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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:11 pm 
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Location: Seattle, Wa
My kit just arrived at the Baltimore Port and is about 2-3 weeks from my garage….so I figure it’s a good time to start a build blog (it'll give friends a common location to see my progress, hopefully get comments from the forum on what mistakes I'm doing and suggestions, documents my build for my own reference, and hopefully can help others in their build). Here’s a little background and what I’ve done to date:

Why a Lotus 7:
-Classic sports car Front Engine, Rear Wheel Drive layout
-light weight minimalistic approach

Kit vs. Scratch build:
-After lots of research and reading through peoples blogs, I decided that buying a complete kit would give me the best chance of finishing this project in ~6 months. I figure if this takes me more than 1 yr, the project would be in serious jeopardy of never being completed…plus, we plan to move in about a yr, and I really don’t want to more midday through a project like this.
-I also don’t have any welding skills….and while I’d love to learn, it adds a lot of time and equipment cost to a build like this. Plus, I’m not too sure I’d want to rely on my novice welding ability when my safety is at stake.

Purpose of car:
-I'm moving away from a purpose built autoX car, and looking for something that can do a little bit of everything...Street/Sunday drives, Track, AutoX, Drifting,...
-This will stretch my mechanic abilities: I've done a lot of car projects...swapped engines, suspension, added a Turbo,...but this would be a complete package build.
-a fun project for my wife and I. We've been looking for something to do together...autoX is fun for me, but quite boring for her (I'd be bored just watching too!). Rather than being gone all weekend racing, I’ll be at home in the garage, where we can take more breaks together and hang out. She’s also doing her own blog of this…it’s got a unique “non-car” perspective: http://kitcarchickcar.wordpress.com/


Why MNR Racing Vortx:
-I wanted to do a Miata build…I’ve owned and worked on a handful of miatas and think they’re great and don’t cost a bundle to get. MNR just came out with a specific kit for the Miata – perfect timing!
-MNR is well know and widely used in Europe. Lots of ppl racing them w/ good results.
-inboard shocks/springs, round tubing for frame
-UK pound to Dollar is at an all time low, so the final price was comparable to other similar kits (ie MK Indy R)…other kits like the Caterham or Westfeild are considerably more expensive (but they seem to be closer to a “touring” package…interior carpet and the like)
-Chris at MNR was very responsive and I heard great things about their customer service.

My Donor Car:
-’99 Miata sport edition w/ 100K for $3,200 (Sport edition: Torsen LSD, front bumper lip, Blisten shocks, Torino 3 spoke steering wheel …)
-The body wasn’t in the best condition, but I don’t need those parts!
-So far I've sold $2.5K worth of parts, and I still have a lot of parts left! (I think NB’s fetch higher prices than the normal “locost part out NA Miatas”…I hope to break even in the next few weeks).

Mods:
- FFS (Fast Forward Superchargers) Coldside Supercharger: I had planned to leave the engine stock to keep things simple and the budget low – but I got a great deal on this!! The nice thing w/ the coldside is that it replaces the OEM intake manifold, so you only add 20lbs, and don't take up much more space; The only concern I have is that the MNR frame or hood might not have enough clearance…only time will tell. This should make a reliable 200 wHP, with the potential to bump up to 240 if I mess w/ a 5th injector for cooling.
- MegaSquirt ECU and 420 cc/min injectors (Mazda RX-8). Running sequential injection. I already had the car running on this set-up before pulling the engine – very happy with the results!

Completed thus far:
My goal has been to get the garage and donor parts all ready by the time the MNR kit arrives…that means selling all of the donor car extra parts, freshen up the engine/tranny/diff, and clean the garage!

-90% done w/ Timing belt, Front/Rear main & cam seals
-really glad I did the water pump too…when I removed the timing belt cover, I could see a small amount of coolant leaking.
-Removed all wiring (I need to start removing all the un-need portions now)
-Raised the frame off the car (rather than lifting the engine/tranny out, I found this method on Fly’n Miata’s site…6 bolt/nuts in the rear, 8 in the front, and the whole front/rear subframe drops out!)
-drained/removed fuel tank
-cleaned/painted Diff (it was super rusted)

Next:
-install new Clutch/Flywheel (got a lightened flywheel)
-Clean/paint brakes/uprights,…

Pics:

The Donor – we picked it up in Salt Lake City…picked up some extra items along the way!
Image

½ through dropping the sub frame:
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Frame by itself:
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Sub frames dropped from car!
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Diff in sub frame…so much rust! (the rust was so bad it was flaking off the diff)
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Diff in “Evapo-Rust”…stuff works pretty well, and it’s non-toxic. HF carries it.
Image

