Thursday, December 10, 2015

White Rascal Update #4

     The White Rascal got a little bit more love lately. We are moving to a new building and had to get the car off the flatJACKS so we could move it to the new place. The freshly painted subframe was bolted up and we temporarily reinstalled the stock rack (we will be switching to the titanQR once we get some more in stock). All the suspension was hung including our raceUPRIGHTS. These uprights will give us a lower center of gravity while retaining the stock suspension geometry that the Lotus engineers spent so much time and effort figuring out, reduce unsprung mass, and allow us to dial in more camber to keep our tires gripping. We temporarily threw on some stock shocks and springs but will likely be running Nitron 46mm Race Pro 1-Way coil overs. We had some used ULTRAdisc rotors to help take care of stopping the car. The wheels were hung with some of our BULLETstuds and YELLOfellos To take care of the toe links, we installed our RTD2brace. This will make the inner toe links much stronger than stock, eliminate deflection, as well as significantly stiffen up the rear of this track focused car. 

We are trying out a new circle track setup with the wheels and tires. 

We also threw the engine back in its home with some of our TRACKmounts2. That is it for this car until we get ourselves settled in our new shop. We are still doing our moving sale so help us out and buy some sweet parts so we have less stuff to lug over to the new place, saving 15% on your order is just a bonus! 

Mod List:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Drakan Cars East - Our Partners on the East Coast!

Developing, building, selling and servicing a car takes a real team of like-minded people/companies.  Much like Palatov Motorsports, Drakan Cars East (DCE) is another key partner for us with the Drakan Spyder.  Bill Thomas and Kurt Nehlig are partners in this venture and support the NorthEast region for us.  Not only will they sell and service the Drakans, they are fully capable of installing the powertrains.  DCE have proven to be more than just a dealer and have helped to make the Drakan more complete.  I've worked with Bill for nearly ten years on Lotus and knew that they would become a great asset for us.
powertrain installation at DCE
A key feature of the Drakan is that it is available as a Rolling Chassis without an engine or trans.  The engine that we recommend is the eRod LS3 from GM Performance Parts.  This is a 50 state emissions compliant engine that is availalble from your local GM dealer.  Clients can select this engine or other LS variants that may suit their needs/desires.  The transaxle choices are various Getrag gearboxes but others are available as well.  In fact sequential solutions have been run on the Palatov D2 and will be tested on our car as well.  DCE have full capability to conduct powertrain installations.

DCE took delivery of their Drakan Spyder as a Rolling Chassis for their client, Adrian.  This was the second Drakan that has been built.  They completed the full powertrain installation at their facility.  Their extensive experience with boutique cars helped us finish some incomplete features (windshield wiper).  Additionally they also suggested improvements like a rubber cap that finishes off the rear of the headlight housing (see below).  I attended their Drakan unveiling and was pleased at how well they had finished the car.  These improvements will be incorporated into all future cars.
See rubber cap on backside of headlight housing - a DCE innovation!
DCE & Adrian went to the track to put it through its paces.  The Drakan is a powerful car but the handling is predictable as the car communicates clearly.  The guys had some fun playing around with the suspension to tune it to their liking.  They have also been testing out a new paint protection coating that is working well on high impingement areas - which is an important consideration on an open wheel car with sticky tires.  They have had the car out for 2 or 3 track days so far and have been suitably impressed.  Needless to say, they can't wait for their track season next Spring!

Bill and Adrian making tweaks to the Triple Adj Fox Racing Shocks
Power to spare!
  DCE are a great partner for us and I'm confident that our collective clients will be well served by them.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

White Rascal Update #3

The White Rascal, our poor little shop car, has not gotten much love lately. We finally made a little progress on it in the last few days. The car has been completely stripped down will all the interior and dash removed. I think we may have taken the "simplify and add lightness" just a little too far this time. We need to start bolting parts back on soon if we have any hope of getting onto the track.
The rear subframe was taken off, media blasted, then painted black. This car is going to live a long hard life on the track, it will not be a trailer queen. Low maintenance black engine enamel spray paint will keep this part looking relatively nice as well as hide track grime. 

