September 3, 2011
We splurged a bit this past week and picked up a few new tools to make the Locost build go a little easier. We realize no one wants to see a bunch of pictures of tools, but this is all we've got right now. Sorry. Despite what you may have heard, building a car from scratch is not a fast process, the key words there being "from" and "scratch". Our build is still in the scratch phase. Maybe next week we'll have some actual construction to show you. But probably not.
We bought a cool new digital protractor that runs on batteries and reads angles in tenths of a degree. Tenths. It seems to be very accurate. The protractor arms are about 9Ē long (I could tell you exactly, but then I'd have to go out in the garage to measure them, and it's dark out there), and itís sort of interesting to note that you have to move the arms a noticeable amount, maybe 1/32Ē, to add just a tenth of a degree. At least it's interesting to us. Based on this we think getting all the angles on the ends of the frame tubes to line up will be a snap, at least until the battery dies.
We also got a cool new dial caliper that can measure things to within a thousandth of an inch, and does it without batteries. Amazing. We expect it to come in handy for more than just measuring the length of our suspension bushings. Not that the length of our suspension bushings isn't important, but when it comes to fabrication, some parts you can make exactly the same by filing them together as a group, and other parts you have to make one at a time. With the dial caliper, you can make those parts exactly the same size. Or at least within a thousandth of an inch of each other.
We finally broke down and got a disk sander for finishing tube ends. It took a big bite out of our Locost budget, but the chop saw was falling down on the job. We were able to get the tube end angles almost perfect using our new digital protractor, but the chop saw was leaving the ends a little ragged. The disk sander takes care of that in seconds. It's also a big help in getting the lengths of the tubes just right.
One of the things we learned from building our wooden mock-up frame five years ago was that some Locost frame tubes can be cut exactly to length, like the A, B, and H tubes, while others need to be cut a little long, and trimmed to fit as the frame starts to take shape. Not that the frame won't be built to the exact specifications in the book, but you know, manufacturing tolerances. This is where we expect the new disc sander to come in handy, taking length off tubes quickly while still maintaining our precise tube end angles.
We're really close to getting a drill press. A hand drill is fine 90% of the time, but we need to drill some steel rods for tapping and fitting rod ends, and a drill press would make those holes so much more accurately. Also, we're pretty sure that things like suspension brackets will work better if all the bolt holes are lined up properly, something a drill press can do with ease, even in the hands of amateurs like us. We're not really in a position to spare no expense, so we havenít quite justified the cost, but we're close.
The round suspension tubes we ordered from Online Metals arrived the other day. We're anxious to start cutting them up, but we've tweaked the suspension design a little since our last discussion, and we're not sure anymore if we got the right size tubing. The book says to use 16 gauge, 3/4" O.D. tubing, but we recently saw pictures of 16 gauge, 3/4" O.D. Locost A-arms that were bent like a paper clip. So we might have to go with either a bigger O.D. or a heavier gauge. We'll consider our options and let you know.
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