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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 11:29 pm 
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Man of Constant Hazard
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Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:18 am
Posts: 3070
Location: Lexington, KY
About a half-year late, but I'm finally getting around to posting some build photos. I *strongly* encourage feedback. If I'm doing something dumb, you know of a better way, or you like what I'm doing (or all of the above!) please post a reply or contact me off list. I look forward to exchanging ideas with everyone.

I am in Lexington, KY, and this is the first car I've built. I have a lot to learn!

-dave

ps. Ignore the post dates up through 10/24/2007. I committed to the project in Spring of 2006 and started actual work in earnest in April 2007. I'll try to put a date in the topic or body of each post, when I know it.

pps. If you landed directly on this page, the car I am building is a a Locost Seven, which is a replica/approximation of a Lotus 7. The Lotus 7 was created by British designer Colin Chapman in 1957. You can learn more about the history of the Seven at Wikipedia and find many photos of the real McCoy and replicas with Google

ppps. Fast forward to Autumn 2009 and this is what you get: Image
June 2010:
Image
Jan 2011:
Image

I'll try to update this photo from time to time as the car progresses, but jump to the last page if you want the latest.


Last edited by dhempy on Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:06 am, edited 6 times in total.
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 Post subject: 4/12/2006 - Donor found
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 11:46 pm 
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Man of Constant Hazard
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Location: Lexington, KY
In April 2006, I found a 1993 Miata LE with some high-speed modification to the front end. Specifically, the owner gently careened off a cement barrier at 65 mph, or something like that. The hood, fenders, and bumper are trashed, but the only thing under the hood bunged up was the A/C pump, the thermostat housing, and a tie rod.

It had been sitting for a few years in the seller's brother's barn, covered and dry. I bought the car on the spot, and they let me leave it in the barn for another half-year until I made room for it at home.

I expected to sell off a bunch of parts and break even (or even make a profit!) but I'm having too much fun building to get on eBay. Anybody need anything other than the drivetrain? I've got all the red interior parts, except for the red leather seats.

After stripping the car, I noticed the differential housing arm was broken, but that was easily TIG welded back by a pro.


Attachments:
Photo_041206_031.jpg
Photo_041206_031.jpg [ 65.28 KiB | Viewed 42610 times ]
File comment: Someone else liked the car, too! These little guys were a small part of the reason I didn't pick it up until September...that, and I had no place to keep it!
Photo_041206_006.jpg
Photo_041206_006.jpg [ 75.03 KiB | Viewed 42585 times ]


Last edited by dhempy on Thu Oct 25, 2007 12:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 12:38 am 
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Man of Constant Hazard
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Location: Lexington, KY
Hard to build a car without a shop, so I had to build one first. I guess this put me about $10,000 over the 250 Pound budget, even before I cut my first piece of steel! :D

This is a 16' x 24' (exterior dimension) garage. As I write this nearly a year later, I'd comfortably call this the smallest reasonable size you'd want to build a car in. If you had some good other storage, you could maybe go down to 20' in length, and if you had another room to do bench work on maybe you could go a bit narrower...but I'd try real hard to shoot for 16x24 as a minimum. I think I'd be in heaven if I had a proper 24x24 2-car garage...except then my lovely wife would probably want to actually park in the thing or something, so maybe this isn't so bad. It fits my needs just perfectly, and "inspires" me to clean it up every month or so as the junk piles up.

The walls are 2x6 construction, 24" on center. I don't know why all buildings aren't built this way. Same cost, easy construction, R-19 insulation. Metal roof, huge overhangs, and no gutters. 100A 220V service, and air conditioning. So far, heat is not required...a few 500W halogen work lamps keep the place toasty. This is going to be a low-maintenance, high-utility, comfortable building.

The upstairs is open, currently serving as the woodshop, but will be the pickin' parlor once the car is done and there are proper stairs to decks at either end.

I broke ground on 6/11/2006. This photo was taken 11/27/2006, when you could reasonably call it "finished." I worked on it nearly every day during that time. I had help with the footer, foundation, floor, and trusses, and did about 90% of the work alone. Like the Locost, this was an adventure in education.

This might not seem relevant to a builder's log, but your shop is probably your most important tool, right after your brain and your hands. I would have a hard time encouraging anyone to start a project like this without a good shop situation. I'm sure it could be done under tarps in the driveway, but I have a hard time seeing a finished project come of it.

Okay, enough about the shop...back to the car.

ps. Don't forget to update your homeowner's insurance.


