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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 4:08 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:44 pm
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Location: Lagrange, GA
Hello everybody, I think it's time for me to start one of these (and hopefully finish it in a timely manner too!).

First, a little overview of myself. My name is Jeremy, I'm a project manager and mechanical designer for a small integration firm in Lagrange, GA. Our core business is industrial robotics (hence the user name), and I design one-off robotic work cells for a very large variety of industries. I say "designer" and not "engineer" because I am not, truly, an engineer; I have a degree in Geography. But, I spent my college years working for and eventually running one of the student racing teams at Auburn (War Eagle), and so "A" lead to "Z" lead to "B" (it was a weird road, man), and here I am.

To give an overview of the car - I am building an R1 powered BEC, based on a modified Gibbs chassis. My design goals are to have a street legal (I'm in a non-emissions check county, so it IS possible), well finished but not extravagant machine that I can also use for Auto-X, track days, and hill climbs. My biggest influence is, obviously, Jeff Underwood's R1 build, my aim is to replicate his results, but stray slightly further from "race car" down the "production trimmed" road (a la Caterham Superlights). My original plans from years ago were for a normal miata 442 build, but, as soon as I saw pictures of Jeff's car, something in my brain clicked "That. You need that.", and it was off from there.

My build differs slightly from some in that #A) I don't have a donor (engine notwithstanding), so my running gear is going to come from a wide variety of places and makes, and #B) I had the opportunity to literally start from the ground up. My garage was built, starting four days after I bought my first house last April, with the full intention of being a construction area for this car (and more).

I'll start with the pictures now, thanks for reading. - Jeremy

So, I'll start with the garage -

Two days after I moved in. The previous owner had built some sort of silly closet in the garage -
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So that had to go -
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Then the floor needed finished -
After Etching
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3 Days after Coating
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A quick note about the floor coating for those garage junkies out there. I used the Rustoleum Epoxy Shield 2-part epoxy. I had considered going with a full up 100% solids epoxy coating, but at 4 times the price couldn't justify it to myself. BUT, I spent a full 2 days on prep before I did the coating. Also, even though rustoleum says not to do this, I used a muriatic acid based etch (as you would for a full solids epoxy base coat). Don't use their citric acid wash, it is a waste of time and effort. I have had absolutely zero issues with my floor (except for paint overspray, but that's my own damn fault).

Then it was time for the toys -

SO roll cab, bought it used from a guy who needed more room
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Husky (made by Campbell Hausfeld) compressor, bought from HD as a reconditioned unit -
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And then finally the cabinets, drawers, and welder. The cabinets came from a local hospital renovation and are about 30 years old, but didn't look it. A coat of paint made them look brand new. The counter tops are birch cabinet ply, doubled and bonded, and the roll cab has an aspen board 3/4 top (soft for hammering, cheap for replaceability). The welder is a 8 year old Lincoln TIG (Squarewave 175) I bought from my old race team so they could buy an upgraded unit. I used a Miller 180 SD and a Maxstar "Tiglet" for 5 years before I got this one, and if I didn't get such a good deal on that Lincoln, that box would be blue. I just haven't gotten used to the amperage control on the Lincoln, definitively not a precise as the Millers.

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There are a few more misc. tables and shelf units that aren't really anything special, but they are home built. All told, I invested ~$1450 in the garage as it stands today, with more than a 3rd of that in the welder alone, so I consider that to be a very successful "locost" project.

More to follow, with actual car stuff!


Last edited by RobotWrangler on Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:24 pm 
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Welcome! Seems like you're used to taking interesting routes, so I hope your build follows suite and gets you where you want to be...

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:47 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:44 pm
Posts: 24
Location: Lagrange, GA
Thanks! I seem to be having some picture issues (really wish I had noticed that preview button before), so I'll get that taken care of as soon as I can edit the post without it requiring moderator sign off (when does that happen, btw?). As of now if I edit the post, it deletes the whole thread for a while.

Anyways, on to real car stuffs (and table stuff). My table is just 2x6 framing boards, with a 3/4 veneer-core cabinet ply top. I leveled the frame, then placed the top on it. I "soft" screwed it down, so it couldn't shift, then used a 48" straight edge to shim the middle and perimeter until I had it flat (I think it took somewhere around 15 taper shims). It's a similar way to one you would use to level and flatten an old pool table (which I actually did last year to my own pool table). No, once you get some weight on it it won't stay flat, but I really only need it to stay flat until the front portion of the chassis is welded. After that point, the frame will warp on it's own (limited as much as possible) and then it's a done deal.

