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Build the Economy Champ:

3-WHEEL SUBURBAN
RUNABOUT

Fig. 1. The photo o! the Incomplete Run-


about above shows Its Inner structure.
It'll go 30 mph getting 90 miles/gallon.

the steering lever. Brake is controlled houses, small engine shops, motorcycle
• This small, easily-built runabout by a motorcycle hand brake lever. None shops, and hardware stores that cater
looked good when it was first intro- of the driving controls are operated by to industrial and fanning needs. The
duced in SCIENCE & MECHANICS back the feet. If it takes you longer than best bet is to show your supplier these
in 1961, when gasoline sold for about three minutes to leam how to drive it, plans so that he can provide.you with
two bits a gallon. Today, with the cost it's because you are so enthusiastic to the correct components. Note that you
of the fuel about $1.30 a gallon and no get going you haven't had time to pay may have to change bolt hole locations
end in sight to its spiralling price, the attention to what's happening. for mounting some of the components
car represents an idea whose time has Even with all parts purchased new, such as the pillow block assembly.
come. this runabout should cost less than The steel material needed can be
Fuel economy? With its 3.5 - HP $700, including the weatherproof cab. purchased from a steel supplier like
Clinton engine, the runabout will reach Check the license requirements in your Ryerson, which has outlets located
a respectable 30 miles per hour, and area before driving on public streets; throughout the country. Cost of the
at this speed use less than 1.5 quarts some states require lights, hom, fen- material itself, based on per-foot and
of gas for each hour run, which repre- ders and the like. per-pound prices, should be less than
sents about 90 miles to the gallon. The basis of the car is the Clinton $60. See if the supplier has random
This is a one-person vehicle you can engine, a ball-bearing, horizontal shaft pieces in stock that are somewhat
use for trips to the commuter train model that is an improvement on the longer than what you need; this will
station, or your wife can use it for her one used in the 1961 car. It develops be cheaper than paying $20 for each
shopping trips. You sit in a comfortably its 3.5 rated horsepower at 3,600 RPM. piece that must be cut from standard
padded seat that is suspended on 44 A centrifugal clutch connects the en- stock. You could wind up paying as
shock-absorbing rubbers that isolate gine to the single drive wheel via a much as about $160 in cutting charges.
you from road bumps and vibration. jack shaft, with chain drive. All the
Steering is controlled by a lever, and parts you need for the drive system,
start and speed is controlled by a includ'ng the wheels, can be obtained
motorcycle handle bar throttle grip on through major automotive supply
size in the same manner. The 6* angle
cuts on the ends control the caster
angle of the steering assembly. When around a forming block and then drill-
drilling the 5/8 -in. holes through frame ing the 3/4-in. spindle holes. A 3-in.
rails for the rear axle' align ends of the length of scrap steel about 1 in. square
rails and damp one on top of the other with 1/4-in. radius round corners ground
so you can drill both holes at the same on each end could be used for a form-
time. You will then be certain that the ing block. However, since this is quite
rear axle will parallel the front axle a job in any home workshop, we have
when assembled. If you use a home; located a source of supply where the
workshop size drill press to bore the yokes may be purchased, bent and
holes, start with a small drill (about drilled. In either case, weld the yokes
Frame Construction. Cut the front 1/4-in.) and gradually work up to the to the ends of the axle as in Fig. 4A.
axle to length as in Fig. 4. Mark the 5/8-in. size. (5/8-in. drills with 1/2-in. Now place the 6* cut ends of the
10* end cuts with a protractor or bevel shanks are available.) frame rails against the back side of the
square and use a new blade in your Unless you have your own arc-weld- axle and square with it as in Figs. 2
hacksaw so the cut will not run off to ing equipment, you are probably going and 6. Weld the rails to the axle. A
either side. This is important because to have your runabout frame welded at wooden block cut exacdy 8-in. long and
accuracy of the 10* king-pin inclination a local weld shop. It would be a good clamped between the rails will hold
of the steering assembly depends upon idea to cut and fit all frame parts them in position. Be sure the rails are
these cuts. After cutting, check with a needed to have welding done at one 4 in. on each side of the axle center
square and file ends, if needed, to time. It will be cheaper this way. and that the bottom of the axle tilts 6*
make them square with the axle sides Going back to the front axle, you forward as in Fig. 6. Locate and clamp
and at 10* with top or bottom sur- will next make the spindle yokes (Fig. the seat support to the frame rails and
faces of the axle. 4). Shape these from 1/4 x 1-1/4-in. steel weld in place. This completes the basic
Cut the two frame rails (Fig. 4) to bar stock by heating and bending it frame.
Engine and Jack Assembly. This Location of 11/32-in. drilled holes in
assembly is located directly above the the engine and jack shaft assembly
rear drive wheel and in back of the (Fig. 2B) is correct for the engine and
seat as m Fig. 2 and 6. First cut the pillow-block bearings called for in the
required number of each of the four materials list If you should use any
support parts as detailed in Fig. 4. other engine or bearings, relocate these
Then locate and mark position of the holes as necessary.,
four support uprights, on the frame Rear Wheel and Drive. The specified :
rails. Measure these from the center of rear wheel comes complete with 60-
the 5/8-in. rear axle holes in the rails as tooth sprocket and brake assembly.
in Fig. 2C, Assemble the support parts Only additional parts needed are the i
with small clamps, position assembly rear axle and two axle spacers to posi-
on the rails and tack-weld in place. Re- tion and hold the center of the rear
move clamps as you tack-weld. After wheel tire midway between the rails
checking location and squareness, com- (Fig. 3).
plete the welding. Make the axle from 5/8-in. steel shaft-
Fig. 3, left. Drive wheel. Note: 18-tooth sprocket between bearings.

