Monday, March 9, 2009

Building a better latch system.

When servicing the BugE, I find I usually put up the cowl. So, I have put on a large "L" bracket attached through the hole drilled in the outer frame. The bracket has a rubber washer on one side of the bolt so the bracket will stay where placed. Just lift the cowl, then flip this bracket underneath it. Having a built-in service bracket is a small but important feature.

The new BugE now comes with cowl brackets that address the cowl issue below. However, this exploration may help someone who may be servicing an earlier model BugE.

Previously, I was using springy latches on the bottom of the cowl attached to bolts that stuck out the side. They didn't work very well since, in my opinion, they were attached to the wrong point! So, after studying how the suspension really worked, I tried a new approach.

Knowing that the front of the cowl rests on the inner frame instead of the outer frame, I decided to rest the rear of the cowl on the inner frame so the movement of the front and back of the cowl would be less.

So, I cut down a heavy 6" steel bracket so it could hold a rubber bumper and hit the inner frame rather than beat against the outer frame latch. The bracket is secured to the fiberglass lip with a 1/4-20" flat head screw & nylock hex nut. It is also is secured a second place by a 1/4-20 x 3/4" bolt & nylock about 4" up the mud well. As for the bumper, instead of using a screw, I decided to install a hex head bolt in through the bumper so the it could be secured to the bracket in a more substantial way. Since doing this, the rear of the cowl seems to take bumps better but there is still quite a bit of shake.

Next, I attached two sections of angle iron to the battery tray lip, one on each side, via 8-32 screws. The angle iron is the silver thing attached to the battery tray lip in left photo. The "L" shaped angle iron should prevent excessive side to side movement since the bumpers will "bump" into the angle iron if the cowl tries to go right or left.

I then attached the original cowl latches that came with the kit to the new bumper hex bolt via a small "L" bracket. To make sure the catch always faces the rear, I used a small rubber washer & tightened the bolt enough so it doesn't turn easily. Since the base of the latch is a bit shorter than the height of the catch, I added some washers as spacers. (middle photo) Adding or taking away washers from the machine screws that hold down the latch allows the latch height to be adjusted.

In the last photo, it can be seen how the latch catch is attached to the bumper bolt via an "L" bracket. To prevent the "L" bracket from rotating, a rubber washer is between the large "L" bracket and small "L" bracket.

This modification is definitely worth it! MUCH less shake and side to side movement than when the bumpers were hitting the outer rail. This is probably because the cowl is now riding with the battery pack and passenger mass too! Time will tell if this solution holds up. For now, it seems to work rather well!

Materials used:
2 - 6" brackets, cut down to size.
2 - 1/4-20 x 3/4" hex bolts, nylocks & washers
2 - 1/4-20 x 2" , washers & nylocks
2 - 1/4" hex bolts
2 bumpers (came with kit)
(2) 1/2" angle iron pieces cut to size
(2) 1" "L" brackets to attach latch catch to bumper bolt.
(2) rubber washers
cowl latches & (6) 8-32 x 2" screw/nut sets
drill oil

Tools used:
Drillpress (1/4" for thread, 5/16 bit for hex head) to prepare bumper
Vise, Grinder, drill (1/4" bit), hexkey & wrench

30 minutes, preparing bumper & drilling 1/4" hole for bumper at the proper location.
30 minutes cutting down large "L" bracket & installing in fender.
1 hour constructing battery tray "L" bracket shelf, then attaching rubber hold downs to it.
30 minutes - Installing small "L"brackets so hinge catches can be mounted to the bumper hex bolt.
3 hours (or so) blogging about it.

Great minds think alike. Mark Murphy, the BugE designer has since incorporated a similar bracket in his 2009 BugE models. I would like to think he used my idea. In reality, I think the idea was probably developed in parallel.

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