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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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 Post subject: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: June 29, 2015, 4:06 pm 
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A few people were curious about the interior of my car and since I don’t have an actual build log for it I thought I’d put down some notes on how I did it.
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Also, this makes it look like I’m still doing work even though I haven’t touched the 1930s Sports Car in months. Not that I’m being lazy, yesterday I wired a bathroom fan with lights plus going out and buying the materials for the garage shelves (wife’s garage) that I’ll start tonight. And the lawn needs to be mowed again.

When I started the build I didn’t have a clear picture of what I wanted the interior to look like. I had Keith Tanner’s book and he cut down a pair of Miata seats and that was about it. I priced Kirkey seats and they looked reasonable and the fit in the space I had. As I was building the car I kept an eye out for cars on the internet that appealed to me. I also looked at 7’s at the car show in Carlisle. This car was similar to a number that I’d seen. It was nicely put together but I just didn’t like the look.

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I was looking for a car that looked more like a production car and less boy racer. How about Caterham?
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That was more like it but any new seat that looked like that was hugely expensive and most would not fit into a book frame. I kept thinking back to Keith cutting the foam of his Miata seats to make them fit.

Tomorrow – Seats go on a diet.

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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: June 29, 2015, 4:26 pm 
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Dang, this gonna be like a soap opera where you hook the readers and make 'em stay awake wondering?

Beautiful pics btw

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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: June 29, 2015, 8:21 pm 
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Location: Tennessee
That's the best looking interior I've seen on a Locost. Great job.


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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: June 30, 2015, 8:32 am 
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geek49203 wrote:
Dang, this gonna be like a soap opera where you hook the readers and make 'em stay awake wondering?

Not intentionally, it just takes me a while to remember what I did then find the pictures. Being a bit of a Luddite plus having the memory of an old person slows down the process. I spent an hour last night looking for the old camera that has some of the pictures still on it. My grandson somehow changed my previous computer such that it no longer wanted to talk to the old camera so they didn't get downloaded. My new camera, which I did find, is just fine talking to all computers but most of the pictures I need came before that one arrived. Now I have to travel back in time to when I made the seats...

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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: June 30, 2015, 9:47 am 
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We have a large scrap yard in town that shreds cars and takes in industrial scrap. They ship out semi loads and rail cars loads of metal. We also have a u pull it style junk yard that is associated with the scrap yard. Cars come in, get the date written on the windshield and lined up, row upon row. I’m guessing that very few are running when they come in. Most look like what’s left after an accident. These are the cars that no one wants. They are not worth rebuilding not only because of heavy damage but they are mainly minivans, little pickups and cheap economy cars. No Hondas. No Miatas. No sports cars. No muscle cars. After some length of time they get loaded on a truck and sent to be shredded. The end.

For one dollar you get to sign a waiver that says if you end up crushed under a car, too bad. You also get to wander around acres of wrecks looking for Good Stuff. It took a few trips to find my seats. I was looking for fabric seats so that I could take them apart, open the seams and resew them smaller. It didn’t take long to figure out that I was looking for a car that had all of the glass intact. Cars with broken windows or doors left open had ruined interiors from being out in the weather. Cars with all of the bells and whistles had seats that were too big and the seats were too hard to get out. Little economy cars were the ones to look for.

The Hyundai I found had already lost its back seat and some of the inside trim but the front seats were in very good condition. I had to go out to the parking lot to retrieve my tools and round up one of the wheelbarrows that they keep for the customers. Only about half of the wheelbarrows are in service at any time because of battle damage. I had the seats out in no time as they were manual with only the seat buzzer to disconnect. I paid my $20 for the pair and went home happy.
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The seats were a bit dirty but since they would be disassembled anyway, I took off the covers soaked the them in a bucket with laundry detergent.

