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PostPosted: January 11, 2017, 11:47 pm 
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Joined: January 11, 2017, 11:06 pm
Posts: 41
Hi everyone,

I've been reading and lurking and researching for a few months now, but I thought I should register to say hello and hopefully get some feedback and advice. I am very interested in building a Locost but I'm not sure which route to take to achieve my goals. I think it would really help to hear from people who have actually done it!

The usage of the car will be about 95% autocross with about 5% Sunday cruising. Maybe some track days later on (once they finish building one nearby). As such I am looking for a kit that would be well suited to this. I would really like to do a bike engine, though I understand it can be tough do do in a LHD car. I have been having trouble finding a kit that lists bike engines as an option, and I don't know if shifting the engine would cause balance problems?. Also, I would prefer an independent rear suspension because it's familiar to me.

I do have limited welding ability, but I would not trust my machine or myself to do anything structural or suspension-related. I am very mechanically apt, just not a great welder. That pretty much rules out making my own chassis.

Then there's the budget. I am in Canada and am hoping to have it on the road for under $25K CAD. I will be selling my garage queen Camaro to make this happen. Heck, if I can build the car under $20K so much the better. Even if I get it going in a basic form and then add the nice-to-haves later.

So, given all that, do you think my plans are doable? Am I out to lunch on anything? If anyone can recommend a kit that would meet my goals, that would be highly appreciated. I'd also like to know what you recommend as far as how complete a kit to buy. Obviously it would be easier to get something as complete as possible, but would I actually save any money sourcing parts individually vs all in one go?

I think the best bet might be getting a kit from Haler Concepts since they are right in my back yard and I wouldn't have to worry about shipping and duty. I have emailed them already, but I'm not sure if they are still selling kits. They offer a few options from 'bare bones' and up on the website, but the pricing is "effective as of 2007".


Anyway, that's the gist of it. Hope that all makes sense.. Thanks in advance!


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PostPosted: January 12, 2017, 1:56 am 
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Joined: January 5, 2017, 11:36 am
Posts: 51
$25k? Is that on hand? I would consider buying someone else's finished project with a pile of beans like that.

Find a local welding course to help with your welding, if you still want to build your own. Personally I have been learning on my own with books videos and practice, but still not where I want to be skill wise... After years now :? Trial an error is cheaper as costs go but not time wise


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PostPosted: January 12, 2017, 2:44 am 
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Heh, well, no it's not on hand, but selling my Camaro will help. I know ther's a dizzying range of money you can spend on these, so I suppose I'm trying to work out what is a realistic amount for something that will hold its own at autox but is by no means some fully built track weapon.

As for buying a finished kit.. For me, building it myself is a huge part of the draw. Other than welding, that is. I am getting better and can generally weld passable things, but the chassis just isn't something I want to tackle on my own. That's about the only part I don't want to do myself. I suppose there are a few reasons, but one is as you mentioned; time. I'm hoping to start this in the fall of 2017 (by then I should have the space etc) and make a winter project out of it so I can start racing spring 2018. :D


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PostPosted: January 12, 2017, 10:13 am 
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Joined: September 22, 2005, 8:12 am
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Location: 4AGE in S.E. Michigan
ZiG
Where are you located.
How about a new BEC Dax Rush frame.
Dave W


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PostPosted: January 12, 2017, 10:57 am 
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Joined: October 19, 2012, 9:25 pm
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Location: Summerville, SC
You can order Jack's STN kit for $10k and pick a motor.
http://www.kineticvehicles.com/locost.html

You should have a very nice car for under $15k US

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PostPosted: January 12, 2017, 12:27 pm 
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Joined: December 29, 2007, 10:41 pm
Posts: 808
Location: Vancouver, BC
Zig,
From what I recall, you cannot purchase a complete kit and bring it in to Canada, you can thank Transport Canada for that. You can however bring in parts and assemble them, ie bring in a chassis then purchase the fuel system and other bit in Canada. When I was at my previous job, I helped a guy in Kamloops with bringing in a Westfield kit. I (the company) had to purchase the suspension and fuel system components then sell them to the builder in order to please TC's regulations.

The supplier that's in your backyard is probably your easiest route, if you want to stick to a "kit". But, as some have stated, it may be worth your while to look into completed cars, you could test them out for size, and modify down the road to suit you better.

