Fabric covered vehicles

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Fabric covered vehicles

Postby Dustyrusty » Mon May 28, 2012 2:21 pm

Yes, ideally I'd do a welded, all metal vehicle, but that isn't in the cards this year.

this year I'm doing a wire sculpture covered in fabric. (yeah, I'm all designed, submitted and conditionally approved by DMV.). The fabric I'm using is a stretch fabric that is not completely opaque and I'm a little concerned about it holding up to the playa winds. Anyone out there with helpful hints to make sure I don't end up in tatters?
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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby Jackass » Mon May 28, 2012 2:25 pm

Make sure the material is pulled nice and tight, and use marbles instead of grommets. No holes, no sharp edges.
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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby lemur » Mon May 28, 2012 2:57 pm

make sure it obscures the base vehicle.. if youre doing a night license, make sure the lights dont reveal the base vehicle
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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby some seeing eye » Mon May 28, 2012 3:18 pm

Fabric covered vehicles are common. Rosebrand Fabrics in LA has a variety of very wide specialty theatrical fabrics for order. Some allow some wind to pass, like scrim, and some are stretchy, which responds well to structure destroying gusts. Wider fabric can mean fewer seams, where tearing stress can be concentrated,
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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby EspressoDude » Mon May 28, 2012 3:42 pm

you may want to wrap some places on the frame with duct tape to minimize chafing. Also test the fabric for flammability. Just in case some idiot drops a cigarette or something on it.
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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby trilobyte » Mon May 28, 2012 4:14 pm

If it's not completely opaque, you may end up spending a lot of time working to obscure the base vehicle. May not sound so important, but if you don't obscure it enough they'll give you a big fat no, and all those months (and dollars) you put into it will be for naught (well, it'll make a great decoration at camp…). Actually, from my own experience, even with completely opaque fabric you'll still struggle with that. Bring more fabric than you think you'll need.

A flammability test is a good idea too (some of the stretchy stuff burns easily and quickly), and plan to pack a couple extra fire extinguishers for the vehicle. You'll also want to make sure you don't find yourself too close to any of the burns (floating ash/embers), and make sure your drivers and other crew members know where the extinguishers are and to keep an eye out for embers as well as passenger cigarette burns.

Depending on the weather, you may still end up having problems with the wind. When I did a fabric covered vehicle in 2007, we used breathable fabric and it was attached to a steel frame - the wind was severe enough that the fabric + wind bent the frame in a few places. Make sure you bring the tools you need to be able to repair/recover from whatever the playa throws at you.

Good luck!
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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby Dustyrusty » Mon May 28, 2012 8:44 pm

Thanks, everyone.

I feel stupid in not considering flammability.

Last year I ran up against the base visibility problem (yeah, it made a nice way of locating camp when DMV passed on licensing us), so I'm very cognizant of changing the base shape and making sure wheels in particular are invisible.

Just starting night testing lighting. What seems like a good plan can be too dim at night.

It's definitely a process. And you can't use previously licensed vehicle pix as a standard. They've definitely gotten tougher on new submissions.

Again ...thanks.
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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby oscillator » Mon May 28, 2012 10:01 pm

I have used ripstop nylon fabric against a layer of 1/8" packing foam sheeting, and regularly-spaced grommets to attach to a 1/2" EMT conduit frame.

Oh, and found a seamstress that did some hardcore stitching from the patterns I provided. Used a soldergun with a wide tip to burn grommet holes thru the nylon/foam.

Was careful to reinforce the areas around the grommets with small patches of foam sheeting. Very few of the grommets have partially torn loose - easy to fix with a little hot glue.

Has worked well for the past 4 years. Depending on the total area, I don't think any porosity properties of a fabric will have much effect with the wind.

This year doing a complete re-design and thinking to use copper lamé fabric (like the Abraxas DraggaMuffin) to get a metallic look, but will stick with the foam-backing/grommet approach.

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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby trilobyte » Mon May 28, 2012 10:22 pm

Nah, don't feel stupid. You were smart enough to ask, there's a lot of great experience on this board that you can benefit from as a result. ;)
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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby gyre » Tue May 29, 2012 4:32 am

It may depend on the lighting approach to a great extent.
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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby Dustyrusty » Thu May 31, 2012 1:12 pm

Jackass wrote:Make sure the material is pulled nice and tight, and use marbles instead of grommets. No holes, no sharp edges.



How would I use marbles? ( tried a search but search engines suck at the diff between slabs of marble and round marbles)


Edited two secs after post:
Oh,wait! With a loop around the fabric covered marble? (I think that's what you mean.)
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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby Bob » Thu May 31, 2012 8:10 pm

Put a marble or half a cork underneath the edge of the fabric, pooch it up, and tie a secure knot around it.
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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby inthecolumbiagorge » Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:59 am

Our MV is a 20' windsurf board with 19' sail and to keep the sail from....well.....sailing we cut out discreet areas and replaced them with a mesh that the wind can sail right through. Seems to work well in our windy area so it should be good to go on the playa. Just a thought:-)
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Re: Fabric covered vehicles

Postby Galaxo Magic » Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:43 pm

We used a Rip-Stop nylon parachute for the cloth with grommets. I reinforced each of the grommets with duct tape before punching the holes. Have only had a couple of the grommets show any strain. Make sure that the fabric is tight. Loose fabric is more likely to tear loose or rip. If the material is to see-through, you can get bedsheets at thrift stores and use them underneath the fabric. Also would help against chaffing against the wire frame.
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