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Author: Subject: Locost 500

posted on 13/11/13 at 09:31 PM Reply With Quote
Locost 500

Hi I'd like to tell you about my project.

Two things I'd like to do

1. Design and build a mid-engined, Lightweight Sports Car – I use 3D CAD at work and I've designed some quite interesting things, but I've never had a chance to design something complicated from start to finish and use the software fully (i.e. proper digital prototyping.) This project is a good opportunity for me to do this.

2. Develop an online platform for the continued development of this car – I'll be making all my models and drawings available in the hope that some people will use them to build their own cars and then feed back their experiences to enhance the design.

The Car

My initial aim for the car is to make it decent to drive and as easy and cheap to build as possible. To this end I plan to use as many parts from a single donor as is feasible in a simple steel space-frame chassis. It's going to be lightweight so no roof, doors or windows; with a target of 500kg. I'd also like the design to be flexible enough to accommodate an engine/drive-train from pretty much any FWD car. I've got an initial design which still requires a lot of development; I'm not dead set on this, I'm happy to see where the design process takes me. Whatever makes it easier and cheaper to build and adds lightness.

The Website

The website will start off as a way of documenting my design and the things I learn while developing it. I'll provide links to any useful information I find and I'll create “Instructables” type guides from my own experiences and any advice I am given. I also plan to make a list of information on donor parts suitable for this project so people can look and find the most suitable part easily. This information is already on the web I'd just like to coral it all together.

I plan to develop the site to create a set of tools which will allow people to easily share their experiences of modifying, building, and testing the design. In this way the design could be incrementally improved just like the Lotus 7 has been over the last half a century.

I've read about a lot of car projects; what strikes me is that people put an awful lot of effort into the design, development and build of their projects. They learn a lot from this and maybe they share this knowledge with a build diary or giving advice on forums but by and large what they learn stays with them. A goal of this project is to have an on-going design that captures peoples effort.

Also reading project blogs I find that quite a lot of them end suddenly as peoples lives get in the way. As an on-going project, any effort that is put into this design will not go to waste even if life does get in the way of an individuals project.

I'd like this platform to serve people with differing interests in car design from people that are very interested in the design side but have no real plans to build a car to people who can just about use a computer to download drawings but have a definite plan to build their own car.

So to this end I have a website please check it out.

And I have uploaded my designs to GrabCAD here please let me know what you think (there is a lot of room for development.)

If you don't use 3D CAD here is a viewer to look at the files. I think it works OK on pretty low powered computers but let me know if you have trouble and I'll figure something else out.

Eventually I'd like to develop this website into a set of tools which could be used to collaboratively produce a design for any mechanical project (Jet pack anyone?)


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posted on 13/11/13 at 09:32 PM Reply With Quote
OK that's the idea, here's are some questions I'm hoping to get help with.

Frame - Any advice on improvements to the frame would be appreciated. I've never built a frame like this so any words of wisdom would be great from someone who has.

I'm using a box section frame with sheet metal panels glued and riveted to it; I'm hoping this will give a fair amount of stiffness to the frame so I can use less bracing and hopefully get a lighter car. Am I living in dreamland here? Does anyone have any advice on building a space frame/monocoque like this?

Ergonomics – I'm planning on building a cockpit mock-up before I go anywhere near a build because I'm pretty sure just guessing it in the model is never going work. If anyone has a any tips on getting a decent sitting space I'd love to hear them.

Suspension design – So I think (hope) there are free suspension design packages online, can anyone recommend a good one and maybe give some tips on how to get good results from it? Or if you could point me towards some useful websites that would also be good. I've never design a suspension system so advice from people that have already done this would be good.

Any other advice, comment or criticisms on the design and the website would be greatly appreciated.


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posted on 13/11/13 at 11:01 PM Reply With Quote
Hi/welcome etc,

Loving your enthusiasm but my first thought is that you've set yourself a lot of goals and targets! As you pointed out many blogs and build diaries tail off because of life getting in the way, or the builder is making such good progress, stopping for photos goes out of the window.

Great idea or concept, I think the initial body sketches are very 'basic' but I'm sure you'll say that other builders can come up with their own designs over time, that bolt onto the same body.

Books - if you do a search on here you'll find plenty of suggestions including those by Forbes Aird, Allan Staniforth, Carroll Smith etc.

25mm sq tube for your chassis at 16g / 1.5mm wall thickness should be fine for most bits, as per the Haynes/Ron Champion book plans. Polyurethane sealant plus rivets is pretty standard. Dont forget to leave access panels though for maintainence.

Have you got a gaming steering wheel? I did some measurements using a playstation wheel and various cushions.

Not used any of the suspension calculators so can't comment but I think Greg Laycock on Eng Forums one is good maybe.

The collaborative aspect of the website/project is interesting and I could see it taking off as long as momentum is kept up and it stays current. Good luck!

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posted on 14/11/13 at 10:56 AM Reply With Quote

You have set yourself a mountain to climb.