We did need a little bit of bling so we had all our control arms powder coated a bright red. Why red? Because race car. We finished off the arms by installing a set of our MRbearings and MONOballs. This should greatly increase the steering feel of this track focused machine. The stock bushings and ball joints are fine for road use but a track car demands suspension that does not flex and deflect under load.

Expect some more progress in the coming weeks because we are all itchin' to drive her! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Another Lotus Shifter Attempt

Well it has a been a few years since we attempted to develop a more comprehensive fix to the Achilles's heel of the Lotus: its shifter mechanism.  We have made some nice improvements to various components within the shifter and sell them as our SMOOTHoperator but the weak, flexy shifter mechanism really needs a redesign.  Earlier attempts with partners and internal reinforcements just did not get commercialized for various reasons.  We even offered, for a split second, a sequential shifter mechanism from Ikeya Formula - which proved to be too hard to adjust.

Mitch, a previous engineer of ours, moved back home and started work at B&M Shifters.  While here at Sector111, he developed our MRbearings and other goodies.  Mitch had also tried to create some boxed in reinforcements that we tested in the Art Car - see above.  Unfortunately this did not prove to work within a stock center console.  He has now been at B&M for a couple of years and gained some great knowledge about shifter designs and contacted me to see if I was ready to take another shot at a shifter.  Naturally I said yes with the condition that it must bolt into the car and fit within the stock center console.  We are trying to keep the price under $500 but I have told him to use the best materials and components to ensure the feel is the best it can be within the physical constraints of the console.

Our first step was to get a stock mechanism measured.  Mitch placed it into a Coordinate Measurement Machine and defined all the critical measurements.  See pix below.

We debated some creative new cable routing ideas but came back to the need to keep it a benign mod that would allow the owner to return to stock if required.  We will test out the shifter in our Elise and keep you updated.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Drakan Spyder (Project Dragon) Update #14: Dyno Tuning

We took the Drakan down the road to our neighbors at Cunnigham Motorsports the other day to get a bit of tuning done. Out of the box, the GM E-ROD runs really well with our setup. We were not looking for more power from the tuning. We mainly wanted to verify that our tune was not negatively affected by our intake or exhaust solutions and the it was safe enough for the abuse this car will see on the track. Also, GM claims the E-ROD makes 430HP at the crank but we were very curious what our car was actually putting down to the ground via those big 315mm R888s. After a couple of runs, we found that the GM tune is actually pretty good but the guys at Cunningham were able to clean up the air-fuel ratio a bit as well as find us a few more horses. The final peak RWHP number was 412 hp and final torque was 411 lb-ft. To put this in perspective, the very fast 2015 Z06 has about 575 RWHP and weighs in at 3524 lbs, this gives the 'vette a power to weight ratio of 0.16. Not bad, but the Drakan beats it handily with a ratio of 0.21.  Of course adding more reliable power to an LS is easily done...not that it needs it!
Drakan Dyno Sheet

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bolt Torque, Safety Wire, and Thread Locker

Bolt Torque, Safety Wire, and Thread Locker

There are not many redundant bolts on the critical systems of a vehicle. This being the case, it is very important that you take proper care to tighten all bolts correctly and give them the proper attention to make sure that they have not loosened. This post is just meant to outline some of the schemes used to secure bolts and keep them fastened.

Bolt Torque

            Generally, the purpose of a bolt is to clamp two or more pieces together, this clamping
force is produced when a bolt is tightened and a strain is produced within the bolt. When a bolt is
torqued it stretches slightly and the female and male threads create an ever tightening interference fit.
When the wrench is removed, this strain remains and will exert a clamping force on the joint, this is
what will prevent the parts from moving relative to each other and the bolt from backing out. The
level of strain (stretching) in the bolt is the critical value when determining how much to tighten a
bolt, the trouble is that in most joints the stretch of the bolt is impossible to directly measure. It is
possible to calculate the strain in a bolt using the torque applied to it, but the amount of friction
(therefore the torque required to produce a given strain) depends on the thread class, lubrication,
material, and plating. Many tables exist that contain the recommended torque for a given size and
class of bolt and some even note what kind of plating they are for. These tables are generally a good
guide but be aware that the table may not necessarily apply to your specific application. Whenever
possible, torque bolts to the manufacture’s recommended value. Our 60pt Prep Sheet contains most
of the critical torque values for the Lotus Elise/Exige. More info about the benefits of the 60pt Prep
can be found at a previous blog post HERE.

