March 23, 2012
Well, it's done. The poor donor is now just a shell of its former self. The last piece was removed from it yesterday, and it's resting quietly on jack stands in the garage. There's nothing more we can do for it now, and the dismantler has been called in to administer the last rites. It'll be sad to see it go, but we did have a lot of fun with it while it was around.
Now that it's all done, dismantling the donor feels like a major milestone. It marks the end of taking things apart, the beginning of putting things together. We still have several parts to refurbish, like the brakes and the front hubs, and a couple to modify like the steering rack and driveshaft, but at least we can put to rest one of our biggest concerns, which was running out of room for all the parts that were coming off the car. They all fit, and mostly in the garage. I also think that things will be a lot cleaner from now on. But maybe not.
One of the most frightening jobs in the entire dismantling process had to be removing the wiring harness. Now that it's out of the car, though, it doesn't look all that scary. A big reason for going with an MGB donor was the relative simplicity of the electrical system, and you can see from the photo that except for the mess under the dash (bottom left), it's pretty basic. Still, it's a harness from a '72, which is about twice as complex as the wiring in my old '67, due to modern features like windshield washers and a brake fluid warning light. Somehow we'll make it work.
A couple of tips about wiring harness removal for future reference: First, don't try threading the wires under the dashboard into the engine bay through the tiny hole provided in the bulkhead. You'll break stuff. Instead thread the engine bay wires back into the passenger compartment. Second, don't lay the harness on the ground with light bulbs still in their sockets. Just don't. On a more positive note, our crude labeling system, paper scraps wrapped in clear tape, turned out to be a brilliant move, since even the labels that got completely squished during removal are still legible.
The windshield wipers put up a horrible fight when we tried to remove them. The wipers ended up winning the battle, breaking rather than yielding to the wrench. We got the wiper motor out along with its lengthy gear cable, but the chrome nuts over the wiper arm shafts refused to budge, twisting the whole wiper mechanism into a piece of junk. So we just walked away. Sometimes it's best to simply admit defeat and move on. Later that evening I found the complete setup on eBay for just $45, so obviously they do come out. Unfortunately we're out of Locost dollars this month, but we won't need that part for a long time anyway.
The heater unit was also reluctant to leave the M.G. I was sure we'd removed all of the bolts that were holding it in, but even a big screwdriver under the housing wouldn't lift it more than a quarter inch. Something had to be bolted down, we just couldn't see what it was. After an extensive search we finally gave up and, with little left to lose, got out something considerably bigger than a large screwdriver. A 6-foot two-by-four. The heater lifted right out. This is a corollary to the rule that says if a hammer won't loosen a stuck part, you need a bigger hammer.
We took the heater apart to clean it up and repaint the housing, but now I'm not sure we're even going to use it. It's huge, almost 17" long, and 8" high. It'll fit on the shelf at the back of the engine bay, but won't leave room for a decent-sized battery. Locosts with windshields are generally required to have a defroster, however the issue has been resolved in virtually every Locost ever built without the use of an MGB heater unit. I don't know. We'll have to think about this one.
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