A "Re"cycle :
(three wheeled high performance vehicle built from recycled materials
and powered for minimal environmental impact)
Yet another hair-brained idea
by Greg (aka:
Dictator, TurboStude) Meyers.
on the urge to have a vehicle which is accepted by both the bikers and
the hot-rodders I hang out with, I have been brooding over a 3 wheel
design for30-odd years (Here are some doodles etc. : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 . Since
I have becomethe world’s authority on turbocharging the flathead six
Stude motor (my motor holds records
at Bonneville) I wanted to use the pieces of that motor in my new
plan. I have been running the TurboStude
onthe street off and on for a number of years. My idea is to
develop a vehicle with two wheels in front, using late 40’s Stude parts
for suspension. The frame will be a greatly modified 41’ Stude
frame. The running gear will be the 190+ cube truck motor, a 4-speed
Saginaw tranny, a Datsun“Zx” car rear center section, two sprockets and
rear wheel drive sitting on ¼ elliptic springs. The body I
want to develop will look like a channeled and chopped 37’ Stude
roadster. To accomplish this, I found a 38' Stude basket
case and a 41’Stude frame. I’m using a friend’s 37’ Coupe for
“proportional” guidance… Considering that the race car weighed about
3400 lbs “wet”, I figure this thing should weigh in at about 1800 lbs
click to enlarge
race car, with this motor did 137 mph so far, with a HP/Weight ratio of
0.066, and this car will have a ratio of 0.125, almost twice.
Adding the aerodynamics of the roadster (smaller frontal area and boat
tail) and subtracting the rolling friction of 3 vs 4 wheels, this car
should get both good mileage and good performance. The key to
handling will be the relationship between the center of gravity and the
3 wheels. I want the car to end up pointing forward if it spins,
but be easy to turn quickly (it will have to compete with a Mini Cooper
S fun factor….). Since LP gas has been selling for less, has an
effective octane over 100 and has emissions, I will be using that to
power this beast.
engine is from a late 50’s Stude truck, which in stock form was 185”
and made about 100hp. It has a stroke of 4.375" and bore of
3.00”. The stock crank, which has now been detailed, is forged
(as are the Ross pistons and stock Stude rods). It runs on more
main bearing surface per displacement than any motor ever
produced. The head is custom made with twice the water capacity,
out of steel, with six combustion chambers modeled roughly after the
shape of the Harley KR flathead dirt-track racer heads. The compression
ratio is 8.5:1 right now, with the forged Ross pistons ( total-seal
rings). This might change with different boost levels and blowers I may
use. The induction will be decided depending on whether or not I
go with exhaust driven turbo or belt-drive turbo ala Dick Datson. I may
also experiment with fuel injection this time around. The oil
pump is a modified Stude V-8 pump. Ignition is basically Mopar
gold box electronic hooked to a Safeguard detonation sensing system and
a high voltage coil. Electric fuel pump will be used with a cut-out for
oil pressure and impact switch. I will be changing the intake to
accept the LP, including a mixer instead of carb, designed and hand
assembled by Ak Miller's wife.
intend to keep the flavor of something that might have been constructed
as long ago as 1953 when I was born, and when the first turbochargers
appeared on construction equipment (which visually appeared very
similar to the TO-3 which I have been using). I will largely hide
modern components, though I may use disc brakes. Stude late 30's
and 40’s frames had a novel transverse front spring which I will use in
almost stock configuration with stock A-arms. I will space it out
to give a wider track.
Stude Commander frame
frame will be wide enough to accommodate two people in a slightly
staggered seating arrangement. It will use the Stude rails.
frame will be re-enforced above the rails with a drawn-on-mandrel
seamless tube cage with an integral roll-cage. This will have
some removable sections which would allow it to compete in some racing
at a later date.
