Author Topic: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1  (Read 22629 times)

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Offline mux

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EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« on: April 17, 2014, 11:10:18 am »
Failing to see this already being posted, I'll just start the thread :)

Dave, you live in the wrong country! Here (Netherlands) we have C5s in excellent shape flooding the second hand market, being offered either for free or for very low prices (e.g. http://link.marktplaats.nl/m798109381). This is mostly because the things are, with all the possible respect towards Sinclair, utter crap. Uncomfortable, impractical, slow, ugly and just generally inferior to every other option. You can get a pretty decent 25km/h electric bike second hand for half the price you paid for your C5 - or a fully functional velomobile for about twice as much. They serve no purpose other than maybe telling some history, but the market here was flooded with them and demand from bike buffs is low, so they're not worth anything. I've seen people shipping them overseas from the netherlands for less than you paid.

Anyway, about the restoration. I've seen quite a few people either offering restored/upgraded C5s or offering replacement parts. Things you want to do:
  • Just send the steel frame for sand blasting (if it works the same way down there as here you can get it sand blasted for next to nothing at boat docks, car repair shops and such) and paint it with either lead paint (if that's still around) or a 3-coat primer-car paint-hardcoat. If you don't want to have the hassle of multiple layers, you can also use Tectyl (not sure if that brand exists in AU).
  • Ditch the pedals and chain, entire rear driving assembly (also the fixed axle - it's pretty bad) and rear wheels and replace the rear wheels with single-side suspended wheels from carrier bikes (https://www.google.nl/search?q=bakfiets&es_sm=93&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=obFPU-iHOcnfPY2WgYgG&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=2560&bih=1293). Around here these wheels are a dime a dozen, Sachs/SRAM makes excellent braking hubs for them, it's just miles better than the crusty old sinclair stuff and you're not able to use the original pedals for anything useful anyway without ruining your legs. While you're busy, canter the wheels inward a little bit; this greatly helps turning stability.
  • Put in a front hub motor. Because it's just a 16" wheel you are probably limited to the small-diameter Shimano hub motors or the entirely spokeless chinese motor hubs. It's probably not worth the hassle to try and make anything yourself here; just buy an entire kit off of ebay. If you do want to make something yourself I'd say you should emulate the german guy who put a 16kW electric motor on his bike and just did burnouts all day ;) (yes please?)
  • The fiberglass is kind of hard to return to its original state. Sanding or polishing will get rid of any weathering, but you won't get the original surface finish. Painting over it is maybe a safer bet, but you do need to prime it and kill the fungus spots (yes, those are fungi)
  • If you care about your back and butt, or about comfort at all, I highly recommend putting in a proper recumbent seat that is much more laid back. The original Sinclair seating position is way too upright to be comfortable - no successful recumbent on the market requires you to fold up *that* much. If you don't want to hack into the fiberglass to make it fit, at least get a 'Ventisit' mat; you can thank me later.
  • I'm not sure about the rules in AU, but here in the NL you need to have a fair amount of minimum safety features on your bike. Reflectors on at least the wheels and pedals, functioning front and rear lighting, a recognizable sounder. I've only been in AU once and you seem to have almost no bicycle paths, let alone other infrastructure to protect yourself from other traffic, so make sure the thing is visible both day and night. A flag is NOT going to help you in any way, it's a tiny amount of surface area moving very quickly, seldomly oriented in the right direction for traffic to see. Reflectors that clearly define the extent of the vehicle and lots of (non-blinking) light is the way to go. Also when driving, demand your own place on the road. Drive in the middle of the road when you need to pass in front of other traffic to the other side so they cannot suddenly pass you while you are maneuvering, clearly communicate your intentions with hand or blinker signals, drive defensively.

edit: I'm getting a lot of typical Cloudflare errors by the way - resulting in corrupted edits on my post, database errors, etc.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 11:13:06 am by mux »
 

Offline nathanpc

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2014, 11:15:59 am »
This will be a very interesting series since Dave will touch on subjects that are not directly electronics-related, but some times (restoration in this case) you need to at least have a general understanding to know where to start.

Looking forward to the next part!
 

Offline Wytnucls

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2014, 11:23:55 am »
Who needs a bicycle path?

 

Offline a4x4kiwi

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2014, 11:42:36 am »
A few notes...

