An M.G. Locost Build
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April 4, 2013
Transmission

We finally got the scuttle squared away. We knew we were going to have to do something different with the paint this time, and we did. We scraped it off, all of it, right down to bare metal. Which turned out to be remarkably easy because the paint was still gummy, all the way down. Whatever the good folks at Rustoleum put in their spray cans to get the paint to shoot out of those tiny little holes, it also seems to keep the paint from drying.

  Showing the paint who's boss
   Showing the paint who's boss

I'm sure the paint would dry eventually. I don't think you can sell paint that never dries. The paint on the scuttle sides dried okay. That paint was a lot thinner, though, because we didn't want any drips or runs. So maybe the paint only dries if you keep it thin, and in retrospect we might've gone a little too heavy on top. But we wanted a thick coat. We brushed the chassis with the same paint, and that was a lot thicker, and it dried completely in a couple of days. So it can't be the paint. It has to be the spray cans.

Starting over, at least on top  
Starting over, at least on top  

In any case we scraped off the gooey paint in long green strips, and then sanded away what was left. We resprayed the bare metal scuttle with etching primer, and it dried hard in under an hour, restoring at least some of our faith in spray cans. We'll sand the primer tomorrow and then try shooting the color again, and this time we'll lay it on nice and thin, just enough to get a glossy finish. And then we'll be done with the scuttle, and it'll look okay, maybe not perfect but at least not grossly deformed.

  Bell housing peeking out of transmission tunnel
   Bell housing peeking out of transmission tunnel

The scuttle drama has been keeping us from installing a lot of other parts on the car, like the pedal box, the front wiring harness, the battery, the clutch, and the last of the brake lines, all things that we need to get working before the big engine start affair later this month. We think we're still on schedule, though, because we got the transmission installed in record time, much faster than we anticipated. We planned to take five hours for the job but took only four. So maybe not much faster. But definitely faster.

Nuts and bolts look deceptively accessible  
Nuts and bolts look deceptively accessible  

Three of those four hours were spent trying to get a couple of bolts threaded into the transmission case. We won't go into the details, except to say that because of all the new sheet metal there's a lot less room around the transmission mount than there used to be. We anticipated this of course. Not that we did anything about it. We did eventually manage to get all the nuts and bolts installed and torqued down, except for one which we'll get to later this week after a little Dremel work on the transmission tunnel.

  Hood somewhat larger than anticipated
   Hood somewhat larger than anticipated

With the transmission installed, our next big step was supposed to be making the hood, a.k.a. bonnet. We got as far as cutting out a construction paper template and taping it to the car, which is always a fun step in any Locost build, except when the template turns out to be quite a bit bigger than you expected, and just slightly bigger than the sheet of 3003 aluminum you ordered. So here's a handy tip for all you Locost builders out there: cut your paper bonnet first, then order your aluminum.

Luckily, a sheet of aluminum that's too small for a hood is still bigger than the two body panels that run along the sides of the car, so we're not facing any major financial crisis due this little oversight. However, we don't want to build the sides of the car just yet, because a) it won't help us get the car started, and b) making body panels is one of those steps we thought we'd somehow magically avoid when we first launched this project two years ago.

We've had a lot of steps like that. The exhaust system was one. Brakes and wiring were, also. We got them done, though, and it seemed like what it took in the end was mental preparation. You had to stop thinking about the whole job, and just think about the details. The whole job is impossible, but you can handle the details. That seemed to work. The only problem with this is, you can't change your mental attitude like that all at once. It takes weeks. You have to sneak up on it.

So it's not like we don't want to make the body panels, it's just that we're not prepared to do it right now. We didn't plan on doing it anytime soon, and so we haven't had a chance to think about it. Which means it's still impossible. So we'll keep the aluminum safely tucked away for later, and work instead on getting the engine running.

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