The heart of Derby's Maker community
By : Mark Hancox (aka “optimisticmark”)
My main project is building a Sports Car, an MEV Rocket. This is a kit car manufactured by Road Track Race in Nottingham (MEV in Mansfield were the original designers, so very much an all East Midlands effort), and it’s an “Exocar” like an Ariel Atom, if you’ve heard of one of those. No roof, no windows, no actual bodywork, just a tubular steel spaceframe which everything bolts to. I’m still at quite a early stage even though I started this project more than 2 years ago; I bought a Mk1 Ford Focus in October 2011 which I dismantled for engine/gearbox/loads of other bits, for installation in the car as the build progresses.
Some kit cars come as a big box of bits, and all you have to do is bolt them together. However this is very expensive, and so to find a way of building a car in a way that I can afford, I’ve gone down the ‘donor car’ route. The upside of this is that it’s a lot cheaper, and also you learn a lot more because you see each part in more detail. The downside is that you have to recondition a lot of your parts, and work nearly everything out for yourself, so everything takes a lot longer. But that’s OK, I’m enjoying the journey and I’m not going to put pressure on myself by setting a finish date anyway. This is a long term project, I’ll do well to get the finished car on the road by 2017.
Progress since the kit was delivered in July 2013 might look a bit slow. From the outside, all I’ve done is turn the chassis over, rivet the aluminium floor on, turn the chassis over again and mount it on a trolley. But this does represent a lot of work; the floor not only had to be cut out and finished but I needed to create my own template for the shape; I’ve never riveted before so that was a learning curve; and the trolley had to be built from scratch to just the right size and shape. And in the meantime I’ve been making a lot of progress with assembling the parts for the suspension, so that should go on quite easily very soon. I’ve not been idle!
I want to be able to take components into the Silk Mill workshop, work on them there for as long as it takes, then take them home for assembly onto the car. It will be great to have some storage space in the Silk Mill, even if just enough for the part I’m working on at the time.
Next steps are to get the suspension wishbones on, prepare the front stub axles, install the front wheel bearings, mount the front brake calipers and steering rack, drill the headlamp mounts …
Mark (Jan 14)
UPDATE (31-May-14) : making good progress with the suspension, most of the tasks listed above are now done. I should have the first wheel on this weekend …
UPDATE (08-June-14) : first wheel on!
Update (16-Oct-15) : so, it’s been a long time since I updated this post, but I really haven’t been idle, as I hope the pictures below will show :
So an awful lot of working out, and relatively few parts permanently attached – but the final assembly will be the easy bit.
It has been and continues to be fun and satisfying, and I’m still not worrying (too much!) about how long it’s all taking – really it’s 4 years since I started this project, and I really wouldn’t like to guess how much longer it will take. But I’ll get there one day – and even now, I look at what I’ve done and think, “that looks awesome!”
Thanks to everyone who’s helped so far, I couldn’t have got this far without you.
Update (22-Mar-16) : Welcome to the new DM website! No new photos to add, but I’ve done a lot of thinking on the project over the winter, and now we’re getting better weekends I can start working on bits again. Current or imminent tasks include : revised gear lever and hand brake mountings for cooling hose clearance; radiator mounting and hose run; wiring platform and cable runs; prototyping the (laser cut) dashboard … Many happy days ahead!
Update (25-Nov-17) : Checking that I can still post new content, it’s been a while … Photos of necessary but boring stuff (fuel tank, side panels, centre tunnel etc) to follow!