It actually has 6 legs, not 4 like is shown, I added 2 more the next day before shimming

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Anyways, NOW car stuff. The chassis, like I mentioned earlier, is a modified Haynes. The most major change, I expanded the cockpit area to 46" across. I wanted to go with nicer seats than a kirkey or home-built, so I decided I needed at least 19" across the seating area, and to do that I needed a wider frame. The front width remained the same, however, so I have a higher degree of taper from the cockpit to the nose. This allowed me to just use one piece from the cockpit to the nose, instead of the bend in the middle around the firewall area. I also raised the rear bulkhead height to 24", and am using 1x2x.120 for the bulkhead sides, and stitch welded 1x2 for the bulkhead top, with threaded inserts welded in for the roll bars and shoulder belts. The rear design is still waiting for the finished live axle design, can't fill in that blank yet.

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Initial layout
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Clamping
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Front Sus. Box
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And big jump on a saturday to sides up
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And as it stood last week
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This also came in during that time and is waiting for some attention - Ford 8.8 from a 96 Mustang, 2.73 FD with LSD (I wanted the LSD more than the gearing, but we'll give it a go and see what comes, gears are cheap around here, diffs not so much)

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:07 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:44 pm
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Location: Lagrange, GA
The drive-shaft tunnel is now tacked in. The rear bulkhead upper is finished with it's threaded inserts, but not in, because my damn flex head TIG torch flexed itself into 2 pieces (after only 4 months, not happy).

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I also "sourced" a driveshaft (shop manager at work dug through his pile of spare driveshafts until he found a two piece unit with 13 series u-joints), so that's sitting ready to get cut to size eventually.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:57 am 
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We are Slotus!
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Location: Tallahassee, FL (The Center of the Known Universe)
Howdy-
Looks like you're off and running already. A quick study, that's good! Keep up the good work, constructing the car and posting pics, and I wish you continued good luck with your build!
:cheers:
JD Kemp

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:39 am 
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Nice! I'll be following this. :cheers:

That "closet" that was in the garage....you don't suppose it was filled with grow lights? :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:38 pm 
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Location: Lagrange, GA
Thank you guys.

Acerguy wrote:
That "closet" that was in the garage....you don't suppose it was filled with grow lights? :wink:


The thought did cross my mind, but there was no power access inside the room and only one piddly light. I would think growing your own "herb garden" indoors would take more than a single 40w bulb.

We figured out from some handouts and invoices left in the attic that the previous owner was an Elvis impersonator (apparently a pretty good one), so we just called it the "Mutton chop and banana sandwich" storage area.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:49 pm 
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Man you've got to be the speedy Gonzales of Locost builders! :cheers:
Look'n gooood!

Approximately how much does the 8.8 rear axle weigh as it was on the pallet?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:18 am 
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Quote:
Man you've got to be the speedy Gonzales of Locost builders!


That be causes he is a man with a plan!

I like the use of the Ford axle, the different gear ratio's that you can choose from will be endlesss. The one negative thing to think about with that axle is if you are planning on running slicks for autox and hillclimbs. 13" slick will be the way to go do to the softer compound and that will require some work arounds to get that small of wheel to fit on that axle. This may not be an issue depending of your goals.

Best of luck, great start!

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:03 pm 
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Location: Lagrange, GA
olrowdy_01 wrote:
Approximately how much does the 8.8 rear axle weigh as it was on the pallet?


I don't know for sure yet, but when I get all the extra bits removed, I will put a sling on it and weigh it under the lift. I know that would be a good piece of information for folks to have.

I've seen estimates all the way from 135 to low 200s on other forums, I have a feeling just from moving it around the shop that 145-150 is a good estimate. The shipping weight was listed as 330, which was clearly wrong, but didn't effect my shipping price at all so I didn't care. I've been using an estimate of 250lb unsprung for my weight split and spring rate SWAGs...er calculations. I've never had to do any live axle suspension design before, so it's been interesting at best.

cwhite wrote:
The one negative thing to think about with that axle is if you are planning on running slicks for autox and hillclimbs. 13" slick will be the way to go do to the softer compound and that will require some work arounds to get that small of wheel to fit on that axle. This may not be an issue depending of your goals.


