An M.G. Locost Build
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September 14, 2017

Life in the Locost world has been pretty good in recent days, with clear skies, sunny weather, fun drives, and no breakdowns. The new Mustang wheels and Dunlop tires continue to impress us with their incredible response, ride, and handling. Little to complain about other than the heat, which doesn't seem to bother the Locost and its re-engineered cooling system. The car starts every time, idles smoothly, and runs like a tank. A nimble, lightweight, breezy tank. No squeaks, no rattles, no parts falling off at speed.

  Replacement alternator still alternating flawlessly
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This recent spate of semi-reliability has us contemplating all of the repairs and upgrades we've made since completing the car three almost four years and 40,000 miles ago, and more importantly, how well they've fared. So we wrote them all down, or as many as we could remember, and we were shocked by how many are still working. Yes, it's been less than four years and most automotive parts are expected to last at least that long, but that's only on real production cars. The Locost is special. Most of its parts are still in test mode.

Some of the repairs to the Locost had to be made right away, like when the water pump went out, or when a spring broke in the distributor. Most of the time we put up with a lot of grief before we got around to fixing anything. The fuel pump started going out at least three months before we replaced it, and we had to bang on it a lot in the interim. Our old alternator was flaky for at least a year before it died. We busted our knuckles on the dash a dozen times until we installed a bent shift lever, and we don't even want to think about how many times we had to shift without a clutch.

Parts under the scuttle pretty much unreachable  
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Some of the repairs were easy. Unfortunately this was rare. Most took a lot longer than expected, usually during the disassembly phase. It's not like we didn't give any thought to taking things apart when we built the car, but we didn't give it a lot of thought, and parts that looked easy to remove when we first installed them turned out to be less so after more parts were added. An exhaust hanger, for example, with just two bolts would've been child's play to remove if you didn't have to first remove the seats, seat belts, and interior panels to get a wrench on the bolts.

But we always persevered, and were generally confident that most of the repairs wouldn't last. A few surprised us though, like a drop of superglue on the rear-view mirror stem, and the makeshift spring on the distributor vacuum unit. Both were guesswork, and both continue to amaze. Also the speedometer, fixed with parts from a ball-point pen, definitely not a sure thing. We still expect our JB-welded intake manifold plug to fly out someday, and any time the coolant gauge starts to climb we're sure the new water pump has thrown an impeller blade.

  New water pump good for another 40 years
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Some of the new parts failed immediately, or at least as fast as they could. Our early exhaust hanger for example, clearly a mistake. The genuine Lucas lenses on our back-up lights cracked right after we screwed them on, and had to be replaced with cheap aftermarket lenses. Rubber pedal pads split and broke off quickly, sometimes during installation. Our first intake manifold plug blew out in a week, and our eBay steering wheel hub separated from the splines in just a few days. We replaced it with a Tourist Trophy hub from England, which lets us steer the car but not honk the horn.

We did make a lot of purchases on eBay, and we regret most of them. The engine mounts, for example. One black, one gray, both sagging and in need of replacement. Many so-called 'Triumph' suspension bushings with 10 mm tubes, since discarded. A 'refurbished' stub axle with fresh black paint sprayed over dried grease and heavy rust, now on the Locost after hours of wire brushing. Add to that one leaky radiator, two cracked hoses, a bent license plate bracket, a misrepresented valve cover, and a frozen handbrake cable, now trash. And let's not forget about all the tachs.

eBay parts mostly expensive trash  
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But let's look at what has worked. In alpha­betical order, we've fixed, fabbed, or replaced the alternator, bonnet, bonnet latches, boot cover, carburetors, carpets, clutch, cockpit cover, cooling fan, distributor, exhaust hanger, exhaust valves, fan belt, fan switch, fuel pump, fuel filler, handbrake cable, header tank, intake manifold plug, mirrors, oil cooler hoses, racing stripe, seat belts, shift knob, shift lever, spare tire mount, speedometer, steering wheel, suspension rod ends, tachometer, temperature sender, throttle cable, tires, valve seals, water pump, and wheels.

Quite a list. You wouldn't fix that many things on a real car, not and want to keep it. The good news is, all of these things are working now, with nothing we fixed or replaced showing any sign of imminent failure. Eventual failure, sure, but nothing in the next week or two. Most likely. Some of the fixes were simple replacements, like the throttle cable, the cooling fan, and the alternator, while others, like the header tank, rod ends, carpets, boot cover, and racing stripe were upgrades, improving the car forever. Based as always on our own definition of improved. And forever.

  Full carpeting just like real cars
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So we've made some progress over the years, and more than just improving the car's reliability, we've improved the whole motoring experience. We didn't realize it before, but driving a car that keeps up with traffic, remains relatively quiet, responds well to the controls, and doesn't blow billowing clouds of black smoke every time you hit the gas gives you the impression of driving a real car. A false impression, no doubt, but still, the power of the refurbished engine, the smooth­ness of the new tires, and the car's overall reliability is pretty awesome.

Despite our recent successes, we have no doubt that the coming months and years will feature more repairs and upgrades, which might be a good thing if for no other reason than it'll give us more to complain about, possibly extending in perpetuity this incredibly lengthy and convoluted build log, which is slowly turning into the Internet equivalent of the Winchester Mystery House, with its dozens of useless essays, countless mismatched styles, unflattering decorations, and long-winded discussions that seem to be going somewhere until they dead end at a blank wall.


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