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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 7:16 pm 
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Location: Houston, TX
I figured I should start one of these. I'll have to back update, since I started a few months ago. At the moment, the plan is to use a R1 engine, but I haven't bought an engine yet, so that could change. Again, at the moment, the differential will be from a MN12 Thunderbird, but since I haven't bought one of those yet either...

5/30/09
I bought my donor car, which I wasn't actively looking for. I just saw the car for sale on Craigslist the previous week and thought that it would be a perfect donor. I hadn't quite planned on starting on the project just yet, so I didn't inquire right away. But then I thought about it for a couple days and said to hell with it and bought it for $500. It was too good of a deal to pass up. This should be a lesson to everyone about how Craigslist is the devil. You end up with crap you didn't plan on buying. Crap that makes your fiance shake her head. And wonder what the hell she's gotten herself into.

Towing it home:
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Pictures:
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Notice the driver's seat held in by gravity, the passenger seat held in with one bolt. and the entire contents of the driver's door (window, door card, power window motor) sitting in the passenger seat.
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Not in bad shape, just not in particularly good shape. Pretty much every panel has dents in it, it had been lightly wrecked in the front, and left sitting in a parking lot for 6 months or so with no windows and a ripped top. So all that considered, it's in damn good condition.

5/31/09
Didn't waste any time, and ripped out the interior:
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Not a bad haul for a $500 car. Must've been $5 in change under the carpet.

6/13/09
Bought the steel last week. Iif you're in Houston and need a steel place, SSS Steel was awesome to deal with. 135 ft of 1x1x.065 square tube, 40 ft of .75x.75x.065 square tube, and 40 ft of .75ODX.065 round tube for $109.41.
Built a build table last week and cut and laid out the bottom rails this week:
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Thanks to chet (who lifted it from someone else, who probably lifted it from someone else) for the clamping method. I recommend it to anyone, it really works well. I just chopped up some sheets of OSB the previous owners left in the garage.

7/7/09
Got the the basic top rails and rear bulkhead tacked together:
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Not a whole lot to say here, since pretty much everyone gets to this stage. The front compound angles took me a few tries, but having a compound miter saw really helped a whole lot. Even still, I had to do some grinding to make them fit.

7/12/09
I was getting tired of seeing the ugly Miata in my driveway (and I suspect my neighbors were too), so I took the weekend to completely strip the car in order to cut it into pieces to haul to the scrap yard. I can report that it was freakin hot in Houston over the weekend. Not fit for man or beast out there. Not sure what that makes me, but whatever.
Before we (we meaning me and one of my good friends who inexplicably keeps helping me with this project despite the fact that a) it feels like 109 degrees outside, b) he has his own project CB750 he should be working on, and c) did I mention its 109 degrees outside??) tore the car apart, my buddy jerry rigged the car to run, just to prove that I bought a perfectly running car for $500. Then we drove it around the block with no interior and no muffler giggling like idiots.
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These series of pictures do no justice for the amount of work it takes to completely strip a car like that. Sooooo many parts. But I figure if I can completely tear apart a car in a weekend, surely I can build a car in a few years, right?

7/18/09
Cut the Miata into pieces.
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It was ungodly hot outside that day. My car's temp gauge read 107, no joke. That is why I don't have any pictures of the final product. I also cut the front end off ahead of the windshield, but by the time I was done, I was so hot and tired I had no interest in taking pictures. I just wanted to get inside.
I should note that by this time, I had already easily sold enough of the parts off the Miata to break even. I still have lots of parts, so making profit on this thing will be a walk in the park.

8/8/09
Since the fun with the reciprocating saw, I've just been working on the frame. The weather is unbelievably hot, so I work for an hour or so, then go sit in the A/C for awhile. I can't wait for fall. Which doesn't start until freakin November here.
I'm getting somewhat close to having a full book frame tacked together. I only need to find a way to make the trunk bends and make the triangulation bars on the sides of the engine bay and tack in the bulkhead.
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That's where I'm at right now, so hopefully updates will follow. Always open to opinions and comments throughout the build. This message board rules. I've already learned so much just by using the search function.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 2:24 am 
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Welcome, Andrew. Looks like a SERIOUS score on the Miata!

I saw a NA Miata on a lot today for $1300. I was so curious, I circled back to look. (Like I need another car sitting around!) In small print, below the price, was a single word: "down"

I kept driving... ;-)

Looks like you're making great progress! I expect great things from you!

-dave

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:10 am 
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Location: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
andrewt wrote:
Crap that makes your fiance shake her head. And wonder what the hell she's gotten herself into.



Better now than later. I've got a story for you:

I have a friend from college named Chris. When Chris was 18ish, he had a van that he stripped out, and dropped a huge Chevy V8 into (Can't remember the specs on it). He really enjoyed working on this van and putting money into it. He had a girlfriend at the time, which he really liked. One day, when he was working on his van, his girlfriend called him and asked if they could hang out. Chris said "Sorry, I'm working on my van now". His girlfriend then said "You are always working on that van. You need to choose between me and the van". Chris then said "Ok, I guess your not the girl for me." And the relationship was over. A couple years later, he found a girl that encouraged him to work on this projects, because she liked to see him happy. He ended up to marry her, and he hasn't looked back.


