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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: May 2, 2017, 4:52 am 
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Joined: November 11, 2013, 4:47 am
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Location: No. Nevada
Turned 62 tonight, time to get serious on this build.
One of several projects I have but now concentrating on this one as I have the most parts for it and since it's scratch built there is no need to search for a bunch of expensive original restoration parts.
Here is a pic from the factory site, similar to what I intend to have except for color.
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I've had some discussion on details for this build before, some chassis discussion here, viewtopic.php?f=39&t=18845

This will be a mostly single donor build, 1970's Alfa Romeo Spider based with a few British parts, mostly windshield and tail lamps.
Not going to try to fool anyone but this is to end up as something that might turn up in an old SCCA racers shed from back in the day.
Avoiding any components newer than mid-70's as much as possible.
I've had a few vintage racers, kick myself twice every Sunday for letting them go.
Now stupidly overpriced so no chance of getting any of them back.
I guess this becomes a Sports-Racer "Tribute car", why not, it works for muscle-cars!

Basic Art Morrison designed chassis which I will be adding several diagonals to.
May also try to make the outriggers act as "Beams" if I can determine it will be worthwhile without adding too much weight.
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Alfa 2000 engine on twin webers and euro cams, 5 speed, reversed side to side A arm front, R&P steering conversion, 4-link rear, all wheel disk brakes, limited edition Campagnolo 6' x14" mag wheels.
Will try to use Alfa gauges and pods too.

Here is the car I took the wheels from.
I think they will look much better on the Dio, they are very rare in the U.S. as they were an option for only one year.
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Drive-train is one I bought some time ago, I have a couple of transmissions and rear axles, front suspension from a rusted '73 Spider.

Engine.
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My grill from an Alfa sedan, it fits like it was made for this car.
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The day I brought it home, loosely fitted to a TR4 chassis.
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I've bought the steel for the main chassis tubes, need to find someone to do a couple of simple bends or buy my own bender.
I've also laid out the main chassis in tape on my 4' x 10' steel build table.
So far all seems top be lining up well, only minor engine off-set and plenty of pedal/foot room.
Hope to get the engine off the stand tomorrow so that I can do a better mock-up.

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PostPosted: May 2, 2017, 5:11 am 
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ARG!
Thought the first post did not work, please delete one.

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PostPosted: May 2, 2017, 9:43 am 
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Location: No. Nevada
Woo-Hoo, found a local guy with 1-5/8" dies to put the jog in my main chassis tubes. :)
Would not have been nearly so hard with 1.5" or even 1.75" tubes.
So Thursday morning this gets to be a serious project.
Will also get a price on future bends, 1.5", 1.0" and .75" tube.
Moving things around to make more space, too awkward doing my mock-up on top of the build table.
Going to use the Alfa front lower arms in the interest of single-donor Locost build philosophy.
May have to do custom uppers but hoping I can modify the originals.

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PostPosted: May 5, 2017, 3:06 am 
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Location: No. Nevada
Any long journey begins with a first step. :cheers:

Took that step today, main 1-5/8" .089 Cro-Mo chassis rails are bent.
5" ground clearance at the low point of the chassis.
Fairly light so far, lighter still when trimmed, using Cro-Mo and as thin of tube as practical to remain light.
Only about 150 HP on a good day so still being overbuilt.
The rest of the rails are smaller and of more common sizes so easier to have bent when needed.
Will be using PVC mock-up cross-tubes for now, real tubes and welding only after I am sure the measurements are correct.

Main chassis rails.
Image

Also got the engine off the test-stand for mock-up as soon as I get a platform made for it to sit on.
Will pull the bits back off the build table for a better look, then put the chassis on the table for the real work.

Image

Image



Will try to keep pics coming.
Kind of hope more rusty Spiders may get a second lease on life as donors, it really does look like they will work well.

