To protect the electrical components and wiring for the trike, body panels will be made to enclose the battery and electronics compartment. A body panel will also be created to serve as a “dashboard” for mounting switches and to enclose wiring at the front of the trike. The body panels will be made using lightweight and relatively inexpensive aluminum flashing. Used alone, flashing is too thin and would reveal bumps, bows and other distortions in the metal. So I am using a technique I have used to make dashboards and other panels for some of the hot rods I have built. Each panel has a “core” made from 1/8″ plywood. The aluminum flashing is then cut and glued to the core to form a solid, stable surface. Note that this technique can only be used on flat surfaces or surfaces curved in only one direction. It can not be used for compound curves or compound/complex curves.
Each panel section core is measured and then cut from 1/8″ plywood. Photo 1 shows all the plywood panel cores for the chopper trike.
Aluminum flashing is cut to the outer shape of each panel with ½” to 5/8″ of extra material on all edges. Do not cut out irregular shapes of the panel at this point. (Photo 2)
Apply DAP Weldwood contact cement to the front of the plywood and the rear of the aluminum. Dry for the recommended time period and attach the aluminum panel to the plywood panel making sure to leave ½” of flashing extending beyond the plywood on all edges. (Photo 3)
From the plywood side, a simple panel will look something like Photo 4. Note that none of the irregular shapes have been cut out at this point.
On the flashing side the panel will look like Photo 5.
Using a good set of tin snips or metal cutting shears cut each outside corner as shown in (Photo 6)
Inside corners are cut as shown in Photo 7. Once all corners have been cut, apply contact cement to the exposed surfaces and to the back side of the plywood, wait the appropriate time, and then fold the edges of the flashing over the edges of the plywood and press firmly in place on the back side of the plywood.
The finished panel should look something like Photo 8.
The “dashboard” panel is installed with machine screws for easy removal. (Photo 10)
The other body panels are attached using nylon push type fender rivets. (Photo 11) These rivets are most commonly found in automotive application for both interior and exterior fastening. The rivets can be removed once they are in place but they do sometimes break off or become difficult to remove. So if you know a body panel is going to be on and off a number of times it might be better to use a different type of fastener. Also, some may want to choose a different fastener if the do not like the “look” of the rivets.
Photo 12 shows a close up of an installed fender rivet.
The top panels of the battery box lid are riveted in place. (Photo 13)
Access holes for electrical wiring are cut in the body panels with a hole saw. (Photo 14)
Rubber grommets are used to enclose the holes and protect the wiring. (Photo 15)
The front view of the completed body panels. Note that the two openings at the upper left and upper right of the deck lid are purposely left uncovered to allow air flow to help cool the controllers and the battery box. (Photo 16)