recent posts

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rear upper control arms

Started on the rear upper control arm.  This one is getting close to done.  Still need to add the top plate, shock mount, weld in the threaded tube ends prime and paint.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rear lower control arms - Part 2

 Woo hoo, one rear lower arm done.  Lots of lessons learned on this one.

Here are some tips.
  • Weld the front to rear cross brace on the inside before you add any other tubes.  It will be very hard to weld if you don't.  You can grind it down a bit before you add the other tubes.
  • Add the diagonal cross brace before you add the outer bushing tube.
  • Use tubemiter (, print, mark tubes, then grind.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rear Lower Control arms

Started on the rear lower control arms.  I made a quick jig out of 1x1.  The spacer on the outer end of the jig is 90mm to duplicate the space between the factory Miata arms.

I will be using factory Miata sized polyurethane bushing on the outside ends.  The bush tubes are 1.75" OD x 0.095" Wall.  In the jig that you will make, the bush tubes should sit flat on the work surface.

The inside ends will have threaded bungs welded in and 1/2 in rod ends will be used.  The center line of the rod ends duplicates the Haynes Roadster book.  This end of the arm is spaced 9.5mm (3/8in) off the work surface.
Check out

TIP:  On the leg where the cross tube connects at the outer side of the arm, weld the bush tube last or you will never get the cross tube in.  Ask me how I figured that out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Miata deconstruction has begone.  Next time someone remind me how much easier this would be on a lift.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rear Panel tubes are done

The rear panel tubes are done.  I decided to use 1" square instead of the 3/4" round.  I hope that doesn't bite me later.  The way I made the top rail was to cut one stick to length.  Then I marked out where the radius of the bend would be and cut out three sides of the tube.  I cut a piece of wood into a pie shape with the crust having the right radius.  Then bend the tube around that, cut up some sheet steal to box it back in and welded it up.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rear Panel tubes

Started making the rear panel section.  I first made this out of 3/4" DOM tube and tacked it in place.  To make the bend I used a Home Depot 1/2" conduit bender.  The first bend went very bad.  I was placing my foot on the tube to keep it in pace, bad idea.  The next bend went much better by putting my foot on the foot tab of the bender, imagine that.

Anyway.  I didn't like the look of the 3/4" tube.  I modified the NTS Engineering plans using 1" square tube.  Then I made the outer bend out of 1/16" sheet and boxed everything in.  I am very happy with the outcome.  The bend is a tighter radius then the conduit bender can do, and I expect this is much stronger.  In the pictures the left side is still in progress and the right side is mostly done.  FYI, a 1 gallon paint can is the perfect diameter to bend the sheet steel around.

Monday, October 29, 2012

More rear

Starting to look like something.  I have some 3/4" DOM on order to make the upper and lower rear panel tubes.  Not sure how I am going t bend them yet.  I am thinking about using a conduit bender.  We will see.  I also have some 1" DOM on order to start making the control arms.  Guess I need to start pulling that Miata apart.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rear shock tower

I know I am slow, but these rear shock tower/roll bar mounts take some time to make.  Still need to make the back plate, fully weld it, then weld it to the frame.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Rear Section starting to look like something

Rear section starting to look like something.  Using the 2x1 in the middle of the seat back meant I had to do some math to get the angle right for the upper 2x1of the rear section where it meats up with the seat back.  Just tack'ed for now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Start of the rear

Cut a few tubes last night to get started on the rear section.  Those 90 degree clamps will take some adjusting but i think they will work out ok.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back to work

After being lazy for the summer I am back to work on the 7.  The front section is fully welded, and has been moved forward on the table to make room to build the rear section.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

More welding.  I am almost done welling this section of the frame.  After this is done I will either build the back half or lay out the front suspension.  I am thinking back half.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It has been way to hot out to do much.  We have had a bit of a break so I have done a bit of work.  Mostly just welding, and welding, and more welding.  Here is the front section of frame upside down so I can weld the bottom.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What I am building

Someone asked what I was building.  Guess I never really made that clear.  I am building a Lotus 7 clone based off the Build Your Own Sports Car: On a Budget book.

This is the other car that takes my time and money.

And a few of us packing up after a weekend at Roebling Road

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

All the diagonal's are in

I expect all these pictures look about the same to everyone but me.  All the diagonal bars have been added.  Time to start working on the transmission tunnel.

I think I am going to mix the Vodou and NTS plans for the tunnel.  The Vodou tunnel is not as tall as the book or NTS plans.  If anyone can come up with a good reason to not do that let me know.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Slow progress is better than no progress

Slow progress is better than no progress.

I don't know why the seat back gave me such a hard time.  Well I do know.  I am mixing and matching Saturn (now ntsengineering) and Vodou plans.  So I am using a 1x2 for SB3 (the bar mid height the seat back) instead of a 1x1.  This is now Vodou does it and I like it.  Give you something solid to build the upper rear suspension area from.

So this meant that SB4/5 needed to be 25mm shorter than a Haynes Roadster.  SB4/5 are also 240mm apart from outside to outside.  This is how NTS does it.

