SteyrTMP's Seven GTR
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Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 12:56 am ]
Post subject:  SteyrTMP's Seven GTR

Well, I'm a little late posting due to email issues with the forum type, I think, so here's up to where I am now.

This started as a major keeper, a dream car... and, even though I'm not halfway done yet, it's already just a test piece. So many ideas, upgrades/modifications, areas of improvement...

Example: Why not stretch 6-10", allowing a little more leg room for me, and although the Miata's nice and all... why not a BMW M3 E46 engine? Definately needs pontoons, a la Donkervoort RS06, but instead of their rather abrupt back end, why not a GT1-style ducktail end? Stretch the back a foot or so, but allow the spoiler to run through clean air.

And so on.

I started this car to pass the time away while waiting for my Mini Cooper S after a pretty good accident--rearended by a girl in a F-150 at 55mph... while stationary. I found Keith Tanner's car in C/D, and went out and bought The Book... as they say, the rest is history.

The build started in a garage two doors down from Nelson Ledges Race Course, here in Ohio, but after about 4 months, the owner decided he needed the space for something else, and the Locost came home. Surprisingly, there was little fallout from the parents... However, much easier walking downstairs to the garage than driving an hour each way.

Here's the donor car. A 1994 Mazda Miata, 1.8l, that I found at a junkyard. It had been in an impound car, and I insisted that they get it running before I bought it. After half an hour of work (sitting for a while, and no key), they got it running enough for me to decide all four cylinders run, so I had it delivered to the garage.

File comment: Here's the donor Miata as delivered.
Before.jpg [ 95.04 KiB | Viewed 39316 times ]
File comment: Day 2. You can see the Miata has been under assault. The contraption in the front was part of a trike being built by the garage owner. Definately not mine.
Day 2 Miata.jpg
Day 2 Miata.jpg [ 74.44 KiB | Viewed 39288 times ]
File comment: After a few days, I successfully removed the engine and transmission. This is also the first time I've worked on a RWD vehicle.
engine on hoist.jpg
engine on hoist.jpg [ 67.43 KiB | Viewed 39272 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 1:01 am ]
Post subject:  ...

Removing the engine was exciting.. initially. Looking back, one thinks "Heh, old hat. BTDT x4". I've pulled it out of the Seven 3 times so far, I believe. It's in for a while ATM.

The framework took a while until it got to my house. However, it has a tolerence of 0.5mm all around.

File comment: Hrmm... something's missing here.
081206_21451.jpg [ 38.46 KiB | Viewed 39235 times ]
File comment: Now that the Miata's stripped down to the bare frame, it's time to start.
Table.jpg [ 47.35 KiB | Viewed 39221 times ]
File comment: Coming along. Taking my time, as this is the first time I've ever tried anything of this magnitude.
Bottom Frame.jpg
Bottom Frame.jpg [ 72.64 KiB | Viewed 39230 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 1:18 am ]
Post subject:  ...

When this started, I had never MIG welded before. After the first few days, I started tack welding things together, and the garage owner would do the final welds. Several weeks later, I started doing all the welding and he'd check it. Now I do all the welding, and I bought a Lincoln SP-175T when the frame moved to my house.

File comment: After the first try didn't work, we fabricated a jig... which worked. Those front compound cuts suck. Why can't someone make a miter chopsaw?
jig.jpg [ 28.35 KiB | Viewed 39189 times ]
File comment: Second try worked. Looking back, I think it would be more effective for the nosecone I want to have it angled the other way, but that would change the suspension hookups... oh well.
081906_20221.jpg [ 45.13 KiB | Viewed 39170 times ]
File comment: Now I could continue on the upper framework.
front.jpg [ 46.29 KiB | Viewed 39178 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 1:22 am ]
Post subject:  ...

On to the rear bulkhead...

File comment: Slow, but precise, progress.
Frame 2.jpg
Frame 2.jpg [ 52.97 KiB | Viewed 39124 times ]
File comment: Rear Bulkhead
081906_21023.jpg [ 46.66 KiB | Viewed 39127 times ]
File comment: Slooooowly...
081906_21022.jpg [ 46.67 KiB | Viewed 39113 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 1:32 am ]
Post subject:  ...

I decided using the entire Miata rear subframe would be much easier than designing suspension points. I feel confident that I'd possibly be able to do so now, but at that point, it would bog down the progress too much. I think I'd rather have a little extra weight in the back with the 1.8l anyway, and all factory parts work there.

