24 Feb 2013

Rear fenders trimmed and mounted. For some reason the two seem to be located slightly different relative to the rear tires… but the immediate goal is getting the car ready for the CHP inspection and for that they’re fine as-is. I’ll deal with alignment issues later. There are two very different groups of comments concerning the fenders; one says I definitely need them in order to avoid tons of rocks in the cockpit. The other says they’ll be nothing but trouble, draggy, and will break off. Guess I’ll be the first to find out.

Cowl, windscreen, and wipers are in. The wife noticed the wipers for the first time and burst into laughter, “they’re so cute!” Chicks…

A long day – I’m beat. While not obvious, building a car is like low-impact aerobics, lasting all day. That, and I suppose that I’m just getting old. I should be careful what I ask for as far as wishing for more project time. The place I work at may get hit by the sequestration, and while that’s one way to end up with more time for projects, it’s not ideal…

18 Feb 2013

Both front fenders are done, and a lot of work for what they are, though only one is attached to its stays. There’s still the windscreen and rear fenders so it’ll be another week before it’s really ready. As was said, we’ll see how long the wait is for the inspection then go from there.

Speaking of the rear fenders, the one in the picture is sitting loose on the tire. I wonder why no one mounts them as I have it mocked up, covering more of the rear of the tire than the front. Rear fenders on Locosts get beat to death by rocks kicked up by the front tires. But if they’re oriented as shown, it seems like an easy way to sidestep the problem altogether, letting the rocks hit the rear tire directly and saving the fenders. Have to think about it.

A buddy who has driven his home-built three-wheeler (Google “Shrike”) over 100,000 miles said that his fenders lasted about a month before failing due to metal fatigue. He never replaced them and never really missed them. We’ll see.

17 Feb 2013

The day was gone before I thought to take any pictures. Fabricating the front fenders was more work than expected, learning on the first one which was welded up before calling it a day. The fiberglass fenders perfectly match the radius of my front tires, which I thought was cool until realizing that  the supports need room to run between the fender and tire, and the offset makes them lose some of their awesomeness. Meh, it’s a separate component that can be fiddled with later so angst is held at bay.

Tomorrow’s a holiday so hopefully the second fender will be completed, then there’ll be pictures. Tuesday the police inspection will be scheduled such that it gives time to add the windscreen and rear fenders.

15 Feb 2013

The week was spent researching how to get Midlana on the road. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said that since the SB100 paperwork was already started, I don’t need to go in until all the inspections are completed: CHP, lamp and brake, and smog. This led to questions on the Locost forum; what did California Locost builders find when they went through this. Three issues were prominent: windscreen, lighting height, and fenders. The windscreen’s done, and the lights, almost. The taillights are of legal height but the fronts are close – but that’s what adjustable suspension is for. I’m not surprised that fenders are required and to be honest it didn’t take much to convince me; I already have them, don’t look forward to getting pelted by rocks, and honestly, if I was driving behind me, I wouldn’t appreciate my windshield getting hit by rocks… Changed my mind; the fenders will be painted dark green in order to draw attention away from them, though preliminary reshaping has already done wonders to improve their looks. We’ll see, though they’ll be painted after inspection in order to save time.

In the insurance department, the car’s been rejected twice, of course for no stated reason. Asking around it appears to be because I was honest… figures. Insurance companies don’t have check-boxes for scratch-built cars of no heritage, which confuses their little minds. However, it’s okay if you insure a “replica” of a Lotus Seven – that you scratch-built in your garage, but whatever. So it’ll be insured as a replica 1960 Lotus Seven (the year that California will smog the car as.) Of course there’s the small issue of where the engine’s located… so while it’s a replica, it’s just not a very good one! I don’t like twisting things, but then again I don’t like it when companies are too lazy to think on their own. Is the car any less safe that a Locost that they do insure? No, so it’s no more risky from a business standpoint, either. I don’t like it when I’m giving money to businesses while having to also manage/babysit them…

Hopefully the front fender supports will be done this weekend, though that might be a bit optimistic. They aren’t trivial because many Locost owners have found out the hard way that they shake themselves apart, work-hardening and breaking at the welds or drilled holes. Also, the CHP has to be called to set up an appointment; don’t know how backlogged such things are – maybe there’ll be time to paint the fenders. The trailer is a non-issue since my brother has a tow-dolly. That’ll serve to get it around town to the various inspections.