So all that gave me fits.  Mostly because I wasn't sure which plan I really wanted to go with.  Then add the compound miter cuts on SB6/7... it took me longer than it should have.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Slow, but some progress

I have been working on other projects, like work... and getting the mustang ready for a track event.  Let me just say that Ford hydroboost is a pain.

Anyway the 7 is starting to look like something.  Most of what you see is just tacked together, but a few joint that are under other tubes have been fully welded.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Starting to look like something

With dash bar in place

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Front Frame

First things first.  Always ware your safety gear.  I didn't even notice this disk come apart until I turned off the angle grinder.  Thought I heard something hit the wall on the other side of the garage.

I didn't get as much done this weekend as I wanted, but any progress is good progress.  I have all the uprights except UR1/UR2.  Looking at the drawing it will be easier to put them in after U1/U2 are in place.

Front Frame.  Man is that a fiddly bit to work out.  I am using the Vodou plans for the chassis.  Or I think I am.  The front frame would have been the first departure from the standard Haynes frame.  The Vodou plans have their own front frame, or show how to add a packing bit to the standard frame.  I tried to draw up the Vodou front frame in sketchup with no luck.  Either I don't understand, or the numbers are wrong.  Either way I build the standard Haynes front frame.  The dry saw wasn't much use here.  I cut the bottom 26 degree, then used the angle grinder for the compound part of the cut.  Next i used the angle grinder to cut the 26 degree wedge out of the middle, then again to cut the top.

The front isn't welded to the rest of the frame yet, not even aligned well.  I just wanted to see how it looks.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saw Review

I wanted to add to the saw review a bit now that I have made a number of cuts with it.  Again I am using the Northern Industrial Dry Cut Metal Saw - 14in., Model# RP2814A (

Overall I like this saw a lot.  It makes quick clean cuts that you don't need to deburr.  You don't have fine metal dust all over the place like using an abrasive disk.  It does through little nibbles of metal around, but they tend to hit the floor and not stick to you.  Easy to shop vac.

The saw has a fence that is adjustable from cutting at 90 degrees, to cutting at 45 degrees.  This is a bit fiddle.  There are two Allen screws that you have to loosen, adjust the fence, then tighten back up.  The fence does have an angle gauge built in, but it is hard to read and I would not rely on it.  I use my own angle gauge to setup the saw.

For the price i would definitely buy this saw again.  Now we will see how long the blades last at $85 each.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Saw

I got tired of the miter saw turning metal into scrap and dust.  So today I made a trip to Northern Tool and picked up a dry saw .  This think is great.  The price in the store was less than their web site.

I got some cutting done today, but not as much as I was hoping.  Next it will be time to play with the welder and start tacking everything together.

Friday, February 17, 2012

First Cut

I sneaked out of work a bit early today.  I mean it was in the 60's today, how can you be expected to stay in the office all day :-)

I have now cut my first three tubes.  I know this is a small thing but it is a start.

Lesson learned today.  When using an abrasive disk in a miter saw the blade flexes side to side very easily.  You can end up with cuts that are not very straight.  I think the trick is to not force the blade.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Metal is ordered

Woo hoo.  Just a small update, but my friend that works for a metal fab shop ordered the tube to get me started.

QTY 8 1 X 1 X .065 WALL X 20'
QTY 1 1 X 2 X .065 WALL X 20'
QTY 2 3/4 X 3/4 X .120 W X 24'

Should all be in next week.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Table done

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Donor is Home

Pick up the donor today.  The Copart experience was very good.  I pulled up, walked in, gave them my numbers, they told me to go back out and meet the loading tech.  Next thing I know a big old CAT fork lift pulls up and ask for my papers.  He drive out in the yard, pick us the miata, comes back and drops it on my trailer.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Table Build continues

I had planned on using sawhorses for the base.  I tried it and didn't like it.  Even though I bought nice metal sawhorses, they didn't seem stable enough for me.  Then there is the garage floor slope.  It work out to be just under 1inch slope over 8 feet.  That would have meant rigging something with the sawhorses.

So I decided to build my own base.  4x4 post at the 4 corners.  On the uphill end the post are 3 feet, and a bit longer on the down hill side. 1x4s for a frame for the top and shelf area, and middle support

The bottom of the top is 1/2 inch MDF.  I am using unistrut glued to that.  Then I will put a 3/4 inch top on that and bolt it all together using carriage bolts.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I have a donor

I haven't picked it up yet, but I have purchased a donor Miata.  A 1994 with only 80k miles.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Starting the build table

I see a lot of people use two sheets of MDF and metal wall studs to make a build table.  I like that idea.  The metal studs should be more true than any wood.  The problem is I can't find any around here.  I checked Lowe's and Home Depot, no luck.  Home Depot does have dry wall studs, but they don't look strong enough.

So yesterday I was shopping with my wife.  As I was standing outside the dressing room I noticed everything was built using unistrut/superstrut.  The lights we hung from unistrut, the racks were made with it, it was everywhere.

Once done shopping I stopped by Lowe's and picked up 2 10' sections.  They call it superstrut and it is with the electrical stuff.

The plan is 1/2" MDF on the bottom bonded to the superstrut.  Then put 3/4" MDF on the top and use carriage bolts to sandwich it all together.