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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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 Post subject: SteyrTMP's Seven GTR
PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 12:56 am 
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Location: Champion, Ohio
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.


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 1:01 am 
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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.


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 1:18 am 
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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.


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 1:22 am 
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On to the rear bulkhead...


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 1:32 am 
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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.


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 1:41 am 
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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.


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 1:47 am 
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Once the subframe support bracket was completed, I removed it from the table. The table was put aside, and has not been used since.


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 1:53 am 
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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.


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 1:59 am 
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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.


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 2:04 am 
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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.


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 3:02 am 
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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.


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 3:16 am 
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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


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 3:23 am 
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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:


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PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 3:32 am 
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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".


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 Post subject: Side Note
PostPosted: October 5, 2007, 3:54 am 
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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.


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