ing and have 5/8-in.-18 threads cut on stall the centrifugal clutch on the en-
each end as in Fig. 4. Make spacers gine shaft
ham 5/8-in. I.D. x 3/4-in. O.D. steel With 12-in. metal scale, or other
tubing as in Fig. 4. Cut slightly over- straightedge, held flat against the side
size so you can file and fit them to pre- of the 60-tooth sprocket, align the 12-
vent side-to-side wheel movement tooth sprocket on the jack shaft with
Since these spacers bear against inner it. Lock jack shaft in place with set-
race of the wheel bearings, do not fit screws on the pillow-block bearings.
too snugly. A small amount of take-up Also lock 12-tooth sprocket to the shaft.
can be achieved by tightening the axle Similarly, one up and lock engine
nuts. When the wheel spins freely, clutch sprocket with 18-tooth sprocket
without end play, drill rear axle ends on jack shaft. Now, with a scratch-awl
for cotter pins to lock the slotted nuts or 3-comered file, mark sprocket and Fig. 5. The Runabout makes a great week-
in place. Weld hub of brake shoe to bearing locations on the jack shaft so end fun vehicle or an economical commuter
frame rail. parts can be reassembled exactly as car. Added cab protects from weather.
Now, bolt pillow-block bearings in they now are. Then remove the pillow-
place on the support. Install the 3/4-in. block bolts and take the jack shaft as- the sprockets in place. Since this re-
jack shaft and the 12- and 18-tooth sembly off the support quires you to have a local machine shop
sprockets as in Fig. 3. Note that the Of two ways to fasten sprockets to cut the keyways (unless you have a
18-tooth sprocket goes between the the jack shaft, the best is to cut 3/32 lathe with milling attachment), you
bearings. Bolt engine in place and in- x 3/16-in. keyways in the shaft and key may choose simply to weld the sprock-
3-WHEEL SUBURBAN RUNABOUT

