August 8, 2013
So far we've managed to resist the temptation to start riveting on our freshly-painted body panels. They're pretty much dry now, or actually they are dry, but it's hard to say what a pop rivet might do at this point. So we're leaving them alone. They do take up a lot of space in the garage, however, and we have to be careful to work around them. But we're not touching them.
We're keeping busy instead with the lights and the grill. The headlight buckets that we spray painted last month turned out to be no more glossy than the scuttle, which is barely acceptable these days. We tried to buff them out, but the paint just isn't very smooth. They really need to be sanded down, all the way to 2000 grit, then buffed and polished. Which is way too much work, so we'll go with barely acceptable for now. They can always be removed and repainted later. Although we wouldn't give you great odds on that ever happening.
So the dull green headlights are installed, but getting power to them required more electrical work than we're comfortable with. The headlights have three wires each, for high beams, low beams, and ground, with no connectors or anything. They needed to plug into Lucas pin receptacles, components that don't match any automotive electrical connector known to man. Or woman. So we had to order Lucas pins from Moss Motors, and solder them onto the wires, a process that's just about guaranteed to fail. Luckily we don't plan on driving at night much.
But the lights work so far, both high beams and low. We aimed them at a large piece of cardboard we set up 5 feet away, and then tightened them down for good so they can never move. Ever. Possibly not the most accurate alignment in the world, but again, we're not planning to actually ever use the headlights. We do have to pass a California Bureau of Automotive Repair inspection in a few weeks, where we understand they test the lights and brakes, but it'll be daytime so it shouldn't be a problem. As long as our solder joints hold. And the brakes work.
We also bought a pair of cheap turn signal lights from O'Reilley Auto Parts, less than $10 for both, and so definitely not a long term solution but they should at least allow us to get the turn signals working. We plan to paint the cheap plastic bases black and also add a ground wire to each unit, so they won't look quite as cheap they do now, but we still won't have any trouble throwing them in the trash when we get our cool new $90 Lucas L488 dual-filament turn signal lights with glass lenses etched with the LUCAS logo.
Altogether we've put about a dozen hours into our aluminum grill, and it's still looking good, i.e. we haven't ruined it yet. We eventually have to cut 14 intricate holes in the aluminum to end up with the design we want, and so far we've cut three. So we're not out of the woods yet. But the scroll saw is doing its job, and we're getting lots of practice filing aluminum to a smooth finish, and it's possible when we're all done that we'll be able to polish the aluminum even further to an almost chrome-like finish. But probably not.
We now have fewer than 200 hours left to go on our master build plan, and we think that's pretty accurate. We've taken care of so many details over the past year—details that a lot of builders seem to leave to the end of the project for some reason—that there just isn't a lot left to do. Our only major remaining task is the windshield, which includes the windshield wipers and defroster, if it turns out a defroster is even possible. Nothing else on the agenda is going to be much of a challenge, except maybe figuring out how to cover the seats.
So we appear to be nearing the end of this unbelievably difficult, messy, and time-consuming project, and we're as surprised about that as you are, but before we go any further we want to be clear about one thing, just to avoid any potential source of confusion down the road. There's a common misconception in the Locost community, and probably other communities as well, that your Locost is never done. You're always doing something to it, rebuilding parts or adding new ones, so you can never claim the car is finished.
We can. Our Locost will be done the day we bolt on the license plates. We spent way too many hours over the past two years busting knuckles, bruising hands, burning fingers, struggling to engender even a false sense of accomplishment in the face of a bunch of unassembled Locost parts scattered around the garage, the whole time dreaming about this thing finally, someday, somehow, being done. And so it will be done. Whatever we have on the car when we attach the plates, that's how we roll. Not that we'll stop working on it, but everything after that will just be mods.
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