An M.G. Locost Build
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December 22, 2013
Finally Cool

Two bits of good news. The first concerns our long-awaited SPCNS certificate. It finally arrived in the mail after we threatened for weeks to take the matter up with the DMV. Luckily for them our threats alone did the trick and we didn't have to escalate anything. The certificate looks all nice and legal, with two official seals and a reminder that if our vehicle is found not to meet the requirements for a Certificate of Sequence under Senate Bill 100 (2002 statutes), then the certificate is null and void. I'm sure we're okay.

  Aluminum radiator with optimized mounting holes
click to enlarge

The second bit of good news concerns our cooling system. Our new aluminum radiator arrived and we installed it in the Locost. This wasn't super easy, since the manufacturer of the new radiator spared many expenses, including the cost of putting the mounting holes in the same location as they are in an MGB. Luckily over the past couple of years we've gained a little familiarity with various automotive fabrication techniques, and we were able to get the radiator installed with only minimal damage to a couple of the very flimsy aluminum fins.

But that's not actually the good news. The good news is, when we're out for a drive now the needle on the temperature gauge never gets any higher than the middle of the dial. Never. Even if we're blasting up a long, steep hill or idling at a stoplight. Or several stoplights. All in a row. Incredible. It's just like a regular car. You can drive anywhere now, and not have to worry about dividing your attention between the surrounding traffic and the temperature gauge. It's all very encouraging. And possibly safer.

Back to the old filler  
click to enlarge

We also made some more changes to the cooling system. Actually we just went back to the original setup. We gave up on all the extra tanks and hoses, because the only thing they ever did was provide more places for things to leak. We got rid of the heater outlet tube that we made, and reinstalled the blanking plate, and we also reinstalled the filler tube next to the thermostat. We hooked up the radiator overflow to our old header tank, which now serves only as an overflow tank, even though there really isn't anything left to overflow.

We didn't quite realize the effect the overheating issue was having on our Locost experience. We couldn't take the car anywhere we wanted. We got a bit nervous every time we climbed in it. Every drive was a test drive, and a good result was making it back home before something sprayed coolant all over the engine bay. Even though it was still a lot of fun to toss the car around and light up the tires and wave to onlookers, we could never really enjoy the ride. Not completely.

Now it's a whole new story. The car is a blast to drive all the time. Because we no longer have to focus entirely on trying to keep the car from frying, we've started noticing a few other things that we'd like to upgrade, like for example lowering the seats. We might also try to find out why the alternator doesn't always charge, and replace our brand new worn out choke cable. Just so many things we can do now. Of course it's only December so we can't be totally sure our cooling woes are gone forever, but it's looking awfully good so far. It'll be fun now to start working on the other upgrades.

Unfortunately we're not exactly sure when we're going to have time to do any of these things. You may recall that last year at this time we weren't getting a lot done on the Locost build, and it turns out this year is no exception, although a lot of that probably has to do with the fact that the Locost is done, and there really isn't anything left to build, our ill-fated hood scoop notwithstanding. But just like last year, it's starting to get dark around four in the afternoon, and it's cold outside.

  Attempt at an M.G. Locost construction manual
click to enlarge

We've been spending time instead on our long-neglected M.G. Locost construction manual, and have posted an update that takes you through building the scuttle and installing the pedals. We hope to get the chapters on the engine, cooling, exhaust, and the chassis brackets completed soon, at which point the manual will be half done. If you get that far on your own M.G. Locost, you can probably figure out the rest without our help, but it might not be as much fun. So we do intend to complete it, hopefully before we forget how we did everything.

The other thing we plan to do over the next couple of weeks is sign up for all of the various inspections that are required to get our Locost permanently registered for the street. With that out of the way, we can finally put to rest this unbelievably long and painfully verbose build log, and just enjoy the car. The inspection process will be slow going over the holidays, with family in town and many non-automotive activities planned, but at least we have everything we need and all of January to get it done. So it won't be long now. We hope.

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