November 3, 2013
Not much happening on the Locost front while we wait for our VIN assignment. Work continues on our hood scoop in the form of carving a buck for a fiberglass mold. We took a 3-foot length of 2x4 balsa wood, cut it into pieces, and then glued the pieces together in the shape of a hood scoop. More or less. After a little sanding it was fine. Of course not everyone agrees on the shape we came up with, but we think it'll look slightly better than the top of the engine, which currently sticks up out of the hood, and incidentally clashes with the color of the hood.
You may recall we started this hood scoop task with no actual idea how to attach the scoop to our aluminum hood. As it happens, somebody else figured it out for us. We'll make the scoop so it fits through the hole in the hood, with a flange underneath. We can then rivet the scoop to the hood from the top and hide the rivets, the way we hid the rivets on our rear fenders. This will require some putty and possibly Bondo work, which will in turn force us to paint the hood, which is something we hoped we'd never have to do again. Ever. On anything.
But we also had to paint some parts for another couple of projects we'd been planning to do for a while, starting with a new valve cover. Nothing wrong with the old valve cover, but it has a long breather tube sticking up in back, which is supposed to connect to the charcoal canister, but instead just sticks up in the air looking stupid. Or worse. We could've just lopped off the tube, then welded up the hole and repainted it, but that would've sidelined our valve cover for a few days, and we can't have our Locost out of action for that long.
So we picked up a new valve cover, or not new but slightly used off eBay. Or more than slightly used, but we lucked out and found a rare pre-68 valve cover without the breather tube for just $10. Unfortunately, mere hours before the auction closed, the item got bid up to the astronomical price of $10.50, so we found another one for $10, which we won a few days later, but unfortunately it wasn't a rare pre-68 model, so when we got it we had to lop off the breather tube and weld up the hole before we could paint it.
Then we found out we can't actually get rid of the breather tube, because it's apparently an integral part of the crankcase ventilation system, which we thought was being handled by the breather tube on the side of the engine, but apparently it's a lot more complicated than that. According to people who know way more about this stuff that we do, which seems to be just about everyone, we need to run the breather on the side of the engine to the carburetors, and leave the valve cover breather tube alone.
But we can't have the breather tube sticking up out of the hood. For one thing, it looks bad. For another, it won't fit under our new hood scoop. So we took our old lopped-off breather tube and welded it to the back of our new eBay valve cover, promptly blowing several holes in the thin sheet metal in the process, which we eventually welded shut but probably added another pound to the car. And our glossy M.G. engine red paint is now a mess, but hopefully we can paint it again with the breather tube in place, and get it almost as shiny.
Our other paint job involved making some housings for the giant bulb holders on our cool new Lucas L488 dual-filament parking light/turn signals. The giant bulb holders aren't horribly unsightly, but Lucas always intended them to be attached through holes into the bodywork, thereby hiding the guts of the assemblies and protecting them from the elements. Our lights of course aren't like that. Ours are out in the open. So we came up with an idea for covering them, using cheap plastic display cases that we found on eBay.
We carved the plastic cases with a Dremel until they fit over the wires, then attached them to the back of the turn signal mounts with sheet metal screws and right-angle speed nuts. To make them look less plastic we painted the insides with automotive undercoating, but they're still pretty flimsy and we don't expect the housings to hold up to the rigors of everyday use for very long. We could've possibly reinforced them with fiberglass or something, if we weren't so concerned with the weight. The glass lenses on the L488 lights are heavy enough.
Speaking of lights, we had a Lucas moment the other day while out on a routine test drive. We'd been driving for a couple of minutes with the car running fine, when all of a sudden the gauges stopped working. All of them. We slowed a bit while we tried to picture the MGB wiring diagram in our heads, but unfortunately, even though the diagram has been permanently and accurately etched into our brains, it doesn't make any more sense in our brains than it does on paper. We did seem to recall that the gauges are fed off a single wire from the tach, so that if the tach fails, all the other gauges would too. As we motored along contemplating this obvious fact, the engine died.
We pulled over to the side of the road and performed basic Lucas repair procedures, which consists of jiggling wires underneath the dash. This resulted in the ignition light coming on, so we turned the key and the car fired right up. We drove home without further incident, although the gauges were still not working, so we took the additional step back in the garage of jiggling the wires specifically attached to the tach, and all the gauges came back to life. We're not sure yet if this is a permanent fix, but so far so good.
Should the problem ever reappear, we may have to seriously consider removing the dash to see what's actually going on under there. In retrospect, we might've been a little cavalier when we first connected all of those switches and gauges, figuring we could always do a better job later if needed. We also could've created problems with all the tie-wraps we added last week. Two things we know for sure: removing the dashboard will be a major pain, and easy access to the under-dash area will be a top priority for any future Locosts we ever decide to build.
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