Welcome to my latest project, the Spartan V8 prototype roadster.

Take a look around, and feel free to leave a comment!

What is it?
The Spartan V8 is a type of high performance car called an "exoskeleton" car, exoskeleton referring to the framework of the car which is both visible and aesthetic by design. It is being designed entirely from scratch, by me alone (constructed and tested entirely in SolidWorks). I'm about a year into the design; from initial idea, to working concept, to full 3d virtual model. Once I have the remainder of the crucial components (engine, transmission, suspension, etc) modeled accurately in 3D, I'll be able to finalize the design and begin construction.

What would it be like to drive?
Something like this.
The metallic click of a switch engages the ignition and fuel pump with a hum. You engage the clutch and push the starter button.. the V8 engine thrashes and bursts to life with a snarl, sending shivers through the frame, and straight up your spine. The shifter in your right hand snicks into gear, and you ease out the clutch and apply the throttle.. by the time you fully release the clutch, its already time to shift into second. As you shift to 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th, the sheer acceleration nails you to your seat, the exhaust roars to either side of you, the intake growls in front of you, the big 305 series tires shriek in protest as they claw at the pavement, the wind whips past your head and body, and you are catapulted to speed more rapidly than you thought possible.
A stab at the brakes invites the race compound pads to bite into four oversized vented rotors, rapidly bringing you to a screeching halt.. brutally throwing you forward against the belts of your 5 point harness, threatening to eject you from the cockpit as you slow back to a stop. Your pulse is racing, your breathing is quickened, and the back of your neck is tingling. Savage and raw, the Spartan V8 isn't just quick. It is downright terrifying.

More akin to riding something wild, overpowered, and foaming at the mouth than just driving a car. It roars, it screams, it snarls. It thrums with power lurking just under its thin skin, daring you to mash that accelerator to the floor, and chase down something exotic..

Why design and build your own car?
Why not? It will be fun to design, build, and drive. It will be a learning experience like no other. Also, because of it's tremendous power to weight ratio, the Spartan will be a veritable supercar - more than able to hold its own on the road or racetrack against other street cars costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Check back whenever you like, as I'll be adding updates frequently.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Modeling a Human Driver - Andekan "Andy" model

Some of you may recall my previous and rather crude human models for calculating cockpit ergonomics.  They were simplistic, looked like 1960's era robots, and looked awful in the Spartan car model.  A friend (thanks Tom!) pointed me towards these folks:

These guys have created a good looking, fully positionable model of a 5" 9" tall man for modeling and scaling purposes.  With any luck, I'll be able to convert their model to SolidWorks format and import him right into the Spartan V8 model!  I think "Andy" will be quite happy behind the wheel, while lending an excellent sense of scale and proportion, and allowing me to ensure that the car's ergonomics are the best they can be.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wire Bundling

Still working on the custom wiring harness, but have just about all the wires incorporated in.  Added the 5 wire MAF with a rubber coupling, it seems to all fit together nicely.  Since the intake manifold is rotated 180 degrees, the MAF will face the cockpit, and in fact there will be another rubber coupling to the filter, which will actually sit inside the cockpit, under the dash in between the driver and passenger.  Should make for a rather vocal engine, with sidepipe exhausts roaring and intake reasonance whining.  All together it should make it a very raw and visceral experience.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chassis Wiring

Parts are ordered to begin building a fuse block and relay assembly that will support the PCM and supply power to the various electrical loads.  Fortunately, on a vehicle such as this, not many circuits are required.  Lights, horn, cooling fan, fuel pump... and that is about it.

I'm building my own system based on Brendan's fuse block/relay assembly found here

The reason for building my own is mostly to eliminate extra circuits and complication, as the factory fuseblock is large and has too many circuits.  By building it myself, if there is ever a problem, I'll know exactly where and what to look for to troubleshoot.