The switch is not original That looks to be from a power drill.

Power switch was under the thumb position on the LH handlebar.

Drill holes are for light switch

Tyres. Get slicks. Look for pram wheels on council clean-up.

I have an aluminium from wheel for you already.

POR15 is great 'paint over rust' paint. I use it on my cars. Available mail order.

Use green 3M scourer and Gumption to clean the body.

Surface rust is OK. The chassis can be welded. I know a guy at Kings Park that would likely do it for you. He races electric super-bikes so take your camera.

Speed controller if the original one needs replacing. No Problem. Try a Item # SPD-24500B from http://www.electricscooterparts.com/speedcontrollers24volt.html.
Schematic here to fix low volt cut-out goo.gl/WddAWQ

Original front wheel was plastic. Melted under heavy breaking. Will drop over the ali one.

Giving away my secrets re hub motor. :-) See you at the track.

Schematic and manuals http://c5alive.co.uk/index.php?com=pages&page=5

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Offline max_torque

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2014, 11:44:09 am »
Looking at the chassis, rust is not your problem! (you have minor surface rust, typical of your warm climate, in europe, our rust would have eaten away that chassis to the point you could break it up with your fingers!)  The chassis clealy shows signs of fatigue failure of the spot welds and local material.  As you would expect, with years of having a >75kg person bouncing up and down on very thin section steel, the flexure has caused the spot welds to open up, and the material has failed.  You will not be able to replace the full strength of the chassis without additional welded in support, but looking at it, adding lazer/waterjet cut re-enforcing steel plates in say 2mm mild steel across the top and crucially the bottom (where the loads try to "Open" the joints) looks to be very easy, and anyone with a MIG welder can do this cheaply (local car repair garages etc)

As mentioned, a full strip down, and sand/media blast will clean the metal chassis up and show if there is any serious perforation from the rust before you start the repair etc.

The "extra trigger switch and mosfets" looks to be a later attempt at proportional speed control for the drive motor, as it is using a cordless power drill pwm controller (the finger trigger part) wired to that pair of large mosfets (to amplify the max current capability).  I expect, when the original thumb "accelerator" switch failed someone tried to bodge that on the bars or the seat base

Regarding the front wheel hub motor, although an easy option, if you want to add more power it will never drive very well because of the castor angle in the steering geometery and the fact that with you sitting in it, and with the batteries in the back, i suspect the mass distribution is so rear biased that the front wheel will spin before you get up any steep hills!  (you could sit the car on some bathroom scales and measure the mass distribution to calculate the max tractive effort and gradability with that front wheel hub motor.

Personally, i'd go for a pair of high power brushless motors with a high reduction gear modern belt drive to the rear axle myself!
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2014, 11:50:50 am »
You can get a pretty decent 25km/h electric bike second hand for half the price you paid for your C5 - or a fully functional velomobile for about twice as much.

That's not the point.

Quote
They serve no purpose other than maybe telling some history, but the market here was flooded with them and demand from bike buffs is low, so they're not worth anything. I've seen people shipping them overseas from the netherlands for less than you paid.

I find it impossible to believe you can ship a Sinclair C5 to Australia from Europe for less than what I paid, just for the shipping alone.
 

Offline mux

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2014, 12:05:17 pm »
(...)

That's not the point.

I know it's not, I was just explaining why they are dirt cheap/free around here. Without any practical value and without any collector value... it has no value :P

Quote
I find it impossible to believe you can ship a Sinclair C5 to Australia from Europe for less than what I paid, just for the shipping alone.

I'm not sure if you can ship it all the way to Australia from here for that price, I only know from people who had a velomobile shipped to Scandinavia, the US and South America. It's done with the same service that Alligt and Velomobiel.nl use to ship velomobiles abroad. Called container drop shipping, it takes ages but you only pay for weight. It's about €200-250 for a velomobile, I imagine around the same price for a Sinclair. That is without a crate though - velomobile manufacturers also tend to put a proper 'flightcase style' crate around it which costs about as much (A quick google around gives me a couple of 10 year old replies where another shop charged €300 for a crate: http://osdir.com/ml/culture.transportation.humanpowered.velomobile/2005-12/msg00065.html).

You do have to get it yourself from the freight port, otherwise you pay through the nose to have it couriered to your home.