File comment: Subframe freshly dropped. In retrospect, I might have been able to use that PPF with a little shortening and modification... oh well. I like my new setup better anyway.
083106_13121.jpg [ 43.58 KiB | Viewed 39079 times ]
File comment: REALLY forlorn now.
083106_13141.jpg [ 52.84 KiB | Viewed 39058 times ]
File comment: Bits'n'pieces.
090106_13131.jpg [ 51.81 KiB | Viewed 39064 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 1:41 am ]
Post subject:  ...

At this point, I had to figure out how to attach the rear IRS suspension to the subframe. As the book was useless for this point (and on, really--I was using the McSorley blueprints, which were much more accurate than the book), I had to go by eye. I'd build two parts, within .5mm of each other, fit, and tack. I got the idea from Mark Rivera's build, but added my own supports.

I purposefully made it a very tight bracket around the subframe to keep the rear as close to stock size as possible. The subframe is unable to be removed, but it never should have to be. There are three bolts on each side holding the subframe in... and the farthest towards the point in the back is unable to be removed--the frame was welded around it.

File comment: I sandblasted and POR-15'ed the subframe.
091706_21022.jpg [ 48.89 KiB | Viewed 39024 times ]
File comment: Fitting. I purposefully made it a very tight bracket around the subframe to keep the rear as close to stock size as possible. The subframe is unable to be removed, but it never should have to be.
091706_16261.jpg [ 113.77 KiB | Viewed 39032 times ]
File comment: Subframe removed.
091706_19173.jpg [ 70.81 KiB | Viewed 39028 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 1:47 am ]
Post subject:  ...

Once the subframe support bracket was completed, I removed it from the table. The table was put aside, and has not been used since.

File comment: These are the underside support tubes. They are detachable to remove and install the differential. Originally I was going to bolt them on both sides, but why need to? The subframe isn't going anywhere.
092406_19561.jpg [ 49.34 KiB | Viewed 38997 times ]
File comment: Probably the cleanest shot I've had yet. Gradually coming along...
100106_19462.jpg [ 42.11 KiB | Viewed 38982 times ]
File comment: Making sure the engine will fit in a book frame...
100106_20061.jpg [ 39.09 KiB | Viewed 38995 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 1:53 am ]
Post subject:  ...

It's going to be a close fit. The throttle body pulley sticks out... I ended up purchasing a '95 throttle body, with a smaller throttle assembly.

File comment: Note the offending throttlebody. Not perfect fitment, but roughly where the engine would go.
100106_20062.jpg [ 43.29 KiB | Viewed 38970 times ]
File comment: Bloody close...
100106_20164.jpg [ 43.93 KiB | Viewed 38969 times ]
File comment: Exciting seeing parts come into place.
100106_20161.jpg [ 40.17 KiB | Viewed 38952 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 1:59 am ]
Post subject:  ...

Everythings pretty tight. And the engine bay's too big. The book was using a much smaller engine, so I figured I'd need a larger one. However, it was TOO large, and that really sucked... more to come.

File comment: That tranny takes up a lot of space.
100506_19212.jpg [ 40.81 KiB | Viewed 38948 times ]
File comment: Like I said... tight. I wear size 12 EEEE boots... that's not going to help.
101306_23511.jpg [ 35.89 KiB | Viewed 38939 times ]
File comment: That didn't work...
100506_21232.jpg [ 35.4 KiB | Viewed 38923 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 2:04 am ]
Post subject:  ...

As the engine bay was too large, the tubes were right where my engine mounts needed to be. I couldn't get the engine low enough without chopping. So I applied major surgery... and found out how much torque is applied from welding. I had to use a comealong to try to remove some bending after cutting the lower subframe, so I could weld the tranny pieces in an attempt to return everything to the initial setup. It worked, mostly.

File comment: Note the torque bends.
Post-op closeup.jpg
Post-op closeup.jpg [ 30.46 KiB | Viewed 38910 times ]
File comment: Took some work, but now I'll be able to position the engine mounts.
100506_19212.jpg [ 37.23 KiB | Viewed 38908 times ]
File comment: The lower transmission tunnel pieces helped a little
Post-op.jpg [ 35.84 KiB | Viewed 38884 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 3:02 am ]
Post subject:  ...

At this point, the frame was moved to our garage. Not a lot was done during the snow months, as the garage is not insulated. (I know, not a good enough excuse... it won't happen this winter). I was in a slump, as I was not able to get the engine perfectly positioned for the engine mounts by myself. Eventually, my dad came to the rescue, and we managed to center the engine, and I resumed production.