Lots of credit goes to Brendan's website, http://www.lt1swap.com

Friday, November 27, 2009

Engine Wiring

The engine wiring is going well thus far, but I still need a few connectors to be able to complete it.  The engine looks considerably different with the intake flipped 180*, you can see the MAP sensor hanging out of the front of the intake now.  As I add more wiring, I'm taping the wires into bundles, which will then get taped up and loomed.  So far, most of the wiring is near invisible, which is in stark contrast to the unsightly truck engine harness spaghetti that used to sit right on top of the intake.  As can be seen in the last picture, there is a bit left to tidy up.
Much credit goes to "Pocket" and his wire harness writeup here http://www.thirdgen.org/techboard/ltx-lsx/544768-ls1-harness-start-finish.html

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fuel Injector Plugs

Since I'm running an LS1 intake, fuel rails, and injectors, my truck engine wiring harness injector connectors will not fit the LS1 injectors.  The fix for this is to either use adaptors, or cut the truck connectors off and splice in LS1 connectors - obviously I've opted for the splicing.  Making the splices is easy, but as these connections will be out under the hood and exposed to the weather, I'm trying to take special care that they are well sealed.  I twist the wires together, inline, and then solder them.  After that I add a fair amount of silicone in the joined area, then slide the heat shrink tubing over the silicone and soldered joint.  Heat the tubing to shrink it, and wipe up the excess silicone that gets squeezed out.  It is my hope that this will ensure a good, lasting electrical connection.  Note that I've used diagrams from AllData to ensure that I connected the wires correctly to each injector plug.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Truck Engine Harness

Received my engine harness and have begun to label all the connections.  This is the truck harness, which will be modified to work with the mixture of car and truck components on the Spartan's engine.  Alternatively, I may still switch to an actual LS1 harness, which would involve slightly fewer modifications.  Either way, there's a fair amount to be untangled..

I've made the leap to just redoing my current truck harness, repositioning the connectors and wires to suit the positioning of my engine and computer.  I depinned the PCM connectors and labeled each wire's position.  Next is stripping down the entire harness down to individual wires.  The connectors are all already labeled, so at that point I'll be able to remove the portions of the harness that I won't be using.

Each connector was separated out of the harness and coiled up.  Next I'll be eliminating any of the wiring that I can.  The pile in the upper left corner has already been eliminated.  I won't be needing any of the drive by wire, automatic transmission, four wheel drive, or air conditioning wiring.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rear Suspension

This is the rear suspension from my donor car, modeled in SolidWorks as a working assembly. 

Front Suspension

I figured I'd add in some of my older models showing my work with modeling the suspension from my donor car.  This is the front suspension, including the rack and pinion, upper and lower A-arms, upright, hub, rotor, coilover shock and spring, and associated framework.

Monday, November 9, 2009

C5 Oil Pan modeled for fitment

Added the C5 Corvette oil pan to the engine model.  There are only a few missing items yet; exhaust manifolds (need to be redrawn), engine mounts, and starter.  Once these items are all modeled, engine fitment into the tubular frame can be verified and adjusted where needed.

(added ac delco filter :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

More additions to the engine..

Water pump and serpentine belt added tonight.  Notice the missing idler/tensioner pulleys where the belt curves around thin air.  I need to get measurements for the exhaust manifolds and redraw them next...  Should be seeing a C5 corvette oil pan in the mail sometime in the next week or so - at that point I can get rid of my generic LSx pan and draw the actual C5 pan.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Water pump added, continuing to finish up the accessories on the engine..

Corrected a few dimensions, added some texture to the alternator, and started roughing in the water pump.  It's important to note here that the whole engine model is just a rough dimensional model - not really meant to look aesthetically correct, just as good as it needs to.  The whole purpose in drawing the engine is just for a sort of virtual test fit between the motor, transmission, and frame.  This will ensure adequate clearances, precise positioning and motor mount design.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Roughing in the accessories in SolidWorks

Beginning to rough in the alternator and power steering pump into the engine model.  I'm taking special care to ensure that the spacing off the motor is correct in all three directions, as a minor mistake at this point means that there may be a frame tube in the same spot that a part of the motor needs to be.

Engine Accessories

Added the power steering pump, alternator, and their associated brackets.  These accessories will then be added to the 3d SolidWorks model.  Once that model is complete, I'll be able to accurately design the engine bay framework around it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

valves and valve covers

Removed one side's valve cover to try cleaning it a little better, and for a quick inspection.  The flash added a weird color tinge to the oil, but everything looks to be in great shape.

I cleaned up the valve covers as best as possible, but they look to be die cast and have a somewhat rough finish.  At some point it would be nice to polish them, and powder coat or chrome them.  At least that way they'd clean up with just a quick wipe next time.
I also got rid of the extension on the oil filler so that it now screws right into the cover, much cleaner looking that way.

Fresh Parts

It was like Christmas morning, lots of parts for the engine came in today.  An LS1 intake, LS1 throttle body, LS7 exhaust manifolds, LS1 clutch, pressure plate, and flywheel.  Most of which were then test fitted, looking good so far..