Attachments:
20061127_shop.jpg
20061127_shop.jpg [ 59.04 KiB | Viewed 42727 times ]
File comment: The trusses are 24" O.C, built of 2x8's with plywood gussets, glued and nailed. With 2,340 nails in the gussets alone, my nail gun was my best friend!
20060824_trusses.jpg
20060824_trusses.jpg [ 56.84 KiB | Viewed 42462 times ]
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:01 am 
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Location: Lexington, KY
I spent the winter of 2007 tearing down the Miata a little bit, but mostly taking care of a medical crisis in the family. In April I started getting serious about the build and doing things that didn't have to be qualified as, "getting ready to build," but honest-to-goodness, "building."

This is what an aspiring Locost frame looks like. $184.29 (incl. tax) for 192 pounds of steel, canine not included. I learned later that $50 of the total was cut charges so they'd fit in my pickup. Next time I'll bring an angle grinder and an extension cord and cut it myself in their parking lot! ;-)


Attachments:
Photo_042007_001_raw_materials.jpg
Photo_042007_001_raw_materials.jpg [ 65.3 KiB | Viewed 42346 times ]
File comment: That's Mini Perl. She's upset these days, as I don't let her in the shop. Too much grinder dust and sharp things on the floor.
Photo_042007_003_raw_materials.jpg
Photo_042007_003_raw_materials.jpg [ 76.01 KiB | Viewed 42290 times ]
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 Post subject: 04/20/2007 - Build Table
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 1:24 am 
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Location: Lexington, KY
My build table is a 1" MDF top on steel studs, with cheap 1/2" plywood on the bottom. I think this is called a torsion box? The MDF starts out perfectly flat, and the studs keep it that way. Cost to build the table top: about $70. Will be useful for other projects down the line.

The top is heavier than it looks. Fully built, I struggle to get it on or off the gurney alone. I'd consider using thinner MDF next time...maybe. Also, a 4'x8' panel is NOT 48" x 96"! It's an inch longer each way...49x97. This actually works pretty well for us, but make note of it when drawing your center line.

Not shown here is a third stud going between across the four long studs. Not sure it was needed, but seemed like a good idea at the time, and I was having fun learning how to work with steel studs.

Someone else suggested wiring it with outlets at the four corners. That would have been handy, and maybe worth the trouble. I have a heavy power strip hanging from the ceiling, and like that pretty well.

Later on, I drilled holes in it to clamp down tubes. Don't use a hole saw...it clogs up too bad on the glue/wood. Use your biggest spade bit and drill 2 or three overlapping holes to fit your needs...much easier and allows smaller holes. Also, doing it again I'd consider moving the perimeter studs in a little farther, so I could clamp the outer cockpit tubes directly from the side, instead of having to drill holes on the interior for clamps. Dunno...I'd have to see how far in they'd have to go. I'd also consider mounting the C-shaped studs facing in instead of out, for the same reason. Again...not sure about that...haven't thought about it too much.

The table top sits on a hospital gurney, which worked out great. You can't buy wheels this nice for $100. Try to buy a gurney at a university or hospital surplus auction for $20 or so. I was tempted to use the gurney throughout the build, but didn't trust it for weights beyond just the frame, so it got retired in favor of sawhorses once I started mounting the drivetrain in the chassis.


Attachments:
File comment: Not as cozy as it looks. I did get sweetie to push me around the shop on it. Whee! :D
Photo_042107_002_build_table.jpg
Photo_042107_002_build_table.jpg [ 67.02 KiB | Viewed 42181 times ]
File comment: I clamped the MDF vertically during construction to prevent any deflection before the studs and plywood were secured.
Photo_042007_008_build_table.jpg
Photo_042007_008_build_table.jpg [ 65.11 KiB | Viewed 42142 times ]


Last edited by dhempy on Wed Mar 05, 2008 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 2:06 am 
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Man of Constant Hazard
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Location: Lexington, KY
Nothing but a rectangle tacked together, but very satisfying all the same.

Quote:
2008 update - See the next 50 hours worth of work in seven minutes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOKVah9gxqY


Attachments:
File comment: Baby steps. The big hole saw makes nice holes, but is a pain in this composite wood. Using the biggest spade bit to make several overlapping holes worked much better.
Photo_042107_004_tools.jpg
Photo_042107_004_tools.jpg [ 73 KiB | Viewed 41935 times ]
File comment: So glad I sprung for the band saw. Lets me work past midnight without driving the neighbors too crazy.
Photo_042107_005_band_saw.jpg
Photo_042107_005_band_saw.jpg [ 99.91 KiB | Viewed 41902 times ]
File comment: Starting to look car-size, or at least a really big sled.
Photo_042207_001_getting_started.jpg
Photo_042207_001_getting_started.jpg [ 68.1 KiB | Viewed 41837 times ]


Last edited by dhempy on Mon Jan 07, 2008 2:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 2:13 am 
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Location: Lexington, KY
Another feel-good moment...breaking out of 2D into 3D.


