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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 9:37 am 
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Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 9:43 am
Posts: 120
Location: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
After owning the Ron Champion book for about 10 years, I've decided to finally go for it and start building a Locost. I'm an engineer by day, a part time army mechanic, and have done a few car mods before but usually on a much smaller scale. Previous work includes an engine swap and suspension upgrades for a 1984 Pontiac Fiero which I used to autocross a bit, and some Formula SAE in University (I was on the electrical sub-team, but got involved in other aspects of the car as well).

So, I went out to the local metal shop, bought some 16ga tubing, and starting building a "book frame" without knowing really what I was going to use as a donor:
Image

I've decided that, for better or worse, I'm going to try to weld the chassis up myself. I'm not a very experienced welder, but I started out practicing on a few test pieces:
Image

Unfortunately good donor cars are quite rare where I live. I had been keeping my eyes on Miatas for a long time since I like them, but rarely get anything below $3000 nearby. The only thing available cheaply which I'm willing to rip apart in my neck of the woods is small pickup trucks, so I decided to get a 1984 Ford Ranger advertised for $500, and start ripping it apart:
Image

The chassis is starting to come together nicely. I ended up welding all the bottom frame rails together completely before starting to tack on the uprights and upper rails, which may prove to be a mistake since it could lead to more warping of the frame later. It might have to be "tweaked" a little after it's done to make it completely square, but that remains to be seen:
Image

The front of the frame is 2" higher than book, as I realized my engine would end up being too tall for the book frame. This meant changing the angles on the front upright tubes (LA and LB I think) and extending the H tubes to 13". I also ended up angling the cockpit side tubes down towards the rear, similar to an original Lotus. More pics to come.


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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 12:29 pm 
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The voice of reason
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Welcome and glad to have you!

It's great to see another Locost on the way. Are you going with the pickup rear axle? Perhaps you have Subarus in your area for an IRS rear end if you go that way. Pinto spindles are cheap for the front.

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 9:43 am
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Location: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
I'm going with the Ranger rear axle on this build. It's a 7.5" so not too heavy, and I'm focusing on getting this build done quick and cheap, and will focus on performance later, after it's a runner. I like IRS, but wanted to go with a live axle on this build just to keep it close to the Champion design. Subarus here are not cheap either (I've been looking to get one as a daily driver) unless I get an old Justy.

The Pinto spindles have been mentioned before, but I'm going to see if I can use the Ranger ones. It looks like it might be doable with only a little modification: reaming out the lower ball joint attachment so the ball joint fits in from the bottom instead of the top. We'll see how that turns out, but I'm not at that stage yet.


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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:35 pm 
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Yup, that all sounds fine.

:cheers:

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SketchUp collection for LocostUSA: "Dream it, Build it, Drive it!"
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 3:36 pm 
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We are Slotus!
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Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:29 am
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Location: Tallahassee, FL (The Center of the Known Universe)
Howdy-
Welcome to the forum. Like Horizenjob said, what you're proposed to do sounds like a very solid plan for a first build. I'm not familiar with the Ranger spindles, but from your description in the other thread I saw, it would seem do-able like you're proposed.

The main thing is -- Like the Nike commercials-- just do it! You might hit snags here and there, but it's not anything you can't figure out, and it's really good to keep up the momentum. Twenty minutes one evening is more progress than sitting in front of the TV!

Keep us posted on your progress, and good luck!
:cheers:
JD Kemp

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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 4:00 pm 
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Location: Novato, CA
Excellent start. I love a good, traditional build, and totally agree that the first priority is getting the thing built. Good luck, we'll be watching this one.


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 12:27 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:22 am
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Location: Holden, Alberta, Canada
Good to see another Alberta build! I'll be watching this build too, I also considered using a Ranger. Welcome aboard.

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1 down, 2 to go, no.......3 to go

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http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=12234

http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=14030


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 11:50 am 
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Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 9:43 am
Posts: 120
Location: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Over the last couple of evenings I've been busy digging out the engine and transmission from the Ranger. I'd gotten everything unhooked from the engine last weekend, and took the manifolds and accessories off, so I basically ended up with a long block plus tranny. One problem I ran into is that I don't have an engine hoist. I know of at least two people that have them, but I couldn't borrow them on short notice as they were out of town, and apparently places like Part Source don't rent engine hoists. Being the impatient person that I am, I decided to pull the engine without a hoist, through the front of the truck. I took off the bumper and frame cross members, cut out a bit of sheet metal from the front of the engine bay, and struggled to get it out on a couple of jacks. It took about 3 hours in total to get the thing out, including the disassembly of the front of the truck, but it turned out to be a royal PITA. Although I had gone over and made sure everything connecting the engine to the truck was disconnected* I had forgotten one critical step - draining the engine oil. So, the engine ended up tipping a bit onto its side while I was shimmying it out, and dumped several litres of old oil on my garage floor with no room to get a drain pan under it. Grrr! Gumption escaping...