Power will be transmitted from the engine thru a three-speed box with
overdrive (T-86 from Stude v-8). It then mates to a Nisson 240ZX rear
independent rear suspension differential.
drive axle flange has one 28 or 32 tooth sprocket bolted to it. A 60H
chain carries the power back to a similar (but numerically different)
sprocket which is attached to a specially constructed hub. This
hub can be removed easily for tire changes and has incorporated in it
an automotive type disk brake (large GM).
Early sketch of rear cross-section
rear axle sketch
rear hub mock-up
rear swing arm has half an ellipse spring fixed above the swingarm in
front and with a shackle in the rear. This helps define the arc without
posterior displacement. Chain tension will be adjusted by sliding the
rear axle fore/aft. Below is one of many early ideas for the
been in love with late 30’s cars, Deco, etc. for a long time. I like
the long nose-short rear look, fairings, boat-tails, exposed exhaust
pipes of the era. I’d like to incorporate some of that in to the
37’ Stude-style “waterfall” grill which has been chopped in height.
in front will probably be either absent or faired “pods” ala Stinson SR-6
Reliant high-wing or Indian
motorcycle. The car will be a roadster with tonneau cover and
Duval-type wind-screen or Brooklands fold down screen.
will have a boat-tail with a fairing extending back from the drivers
headrest. I am debating over the best material for fabrication.
It will depend on weight and the availability of front end sheet-metal.
I do have front sheetmetal from a 37’ Stude. I am probably going
to use a recycled material (plastic milk cartons) to do some decking in
a pattern not unlike the "Cobra" below. A Minnesota company
may be providing the product.
by the time I have the chassis rolling, I will have acquired more
pieces. A good friend is able to form aluminum for me.Created by
ImageGear, AccuSoft Corp. I will do the interior in a vintage wood boat
motif using parts from 30’s Studes and ChrisKrafts.
make the body a little narrower, I will set the passenger seat a bit
rearward of the drivers seat as in old Brooklands cars.
Upholstery will be red pleats with ivory side-panels. The dash
will be burled wood and the steering wheel will be wood trim or ivory
colored. The instruments are from a 36’ Stude.
Instrument cluster from 36' Stude
some early 2-D images from a 3-D program called Google Sketchup:
found the frame on a farm in White Bear Lake frozen into the
ground. It took a jack-hammer and three grown men to extricate
it. My friend Bob won't let me forget that day. Had I
waited, it would have been gone. It cost $75....
body will be a combination of steel and recycled material as yet to be
developed, jointly with my daughter. As it stands, It looks like
thetrack will be between 60.5 and 63 inches, and the wheelbase will be
95 to 108 inches. The CG will be about 20" off the ground, with a
weight distribution of about 36% on the rear wheel. If I can
accomplish this, I should be able to corner at 1 G. I am
researching some ideas for active weight transfer to improve
handling. I have obtained a "behind axle" power rack and pinion
from a Monte Carlo which looks like it will fit well.
I spoke with my 3-wheel mentor Dr. Starr. He agrees that the
springs in the automotive clutch disc should probably provide plenty of
driveline shock absorbing capability. I have been toying with an
unlocked differential coupled to some linkage, but will abandon this
the spider gears as in a drift car.
is the finished hub without cush drive for mounting the rear sprocket
to the rear wheel:
Some calculations: Using the following knowns.... Differential
ratio is 4.083:1 28 tooth front sprocket 32 tooth rear
sprocket 28" tire, the speed at 4800 rpm will be 112 mph, 6000 rpm will
be 139 mph and 6100rpm will be 142 mph. The final drive ratio is
3.57:1 which with 290+ft-lbs of torque will just about allow me to run
without shifting gears (just leave it in 4th.......) or I could pull a
trailer carrying extra LP bottles...