       A properly torqued bolt is not only much less likely to come loose; it also has a much longer
fatigue life than one that is not tightened enough. Bolts usually break not from a one-time overload
but from fatigue, so torquing bolts and keeping them tight will go a long way to keeping your
vehicle working properly. 
A quality torque wrench should be in your tool box. 

Paint Marker, Safety Wire and Threadlocker

              Sometimes properly torquing a bolt is not enough to keep it from coming loose. The first step to keeping a bolt tight is to inspect it at reasonable intervals. The easiest way to inspect a bolt is to put a bit of paint marker on the head of the bolt and the part it is screwed into, this will allow you to quickly inspect the tightness of a bolt with just a visual inspection.

Threadlocker is a common way to keep your bolts tight as well. There are many formulations and strengths available for different applications. The most common ones used in our applications are Loctite #243 which is a blue medium strength compound and Loctite #271 a red high strength compound. When using thread locker, make sure both surfaces are clean or it will not adhere properly. When dealing with thread lockers, more is not necessarily better a little dab will do you and excess locker will just squeeze out and make an unsightly mess. One final tip is to never use red Loctite on small bolts that may have to be removed one day; you will probably strip the bolt out before you remember that you used red Loctite on it and need to heat the fastener before you try to remove it. 

Safety wire is another way to keep bolts in their place, it provides a mechanical means of bolt retention. There are a couple different philosophies when it comes to safety wire. Some prefer to put safety wire on very tight to stop a bolt from loosening. It is my opinion that safety wire is only there to prevent the bolt from coming all the way out, it buys you enough time to detect the loose bolt before it causes a catastrophic failure. Additionally, in some applications you cannot pull the safety wire tight because the bolt much rotate, an example of this is how TMI wire the bolts on the steering knuckles of the Ariel Atom. Whichever your philosophy is on the subject, it is always advisable to use the proper pliers to twist the wire and to route the wire in such a way that if the bolt loosens, the wire will tighten. Safety wire requires drilled bolt heads so it is very time intensive to implement if bolts are not readily available predrilled. We generally do not safety wire any bolts unless they comes safety wired (like on the Atom), a combination of proper torque, threadlocker, and frequent inspection are our recipe to fastener care.  

This is how NOT to safety wire a bolt. Note the sloppy wire and lack of paint marker.
This bolt is properly safety wired and paint marked. It also happens to be torqued to spec.

Hopefully this post has been informative and shown the importance of bolt care. An entire book could be written about the design and care of the bolted joint and in fact one has! An extremely good resource if you would like to learn more is a book called Nuts, Bolts, Fasteners & Plumbing Handbook by Carroll Smith. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Exhaust Development: Lotus, Alfa & Now Drakan

We have been working with an exhaust specialist who designs and manufacturers systems here in CA for many years.  We've had them make the RACEpipe for the Lotus, our new Alfa 4CRpipe and now have handed them our Drakan to develop a track system.  Chuck designs each system and has a keen ear for good sounding systems that don't drone.  He started back in 1983 so has tremendous experience.  Sound is tested on each car and then undesirable frequencies are tuned out.  The Alfa system he developed for us is excellent as it kills the annoying drone that exists with the factory 'race' exhaust.  Each system is built from T304 Stainless that is either MIG or TIG welded.

I dropped off the Drakan this week so they could develop a track oriented system that would delete the catalytic converters and add a more melodic/sporty sounding muffler.  The Drakan is designed to use the eRod LS3 with the factory cats from GM along with a larger off the shelf muffler that is quiet enough to meet sound at Laguna Seca or Lime Rock.  This new track system will be louder but we requested a sound that would also be a bit more exotic.  The stock LS3 exhaust manifolds will be used to maintain reliability.

