August 1, 2011
Welcome to Day 1 of our M.G. Locost build. We've started cutting out the L frame tubes, which will form the nose of our Locost space frame chassis. We're building a standard "book" frame, and not one of those giant McSorley-type frames that takes the car out of the true sports car realm and moves it into the Mustang-type sporty car arena. Nothing against Mustangs, we actually like them, but they're kind of big. If you really want a giant McSorley-type Locost, that's fine, but we're going with something a bit less comfortable. There have to be limits, after all.
So this is the first step of about a million steps, or not a million but close enough. Certainly way too many to count. Or think about. A lot of Locost projects never get completed for one reason or another, and with a million steps I think you can understand why. Right now we're playing it safe. We've got some metal and we're having fun cutting up tubes. If we get as far as welding a couple of those tubes together, even better. But we're not going to admit we're building a whole car. Not yet, at least. Maybe in our next report.
Our Locost workshop is looking kind of sparse right now—a bench grinder and an old jig saw, plus assorted wrenches, a hand drill, and a Dremel for cutting up sheet metal, along with the usual mix of hammers. We realize that's probably not enough for building a whole car, but we plan to pick up a few more things along the way, more or less on an as-needed basis, mostly less. Our latest addition is a cool new chop saw. It makes short work of cutting tubes, although finishing the razor-sharp ends with a hand file is painfully slow. Or just painful. We may have to give in and wear gloves.
Although we're officially designating this day as the start of construction, we actually built a Locost frame before, about five years ago. This is a picture of it in the driveway, next to the Miata. Although it looks cool and is already painted, we can't actually use it for a car, because it’s not made out of steel, or any metal for that matter. It's made out of poplar ply, a common modeling wood. It’s actual size, though, and it fits us perfectly, which is encouraging so long as we can manage to duplicate it in steel. In any case, it should be helpful to have on hand during the actual build.
We're thinking about getting a donor. We don't have one yet, but we think that's only a minor inconvenience, because M.G. parts are readily available through Craigslist, eBay, Moss Motors, and Guido down the street. We could probably build a whole Locost this way, buying only what we need, which has the advantage of not having a big, hulking M.G. carcass rusting away on the side of the house. But we're still keeping an eye out for a donor because we think it's best to have a pink slip and bill of sale when you go in to register your homebuilt car, if only to prove you didn't steal anything.
Unfortunately most of the MGBs for sale out here seem to be either ground-up restoration jobs costing $10K and up, or total restoration “projects” with missing parts, no title history, and some kind of odd odor. And even most of those are pricey. We just want an old beater, something that's barely limping along, with crumpled bodywork and worn out shocks and torn up seats about to fall through the rusty floorboards. Your typical 40-year-old MGB. We'll keep looking. It can't be that hard. Maybe we'll check with Guido.
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