Design and build take up a lot of hours, and to keep a site up to date along with it is even more. It's very important that you have time for yourself and any family.

Continued development: Any design has to reach a 'final' stage, otherwise you keep on designing and build nothing. And there are only so many time you can modify a chassis before a new build is required.

Easy and cheap to build: My thoughts exactly. Using parts from a single donor is a worthy, but donor parts must be chosen for purpose.

Website: One of the better examples: website

I tinker, and intend to make my drawings available FOC, but I progress at my own rate: delta

Books: I have bought and read every book available. They all give you a snippet of information on a subject; a good design has to work as a whole.

I even wrote my own to include everything: book

Design: The design, as it stands, is very basic, just a 7 with a rear engine, nothing different.

Chassis: Square tube and ally panels is a basic and easy to build method.

Cockpit: You have to size the cockpit for the 95% percentile man, like plane builders. Explanation here: man and here: man1

Collaboration: Difficult: too many cooks, design by committee! Many builders have good ideas, others think they have good ideas and like to assert themselves over others. You have to do what you want.

Grabcad: Why? If you want to display photos/drawings, a photo gallery is just as good, if not better. No registrations, no viewers required.

Overall, I think you should do it for you, as you want it, not for anybody else. Build what you want, and make drawings available. That's my idea.

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posted on 14/11/13 at 01:18 PM Reply With Quote
Great idea but be careful you don't take on to much. I intended to do a all inclusive build diary with diagrams and pictures etc. I also thought I'd produce a build manual along the way (take note minor kit car manufacturers!!!!). But I have found that with little prior engineering experience learning to build a kit car and engine building has been just as much of a task as building the car.

I believe you can take on too much and then all areas fail a little. I have ended up learning more in the 4.5years I have taken to build a kit car than I did when I did a degree. That took 3 years full time and cost more!!

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posted on 14/11/13 at 06:06 PM Reply With Quote

Design is only one part of the complete project, before I started I spent hours & hours searching ebay/motorsport sites for parts, Im talking months spreading out the spending.

As I discovered once I started building, running a blog takes as much time as the build. Its obvious why you want to see the design through from the start to finish, I am totally with you but you can end up with the best plan ever, and sicken yourself with the practicalities of the project as a whole.

I didnt design my chassis or build it, (Thank you NS_dev) , can I suggest you have a read of the book -"Kimini" He did everything himself and hes a member here I think ?

I find my small project quite mammoth at times, and thats before I sicken myself with it (which I do), why not create cad models of already designed chassis, eg the Haynes 7, or would that be too easy ? There are times I wish I had built a kit car, where I just ring up and get the next module of parts delivered.

My blog hasnt been looked at for 12 months at least, now I just use faceplant and twitter, snap a few pictures while Im in the garage.

Good luck and keep us posted//.....

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posted on 14/11/13 at 08:35 PM Reply With Quote
Thanks for all the comments and encouragement guys.

I understand what you mean about setting myself a high goal. Considering it has taken me a year, off and on to get the initial design and site together I'm not in a massive hurry. As I've said I want to keep it as simple as possible so yes it is basically just a 7 style car using a FWD car as a donor. I know this isn't an original idea; I've read plenty of midi build diaries. I want to keep it as close to the Locost / Haynes Roadster design as I can, that way I reckon there is more chance of me actually finishing it.

One of the reasons I'm doing this is to get more practical engineering experience; I work in engineering but on the design side; I don't get more hands dirty much, if ever. I think going through this will give me a much better perspective.

The whole collaborative thing is something I'm very interested in but it requires other people to get involved. Really all I can do is get on with my project and see if anyone takes notice after that it would be a group discussion as to how it could work.

I'm planning on digitally prototyping as much as I can and producing a full set of drawings before I start (it's what I do for a living) I'm hoping the website won't need a lot more than posting these. Obviously writing up how I'm getting on will be a bit of a chore; I'm hoping my creative writing skills improve with my practical engineering knowledge!

I've seen the super7thheaven site it might even have been a partial inspiration for this project, I've been thinking about this for quite a while and I remember seeing that a while back.

I'm also well aware of Kimini, I really need to bite the bullet order the book. I've been keeping an eye on his Midlana project as well which is pretty much the same concept as mine.

I'm glad the glued/riveted Space-frame/monocoque thing is commonly used; I used to design hovercraft and pretty much everything we made there was built in this way (only with aluminium) so I know it well.

I'm putting things on GradCAD because it's easy and free to share my CAD model on it; this project is half about the digital prototyping and CAD models are obviously a big part of that.

As for the design I think it looks pretty mean at the moment but it obviously isn't a complete design, I'm hoping that it will look better as the design progresses and it looks more like an actual road going car. And yeah it wouldn't take much to mount a body on it, that's something I'd shy away from myself though because it would at least double the effort/cost involved.

Thanks again guys.

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posted on 26/11/13 at 08:12 PM Reply With Quote
I've posted a little update on my blog if anyone is interested.



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