It might be hard to tell from the pictures, but the car intake manifold drops the height of the engine considerably!  Between the LS1 intake and Corvette oil pan, we should see an 8 inch difference in height.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

GM 5.3L V8 rendering

Finally got around to taking measurements of the new 5.3L engine, which allowed me to update my previously drawn engine model with the new dimensions.  Keeping in mind that this model is not meant to look exactly like the motor, it is only meant to have the same external dimensions so that I can verify clearances in the engine bay.  The LS1 intake and oil pan are approximated, as I don't have them yet.  Once they come in, I'll dimension them as well, model them, and add them to the motor.

In other news, I've got an LS1 intake, cable driven throttle body, LS7 stainless exhaust manifolds, alternator bracket, power steering bracket, and 6 speed flywheel all on the way here, should be a productive week.

I'm still looking for a T56 six speed transmission at the right price.  Once I have one, I'll dimension and model it in SolidWorks as well, and mate it to the V8.  With both engine and transmission modeled accurately, I'll be able to finish designing the motor mounts, engine bay bracing, transmission mount, and finalize the transmission tunnel.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Frame Design

There is a lot that goes into the design of a chassis frame.  One advantage of using SolidWorks to design my frame in is that it has a built in finite element analysis (FEA) program.  FEA allows one to apply a load on a part, assembly, or frame, and see how it reacts to that force.  In this case, I'm applying two forces, equal and opposite, to the front end of the frame.  These forces are actually applied to the points on the frame where the weight of the vehicle pushes on it, mimicking cornering loads, acceleration loads, or other scenarios.

Since the frame design has been modified many times since I did the original FEA work on the preliminary frame models, now it is time to go back through and make sure I haven't introduced any weak points.  It is likely that the frame design will still change a bit more, as the engine and transmission dimensions and mounting points are finalized.

This screenshot shows a stress plot of the frame while under load.  Red areas are highly stressed, blue areas are not.  From this shot, it is apparent that there are still some stress concentrations to be designed out, although to be fair, the front engine bay area is missing a few key tubes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Engine on its way!

Finalized the purchase of the engine for the Spartan today!  This first engine will be for the prototype, chassis #0.  Its the GM 5.3L all aluminum V8, the L33.  Thank you to locostusa.com, ls1tech.com, and exocars.net members for your help with my engine choice!

A nice little motor, it is basically a smaller displacement LS1.  In stock form its said to put out around 310 horsepower, but better manifolds, a cam, and springs will wake it right up and have it nipping at the heels of a corvette LS1 motor.  Not to mention that 310 hp is severe overkill in a car this lightweight anyhow - that's okay, we like overkill.

Upon receipt, the new motor will get an LS1 intake/injectors/throttle body, an LS1 oil pan from a Corvette or F-body car, F-body accessories/brackets, and a good cleaning.

(this is someone else's picture, sorry I stole it!)

(more stolen pictures, sorry gjohnson!)

Next, the transmission, the T56 6 speed...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sheet metal paneling added... mostly

I just added the cowl panels, front bulkhead panels, and rear bulkhead panels.  Gives a better idea of what the Spartan will look like when it's finished.  This is about all the sheet metal and paneling that the car will wear - there are no side panels, no roof, no doors...  

The Joys and not so Joys of buying online, no thanks to Paypal..

Well, I bought a transmission for the car, sort of.  Long story, but the short version is that I put down a 50% deposit on a T56 from a Camaro, out in Clarksville, IN, then drove out there the following day to pick it up and pay the balance.  I paid the deposit thru Paypal.  When I got there, the seller was nowhere to be found, and would not answer any of my calls or texts.  350 miles away from home, I was stuck with no other option than to wait for him to get back to me.  I waited for 4 hours, decided I had enough, and headed back for a 6 hour drive to Cleveland empty handed.  Understandably a bit ticked off, I waited a few more days, then filed a claim with Paypal.  Now, we all assume that Paypal is the "safe" way to carry out online purchases, since its "guaranteed", right?  Well, after a few calls to Paypal, they tell me that since it was only a deposit, never mind a 50% deposit and a fair amount of money, they were not required to cover it!  All I could do was dispute it with the seller, whom I was becoming fairly convinced was a fraud.  After 20 days as a dispute, with no positive outcome, the dispute either closes, or is upgraded to a Paypal claim.  I was literally told by Paypal that there was no hope for me getting the money back, that if it was escalated to a claim, that they would side with the seller!
At this point, almost a week after driving out to Indiana to pick up the transmission, the seller finally sends me a message, saying he's sorry and that his cell phone got turned off the night before I left, and that I must have went to the wrong address.  Well, wanting to believe him, and still wanting the transmission, I really wanted to believe him.  He said that if I could undispute the money that was the deposit, that he would use that to pay his bills and to ship out the transmission, and cut off 15% of the price for my costs of driving out and my aggravation.  The seller seemed like a nice guy, and I hate to assume the worst in people, and not having any other option of actually getting my money back (remember, Paypal already told me that if the dispute was escalated, they would almost surely side with the seller, the guy who didn't deliver the goods and took my money!), I had little choice but to go along with it and hope for the best.  Now a week later, since his promise of shipping it out, and I have not received anything.  Not only that, but once again the seller is totally unreachable by phone, text, and email.  Great, just great.
Now I'm left waiting for someone to restore my faith in humanity.