Diff after painting w/ rustoleum. This should make it easier to spot oil leaks…the car will be black w/ a red stripe.
Image

While doing the Timing Belt, I decided to do the Coolant re-route and plug the front head outlet…Coolant flow will come out of the rear instead.
Image

WIRES!
Image

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Building a MNR Vortx w/ '99 Miata donor: viewtopic.php?f=35&t=9631


Last edited by first350 on Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:04 pm 
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You have a PM
:)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:37 am 
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Looks like you got a good handle on things and ready for a great project.
first350 wrote:
Why a Lotus 7:
-light weight minimalistic approach

Good point that gets overlooked too often by builders.

Make sure to keep updating your build log!

Moti

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:54 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:48 pm
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Location: Seattle, Wa
a few updates:
-my kit has landed in Baltimore...about 2 weeks until it arrives!!!!
-Finished the timing belt install, not too bad. (I'm a little concerned that the Cams and crank never seemed to line up perfectly with the "I", "E", and crank notch...but I just marked everything as it was, and replaced the belt. The car was running great before I pulled it, so I'm assuming it was fine)
-the Diff is done w/ the paint job...it's a bit bright, but I kinda like it

Image

prepping the valve cover for paint...gonna wrinkle coat it:
Image

Almost done w/ the timing belt install...can you see my mistake? I had the new belt on, and realized I had left the Cam rear cover plate off, Doh! (While I was doing the timing belt, I did the water pump, cam and crank seals)
Image

Very glad I did the water pump...the old one was leaking (it wasn't enough to tell from the outside, but I could see the green coolant ooozing out of the bottom edge)
Image

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:11 am 
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Engine looks like it is in good shape, at least on the outside.
Checked out MNR's site, pretty slick.

Did you get the standard catfish looking nose or that one with the grill?
Does yours have the steering wheel on the proper side?
Are you planning on making it street legal and have you looked into makeing it legal for your state?
Are you sure you have enough flashlights and pegboard hooks? :lol: :wink:


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:44 pm 
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Location: Seattle, Wa
Daed wrote:
Engine looks like it is in good shape, at least on the outside.
Checked out MNR's site, pretty slick.

Yeah - when I first saw it, I loved the look...the curved scuttle is different than most.

Daed wrote:
Did you get the standard catfish looking nose or that one with the grill?

MNR changed from the "standard catfish" nose to only doing the grill'd version...but I had them modify the grill'd version to remove the horizontal slats, so it'll have the big open mouth and the smaller opening on the bottom. (Kinda like this, but I think my nose/body is slightly taller: http://www.mnrltd.co.uk/Oulton20Park2024mar07small.jpg)

Daed wrote:
Does yours have the steering wheel on the proper side?

Steering will be LHD...I pondered the idea of going RHD, but I'm running a Coldside SC, so I'm limited on space for the steering column.

Daed wrote:
Are you planning on making it street legal and have you looked into makeing it legal for your state?

The plan is for street legal...I've read through Wa state laws a few times now and have a plan of how to do it.

Daed wrote:
Are you sure you have enough flashlights and pegboard hooks? :lol: :wink:

Never enough flashlights! (I have no idea how I've accumulated so many flashlights... :oops: )

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:39 pm 
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First350 wrote-
Quote:
MNR changed from the "standard catfish" nose to only doing the grill'd version...


So, does that mean you're having the "Grilled Catfish"??? Gettin' hush puppies with it?

Good lookin' car, I just couldn't resiste the fishy humor...

Good luck with the build!
JDK

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:37 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:48 pm
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Location: Seattle, Wa
a few updates:
-Sold my Donor '99 chassis today. This clears the garage in preparation for the kit to arrive in about 11 days...I ended up just giving the chassis away to the first person who could pick it up - they got the rear fenders and windshield for their trouble. I wasn't looking forward to spending a better part of a day hacking it into pieces and hauling to a scrap metal yard, so I'm very pleased!

-painted the valve cover. Wrinkle black w/ red letters...IMO it turned out well, only a few areas I need to touch up. I ended up putting it into the oven about 1hr after painting - the wrinkles were more defined/tighter, overall I like the look/texture.

-sold a few more parts...I'm only ~$400 away from breaking even! (I bought the car for a little over $3K)

-Bought a Momo Mod 88 wheel, NRG hub/quick release 2.5 ...can't wait until it arrives! The plan is to not use a key'd ignition...I'll just take the steering wheel w/ me & and have a hidden fuse tied to the ignition.