I snapped a bunch of random pictures.  I was asked not to shoot everything as they produce exhausts for many tuners including some popular German-focused tuners.

Naturally, I can hardly wait to get our Drakan back to hear it roar!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Drakan Spyder (Project Dragon) Update #13: Street Testing

Dave and Joe heading out
 We are long overdue with an update, sorry as we have been overly busy!  We helped finish assembling the first production Drakan up at Palatov.  Joe and I have made Portland our second hometown with the ramp up of this car.  Luckily Portland is a cool town to visit - shame we are usually too busy working!  Since the car arrived to our shop in Temecula, several items were finished including side view mirrors, lights, venting, exhaust testing, suspension tuning and heat management.  We'll cover some of these in this blog.

Dave working on his tan
Dave is a happy engineer
David Thilenius came out to run the car along a street test loop that he had used while doing Ride & Handling work at Hyundai.  Dave now has his own consulting company, you can visit his website: Thilenius Group.  

This test loop is a great place to tune ride quality as it has many different conditions and road surfaces that challenge a car.  Most people believe that CA roads are smooth - in fact they can be very rough.  They can be pretty unforgiving to many cars that were not tuned for these conditions.  Dave and Joe drove together with some tools in hand and made adjustments to the Fox Racing shocks and even a slight tweak to front toe.  Street testing is done at civil speeds and lots of boring steady-state speeds.  This allows Dave to really feel what is going on with the car.  After several hours, they landed on settings that I would then get to try out. 

Some of Dave's comments about the car included that the car was not as 'buzzy' on the road as he thought it might be.  The LS3 is not hard mounted to this chassis so the car remains smooth.  He also commented about how flat the car handled as it sways very minimally with almost no perceived squat or dive.  The suspension compliance is really remarkable and makes the car very comfortable.  It does not have the stiffness you might expect in a car that is designed to be so elemental and pure.  We think this along with the flat cornering will be very much appreciated by our clients.

Naturally I needed to test out Dave's work.  So I decided to drive the car up one of my favorite mountain roads: Mt.Palomar.  This road is frequented by sport bikers and has plenty of tight turns and elevation change.  You may recall the humorous video we made years ago at Palomar.

Gas cap is in the center!
I drove the Drakan down the 15 freeway and was immediately happy with the ride quality.  The car is quiet and smooth at freeway speeds and holding a conversation with a passenger is easy.  I exited at 76 and went east to Mt.Palomar.  I filled her up at Pala and enjoyed the fact that I can park the car on either side of the pump thanks to the center mounted gas cap.

The car ran through the bumpy roads comfortably.  The suspension simply soaked up the irregularities.  This car is a torque monster and I was able to go up the 'slow' side in 3rd gear.  It had enough power to pull the car from each corner exit without necessitating a downshift.  The grip levels were very high and fully confidence inspiring.  The rear of the car could be convinced to come out under power but only if you provoke it.  Steering effort builds as the wheel is turned and provides excellent feedback.  The steering needs some effort but is so direct that you feel truly connected to the road.  We had requested that this effort get reduced and Palatov responded with a geometry change that works nicely on the road as well as track.

Dave's tuning really made for a compliant ride.  Dare I say it may be the most comfortable sports car in our stable?  This is a testament to Dave's tuning but also the basic suspension design by Palatov.  The Fox shock dampening and soft spring rates were selected by us from our track testing and I think they really work well on the street.  This chassis is essentially the same raced by Palatov this year at Pikes Peak - they took the win in the Open class.  The Palatov D2RS runs heavier springs but is basically the same chassis as our Drakan.

Sportbikers love light sports cars!
Of course, not everything went as smoothly as the ride.  We had chosen a new high temp shifter cable housing to test on the car.  The manufacturer felt it may be a better solution for us.  We had been running a good cable from them on our test mule but also used an additional insulation sheath and had great track performance.  These cables are the same construction as the ones we spec on our Lotus TRANScables.  We thought the new cables without insulation might suffice.  We were wrong.  The cables began to freeze up when I was at the top of the mountain.  So I drove home with a few less gears than normal.  We'll swap back to standard cables + insulation to insure this does not happen again.  