*I had once pulled an engine from an Oldsmobile to put into my Fiero, and had forgotten to disconnect the clutch hydraulic line. Amazingly, that line was strong enough to lift the whole front end of the car up, at least for a few seconds before breaking and letting the car crash back down onto its stands.

Anyway, now that I've gotten the engine out I've started to test fit it to my frame to see where I should put the remaining upright tubes (H tubes) and engine support bars (G tubes). I'm not sure yet how far back to put it as it's a trade off between foot room and shifter position. In order to have the shifter behind the dashboard I'd have to have the bellhousing quite far back making the foot well narrow. I may ended up putting it forward and making a remote shifter like I saw on Horchoha's car.

Here is the engine slid forward to clear the bell housing (ignore the mess, still haven't finished cleaning up after the oil spill):
Image

I enjoy the construction of the frame as it's a nice, clean, straightforward job. The disassembly of the donor is less than stellar, on the other hand, as everything is covered with a 1cm thick layer of 20 year old oil sludge. As much as I dislike cleaning, I thought I would start spiffying up the parts a little:
Image

Hopefully by the end of this week I will have the engine support tubes and top frame cross-members in place, and will be able to start on the rear end. I also want to start on the suspension soon, but I'm undecided whether to go with Heim joint rod ends or bushings. The bushings would be preferable from a ride comfort perspective, but the heim joints offer ease of construction and adjustability which I like. I was thinking of getting something like this for the rear axle: http://www.ebay.com/itm/4-LINK-1-2-x-1-2-20-ROD-END-KIT-WITH-BUNGS-HEIM-JOINTS-/370187834938?pt=Motors_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories&hash=item5630ea163a&vxp=mtr


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 12:52 pm 
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Location: Alberta
We've all spilt oil/coolant/gear oil at one point or another, frustrating, but it happens. Welcome to the board and good luck with the build. I've spend quite a few years in Alberta, bought my donor from Red Deer actually and even know some people from your town.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 1:55 pm 
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Location: Holden, Alberta, Canada
Ha, oil on the floor is nothing! Wait till you're holding something up from falling and it starts running down your arm towards your armpit. Then you have a decision to make.
I chose foot room rather than move the eng/trans rearward. Remote shifter is easy to make and put exactly where you want it. My hand drops from the steering wheel right onto the shifter, very comfortable.

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Perry

1 down, 2 to go, no.......3 to go

'If man built it, man can fix it'

"No one ever told me I couldn't do it."

http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=12234

http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=14030


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 1:59 pm 
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Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Best thing for your oil clean-up is diatomacious (sp) earth. Get it at the drug store or the local swimming pool supply place.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 2:05 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 9:43 am
Posts: 120
Location: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Heh, oil spills are nothing new to me, but they never get less frustrating. One of the army trucks I've worked on a bit had an oil drain plug that was located way up above a bunch of frame rails, so the only thing you could do is position a couple of large drain pans under the front of the truck, remove the plug as quickly as possible to keep from getting soaked in it, and hope that most of the oil ends up generally under the truck. Cat litter is a good clean up method I find. I've also had a few "interesting" oil change experiences with my Cessna 172. Again, a bunch of hoses and things under the drain plug, no hangar, and a 20-30 knot wind make for a large puddle on the tarmac.


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 4:43 pm 
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make a pipe for the drain hole in the pan with a compression fitting so that you can swivel it down then put the drain plug in the end of the pipe.

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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 12:10 am 
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Just my opinion, but I think it's better all around to get the engine and trans as far back as you go and still fit the pedals. That's a lot of weight in a very light car.


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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 10:02 am 
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Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 9:43 am
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Location: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
I added the cross tube at the rear of the engine bay (Q tube) and the verticals on either side of the transmission. I ended up with the rear of the bell housing ahead of these tubes for foot room - I have 11" between the inside edges of the tubes on the driver's side, and about 10.5" on the passenger side with the transmission centred in the frame.
Image

nick47 wrote:
Just my opinion, but I think it's better all around to get the engine and trans as far back as you go and still fit the pedals. That's a lot of weight in a very light car.

I thought about weight, but other posts I've read stated that the car ends up being fairly well balanced even with the engine forward once you get a driver and passenger in the seats. Since this is going to be mostly a street car, I'm opting to go with usability over performance. At some point in time I may try to lighten up the engine by going to an aluminium head (possibly the Volvo head swap) and some other bits, or swapping out for a more modern engine such as the Zetec.

john hennessy wrote:
make a pipe for the drain hole in the pan with a compression fitting so that you can swivel it down then put the drain plug in the end of the pipe.

Do you mean for the Cessna? It is a good idea, but it would have to be an STC'd modification. No field approvals in Canada.

Warren, I'll have to give that a try. Can you get it in fairly large quantities to keep on hand?


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