Better now than later.


P.S. Welcome, and good luck!

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My Build Log: http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=3054


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:41 am 
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My wife enjoys my projects as well as I do, because I will take a break from mine to help with one of hers when she asks. she puts up with my ongoing projects, so it's the least I can do...


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:21 am 
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Location: The Woodlands, Tx
SSS is awesome to work with, but they don't have any seamless DOM tubing for the little spots that you are going to need it later. I had a really hard time finding it in town too....which with all the engineering that goes on in this town, go figure.

In the end, my best bet for really specific stuff was to go to OnlineMetals.com. They were pretty cheap, always shipped on time, and good about making accurate cuts.
On the other hand, if you luck out and find a good supplier in Houston, pls let me know.

Awesome progress by the way!

-Hank


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:15 pm 
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Location: Houston, TX
thanks for the comments, fellas. the great thing about my fiance is that she has her own hobbies that take up a lot of her time too, so she appreciates having the time apart to do our own thing. i could never marry anyone who didn't have their own things they wanted to pursue and needed to be by my side 24 hours a day. this car certainly won't be the last thing i build in my lifetime. i've already got my eye on building a XS650 bobber, but i promised myself to only take on one project at a time. just more motivation to finish this car as quick as possible, i suppose. :lol:

hank, regarding DOM tube suppliers, metal supermarkets (www.metalsupermarkets.com) has all sizes of DOM listed on their website. i haven't shopped around a whole lot to see what their pricing is, but they promise same day pickup/delivery, and they sell small quantities. the one in houston is located on hempstead highway.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:20 pm 
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Location: Pittsburgh,Pa.
Hi Andrew,
It looks like you got a great start. If I was going to build mine again I would have used a complete Miata donor for all the parts. I toured your state and its BIG and there is no way I would run a R1 in Texas, unless I was hitting the tracks every weekend and towing it to any track over a 100 miles.
I do have to ask one question. What are you going to do with the car?
I just removed the aluminum pedal covers for rubber VW ones because my right calf was numb for hours from a 150 mile ride. I think a Miata engine in a 1200lb. car would be a great Texas road car but I'll try to help with any R1 questions if I can.
I see you have bikes in the garage, here's an easy test. My car runs 1000 rpm per 10mph in sixth. 70mph is 7000rpm find a local highway and run your sportbike for 2 hours at that rpm and see how you feel about a BEC. I'm not trying to discourage you but after 3 summers of running mine on highways, the first 30 minutes are fun and after that you can't wait to get out :ack: .


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:32 pm 
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Location: The Woodlands, Tx
MetalSupermarkets ripped me off a bit. Wanted 140 bucks for 6ft of DOM, then talked em down to 80. When I needed more, looked at onlineMetals, and got 6ft shipped to my house for around 65 bucks. Needless to say, ain't going back there....but if you find another one, local is always better.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:36 pm 
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Location: Houston, TX
andrew7 wrote:
Hi Andrew,
It looks like you got a great start. If I was going to build mine again I would have used a complete Miata donor for all the parts. I toured your state and its BIG and there is no way I would run a R1 in Texas, unless I was hitting the tracks every weekend and towing it to any track over a 100 miles.
I do have to ask one question. What are you going to do with the car?
I just removed the Aluminium pedal covers for rubber VW ones because my right calf was numb for hours from a 150 mile ride. I think a Miata engine in a 1200lb. car would be a great Texas road car but I'll try to help with any R1 questions if I can.
I see you have bikes in the garage, here's an easy test. My car runs 1000 rpm per 10mph in sixth. 70mph is 7000rpm find a local highway and run your sportbike for 2 hours at that rpm and see how you feel about a BEC. I'm not trying to discourage you but after 3 summers of running mine on highways, the first 30 minutes are fun and after that you can't wait to get out :ack: .


i think you may have passed this advice onto me before, or i may have read it in the archives somewhere. after what reading what you said, i definitely thought about it, but i think my mind has been made up. the car is going to be ridiculously impractical anyway, so i feel ok about it being not the greatest highway cruiser. after driving the formula sae car in college, i have been hooked on the BEC thing. i am all about the 12,000 RPM redline and sequantial shifts. a little childish, perhaps, but you only live once!

CodeStar wrote:
MetalSupermarkets ripped me off a bit. Wanted 140 bucks for 6ft of DOM, then talked em down to 80. When I needed more, looked at onlineMetals, and got 6ft shipped to my house for around 65 bucks. Needless to say, ain't going back there....but if you find another one, local is always better.


i will definitely keep that in mind. i bought some steel plate and sheet from onlinemetals, and like you say, they were on point and great.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:48 pm 
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Location: Houston, TX
picked up my other donor today! it was dark by the time i got home, so there's only one bad picture.