The high price on that forum thread is mostly down to customs fees and VAT on a €7000 bike. The actual shipping itself is a diminutive amount compared to the total price.
 

Offline david77

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2014, 12:33:53 pm »
I wouldn't worry too much about the rust, from what you can see in the video it doesn't look too bad. Have a look at the underside of your car and you'll find it looks much the same.

The split middle bit of that Y frame is a worry, though. That's cleary something you need to take care of. I suspect there's a fair bit of welding to be done to fix that. Every car mechanic should be able to fix that.

The first thing to do is to take the whole bike apart to assess the damage to that frame, I reckon.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2014, 12:44:26 pm »
It's about €200-250 for a velomobile, I imagine around the same price for a Sinclair.

That's AU$370, and suspect it would actually be a lot more than that.
 

Offline dr.diesel

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2014, 12:50:33 pm »
Dave, next time you're in Indiana I'd be happy to weld that up for you!    ;D

Offline peter.mitchell

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2014, 01:12:37 pm »
Looks like you could whip up a new chassis with some RHS on a saturday.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2014, 01:16:36 pm »
I wonder if a front hub motor might struggle with grip, as there wouldn't be as much weight over it as with rear drive.
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Offline ElectricGears

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2014, 01:41:36 pm »
Once you get the chassis free, look into electrolytic rust removal, it should be right up your ally. It can be re-welded (and reenforced) where it split but stop sitting in it or the box section might just peel open all the way down the bottom seam and buckle which will make it a lot harder to fix. Get it powder coated when it's done.
 

Offline G7PSK

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2014, 02:50:11 pm »
That chassis is made from production steel, its like puff pastry made from rolling sheet steel and lead upon itself multiple times, it was very popular at the time of production of that C5 for car panels as it was very easy to deep draw in presses as the lead layers self lubricated the steel and allowed for deep pressed sections. The problem was it is hygroscopic due to the lead and steel layering it is rusting before use which is why cars of the period were such rust buckets ( I remember seeing piles of steel sheet outside of Fords Dagenham uncovered and soaking up the rain waiting to go into the press shop). If you look at the seam of the chassis near where it forms the Y you can see the rust pushing the two half apart on the spot welded seam, that is going to need cleaning up and plating, and weld shop or garage should be able to do that.   
 

Offline koitk

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2014, 04:20:57 pm »
Seems to be cool project, specially when I'm in the process of building electrically assisted bicycle.
So I will be keeping an eye on yours.
 

Offline tealsuki

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2014, 05:51:07 pm »
I'm sure Ed Aussie50 could give you a hand with the metalwork side of it. He's not terribly local but he works at (a machine shop?) and he's real good with that kind of stuff. Plus he loves your blog!
 

Offline open loop

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2014, 05:54:25 pm »
Awesome project would love to see how this turns out.. Go for it !

In the early 90's I was into cars so I learnt to weld, if you are planing to weld yourself my advice is to get a decent welding mask and not the crap cardboard thing they throw in with the welder! Take it from me "arc eye" is not funny.

That rust is not too bad my old 1970 mini had way more rust! As already suggested get it sand blasted and then weld it up with steel plate. The only thing to watch with welding is that the geometry of the frame is not distorted. Just take some measurements before and take care, practice first though. Or leave the frame repair to a bike / car shop that does body work.

I assume you are using lipo batteries... when going down the hills you could use the motor as a dynamo to put some charge back into the battery plus controlling the descent.

Being an engineer I am sure you will approach this in a methodical way, this will take a bit of perseverance at least it's easier than scratch building a full size electric car. I also think you need power from the rear as you may suffer a loss of traction on the front.

 

Offline pickle9000

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2014, 06:27:29 pm »
The trigger from the hand drill is probably for a variable speed motor control.

I think you need a friend in an autobody shop, or with a local maker group. You will need a bit of welding but the rust looks pretty minor.

As for welding, a little practice and I'm sure you'd be great. I find most people can run a simple bead in 30 minutes.
 

