Interview with Johannes Thomé

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Johannes Thomé is in charge of the retrofitting and preparation of the iglide car for its round the world trip.

Johannes Thomé began his career with an apprenticeship as an automotive mechatronics engineer before attending college. After acquiring his Bachelor’s degree at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences in Automotive Engineering, he decided to deepen his knowledge with a Master’s study. Simultaneously, he works as a research assistant at the Institute of Vehicle Safety, Technology and Design.

Hi Johannes, thanks for giving this interview. You have been working on the car for weeks now. What parts have you replaced so far?

So far bearings at the brake pedal, control gear, seat bracket, handbrake lever, starter, throttle valve and all bearings of the convertible top.

You guys have already done a lot. I guess there are also challenges and problems occurring when remodeling a car in a way like this. What has been the biggest challenge so far? 

It’s hard to say what has challenged me most. I kind of like challenges, and I´m thinking positively, always following the phrase: “The impossible gets done at once, but miracles take a bit longer.” Seriously I think that the main challenge has been the convertible top. It’s been very difficult and a lot of work to assemble it so that it works properly again. The kinematics has to be very precise so that the convertible top doesn´t jam while moving. To disassemble the top to its smallest fractions was risky, as we later have to put it perfectly together again. Nevertheless, the lifting mechanism is already incorporated and working well. In this context I would like to mention Mr. Michael Krug of igus, who is doing a great job in the framework of this project by adjusting bearings and helping us to always choose the perfect product. The cooperation is really great!

Above, Thomé replaces an original bearing with an iglide plastic bearing in the convertible top.

Which parts make you skeptical and question their durability?

To be honest, the strut bearing gave me headaches. We thought about replacing it with an igus standard bearing, but due to the high dynamic forces it would have to endure, we decided against it. It is not that I don´t have confidence in igus plastic, but I think that an around-the-world tour is not the best scenario for a first test. That this bearing works is crucial for the safety of the driver, and safety is always the main priority. We don´t want to risk it without testing it before. After the world tour we will come back and do some testing on this.

The bearing at the suspension strut, which was eventually left with the original bearing.

What areas do you still have to replace parts?

In the upper part of the convertible top are two bearings on each side that we will replace.

Furthermore, the convertible top is guided by sliding blocks. Currently I’m working out by hand with CAD a new, adjustable version of these parts. The initially planned 3D scan is, due to the complexity, not feasible. With the help of the CAD-models, the parts are then going to be printed with a 3D printer in conventional ABS plastic. Afterwards we will test their accuracy of the fit. Last but not least, we have the window mechanisms, where we will change the guide pulleys that guide the cable.