ets to the jack shaft as we did. A dis-


advantage in doing this is that you lock
a pillow-block bearing between the
sprockets. If at some later date you wish
to replace one of the sprockets or
change the speed ratio, it would be
difficult to remove unless you put the
shaft in a lathe and turned off the
welds. Do not try to lock sprockets to
the shaft with set-screws alone—the load
on the sprocket is far too great.
When you have the sprockets se-
curely fastened to the jack shaft, reas-
semble it and again bolt the bearings
to the support. Install the #35 chain
with connector links as on a bicycle.
First adjust chain tension from rear
wheel to jack shaft by placing washers
under the engine. Chains will stretch
slightly after you have used your run-
about, and a few washers may have to
be added to take up the slack.
Front Wheel Spindles. Grind a 10*
angle flat on the heads of two 5/8 x 4-in.
hex-head bolts as in Fig. 4, and weld
to the spindle tubes. Make the tie-rod
arms, and also weld them to the spindle
tubes. Note that arms are placed 60*
from the 5/8-in. spindles. Make sure the
5/8-in. king pins will go through the
tubes. You may have to run a 5/8-in.
drill through to clean up the tubes if
distorted by welding. Drill the 3/16-in.
holes through one side of tubes only.
When assembling spindles to the
yokes, first tap the bronze bushings
in the 3/4-in. yoke holes so that the
flanges face each other inside the yokes.
Saw off and file the projecting 3/4 -in.
dia. parts of the bushings flush with
top and bottom of yokes. Then fit
spindle tubes between flanges of the
bushings and install king pins as in Fig.
2A. Note that steering king pin goes on ,
left side of the axle. (Left when sitting
in the runabout).
Spindle tubes should fit snugly be-
tween bushings. You can file tube ends
with a fine-cut mill file and polish with
abrasive paper for a smooth finish, par- ;
ticularly where tubes contact the yoke
bushings.
With king pins in place, spot drill
them through the 3/16-in. tube holes.
Remove king pins and spindles from
axle yokes and drill the 3/16-in. holes
through both pins and tube. You can
now permanently assemble spindles
and king pins to the axle yokes and
drive 3/16 x 1-in. Roll-pins through the
holes.
Fasten front wheels on the spindles
with slotted nuts and cotter pins as
you did the rear wheel. Make the tie
rod as in Fig. 4. Install it with the
PLYWOOD SKIN
PROMT POST
SEC.B-B 1x1X46^*
LEFT SIDE
ROOF FRAMING
MEMBERS-' FRONT
CHOSSBWCES
LOWER BOX
MEMBER"

Fig. 8, above, is the 3.5 h.p. Clinton en-


gine, its suggested retail is $154.90.
Fig. 10, right, shows how to assemble
the basic shell. Follow text carefully.

ball joints to tie-rod levers on the


spindles as in Fig. 2A. Adjust the tie
rod so that the toe-in of the front
wheels is 1/16-in. Measure the toe-in
from the centers of the front wheel
tires as in Fig. 2B.
Steering Lever. Cut two pieces of
7/8-in. steel tubing as in Fig. 4 and
weld together at right angles. Slide the
motorcycle throttle and;brake controls
on the steering lever as in Fig. 2. Weld
3-WHEEL SUBURBAN RUNABOUT Connect cables from brake lever to attempt to install an ordinary padded
rear wheel brake and from throttle seat.
the lever to projecting end of the steer- control to carburetor throttle lever. To make the seat, draw full-size pat-
ing king pin. Make a sleeve from a 3- The Seat. The specially designed seat terns of the bent tube parts on card-
in. length of 74-in. tubing as in Fig. 4 for this runabout gives a comfortable board following the squared pattern in
to act as a spacer between the 5/8-in. ride. Since the frame has no spring sus- Fig. 7. Use an electrician's conduit
steering king pin and the 34-in. I.D. pension system as in an automobile, bender to bend the tubes. Place part
of the 7/8-in. steering lever tube. suspension is built into the seat. Don't
3-WHEEL SUBURBAN RUNABOUT