Online SeanB

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2014, 07:24:30 pm »
Russian steel strikes again. My father bought an Alfa, and as far as we could tell ( he was an automotive engineer) it was made from compressed rust. The right time frame for that hot rolled steel that had so many rolled in slag impurities that it would rust even under paint. Solution after you have finished reinforcing it is to seal it with boiled linseed oil, diluted 50% in illuminating parffin and sprayed inside the box sections, and painted on a thin film outside, followed by a 2 week stay in the sun to allow it to drip mostly out. Messy, but I bought a Mazda with a little rust on the panels barely starting to bubble through, and did this to it, and left it in the garage with cardboard under the sides to collect the drips. When I sold it 10 years later, after having driven it to the ocean and the dam with a boat, launching with it going in the water on a slipway, the little bubbles were still there and no bigger.

As to the Sinclair GRP body, first thing is to wipe down with a solution of household bleach and water 50/50. Do this outside after removing all steel parts, and tape over all decals you want to keep. Use good gloves as well. Then rinse and dry. To clean the badly degraded GRP use a cloth and household scouring powder ( I used VIM, should be a similar white powder there in AUS from Lever) to remove the degraded top surface. Then use car burnishing paste, which you get from your local motor paint supplier, to buff the remaining surface to a shine. Then wax and polish with real car paste wax. Works a charm.

Plastic go get some Dash 20 silicone polish, used for detailing cars, and wipe over. You can do everything with this including the GRP, but note it makes it slippery, and a seat done with this has absolutely no friction. I went for a few swims with this, but the boat looked great and looked like it came off the showroom floor. If you want I will decant around 500ml and post it to you, as I buy it in 5l bottles, and it last a really long time.
 

Offline Rutger

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2014, 09:46:25 pm »
The frame is split and needs replacing, I would take the frame out and have it replicated in Aluminium for weight and it doesn't rust any more. Think DeLorean.
I would also remove all the electrical stuff and start fresh with a newer motor.
 

Offline sleemanj

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2014, 12:09:14 am »
The frame is split and needs replacing, I would take the frame out and have it replicated in Aluminium for weight and it doesn't rust any more.

It just needs a guy good with a mig welder and a little steel plate, fix that split right up.

Making a one off aluminium frame would be ridiculous, hate to think what it would cost, vs a few minutes of a welder's time.
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Offline Corporate666

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2014, 04:53:51 am »
The frame is split and needs replacing, I would take the frame out and have it replicated in Aluminium for weight and it doesn't rust any more. Think DeLorean.
I would also remove all the electrical stuff and start fresh with a newer motor.

Aluminum is generally bad for frames because it won't bend and flex like steel will... the aluminum just fatigues and cracks.  You can work around it through engineering and design, but it would be really expensive and possibly not much weight saved when all is said and done - plus quite expensive I would guess (even just for materials alone).

Stock fame looks pretty decent to me - sandblasting and welding should fix it.

Too bad you aren't closer dave, I have everything you could imagine here at the shop to fix that puppy right up.  Hell, we could machine custom parts for it just to say we did ;)  If there's anything I can do, I'm happy to help.
It's not always the most popular person who gets the job done.
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2014, 05:12:14 am »
Aluminum is generally bad for frames because it won't bend and flex like steel will... the aluminum just fatigues and cracks.  You can work around it through engineering and design, but it would be really expensive and possibly not much weight saved when all is said and done - plus quite expensive I would guess (even just for materials alone).

...

I'm happy with the aluminium chassis in my car weighting just 150 lbs (68 kg).



But they use "glue" and rivets to put it together same as aviation frames. Only thing bad about aluminium is that it corrodes with salt water easily, you can conform coat it or just move away from the coast.

 

Offline Towger

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2014, 06:25:35 am »
Ozzie rust... That's not real rust...
Think of it as a starter project, can be bigger ones to some...




 

Offline sleemanj

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Re: EEVblog #604 - Sinclair C5 Restoration - Part 1
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2014, 07:02:15 am »
You can get a pretty decent 25km/h electric bike second hand for half the price you paid for your C5 - or a fully functional velomobile for about twice as much.

Purely out of interest, what planet are you from?

Dave paid, according to his video, about $200 AUD (one assumes, but close enough to USD to be the same) for his C5, that's 135 Euro.

I can not believe that even in the cycling nirvana of The Netherlands you could get a good functioning electric bike for half (what, 70 EUR), or any sort of Velomobile in any condition for 300 EUR.

Velomobiles, at least with any sort of enclosure you could compare to the C5, are several thousand euro new, I can't imagine much cheaper used (if you can even find one, you don't have a hope in hell of finding a used Velomobile anywhere outside Europe).

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