An M.G. Locost Build
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July 3, 2013
Paint Prep

It's been too hot lately to get much done on the Locost. At least that's our excuse. But really, worst heat wave in ten years, and a transit strike to boot, so traffic has been miserable. Not that bad traffic affects our build, but we felt it was necessary to complain about it anyway.

  Wooden seat parts suitably finished
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It hasn't been horrible out in the garage, but not exactly motivating either. We did manage to get all of the wooden seat parts painted and varnished. In this heat varnish dries to a sandable finish in approximately fifteen minutes, so we got four coats on really fast. We also cut out the rest of our fiberboard interior panels. We'll attach those to the chassis with sheet metal screws and cup washers, just like they did 50 years ago, but we can't do it now because we have to cover them with vinyl first, and besides it's way too early to be finishing up the interior.

Our genuine Lucas back-up lights arrived from Moss Motors, and we installed them with the same accuracy as the taillights, which means you can't tell by looking at them that they're not exactly the same distance from the center of the car. Unless you have a ruler. And even then, the "center of the car" is an abstract concept at this point, best represented by a fuzzy line about 1/4" wide somewhere near the middle of the spare tire. Anyway, the important thing is, the lights are genuine M.G. units with LUCAS embossed on the lenses.

Back up lights more or less centered  
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Almost as important, they work when you stick the transmission in reverse. That part wasn't easy, even though we'd tested the wires for power back when we installed the harness. The thing is, because the lights have two electrical terminals, you would naturally expect one terminal to be power and the other to be ground, and you'd of course be correct. You might also assume that it doesn't matter which direction the power flows, so that either wire could be attached to either terminal. That's where the logic breaks down.

After installing the lights, we plugged them in and they didn't work. A lot of other things didn't work either, like the turn signals, the fuel pump, the alternator light, and just about everything else. We thought, perhaps there's a short in one of these back-up lights. So we unplugged the lights and everything started working again. Then we checked the fuses, and they were fine, so we plugged the back-up lights back in, and nothing worked again. And then a fuse blew.

  Power terminal well-insulated by piece of paper
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It turns out that despite the fact that the back-up lights have both power and ground terminals, from which any normal person would conclude that the body of the light is isolated from the electrical circuit, the body is in fact grounded, and the ground terminal is just a piece of copper riveted to the steel body. Which would be okay I suppose if you were mounting the light in a fiberglass body, but not in an aluminum Locost, or even an MGB, in which case it would be wise to have the power wire connected to the power terminal, and not to ground.

It's pretty amazing how familiar we are with the M.G. electrical system these days. Of course that's a little like saying we just read the latest Dick and Jane book and felt we understood the characters. It appears now that the M.G. electrical system is about as complex as a ball point pen. It doesn't always work as reliably as the pen, however, and in this particular instance we felt the fuse should've blown immediately, so we'd have known right away the back-up lights were shorting out. But that doesn't always happen with Lucas electrics.

This is because the electrical system in an M.G. operates at a quantum level. When you have a short, the fuse doesn't automatically blow, but only has a certain probability that it will blow. Until you actually observe the fuse, it's in both a blown and unblown state at the same time. It only assumes one state or the other when you look at it, and the state it assumes is the result of a collapsed wave function that includes a short circuit as only one of many possibilities. So it's never a sure thing. Of course if you're not a big fan of quantum mechanics that probably doesn't make a lot of sense, but trust me, that's how it works.

Countersunk rivets almost completely hidden  
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We made a decision on the rear fenders. We bought a box of countersunk rivets so we could rivet the fenders to their aluminum flanges, and then putty over the rivets so they won't show. So far it's looking good. The rivets are in and the first coat of putty is on. If prior experience is any guide, we'll only need about 16 more coats of putty until the rivets disappear altogether. And while that may sound like a lot of work, keep in mind that in this weather putty dries to granite in about five minutes.

  Hood securely attached by tiny draw latches
click to enlarge

By now you've possibly noticed we haven't yet mentioned anything about painting the bodywork. You may have surmised from this that we've managed to put it off once again. If so, you're only half right. Maybe a little more than half. We've in fact installed the hood latches and cut yet another hole in the hood for the radiator cap, both required steps in preparation for painting. Our next step is to remove all the body panels, which we'll do just as soon as the weather cools off to a more comfortable 80 degrees. Which could be anytime in the next week or two.

In any case we are now completely out of things to work on. We don't even have any boring tasks left. We can't re-install the headlights or the radiator fan because the brackets are still drying. We can't cover the seats because we don't have any foam or vinyl. We can't build our exhaust heat shield because we're going to have to remove the exhaust to take off the body panels. And the windshield, shocks and driveshaft are still a few budget cycles away. So it looks like painting is our only option. Unless we can come up with something else.


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posted June 19, 2015 at 12:55:21  
Do you care if I put part of this on my site if I post a link to this site?  
posted June 23, 2015 at 05:26:09  
Feel free - Nick  
posted December 29, 2016 at 02:58:44  
Yup, that sholud defo do the trick!