3 pieces of veneer on the cross section. After we bagged that, I sanded a little more while Hunt laid up an angle bracket. At 6:30pm, Luke came out, and he, Ben and I went to play some ball. Ben was on my team all night, so I didn't get the opportunity to dunk on him. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

03 Sep 08

I went to school this morning to work on my portfolio, and Hunt glued up more plywood pieces while I was gone. When I got back, I went to work on more trim pieces and figuring out how to mount the headlights. That is going to be a complicated part, but it should be doable. Luke, Christina, and Ben came by to watch the piece about the car on the Discovery Channel tonight, which everyone was pleased with. Ken Hamm and his crew made me look about as close to a normal human being as is possible. Hunt came back up to glue up one last part, and Caroline, Luke, Christina, Ben and I went out to eat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

02 Sep 08

I worked on trimming out the car some more this morning and helped Hunt get a part in the bag before going over to NC State to check some things out. When I got back, I worked on trimming some more. Hunt reworked an old mold while I was at school, and I helped him bag it after he had cut the veneers and spread the glue on them. We finished up at about 8:30pm and called it a day.