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it's a 2002 Yamaha R1 with 1200 original miles. the bike originally belonged to a guy in town who runs a well known bike shop, so he's probably trustworthy. the story (this is going to be slightly more information than i bet you want to know) is someone who worked at his shop wrecked it not too long after he got it, and it sat in the shop for a few years. someone bought it from him awhile back and started putting it back together for a track bike. new forks, new battery, new wheels, new clip ons, etc, etc. he then decided that an R1 was too much of a trackbike for him, and tried selling it last week. i tried buying it off of him last week, but he ended up trading it for a 600cc trackbike. i was slightly disappointed since it looked like a perfect candidate because it still has lots of good parts still on it. lo and behold, on monday the new owner put it up for sale again. he apparently had an emergency and needed money. and now i have it. it came with 2 spare wheels and some other misc parts. i'm hoping i can sell all the parts i dont need and make back most of my money.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:14 pm 
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Location: Pittsburgh,Pa.
Great find Andrew. You will probably be able to sell all the extra parts to pay for the bike and part of the car. I was going to suggest before, not going with a 2007 and newer engine because of the throttle by wire and variable velocity stacks in the airbox, more unnecessary stuff to deal with. You might want to look at these links they may be needed in the future. I see you found out from FSAE how intoxicating a 14000rpm redline can be.

the manuals online:
http://yzf-r1forum.net/manuals/index.html

General R1 forum; sell parts there?
http://www.r1-forum.com/forums/


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:35 am 
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Posts: 210
Location: Houston TX
looking good -- your build is going fast -- you will finish before me :)

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 6:35 pm 
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Location: Houston, TX
Got some work done over the past couple weeks. Onto the pictures!
Took the engine out of the R1 last week. There really is nothing as therapeutic as taking apart something.
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Sitting in it's new home:
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So my original plan was to somehow adapt the book rear end to a IRS, but after much staring and thinking, I decided it would be better to just tear everything apart and design something from scratch. I took a look at the Rorty IRS design, kept that in mind, and went to work in Solidworks. I forgot to take a screenshot of the solid model, so I'll add it later.

I agonized for a few days in Wishbone regarding the placement of the suspension brackets, but after noticing how much your numbers for roll centers and camber gain can change just by adjusting one dimension .05", I decided to just get somewhere in the ballpark of respectable and build the damn thing. Between errors in measuring the uprights and tolerances while building, I think it's pretty unlikely that I'll get within 1/8" accuracy anyway, so to hell with it. I'm theoretically working with about a 2.55" roll center, about 1 deg of camber gain per inch of bump, about .6 deg positive camber at 4 deg roll, and somewhat respectable camber numbers with both bump and roll. In pure roll, the roll center doesn't move much at all, and moves about 2.3 inches for 3 inches of bump. I got the feeling I could have spent months and months just staring at the yellow, purple, and green letters of Wishbone and not gotten anywhere. It's a good thing I'm just old enough to remember the days of DOS...but just barely. :)

I also picked up a rear end from a 1994 Thunderbird V6 off Craigslist. It's the 7.5" with a 3.27 gear set. From what I calculated, the engine should be turning at 6800 RPM at 80mph in 6th. I'm thinking that should hopefully be manageable for driving on the highway. If the acceleration is lacking (which I doubt it will), 3.45 gears can be had.

Tore everything down and started over. Comments are welcome if you see something that doesn't look right. I'd rather tear everything down right now when it's only tacked together than later.
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Pretty much all tacked in. I haven't tacked in the angled tubes, which will be the mounting points for the lower rear suspension pickups. The upper suspension pickups will be on the upper horizontal tubes. Hopefully the diff will be removeable from underneath, but I feel like there should be some cross triangulation underneath it. Anyone have thoughts on that? Worst case, I'll just have to remove the gas tank and remove the diff from above. Keep in mind this is just the basic structure...it definitely needs some triangulation, but I haven't decided exactly where yet. Again, I am open to suggestions!
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It's starting to look sorta like a car...it's just missing a few more parts...
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Man, the flash from the camera really brings out the surface rust on the steel. Damn this humidity. Up next will be ordering the material for the a-arms, engine mounting, and diff mounting. I've ordered some suspension brackets from Jack@Kinetic, and need to start on designing the front suspension in Wishbone, but I need to settle on a steering rack first. My goal was to get this thing a rolling chassis in December, so that is still a possibility, and still is my goal. I get married in January, so I expect work will slow down significantly after that. :lol:


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 7:18 pm 
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Always Moore!
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Looks like you're off to a good start.

andrewt wrote:
The upper suspension pickups will be on the upper horizontal tubes. Hopefully the diff will be removeable from underneath, but I feel like there should be some cross triangulation underneath it.


Can you work in something removable? For a lot of the diagonals like that, it really only needs to be there - the ideal engineering solution isn't nearly as important. Anything from a large turnbuckle with rod-ends at either end to a piece of tubing with lugs welded to the ends would work.

I ended up doing the large turnbuckle solution in my engine bay. It is not as good as the welded tube but it is going to be better than nothing.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:07 am 
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Location: Houston, TX
hmmmm good thought. i definitely think that is doable. i'll have to research/brainstorm, but thanks for the idea! i would definitely feel better if there was a bar under there.


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