File comment: A little bit of both worlds
040207_00332.jpg [ 60.91 KiB | Viewed 38880 times ]
File comment: Another view of the engine mounts
Mount side.jpg
Mount side.jpg [ 40.23 KiB | Viewed 38891 times ]
File comment: I've been a little concerned about this one... for some reason it's angled. It conforms with the bushing, but I'm wondering if the bushing is just worn that way from torque...
Angled mount.jpg
Angled mount.jpg [ 50.53 KiB | Viewed 38867 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 3:16 am ]
Post subject:  ...

Next I had the suspension parts sandblasted, and I POR-15'ed them. I also started working on the transmission tunnel... what a pain. Using the book frame, and a 1.8l Miata engine, it gets very tight, very quickly. I was trying to keep the transmission tunnel as narrow as possible to allow wider seats, but in doing so I ended up having to cut and reweld the back uprights on the tunnel due to the fact that the differential, once bolted to the driveshaft, bumped into it.

As it is now, the driver's seat is 15.5", and the passenger's is 14.5". I fit in both, so oh well for everyone else :D

File comment: An overall view. I think the worst part was trying to get the 3/4" to work with the 1". No matter what you do you end up with gaping holes all over the place.
Picture002.jpg [ 85.5 KiB | Viewed 38883 times ]
File comment: If you look closely, you can see my version of the transmission mount.
Picture004.jpg [ 84.49 KiB | Viewed 38875 times ]
File comment: Clean suspension parts.
Picture005.jpg [ 67.13 KiB | Viewed 38842 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 3:23 am ]
Post subject:  ...

Some sheet metal supports in 16 gauge. If you look closely, you can see my welding started improving pretty well here... got some tips from someone at work that stopped by and figured out some errors. I eventually went over the entire car, rewelding in any area I deemed not worthy. :roll:

File comment: Side panels, with panels for the suspension supports held in place. Notice the dust in the air from sweeping prior to the picture.
IMG_1986.jpg [ 56.22 KiB | Viewed 38834 times ]
File comment: Side panel.
IMG_1987.jpg [ 62.73 KiB | Viewed 38825 times ]
File comment: Front suspension support plate. Crappy weld, but it holds.
IMG_1989.jpg [ 55.84 KiB | Viewed 38815 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 3:32 am ]
Post subject:  ...

Now for suspension... Took a while to figure out where I wanted the suspension to go. Eventually, I put a wheel on it, and measured roughly from where the ground would be to the bottom of the frame, and allowed a few extra inches, because I'll be putting Miata adjustable coilovers in the back eventually, and will drop it about 2-3".

File comment: Here's where the brake and clutch cylinders will be going, thus the 16 gauge. The other side will probably be 22 gauge.
IMG_1990.jpg [ 55.29 KiB | Viewed 38801 times ]
File comment: Figuring out where to make suspension mounts.
IMG_1995.jpg [ 92.82 KiB | Viewed 38798 times ]
File comment: Hrmm... ::scratches head:: Now what? Note the welds on the triangular plates compared to the plates joining them to the side panels. Here's where I started figuring it out.
IMG_1996.jpg [ 92.21 KiB | Viewed 38802 times ]

Author:  SteyrTMP [ October 5, 2007, 3:54 am ]
Post subject:  Side Note

My next major delay was front suspension. I wasn't sure what I wanted, and ended up trying to order a-arms from Coveland Motorsports. However, after 3 months with nothing to show, I finally gave up.

On Yahoo Locost_North_America, I noticed another guy was selling some Coveland arms he had bought, but never used them due to design change. He was selling them considerably cheaper than Coveland, so I bought them. As I had other things to do at the time, I placed them aside and forgot about them.

Around February or so, I was about ready to install the suspension. I dusted off the control arms and the rod ends I had bought... and POOF! I suddenly realized I wouldn't be using these control arms.

Upon close inspection, I found that both the upper and lower control arms were considerably off. The lower arms weren't that horribly bad, but enough to piss me off. My primary reason for sourcing out for control arms was the concern that I would not be able to make them in close enough tolerence (remember, I'm going for a .5mm tolerence on anything). Here, I had 3/4"+ tolerence.

I called the seller, and he had never looked at them closely, as he had used another design. I returned them, and bought other suspension elsewhere.

Moral of the story: I now buy all my parts from Kinetic Vehicles.

File comment: Shock mounts. Probably the least concern, but still enough to piss me off. Wait till you see my current setup.
IMG_2004.jpg [ 58.8 KiB | Viewed 38803 times ]
File comment: The ball joint mounting points.
IMG_2004.jpg [ 58.8 KiB | Viewed 38788 times ]
File comment: Upper control arms, resting on the desk. Just a wee bit off, ya think?
IMG_1997.jpg [ 65.74 KiB | Viewed 38770 times ]

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