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Winston HalfDork
8/8/15 9:20 a.m.

Here's the photo album from my visit to Classic Team Lotus, located at the original team workshops in Hethel:

Classic Team Lotus album

For those not familiar, they specialize in restoring, racing, and preserving classic Lotus Formula cars -- both their own and those owned by third parties. I had a near-religious experience visiting their workshops and taking the tour of the current Lotus factory (no pictures allowed!).

They had several amazing cars in various stages (from track-ready to stripped down), but the most interesting to me was the Type 12, which I'll call out specifically:

Nearly bare chassis with radiator and Coventry Climax engine fittted:

A thing of mechanical beauty:

Beautiful. (That's a water pump, not a turbocharger):

A de Dion rear, and shock mounts that I find concerning(!):

VWguyBruce Dork
8/8/15 10:40 p.m.

Cool project and thanks for the virtual tour. Drink a pint for us Yanks.

Winston HalfDork
8/9/15 8:57 p.m.

38 weeks remaining.

Not a lot of photo-worthy stuff this week, but I did spend about 5 hours in the garage between today and yesterday. The heat here has been brutal, with daily highs at 100+ degrees. It started while we were in the U.K., and has just continued. It really limits the amount of time I can spend in the garage, especially doing welding, since I have to cover up (safety first, even if it means heat stroke!).

At any rate, I completely finished welding all of the control arms to my satisfaction, strengthening them where I saw potential weakness. I've now started to prep the chassis for some strengthening plates that will hopefully allow it to take the substantial loads coming in from the suspension. These and other upcoming pieces will be more complex shapes, so I need to do some CAD to make sure I get them right. My lovely wife picked up some poster board from the store, which will allow me to get started on the CAD (Cardboard Aided Design) work right away.

I also had to cut out a little more of the old (unused section of) chassis to make room for the steering rack pinion. I've trimmed this piece so many times, I didn't want to have to do it again -- so cut a huge hunk out. It's ugly. I may make it prettier at some point.

I also removed the Triumph steering column from the car, to be replaced by the Miata column. The stock (at least I believe it's stock) Spitfire column is offset; in other words, the steering wheel doesn't sit directly in front of the driver. Instead, it's slightly off to the right, and the entire column is angled down and toward the right, into steering rack. This means that the steering wheel is not perpendicular to the driver. This bothers me, there's a good chance I'll spend way too much time fixing it when the Miata column goes in.

Winston HalfDork
8/16/15 9:49 p.m.

37 weeks remaining.

Spent another half dozen hours in the garage this weekend, and felt like I made some good progress. Between the loads coming in from the upper control arms and (especially) the shocks, I felt that the upper suspension rail (I suppose we'll call it that) needed some reinforcement. I decided that some 11 ga. plate capping off the chassis rail and tying into the suspension rail should do the trick. First, some CAD:

It was actually a bit of a pig getting to this point, mostly due to the little "ears" I put on the ends. A reciprocating saw, grinder w/cutoff wheel, and bench grinder were involved. I really wish I had a plasma cutter.

This is where they go:

They are beefy, but I may yet add reinforcement directly under the shock mount.

I also began design work on the transmission mount. AutoZone produced a GM transmission mount that seemed like it would be easy to use. It also met the 2" vertical dimension limitation, so that the transmission crossmember doesn't hang down any lower than any other part of the drivetrain.

I've already begun working on a design, but it's not finalized yet.

Winston HalfDork
10/3/15 12:17 p.m.

30 weeks remaining.

Took a bit of a break the past few weeks. Things have been busy at work, so I've had to work some days off here and there. Also, it was brutally hot until recently, so hopefully fall is upon us here in Houston.

A month or so ago on the LocostUSA boards, I mentioned that I thought there was a HUGE potential problem. Well, I finally got around to getting help setting the bonnet in place, and confirmed my fears:

I should have foreseen this, with the angle that the control arms had when the car originally came to me and the fact that the custom chassis is dropped about 3" compared to the stock car. Unfortunately, I can't just take the same steps to close the fender gap because the steering rack cradle (and possibly some transmission bits) would tend to occupy the same space as the ground. Fortunately, I have 4 3/4" between the top of the engine and the underside of the hood, so... I can channel and drop the body. There is a transverse cradle that the body rests upon just ahead of the rear trailing arm pick-ups, so my plan is to channel from that point all the way to the front, using that transverse cradle as a pivot.

There's also this little issue, but it's nothing that some small flare extentions can't take care of.

The laser level says that the front track is only about 1" wider than the rear track, which I can fix when I purchase wheels. The rear arches are more heavily flared from the factory, so I don't think I'll need any flare extensions there.

10/3/15 3:55 p.m.

Been enjoying this build for some time. Funny how the challenges keep showing up and somehow, so do the solutions.

Winston HalfDork
10/3/15 9:58 p.m.
NOHOME wrote: Been enjoying this build for some time. Funny how the challenges keep showing up and somehow, so do the solutions.

Thanks! It does seem like a constant stream of curveballs. Getting it drivable in 30 weeks may be a longshot, but having a goal to shoot for does add in a little kick of motivation.

Vorpal HalfDork
5/24/22 12:58 p.m.

Time for the 7-year update. I still own the Spitfire. It's slumbering peacefully, nestled in a cozy pile of garage detritus. I'm looking at it again, though, and thinking about next steps. 

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