The rear disk and hub are one piece, with a 4.75" bolt center from a
77" MonteCarlo, as is the caliper and brake pads. The caliper is
mounted on a custom plate which has a fulcrum on the axle and rotates
freely around that axis. The plate has an ear extending towards
the ground which is the attachment point for a drag link which goes
forward to attach to the chassis. This should transmit rotational
force on braking to the chassis. This point will be determined to
prevent "jacking" on deceleration. The front brakes are done
using the original spindles. The rotors are from a 77' Fleetwood,
as are the bearings, calipers and pads. The stock wheel bearing
grease seals are used. These rub on Jim Turner's bearing-spacers which
are cut down to 0.67" thickness from 0.75" with the proximal side again
radiused to accommodate the machining on the spindle. These are a
shrink-fit on the spindle. He sells a caliper adapter for the Stude
trucks which I have modified to allow it to clear the upper spindle and
needle bearing on the pre-war cars. Back-spacing with steel washer
stand-offs gets the caliper in line with the rotors. Two regular
washers with 0.75" i.d. are needed under the regular "keyway" washer to
get the outer bearing snugged up to its race. The front rotors
have a 5" bolt circle which is not a problem for me. I am using
15" unilug aluminum wheels front and back. These will be "disguised" to
look older with full moon discs. Pre-war Commanders, Presidents and
most Stude pickups used a 5" bolt pattern.
Turner truck disc conversion brackets
In discussions with Dr. Starr, it seems that for this vehicle, a
swing-arm radius of 30" would be optimal. That seemed long, but
would make a few things work out better. The longer the
wheelbase, the easier it is to get the mass low. The location of
the swing-arm pivot needs to be above an imaginary line drawn from the
top of the front tire to the contact patch of the rear tire and the
longer swing-arm makes that easier. Leaving the components where
they are, with the longer wheelbase afforded by the longer swing-arm
will also effectively put less weight on the rear of the vehicle, and
should improve turning characteristics. If the rear-end turns out
to be a little too light, I can shift some heft back there or add
ballast . I have purchased a pair of 1.75" wide trailer
springs from Northern Tool which are said to be good for 750 lbs
each. I plan to cut each about4" beyond center on one end, and
secure that end to the frame, with the "eye" end running rear-wards
over the swing-arms, connected by a shackle. There will be a tube
shock (probably from an early 50's Mopar ) on each arm, fastened at one
end to the swing-arm (adjustable by multiple holes in the bracket) and
at the other to a frame element that comes about 8" up and across to
tie the two sides of the swing-arm support assembly together. The
swing-arms themselves are odd cross-section channel steel, the pivots
being surplus double-ball bearing units sitting in machined carriers
which in turn are welded into the swing-arms. Sideplay is
adjusted with wired locknuts and shims. Axle adjustment and thus
chain tension will be by machined slots in the swing-arm
sandwiched with adjustable yokes.
for a swing-arm
suspension: I wanted to use that really cool pre-51' planar front
suspension, but with some changes to suit the present
application. The original spring had 16 leafs and an aggressive
arch. This left ground clearance near 12", which was appropriate
for the road conditions (and 4-doorheft) of the original vehicle.
I wanted to get the track as wide as a Caddy and as low as a Mini for
cornering. Measuring the eye to eye unloaded spring, it was
46". I found a mid 80's chev truck front spring with a flatter
profile, half the thickness and with symmetric eyes. It had 1/2"
bushes. I made small bushings to bring the9/16" holes in the
spring perches down for a grade 8 half inch bolt. I used 2" square
thick wall tubing to make spacers which would bring the A-arms out to
about the right place to match the spring width and give the right
camber. This can be further adjusted with stock camber shims.
spacer for wider track
2003 MonteCarlo power steering rack is about 2.3 turns lock to lock,
and internal inspection reveals it can be used without power in this
light vehicle. The outer ends pivot about where the
camber-limiting links are anchored, and I suspect will be good for
minimal bump-steer. The rack is “behind the axle” type and is
minimally heavier than a manual rack.
A front sway-bar from a 53' Stude coupe is set in place. It will
be fastened to special brackets which are
mounted where the old
Houdaille shocks screwed in to the upper medial a-arms thru
conventional link rods..
