|Building an Exocet
|August 15, 2013 - A new project begins.|
Now that Flyin' Miata is selling the Exocet kit, the obvious next step is for us to build our own. So that's what we're going to do. It's a Sport chassis, and we'll be using a 1999 Miata as the donor car.
We've decided to build it up in a mostly-stock configuration at first, upgrading only the clutch, radiator and possibly the brakes. This will let us get an idea of the performance level of the stock-ish build. It will also let us make sure we've worked out all the bugs involving stock parts, such as mounting a stock ECU.
Then we'll have some fun.
|August 22, 2013 - We can't start building our car yet because we don't have the frame.|
The guys at Exomotive have been busy welding it together. There's actually a lot of really cool tech involved here that gets engineers all excited - laser cut notches on the fishmouthed tubes that lock the tubes into the correct place, some clever corner designs and the like. All that really matters once it leaves the Exomotive shop is that the frame is solid and straight and all these cool touches means they can produce them at a lower cost.
|August 22, 2013 - More welding.|
This big jig makes sure the wing mounts go on the roll bar straight and level.
|August 26, 2013 - Back from powdercoat.|
The frame can be pretty much any color you can imagine. We decided to go with a bright yellow to show off the frame. It's basically the inverse of our Westfield. The bits and pieces at the bottom are our wing mounts (on the left) and fender mounts.
|August 27, 2013 - Before and after.|
Our frame (and all the other bits that come with the kit) are being crated up for shipping today. Here it is beside XP3, the Exocet that visited us during our Summer Camp and created so much excitement. Warren at Exomotive calls them the Sherbert Twins.
To say we're a bit excited is an understatement.
|August 29, 2013 - The big package is on the truck.|
And now, we wait. We could start disassembling our donor car, of course. But we'll probably leave it together until we have the frame ready to drop on top. It takes less space that way!
|August 29, 2013 - Here's a better look at the kit all crated up.|
It gives a good sense of scale. This isn't a big car.
|September 3, 2013 - While we're waiting for the frame, a tech note.|
The guys at Exomotive know that Miatas have a suspension travel problem. So they moved the upper mounting points up by 1/2" in the rear and 1/4" in the front. That's not a huge amount, but by the time it gets to the wheel that's a useful increase. That's the rear mount in the picture.
|September 5, 2013 - The kit has arrived!|
Yes, this did cause a certain amount of excitement. Here's the complete Exocet Sport kit laid out, including the optional front and rear wing mounts.
|September 6, 2013 - How big is an Exocet?|
Here's the frame parked beside the donor that will fill it up. The final result won't be any longer than the frame itself, you can see that it's considerably shorter. The width is about the same, as that's dictated by the Miata's track.
|September 6, 2013 - Here's another comparison: Exocet vs Westfield frames.|
This is an interesting one - there are some obvious differences in the overall design approach. The Westfield puts the drivetrain and driver further back in the chassis - we really should have lined up the back of the frames instead of the front. The Exocet has a much larger passenger compartment and footwell. More of the Westfield's chassis stiffness comes from the center tunnel, whereas the Exocet relies on big burly side bars.
Note that the Westfield roll bar is not bolted in here.
|September 6, 2013 - Another Exocet/Westfield comparison.|
Yes, the floors are level with each other. The Exocet frame is considerably taller, even if you take into account that the Westfield does not have the roll bar installed. The extra width of the Exocet is also visible here - the Westfield is minimalist, and absolutely no larger than it has to be. Possible a bit smaller than that, depending on your personal dimensions. There is a definite difference in the level of driver protection on side impacts between the two.
We have not yet weighed the Exocet frame, so we don't have a weight comparison between the two.
|September 23, 2013 - Time to start building the car.|
Because we're busy on customer cars, we've set aside one day a week for the Exocet. This means you're going to get a burst of updates at once.
The first step is to weigh the naked frame out of curiosity. The total is 191 lbs. Easy enough for two people to carry around.
|September 23, 2013 - To start, we flipped the frame over and attached the floors.|
The holes are pre-drilled in the aluminum sheets, so we just had to clamp them in place and drill through the frame. The studs you see are cleco fasteners, essentially temporary rivets that make this sort of job a bit easier. Once all the holes were drilled, we riveted the panels in place.
This isn't necessary on Race frames, as they have welded-in steel floors. That type of floor is a $300 option on the Sport and Base chassis.
|September 23, 2013 - We flipped the frame over again and attached the bulkhead panels using the same technique.|
There's a small dab of silicone at each rivet hole to help seal it.
|September 23, 2013 - The floors in place.|
You can see the beginning of our brake lines running along the side of the transmission tunnel as well.
|September 27, 2013 - The "interior" is basically finished.|
The transmission tunnel is just laid in place for now, but it will be riveted down later. The small hole is the starting point for the shifter. We've also decided to install a proportioning valve in the cockpit, and you can see that on the yellow part of the tunnel.
|September 27, 2013 - Time to start work on the donor.|
It's a 1999 Sport that met an unfortunate end, but has good mechanical bits. Perfect.
|September 27, 2013 - The donor has been split.|
That's the "rollerskate" sitting on the floor. Kyle and Eric are doing a service on the engine, changing all the belts and seals as well as installing a FM Happy Meal clutch and flywheel package. This last bit isn't really needed at this point, but we do know that this car will end up with more power in the future...
|September 27, 2013 - Kyle models the 10.3 lb flywheel as Eric beams with pleasure.|
If you strike a cheesy pose like this, Keith WILL take a picture and put it on the website. Should it go in our catalog?
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