Image

Image

Image

my new steering wheel: I didn't get leather b/c I figured it'll be coming off so much, the leather may get scratched a little too often.
Image

NRG's quick release 2.5
Image

Last pic: This is similar to what mine will look like...but mine is all black and the front nose is slightly different.
Image

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 12:42 am 
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One problem with the wrinkle finish and that's keeping it clean. Dust and dirt seems to get down in the crinkles and just doesn't want to come out. You will need to hose off the engine regularly, especially if it sits a lot.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:21 pm 
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Gotta subscribe to this to satisfy my need to live vicariously through others.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:23 pm 
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Location: Seattle, Wa
carguy123 wrote:
One problem with the wrinkle finish and that's keeping it clean. Dust and dirt seems to get down in the crinkles and just doesn't want to come out. You will need to hose off the engine regularly, especially if it sits a lot.


hummm...hadn't thought of that. Wonder if compressed air would do the job??

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 2:42 pm 
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I am really interested in this thread as the Vortx is on the top on my list to buy this fall, the MK Indy is a close second.

I own a Turbo Miata with a MegaSquirt. So with that is mind: If I were building a Miata based car I would seperate the MegaSquirt wiring from the rest of the wiring Harness. I would wire the MS directly to the sensors, fuel pump and engine etc, with just a power supply from the harness. So it would be a self contained system. I would then use a simple Painless type harness for the rest of the car. You will end up with a much simpler system without all the extra wiring you will just not be using, radio, AC, internal lights, trunk release.......

Just what I would do. Keep us updated

Graham


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:02 pm 
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Compressed air will help with the light dusting you get, but once there's any moisture in the air or on the engine the air isn't good enough.

We had to hand wash our crinkle finish valve cover quite often and with wires and everything else that's attached that meant some areas didn't get clean and looked worse than if we'd have just left the cover stock.

A candy apple blue metallic powder coated valve cover looked great for years, but it was smooth.

I did see a hammered finish valve cover that didn't seem to have the same troubles.

I know, I know, I told you all this too late to do you any good, but maybe someone else reading this is contemplating the same thing.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:38 pm 
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FastG wrote:
I am really interested in this thread as the Vortx is on the top on my list to buy this fall, the MK Indy is a close second.

I own a Turbo Miata with a MegaSquirt. So with that is mind: If I were building a Miata based car I would seperate the MegaSquirt wiring from the rest of the wiring Harness. I would wire the MS directly to the sensors, fuel pump and engine etc, with just a power supply from the harness. So it would be a self contained system. I would then use a simple Painless type harness for the rest of the car. You will end up with a much simpler system without all the extra wiring you will just not be using, radio, AC, internal lights, trunk release.......

Just what I would do. Keep us updated

Graham


I plan on taking the OEM wiring harness apart to remove all un-needed wires...I figure I'll retain the OEM wires for the "non-essential" stuff like lights too, that way it'd be easier using Mazda wire diagrams and their color-coding. I assume about 50% of the wires will be removed...PS, AC, Airbags, interior lights, door ajar sensor, HVAC, wipers,...I've labeled every connector as I remove it, so hopefully I won't screw anything up - only time will tell!

So far I've really liked working with MNR - my shipment had it's first hiccup a few days ago...the shipper only provided shipping from the UK to the Baltimore port (and not all the way to my place in Seattle). MNR had requested shipping all the way to my door...when they figured out the shippers error, they were furious, but it was too late for them to do anything. Luckily I was able to arrange shipping through my US duty broker, and MNR has agreed to reimburse the cost. IMO this is what good companies do - when a mistake happens, they fix it.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:41 pm 
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carguy123 wrote:
Compressed air will help with the light dusting you get, but once there's any moisture in the air or on the engine the air isn't good enough.

We had to hand wash our crinkle finish valve cover quite often and with wires and everything else that's attached that meant some areas didn't get clean and looked worse than if we'd have just left the cover stock.

A candy apple blue metallic powder coated valve cover looked great for years, but it was smooth.

I did see a hammered finish valve cover that didn't seem to have the same troubles.

I know, I know, I told you all this too late to do you any good, but maybe someone else reading this is contemplating the same thing.


haha - it's still good info...hopefully I'll be a little more proactive in preventing the dirt to settle in. I've had a smooth painted valve cover before too...I didn't like that all the small nicks/scratches from working in the engine bay would show up so clearly - I figured a wrinkle coat would hit that.

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