Other niggles that I noted included side view mirrors that vibrate a bit, the lack of a dead pedal and the need for grip tape on the clutch pedal.  The side view mirrors will soon get thicker metal on the base plate and should help stabilize the mirrors.  A dead pedal is in the works and adding grip tape is simple enough.

What's with the different spoke count on those HREs?
Overall we are happy with the car and have some additional tweaks to make to it.  Many of our clients are asking for wings.  We'll get to that later this year.  The cornering speeds of this car are already so high that we think most of our clients will be happy enough.  Slicks and wings are in our plans - but first we need to catch our breath from getting this car fine tuned...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Project Dragon (Drakan Spyder) Update #12: More Track Testing &Improvements

We are working hard with the Drakan and a few weeks behind on our updates.  We been back to the track earlier in April for additional testing and up to Palatov/Lancair for body fitment two weeks ago.  We go back again next week to begin building the first official production car.  Keep reading to learn the latest...

More Track Testing

Joe and Dave went out to Spring Mountain once again to verify some changes that were made to the car. We had to test our new oil pan baffle, front suspension arms, and HRE wheels. 

Our previous test on SMMR's East Course 2.1 showed oil pressure dropping to 11 psi when the car was subjected to two quick successive left hand turns under hard braking. This drop in oil pressure was unacceptable to us - Dave is a pro and is driving the car hard so we know this is an extreme case. In all of our previous testing with Dave, oil pressure data was acceptable.  In fact we posted about our good performance on this blog entry.  Clearly this specific combination of left hand turns was too much for the stock pan to handle.  We got in contact with Improved Racing and had them send us an oil pan baffle and crank scraper kit. With the new baffle installed, our lowest oil pressure in the same corner was 24 psi. The Improved Racing baffle will now be standard on all Drakan Spyders with a Dailey Engineering dry sump offered as a future option.

We had a few handling related tweaks to try out as well; a new set of front wishbones and our new HRE wheels. The steering was a bit heavy on our test mule - even compared to similar cars with no power steering. Palatov redesigned the new front wishbones with different geometry that has less caster built in. These new arms are a drastic difference, the steering is now much lighter, and this should contribute to less driver fatigue both on the street and track.  Dave appreciated the reduced effort at the end of the test day!

The new HRE wheels were also slightly different. The front wheels have a bit more offset and the rears are 0.5" wider than what we were running in previous tests. Dave was pleased with the new wheels, he said the wider front track provided more grip. Admittedly, some of this improvement may have been due to fresh rubber, but the wheels definitely did not hurt the handling. 

Ultimately we turned 1:28s time on this circuit.  This compares favorably with a new Lotus V6 Cup R that is running slicks and a sequential.  This car is turning 1:27s at the hand of our good friend & Lotus Cup champ, Jack.  With slicks, we're sure we can shave a second or two off of our time.

Other updates

The new switch panel is in and operational. The backlighting looks awesome and the switch location and action is spot on. The ignition switch is locking so you can't accidentally shut off the car.  The horn and turn signals can be actuated without removing your hand from the wheel and all the rest of the switches are well within reach. The left hand panel which is home to our master kill switch and brake bias knob turned out well also.

The switch paneling is nice but the new dash from AiM has certainly stolen the show.  We posted a quick video on our Instagram page: HERE.  The MXS is now in production and it is a bolt in swap from our old MXL2. Functionally, it is almost exactly the same; visually, it is in another league. The MXS features a beautiful TFT display that not only looks gorgeous but offers more flexibility for different page displays. There is a street page with a conventional style dial tachometer, a race page with a sweeping tach, and a test page that can display 11 different parameters at once.  We are really pleased with this kit.  The Drakan will will be ready for AiM video so owners will be able to add any of AiM's cameras easily.

