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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:32 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2005 10:13 pm
Posts: 7048
Location: Charleston, WV
Skinny G's "Lethal Locost"


Image

A little about the builder and his car:

Quote:

I am a highschool shop teacher. I teach Metalwork, Drafting, and Mechanics in a wee hick town in British Columbia. My trade prior to teaching was Auto Mechanics. I've been a gear head since forever. Had my first car at 12, my second at 13.

An uncle of mine had a Lotus Super 7 and took me for a ride in it back when I was knee high to a grasshopper. That experience put a smile on my face that I could never get rid of. I've wanted a 7 ever since.

I started Autocrossing in 1999, and through the development of a couple production-based cars, I came to accept that something more purpose-built is the only way to go. I'm too afraid to run a real 7, and too cheap to buy one. I bought Ron's book, and spent a few years planning a Locost. My hope was to have the car of my dreams, performing well, and built inexpensively.

The frame is essentially "The Book" using McSorely's plans, but I smudged the scuttle and footwell back about 2.5" - this made the proportions of the car a bit closer to a true 7 (I find the book locost too long in the saddle and too stubby in front). I added Aussie tubes, but most of the panelling is aluminum, not steel. The frame was painted with Rust Bullet in my back yard when the neighbours were away.

The engine and tranny are mounted 3/4" off centre to give a bit more driver's foot room.

The donor is an '86 Toyota Corolla GT-S. Initially I used everything I could off the car, with the intent that if you ever needed it serviced, it was merely a Corolla. I had some difficulties getting the car inspected with the shortened struts and narrowed rack that I was using, so Chevette spindles with big brakes and the rack, Datsun 210 hubs and rotors, VW tierod ends and an eclectic collection of steering shafts became part of the front end.

I made my own intake manifold to keep everything under the hood, and wired the car with the Corolla harness (stripped and shortened) including factory EFI.

The wiper motor is Corolla, but the arms and pivots are from an '80 RWD Mazda GLC (which had been donated to the school, but lost the wipers when we put a Chevy V6 in there).

The rad is from a Hyundai Excel. The Excel fan is mounted on the front, with the fan mounted backwards (to push) and the motor wired backwards.

The suspension arms are 1" diameter .093 DOM tubing. I made my own bushings out of Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene. I also mounted the panhard rod ~under~ the chassis, to bring the rear roll centre down to a more sensible 5". I have since only found one other Locost done this way. The shocks are Monroe cheapies, with Afco sleeves and SSS springs. The fronts are 75 Corvette rears, the rears are 75 Nova fronts (which are a bit too stiff). Spring rates are 320/140#.

The fibreglass came from Curtis Unlimited out of California. They do reproduction Lotus bits, including wider clamshells, and a 1.5" taller nose which I am using. Rear fenders are 10" wide. I'm using the factory Corolla alloy wheels.

I painted the 'glass Toyota Red myself at the school shop. The paint's not perfect, but it only cost $67CDN in materials.

I taught myself how to sew while the Mrs. was at work one evening, and upholstered the seats out of plywood, old foamies and marine vinyl at 50% off from Fabricland. The dash is vinyl covered plywood with the Corolla cluster integrated in what I think is pretty tasteful.

It took me 2.5 years to finish the car. The work went much faster once the car was home instead of school, as now I can work on it whenever I feel like it, not try to squeeze in a few hours after an exhausting day - and I never went in on weekends.

As I mentioned I had some challenges in trying to get a shop to inspect it. Most shops seem pretty afraid of doing anything out-of-the-ordinary and worry immensely about liability. Worried that I might never get it inspected, I figured I should think about flogging it on eBay to get my money out of it, so I did the unthinkable: I added up my receipts :shock: . Shocked Actually it wasn't that bad. I'm into the car for $5700CDN (About $5000USD). That also includes just about everything.

I've driven it about a week now. There is nothing like driving a 7. It is like no other car. The acceleration is ridiculous. Mine weighs about 1250lbs (without bumpers) and the engine's putting out about 120hp.

I'd like to estimate the 0-60, but the speedo cable broke and I don't really want to dig into it yet. It's quick. It gets noticed! I haven't experienced any overheating, and while the footwell gets warm, it's not bad. Temperatures here have been around 30-34°C.

The wind buffetting is something else - I wear earplugs now, not just because the non-louvered 2.25" glasspack is 2' from my ear, but because the wind off the windshield pounds right into your eardrums. Bring a jacket too, as once the sun goes down, that same wind will really chill you.

