October 3, 2013
Over the past couple of days we've taken the Locost out for a few more test drives. I'm not exactly sure what we're testing, but the fact that nothing has broken off or failed means that either the car is basically sound, or else our test protocol is somehow flawed. I'm thinking it's the latter. In any case we'll know more once we're able to take the car somewhere besides our local streets.
In the meantime we've slightly expanded our definition of local streets to include parts of unincorporated Marin county where the Novato police department doesn't patrol. This area contains a small park and a couple of local eateries, but unfortunately leaves us a few yards short of a proper coffee shop, restaurant, or gas station. We could sneak over there, but we wouldn't want to hang around because it could be argued that we're operating an unlicensed motor vehicle, and the City of Novato makes a lot of money off its towing contracts.
A few days ago we refit our windshield to the scuttle, and managed to fill all of those unsightly gaps with a windshield seal from a 1959 Porsche 356B Cabriolet. Surprisingly, the German part fit perfectly, and even more surprisingly the Porsche people didn't want a million dollars for it, only $23 plus shipping. The best part is, it looks excellent, like a real windshield seal for a real car, with a wide flap in front to follow the wavy contours of our moderately warped scuttle, plus another seal behind the glass because that's just the way the Germans do things.
We also installed our freshly-painted front fenders. We added strips of rubber between the fenders and stays, and rubber washers under the shiny stainless steel bolts, thereby hopefully reducing the amount of vibration imparted to our fragile stays, but probably not. In any case the important thing is, as always, the fenders look good despite their excessive size and rattle can green paint, and how well they hold up in day-to-day use won't an issue once we get past the long and painful inspection and registration process.
I'm not sure fenders are all that critical. It's a common belief in the Locost community that without front fenders you'll be pelted by rocks thrown up by the front tires. This hasn't proved to be the case during our test drives, I think because our huge scuttle gets in the way. If you're going to get hit in the face by rocks thrown up by the tires, I think you have to be able to see the bottom of the tires. We can't. Which means we should be safe with or without fenders. But we still like the way they look, so we hope the stays don't break anytime soon.
We never did build a hood scoop. We'll probably do it someday, but the lack of a scoop doesn't seem to be causing any major problems right now. In retrospect I'm not sure we could've done anything to hide that giant cast iron MGB engine block. We wouldn't want it any lower in the chassis, and we wouldn't want the hood line any higher either. Weber carbs would've allowed us to eliminate the holes for the SUs, but then we'd have Weber carbs. An inch more clearance would've eliminated the hole for the coolant filler, but so would relocating the coolant filler.
So the bonnet is now officially complete, and we're writing off the 4 hours we scheduled for adding a hood scoop to it, which isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things, but in any case no one's keeping track of the build hours anymore. Or at least we're not, because we just installed the last part on the Locost today, our genuine Lucas L488 dual filament parking lights and turn signals. Just like inserting the last piece in a giant jigsaw puzzle, the Lucas lights didn't change the picture very much, but it still felt like an accomplishment.
Of course we still have a few hours left on our build schedule, and a couple of projects still in store for the Locost, but those will be mostly cosmetic changes, for example wind wings, M.G.-logo seat belt pads, and windshield wipers. But we plan to take our time on most of those things and just enjoy the car for a while, and so based on that momentous decision we're making the call. On Thursday, October 3rd, 2013, twenty-six months and three days after we cut our first frame tube, the M.G. Locost is completely done. Hard to believe. At least for us.
Over the next few weeks we hope to get the suspension aligned and the car corner-weighted. We also need to visit a couple of government agencies in an effort to obtain the necessary legal approvals to license the M.G. Locost for the street. Compared to the task of building a car from scratch, that should prove to be a lot more difficult. We'll let you know how it goes.
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