An M.G. Locost Build
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April 8, 2013

Two bits of good news. Over the weekend we managed to get the scuttle painted, and not only that, but it's dry and it looks good, at least by our definition of good. And dry. The other bit of good news is that we cut out our hood and bent it up so it fits on the car, which means we can now install the engine, which is really the only thing stopping us from starting the car. That and a bunch of wiring. And a bunch of other things.

  Shiny, and smoother than we ever expected
   Shiny, and smoother than we ever expected

This past week we've managed to either complete or postpone over a dozen tasks on our engine-start countdown list. Completing tasks is fun, but so is postponing them. We realized after we made our original list that starting the car is not the same as driving it, and so things like seats and seat belts and a cooling fan aren't really necessary, which means our list is down to 36 tasks and 62 hours. We'll put in our usual 20 hours this week, but next week we're on vacation and can work on the Locost almost full time.

So getting the car running by the 20th of this month is practically inevitable, assuming that about 40 or 50 other things go right. One of those things is the fuel pump, which we hadn't run in over a year. S.U. fuel pumps don't ordinarily like that kind of treatment, so it was with great anticipation that we installed the pump, hooked up the fuel lines, grounded the battery, and touched the harness lead for the fuel pump to the positive battery terminal. The sound of the pump clicking away was music to our ears.

Two other major things that have to go right are the starter and the ignition system. A working alternator would be a plus, but it wouldn't be a showstopper so we're not going to push it. We've been studying the MGB wiring diagram for several weeks now, to the point where we're starting to think we understand it, but we're a little nervous because some of the wires in the diagram don't exactly match what we saw when we took the car apart. Hopefully we'll figure it out when the time comes. Hey, we got the fuel pump working, the rest should be easy.

Cardboard tube has radius similar to scuttle  
Cardboard tube has radius similar to scuttle  

And the hood is done, though building it was not much fun. As usual, the Locost book was sufficiently vague and/or contradictory about the construction process so we had to figure out a lot of stuff ourselves, which is never a good idea under the best of circumstances, and potentially disastrous when it comes to beating aluminum body panels with a large hammer. Cutting out the hood and rounding the sides to the proper radius went okay, but bending the 2" lip on the ends required a lot of muscle, a big hammer, and a certain amount of indifference to the outcome.

  Hood edge bent by hammer
   Hood edge bent by hammer

A couple of things we feel obligated to point out: 1) The book suggests using lengths of wood to construct your makeshift brake. Maybe wood is a lot tougher in England. In this country, wood bends, chips, cracks, and splinters under repeated hammer blows. Metal works better. We clamped one-inch square steel tubes along either side of the aluminum sheet and got nice crisp corners. Also, 2) the book suggests you start the bending process by hand. If you can bench press 500 pounds, go for it. The rest of us will start with the hammer.

Hood in place with hammered ends well hidden  
Hood in place with hammered ends well hidden  

In the end we weren't totally disappointed with the results. The hood looks reasonably smooth on the car. Of course the edges still look like they were beaten with a hammer. Mind you we never beat directly on the aluminum, we always used a piece of wood in between, but hammer blows left marks nonetheless. Fortunately the edges aren't ordinarily visible, except of course when the hood is removed, and hopefully whenever that happens all eyes will be drawn to the spectacular engine bay and no one will pay any attention to the hood.

We've still got a few more details to take care of before we stuff the engine in the car, but if all goes according to plan we'll be ready by this weekend. We want to get the clutch working, and maybe the brakes, so we've got to install the pedal box and pedals, fill the master cylinders with Castrol LMA, and bleed the lines. Nothing we can't handle.


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