June 24, 2013
In our continuing efforts to find new ways to stall on painting the Locost, we spent the better part of the weekend working on the headlights. We may have mentioned this earlier, but our original design for the headlight bar, which looked great on paper, or at least in PowerPoint, didn't take into consideration the fact that we'd eventually have to mount headlights on it. Once we got hold of a set of headlights, we were able to determine exactly where we went wrong.
First of all, the bar is only 1" wide. That seems plenty wide enough, and looks about right, but the headlight mounts are 2" wide. We could've let the headlight mounts hang out over the edges of the bar, but we're all aware by now of our prime directive on this build, which is not to do anything that makes us look like complete amateurs. So we had to figure out some kind of modifications that would a) be relatively easy to do, and b) look like something we'd planned to do all along.
Our next problem was the distance between the headlights. We thought more would be better, and PowerPoint seemed to agree. The lights looked good at 36" apart, so we built our headlight bar accordingly. This was, however, before we had wheels on the car. We now know that if we want to be able to steer the car without any interference, the headlights have to be closer together, more like 32". It turns out there's a rule of thumb for positioning Locost headlights, and that's to keep moving them inboard until you can just barely remove the nose.
Our third problem was the turn signals. Our headlight bar made no provision for these, mostly because we had no idea how to mount them. We still don't, but we've seen pictures of turn signal brackets hanging from Locost headlight bars, and a few weeks ago we made a pair of brackets that looked just like the pictures. Or close enough. These brackets would've worked perfectly with our imaginary headlight mounts that were only 1" wide, but not so much with the 2" mounts. We spent a lot of time making those brackets and we weren't looking forward to throwing them away.
So we came up with a solution that maybe isn't optimal, but didn't require a lot of changes to the headlight bar, and allowed us to use more than half of our turn signal brackets. The first thing we did was cut 2" off each end of the headlight bar. Next, we made two headlight mount platforms out of scrap 1/8" steel tubing, with half-inch holes in the middle of each for the headlight units, and small pilot holes for #6 screws to keep the platforms from spinning on the headlight bar. The front of each platform also has a flange for mounting the turn signal bracket.
Being 2" wide, the platforms overhang the headlight bar, but in a good way. An overhanging mount or bracket would definitely look wrong, but these are platforms, so it's okay. To be a platform, as opposed to an ordinary bracket, the material has to be thick enough to resist any flexing. Which is why we used 1/8" steel. Even with that heavy gauge, the platforms still weigh less than the ends of the bar we cut off, so bonus net weight savings.
Because we want to believe we still have a lot more things to do on the Locost besides painting, we started making the interior panels. These are basically just sheets of fiberboard covered with vinyl. Unfortunately, it turns out they're not a lot of fun to make, with lots of sanding and fitting, way more than we usually like, and we got bored after the first one. So we put that task aside and looked around for something else to work on, however it turns out we don't actually have a lot more things to do on the Locost besides painting.
Our coachwork countdown is hovering right around 18 tasks and 136 hours, and a dozen of those tasks involve painting. The remaining six non-painting tasks include the exhaust heat shield, installing the battery, the hood scoop, and the hood latches. Which is only four tasks, so our initial estimates must've been off somewhere. So now it looks like we have no choice but to start painting. We've resigned ourselves to shooting all the parts with a spray gun, both primer and color coat, which is going to be a huge mess and take weeks. If all goes well.
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