Rear axle almost in.

Small update today, just to show I’m alive and working. I have assembled the trailing arms for the rear axle and fit everything into place. The rear axle brackets are very tough, as are the trailing arms, so I am confident in my design thus far. The goal now is to find wheels for cheap, to get the coil over shocks for cheap, to build the Panhard Rod, and then it’s onto the front suspension. An exciting time, as the car is almost standing on it’s own.

trailingarms1.JPG  welding1.JPG

Grab a seat.

A few days ago I ordered my Kirkey driver’s seat from Jegs, and it was here before I knew it. I scrounged the local junk yard for a few hours and got some seat rails to mount to the frame. While there I picked up a parking brake from a BMW, figured I might as well have some German engineering in my cornucopia of car parts. While working on the seat I received my trailing arm and a-arm tube, and the weld in bungs for them. I now have nearly everything I need for my rear suspension, short of the coil over shocks. The car will be riding on 1″x1″ RHS shocks for a while I feel. It’s very exciting to see the car take shape, and now with a seat I have something to sit in while I pretend to “test drive” it.

Note how luxurious the Locost is: It carries golf clubs!


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Back to work…

I’ve not updated here in a while, mostly because I haven’t done much on the car. I have been doing a great deal of traveling this Summer, with family and friends. I went to Quebec, Montreal, Disneyland, Rhode Island, Cape Cod, Atlanta, and many places right around Connecticut, and there is still time for more! But for now it is back to the Locost.

A few weeks ago I was in Atlanta visiting my friend Andrew. He is also building a Locost, but is just about finished with his. My goodness what a blast his was to drive! It’s loud, fast, missing seatbelts, a floor and and body panels, requires the passenger to carry a fire extinguisher (luckily never used), has some non-functional gauges, and it is the most fun I’ve ever had in a car. A video of us taking it out for a ride can be found here: Driving The Locost. Anyway, after spending many hours in the dirt working on his Locost, and learning a ton from Andrew, I figure I should get back to my own.

The rear axle now has two suspension brackets, tho both need to be cleaned up and welded on. I ordered a bunch of weld in bungs for the trailing arms and front suspension, and with any luck the rear axle should be in soon. For more on the design of the rear suspension go to the parts design page.

I also ordered some DOM tube to make the arms from, and some suspension brackets from Jack at Kinetic Vehicles. I tried to make my own brackets but it was an absolute pain to get just one done, and for $4.50 a piece I’m not going to put my mental health, or what’s left of it, on the line.

Finally, I found an add on for a Camaro that intrigued me. I called the owner and he said, in many, many more words, that it was sold the day the add went up (and that apparently the new owner stole the tools that the previous had left in the boot). Oh well, getting the drive train  in is still far away.

Tomorrow should be a big shop day, and hopefully I can get some pictures of the progress.

Rear Axle

A few days ago I picked up the rear axle I will be using for my car. It came from an early ’90′s Chevy Camaro that I was lucky enough to catch at the junk yard as it was being towed in. I’ve spent a few days cutting off the old brackets and cleaning it all up with a wire brush wheel, and it’s coming along nicely. I’ve ordered some rod ends and other suspension bits from Kinetic Vehicles, and am still working out the suspension dimensions. My goal is to have it rolling on it’s own wheels by the time my brother gets home from Iraq, should be around September. Then I can have him push me around in it!

The rear axle. Removing some brackets. Approximate ride height.

Steering Rack

This passed week has been tremendously exciting, as I am beginning to get parts for the car. The more it looks like an actual car, the more I want to work on it! Hopefully this effect maintains throughout the build in it’s entirety. My friend showed me a new junkyard early in the week, and I quickly found a promising steering rack in the battered shell of what was a Triumph Spitfire GT. I felt proud that I’d be bringing some of this poor old auto’s passion back to life by using it in my Locost. With a hacksaw and some wrenches a friend and I got the steering rack off in an hour or so, and got a nice coating of grease, oil, mud, and other junkyard mystery fluids, all over ourselves. The steering rack was quite a mess on the outside, but it worked in the junkyard and worked on my workbench. All the important bits seemed in fine order, but I would need to clean it up considerably. At home I spent the better end of a full day removing the gunk from the rack, and moved on to getting it to look new. A fiber wheel on my angle grinder made quick work of rust and dirt, and a Dremel tool aided in the tight spaces. Of course the most helpful tool was the can of brake cleaner, it has a habit of cleaning up just about any mess. After I was satisfied with the cleanliness I moved on to painting, choosing a common rust inhibiting spray paint to seal it up. For painting I came up with a nice little paint chamber made with a pair of parallel 4″x1″ boards and some plastic bags. I would spray on the paint and then pull the bag on top over to keep dust out. I am pretty satisfied with the results, being my first time attempting such a revival of parts from the past. The paint may need another coat, but that’s not a big deal. I will probably need to cut something off the rack to fit it to my design, but being from such a small donor, I shouldn’t be in bad shape. Now I’m just waiting for my spindles in the mail!