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PostPosted: May 8, 2017, 3:00 am 
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Been making some actual progress on the Alfa/Dio Tipo build. :D
And lots of changes!
The good news so far is that I have the main chassis tubes bent to shape so I have the foundation to build on.
Also used some PVC tube and a hole-saw to fabricate mock-up cross-members that I may easily move around as needed for optimum placement.
I've seen lots of builders comments here about having to cut out tubes, I'm trying to avoid that.
Also made a cradle to hold the engine and trans, spacers for the chassis and body.
Engine sits about 4" behind the axle center-line as measured to face of the front cover (2" to face of crank pulley) so it will be a "Forward mid-engine" build. 8)
I will be sitting only about 14" ahead of the rear axle, I expect weight balance to be excellent.
Trying for very neutral and flat handling.
After getting all the mocking up done I've figured out that there are some issues with the AM drawings.
But I've also determined that the stock Alfa Spider track is fine with factory optional 6"x14" wheels and 205/60-14 tires.
May try to go to 15" for better performance tire availability. :?:

The bad (?), to get the engine to fit without having to cut the bonnet I end up with only 4" ground clearance under the Spider oil pan at the drain plug.
That is at 10" behind the front wheel center-line, so the tires may not help to lift the sump over speed bumps very much.
May not be as bad as the sump being low in front of the wheels as original.
Probably not an issue on a track, but I'm a little leery of it for the street.
Never thought of Alfa engines as being particularly tall before now.
Almost makes me wish for a 1300 to use, I know they are shorter and rev like crazy. :wink:

I am now looking into ways to make the oil pan shallower without having to go to dry-sump.
This IS supposed to be a budget build and eventual guide for others to also give new life to rusted out Spiders.
I have an Alfetta pan and oil pump, but is seems the depth is virtually identical to a Spider pan. :(
Would prefer to use the Spider pan if possible as it appears to have better oil control for cornering.
Thought of fabricating a flat bottom half but not sure the oil pump and pick-up could be modified to work?
Suggestions?

Front suspension will use reversed stock lower arms and spindles, custom upper arms, R&P steering (Why the arms are reversed!) and coil-over shocks.
Rear suspension is based on the AM four-link.

As it turns out the chassis fabrication is simple compared to the future bodywork.
This is a very basic kit, no factory chassis available at this time and no real instructions or detail parts.
Very similar to kits from the 50's and 60's that so many buyers were overwhelmed by and never finished.
I will be finishing this one, it's a "Bucket list, has to be done" item for me. :cheers:

Overall I am VERY pleased at how well the Spider parts are working out.
HP will not be overwhelming which is probably a good thing, but will still be enough to get my blood flowing.
Should fit my definition of a "True sports car*" very well when done.

*True sports car - A one or two seat automobile with no unnecessary frills or features, intended primarily as a "Road legal" fun to drive vehicle that may be driven in competition with minimal preparation.
Power must be adequate but need not be excessive, the emphasis is on fun and driver skill without undue fear of losing control. (427 Cobra, BB Cheetah, etc.)
AC, PS, PB, roll-up windows, radio/audio, heated seats and cup-holders are forbidden, bonus points for folding or easily removed windscreen.
See Lotus 7, "Bugeye" Sprite, TR-3, MG-A, etc. as illustrative examples. :wink:

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PostPosted: May 8, 2017, 12:20 pm 
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Joined: April 18, 2017, 12:15 pm
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That chassis drawing certainly leaves something to be desired. Particularly in the triangulation department. If you reverse the front susp. (side to side?) Won't that mess up the akerman ? I take it you want to change from a rear steer to a front steer? You may need to look at how you can change the steering arms rather than flipping the susp.


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PostPosted: May 8, 2017, 12:38 pm 
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Yes, converting to front steer in order to be rid of the complex original linkage and weak steering box.
I do not expect an issue with ackerman as I will be setting up the mounts and adjusting rack length as needed.
I will run it through my suspension program before I begin welding.
Stock lower arms are interchangeable side to side.
Uprights are nearly identical except for the caliper mounting bosses.
Upper arms will be custom.
Looking for a R&P just a little shorter than the Spitfire rack I have.
May have to shorten the Spitfire rack.

Finally at the point of making a cut list for the main structure and buying more steel. :)
I will be adding diagonals, the AM drawing is being used as a basic guide and for dimensions.
Could start from scratch but since I already know the AM design works fine even with SBF/SBC my puny 125-150 HP are not going to stress it much. :wink:
Doing this chassis partly as a demo, partly as practice, may get a contract to build more.
As said, I will be adding some diagonals for increased rigidity.
Also looking at making the side pods function as "Beams" if it will not add too much weight.

