An M.G. Locost Build
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October 16, 2012
More Sheeting

The engine is still in the car, so we're still working on boring stuff. Although we did manage to get a few things done. Although not enough.

We replaced the handbrake cable. You may recall we were somewhat unhappy with our first attempt at adapting an MGB handbrake to our Locost, because we cut the cable a few inches too short. This forced it to run directly below the differential, down where the first good-sized rock that came along would crush it into oblivion. So we bought a new cable, and trimmed the housing down to 32", which allows it to run alongside the differential case, just under the offside axle and out of harm's way.

  Pivot pin obviously at the wrong angle
click to enlarge

And naturally—because this is exactly what happens whenever you change something—the new cable routing made our cool new pivot bracket obsolete. The bracket set the pivot pin at a twenty degree angle, which accommodated the cable coming up from the bottom of the differential, but also put a nasty kink in the nearside cable. We were prepared to live with a kink on one side of the bracket, but now that the cable runs straight across the back of the differential, perfectly horizontal, we have kinks on both sides.

Superior bracket is on the left  
click to enlarge

So we made a new bracket, and it looks even cooler than the last one because the pivot pin is perfectly vertical. The nasty nearside cable kink (wow, double alliteration points) is gone, and we also managed to get a little more adjustment out of the cable at the handbrake end. So it's all good. Except we need to make one more tiny little bracket, something that will keep the cable housing away from the Panhard rod. But that's it, and we're not making any more changes to the handbrake. Ever.

Our steering is also complete. The last step involved lengthening the tie rods, a job we were a little nervous about because we want the steering to work most of the time. A tie rod failure isn't as bad as it sounds, but it's not fun. The steering gets a little wonky. The free wheel tends to follow the direction of the car, which helps a little, but responsiveness takes a hit. It's not an optimal configuration, and you're probably going to want to pull over and wait for a tow. Unless you're like me and will drive a car until its wheels fall off, so long as it continues to move under its own power in a forward direction. Or any direction.

  Forged steel tie rod extensions, a.k.a. lug nuts
click to enlarge

We have seen Locosts that used grade 2 coupling nuts to extend the tie rods, and to our knowledge none of these setups has failed. However, in each case the full 2-1/4" length of the coupling nut was used, about 40 threads. We don't have 2-1/4". We have 1-1/4". So we wanted something stronger than grade 2. What we found, after a long and extensive search, was forged steel lug nuts. They're not graded like real hardware so we don't know what their ultimate yield strength is, but we like the sound of the word forged.

Just enough threads to do the job  
click to enlarge

We then cut a pair of 2-1/2" long pieces from a grade 5 threaded rod to use for our extensions. We threaded them into our forged steel lug nuts, with grade 8 jam nuts on either side, blue Loctite everywhere, and everything torqued to 80 ft-lbs. Or as close as you can get to 80 ft-lbs. with a box-end wrench. After setting the steering wheel straight and toe-in to zero, we had less than 1/4" of free threads left on our tie rods. So we cut it close, but we're pretty happy with the results.

Our tunnel sheeting is progressing nicely, which means we haven't made a mess of it yet. We'll do that later on when we try to weld it to the frame. It's not that we lack confidence. Okay it is, but try welding thin sheet metal sometime. There's a reason they invented rivets. we've been dreading this part of the build almost since the beginning. Unfortunately in all that time we never figured out a way to avoid it, so here we are.

The worst part of sheeting is probably the two rear panels, because that's all we've done so far and we don't have anything to compare it with. Still, they probably are the worst, because the top of the tunnel angles out to accommodate the giant MGB differential, and the bottom of the tunnel doesn't. It could have, but it doesn't, and as you know we never assign blame when things don't quite work out the way we planned. In any case this isn't a major problem, except for the seat belt brackets.

  Standard Locost seat belt recess
click to enlarge

The rear panels follow the top rail of the transmission tunnel. The seat belt brackets follow the bottom rail. Panels angling out from the tunnel would therefore cover up the brackets. We had to do something, and we couldn't make it look like we screwed up, so fudging wasn't an option. We decided we could made a little recess for the seat belt bracket by welding on a thin strip of sheet metal and trimming it down to fit around the bracket. So that's what we did, and it came out pretty nice, almost like it was designed that way. Don't tell anyone.

There’s a rumor going around that our muffler is about to arrive. We’ve got a UPS tracking number and everything. Unfortunately our online supplier shows the muffler not available for two more weeks. So we’re suspicious. Yet somehow very excited.


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