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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: June 20, 2010, 9:02 pm 
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Joined: June 20, 2010, 8:41 pm
Posts: 47
Location: Indiana, USA
Hello,

My name is Steve Hobley and I'm really interested in learning how to build the Locost/Super Seven et al.

Quick history: Hit 40 this year, and found myself with some money left over from a recent business venture. Decided on getting myself a new car - test drove a bunch of "luxury" vehicles and decided that none of them were for me. I've always been a big fan of "The Prisoner" and decided to find out what car Patrick McGoohan drove in the opening title sequence. Delighted to find it's a kit car - even more delighted to find this forum.

So.... I *could* just order the complete vehicle from Caterham - but to quote John Cleese: "Where's the pleasure in that?"

So for father's day I got myself a MIG/Flux welder from Lincoln and started to weld. So far I've made 3 good joins (didn't collapse when wacked with a hammer) and a big mess in the garage.

How realistic are my aspirations to (a) learn to weld and (b) do (a) well enough to build a car chassis that can withstand this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9UVV0XuiDk

All reassurance (and wake up calls) gratefully received.

Steve

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PostPosted: June 21, 2010, 5:44 pm 
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-the man.
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Joined: April 7, 2008, 11:21 am
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Location: Tulsa, OK
After being on here a bit, you'll be surprised how many builders never touched a welder until they bought one for thier Seven build. Practice practice practice. Get some material like you'll be using in your build, 1 inch sq. tube 1 inch round, try to get the same gauge or thickness you'll be using. You'l get a better feel for what your doing. Watch some You Tube.

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PostPosted: June 21, 2010, 5:55 pm 
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Joined: April 2, 2009, 4:12 pm
Posts: 252
Location: Denver, CO
Good practice for welding is welding up a build table out of the same material you're building the car out of. This will give you good experience with the metal itself in addition to welding in general.

Good luck to you!

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442e frame, 3.4l Camaro donor


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PostPosted: June 21, 2010, 7:42 pm 
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Joined: June 24, 2007, 6:04 pm
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All I can say is just go for it, any mistakes are easily corrected. :P
Al

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PostPosted: June 21, 2010, 10:15 pm 
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Joined: August 15, 2005, 10:13 pm
Posts: 7043
Location: Charleston, WV
I'm living proof that a self taught welder-fabricator/hack can build a car from scratch. You can do it too if you try. I've had friends comment that "I could never do something like that" but they're wrong. You'd be amazed what you can do when you aren't afraid to try and fail. I went into it figuring if I couldn't do it I'd bail out and part out the build and not be out anything but my time. Turns out I ended up finishing and no one was more suprised than me. You do in fact though see people bail and sell their build from time to time, but usually it's because of "life happening" and not insufficient skill. Set your mind to it and give it a whirl if you passed my "7 questions" test posted in the "if you are new" sticky. (copy and pasted below for your convenience):D
Quote:
Answer the Seven Questions below

I've been working on a set of "Seven Questions" for new, would be builders based on my experience building one of these cars and reading this site for three years. (I've seen a lot of folks come and go in that time)

Ask these questions of yourself: (and be honest with your answers, the truth can hurt)

1. Do you enjoy metal fabrication, problem solving, and general dirty, greasy, sharp metal shavings strewn in all directions type hard work?

Yes- Continue to question 2.
No- Stop now. Buy a completed Caterham, Birkin, Westfield etc.

2. Do you have a place to do aforementioned work, without offending the people who allow you to work there?

Yes- Continue to question 3.
No- Sorry but now is not the time. Wait until you are older and own your own home, have a more understanding wife, or have access to a better working environment.

3. Do you have the space to dismantle and store parts from a donor car? (backyard only counts if you live in the southern US ) j/k Make sure it's your property you are junking up, your parents or wife may not be as tolerant of the mess. You will have lots of car parts to clean, degrease, paint and drag in and out periodically to test fit as you fabricate.
Yes- Continue to question 4.
No- Sorry but now is not the time. Wait until you are older and own your own home or have access to space to do with what you please.

4. Are you the type of person that obsesses about things, but abruptly looses interest and moves on to something else new and fascinating? (girls count too)
Yes- Maybe this project is not for you. It will take years of your life and must be regarded as a huge committment due to the cost and time involved. If this is what you want to do with all of your spare time and money for the next several years then go for it, but otherwise consider another hobby. Building one of these things requires altering your lifestyle. (for most folks)
No- If you are a cold calculated, singleminded determined SOB then continue to question 5.

5. Do you have the disposable income to pull this off? The most frugal of builders will spend at least $3-$5k on this project. If you have the time and brains to plan your build well the cost can come down some, but you will need to be very smart when choosing a donor. Buy something that will allow you to sell anything you won't use. It means a bigger buy in up front, but it also allows you to recoup most of the cost if you are a good Ebayer/Seller. Another thing of note, if you live in a densly populated area it will be easier to sell parts. Shipping a $75 Miata door across the country doesn't make sense to many people. If you live in the boonies, consider it a disadvantage when it comes to selling the larger heavier parts of your donor.

Yes- continue to question 6.
No- Wait until you are more financially stable.

6. Are you married to or do you have a low maintanance, understanding girlfriend?
Yes- Good, you are a lucky man, treat her nice and move on to question 7.
No- You need to decide which is more important to you, staying together or building a car. There will be friction at times. Time you used to spend with them will be spent in the garage making sparks fly.

7. Do you have, or are you willing to aquire the tools, skills, and knowledge needed to pull this off?[/b] You need to know or be willing to learn how to weld. (Mig at least) You need to cut, miter, and fit together steel. You need to cut, bend and fit Aluminium. You need to lots of expensive tools or access to them. (Make sure to budget at least $1500 for tools if you're already got basic hand tools, and maybe $2000+ if you're starting from scratch. These tools last a lifetime, so they don't count in the cost of the car.) You also need to have a basic understanding of, or be willing to learn how the different systems of a car work. Brakes, fuel, cooling, electrical, you will need to do it all.

Yes- Congratulations, you just might be driving a car you built from scratch one day.
No- Sorry but this task may be a bit more than you can handle. Many more Locosts are started than are ever finished. Consider yourself luckier than the poor SOB who poured every spare minute and dollar into one of these projects only to have to sell it off before completion.

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PostPosted: June 22, 2010, 11:40 am 
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Joined: June 20, 2010, 8:41 pm
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Location: Indiana, USA
Thanks everyone.

Yes I answered the questions recently, and the results were encouraging.
:-)

Welding has to be one of the coolest things I've ever done. It's truly liberating to be able to fuse pieces of steel together. I just need to get good at it...

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PostPosted: June 22, 2010, 10:13 pm 
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Joined: February 20, 2006, 11:18 am
Posts: 3186
Location: Lexington, KY
Sounds like you're good to go. Every bit as qualified as I was.

Where in Indiana? Come down to Lex any time you want to go for a spin.

-dave

ps. Heyyy...did I see you in Make?

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PostPosted: June 22, 2010, 10:48 pm 
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Joined: May 23, 2010, 4:21 pm
Posts: 25
Hey lets hear it for another Indiana builder. Welcome to the site. I am kinda new myself and living west of Bedford and building one too. Frame about 1/2 done and working on the IRS now. Good luck with your build.


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