The other notable upgrade since our last post are the new rotors. We decided to up the braking performance of the Drakan with some 12.88" rotors from Girodisc, the same people who make our ULTRAdisc rotors for the Elise/Exige, Evora, and soon Alfa Romeo 4C (testing now). These disks are high quality, well proven pieces that add to the performance and reliability of the Drakan. Another plus of our rotor setup is that they are the same front to rear, this ultimately means that replacement rotors are going to be less expensive.  We are thinking about you guys who keep spares and are properly prepared...8^)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Alfa 4C Update: New Race Exhaust & Brake Rotors/Pads

Our 4C has been racking up some miles and we are finding things we like and others that we don't.  The Launch Edition 4C comes with the factory 'race' exhaust - which drones like crazy.  We had to fix this.  The brakes on track, can be improved, so we started to develop some options.  We now have a couple of solutions that we have been able to test and are under development.

Race Exhaust:
The factory race system has no muffler.  It is a turbo car that does a decent job at killing dBs.  Since it has catalytic converters, it is not as loud as you might think.  It sounds great at idle and when you are really going for it.  It is loud and won't pass noise limits at Laguna Seca - as Eric@SuspensionPerformance found out.  But the real issue for me is the the drone that the car creates when cruising on the freeway.  When you are in 6th gear, anywhere from 2250-3500 rpm, the car creates a resonance that hums so loudly in the cabin that you need ear plugs.  Forget listening to the stereo.  I dreaded having to take the car anywhere that required freeway travel.  Luckily we have a great exhaust partner who knew how to fix our issue.  

We lent them our 4C for about a week so they could measure the frequencies inside our car.  They use sophisticated equipment to map out the frequencies and identify the offending range.  They then employed Helmholtz principles to kill the range that was causing the drone.  This Helmholtz Chamber is a canister that sits outside of the main flow of exhaust and does not interfere with the straight through design.  This allows this system to keep power as stock and not create any additional back pressure or power reduction.  Sophisticated exhaust suppliers are now employing these Helmholtz principles to great effect.  Learn more about this: HERE  

I brought another fellow 4C LE owner, Martin, along with me to pick up my 4C.  See his car above compared to our 4C - note the exhaust tip difference.  We took the car with the prototype system installed and were shocked at the difference!  The car has no drone when cruising.  The only thing you hear is wind and tire noise.  The difference is amazing.  Watch the video we made of the car:

We are now putting the system into production as we know there are many other 4C LE owners who share our opinion.  We believe that once standard 4Cs (with actual mufflers) start getting delivered, our system will become a great choice over the factory race exhaust option.  Now we have to decide on the size of the exhaust tips.  Unfortunately we have to send the prototype system back so they can measure it for production.  The stock system is getting reinstalled until our first production part arrives.  Where are my ear plugs...

Brake Rotors:
Finding unsprung weight savings has always been one of our goals with all of our cars.  The 4C is heavier overall than the Elise/Exige so we would like to find any savings that we can.  We have had great success with our ULTRAdiscs on the Lotus.  Our partner, Girodisc, has been a key ally in our attempts to find weights savings while delivering excellent performance.  The factory rotors are a one piece rotor but are made in a innovative manner that frankly is fairly light.  We had Martin make us some ULTRAdiscs to fit the 4C and found a 1.25lb savings on the rear and .5lb savings at the front.  This is per rotor.  We installed them onto our 4C and ran them on track.  We still had the stock pads and they performed well.  Unfortunately we discovered that the front stock pads were already at about 30% life after 3 track days.  One of our brake pad suppliers worked to get us pads but they did not arrive in time for this test.

Brake Pads:
The pad shape on the 4C are not made by anyone other than the OE supplier so we had to get them specially made.  The pads arrived a day late so we did not track test them.  We received a compound that is not a strict race pad so it should work for aggressive street use.  Stay tuned as we will report back soon.  Looks like we have to go back to the track for more testing...what a rough life!  ;^)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Project Dragon (Drakan Spyder) Update #11: More Track Testing & BodyFitment

Track testing with David T.

