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Somebody called to see if I would be around this week. My response, unfortunately so. You see, I always wanted to be a tall. But it was the whim of genetics and my own proclivity for good food that decreed I should be a ROUND forever.

A short show this week. And I like that. Somehow, we’ve crept up to two and a half hours. This is longer than a feature length film by nearly an hour. We’re going to try to shorten things up. We’ve reached the limit and I’m spending most of the weekend editing video.

This week, we do a little bit of news, and show a test of our Netgain Warp11HV motor prior to installation. We also mount our Tremec TKO600 transmission.

The transmission mount is a little more free form than I like. The Cobra came a bit blank. There was a cross bar under the car, which turns out to be in the wrong place, and a hole cut for the shifter – almost in the wrong place. The rest of the transmission mounting is just sort of left up to us.

We bought a low profile mount for the rear – just a block of polyurethane to shock mount it really. We had a local race car guy build us a little brace for it. We’ll have to cutout the existing brace and lower it so the drive shaft can clear.

Danny, the race car builder, suggested we could save 100 lbs by replacing the third member on the differential with an aluminum one. But when we checked with his supplier, he said he didn’t have one for THAT Ford 9 inch. Apparently a Ford 9 inch differential covers a multitude of sins.

For the front of the transmission, we fashioned two small brackets that bolt to the bell housing and a pair of Mazda RX7 polyurethane shock mounts we found on eBay for $77.

We’ll install the motor to the bell housing and fashion a similar plate/mount for the front of the motor with another pair of these shock mounts.

Hopefully, the drive train will then be pretty securely mounted aft, middle, and foreword. We’ll need to have a drive shaft made specifically for the vehicle of course.

The convention draws closer. Brain has devised a 20 booth vendor floor and I understand they’ve signed four at this point. We’re quite pleased that Special Editions Inc. will be bringing a Beck roller to show. We’ve used several of these in the past and they just make a great platform for a simple electric vehicle conversion. Best of all, they are truly head turners.

I came out of the local Schnucks grocery store with some cheap Champagne and cheese and crackers headed in a hurry to a hastily thrown together bridge game, since I managed to get the video up by Saturday afternoon this week. There were eight people gathered round the Beck Speedster we call Part Duh in the parking lot. They were marveling over the car and had twenty questions about it. Understand they did not even know it was electric. Just the iconic shape of the car still works 54 years after it was introduced. We have no Porsche badging on it. We have the moon eye hub caps. It isn’t a Porsche. It says Porsche nowhere on it. They truly had NO idea what it was. But they were instantly drawn to the car.

I did note that it was electric drive and pointed to the very subtle ELECTRIC emblem we had made to match the small SPEEDSTER gold emblem on the front fender. And they more or less went berserk.

Brain had a similar adventure last week when he took the Spyder 550 to a car show in Sikeston. He came back with a SECOND place trophy. I don’t know what THAT was about. But he returned with a sunburn as the attendees wouldn’t let him step away from the car for about four hours. They Spyder is particularly good at these events as you can open it up like a clam and display all the componentry almost like it was layed out on a workbench.

It goes slowly, but we are working with Special Editions on a special frame for a Beck Speedster. This will be quite a departure in a number of ways. I like rack and pinion steering for example. And independent rear suspension. But there is talk of turning the axle around for a mid-engine version, which would free us for more room in the rear for batteries. Best of all, we are going to have it done of aluminum, which should shave a couple of hundred pounds off the weight. I’ve always liked the Beck Speedsters because they have a frame under them sufficient to mount a Ford F150 instead of the usual VW pan. But in truth, it IS overbuilt and overweight for our needs.

And this next week we should receive a set of running gear for the Spyder we are trying out that will eventually be part of the next Speedster build. Airkeweld makes an aluminum cross drilled rotor and they can put any hat on it we want – I think we got 5 x 4.5. We already have a set of Weld lightweight aluminum wheels for it. For the front we can use the Wildewood aluminum calipers as well but for the rear they do not make such with a parking brake on it. We have to have a parking brake. They are much more important on an electric car.

On the Spyder this will be a particular advantage. Duane had some 911 wheels on the car he liked but this required an adapter that sets out the wheels an inch or so. As a result, the front end has to be jacked up so the wheels clear the body. All in all not to my taste. So the new running gear and wheels will let us get the wheels back inside and the front end down – while saving about 150 pounds on an already light car. As this is almost entirely unsprung weight that goes away, I’m looking for GREAT things by way of improved handling with the front end down where we want it and this weight savings.

If any of it works, that system will be migrated to the new Beck aluminum frame and we should save somewhere between 300-400 lbs overall. This is actually an incredible amount. Speedster Part Duh weighs 2035 lbs now and could be down to 1650 or so eventually. All of this BEFORE we take on the body at some time in the future.

It also has passed little notice but the DOT has now approved polycarbonate windshields. I like glass. But the weight savings here too are substantial. And I already did have to replace the windshield on Duh because of a flying rock. None of that with polycarbonate. Yes, they haze. But there are now very effective polishes you can use to clarify polycarbonate more or less endlessly. We’ve used them on the Lear 24D for years. If they are good enough for a Mach 0.78 jet, they should be sufficient for a Speedster.

And it really is about weight. I was enormously validated when Brian ran both the Spyder and the Redux in the autocross at Carlisle. It was NOT close and it was repeated several times. The lap is about 30 seconds and the Spyder, with much lower power and acceleration, just killed Redux by 3 seconds every time – 10% of the course.

This of course was PRECISELY the lesson learned in 1955 with the introduction of the Spyder on the racing scene of the day. It was much less powerful than any of its competitors, yet it won every race it finished that year.

With an internal combustion engine, the cost of these weight savings simply don’t make much economic sense. For an electric car, they quite do. And as a result, we’re finding common ground with the race car guys.

We have developed a fondness for the Michelin Energy Saver All Season tire. This tire has the lowest rolling resistance of any tire on the market. Unfortunately, it appears it is not ON the market. They are sold out NATIONALLY on this tire. No estimate on restock dates. You cannot get them. That’s going to slow our thunder on the Spyder.

Fortunately, we already HAVE a set of them on some lightweight Weld wheels for the Cobra. And we’re going to do an interesting experiment there. Not only do the Michelin’s feature a lower rolling resistance, but our total weight on the Weld wheels/tires is 31 lbs each. The existing wheels and tires that came on the car were 42 lbs on the front and 48 lbs on the rear. We save 22 lbs on the front and 34 lbs on the rear for 56 lbs total going to these lighter tires/wheels. So we are going to do a range comparison on the car by running say 100Ah exactly on each set and noting the mileage covered in those 100Ah. I think it will be significant – more than you think. Maybe 5 or 6%.

All these sorts of things are quite cumulative. An LED tail light bulb here and a tire there, it all adds up. And it all counts in the end car.

Not to mention the weight of the driver…. there was a solid reason that Brain drove both cars at Carlisle.

Jack Rickard