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Double helical folding hard-top

  [vote for,

Spring will be arriving any day now on the Buchanan estate (starting in the south, of course). It's time to start driving some of the convertibles again.

But convertibles are so unsatisfactory, in any one of three different ways. Soft-tops are all well and good, but they look like prams when the roof is up, and even the best fabric roof is not as soundproof as a hardtop. Removable hard-tops are great, except that it takes ages for one's man to remove or replace the hard-top; it has to be stored somewhere when off the car; and one finds oneself bebuggered if an unexpected shower occurs. Folding hard-tops would seem to be a good choice, but they are always clunky and compromivial, with huge amounts of wasted space to accomodate the stowage of the folded lid.


Maxmoto Inc. (a woolly-owned subsidiary of Buchanan Ungineering) is developing the Double Helical Retractable Hardtop.

A graphic would be very helpful at this point - please feel free to draw one.

Imagine a ribbon of steel, about 3ft wide and 10ft long, given a half-twist. Now imagine laying that on one side of a car, running from the top edge of the windscreen towards the back of the car. The front edge of the ribbon is horizontal (and aligns with the left half of the top edge of the windscreen), the back-most edge is vertical, and aligns with the rear left corner of the car.

Now, imagine that we chop off the back 60% or so of this ribbon. What's remains of the ribbon forms the left half of the roof. Now imagine that this ribbon can be slid backwards, corkscrewing around and following the path taken by the original (un-cut-off) ribbon. When slid backwards, it would lie against the rear quarter-panel of the car. Except it will slide back _inside_ the rear quarter-panel.

Now imagine two such ribbons, of opposite handedness, on opposite sides of the car. When slid back, the two ribbons are essentially vertical (with a slight twist in them), and lie between the outer and inner skins of the vehicle in the rear quarter panels. You now have an open-top car.

To close the roof, these two ribbons both slide forward whilst twisting by a quarter turn (the left ribbon turns clockwise, the right ribbon anticlockwise), meeting in the middle to zip the roof shut.

Gadulka!! You have a full retractable hardtop which has only one "seam" (down the centreline of the roof), and which takes up only a modest amount of space between the outer and inner skins of the rear quarters of the car.

Yes, it really did need a picture, didn't it?

MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 21 2011

illustration http://imgur.com/rq8nK
[xaviergisz, Mar 22 2011]

illustration http://imgur.com/FEZpm
[xaviergisz, Mar 22 2011]

Gadulka http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadulka
[normzone, Mar 22 2011]

Maybe like this http://i923.photobu.../Halfbakery/Car.jpg
But better drawn, curvier and less lumpy. [MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 22 2011]


       I *think* I get it... but I'm one of these folk that try and figure everything out by visualisation (sketch would be much appreciated).
Jinbish, Mar 21 2011

       I've drawn a sketch, and I'm holding it up now in front of my monitor.   

       Failing that, a simpler explanation: the roof splits down the middle; each half slides backwards and rotates around its axis to snuggle down inside the side of the car. With curves and stuff.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 21 2011

       I'll do an illustration tonight (about 8 hours from now).
xaviergisz, Mar 21 2011

       That would put you in California?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 21 2011

       Why didn't you just say that?! (As you know, I'm a bit dim, but the light bulb just came on, ta.)
Jinbish, Mar 21 2011

       //That would put you in California?//   

       nope, Canberra, Australia.
xaviergisz, Mar 21 2011

       So it's a T-top with a half-twist...
RayfordSteele, Mar 21 2011

       Unecessarily complicated and flawed in so many ways.   

Twizz, Mar 22 2011

       my illustration is uglier than sin, but its getting late so it'll have to do. I couldn't get the two ribbons to meet at a neat seam, so its not a very practical idea.
xaviergisz, Mar 22 2011

       Thanks, [xaviergisz]!!   

       I think the reason the panels don't "zip" nicely is that the car, as you've drawn it, is basically purple. It would probably work fine in a metallic silver.   

       As for the "tailfins" - sort of no. The idea is that the roof panels would slot inside the rear-quarter-panels of the car as they twisted and slid back.   

       It may just need very stretchy metal.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 22 2011

       I don't think so. Perhaps it would work better on a larger vehicle. I think it might be possible to develop a convertible bulldozer for summer bulldozing.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 22 2011

       If my imagination isn't leading me astray, the curves are more like those on the after portion of an exquisitely modeled double-X chromosomal humaniform than is usually found on the rear of a vehicle.   

       Oh, wait - even if I'm right, my imagination is leading me astray.
lurch, Mar 22 2011

       Hey, some of us XY's have reasonable curves too.   

       But you're thinking along the right lines.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 22 2011

       I have attempted to represent curviness, see link. The picture only shows one half of the roof (grey panels show it in the closed and open position). And it's a bit wrong.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 22 2011

       I know, it's not as good as [xav]'s. Probably not even as good as yours.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 22 2011

       It's Cinema 4D, which I've used for a few magazine covers and other stuff. But a man can only do so much on one glass of wine and 15 minutes with a trackpad.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 22 2011

       I'm a big fan of the word "bebuggered." and I think that this would be very difficult to do with a traditionally shaped car. it would end up looking very different, because of the tracks and the funky shaped roof.
fischerman, Mar 22 2011


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