Carlos and Joe brought the Drakan mule out to the track for some additional testing with our most competent ride and handling engineer.  Dave was able to test the new Fox Racing triples that we installed with two different spring rates.  Additionally we were able to confirm brake testing and continue to look at other performance and reliability parameters.  SMMR remains our test track of choice as their facility is excellent.  We ran the 2.1 East track again on this test.  
The Drakan features Palatov progressive bellcranks (patent pending) that deliver very soft rates at full droop and then get significantly harder as the shocks get compressed.  We suspected we could run softer than in our previous tests so brought some soft rates to test.  Dave preferred the softer rates and delivered faster laps so they will become our choice as they will also deliver better street performance.  We did not get a chance to fine tune the shocks (rebound, hi & lo comp) on this trip.  This is on our test plan for the next trip.
One issue that revealed itself was an oil pressure drop under heavy braking combined with a hard left turn.  Our oil pressures dropped into the teens.  The LS motors have a reputation for this issue and in our previous tests, oil pressure was not a problem.  We decided a baffled oil pan insert will be our solution to this issue.  One is on its way that we will test later this month.  We have a Dailey Engineering dry sump option that will take care of any track addicts who want to run slicks and wings.  As is, with Toyo R888s and no wings, 1.2g is attainable.  We think the pan insert should be sufficient for those folks who only run occasional track days - unless of course they run at Dave's speeds!

Production Body Fitment: Palatov & Lancair

Our first chassis was tack welded together by Palatov and brought to Lancair for us to start fitting body work.  Joe and I made the trip to OR to get this process started.  Our Drakan chassis features some differences from the D2 - the biggest being the roll hoops.  Our clients wanted roll over protection but were not interested in a full overhead cage.  Our hoops can be seen below and are only missing the final tubes that triangulate it to the rear.

The chassis uses chromoloy tubes and now features a height adjustable shoulder harness mounts.  Side intrusion changes were made to the chassis as well.  New front wishbones with less caster have been built (see right) for reduced steering effort at low speeds. We used this chassis to begin our bodywork fitment.  We brainstormed with our partners at Palatov and Lancair to develop our mounting strategy for each panel.  The Drakan bodywork attaches much like an Atom with simple external fasteners.  Several tabs will be welded onto the chassis so that fasteners can then be used to secure the panels.  We wanted to be able to remove the front 'hood'/nose and the engine lid without tools.  Both will feature a combination of quarter turns and push release pins.  

We started with the windshield base.  This was our first time to see how the windshield had turned out.  A seat was installed in the car and we took turns sitting in the car to check visibility.  Though we looked at various perspectives in CAD, nothing replaces sitting in the actual car with actual parts.  Our tallest man, Robert (6'4") is shown below in the car.  He fits great and looks out from underneath the top of the windshield.  Our DOT compliant safety glass windshield is not as tall as a standard windshield - hence the Spyder moniker.  This shorter windshield was a concern for us.  Robert confirmed that we have a broad range of heights covered.  Of course we were also pleased to confirm that his head is well below the roll hoops.  We intend to do a windshield-less version as well for the truly hard-core.

We worked closely with our partner, Zukun, to design a body that would be manufacturable and easy to install onto the chassis.  Naturally, we discovered that some changes were still needed.  The changes have been small but should allow for better manufacturing yields and improved fitment.  We are happy with the changes and don't expect it to change the overwhelmingly positive reactions the design has garnered.  Palatov will be making carbon fiber fenders for us.  We are using the D2 design as it is both cool and functional.  One of the first parts can be seen below.  More work is needed but they are getting close.  

Our first switch panel has arrived and we are pleased with how it has turned out.  The panel is back lit so the icons and 'sector111' will be lit up.  The ignition switch is a locking type to ensure we don't accidentally shut off the car.  The Engine Start button is also lit up and will be easy to see at night.  Very high quality switches and wiring all terminating with an automotive grade connector should deliver reliable performance.

We have many more details that we are still working through.  New wheels from HRE have been built and I am very excited about them.  We have at least 2-3 three more trips up to OR including one that will be our final track test of the first production car.  We are shooting to complete this in late April and on track to making it happen.