May 20, 2013
We didn't get a lot done on the Locost last week. Part of the reason was a weekend spent at the Bay Area Maker Faire, an annual event that brings together thousands of DIY types and another billion or so gawkers who want to see what the DIY types are up to. The event is huge, covering several acres, and far too well attended. Exhibits included a range of projects so wide it's impossible to describe, but among the thousands of contraptions on display were giant Lego creations, 3D printers, underwater robots, laser light shows, hovercraft, and fire-breathing mechanical dragons. Also a couple of Locosts.
The two Locosts at the show were driven, not trailered, from Cave Junction, Oregon the Friday before the event. Both were high-efficiency vehicles, one a Lola-bodied Locost designed and built by Jack McCornack of Kinetic Vehicles, and the other a very traditional Locost built by Jack's friend Dave Levison. Jack's car is a turbo diesel that gets an easy 100 mpg on the highway. Dave's Locost has a gasoline-powered 660 cc turbo 3-cylinder, so it only gets 65 mpg, but it's the faster of the two with 62 horsepower pushing just 1100 lbs.
A strange thing occurred when I first saw Dave's car. For all the thousands of Locost pictures I've looked at over the past couple of years, I realized I'd never actually seen a real Locost. I saw a Westfield once, and a Caterham, but not up close. Dave's Locost didn't look that different from ours, except it was blue and had all its bodywork. Dave built the car in just seven months, although the car doesn't have all the amenities like windshield wipers and a defroster. But it does have a radio. And it'll drive all the way to Oregon and back.
Despite all the excitement of the Maker Faire, we managed to get a few things done on our Locost. Or at least one. We finished up the fuel system. We got a fuel sender from Speedway Motors and a bunch of Aeroquip hoses from Summit Racing, and all we had to do was put everything together. Pretty straightforward. The only thing we had to figure out was where to put the sender unit, and for that we assumed the floaty end should be somewhere around the middle of the tank, so the level doesn't change a lot when we're speeding around turns.
We haven't put any actual fuel in the tank to test it out, but we're pretty confident it'll work. The tank is strapped in tight, with rubber pads underneath and rubber strips all around it. Bolting it in was easy due to the lack of bodywork, and if we're lucky we'll never have to remove it again. Although we think it'll be possible. If you undo the front bolts first, you should be able to slide the tank forward just enough to get a 2-foot socket extension between the tank and the rear of the body. At least that's how we're writing it up in our workshop manual.
So we're done now with the fuel system. The fancy braided stainless steel fuel hoses and anodized fittings look really cool, way better than anything else on the car, and they're visible even to the casual observer, which is excellent. We used to think only people who really knew what they were doing had braided fuel hoses and anodized fittings, but it turns out as long as you buy all the right sizes, everything fits together pretty easily. So we're not really impressed by braided hoses anymore. Although they do look cool.
One other part we made for the Locost this week was a gas pedal stop. When we installed our new throttle cable earlier this month, we found that the gas pedal came up about 3" short of the firewall at full throttle. To keep from stretching the cable beyond all recognition, we needed something that would block the pedal at that point, and also withstand the additional foot pressure we'd need to get around that stupid SUV that's about to cut us off.
So we built a pedal stop, and we designed it after the pedal stop in the MGB, except larger. We weren't sure what to make it out of, but the first piece of metal we grabbed from our spare metal bin turned out to be 18 gauge, so that was one engineering decision out of the way. We cut a two-inch wide strip from the sheet, bent it in the appropriate places to make it look like a pedal stop, and drilled holes in the mounting flanges so we could attach it to the firewall. We then radiused the flange ends for that special factory look.
Not yet convinced we wouldn't be able to crush the piece with enough pedal pressure, we cut out another piece of sheet metal and welded it to the middle of the stop. It's now strong enough to support the weight of the car. In earlier days we would've gone all the way and welded pieces on both sides of the stop, thereby making it ridiculously over-engineered and consequently way too heavy. Fortunately we're much lazier now. Although we did consider it.
So we're making progress, and in case you're wondering, and even if you're not, we're still keeping track of our list of coachwork tasks. We started with 61 tasks and 273 hours, and we're now down to 51 tasks and 272 hours. You might think that's not a big reduction in hours considering all the effort we've put in, but somehow it just worked out that way. We're not sure why. The good news is, we still plan to meet our July 26 deadline. Although we're a little fuzzy right now on exactly what we're supposed to have done by then. We'll check our notes, and as usual we'll let you know.
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