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PostPosted: May 8, 2017, 6:07 pm 
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Joined: April 18, 2017, 12:15 pm
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I saw a guy in Reno was selling one like this. Was that you or did you buy from him? I kind of liked the body but not interested in the triumph (I think) chassis he had with it.


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PostPosted: May 8, 2017, 6:31 pm 
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Joined: January 1, 2015, 1:55 pm
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I like your build and will be watching.

Interestingly enough I live in the same small town in upstate NY that one of the original creators of the "Ambros" ended up living in. His name was Bill Ames. Bill Bonadio ended up with the molds and sells them as the DIO. I met Bonidio at Gate Way race track years ago at an event called "Run n Gun". His car was very fast.

Have fun.


Last edited by stinger on May 8, 2017, 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: May 8, 2017, 6:44 pm 
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Mike S wrote:
I saw a guy in Reno was selling one like this. Was that you or did you buy from him? I kind of liked the body but not interested in the triumph (I think) chassis he had with it.


That was probably the car I bought.
Wish it had been in Reno, I had to go a lot further than that into Kalifornia.

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Last edited by RichardSIA on May 8, 2017, 7:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: May 8, 2017, 6:52 pm 
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stinger wrote:
I like your build and will be watching.

Interestingly enough I live in the same small town in upstate NY that one of the original creators of the "Ambros" ended up living in. His name was Bill Ames. Bill Bonidio ended up with the molds and sells them as the DIO. I met Bonidio at Gate Way race track years ago at an event called "Run n Gun". His car was very fast.

Have fun.


I may be visiting Bill fairly soon to get a look at his car as it has an AM chassis under it I want to take more measurements from.
He did VERY well at Run n Gun, taking top time in nearly every event.
Apparently annoyed the Cobra guys pretty good, but it did not lead to a big sales increase for him.
Guys that want Cobra clones ONLY want Cobra clones even when other cars beat them, LOL.
Once this one is done I may build another on the Triumph frame.
Hoping a few more will be built on the bones of dead Alfa's.

I've also found sources for several other "Vintage" bodies, so perfecting a relatively simple chassis design will let me do more in the future.

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PostPosted: May 8, 2017, 6:59 pm 
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I annoyed the Cobra guys too. First with my Beck Lister. Then with the Dragons that I was involved with.
I did build 1 Cobra. It had C5 vette drive train and suspension. It was a nice car but it was TOO common. Every one has a Cobra! :)

That's why I'm doing my "Cheetah" inspired build.

Having fun but its taking a lot of work. Because of health I'm only able to do part time work on it. This may be my last build.


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PostPosted: May 8, 2017, 9:56 pm 
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Location: Kamloops, BC, Canada
4" ground clearance isn't that bad, you just have to be aware of your limitations. I've got less than that (maybe 3.5") under the oil pan of my locost and haven't had any issues on the street. I cut down my oil pan, as well as modified the pickup tube and oil pump for max clearance. I'm using a Ford with a sheet steel pan, so pretty easy to cut and weld. Is your Alfa an aluminum oil pan? What's the oil pickup look like? I'm sure you could shave some height if you need to.
Kristian

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PostPosted: May 8, 2017, 10:41 pm 
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Cast aluminum two-piece.
Cast oil pump and pick-up too.

Hoping 4" near the wheel will be OK.
I already know the trick about hitting bumps at an angle.

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PostPosted: May 21, 2017, 12:45 am 
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Time for new pics, looks like the new iMAC is not resizing as I wanted.

Body mocked up over the drive-train.
Lower frame rails have 5" ground clearance.
Only 4" under the oil pan to clear the hood (Bonnet) without cutting.
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Rear view.
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Forward "Mid-engine" build as it's behind the axle centerline marked by the middle piece of green tape.
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Moved a chassis tube slightly so that it will also support the trans.
After reading of so many builders having to remove tubes I am using PVC to check before welding.
Image

Alfa rear looks almost like a Halibrand with it's aluminum center, it also already has lower trailing arm brackets.
Image

Now I can put the chassis rails back on the build table and get a few cross-members welded in. :D

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