Attachments:
File comment: Jig to build the L-tube assembly.
Photo_042207_003_jig_L_tubes.jpg
Photo_042207_003_jig_L_tubes.jpg [ 50.12 KiB | Viewed 41774 times ]
File comment: Notice the extra inch of the 97" inch long 4x8 comes in extremely handy for a +442 build. I could clamp the rearmost and frontmost tubes at the same time.
Photo_042507_002_entering_3D.jpg
Photo_042507_002_entering_3D.jpg [ 83.06 KiB | Viewed 41741 times ]
Photo_042507_003_frame.jpg
Photo_042507_003_frame.jpg [ 69.62 KiB | Viewed 41715 times ]
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 Post subject: 04/25/2007 - Tacking Tip
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 2:17 am 
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Location: Lexington, KY
Mark Rivera passed a tip along to me: When you've got a tube tacked in the right place (and checked it!), go ahead and tack all four corners of each tube. This will greatly increase the rigidity of the structure and reduce flexing during final welding.


Attachments:
Photo_042507_005_tack_all_corners.jpg
Photo_042507_005_tack_all_corners.jpg [ 49.25 KiB | Viewed 41665 times ]
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 10:48 am 
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Location: Sacramento, CA
Great job on the shop. I've told myself that one day I will build myself a house, so seeing you build that shop in about 5 months gives me hope that this isn't something that will take a lifetime. I actually started reading up on it a little while back. Do you have any tips, or things that you struggled with that you wish you had done differently, aside from the size?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 2:15 pm 
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Man of Constant Hazard
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THAWA wrote:
Great job on the shop. I've told myself that one day I will build myself a house, so seeing you build that shop in about 5 months gives me hope that this isn't something that will take a lifetime. I actually started reading up on it a little while back. Do you have any tips, or things that you struggled with that you wish you had done differently, aside from the size?


Thanks, Thawa! :-)

Yes, I think building a house is well within the grasp of anyone inclined to do it. You'll need a good plan, determination, time, and money. I recommend buying plans. Looking back, I realize I didn't need the plans that much, and might not use them for a second go, but just having most of the variables eliminated lets you actually make some progress and personal decisions. (Same applies for the Locost, just to keep things on topic!)

These are the plans I used, and I recommend them:

http://www.homesteaddesign.com/yaquina.html

They have lots of other plans, too. I didn't install stairs, instead using a pull-down stair. Eventually there will be a deck with proper stairs outside. And of course, there is no bathroom/kitchen/anything upstairs. I highly recommend a metal roof and 6" walls if you're heating or cooling the place. And BTW, I *highly* recommend installing heat and/or AC from the get-go, as your climate requires. If you can't use your shop at least 11.5 months of the year, you're throwing money away.

I went overboard with the electric service, which I don't regret and would probably do again. Who knows...I might get a Bridgeport one day! :drool: I didn't run any plumbing, which simplified things and isn't really a problem in my scenario. I probably should have buried a conduit for a possible future water line, but oh, well. Other than that, I can't imagine much I would do different.

Well, I might do the floor better. I already have a few cracks. If they bothered me I'd be pissed, but they don't so I'm not. I have a 4" slab with no mesh or bar. I have a feeling they didn't add any fiber to my concrete like I ordered, but I don't really know much about that stuff.

And of course, I'd make it as big as you can swing! I've never heard anyone say they wish their shop was just a little bit smaller. ;-)


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 6:18 pm 
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Location: Alberta, Canada
Great shop - I need one soon - sadly it will be done after the car. I love hospital gurney btw. Build looks to be going well. 8)


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2007 7:42 pm 
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Man of Constant Hazard
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Dave wrote:
Great shop - I need one soon - sadly it will be done after the car. I love hospital gurney btw. Build looks to be going well. 8)


Thanks, Dave. :-) Yeah, the gurney is a winner, for sure. Makes a nice scaffold too, if the brakes are good (they are) and you're careful (I sometimes am).


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 1:33 am 
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dhempy wrote:
Not shown here is a third stud going between across the four long studs. Not sure it was needed, but seemed like a good idea at the time, and I was having fun learning how to work with steel studs.
Huh? Please elucidate and clarify. I'm not grokking that third stud. Your table sure looks stiff enough; it looked good in person, too, but it was all closed in by then. Could you supply a crude sketch?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:58 am 
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Man, that is one sweet looking Man-Cave you have there. Build a loft upstairs, beer fridge, small bed, maybe a tv.....

I'd never see the wife and kids again!

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A man must keep a little back shop where he can be himself without reserve. In solitude alone can he know true freedom.
-Michel de Montaigne

Scratch built book frame with an 83 Celica donor 22RE. SHE'S A ROLLER!!!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:15 pm 
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In my neighbourhood there's a nick name for all the wives of us, the men who are getting stuck for long hours in the garage, we call them "garage widows".
:lol:

Looking good there David (the car's alright too :wink: )!

Moti

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