rack1 rack2 rack3 rack4 rack5 rack6

More frame…

Finally moved on to more than just 1″ square tube, as I made it to the section that will form the boot. Containing the fuel cell, rear axle, and the tiny bit of luggage it will hold, this part was very important. The 4″ steel plate that holds both the roll bar and the rear shocks was tacked into place, and some of the 3/4″ tube was cut and tacked. A trip with my buddies to Disney World interrupted the build but it was a great time, and now it’s back to work. I hope to get the round tube needed to form the bend in the boot this week, and hope to find a shop that will bend my roll bar for me. I had some 1″ round tube that was intended for another project in the garage and it should make a fine roll bar. I plan on using an angled cross bar and a pair of legs extending to the rear of the frame to keep the roll bar strong. Beside the frame work I hope to get some actual parts this week, either a rear axle or uprights so I can get the suspension going.

Also after giving the frame and overall plan a once over by Andrew, I gained some needed confidence in the project. Hopefully our days of cruising around town on mopeds will soon be relived in our Locosts.

  Me with frameroll bar mountsboot1

Almost Summer!

Well a lot has happened since the last update, just haven’t had time to write. Finals start next week so I’ve been busy playing catch up. The Locost is looking more and more like a car every time I look at it, so even though I have only had a few hours each weekend to work on it, it is coming along. While I was cutting some sections last week my angle grinder died. I don’t know what happened, it was working fine and then just didn’t turn back on. So I brought it to Sears and as luck would have it I had purchased the 2 year replacement agreement when I bought the grinder. So for $10 or so (for the warranty) I got a brand new grinder and more grinding disks. I continued the tiring algorithm of measure, measure, cut, grind, weld, double check. As of this morning I have made it through section “Q”, the top of the firewall. Once finals are over this thing should be flying together! Also, my friend Andrew is home from Georgia Tech and should be able to give me some pointers, as he is along quite well in his build. Stay tuned!

section L Section Q Toosl of the Trade

Tacking the frame

Yesterday I got another big day in, 5 or 6 hours. Grinding and tack welding the frame went rather smoothly. I spent a while doing research today, looking at bits I’ll need later on down the road. I found a few steering racks on Ebay that looked promising, as well as a few seat options. Seats are expensive, but getting something comfortable and safe will surely be worth a few dollars. I took the frame down to compare it to my car, as in the photo below, and got a sense of how tiny this car will be.

Frame Comparison Tacking the frame

Getting the frame together.

The Locost is under way! I had less work than normal this weekend, giving me loads of time to get started on the frame. I also had no class Monday, allowing me to put in a whopping 8.5 hours of work there. Anyway to the actual progress:

I began the weekend by getting everything ready. My chop saw took some adjusting (read my review about it on the tools page) and the gas regulator on my welder was broken. Not off to a great start but not being able to weld gave me time to measure, measure, measure and cut. I got through cutting the entire bottom section, and a bag of beef jerky, by the time work started Friday. Saturday I would get in just a few cuts before work, and nothing much on Sunday (you guessed it, work!). Finally Monday came and I got an early start, getting up at 8:00 and setting off to purchase a new regulator. It wasn’t cheap but I got a regulator, and after an hour of smashing away with 6ft cheater bars, I switched the couplings from the broken regulator to the new. I continued cutting tubes until I got through tube”O” (for those of you playing the home game). I skipped the”L” tubes, as I didn’t feel like messing with that nonsense on that particular day, but found this thread very helpful. I will tackle that and the upper tubes next weekend, and hopefully have a completed frame

I also included a few pictures of how I cut a 50 degree angle with the chop saw that only goes to 45 degrees. I just wedged an angle of cut off in there, and clamped the bugger down. Using a protractor, I got it to the right mark and had at it.

Frame Under Construction 1 Frame Under Construction 2 Frame Under Construction 3 Frame Under Construction 4 50 Degree Cut 1 50 Degree Cut 2 50 Degree Cut 3 50 Degree Cut 4

The Lucky 7

At the time of this build log I had already gotten started, so here is where I’m at so far:

  • The name was chosen because I began the build on St. Patrick’s Day and it just seemed to fit.
  • I have the build table all set up, built following a design by my friend Andrew. His build can be found here:
  • I purchased the steel for the frame, and a chop saw for the cutting.

So all I need now is some time and I can get going!

More build table. Laying down the lines. Build table in progress