Now the seats were about 20” wide while the driver’s side space was 17” wide. The passenger side was worse as it was only 13 1/2” wide. Why is the passenger side so narrow? I used a complete Miata drive train which includes the shortened Power Plant Frame. No need to design a special mount for the nose of the diff.
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First order of business was to disassemble one seat. Here is the seat bottom, I can’t find a picture of the seat top.
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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: June 30, 2015, 10:59 am 
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I forgot to include a picture of my last haul from the junk yard. I pulled this out of a Nissan 200SX for $57. It will be going into my Mini. The back seat will get the same treatment that I’m showing here to make it fit.
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Now get the cutoff wheel and cut the frame for the back apart. Weld back together narrower. Easy. Cut the seat pan apart and weld back together narrower. Not so easy. Lots of cutting hammering and more cutting later, seat pan done.
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What doesn’t show up in the pictures is where I removed the reclining mechanism from the seat back. I welded a plate to the base that stuck up on either side. On the seat back I welded a similar plate pointing down. I clamped the plates together with the back at the correct angle then I drilled through both plates. I welded nuts on the inside of the base plates and countersunk the hole on the top plates. This way the seat backs could be removed for assembly of the foam and cover. I also modified the seat rails so that the seat pan is almost on the floor.

Here is the foam for the seat bottom after trimming.
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I don’t remember what I used to cut the foam, I think it was a bare hack saw blade. I’ve seen others use various power tools, even an electric knife from the kitchen.

I didn’t take any pictures of the sewing part. I did the sewing by hand. Not because I wanted to but because my wife wanted no part in the car construction. I think it took about a month per seat. I carefully cut the thread holding the seams that I wanted to open using an X-acto knife. I pulled the seams together then pinned them. It would take a few tries to get the cover to fit. Then I would sew the seam, putting the cover back on now and then to make sure things were going the right way. I tried to duplicate the way the seat was sewed together so the seams wouldn’t stand out. Here is the factory seam.
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Here is my seam
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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: June 30, 2015, 11:09 am 
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Last post for today. Here are the seats installed. You’ll notice the passenger seat is really narrow. I can just barely fit in it. All of my grandchildren fit in it (not all at once). Even my son and his wife fit in it. My wife does not. You can imagine how well that went over.
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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: June 30, 2015, 12:21 pm 
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How did you attach the seats to the frame? Bolts? If so, how do you access them, through the floor? Any concern about speed bumps removing the bolts or making them impossible to remove?

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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: June 30, 2015, 12:47 pm 
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The steel floor of my car is welded to the frame. I don't remember the gauge but it wasn't light. The seats and seat belts are bolted through the floor and held on with large washers and nuts. In the case of the belts they were the washers provided with the belts and about 3" in diameter. The attachment points are close to the frame so the seat washers almost overlap the frame while the seat belts do overlap. Keep in mind that the car is intended for easy street use and never on the track.

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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: June 30, 2015, 2:08 pm 
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Run87k wrote:
Last post for today. Here are the seats installed. You’ll notice the passenger seat is really narrow. I can just barely fit in it. All of my grandchildren fit in it (not all at once). Even my son and his wife fit in it. My wife does not. You can imagine how well that went over.


But the idea of "measure twice" seemed to have its own risks....

For those who wonder, the Lotus Seven S2 has, according to drawings, 37" in interior room, and 16" in butt width for each passenger and driver. Which of course means that the driveshaft tunnel is 5" if my liberal arts grad math holds.

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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: July 1, 2015, 8:35 am 
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Sound Deadening

Before the interior panels and carpet got installed I put in sound deadening. I know, more weight less performance. I’ve used this before and it is low cost. Either Lowe’s or Home Depot has it.
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It really isn’t that heavy and it helps make a car sound like a single unit not a symphony of rattling pieces. It applies just like the big buck stuff like Dynamat. I really didn’t need to use a lot of it. I think one roll was enough. I put it on the side away from the carpet and on the sides of the car, the side opposite the outside world. On the driver’s side I also put thermal insulation where the exhaust is. I think it was the mat that goes under the hood and I got it from Speedway.
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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: July 1, 2015, 9:40 am 
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Is the red-ish material standing vertically a foam product? Did you use it as shown in the photo?

