December 4, 2017
We got rear-ended in the Locost last week. Rush hour traffic, motoring down Richardson Avenue in Roseville, a green light ahead of us, but across the intersection the lane was full, so we either had to stop at the limit line or lock the grid. We chose to stop. The lady in the Mercedes behind us chose to keep going. She had places to be and mascara to apply and a green light is a green light, damn it. She must've looked up at the last minute because we heard brakes squealing just before impact. Fortunately we had just taken our foot off the brakes at the time, so the impact only nudged us forward into the intersection. Maybe slightly more than nudged.
Damage to the Locost was minimal, a bent license plate frame and backing plate, $40 from Moss Motors. Damage to the Mercedes amounted to some lost bumper paint, so about $4000 from the dealer who will insist on a new bumper, although Maaco would be happy to repaint it for $200, no questions asked. On our Locost, the spare tire and steel channel spare tire mount absorbed most of the hit, transferring the Mercedes' forward motion to the Locost frame without complaint. So in a sense we were lucky, but of course we know that most of that luck stems from our superior Locost chassis design.
Undaunted by this incident, we continue to be amazed by the huge improvements wrought by the new ignition system in the Locost. The car has never run quite this well. Starting, tractability, high revs, shutting down, and so much smoother. Freeway driving is a breeze at 4000 and even 4500 RPMs, with no vibration or odd noises. The car even runs cooler, the needle on the temperature gauge never quite reaching the Normal mark even in stop-and-go driving. And we're getting well over two hundred miles on a ten-gallon tank of gas, which never happened before, not even once. Obviously it can't last but we're enjoying it while we can.
We still have a few things we want to do on the Locost, like for example replacing the exhaust system with a new, sleeker, quieter model. We have been dragging our heels on this project ever since we ordered a giant muffler for the car from Summit Racing two years ago, because the giant muffler was not an actual muffler, but a muffler blank, and even though we'd never heard the term before, we're pretty sure we can now say with all due authority that a muffler blank is something you can easily incorporate into any custom exhaust system, because it doesn't have ends.
The custom exhaust system on our Locost needs a muffler with ends, because we don't have a lot of experience with incorporating. The Locost exhaust, as long-time readers may recall, was our first foray into the world of custom exhaust systems, and as we all know by now, it shows. The system works well enough, directing deadly exhaust gases safely away from the passenger compartment, but it does so while making a serious racket and without looking very good. A new system incorporating the giant muffler, and maybe exhibiting a little more care with the welding, would fix all that.
But first we would have to add ends to the giant muffler, and of course you can't just go out and buy ends, because anyone with enough skill to put together a custom exhaust system would just make them. Obviously that doesn't include us, so instead we bought a tiny muffler that came with the right size ends, and sawed them off. We now have a tiny muffler blank, in case anyone's interested, but more importantly, we also have a giant muffler with ends. We welded on one of the ends straight and the other at an angle to fit the car, and also welded on a hanger pin close to where we think it needs to go.
That's as far as we got, although we did order all of the other parts we need to build the exhaust, and probably more, including a new Y-connector that doesn't look any better than the old one, but maybe we can fix that. We think the unsightly nooks and crannies on the surface of the Y-connector could be smoothed out with some kind of high-temp filler that probably doesn't exist, but maybe there are other options. Fortunately, unlike our original exhaust system, which had to be completed in a matter of days or else the whole project would've collapsed, we can take our time with the new one.
Which has us looking at a January time frame, or possibly later, and you also can't discount never as a possibility. As usual, no guarantees. Since we have the time, we're looking at a different color scheme for the exhaust, because we're not totally happy with the flat VHT aluminum paint on the Locost, which looks like something you'd use to paint the exhaust pipes on a plastic model, not a real exhaust. A real exhaust would be stainless steel, or even chrome. We thought about chrome plating the new, imaginary exhaust, but decided it might be a little overwhelming, all that bling on the side of the car. Plus the cost.
Meanwhile, we still have a lot to do on the parts car. Getting rid of the rear speakers and replacing the rear carpet was not a huge priority, but had the clear advantage of being easy, so that's done. Replacement of the wobbly propshaft is also done, although not easily. What should've been a one-hour job, two if you count putting the car up on jack stands, was augmented by stripping the threads on one of the captive bolts on the transmission, delaying the project for a week while we dismantled the gearbox and waited for new captive bolts from Moss Motors to arrive.
Top priority for the parts car is still the right-hand turn signal, which we hope to fix by replacing the thermal flasher unit with an electronic flasher unit, our theory being that the electricity in the parts car is so weak with age that it doesn't have whatever it takes to activate a thermal flasher, whereas an electronic unit will flash regardless what kind of electricity it's getting. This remains a theory, however, since we actually have no idea how a flasher unit works, thermal or otherwise. We could guess, but we don't want to embarrass ourselves any more than we already have.
As usual this time of year we really aren't doing a lot of work on either car, because it's a) cold, and b) dark. It's not dark during the day of course, but by the time you wake up, and go and get coffee, and catch up on your Internet, and plod around the house a bit, you look at the clock and there's only another three or four hours of daylight left. So you plod around the house a little more and then turn on the ballgame and maybe start a fire in the fireplace, and as you sit there warming your toes in the golden glow of the fire you start thinking about all of those great things you're going to do to the car, possibly tomorrow. Or some day.
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