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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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 Post subject: NEW BOOK WANTED !!
PostPosted: October 26, 2007, 5:42 pm 
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Ok, who else sees the need for, and market for, a NEW book?

I am talking about a New Millennium Locost book. Here is what I think:

A book along the lines of Champion's and Gibbs but using the much more common FWD drivetrain donors in a mid engine design.

Yes, I have Kimini (Kurt's excellent book) and I regularly read up on Steve Grabbers car but neither are what I am suggesting.

Kimini is very good on overall design ideas and the things he learned along the way, but it is not a "Build Your Own For Low $$" book.

Grabber Cars may be on the way when he finishes his build book. EXCEPT that his car is designed to use the FG body that will raise the price of the car out of the Low$$ range. Of course it will always look good too. :)

I see a low$$ build mid-engine design without a body. Using the frame as the form for the body aluminum much as the 7 does. Looks good, adds structural strength, and is fairly easy to work with. Perhaps a modern fiberglass nose and fenders for those who would prefer to buy them? But keeping the body cost as low as possible, along with the weight.

The book would need to be a modern design suspension set up, a properly braced frame, and would give all the dimensions, angles, etc. so a buyer of the book could actually build the car for a reasonable amount of cash just by using the book as his or her, plans.

Many have built their own mid engine cars but the Arial At-om comes the closest to the modern 7 for this century. The curved tubes add a lot of cost to the build for those who do not live near a tube bender so I would like to see fewer curved tubes in a design. Yes, they look great, but they add complexity and cost that limits the number of potential builders.

How about it book writers? Have you built, and tested thoroughly, a middy? If not, do you know a builder who has? Get together and start putting an outline on paper.

I must stress the need for a quality design that is simple to build for as little money as possible. The Lowcost is simple to build, and certainly about as inexpensive as can be, but the design needs way too much improvement to the frame and suspension. Of course with the forum you have endless help on how to do that, but, how absurd that it is needed. With all the excellent suspension design computer programs available the NEW BOOK must have proper suspension geometry so that when the builder is welding up the inboard mounts he knows the designer knew what he was doing. Oh, the book would also need to explain how to measure the uprights the builder is using to see if the inboard mounts need to be moved and if so, how much to maintain the correct relationships. Or at least state what the designed numbers are and which suspension design book to got to to determine any changes.

As Kurt (in Kimini) and many others have said, the body is a huge amount of time and money in the build, time and money that a 7 doesn't require. I think that is a lot of the appeal in building the car, it looks, and is do-able by the average person.

And, please, leave out the chapters on tools and how to hold a hammer.
:roll: Yes, if it is an uncommon tool, I would appreciate a description but as easy page filler...

Many photos, cad drawings, renderings would be very beneficial in construction too.

How about you FSAE team members? You have the ability to design and build a car like this. Can you write a book and document the build? Then use the "Print On Demand" publishing as Kurt did with Kimini and start selling books! Think what that could do for your resume!


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PostPosted: October 26, 2007, 6:11 pm 
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Location: Alberta, Canada
I think the real stumbling block is making an attractive body for a low cost, low skill level. Sevens are excellent in this regard as they have classic style and easily available panels. Harder to see what it needed in a middy. If the build you use off the self suspension bits (even just the coil overs) that would knock off another big cost. A kit based on something cheap and easy to find like a Neon would be ideal really.


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PostPosted: October 26, 2007, 7:11 pm 
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JagLite,

You expressed a need and in the following paragraphs you answered it.

The Ar-i-el At-om without the curved tubes is the answer. Although my tubing bender cost less than $120 to fabricate, I considered building the frame as a series of straight tube segments with bends at the joints/intersections (if the roll bender had failed to work). Square tube could be utilized to avoid notching.

The cost of body work is answered in that the At-om has very little. With straight segments, the aluminum could be folded over the tubes. A Se7en has more compound curves than does the At-om. The At-om nose could be composed of folded sections.

The engine compartment frame could be modularized for different drive trains. The uprights could be standarized or designed to be fabricated to accept bolt-in hubs.

The car would be like an industrial version (with its folded body in raw, mill finish aluminum) of the $70,000 authentic At-om for a completed cost of <$10,000. I would love to pull up next to a real At-om in such a car.

I'll report on progress after retirement.


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PostPosted: October 26, 2007, 8:24 pm 
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Joined: April 23, 2006, 8:26 pm
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"Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime."

My Kimini book teaches how to build any sports car. I purposely stay away from dictating specific shapes, sizes, or components. This frees the reader to build anything he wants using what he has, cheap or expensive. If he chooses to do an open-frame car (no shell) everything still applies. I cover chassis design in general enough terms that regardless of building a Locost or a $50,000 dream car, all the same rules and advice apply. Of course, I'm biased!

_________________
Midlana book: Build this mid-engine Locost!, http://midlana.com/stuff/book/
Kimini book: Designing mid-engine cars using FWD drivetrains
Both available from https://www.lulu.com/


Last edited by Anonymous on October 26, 2007, 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: October 26, 2007, 9:16 pm 
KB58 wrote:
"Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime."

