Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure
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Author:  Run87k [ June 2, 2014, 12:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

The following is my experience with registering a Locost in Pennsylvania. I have been dreading this since the very beginning because PA is a very picky state when it comes to titles and inspection. I have been collecting receipts since the beginning since part of the pickiness is about collecting the tax on anything that did not have sales tax paid on it. This means any cash purchases or internet purchases. You also have to have proof of ownership of all of the major components of the car so if you bought your fenders, wheels, etc, you better have a receipt. I went so far as titling the donor car in my name to establish ownership of those parts. Not totally necessary but I wasn’t taking chances.

I don’t read posts that are lots of words with no pictures so here is a random picture of my car just for the sake of having a picture. Think of it like a commercial.
Side View.jpg
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The first part of getting your Locost legal is PennDot form MV-426B, Application for Reconstructed, Specially Constructed, Collectible, Modified, Flood, Recovered Theft Vehicles and Street Rods. Fill out your part of the form which includes Part C Explanation. Check subsection I – Other, which makes you include “a detailed explanation of how the vehicle is configured, constructed and/or equipped (on a separate 8 1/2” x 11” paper)”.

Next up is Part F – Components Replaced/Repaired. Now you may think that you built the car from scratch so nothing was replaced or repaired. Stop thinking, it will only get you in trouble. Every part on that list that is on your car needs to have a receipt submitted. If you don’t have a Truck Cab, you don’t need a receipt for it. Some parts on your car are not on the list, like turn signals. Submit everything anyway because of the next section.

Part G – Fee Calculations. Subsection C wants you to total up all of the parts that sales tax was not paid on. Obviously you need the receipts for things that you didn’t pay tax on so that you can be taxed. I even included copies of emails where I bought things from individuals. Not so obvious is that you should also include receipts of things you bought that you paid tax on to show that you did pay tax. I made a spreadsheet that listed the parts that had sales tax paid and the ones that didn’t.

Once you have finished doing your part of the paperwork you need to find the Enhanced Vehicle Inspection Station that you want to take your work of art to. I followed Wyked’s inspection woes with great interest as he tried, and finally succeeded, in registering his 3 wheeled Locost. As I recall, he went to 5 stations before finally finding one where they would work with him.

Time for random picture number two:
Rear View.jpg
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Tomorrow – Finding the Enhanced Vehicle Inspection Station.

Author:  cwhite [ June 2, 2014, 12:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

Keep us up to date. I think the last item on my list is an e-brake handle and cables and I will be right behind you.

Best of luck and the car looks great, one of the best looker I've seen yet!

Author:  a.moore [ June 2, 2014, 1:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

Talk to the guy at the enhanced inspection station before you drop off your car or do anything official. I'd show up with all of the paperwork and photos and see what he says.

I did not do a good job at this and not only did the guy end up being 100% clueless of the rules but after they had my car and had started the work I found out that they wanted an arm and a leg to do the inspection. When I had my HF trailer done at a different place it was $100; the place that did the Locost charged $400+. I assumed incorrectly that the prices were set so be sure to ask ahead.

Thanks to his lack of knowledge of the rules it took him almost 2 weeks to do the inspection and the stuff he failed me on were all items that he basically made up; the PA vehicle code said nothing about them.

Oh yeah and as thanks for questioning the points he was failing me on the guys in the garage were kind enough to leave my lights on all night so the battery was totally dead. They jumped the car to get it out of the garage and onto the trailer. When I got it back to the house nothing would come on as the battery was at 5v. At first I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt but it never did that ever again so I can only put 2 and 2 together....

Have fun! :mrgreen: :cheers:

Author:  Run87k [ June 2, 2014, 2:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

Best of luck and the car looks great, one of the best looker I've seen yet!

Thank You! I have read your build log and your car is one of my favorites. I grew up with beetles, autocrossing one in D Prepared through the 70's and doing Formula Vee in '79 and '80. Many times during my build I wished I was installing a VW beetle engine instead of a Miata.

Talk to the guy at the enhanced inspection station before you drop off your car or do anything official.

SPOILER ALERT! I'm doing these posts from notes I took starting in Feburary. My title and VIN plate came last Friday. Don't tell anyone.

Author:  horizenjob [ June 2, 2014, 3:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

Thank-you for this writeup and am looking forward, we all know the ending is just a small part of a good story...

Stop thinking, it will only get you in trouble.