Note:  Never again Paypal, never again will I trust you to protect my money in any transaction.  I would recommend to anyone reading this to avoid Paypal as well, if they don't care about my significant "deposit", why trust them with your hard earned money?

Update:  Paypal eventually refunded my money, all of it.  Except that evidently there were three people in this scam - me, the scammer, and the guy that I paid directly, who turned out to be innocent.  So Paypal took the money from the guy I paid and gave it back to me.  Only by sheer luck was the guy able to in turn get his money back from the scammer.  ( The scammer had told the guy that I was a friend making a payment on his behalf, he then used that money as credit to buy things. )  What a horror story..  At any rate, if you're going to use Paypal for a transaction like this, use your credit card to fund it...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Revised Engine Cover

Reworked the engine cover a bit more.  It's a sort of cross between a shaker hood and a cover.  It bolts directly to the engine, and thus moves with it, but also has significant impact on the frontal aerodynamics and aesthetics.  Tough to see in the screenshot, but the upper portion of it is clear polycarbonate, for a peek at the top of the LSx V8.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Exhaust System

Not a lot of options as far as exhaust systems go..  The bottom of the car is flat aluminum sheet, the transmission/driveshaft tunnel is narrow and filled by the trans and driveshaft, and given the car's construction, radiant heat from the exhaust near the passenger compartment could be a real hot problem.  The only option left appears to be sidepipes, corvette or cobra style.  Radiant heat is still a big problem, and will be addressed by heat shields and header wrap.  Unfortunately, it will also be very easy to burn your leg entering or entering the car as well..  This will probably be addressed by a heat shield as well, but something more like perforated aluminum, or something else shiny and aesthetic.  Thus, the exhaust will begin with LS1 exhaust manifolds or stainless steel shorty headers, neck down to 2.5" pipe, bend out and follow the leading edge of the passenger compartment, then bend again to follow the side of the passenger compartment, into a 4" round stainless steel Magnaflow perforated muffler, and finally exiting just before the rear tire, maybe with a turnout.  Anyone with a better idea, please speak up!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Further model assembly and engines

Still working on getting all the parts of the total assembly back together with the new frame.  On a positive note, my engine and transmission weights were a bit on the heavy side, so the car is about 100 lbs lighter than originally estimated, which will make the 1600 lb total weight goal easier to meet.  Lighter is better.

Also looking into engine selection further.  The following engines are intended to bolt right in:
GM LS1 5.7L V8 350hp/375tq
GM L33 5.3L V8 315hp/335tq
GM LS2 6.0 L V8 400hp/405tq
GM L76 6.2L V8 361hp/385tq
GM L92 6.2L V8 403hp/417tq

The prototype Spartan V8 will be equipped with the mildest engine, the L33 V8, giving it an estimated power to weight of 5.08 lbs/hp.  If equipped with the larger, more powerful 6.0L LS2, a power to weight of around 4.00 is likely, neatly matching the abilities of the legendary McLaren F1 supercar...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Frame Redesign

Difficult to see perhaps, but this is an entirely new frame rendering, starting from scratch and building off of the three main designs I've been working on.  This version incorporates the innovations and advantages produced by those three.  It features integrated mounting brackets, improved load paths, better aesthetics, and is sized to match the front and rear Corvette suspensions precisely.  It is also in the process of being gone through for lightness and ease of fabrication.  Current test weight of the frame model is 235 lbs.  Also testing all moving components through their range of motion to verify that there are no problems with clearances between parts.  I'll be adding the rest of the components asap to complete what I can of this revision mockup.