An M.G. Locost Build
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January 28, 2012
Donor Woes

  Almost too authentic-looking
click to enlarge

Okay, first the good news. We repainted the valve cover in true M.G. red and attached some authentic-looking metal ID plates, so the engine looks pretty darn good now. We also installed a battery (and by "install" I mean we set it on the ground and hooked up the cables) and when we turned the ignition key, all the electrical stuff worked, including the starter motor. Even better, when we cranked the engine the oil gauge registered almost 60 pounds, which is excellent. That may be the first time in many years the main and rod bearings have seen any oil. We hope they liked it.

Impressive 60 PSI at 200 RPMs  
click to enlarge

The bad news is, we didn't get the engine started. Not because it wouldn't start, because I'm sure it would if it had fuel and ignition, but only because it didn't have fuel and ignition. The SU fuel pump turned out to be a frozen lump. We performed the usual maintenance on it, which consisted of several whacks with a large hammer, but it wouldn't budge. We took it apart, but that only reminded us that we know nothing about SU fuel pumps. So now it sits in pieces in a tinfoil tray while a new pump from Moss Motors makes it's way up to the homestead.

  Not a Professional Battery Installation
click to enlarge

Getting fuel to the carburetors may prove to be easier than getting ignition to the spark plugs. We replaced everything in the system except for the coil. New plugs, wires, points, condensor, rotor, and distributor cap. We pulled the cap and cranked the engine, and the distributor rotated just fine. The points opened on cue to the proper gap of 0.015". But no spark. It may be a simple matter now of just replacing the coil, but if we do that and still don't get a spark, what then? We're totally out of things to replace. We'll be forced to check voltages and do other electrical-type stuff. A horrifying thought.

Despite the occasional setback, working on the M.G. has actually been a lot of fun. It's amazing how familiar it all is, even after 30 years of not owning M.G.s. I know where all the bolts are, where all the wires go, and what each part is for. I know what size wrench to use on everything. I know when a part looks right, and how to fix it if it doesn't, except of course for the aforementioned fuel pump. I can look at a part, decide whether or not it'll go in the Locost, and if so exactly where it'll bolt up. It's a really simple car. All of this serves as a constant reminder of why we wanted an MGB donor in the first place.

One problem with an MGB that we thought we had a handle on is proving to be a little more of an issue, and that's the height of the engine. We had this idea that we only needed a hole in the hood for the valve cover, and that could be covered with a fiberglass scoop or bulge. But now it turns out the carburetors are just as tall as the valve cover, and the valve cover isn't even the highest point on the engine, because there's wires and tubes running over it. So we're starting to think about this a little more, and it may turn out that we'll have to run without a hood for awhile until we figure it all out. Or at least until we can afford to spring for some nice low-profile Weber DCOE 45s.


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posted February 5, 2012 at 03:30:08  
Congratulations to Nick! Today, 2/4/12, he got the MG donor car to actually start, despite numerous obstacles. He didn't give up, and after using a makeshift oil pump (I'll let him explain), it started up long enough for me to get it all on film, before it ran out of gas as expected. I am so impressed with his dedication to this project, and watching his excitement and commitment has been really fulfilling. I have been lucky enough to watch him engineer and implement this project from the beginning. Since it is the fulfillment of a dream for him to actually be building the car, it's thrilling to watch the plans take shape.
From Kaitlyn, his fan, pit crew, and future passenger!