Friday, March 22, 2013

Back from the dead.

The 66 front end has been in my shed for the last year.

I took a year off from the project.

In July I was on vacation in Amsterdam when I got an email from a lady making the Batmobile documentary for the Dark Knight Rises Blu-Ray.
She said she wanted to feature fan-made Batmobiles, and wanted me to send her footage of mine!
Well I got all excited and was walking around Amsterdam with Batmobile on the brain, making plans to throw it back together when I got home, put on some temp fins and shoot some cool footage.
Alas, only a few days later she sent me another email stating that between the legal departments at DC and Warner Bros. they decided not to feature any fan built Batmobiles in the documentary because they weren't sure where they stood on these things legally.

In the mean time, over the last year I've been imagining ways I could move forward with the 66 design myself, with new materials, a new approach, or perhaps move on to Batmobile Beta, a completely new and original design.


I got some sheet aluminum, a pop riveter, a small bending brake and sheet metal shears.  I did a test panel and was encouraged by faceted riveted aluminum.  For the 66 design, I could cut off the paper/glass panels and use them as a pattern for aluminum panels that would all rivet together like an airplane/airstream.

I haven't tested these materials out yet, but an idea for a new design would be to use corrugated Lexan panels (Polygal is the brand name, it's corrugated like cardboard) for the skeleton of a new design, and use .030 sheet lexan panels riveted together and to the frame for the skin.
To keep the lexan from cracking at the rivet points, I'd drill slightly oversized holes and put a rubber and then aluminum washer on the backside.  That way the rivet would mushroom behind the lexan and not inside the hole.

If a Lexan skin didn't work, I could use the Polygal for the skeleton and aluminum for the skin.

Again, the result of both these methods would be airplane style - slightly faceted, riveted with seam lines, but I've always liked that look.

So over the last year I've played with different, new, original designs for a Bat-Miata.
I've worked out a design that I like a lot.

Here's what I call Bat-X:
 and 1:10 scale Maquette:

 Two fins:

The Maquette is sculpted with black sculpey III on a 1:10 RC body.

I can't decide whether I like one fin or two fins better. The way I have it designed, I could have a set of each and swap them out.

The nose got a little long in the sculpt because I was fitting it over the stock miata bumper. For the big sculpt I'd remove the front bumper and shorten the nose to better match the cartoon version.

So I'm thinking about attempting this design with a riveted sheet style.
The skeleton frame would be made out of 1/4" Polygal panels, and the skin would (hopefully) be riveted sections of .030 Lexan sheet. (If not Lexan, then .025 aluminum sheet).
This would make for an Ultralight kit I could build all by myself a little at a time, that would be entirely modular (ten modules including the fins), that would be impervious to moisture/humidity and not involve any chemicals other than CA superglue to tack weld pieces together before riveting.

If I choose to attempt this design, I would build the fins first and mount them to the miata. Then I'd drive around for a month and make sure the materials are going to work for the project.
If I liked the result and wanted to move foward, I'd then build the modules from the back foward (trunk, tail-lights, rear quarters, hood, front fenders, bat-head.) All these units would be sculpted separately.

Why not keep going with the 66 design? Well, I'm a bit traumatized by my experiences with the 66 design. I do have the option, of course, of building the Bat X rear half, then re-faceting the 66 front half with Lexan, cutting out some of the dead weight, changing how it mounts and using it.
The skeleton and the sculpt, after all, are still good beneath that cardboard skin.

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