Rod


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PostPosted: January 12, 2017, 1:32 pm 
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Joined: April 12, 2012, 11:56 am
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Location: Pemberton, BC
Welcome, ZiG.
Can't comment on kits, however, out of curiosity, I looked up Haler Concepts, and it appears that they have relocated from Innisfail, AB to Panama. Might be a bit tricky to get parts and/or money back.
You may want to look into buying a car that meets your needs, but a BEC may be hard to find. They do come up, but invariably, they end up being at the wrong end of the continent.
Don't short change your welding and building ability; everything can be learned, and the benefits of building your own are numerous. If you are concerned about some critical components, then fabricate and tack them, and take them to a professional welder. As to your budget, you may be surprised, but $ 20,000 CDN will probably be what you need to build a BEC. I've spent about $ 15,000, not counting tooling etc.; and as usual, you can buy a used one for about half of that. :BH:

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PostPosted: January 12, 2017, 4:40 pm 
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Joined: July 4, 2006, 5:40 pm
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Location: Novato, CA
I would second the suggestion about Kinetic vehicles. Jack can supply pretty much everything you need, and may be able to work with you on your specific requirements, including BEC options. He could also sell you the parts in stages if importing a complete kit will be a problem.

Best of luck with whatever you decide.


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PostPosted: January 12, 2017, 6:13 pm 
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Joined: May 27, 2006, 9:46 pm
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Location: BC, Canada. eh?
Before you set your sights on anything sourced from the US, you need to consider import regulations - it can be difficult-to-impossible to import car kits from the US. There's no particular reason for this that I can discern, it's just a regulation that's there.

That being said, you should probably limit your search to kits available in Canada. I did a LOT of looking, couldn't find anything remotely within my price range (the closest was the Canadian Caterham dealership, an hour away from me - their finished, BEC cars run around $90,000 CDN now. I don't even know if they'll supply a car in "kit" form anymore.

As others have said, taking on an unfinished car from someone else might be a good start.

Honestly, though, building & welding your own frame has several advantages. First, it's not rocket surgery. I taught myself to MIG weld as I built my Locost frame, and I'd stack its welding up against any other car. Sure, I had some welds I wasn't happy with, but an angry grinder and two minutes on them allowed me to do it again, and get it right. Every single one of 'em is perfect now. By the time you've done a couple of dozen welds, your imperfect ones will largely become a memory.

Bear in mind, too, that the construction design of these cars makes them immensely strong. A flawed weld or two won't make it as weak as a brand-new car's spot-welded sheet metal structure, IMHO.

Building your own frame allows you to build precisely the car that YOU want, rather than having to adapt to someone else's ideas. Looking back on it, the frame build was, by far, the easiest part of the build. My initial perception was that the frame build was an immense hurdle, and everything after that was easy-peasy. Boy, was that ever wrong! The frame was a snap. You choose a set of plans (most of us, I suspect, are using Ehrlich's free plans or a modified design based on them), buy the requisite amount of steel square tubing, cut it to the given dimensions according to the plans, and start tacking & welding it all together.

You'd soon find that your welding skills far surpass what you think they are, and are more than sufficient to build a strong, rigid, safe structure.

Equipment-wise, I did almost all of my frame welding with a second-hand, cheap, Italian, 110V unit. Although I spent as much time fixing it as I did welding with it, it was more than up to the job. I ended up loving welding so much that I recently bought myself a nice, new Miller 220V unit, and an aluminum spool gun to go with it.

Consider what you want for a rear end, transmission, engine etc. before you start building, so you know what plans will work for you. Ehrlich's plans are well engineered, and pretty much foolproof, too.

After the frame's done, the actual hard work begins, and it's the minutia that can bog you down, depending on your choice of donor (or, in my case, lack of one). I chose to do it the hard way, with no single donor at all. Instead, I opted to choose & source parts from all over, to get precisely what I wanted, rather than be limited due to what I've got sitting out in the shed from the donor. It's more expensive my way (although not a LOT more expensive), and probably slower, but then again, I don't have to make any compromises.

Anyway, my advice would be to not give up on the idea of building a frame yourself. It's immensely rewarding, probably cheaper in the long run, and you get exactly what you wanted.

