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Composite Material Roll Cage 
(2023-2024)

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Summary

As my mechanical engineering culminating project, my project partner and I designed and fabricated a composite roll cage for the McMaster Engineering Concrete Toboggan (MECTT) consisting of a fibreglass and carbon fibre composite structure, an aluminum base frame and two steel roll hoops.

Click the button below to download the project report containing in-depth concept generation, design analysis, justification, fabrication details, component drawings and more.

Project Goals

The goal of this project was to build a composite superstructure for MECTT. Inspiration for this project stemmed from the historic success of teams who have previously utilized composite roll cages; their performance in speed and toboggan maneuverability has been significantly better than those with fully steel or aluminum frames. This project seeks to explore how roll cage design influences race performance, particularly focusing on composite material choice, manufacturing method, and aerodynamic design features.

Competition

  • The Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race consists of 16+ teams and over 400 students across Canada racing concrete toboggans on snow tube hills.

  • The 50th competition occurred in St. John’s, Newfoundland from Feb 7-11th, 2024.

  • The toboggan are raced down snow tube hills and judged based on design and speed.

  • Technical components of the toboggan:

    • 350lbs maximum

    • Holds 5 riders

    • All surfaces contacting the ground must be made of concrete

    • Has a fully functional braking and steering system

    • Fully enclosed, safety committee approved superstructure

Project Objectives

Objective 1: The design and construction of a safe composite superstructure.

  • Withstands crash impacts without ingress to the rider seating area.

  • Fully resists an overturning moment of 50 degrees.

  • Layup does not plastically deform when towing toboggan up incline. 

  • An unconscious rider can be easily removed by a medical team without any significant movement of a rider’s spine.

Objective 2: The design and construction of a composite superstructure with improved race performance in comparison to MECTT’s previous steel superstructure.

  • Weight of the composite roll cage is less than MECTT’s previous superstructure.

  • In race conditions, the toboggan exceeds MECTT’s previous toboggan velocity.

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The Design

Main Body, Back Door and Nose

Design Highlights

  • Sleek and tapered design for improved aerodynamics.

Materials

  • 16oz 2x2 twill carbon fibre

  • 0.75oz fibreglass chopped strand mat

  • ¼” H80 PVC foam core

  • Unwaxed isophthalic polyester resin

Composite Lay-up Schematics

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Base Frame

Design Highlights

  • Mounting points for brakes, steering, roll hoops, composite and skis

  • Provides support for the rider floor

  • Addition structure for the crumple zone

Materials

  • 1.5” SQ x 0.12” aluminum 6061 T6 tubing

  • 1.25” SQ x 0.095” aluminum 6061 T6 tubing

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Roll Hoops

Design Highlights

  • Two roll hoops to create a rider protection envelope

  • Designed to be flush with the profile of the main body cross-section

  • Mounted to main body with mounting supports along the walls and ceiling

Materials

  • 1” x 0.065” steel A500 round tubing

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Testing

Finite Element Analysis

  • Crash impacts analyzed using ANSYS Composite PrepPost and Mechanical Workbench

  • Modelled custom layup using actual material properties

  • Simulated entire superstructure with component interactions for worst-case scenario

Please note, the FEA with Ansys was conducted by my project partner. I have experience with the software however not to this extent.

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Material Testing

Followed FSAE practices for composite testing

  • 3-point bend test, perimeter shear test, and fastener pull test (modelled off ASTM D790, D732, and D7332)

  • Created 3 panels to test different layups

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Results at Competition

  • Successfully completed all races with no crashes or loss of control

  • No superstructure safety concerns during inspection

  • MECTT awarded 11 accolades

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Fabrication

Mould Fabrication

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Material Preparation

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Nose Fabrication

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Main Body Fabrication

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Back Door Fabrication

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Roll Hoop Fabrication

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Base Frame Fabrication

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Roll Cage Assembly

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Fully Assembled Toboggan

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