Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Arcturus Human and Solar Powered Motorhome comes to life

After weeks of phone calls, emails and online searches, we finally found the differential needed for the long awaited Arcturus Camper Cycle. This will be an ongoing project and everything will be detailed on another web site soon. We hope to have it up and running within a week. In the meantime, here's a preview of the progress so far.

The first part will be a 1978 Jeep front differential

After much hunting, I have finally scrounged up an older front Jeep differential to be used as the "foundation" for the drive, steering, and braking systems on Arcturus. Initially, I thought a Jeep differential might be too heavy for this project, but after adding up the weight of a home built front wheel drive steering and suspension system, I realized that this was definitely the way to go.

By using this 150 pound Jeep differential to contain most of the complex mechanical systems, I actually save weight and end up with an extremely robust and easy to repair design that will last a lifetime. The plan is to adapt a belt drive to the differential so that a very powerful and efficient DC motor can drive the two front wheels. The steering, suspension, and braking system are also included in the front differential, so all of the complex and mission critical mechanics are contained in one area, allowing the rest of the frame and cabin to be made as light as possible. We will be sitting directly over the front wheels in the final design, so it will be easy to connect another control rod to the right control arm in order to create the under seat steering system for the pilot.

Taking the differential apart

It took the help of a diagram to pull this differential apart properly, an although following instructions is normally against my religion, I decided to take the easy way out this once. All of the bearings and shafts were completely cleaned, revealing that all of the important bits were in perfect order with minimal wear and tear. Maybe I got lucky here and this differential came out of a young Jeep with a blown motor? When you scrounge up your parts from a scrap yard, you never know what you are going to get, so luck was on my side so far.