Just my $.02' worth...

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PostPosted: January 12, 2017, 8:21 pm 
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Joined: December 4, 2011, 6:19 pm
Posts: 635
Howdy Zig,

Welcome!

As Martin said, if you don't trust your own welding then tack your stuff together and get a pro to finish weld it.

If you want a head start then buy this frame that is in Innisfail...probably a left over Haler frame. It's been advertised for quite a while so beat him down on the price then buy suspension and body components from Kinetic and you're off to the races!

http://www.kijiji.ca/v-auto-body-parts/ ... nFlag=true

Keep us posted on your decisions/progress.

Bill

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PostPosted: January 12, 2017, 10:10 pm 
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Joined: January 11, 2017, 11:06 pm
Posts: 41
Wow, thanks for all the replies everyone! Blown away by all the support. Hopefully my posts won't have to wait to be moderated much longer. :)

Anyway, good points about the frame. I like the tack-only idea, and I do work with some ticketed welders, I'm sure I could do a few test welds on some scrap pieces and bring them in to be checked.

I have seen that frame posted before and been intrigued, maybe it's worth a look.

Also, regarding the donor thing.. Another thought crossed my mind. I definitely would prefer a bike build for the high-revving engine, but that still leaves me without a rear end or anything else, really. However, I am presently racing a Mazda RX8 that I picked up for peanuts and rebuilt the motor myself. What if, instead of selling it off, I used it as a donor? I don't get the sequential gearbox of the bike engine but I get 9,000 RPM, 240 HP, a good LSD and I personally know how well maintained it is. Heck, the car shares a lot of parts with a Miata and those are used as donors all the time!

I see that it's been done before, so I will have to give this some serious consideration. One of my fears has been messing up the suspension geometry and having something that handles like a Corvair. Doing a subframe transplant would go a long way towards alleviating that fear.


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PostPosted: January 17, 2017, 5:39 pm 
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Joined: July 4, 2006, 5:40 pm
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Location: Novato, CA
I always recommend using a donor you're familiar with. As far as the suspension goes, i think using existing subframes is overkill. The front suspension is practically designed for you once you have the spindles you're going to use, and the rear suspension is even easier. If you go with IRS there are many good examples here and elsewhere, and if you go with a live axle there's no design work at all. Sometimes fitting a subframe can take more engineering than building a simple double-wishbone setup.


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PostPosted: January 18, 2017, 11:09 am 
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Joined: January 11, 2017, 11:06 pm
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Hmm, maybe I'm not looking in the right places then. I've been looking through the parts sold by Kinetic Vehicles but don't see any rear suspension parts.

I've got a line on a premade book chassis I'd like to buy, but before I do I want to make sure I have some idea how I'm going to do the rear suspension. Mounting the RX8 subframe in this doesn't look like a great idea because the track width is 59.x" and that looks to be way too wide.

Are there IRS kits out there that use Miata donor parts that I haven't seen?

I may be able to get my hands on a Miata donor sans-motor for cheap enough to make it worthwhile. Might be able to grab myself a bike engine like I'd originally wanted and be in pretty good shape!


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PostPosted: January 18, 2017, 12:43 pm 
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Location: Pemberton, BC
I don't think that you'll be able to find an IRS diff that will be tall enough to use with a bike engine; they need very tall gearing (3.2 to 3.5, depending on wheel size, is just about right)

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My build log:
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PostPosted: January 18, 2017, 8:53 pm 
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Location: Sarasota
If you are going 95% autocross and 5% Sunday drive. Maybe give up on the 5% Sunday drive and then you should not have to deal with any importing issues as it isn't really a car, just a tool for a hobby (Obviously look into the legality of that though). You can also save weight by not having silly things like lights and windscreens/windshields a body etc.

I think Jacks kit would be a great option. Give him a call and talk about the motorbike engine he may be able to modify the frame for you but you will have to talk to him about that. Other than that keep checking in here from time to time or open a want to buy thread. $10K seems a reasonably price for a built locost but prices can vary depending on quality and state of completeness.

Also keep an eye on TooBusy, he buys, builds and sells more used cars then most of us. If you like any of his cars either make him an offer or wait till its up for sale.

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