September 24, 2013
The UPS truck stopped by a lot this week, and so did the Fed-Ex truck, and also the U.S. Postal Service, and so we now officially have everything we need to complete the Locost. Except for shocks. So we still can't drive the car, at least not very far, but in the last couple of days we've been able to install the windshield, the fenders, and the seats. More or less.
Installing the windshield did not go well. We started by trying to fit the glass into the windshield frame using something called setting tape. This stuff looks like rubber, feels like rubber, and smells like rubber, but it's not rubber. It has a lot of plasticity, i.e. the opposite of rubberiness, and it has to be pulled and stretched and shaped around all of the straight and curved glass edges so it doesn't wrinkle and comes out even. Not a job for amateurs. We went through a lot of setting tape. Also a few Band-Aids. Glass edges look smooth but they're still glass.
With the glass installed, we then bolted the support stanchions to the frame, and that went okay, but fitting the stanchions to the car was a nightmare. Nothing lined up, and the stanchions that we so carefully bent and shaped around the light poles across the street suddenly didn't fit anymore. They're close, but we wanted a nice flush fit with the scuttle, instead of the 1/4" gaps we have now. Something must've happened between the time we bent the stanchions and fit the glass in the frame. It doesn't look awful, but it could look better.
On top of that, the bottom of the windshield didn't fit the scuttle very well at all, although in fairness the scuttle sheeting was never what you'd call flat and smooth. The gaps aren't huge, less than 1/8", and we were able to adjust the rubber strip at the base of the windshield to eliminate most of them, but not all of them. So it doesn't look great but as usual we have options. A thin strip of foam under the rubber strip would fill the gaps. So would a bead of RTV. Although that seems a little extreme.
On the other hand it wouldn't kill us to drive the car as is. A little bit of air seeping in under the windshield would hardly be noticed against the gale force winds coming in over the top and sides. Still, it's not optimal and even though it looks okay from a few feet away, it doesn't look great up close. Or from the driver's seat. What we really need is a rubber strip at the base of the windshield that's flat on the bottom instead of round, and looks like a proper windshield seal. Somebody must make something like that. We'll keep an eye out.
So the windshield is installed for now, and removing it will be pretty simple once we figure out a way to eliminate the gaps, but even without any gaps, we're still a little disappointed with how it looks. It's very small, and not the best shape. A proper Lotus or Caterham windscreen has sides that are almost parallel. Ours angle in a lot. Nothing we can do about it now, but we're hoping it'll look better once we figure out a way to adapt our giant Triumph TR4 wind wings to the tiny Locost windshield frame.
Our custom-made fenders arrived this week, and they fit the Locost much better than the windshield. We managed to come up with the proper length for the fender stays, or close enough, and after welding up all four stays and bolting them to hubs, the fenders dropped into place like they were made for the car. The only hard part was getting both fenders to cover the same part of each tire. We think we're close. The fenders still look big, especially compared to the windshield, but then everything looks big compared to the windshield.
We also finished up the seats this week. We sewed together covers for both seat bottoms and the seat back, and by making the covers a little too small for the wooden bases, we ended up stretching out all of the wrinkles in the pleats and seams. Or not all of them, but you know, the main ones. So the seams aren't totally straight and the seats aren't perfect, but they're black so it's hard to tell. And actually, if you compare our seats to professionally upholstered seats costing hundreds of dollars more, ours are a lot cheaper.
Despite stretching the life out of the covers the seats still came out big and puffy. Luckily they fit in the car. But the driving position seems a little high, although in retrospect we might've spent too much time over the past year sitting on the floor of the bare chassis staring out through scuttle tubes. And it's not like the seating position is bad. The steering wheel, gearshift, and pedals are all easier to reach. But you do feel more exposed, not quite as well protected by the spindly space frame and the thin aluminum sheeting.
But we'll get used to it. We'll get used to the tiny windshield too. In fact, we're looking forward to getting used to all of the car's little idiosyncrasies. Just as soon as the shocks arrive.
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