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Tools To Build Your Recumbent Fairing!
The Tool Shop!
You won’t go to the local Home Depot and find a section for “fairing tools!” For that matter, since they are becoming more popular, maybe I should make up a tool kit for fairings. Now there’s a thought.
So if there are not specific tools, what do you use? In part, whatever you have at hand that will work. Inventiveness is necessary many times to come up with just the right “gizmo” to make things easier. It also depends on what you are using as material for your fairing. Coroplast is one of the easiest, most inexpensive materials most homebuilders use, and the easiest to find. Lexan and some of the other polycarbonate materials are heavier and very expensive. So for now, Coroplast it is.
Full Sheet Of 4MM Coroplast
It is best to find the 4’ X 8’ sheet to work with. Under normal circumstances, one sheet will be sufficient to make just a front fairing, and two if you’re more energetic and want to do a streamliner. Salvaging the scraps of what’s left can often make tailboxes and wheel discs.
For fairings, 4 mm Coroplast is the thickness of my choice. For wheel discs it would have to be 2 mm. The thin 2 mm Coroplast is a little more difficult to find. Some planning ahead will be needed as you may have to get your local supplier to special order this. I have found they are usually willing to get up to five sheets if it can be combined with one of their regular orders. There was never any obligation to buy all five sheets.
Box Knife And Flute Knife
Now, fairing tools. The very first would have to be a good utility knife. Stanley sells many different models. My favorite seems to be out of production. The retractable blade knives are best. Be sure to get a pack of blades, maybe 20 or so. Sharp blades make a world of difference when cutting Coroplast. Another useful tool is a double blade knife for cutting mats used in picture framing. This is used for hollowing out a channel in the Coroplast to facilitate bending or curving along the length of the spine. The width of the knife is just right to cut inside both spines of a flute, removing the entire strip of plastic. This little tool can save hours of work.
Soldering Gun To Cut And Make Holes
A soldering iron is really important. There are several uses, such as making holes in double layers of Coroplast. The heated tip cuts through the plastic like hot butter. It’s much easier than drilling or using a punch. Different tips can be used for different purposes. There is a blunt point for making holes. There is a round, knife-edge tip that is great for cutting or welding. It’s also great for melting hot glue to take something apart.
Next are Zipties. I know they wouldn’t be considered a tool, but in a way they are. So many things can be held together with them they become indispensable. Because so many holes have to be made to use them on a fairing, it doesn’t help to keep a nice smooth surface for laminar flow for aerodynamic flow. But hey, nothing is perfect.
Hot Glue Gun
Hot Glue And Coroplast
A Hot Glue Gun is a great help. Glue does not like to stick to Coroplast. Since Coroplast is a plastic, there is an oily residue that prevents a good seal, unless the surface is cleaned with an acetone, or rough up with sandpaper to give the glue something to adhere to. Hot Glue can best be used in areas where there is very little stress. It works well until it gets very cold, and then it is prone to loose its adhesion completely. Silicone glue really is not much better, and it takes longer to set. “Crazy Glue” has some possibilities, but it’s very difficult to work with over large surfaces. So glue can work in some areas, but not so well in others.
Drill To Drill!
Electric or battery powered drill, or both! This will be important for drilling PVC, or Aluminum Strap that might be used for support structure, any number of other applications.
Dremel, or small high speed crafting tool. This is great for sanding, grinding, shaping and any number of things, that require working in a tight restricted area.
Hand files will be needed for smoothing cuts for joining tubes together. They aren’t used much in building a front fairing, but you never know.
Flat Head and Phillips Head screwdrivers will be needed, along with some needlenose wire cutters to cut Zipties when used. The excess ends need to be trimmed after tightening.
PVC Tube Cutter
Also, either a hacksaw or a PVC tube cutter. Most builders use a tube cutter rather than try to hacksaw through PVC. The cutter can cost less than $10 at Home Depot, Lowes, or any of the home improvement stores, and cuts almost any diameter PVC.
Last but not least is a heat gun, for shaping the Coroplast or for adding stiffness. It can even be used for bending PVC. When bending Coroplast in the direction of the flute or lengthwise, heat will help to reduce the stress of the plastic. It will also help to maintain the bend as it eliminates the “spring” which would cause the Coroplast to try to go back to the original shape.
Hand Rivet Gun
A rivet gun might be optional if you prefer that to gluing and/or Zipties.
An aluminum bolt commonly called a “sex bolt has been a great discovery for me. It comes in lengths as short as ¼” up to 2” or perhaps even longer. It is used to hold blueprints or site overlays together in a pack on construction job sites. The female shaft will be the same length as the bolt, keeping the threaded surface covered when screwed together so it won’t tear up the hole in the paper of the plans.
Leather Awl For Punching Holes
A utility knife, Zipties and a pointed object such as a leather awl or even an ice pick to make holes may be all you have at the start. All the other tools you can get over time new, at flea markets or garage sales, as you continue to improve fairing construction and design. The first effort is rarely the best so you can just about guarantee you’ll try it again.
Tools to build your recumbent fairing. They can be just about anything that serves your purpose. The right tool for the job will always make the work easier and more efficient. But sometimes you just have to invent things. Now there’s the fun in it!