01/11/17 A lot of parts go into a car. We now have over 4,500 part numbers in the system, more than half of which are custom. And that means we get to make them. So that's what we've been doing lately - from little things we call 'CV Eliminators' (they hold the bearing together on undriven axles with some of our uprights, where there is no CV stub to do that), to pedals, and countless other bits. Most are made on our CNC lathe and mill - some on one, some on the other, and some on both.
Then there are one-off parts specific to this particular car, which we're not likely to make again - so those are more efficiently hand made. This one still needs to be cleaned up a bit. It's a coolant fitting for the Ford Duratec engine, replacing a factory part that interferes with the exhaust header. We are also making a custom alternator bracket but that one has to be laser-cut and then welded due to shape and size.
02/14/17 Some D47 tasks have been up in the project rotation, so a fair bit got done. The alternator bracket was designed, prototyped by 3D printing, then made in real life. Couple other engine parts too.
The engine is now back out of the car and off to the dyno for tuning.
Some more machining got done as well, including rear bellcranks and brake hats that are specific to the D47. They're off to anodize now.
Installing the seat, shifter, steering, pedals, and suspension is next. It's a bit of a 3D puzzle, especially given the usual tight packaging, so we're tacking/taping some things in place first.
Jay has been doing more of the design tasks and the shifter mount is next on his list. He has been making good use of his 3D printer to prototype various things (more on that in other blogs soon).
The actual shifter components are standard D2 stuff, but the grey mounting box is specific to D47. Once we're happy with where everything goes we'll make it in sheetmetal.
Still a long ways to go on this one but it's moving. As are all the other projects - Stiletto, D2s, D4s and a few custom parts for clients too.
3/15/17 A major milestone for the D47 project. It's been looking more and more car-like as we complete parts and attach them...
And now, finally, it's sitting on its own four wheels.
Of course Tristan couldn't resist bounce-testing the suspension.
Everything seems to move as intended, so that's good. We're finalizing a lot of sheetmetal (interior paneling, firewall, shifter linkage parts, steering supports, drysump tank, etc.) and are about to order it all. As with everything much work remains but much is now done. Feels good.
There is another Europa D47 is the pipe after this one, and we're still looking for someone to order the Mini version. In the meantime, lots of parts are getting made every day. I've mentioned elsewhere that we're doing two sets of the new GTC uprights. The hubs are now ready for splining. They start out as 47 lb chunks of alloy steel, make lots of colorful chips, and are now ~4lb 'blanks' which will next be splined, then drilled, tapped, machined for retainer feature, then heat treated, plated, and baked.
There are other parts being made too, some are D47 applicable.
A random bit - you may have noticed an old Miata in some of the pictures on other blogs, though not this one. It's Jay's recent acquisition, a crashed car that is a parts donor for his occasional driver (daily he rides a motorcyle, even in pouring rain). I do get a benefit out of it - Jay made me an office chair out of the driver's seat. Very cool :) A much needed replacement for my 12+ year old former seat. Now I compute in style.
03/18/17 Now that the chassis is on wheels, the next step is to finish trimming and fitting the body to it, then finalize interior sheetmetal panels and how they'll interface with the body shell.
In the process of lowering the body on the frame I just had to take a picture - it looked like some kind of crazy offroad machine :)
But that's what Strider is for. This car is very much a street/track device. After some fiddling, it looks even more like a car!
The whole thing as-pictured weighs 637 lbs. This means we're on track for our target of 1,300-1,400 when complete. With 250+hp it'll be a blast and exactly the Europa I envisioned back in '91. So only 26+ years to finally achieve that particular dream, but better late than never :)
Here's a comparison of original chassis and mine:
In the meantime the engine is being worked on by Rothsport here in town, so all is moving forward.
05/23/17 The majority of the effort right now is on D2, and there will be an update there shortly. But in the meantime other stuff is getting done as well, It's a resource management challenge primarily. Now that Mark has completed all the welding on the numerous D2TT manifolds, he can spend some time finish-welding the D47 frame tubes, pedal assembly mounts, seat mounts, drysump tank, and so on.
The shifter is designed, fabricated, and installed as well.
We've finally got to test-fit complete corner assemblies with wheels, brakes, etc. Clearance from calipers to wheels is actually bigger than I expected. It measures out almost 0.1" vs projected 0.05". Clearance is clearance.
The engine now runs and is at our shop, so the proverbial ball is in our court. Once the Pikes Peak push is over progress will be more rapid.
With all the assembly and welding, the mill and lathe sometimes sit idle for weeks or even months until it's time to crank out a flood of new parts. So we occasionally take on quick side projects (preferably my time only, and something that can be cranked out and done in few hours). Here's one - a mast base for a neighbor's sailboat. The boat is some 40 years old and some parts are a bit worse for wear.
Pretty satisfying to be able to do this. Of course what makes it possible is being able to do it quickly. Now back to the main jobs at hand. There is no shortage of them.
9/21/17 We are crazy busy with numerous projects as always....
... and it's again time for another D47 update. A few things got added to the frame, like supports for fuel cell and battery tray.
The next major step is adding interior paneling. Since we've ended up cutting out all but the exterior skin of the original bodywork, something needs to replace it.
Laser-cut aluminum paneling is what we use in all our other cars, so the technology gets applied here as well. Designing the panels is a 3D puzzle and things like being able to install them and various equipment have to be thought through. The design is now done and actual parts will be coming shortly.
Aluminum is also better at intrusion protection than fiberglass, so it's an added layer of safety. Compare to the above structure to the original that it replaces.
Dramatic as the difference is, the weight of the new design will actually be same or slightly less than the original but safety is vastly improved.
As you may recall, the D47 platform is intended to be applied to a wide range of small vintage cars bringing their spirit into a 21st century incarnation with bespoke chromoly tube frame, pushrod suspension and CNC machined billet components. We're looking for customers to help keep evolving it - some of the possibilities include classic Mini, Bugeye Sprite, Porsche 550 and 356, other Lotus models and even Bugatti 35. Let me know if any of these are of interest.
11/5/17 Time for another update on the D47 blog. The sheetmetal panels have been made, mounting tabs welded to the chassis, and the trial assembly has begun. The car will be driven without bodywork first, then the body will be fitted and fiberglass added to properly mate the body shell to the frame and aluminum panels. After that it will all come apart for powdercoat/paint/interior/etc.
Obviously quite a bit of work remains but it's really starting to look like a car. Pretty exciting - I love this stage of the projects.
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