An M.G. Locost Build
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April 19, 2013
Runner

We started the Locost this morning. We rolled the car out into the sun, hooked up the battery, and with video rolling we pulled out the choke and turned the key. The engine fired right up, or close enough, and just like that, we brought to a semi-successful conclusion the longest and most technically challenging phase of this entire building-a-car-from-scratch project.

  The Locost ready for its first start
click to enlarge

There wasn't much doubt the car would start, or at least no more than usual. We'd already tested the starter, the fuel pump, and the ignition system. The only thing that would have kept it from lighting up was a timing or carburetor problem, and we were pretty sure we'd already worked those out last year with the donor. Still pretty exciting to have the engine running in the Locost. It sounded great, too. Not really loud, but not so quiet that you won't be able to hear it a few blocks away. We let the engine warm up for a bit, revved it a few times, and then shut it down.

Cooling down after its first run  
click to enlarge

In preparation for this momentous event we spent the last two days getting the choke and throttle working, and also hooking up our temporary fuel tank. All of the parts from Moss Motors arrived, so we were able to connect the fuel lines, which turned out to be both good and bad. The good was, the pump delivered fuel to the carbs as soon as you turned the key. The bad was, the carbs leaked. They leaked in the donor, too, but we thought we'd fixed it with new O-rings. Possibly the O-rings don't take well to sitting on a shelf for a year.

To install the choke cable we had to drill a couple of holes, which wasn't too difficult except for deciding where the choke would go. In the MGB the choke handle sits high up on the right, where it's hard to get much leverage on it. Then, once you manage to get the choke out, you have to lock it in place by twisting it, which jams the offset shaft against the housing. However, as the choke ages the jam mechanism gets less effective, as for instance in the donor where the choke wouldn't stay out at all. So you had to hold it out, and then somehow turn the key.

  Properly located choke handle
click to enlarge

To do this with the choke on the right, you had to make a crossover move with your left hand, pull the choke out, then turn the key with your right. Awkward, and potentially embarrassing. Not a problem for the British. They get to sit on the right, so the choke is on the left. We wanted to do that, too—it's our car, after all—so even though we have a brand new choke cable that locks easily in any position, we put it on the left, above the brake warning light. That also worked well for the cable routing, avoiding the steering column and most of the wiring under the dash.

The engine was a little out of tune when we first started it up, which was kind of a surprise since last we knew it was running fine in the donor. We had to adjust the timing a little and the carbs a lot, and I'm still not sure the carbs won't need overhauling again, or at least a good scrubbing with a gallon or two of carburetor cleaner. The good thing is, they're adjusted well enough for now, and the car starts immediately every time you turn the key, and we know this because we've been doing it a lot.

Locost idling with operating gauges semi-installed  
click to enlarge

Later in the day we managed to get the tach and temperature gauges working. The amazing thing is, the problem turned out to be electrical, something we actually had to troubleshoot with an MGB wiring diagram in one hand and a 12V test light in the other. Of all the many technical difficulties we've had to overcome to get the engine running in the Locost, nothing quite compares to that one brilliant discovery of an unplugged connector below the dash. We're happy the Locost is running, but we're most proud of figuring out how electricty works in a car.

We need a few more parts before we can drive the car, but we also want to get the dashboard finished up, and maybe start on the bodywork. The interior needs a few things, too. Sometime in the next couple of days we'll figure out what we're going to do and get back to you.

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Comments:  
posted April 22, 2013 at 08:38:46  
Link to video on YouTube  
posted April 22, 2013 at 09:49:06  
great stuff send a link for the vid .....when those choke cables get worn us brits use a clothes peg to keep it open lol  
posted February 18, 2017 at 16:24:17  
Major thanks for the article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.
insurancewhisper
 
posted November 8, 2017 at 12:52:54  
Thank you ever so for you article.Much thanks again. Cool.