My Kimini book teaches how to build any sports car. I purposely stay away from dictating specific shapes, sizes, or components. This frees the reader to build anything he wants using what he has, cheap or expensive. If he chooses to do an open-frame car (no shell) everything still applies. I though I covered chassis design in general enough terms that regardless of building a Locost for $1200 or a $50,000 dream car, all the same rules and advice still apply. Of course, I'm biased!


You forgot to mention how easy it is to write and publish a book...


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PostPosted: October 26, 2007, 9:40 pm 
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Joined: April 23, 2006, 8:26 pm
Posts: 6401
Location: SoCal
Uh huh... that, too.

_________________
Midlana book: Build this mid-engine Locost!, http://midlana.com/stuff/book/
Kimini book: Designing mid-engine cars using FWD drivetrains
Both available from https://www.lulu.com/


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PostPosted: October 27, 2007, 10:42 am 
Well I would like to know what the magic price break number is for bodywork to fit over a lo-mid?

Also, if you were to actually talk honestly with an At-om owner you will find out that the minimalist side panel treatment is really open to rocks flying in to the cockpit treatment. I spoke at length to someone who is considering selling their At-om because of a largeish rock that came into the cabin at 80mph and hit him smack in the left gonad. He had to pull over and stop to survey the damage to his bruised privates by the side of the road. Now that is NOT good!

Here is my angle - I spent about 3 years (on and off part time) working out an attractive design (purely subjective btw as you are allowed to hate it) and a boat-load of effort, time and money fabricating moulds for said body. As a single unit, that very first body pulled from the molds is prohibitively expensive for all but the craziest or richest of idiots and I think you can figure out which one I am! (try door #1).

It doesn't take a genius to realize that there are some real costs involved in making a car body, even after those pesky moulds are finished. That is the unfortunate reality you live with when you desire cloaking your privates from flying rocks! But an additional $4K to cloak your body and make a more finished statement on the street and track may be worth the additional cost. Plus bodywork is more aerodynamic and you will be able to get better gas mileage, better top end speed, better acceleration from 50+, and better road and flying debris protection.

So you middy guys should all buy Kurt's Book. Seriously. Whether you want to design your own middy, or build a chassis from someones plans (maybe mine). Because knowledge is power and power is good. But you should build a middy from plans because you like the idea of building a car but don't want the headaches or responsibility of all the design work even though you understand how it all works after you've read Kurt's excellent book. That's the best plan out there. It's a bit more expensive than buying just a Ron Champion book, but when you add the cost of Kurt's book and my plans to the entire cost of building your own middy and all the costly mistakes we both made along the way which we have filtered out to save you the headache and costly scrappage, you will realize that our products work as a team in your favor.

Now I believe that my chassis design is pretty simple, pretty safe, pretty easy to modify, and pretty inexpensive to build. Look, someone is building one here.
It's set up to use an MR2 donor, but with Kurt's book in hand you will be able to modify it to accept any donor uprights and any type of suspension.


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PostPosted: October 28, 2007, 3:40 am 
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I tried this last night and closed out the thread by mistake....trying again!

Mistrale for the locost At-om approach....
Image
The inspiration...
Image
http://mistrale.blogspot.com/

As posted here...
http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtop ... 9c05c8e4bc



Just a thought ...reading previous posts I personally would not want an 80 MPH stone to the jewels. (But the design is sexy and cool.)

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To err is human...
I am more human than most.


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 Post subject: Middy
PostPosted: October 29, 2007, 12:12 pm 
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All good points, thanks!

I may buy a set of Steve's plans yet. I was all set to when I realized the body cost would be prohibitive for me. As a former boat builder, including building the molds, I know how much work, time, and expense is involved. The La Bala body is beautiful, an excellent job! The entire car is a jewel. But, I am suggesting a book more along the simple lines of the Locost. And at low cost. I really like the "Build it for $2,500 and drive it" approach that Champion used. Of course no one does it for that, that is not the point, it is just a goal or a possibility. And Champion showed how he did it, and how others also were able to build a fun car at a very low cost. Build a car as a fun project, not as an investment.

BTW Steve, I am sure everyone has there own budget for a body and I am not implying yours is expensive at all! I think it is very reasonably priced. Personally I am leaning to the much more basic look of the 7, just updated to using a middy design. Cover the frame, throw on some fenders, a simple windshield and that's it. Although to do that, the frame itself must be an attractive shape, design, whatever you want to call it. The At-om has it, a dunebuggy does not. To my eyes anyway.

Body panels? Absolutely! I have ridden motorcycles all my life and I know what a rock will do to your anatomy at speed. When I ride, I am covered up with a padded, armored, leather & Cordura suit, boots, gloves, and helmet with shield, protective gear. And after taking a small rock in the throat, now a padded neck wrap muffler.

I like the frame idea of the At-om, but not the open dune buggy lack of protection. Looks fantastic but not for me. The curved tubes of the At-om are neat too but I like the simple straight square tubes with angles of the Mistrale. Perhaps put the aluminum panels on the inside of the frame tubes instead of the outside as the 7 has? That way the frame design is shown off and the panels still add protection and a little strength.