I’ll shorten the ends to prevent interference with the steering.
(earlier picture to
show shock excursion)
with shock brackets….tape on shock is lower limit of upper tube
Progress has been a little slow, as I have been working on my long-time
made a few decisions since starting….Decided that the “cush” will be
handled by the automotive clutch, and the rest of the rubber in the
driveline will be removed. I have cleaned up the Stude 3-speed
manual with overdrive, and built a very short “driveshaft” to mate it
to the differential.
working on the girdle which will hold the differential in line with the
swing-arm axis. This girdle will be attached to struts coming
laterally to the frame rails.
body will be a cut up c-cab or bits and pieces of a 1937 Stude 4-door
dictator I have found.
the whole thing down, and change the angle of the upper a-arms in
relation to the transverse spring, I removed a number of leaves.
This should bring the virtual roll-center close to the ground.
the car is now off the rack and sitting on the concrete with the
engine/transmission/driveshaft/differential in position for the initial
“fit”. It looks like the weight of these components will bring
the ground clearance down to a useable height. By that, I mean
that it can still go up driveways without scraping, but not compromise
handling too much. I know approximately where the seats will be
been trying to analyze what makes a comfortable interior. A pet
peeve is all the special construction vehicles (hot rods, three
wheelers, race cars etc.) that are built to look cool, but can’t
be tolerated for more than a 10 mile ride. A friend with a
Triking gets leg spasms whenever he drives it any distance!
Interviews with guys driving chopped and channeled coupes almost
universally indicate that the “look” took president over comfort, and
that real driving enjoyment was compromised.
thoroughly enjoy driving my 2002 Mini Cooper S, and felt that the
Tribaker needed to be equally comfortable. I have compared
interior dimensions of the Mini, the MGTC, the Saturn Sky, the Miata
and the Corvette and have come to some conclusions about what might
comprise a fairly “universal” recommendation to shoot for, provided
that the driver is not too far from average size. I haven’t seen this
discussed or published anywhere. I didn’t record center hump
heights, which I expect is a very personal preference, but have
observed these to be comfortable up to about half way between the lower
seat cushion and the arm-pit. If the upper arm were straight down
in driving position, it would be about one third of the way up.
Depends too on the height and placement of your shifter.....
are a few numbers:
12 above seat
12 before seat back
Saturn Sky, Corvette were also evaluated. All had about same
legroom and cockpit width, so I will assume they would be similar to
the Mini in terms of driving comfort. Pedal positioning and
design needs a good look.....
height 28" or less
55" firewall to back of seat
26" from front of seat
depth 21" or less....down to 17" (which is probably plenty)
center 14.5" from midline
(pedal to back of lower seat cushion) 42"
6" wells in upper kick-panel to allow clearance for pedals, etc. would
think that I will be able to put the floor under the seats even with
the top of the frame rails. The seats will sit a little higher
this way, but given my bum hip, should make getting in and out a bit
the running gear in place, back to the differential, and knowing the
active swing arm length, I revised the wheelbase to 96”, down from
109”. This will still give room for the LP tanks arranged like
saddle-bags to each side of the rear wheel. These can sit fairly
low, yet still be in a good position for filling, the “business end” of
the tanks facing rearward, unobstructed. Insider information
tells me that LP is headed below $3 a gallon (and that’s for the
equivalent of 110 octane….).
are a few recent pics of the frame getting tacked together. I’ll
get the pieces cut and in place, then take the whole thing apart, weld
it and gusset it up. I’ll sand blast it then and pai
black. I’ve got
the rear suspension together now. It uses two sets of trailer
springs in a quarter elliptic configuration, and will be adjustable for
With height adjusters and "traction" bars added.
Now that I can see where I will be sitting, I have decided to use a
top-mount shifter on the T86 transmission. I'll be detailing how
this is done at some point, with guidance by Gord Richmond.