you are bending over the full-size draw-


ing occasionally to check progress. Be
sure to use a longer length of tubing
than needed for each part as clamps
on the bender must grip die tube be- 3-WHEEL SUBURBAN RUNABOUT zontal.
yond the bend. Now you can begin framing up from
After bends are made, flatten lower the floor. When joining parts, first nail
ends of the bottom rails and bolt them Slightly bevel the lower edge to pro- together to permit adjustments; then as
to the front axle. Braze a 3/8-in. hex vide a better fit for the plywood skin. frame takes shape, fasten firmly with
nut to lower ends of the side rails. Bolt Drill the seven holes indicated for the #8 x 1-3/4-in. fh screws. Countersink
these to the seat support bar on the tie-bolts; also the two larger holes for all screws and use longer ones where
frame. Then mark, cut and file, bottom chair legs to pass through. Make the fastening into board ends.
rail ends that join the side rails as in rectangular cutouts for the engine Attach cleats to the floorboard ad-
Fig. 7. Tack-weld rails together and block and footrest. Then shape the two joining side notches as in Fig. 10, lo-
then fit and tack-weld the top and bot- wheel-well inlets, beveling both front cate the large diagonal spars in posi-
torn rails in place. With all seat mem- and rear sides. tion and fasten to cleats. Attach bottom
bers securely tack-welded, remove from Cut the footrest panel and bevel rail of the front frame to edge of foot
frame and braze the seat tubing joints. longest edge as in Fig. 9B to fit on top rest panel (B-B in Fig. 10A), then
Carefully lay out and drill the forty- of the floorboard. Join with screws and fasten beveled edge of top rail to roof
four 5/32-in. holes as to Fig. 7A. strengthen joint with two 3-in. metal frame as in left side detail of Fig. 10.
The seat pad is a sewing machine corner brackets. Bend brackets open to Next make up and mount the wing
job. Unless you're familiar with its oper- the angle as in Fig. 9C and fasten supports on each side of the rear wheel
ation, you had best let your wife handle with 5/8-in. screws. as in Fig. 10B. You can cut these to
the work—or try yoiir local awning To install the floorboard, remove en- shape from the plywood floorboard
shop. Complete details for making it gine from its chassis mounting brackets cutouts. Glue small members together
are shown in Fig. 7B. Although we and the seat from the frame. Slip board and fasten with screws. From this point
used blue denim for the pad, you can over the chassis footrest to lay flat on on, check all dimensions at assembly
substitute with a plasticized, water- the frame. Mark and drill seven 11/32-in. before cutting.
proof material of the type used for mounting holes dirough the frame Cut a 3/4 x 1 x 17-in. pine cleat to
outdoor furniture.. members to correspond widi the 3/8-in. reinforce joint between footrest panel
In the meantime, make the 4 hem holes in the floorboard. and front frame (B-B in Fig. 10). Lay
wires and the seat suspension hooks as Now cut 28 washers out of 1/8-in. out lower horizontal spars on 3/4 x 5-5/8-
in Fig. 7. Make suspension "springs" thick rubber sheet, each shaped 3/8-in. in. stock and cut to shape as in Fig.
from 1-1/4-in. wide loops cut from a I.D. and about 1 in. O.D. Arrange in 10C. Locate in place to mark notches
bicycle inner tube. Coat outer side of groups of four at each hole between for front crossbrace and large diagonal
each loop with rubber cement, fold it floor and frame. Slip a 3/8 x 2-1/2-in. spar. Cut notches and fasten a hori-
twice on itself, then place the cemented bolt through each hole to fasten floor to zontal spar to each end of the front
loop on a bottle or mailing tube until chassis, then tighten nuts until rubber panel-footboard joint and to a diagonal
dry. If you're a 200-pounder, make washers are compressed to 1/4-in. thick- spar at the notch. Shape and install
loops at least 1-1/2-in. wide. You could ness. This should reduce the amount of wheel well framing.
also make loops from 1/4-in. dia. air- chassis vibration passed on to thie body. Upper horizontal members form the
craft shock cord wired as in Fig. 7. Replace engine. bottom of the side window frames and
Building the Basic Shell. Virtually are notched. Lay out and shape as in
Slide the hem wires into the seat Fig. 10A, notching to fit over the long
pad hems. Slit hems open at each kink framing members are 2 in. wide. Rip
straight pieces from 3/4 x 5-5/8-in. pine. diagonal spars. On right side only, cut
in the wire, then install hooks and rub- this spar off at front of the diagonal
ber "springs" as in Fig. 7C. Lay out and cut out the shaped pieces
on a band or jigsaw. spar and save the front piece for door
Except for gas in the engine, your construction. Fasten remaining portion
runabout is ready for that trial run. Cut the front posts and three front
rails as in Fig. 10. Fasten crosspieces in place, also the entire left side mem-
Building, the Cab. The enclosure for ber.
the bantam three-wheel runabout in at center and each end of the posts,
Fig. 9 has been redesigned and im- using #8 x 2-1/4-in. fh screws and Now you can fit and install the two
proved from the prototype shown in ; countersinking heads. Complete front pairs of vertical members for the rear
Fig. 2 to s'mplify construction by elimi- frame by beveling front of top edge box as in Fig. 10D. Note that the front
