An M.G. Locost Build

January 12, 2013

We're still freezing here in California, and there's nothing but cold weather in the forecast, so we're not even able to think about painting the frame. The good news is, the cold weather can't last forever. At least we don't think so.

To keep busy, we've been working on the scuttle. We passed a major test last week when we welded on the engine bay shelf and still managed to be able to insert the steering column through the shelf and into the mounting bracket. Long time followers of this build may recall the issue that we had with the bracket mounted directly below the shelf, and our subsequent inability to install the column with the shelf clamped in place. It turns out the modifications we made to the column back then have provided just enough clearance to squeeze it in under the welded shelf. Just barely.

  Nicest part of the car yet
click to enlarge

Mounting the steering column gave us the opportunity to try out our fabulous new steering wheel, a Christmas present from my girlfriend. The classic wood rim wheel was custom-built for an MGB by an old-world craftsman up in Canada. It's going to add a lot of class to the car, assuming the car has any class in the first place. We temporarily attached the scuttle and fully mounted the column just to see if we could climb into the car with the wheel attached. This turned out to be pretty easy, at least without seats.

Speaking of which, we need to make a decision on those pretty soon. I was hoping that for the initial drives we could use my 16" Ultrashield Spec Miata seat, but it's too big. Our first choice for seats would be the basic bench seat found in early Lotus 7s. Easy to make, easy to install, and the only downside is the adjustment mechanism, which consists of various thicknesses of pillows. Our only other choice is something like Speedway Bomber seats, which are narrow and short and ridiculously expensive if you buy the nice seat covers.

Traditional bench seat in an actual Lotus  
click to enlarge

The type of seats we're hoping to avoid is the kind that stick up out of the car. Possibly safer in a rear end collision, they look sadly anachronistic in a replica of a 1963 vehicle. We might think about attaching a pad to the diagonal tube on the roll bar for protection against whiplash. I'm pretty sure they had that sort of technology back in the '60s. Of course none of the sports cars we drove back then had anything like a headrest, and we did occasionally get hit from behind, but somehow we managed to tough it out.

  Dashboard will attach to this hoop somehow
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We don't have our sheets of aluminum yet, so we couldn't cut out our dashboard, but we were able to make the dashboard mounting hoop for our scuttle using the old mock-up dash. We didn't want to weld the hoop to the scuttle yet because we're not exactly sure how we're going to attach the dashboard. Most people with an aluminum dashboard just bolt it on, and by "most" we mean all, because there aren't a lot of other options. Or any other options. But we don't really like the look of screws holding on the dashboard. So it's a dilemma.

Possibly our biggest tabs to date  
click to enlarge

With little else to do before our aluminum arrives, we decided to make some more tabs, because we really miss making tabs. Okay, not so much. These tabs are possibly our biggest so far. They'll be welded to the roll bar for mounting the upper anchor of our 3-point seat belts. So long as we don't lose them, which has already happened once, although not permanently. We made them out of 3/16" steel, which will be a challenge for our Millermatic 140, but Miller says it can do the job if we bevel the edges and weld both sides. We'll see how that goes.

We narrowly averted a disaster last week when our estimated completion date threatened to move into January of 2014. We're hoping to revise the schedule soon, but until then we have to plan to spend at least another 900 hours in the garage before we're done. Because we now believe we know every single remaining step in the build, we've estimated that after just 260 hours we'll be driving our Locost out of the garage and onto the street. We think we can whip that out in about 10 weeks, but we're pretty famous for our optimistic work schedules, so maybe 12 weeks.


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