I need to remember this everyday... :rofl:

Author:  a.moore [ June 3, 2014, 8:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

Run87k wrote:
SPOILER ALERT! I'm doing these posts from notes I took starting in Feburary. My title and VIN plate came last Friday. Don't tell anyone.

Well in that case congratulations! :cheers:

Author:  Run87k [ June 3, 2014, 8:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

Pennsylvania has yearly vehicle inspections which is better that it was thirty some-odd years ago when I moved here. Back then you had to get an inspection every 6 months. The inspections are done at local garages or dealerships by mechanics that are licensed by the state. Initial inspection of anything that is out of the ordinary like a rebuilt car that had been previously totaled or a street rod must be done by an enhanced inspection station. From what I can tell, it is a regular station that pays an extra fee to become enhanced. PennDOT has a list of them on their website and the list is fairly long so I had a choice here in York. Last year I talked to the enhanced inspector at the shop nearest my house. He had no idea what a Locost was but seemed interested in helping so I figured my search was done.
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I work in the engineering department of a large company which means I spend my day at the cube farm just like Dilbert. Engineers are all given two monitors for their computers to make us more productive. That means the young guys can have Facebook, music videos and Ebay all going on one screen and work on the other. Cool. I don’t multitask well so I have AutoCAD or Inventor open on one screen and the latest picture of my Locost on the other.

This encourages people to stop and talk about cars which is good since I don’t pay attention to football, baseball, hockey or reality TV so I don’t end up in many conversations. One day a young lady from the Evil Third Floor (we are on the Most Excellent Second Floor) stopped by as she walked past and started asking questions about my nearly finished build. The things she asked were Car Guy questions not the normal “What is it?” I asked how she knew so much about cars and she told me her dad had been a street rodder for as long as she could remember and she had grown up with it. I told her about my impending adventure with PennDOT and she asked if I’d like her to talk to her dad since he had taken some cars through the system. I said sure, any pointers would be appreciated.
The next day I had a name and phone number to call.

Random picture, Spitfun here is the emblem I bought from you.
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Tomorrow – A better Enhanced Inspection Station.

Author:  wemtd [ June 3, 2014, 2:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

Oooohhh. <<drool>>
Beautiful Job!

(Without time to read your buildlog)
What wheels are those?
Where did you get/make your clams (I'm thinking of changing over to the clam side)

Good luck with the bureaucrats!

Author:  Run87k [ June 3, 2014, 8:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

(Without time to read your buildlog)

I don't have a build log because I was over on LocostNA while I was building. I'll do one for my next car.

What wheels are those?

They are stock on the 2004 Mazda Miata Mazdaspeed. They are 17 by 7.5.

Where did you get/make your clams

They are from Curtis Unlimited 707-443-8523, curtisunlimited@aol.com. Last I knew they did not have a web site. They are the wide fenders not the stock Lotus 7 fenders and cost $190 for the pair. I still had to cut them and add an extra 1" to get them to cover the tires. I always liked the look of the clamshell and I've heard that it cuts down on the amount of stones ending up in the interior.

Author:  Run87k [ June 4, 2014, 8:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

I had been given the phone number for Dave, service manager at a car dealership on the Lancaster side of the Suzy Q. He is a street rodder himself and knows what is acceptable and what isn’t as far as Pennsylvania’s view of special cars. PennDOT has the motor vehicle regulations on its web site and they are just vague enough so that you can interpret them in many ways. The only way I care about is how the person in Harrisburg reviewing my application interprets them. Dave has a good idea what that is.

Random picture break.
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Sunday Feb. 9th

Called Dave and explained what I had built and that I needed the enhanced inspection. He said that he had done quite a few and that it would be fairly straightforward. He offered to look over pictures of the car for obvious fails that would happen during enhanced inspection.

Monday Feb. 10th

Emailed pictures of Locost , including fuel tank shots like this. The plate in this shot came from my MGA. I have no idea how it got there or who might have been driving the car around with it. 8)

Lotus Tank.jpg
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Thursday Feb.13th

Good news, bad news day.

Dave called back and said everything looked very good except for the fuel tank. Having the tank fully exposed was not the same as having an external fuel fill. The lady that looks at these in Harrisburg is picky about filler locations. He gave an example of a pickup truck that came through his shop that had the filler in a door in the bed. They sent the pictures and explanation to Harrisburg and it was rejected because the filler was not in the outside of the body. The guy ended up having to completely redo the tank so it would be filled from outside the rear fender. Dave suggested that I get a new tank made that would sit lower in the car so that a filler could be run to the side or back. Other than that everything looked good.