I read with great interest how you (JonW?) built the tube bender to curve the tubes for your own At-om inspired car. But, I don't have a lathe and paying to have the rollers turned would be fairly costly. The curved tubes in the 7 design are all pretty small and much easier to bend at home.

Someone on another thread posted an idea of using thin plywood that would be stitch & taped to form the basis for a lightweight body similar to many home built small boats. That could be nicely done. I have built small boats this way and it is easy, cheap, and when painted looks great. For the nose cone and fenders this might be a great way to go. Sharp angles to match the sharp angles of the square tube frame, sort of a modern stealth aircraft type look. Very 21st century.

I enjoyed reading Kimini and Kurt does describe how to design and build your own car, and his book in my view, is required reading for everyone interested in building. Along with the various other books on specific area design. And I think I have them all!

I am looking forward to seeing the progress of the Mistrale as it is very close to what I will likely build. Sort of a square At-om. I like his simple body shown on the model but it is not what I would put on mine. Which is one reason to build your own car, do it your way!

However, I do believe a modern Mid-engine Lowcost car type book would have a good market. How many Lowcost cars are built "by the book"? Probably few. No doubt the same would be true of a Middy book. But it would give many a good start. Mostly, all the dimensions and information in one book without the need to consult multiple books and compile everything if a builder wanted to build one "by the book". Or who at least starts out that way.

I enjoy following the build of everyone's cars and when my current project is finished I will post the story and pictures of mine. I prefer to present it completed rather than show it along the way. Just me. :?

Then I will either build a version of the Lowcost using the BMW donor I already have, or if I pick up a suitable Middy donor, I will go that route. Who knows? By then, if no one else has produced a book...


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PostPosted: October 29, 2007, 12:30 pm 
You know, my publisher approached me looking for this exact book about three years ago. I figure that if I'd started it then, I might almost be finished with it by now. At the time, there weren't any other books on the market other than Champion's. With the one I did end up writing along with Gibb's book, I wonder how interested they'd be?


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PostPosted: October 29, 2007, 4:35 pm 
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I've enjoyed (and learned from) the Kimini book, and I'm looking forward to my La Bala plans (your check is in the mail, Steve), but I wonder if there's truly a market for a book along The Book lines that would show how to make a bare bones budget middy. The ends of the spectrum are now pretty well covered, literature-wise: Kurt's book for the pick-your-own-budget-and-design-it-yourself group (of which I'm a member), and Steve's plans for the thing-of-beauty-for-a-low-five-digit-budget group (a group to which I aspire). Are there enough people in the middle to make such a book worth writing?

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PostPosted: October 29, 2007, 4:39 pm 
If it's well done, sure. Especially with mass-market distribution.


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PostPosted: October 29, 2007, 5:00 pm 
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Ah, is there a market? That is a good question. Perhaps not. Writing a book is rarely worth the time dollar wise. I hope Kurt and Keith both make lots of money for their books, both of which I own and recommend.

I think there is a market just because, so far anyway, there is not a book specifically directed at the low cost, build it yourself, mid-engine design using the multitude of FWD cars available as donors.

However, if someone decided to write a book to make money, they would likely be disappointed in the return for their time. But, if someone is already designing and building such a car, and can write it up, I do think there is a market for another book. Well, I would buy it. :wink: Of course, I think I have just about every book on the subject.

I just found this website this morning. I like the 3 seat idea too.
http://www.sdrsportscars.co.uk/theCar.html

Now, a design similar to this new SDR car but with straight tubes, probably square like the Mistrale design, and more intrusion protection bodywork would be very much to my liking. It could be a very easy to build design with no curved tubes other than the roll hoop so anyone with minimal tools could build it in their garage. It could be viewed as do-able by the average person with just about any FWD donor car.

A workman works with his hands.
A craftsman works with his hands and his head.
An artist works with his hands, his head, and his heart.


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PostPosted: October 29, 2007, 5:52 pm 
The sales of the Champion book were very strong, so other publishers are looking for a version of their own. The current DIY-friendly culture also reinforces it.

If someone put together a good frame design with clear instructions on how to build a specific car - along with some "so, you want to use a different engine" extra info - and had it published by a large publisher with full distribution, I think they would find it worth their while. It's a huge undertaking, of course, as you'll have to design, build and debug the car first.

There's also the problem of no historical context as there is with the Champion design. A Seven doesn't really have styling, and that's fine. The At-om also nicely side-stepped the problem area. But will people accept a dune buggy for the street without either 50 years of history or Jeremy Clarkson yelling "I AM AN ALIEN!"?

My books have been worthwhile. I'm not about to quit my job, but the Seven exists because of my first book and my Targa Newfoundland race effort is due to the most recent. Plus my track days and trips to Texan race tracks are tax-deductible :)


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PostPosted: October 29, 2007, 7:16 pm 
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Well put Keith!

Very clearly stated.

I see a need, or at least a market, but who will be able to do it?
And do it right. :roll:


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