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"A man must keep a little back shop where he can be himself without reserve. In solitude alone can he know true freedom."
-Michel De Montaigne 1588

September to December 2009

Sept 20, 2009 - This whole project started when I saw a replica Merlyn Mk4T fiberglass body for sale at the 2009 British Car Day in Bronte. Ontario. It wasn't the Lotus 23 bodywork that I was hoping to find but it's very similar and the price was right.
Nov, 2009 - I decided to model my chassis after the Lotus 23 which looks pretty straight forward in this cut-away view. Some modifications will be necessary particularly at the rear to adapt to the Suzuki transmission and electric motor. The battery pack will sit right behind the driver. I expect the car will be somewhat heavy at the rear because of the weight of the batteries. It may be possible to put some of them at the front where the original rad is in order to get better front/rear weight distribution.
It doesn't look quite so simple on this original Lotus drawing. The Lotus drawings will be followed as much as possible. I can't possibly do a better design than Lotus did. This will save me a huge amount of work calculating roll centres, anti-squat/dive, etc.

Nov 12, 2009 - The Suzuki Swift has the smallest, lightest running gear I know of so I bought an old 1989 GTi. (The 5 speed transaxle only weighs 44 lbs.)
I plan to use the transaxle, clutch, drive shafts, brakes and steering column along with some miscellaneous interior trim pieces.


Dec 1, 2009 - I figured that an old Formula Ford would make a good donor for the suspension pieces so I picked up a 1972 Hawke dl9 rolling chassis that a friend of a friend had stored in his shed. I should be able to use the rear suspension uprights, shocks and springs, steering rack, rod ends, master brake cylinders and pedal cluster. (Note - this was a mistake. The only parts I ended up using were the two rear uprights)
Over most of January, 2010, when not cleaning and painting parts, I've been working on the chassis design. The basic frame and suspension design is complete and it looks like the motor and transmission will fit.

I was hoping to use front steering knuckles from a common RWD domestic car but most cars are rear-steer (steering arms point to the rear of the car) which would put the steering rack right where my feet go. Either that or way to big and heavy. Triumph Spitfire knuckles are front-steer, small and light weight.

The Spitfire hubs, rotors and calipers however are all cast iron and heavy. The solution was to machine up some new spindles that will take the light weight Suzuki hubs and rotors. Material is heat treated, stess relieved, 4140 steel.
The knuckle on the left has the new spindle. The one on the right has the Spitfire.
As expected, the parts from these cars were pretty rusty. Fortunately, I found a great non-toxic way of cleaning them using electrolysis. A couple of buckets of water, some Arm and Hammer Washing Soda, an old battery charger and a few scrap steel plates.
Suspend the part in the bucket, connect battery charger to the anode plates and to the cathode part and wait about a day while it bubbles the rust off. Even seized bolts come out just using your fingers.
This is a before/after picture of the one of parts after a day in the bucket and 15 seconds with a wire brush. Ready for paint.
I am trying to get all the parts cleaned and painted before starting on the rest of the project. I really hate working with dirty old rusty parts.

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