Tomorrow – New tank

Author:  davew [ June 4, 2014, 9:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

If you put a hard cover over the boot area, then made an extention for the filler neck, thru the boot, would that satisfy the thru the body requirement? Dave W

Author:  Run87k [ June 4, 2014, 12:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

I'm not sure that would do it. I talked it over with Dave and he was willing to try but said it could go either way. He also said that after you fail once they will look harder the next time. I also didn't like the idea of having the filler that close to me. The whole gas tank area of the locost bothers me so my next build will be different.

Author:  Run87k [ June 5, 2014, 8:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

Saturday Feb. 15th

I removed the plastic tank, fuel pump and filter. The tank retaining straps had mounts welded to the frame so I cut part of those out. Part of the mounts are too close to the bulkhead so they had to be left in place.

I started making the cardboard mockup of the tank that I will use to get a local shop to fabricate the steel version. The new tank will sit low in the frame and give me back part of the trunk space. I also ordered a filler neck from and fuel hose.

Saturday Feb. 22nd.

I think I can use the fuel level sender from the stock Miata tank. I didn’t have a level sender with the plastic tank since there didn’t seem to be one that fit. I took the sender off the Miata fuel pump unit and cut the center of a large washer to fit. I drilled 4 holes to mount the sender to the tank.

Next I test fit this in the cardboard tank to find out if the float would swing inside. Good news, it does plus the bottom of the swing is just at the bottom of the tank. I didn’t wire the car for a sending unit so I searched the bin of wire I cut out of the harness until I had the sending unit wire. After much unwrapping of the carefully bundled wiring harness, the sender wire was added. I turned on the ignition and checked to see if the sender and gauge were playing nice together. Success, the needle went up and down plus a bonus. The little fuel tank icon went on just before empty.
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I also test fit the stock Miata rollover valve and cut holes for the fittings. Next was the 1 1/2” exhaust pipe that I was going to use for a filler stub in the tank. Picture below shows the bottom of the tank.
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Lastly, I put some baffles in it.
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I needed a place for the tank to rest so I made up a frame out of 1” angle. I welded this to the top of the lower tubes at the back of the frame.
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Tomorrow, off to the fab shop.

Author:  davew [ June 5, 2014, 8:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

You might want to look at adding a couple small hinges around the pump pick up chamber area that would uncover ports, allowing fuel flow to the pump during corner. The mock up of the tank looks great. Dave W

Author:  Run87k [ June 6, 2014, 12:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pennsylvania Locost Registration Adventure

Friday Feb. 28th

The cardboard tank is finished so it’s off to a local sheet metal shop. I have dealt with this place as part of my job plus I bought my sheet aluminum here. I decided to make the tank myself so I’ll just have them shear some 16 gauge steel to size for me. Somehow my wife was not surprised that I decided to do it myself instead of having it built for me. I didn’t make that decision until this morning but she acted like she knew it all along. Women.

Friday, March 7th

It took longer than I thought to get the sheared parts, but now I have my steel. I took my cardboard tank apart to use as a pattern. Here is the main body with the holes already cut.
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I used my Harbor Freight brake to bend the main body. The brake does aluminum pretty well but the 16 gauge steel was a little too much for it. I still managed to get it done.
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The end pieces were cut out with the Harbor Freight electric shears then flanges were hammered on by clamping the sheet between the workbench top and a 1/2” steel bar. Baffle parts were cut out as well.
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Saturday, March 22nd

Welding this together has taken a long time. I did it with MIG using a series of tack welds with time in between to let things cool. I did a lot of grinding and rewelding as well.

Tomorrow, leak test.

Saturday , March 29th

Finally finished with the weld, grind, weld, grind and grind some more. Next, fill the tank with water to check for leaks. I’m definitely not confident enough to put it in the car and fill it with gas, and with good reason too as it leaked. It has over 100 inches of weld and all of the straight sections are leak free. Seven of the ten corners leak. The straight parts are easy to grind, just put a grinding disk on the angle grinder and level the weld. All of the joints overlap so taking the weld down flush with the top sheet does the trick. Anything that doesn’t grind smooth gets rewelded. The corners on the other hand are a big pain.
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I made the joints this way because it was easier to weld up without burning through. It’s not easy to grind though.

Tomorrow - The Hunt For Leaks

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