Baja NOW Weekly Update: Week of January 7, 2018

 

Happy New Year from Iowa Baja! While the rest of the University spent the holiday season with their families, the Baja team was hard at work in the laboratory beginning to fabricate the frame for the upcoming National Competition Vehicle.

 Mitch Evens and Samuel Berry bending pieces of the upcoming frame

Mitch Evens and Samuel Berry bending pieces of the upcoming frame

Designing a new frame for the national competition is not an easy task. Countless hours of computer testing, as well as an in-depth knowledge of the rules set forth by the Society of Automotive Engineers, are required to ensure a successful design. Within the 115-page guideline of rules, members must take into account items ranging from the type of material to the specific bend angles of specific “Named Points,” which when fabricated correctly ensure the design will be safe for the driver. Particular requirements also have to be taken into account, such as the ability for the frame to fit various sizes of drivers.

 Designer Mitch Evens verifying the frame conforms to SAE Regulations

Designer Mitch Evens verifying the frame conforms to SAE Regulations

The frame of a Baja vehicle is the most critical part of the Baja vehicle. The frame is the backbone of the car and performs many different jobs. It must be strong enough to support the engine, drivetrain, and driver while being light enough aid in the speed and maneuverability of the vehicle. Once the designs are completed and reviewed by members of our team, it is marked as the final design, and the preparation for frame fabrication begins. Secretary Eric Jones explains:

The frame has to be strong for the safety of the driver as well as to make sure the suspension will work. I trust our frame design for all of the extreme conditions we will put the car through and I know it has been built to last.
— Secretary Eric Jones
 Vice President Rob Pohren notching into sections of the vehicle frame

Vice President Rob Pohren notching into sections of the vehicle frame

Members first began to cut the frame material into individual sections based on the design. Then, the cut pieces were bent to achieve the defined angles of the approved plan. With a limited amount of frame material, each cut and bend must be made as perfect possible to ensure not only an accurately designed frame but to ensure the safety of the driver. 

 Parts of the frame being welded together

Parts of the frame being welded together

Once the individual pieces were cut and bent to their appropriate specifications, members then began to weld each of the sections together.  The welds are an essential part of the assembly of the frame, as they must be strong enough to not only hold the pieces together but withstand the stresses applied to the frame during competition and use.  The integrity of each weld is taken very seriously by competition officials. Before vehicles are allowed to compete, sample pieces are tested as proof of the quality of the welding. Finally, after the parts are welded together and have time to cool, the designed is verified and checked by the team to ensure the approved design was accurately fabricated. If it passes their inspections, the frame can be considered complete, moving the car to its next stage. 

 The finished frame for the National Competition Vehicle

The finished frame for the National Competition Vehicle

We are always looking for donations to our team. We accept material, machine time as well as monetary donations. For more information, check out the "Sponsors" page of our website.