That is one thing I hadn't considered, and really don't have any knowledge about. Almost all of my racing experience is off-road, I've only got a very limited amount of suspension design education for road race related stuff, and even then it was "here is your tire data" not "go source a tire". I don't really know what options there are for road race slicks.

I'm running an 11" rotor in the front, Mustang II components on drop spindles, so I had already committed to a 15"+ wheel size. It was either 10.5 or 11", so I went bigger, knowing the rear had the 10.5" (no one will ever be able to accuse this car of not being able to stop due to brake sizes).

Even with the off-road side, I never dove into the suspension design much, I was more focused on construction and race management. I understand camber/toe gain well enough, and roll center determination and what effects the roll axis may have, but when you start getting into tire dynamics and force determinations (camber thrust, mechanical v. pneumatic trail, damping forces, etc.), my head starts to swim.

To try and get around this, I'm working to design in a fair, but not excessive, amount of adjustability into the suspensions. The front will have camber/caster adjustment through the upper A-arm, and rod end tie rods so I can shim in/out bumpsteer as I need. The rear will have rod-end linkages and multiple connection points to adjust for "thrust squat" (don't know what the technical term would be), as well as a panhard bar with multiple positions to change the roll axis angle ranges. I'm also currently sourcing rebuildable coilover shocks for all 4 corners, because I am certain to get the shock valving wrong many times.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:39 pm 
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Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Awesome build. I'll be following closely.

I bought Jeff Underwood R1 Locost back in November, so if there's any info you need form the car itself I'll help as best I can. I can tell you it's a blast at track days and I don't have much work to do thank to Jeff.

Aaron


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:51 pm 
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Location: Lagrange, GA
mca wrote:
Awesome build. I'll be following closely.

I bought Jeff Underwood R1 Locost back in November, so if there's any info you need form the car itself I'll help as best I can. I can tell you it's a blast at track days and I don't have much work to do thank to Jeff.

Aaron



That's awesome, thank you. Glad to hear you're liking it.

Got to catch up on a little design work for the rear of the frame. Still a good bit to do there, but it's a start to work from.

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And snapped a picture of the front brake/spindle pieces the other day as well -

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:28 pm 
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Location: Lagrange, GA
Well, heading into month 3 now, and I'm still here. Progress has slowed down, due to an average temp in my garage of about 100 degrees when I get home every day, and a huge number of projects at work. But, I have been able to do a couple minutes of design work here and there.

Here is how it stands right now -

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I've started the roll cage design, obviously. I'm not planning on running a roll cage from day 1, I first want to build just a traditional 4 pt. roll bar setup. But, eventually it will have a bolt on system, and I want to add the mounting plates to the frame from the beginning (they'll be hidden under the body panels until the day the cage comes anyways). One thing I do not like is the direct overhead tubing that I've got right now, I'm still pondering that one. There will be a X-ed up door bar setup too -

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Credit to Jeff Underwood (again) for the roll cage mounting design, it's another one of his ideas I've ripped off.

I also drew up and tacked in the front A-arm tabs and the jig to mount them -

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And the engine is mounted (needs 2 more braces to be done) -

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That's all for now, hopefully the next update will be an installed steering rack (shortened Mustang 2), a mounted radiator (ebay civic "racing" radiator), and a finished panhard bar design.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:04 am 
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Nice work.

The engine mounts look really clean and thought out.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:37 pm 
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Nice work, looks good. I'm jealous of you dropping $1,450.00 and getting those cabinets, roller chest, welder, and an upright compressor! I've been looking for a chest like that and the cheapest I've found so far is is a cheapie Canadian Tire unit for $600.00. Anyways, I know lots of guys do it, but I'm just curious as to your reasoning of utilizing a bike engine? Putting a engine in an approx. 1,200 lb locost that was designed for a 381 lb (based on the 2006 model) bike, approx. 4x the weight, doesn't make alot of sense to me. What I'm doing doesn't make alot of sense to people either, but I'm just wondering your reasoning......

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