nating difficult compound bends. 45 deg. as in Fig. 10. pair "hang" from the upper horizontal
Cut the front and back framing member right in back of the notched
Overall dimensions of this all-weather area for the long diagonal spar and
cab are but 62 in. long and 31 in. wide. members and shaped sides of roof (Fig.
10F). Toenail in position, then rein- join the floorboard. There should be
Framework cut from 3/4-in. lumber is just enough room in front of these ver-
built up from a 1/2-in. plywood floor, force roof frame with 3-in. metal comer
brackets shaped to fit inside corners. ticals and behind the lower horizontal
which is bolted to the chassis on seven spars to slide a 14-in. plywood panel
rubber mounts. | Fasten brackets with #6 x 1-in. fh
screws. Cut the large diagonal spars as in position as in Fig. 10E. Line engine
Prepare floorboard first, by cutting side of the panel with #16-gage sheet
it out of a 3 x 5-ft. piece of 1/2-in. ply- in Fig. 10, shaping ends to fit die angle
at floor and roof—72 deg. from the hori- metal as a safety precaution.
wood to dimensions in Fig. 9A.
Drop verticals from each end of the by installing between 3/8-in. quarter
back member in the roof frame to in- round strips, as shown in B of Fig. 11.
side edges of upper horizontal mem- On front framing member adjoining the
bers as in Fig. 10. They form the rear door, substitute 3/8-in. square strip for
window. Complete the basic shell by inside quarter round, as in B of Fig. 11,
installing the two diagonal cross braces to facilitate doorstop installation.
which support the left side front post. You can obtain the semi-rigid Mylar
Installing the Door. Make a simple in 48-in. width weather-proofed one
frame similar to the door frame as in side. Install in side and rear openings
Fig. 11. Note the triangular block in as in detail A-A of Fig. 11, following
place of a cross brace below the open- these steps: nail outside quarter round
ing. Flair off portions of block or frame on all sides of an opening, flush with
as needed to fit the curving plywood. door edge. From inside the cab, hold
Trim a 36-in. piano hinge to 34 in. up a piece of the plastic large enough
Attach it with #8 x 1-in. fh screws to to cover opening with something to
rear edge of door and rear member of spare. Attach an end of the plastic to
ctoor frame so door will swing out as in the top quarter round with 1/4-in. tacks,
detail A-A, Fig. 11. then curve plastic to shape of panel in
A common night latch will keep die which the opening is located. In this
door closed tight—and locked when de- position, carefully trim material to fit
sired. Get the small size with a rim opening. Fasten all around, spacing
lock case of about 2-1/4 x 3 in. and tacks every 2 in. Nail quarter round
mount it on the triangular block, as in against inside edges, hiding the tack
Fig. 11C. Be sure the latch is equipped heads.
with a cylinder which will fit a 7/8-in. Now you can weatherstrip the door.
thick door. Install latch and strike plate Close it and, with latch engaged, pencil
according to directions furnished, using a line all around the door frame against
a piece of 1/8-in. scrap temporarily to inside edge of the door. Cut lengths of
serve in place of the plywood skin on 1/2 x 1/2-in. strip to line inside edge of
the outside. the door frame and install them 1/16-in.
Attaching the Skin. To cover the in back of the line. Use #7 x l-1/4-in.
body, we used Vi-in. fir plywood, which fh screws to fasten all pieces except
will bend to conform to framing curves strip placed against the narrow front
and bevels. If your sheet is small post and square window stop. Nail that
enough to handle, place it over a sec- strip in place as shown in B of Fig. 11.
tion to be covered and trim on the Space screws about 6-in. apart and
frame. You can also prepare a corru- countersink all heads.
gated cardboard template for each sur- For a tight seal, glue 1/8 x 1/2-in. |
face, trace the pattern on a plywood sponge rubber weatherstrip on the out- '
sheet and cut it on your work table. side face of the 1/2-in. square strip.
Do one piece at a time, so that future Drill 1-1/8-in. holes through wheel
cuts will allow for side edges of the • well frame d'rectly over the seat sup-
plywood. Start with side panels and ports and replace seat For easy access :
strips for window trim, then progress to the engine, leave rear box open. You
to front and back surfaces, and finally may need to cut a hole in the rear deck
the roof. To attach the plywood, use to get at the gas tank. '.
glue and 3/4-in. bolt nails, which are The body can be finished with a
annular-threaded to hold like screws. sealer and exterior paint, or stained
If you prefer, use #5 x 3/4-in. fh or rh and varnished.
screws. Trim off excess plywood around Caution: Before driving your run-
wheel wells, rounding off inside comers about cab on public streets, be sure to
for better appearance. check your area's requirements for
Window Treatment. We used 1/8-in. licensing and equipment, such as lights,
Plexiglas in front and Mylar transparent horn, windshield wiper, etc. Single or
plastic film, thin but very tough, on the twin sealed beams can be centered on
sides and rear. the front panel and a taillight installed
Because the Plexiglas is tricky to cut on rear framing. There's enough space
without cracking, buy it cut to size, in the engine compartment for a small
18-7/8 x 20-1/8 in. Center in front opening 12-volt battery. •