May 8, 2013
Great news. We've made what we think will be the last major changes to our build plan. The changes are substantial, and we just hope they're accurate. The changes moved our estimated completion dateóa date that's been hovering around the end of December, 2013 for as long as we can rememberóup to the middle of October. Which is outstanding. It's also bumped our completion percent from 76 to 80. Very cool.
Ever since we painted the frame and started reassembling all the bits and pieces, we've had a feeling that our build plan was off. Every ballpark estimate we subsequently made for the remaining work had us finishing up by the end of summer. But our original two-year build plan had been marginally accurate for a long time, so we stuck with it. Now it's pretty obvious we were wrong, at least about the final steps. Of course in our defense it's been well established that we don't know what we're doing, so I think we can be excused.
When we first started out on this project, back in the summer of 2011, we thought we'd spend the next year or two getting the car built and assembled, and then pull it all apart again for the final paint job. Our last task in the build plan, appropriately titled Paint and Final Assembly, was estimated at 178 hours. But here's the deal. It turns out we don't have to paint the car all at once. The bodywork comes apart in several pieces, and each piece can be painted in its own time, before it's attached to the car.
So that's what we're doing, and we added a few hours to the Exterior part of the plan to cover the additional painting, which allowed us to take away many, many hours from Paint and Final Assembly. And rename it just Final Assembly. The time difference is more than 100 hours, which reduces our total plan to just over 2250 hours. Since we've got more than 1800 hours into the build already, we're looking at just a little over 400 hours before we have a registered Locost licensed for the street. Pretty amazing.
There's one downside to this change, because there's always a downside. Accelerating the build schedule also accelerates the budget. We've been carefully watching our Locost dollars for several months now so we could afford springs and shocks, because springs and shocks are the only things keeping us from driving the car. But springs and shocks are a big-ticket item. In order to get the car done sooner, we're going to take our shock money and use it to buy bodywork, lights, and interior bits.
Which means we're not going to be driving the car for a while, which obviously isn't fun, but in the end it's all going to be worth it. We'll get the car finished a lot faster, and it'll be much more roadworthy when we take that first historic drive. Over the next couple of months we'll start the engine and let it warm up every week or so, just to make sure we still can, and the day the shocks arrive we'll install them in the car, break out the video camera, or actually the iPhone, and motor away smartly down the street.
In the meantime we still have work to do. The glove box and dashboard are almost done, and we're about ready to try covering the dash with veneer. We have a 2x8 foot sheet of it, which means there's plenty of extra in case we mess up, so long as we don't mess up too many times. We'll practice on the console covers and let you know how it goes. We don't expect the pieces to look like real wood when we're done because for one thing they're only 0.10" thick, but we hope once they're stained and varnished they'll look nice overall. From a distance.
As promised, we did some major cutting on our scuttle in order to provide clearance for the glove box. As expected, it looks horrible. Of course no one will ever see it unless they remove the dashboard, and by the time they've managed to figure out how to do that, nothing odd or unusual about the car is likely to surprise them. We actually did describe how to remove the dashboard in our workshop manual, but if we succeeded in making our workshop manual read like most other British workshop manuals, it's not going to do them much good.
Before we installed the dash we needed to make sure all the wires under the dash could reach their respective components. We moved the light switch and fuel gauge in the Locost from their original location in the MGB, so the wires for those items had to be lengthened. Risky, but we tested the light switch after our modifications, and not only did we get power to the headlights and tail lights, but we left the switch on for several minutes and nothing burst into flames. So it's all very encouraging.
Despite the major schedule changes, we think we're still on track for completing the coachwork and the interior by the end of July. We've completed eight of our original 61 tasks, and added twelve more, which may sound like we're not making good progress, and of course we're not, but the good news is, the number of hours didn't increase that much, going from 273 to 280. And we still think we'll beat most of those estimates, or if not most then at least a couple. Or maybe none. But we'll keep at it.
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