Everything feels very direct. There is no "comfy" to the driving experience. You feel everything. Going from this back to my F/SP Nissan Sentra is like driving an over-stuffed sofa around. You'll start to crave such a responsive car - nothing compares to driving a 7.

So, looking back on the project, it's close to what I imagined I'd end up with. All those little details that I thought were mistakes or compromises don't matter so much anymore. I've gotten many, many compliments on the build quality and attention to detail.

Some areas I need to improve are the steering - the Chevette rack is ridiculously slow. I picked up a Midget rack on eBay, which I'll try fitting this winter. Also the brakes just don't impress me yet. Also the UHMW bushings in the rear do not allow for much compliance - it is very easy to kick the back end out (yet very controllable). I've ordered a set of rubber bushings to see how that improves it.

If I were to do it all over again, I'd build a true Series 2 replica. The Locost is a bit too roomy (I know, hard to believe), and thus heavier than it needs to be. Also doing a true replica makes finding replacement parts (should the need arise) a bit easier.

And maybe a bit more power.... Very Happy


Here a few more pics selected at random from G's photo archives here. Image
Image
Image


Check G's Website for more build details.

http://www.geocities.com/g_wellwood/aut ... ocost.html

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He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.


Last edited by chetcpo on Thu Sep 14, 2006 9:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2006 1:54 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 1:30 am
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Location: So CALIFORNIA
Definately build of the month. WELL DONE!!!!

Post to group ASAP....

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To err is human...
I am more human than most.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2006 8:03 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2006 2:54 pm
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Location: Corning NY
Nice build, and great write up.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2006 7:54 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2006 10:27 pm
Posts: 554
Location: Murfreesboro TN
Nice job. Good to it is being used for what the 7 was intended. Have fun.

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Graham,
www.earleymotorsports.com


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2006 9:58 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:48 pm
Posts: 1006
Location: Shawnee, Ks
I like it. What does your intake look like? What carb? I would like to do bike carbs on mine when I have the time, Russ


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2006 10:19 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:29 am
Posts: 1064
Location: Alberta, Canada
A well deserving winner. Great looking car (love the clam shells) and I'm glad you were finally able to register it.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2006 11:30 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2005 1:28 am
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Location: Sunny-Okanagan, Canada, eh?!
Thanks for all the kind words!

If you haven't followed the delightful adventure getting it inspected, it was certainly an educational experience.

The intake is here:

Image

Image

The engine REALLY pulls from 4500rpm right to 7500rpm redline.

G

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The Lethal Locost 2 - Even More Lethalerer


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2006 11:56 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2005 10:13 pm
Posts: 7048
Location: Charleston, WV
Nice job on that intake, those shorter runners probably really help out in the higher RPMs. Not that I know much about intake design, just that I had a 2001 R/T Neon that had short and long runners with butterflies in between them. The car used the long runners up intil 4500 rpm when the butterflies opened and allowed the air to use the short runners for higher RPM power. That intake was a big heavy chunk.

Being a lighter car you will probably never notice any torque loss from the shorter runners, if there is any.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 12:55 am 
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Location: Sunny-Okanagan, Canada, eh?!
First wash and wax since plates....

Image

Image

G

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The Lethal Locost 2 - Even More Lethalerer


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 1:10 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:29 am
Posts: 1064
Location: Alberta, Canada
Looks great - shame you need a front license plate in BC.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 3:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2006 2:09 am
Posts: 385
Location: Sacramento, CA
Looks a lot like one of the readers rides in the book. Very nice job.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 6:33 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 8:12 am
Posts: 1039
Location: S.E. Michigan
Skinny Good Words

I been watching your progress and all of your descriptive humorous posts; the end results are excellent !!!
One question the rubber weather strip for the hood, do you have a part number and supplier for the thin strip.
thanx Dave W


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 9:04 pm 
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Location: Sunny-Okanagan, Canada, eh?!
The supplier is The Home Depot. I don't have the part number handy, but it's simple adhesive-backed door jamb insulation type thingie stuff. They come in black, white and gray, a variety of widths and thicknesses.

Oh wait - I still have the bag.

Says Tago brand. Stopdrafts. Foam Tape.

Good luck!

G

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The Lethal Locost
The Lethal Locost 2 - Even More Lethalerer


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 10:11 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2006 8:02 am
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Location: East Berlin, PA
Great build, story, and car.

I hope that I'm that happy when I'm finished.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 1:23 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 8:12 am
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Location: S.E. Michigan
Glenn

Thanks for the door jam info, I'll stop by Home Depot tonite.
Thanx Dave


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