10 Feb 2013

Installed the Dzus fasteners to the engine cover. Was going to do the licence frame but instead decided to add a fuel pump switch on the dash – I’d meant to but forgotten to design it into the dash from the start. Fortunately there was a spare switch, though adding the wiring behind the dash took a while. The reason to have the switch is because sometimes during various testing or configuration it’s nice to be able have the ignition on but not have fuel pressure. Also, in the off chance that a strong fuel smell is noticed, it’s nice to have the option of hitting the fuel pump switch, ignition, or battery shut-off switch. You can see that the cowl panel still isn’t riveted down; it’s so much easier to access the inside of the dash with it out of the way its installation is being put off as long as possible. (At least the dash will always be removable – in many Locosts it’s not.)

Still have to set the final camber, castor, front and rear toe, and then corner-weigh the car. The pictures were taken after backing it out to move it off the carpet scraps and floor mat which would throw off the alignment process.

Since it’s getting down to the end, I’ll enquire with the DMV about getting it registered and safety inspected. Not sure how to get the car to them; they may offer a temporary registration to drive it over but I don’t like the idea of its first drive being ~10 miles on crowded streets. On the other hand I don’t have a trailer and don’t really want to rent one, so my thinking’s got to change. Then there’s insurance.

4 Feb 2013

Installing the seats reminded me of the same not-fun task on Kimini. These are very small cars so there’s very little access around the seats after they’re installed. Installing the seatbelts wasn’t bad until I got to the crotch belt, which is supposed to run from one bolt up to the seatbelt latch, then back down to another bolt. The problem is that it’s one piece – an inverted-V – so it has to be installed after the seats – and covers – are installed. This made it infinitely more “fun” but the job is eventually done. I really hope I don’t have to remove the seats any time soon.

3 Feb 2013

Wanted to install the seats… how hard could it be? That meant installing the firewall behind the seats first, but to do that meant setting the fuel sensor scaling now since it couldn’t be accessed later. To do that meant turning on the ignition to power the fuel level sensor… which meant installing the dash… which meant installing the rivnuts to keep it in place. However, doing that made accessing the wiper pivots difficult, so the wiper cable and guide was installed… and THEN the fuel level sensor could be dealt with…

… which consumed hours. The sensor is a capacitive-type sensor that has a wire running down the center of a tube. As fuel level changes, so too does the capacitance between the wire and tube. Circuitry inside the sensor is apparently is designed to drive a current-driven pointer gauge directly because it doesn’t put out any voltage. A resistor was added to convert the output from a current to a voltage. Since the gauge allows adjusting “empty” and “full”, the sensor had to be removed from the fuel tank to determine what it output with “zero” fuel, then put in a tall container of fuel (always fun with electricity nearby) and recording the numbers. Since fuel level will be read by the flat-dash, an equation will convert the inverted fuel level-versus-voltage to a reasonable value. After that, reinstalled the sensor, firewalls (both sides), center covers (there’s a lot of stuff crammed under them), then the passenger-side seatbelts… then ran out of time before getting to install the seats.

Speaking of seats, ordered and received some 1″-thick “memory” foam since the existing thin seat padding is just that – thin – so it would be nice to install the foam before installing the covers rather than fussing with it later. Had the 3M “clear bra” film installed on the nose mid-week, which of course came out much better than I could have done – for a price.

Still to do is the Dzus fasteners on the engine cover, then the rear license plate holder. After that… well, final wheel alignment, check corner weights, then it’s off to get the car inspected and registered!