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MAX Update No. 6: A Gray Area

8/21/2008 2:57:30 PM

Tags: MAX, 100 mpg, gas mileage, Auto X Prize

MAX is coming back together, and we're now in final assembly mode. Time to plug the parts in the chassis. Here's the finished frame, painted a trendy and eye-catching gray. 

And we've used only the finest of materials and techniques — indoor/outdoor enamel from the local hardware store, the stuff with pictures of lawn furniture on the can. And we painted it with a combination of a spray gun for the big areas and a foam paintbrush for the nooks and crannies. It looks decent, in an industrial sort of way, but it doesn't look like something you'd see at a car show. It looks like something you'd drive. 

MAX ChassisWe gave it a coat of gray primer before we gave it the gray finish coat, but a lot of people couldn't tell the difference. 

"Are you primering it again?" 

Nope, this is the finish coat, it's glossier than the primer if you look close. 

"Gray, huh? This is how it's going to look when it's done? You're not going to paint it black? Man, you must have got a deal on gray." 

Nope, it's gray by choice, and the gray cost as much as any other color on the shelf. 

The reason car chassis are traditionally black is that black doesn't show grease and grime, thus pleasing the end user. But gray shows where oil is leaking, for example, and one man's grime is another man's diagnostic tool. 

Anyway, I wanted you to know it's gray on purpose, we didn't just spray on the primer and get bored.


Photo by Jack McCornack 

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Jack McCornack
8/26/2008 9:22:47 PM
Right you are re paint, BCB, and don't forget wicked toxic, which is why those paints have "Don't try this at home" disclaimers on the can. Part of the plan for MAX is keep it cheap, and the bodywork paint is minimal--the side paneling is prepainted 26 gauge roofing, and the fiberglass bits (except the hood) aren't painted at all (they're not going to rust). We splurged on the red hood.

Beerman Cold Beer
8/26/2008 10:13:31 AM
Question of the day: Why does a golf ball have dimples? Answer that question and get an extra 1.5 MPG. Take a look at the fastest bikes in the Tour De France (the time trial bikes) and you would notice that their finish or paint job also has these weird golf ball style dimples.

Beerman Cold Beer
8/26/2008 10:08:45 AM
Paint is HEAVY....very heavy. If you look at early pictures of the space shuttle you will see the entire vehicle painted a nice shiny white. On later missions the shuttle itself is still white (tiles) but the huge rocket boosters are now a nice rusty brown. The most efficient paint job would be no paint at all. A controlled oxidation to brown would work, or use something that looked fine naked (carbon fiber, stainless steel, aluminium). If you must paint go for top quality aviation paint - it is light, it is tough, and it is shiny. It also is wicked expensive, but it is worth it to shave fuel robbing pounds off of your vehicle. Another easy, off the shelf way to boost MPG is to go with all top of the line synthetic oil and lubricants. I switched to all synthetic (including the gearbox oil) and reliably got an extra 15-20 miles more per tank of gas.

Jack McCornack
8/22/2008 9:10:03 PM
Dianne, I added MAX to my existing car insurance policy and nobody batted an eyebrow -- mind you, I didn't get collision/theft/comprehensive coverage (if I wreck it and it's my own fault, then it's my own responsibility to fix it) so that simplified things a bit, since the insurer and I didn't have to decide on a replacement value. Alice, every state has its own rules on how to register a homebuilt car. There are lots of Cobra horror stories, particularly out of California, but the ones I've heard have been about folks who got caught dodging smog rules and sales tax with fake predated out-of-state titles, which was big business for a while 'till the DMV figured it out. I don't know what hoops you New Yorkers have to jump through, but here in Oregon, I take in all my receipts to the DMV, get an inspection (mostly to see that the numbers match and I didn't steal it), they issue me a Vehicle Identification Number and I issue them half a dozen $20 bills. MGB, you're absolutely right. I guess that explains why there are no yellow battleships. When I was a competition pilot, our team colors were yellow and orange for that very reason. But still, this is the chassis we're talking about, and it's going to be 98% covered with car body, and the body sure isn't going to be gray. MAX is currently red and white, our local high school team colors (Go Cougars!).

8/22/2008 3:39:05 PM
Gray is camouflage. Yellow is safer, if you are going to mix and mingle in actual traffic.

Alice Rockey_1
8/22/2008 3:10:17 PM
How did you get the car registered? My husband is building a Cobra kit car, and he hears registration horror stories--maybe because we live in New York State!

8/22/2008 10:14:37 AM
I'm wondering how or who insures this type of vehicle? Didn't even think about it until I read about the crash...

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