Cheers,

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Damn! That front slip angle is way too large and the Ackerman is just a muddle.

Build Log: viewtopic.php?f=35&t=5886


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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: July 1, 2015, 9:53 am 
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It is hardboard from Home Depot. I think it was 1/8" but I'm not sure. I can't measure it now. I might as well write up the interior panels next because that is what it is for.

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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: July 1, 2015, 10:18 am 
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Interior Panels

Since I was looking for a more finished looking interior, I made interior panels. The panels in old British cars are little more than thin hardboard covered in vinyl. I’ll use upholstery material I got from Jo-Ann Fabrics (on sale of course). From here on I’ll refer to it as vinyl since that is easier. I’d made replacements before and it wasn’t very hard. Either use the old panel as a template or make one from cardboard. Cut the hardboard to match the template and trial fit in the car. If it is OK then drill the panel for screws to attach to the frame. Hold the panel in place and drill the frame through the panel holes. Screw the panel in place with interior screws. I used some screws from the donor Miata but they can be purchased at the car parts stores. I made allowances on the panel wherever it was going on top of the carpet, mainly the bottom edge. By overlapping the carpet the carpet edge was held in place and didn’t need to be bound. Here is a panel screwed in place.
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The panels that went in the footwell were that simple however the main panels had to cover the top edge of the frame. OK, they didn’t HAVE to but I wanted them to. That meant gluing a strip of wood on the top edge of the panel plus making a curved cover. The curve was a big pain. I ended up making it out of aluminum bent to shape and pop riveted in place. On top of that I laid down some fiberglass to give it thickness.
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Cut the vinyl oversize by at least an inch all around. Spray the panel and back side of the vinyl with contact adhesive. Wait however long it says on the can then press together. With the panel face down, spray the part of the vinyl left showing plus the back side of the panel where the vinyl will overlap. Fold the vinyl over and stick that together. I usually add duct tape on the back side to make sure the vinyl stayed.
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The cover for the tunnel wasn’t too hard, it just took some fussing to get it right. I made it from oak veneer plywood because I had some left over. The top of the tunnel is not flat so the cover had to be made from three pieces dowelled and glued together. Since it was getting covered with vinyl I used body filler to fill in any surface problems.
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The finished cover has boots I made out of the same upholstery material. The trim ring for the shift boot is for an MG.
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 Post subject: Re: Low Cost Interior
PostPosted: July 1, 2015, 1:08 pm 
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Carpet

From the beginning I had a carpet color in mind. I wanted a grey that was made up of three different shades all together. I kept an eye out for it for a couple of years. It had to be unbacked so it would bend around the frame tubes. It had to be loop pipe not cut pile and have a low pile height. The universal carpets I found in places like Pep Boys were not even close. Same for Lowe’s and Home Depot. I looked in Ollies and other bargain stores with no luck. When the time came to put in the carpet I still didn’t have any. I decided I’d just have to pay the price and order some at Carpet Mart. While I was talking to the sales clerk one of the other clerks overheard. He said they had some carpet just like that in the discount corner. We walked over to look and sure enough there was the exact carpet I wanted. Part of the carpet was damaged but it was the standard carpet roll width of 12 feet and three yards long. I had to buy the whole thing but it was around $50. Even after cutting off the damaged part I still had enough to do about 6 cars. After finishing the car I cut what was left in half and rolled it up. The rolls are under the bed waiting for the interior of the New Car.

I used CAD to make the template. Here is the CAD session in progress.
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When making the templates I tried to use as few pieces as possible. Exposed cut edges will unravel unless bound and binding can be a pain, kind of like sewing up a seat. Edges that did get cut I tried to put under things like under the seat, under the panels or under the tunnel cover.
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Here you see my supervisor checking my work.
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You can see here how the carpet is folded over the chassis tube so that it will be under the cover.
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Another plus in putting the carpet under the tunnel cover is that I could use Velcro on the bottom face of the cover and it would stick to the carpet.

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