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Old 05-14-2010, 09:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Elise SC upgrades - round 1

Okay, so I bit the bullet and started to do some upgrades on the Elise SC. Round 1 is nearing completion but has been fraught with some problems, who knew.

So, here's the short list completed so far:

1- Denso Iridium plugs. I like these... and have them in the Esprit V8 as well. The engine simply seems to run more even and consistent. Expensive plugs but there is a noticeable, albeit minor improvement.

2- Stebel Nautilus airhorn. The stocker is useless, period. You can barely hear it over the rest of the car, so it's doubtful anyone else would hear it. The Stebel is a simple and effective upgrade, well worth it.

3- Brakes. I'm simply disappointed in the stock braking system. I opted to replace the brake lines with Goodridge stainless lines... an interesting job for replacing the front lines. I also went with Pagid RS4-2 blue pads on the recommendation of a friend who has a 2005 Elise and replaced his pads. I finally opted to buy a set of Ultradisc rotors front/rear.

The setup in the rear is excellent, not a single issue and everything works perfect... not even a single pad squeal. The fronts have been an issue. Everything is fine when cold... as soon as the fronts heat up, the right rotor chatters. The hotter the rotor gets, the louder it gets and it's very audible. Also, once warm the (right) front squeals amazingly loud, you can hear it a 1/4-mile away. It's only the right front rotor... so S111 is sending a replacement pair. On the plus side, the new pads and rotors do improve overall braking quite a bit... still not completely satisfied however, but will live with it a while and see if it improves with some more time.

4- Exhaust. I opted to replace the stock brick with a Larini SC Sport Club. It's less than half the weight of the original and is a straight-thru design with twin resonators. Fit and finish are decent on the Larini... nothing more. It can be quite loud at certain RPM ranges and throttle positions (in some cases full closed throttle is actually louder than partial throttle). In some cases, it's simply untolerable with the windows closed (A/C weather) and deafeningly loud with zero benefit.

The biggest problem is performance. Immediately after fitting this exhaust, ALL performance literally vanished! No Boost, no cam-switchover and just flat boring performance across the entire RPM range. After 700+ miles of varied driving, some of the boost has returned, but it's not clearly discernable on the cam switchover... as there seems to be something switching at 4000 RPM (cam switchover was at 4500 on the stock setup). In any case, it still doesn't perform that great, not even as good as stock. Unfortunately my OBD-II scan-tool won't sync to the Elise SC (works great on the Esprit V8)... so I don't have the option of resetting the ECU until I get another scan-tool setup (yet more $$ to support a standard that nobody has managed to implement as a standard).

I'm looking at some other near-term upgrade options as well... Braille 2015 battery and RLS mounting bracket... some issue from Braille on sizes have delayed this. Also trying to get the CUP airbox/filter but according to my dealer source, many of the CUP airboxes have been sent out with the mounting brackets installed incorrectly, so that's also been delayed. Also trying to get the Lotus Sport sway bar but am still waiting... and it's really expensive!

So in all... upgrading the Elise SC can be expensive and not buy you that much depending on what you do. It would appear that doing anything engine-related beyond a better flowing airbox and spark plugs will require a change in ECU tuning to even maintain existing performance, much less gain any additional. I'll post more as I continue down that upgrade path, but as of now... return on the investment has been sketchy... horn, spark plugs, brakes all made a noticeable improvement... the exhaust, well, NO!
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Old 05-14-2010, 11:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Where did you get the Stebel Nautilus airhorn?
How are the Pagid RS4 blue pads in the rain? My Porterfield R4s pads in the rain suck and are a little scary as they take a little bit to start gripping.
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Old 05-15-2010, 03:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I may be wrong, but I don't think the exhaust should have any effect on the cam swithover point...

Edit to add: If you want more power, ditch the M45 for a VF2. Otherwise you're pretty much stuck with 220hp.
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Old 05-15-2010, 04:31 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I spoke with lotus when upgrading my exhaust. They said that some of the aftermarket exhausts will cause different back pressure then the car is set up for and actually negatively effect performance. Not sure if that is the case with the Larini. I went with a lotus stage 3 for sc setup. I am pretty sure that is my by fabspeed. You may want to check that out.
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Old 05-15-2010, 04:59 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I put the Larini Sport Club Exhaust on my Lotus Elise Sc. I never had any problems with performance. It actually felt a little better than stock. It sounded a lot nicer too.
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Old 05-15-2010, 05:46 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Stebel air horn... ebay ;-) There are some online stores that specialize in motorcycle aftermarket goods... they usually carry the Stebel Nautilus as it's actually marketed as a motorcycle horn. Price was ~$47 with shipping.

I agree that swapping the exhaust shouldn't make a cam-switchover change, but if the lack of back-pressure causes the ECU to detune performance then the cam-switchover is part of the performance enhancement and gets axed as well.

As for alternate exhausts from Lotus, having had 5 mufflers on the V8 crack and fall apart on the V8 under warranty and since having had one of the stock cats crater and blow ceramic dust into the muffler... I have zero interest in anything offered by Lotus, they simply don't get quality parts due to low quantities. Maybe the Elise is better in this regard, but I'm not looking to find out.

As SJA also has the Larini... I guess I need to reset the ECU and see if it can fine-tune a better set of maps... but need to find a good scan-tool first.
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Old 05-15-2010, 08:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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With that much performance drop, makes me think there may be something not bolted up tight? Sounds like a great build up, keep it going!
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Old 05-15-2010, 08:42 AM   #8 (permalink)
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With that much performance drop, makes me think there may be something not bolted up tight? Sounds like a great build up, keep it going!
Well, I've been thinking about things as well... everything is fully tight however. It's not difficult of a job (being a Lotus that is). No MIL either so the ECU is mainly happy but the initial performance drop was mind-boggling. It has gotten better but still not running 100% IMHO. I need to plug in with a good scan-tool and see what's going on. That will be next... I need more free time!
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Old 05-15-2010, 12:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Time, time, time ... darn that pesky 4 letter word! I just think we be missing something ala' forest for the trees ... a sensor or wiring harness that got knocked around / disconnected, something like that?

There's no sense that a new exhaust made for that car would cause this. You won't like hearing this, but to establish that the new muffler isn't the issue (as in a huge mfg'ing defect / blocked or dented passage) the debugger in me says to put the original exhaust back on and see if the condition changes. If no change, then at least know where not to look.
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Old 05-15-2010, 02:49 PM   #10 (permalink)
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A zillion people have put on this or similar exhausts without any report of performance decrease. Something else is awry....
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Old 05-31-2010, 11:51 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Update

Well, here's an update on the first round of upgrades:

1- Brakes: Finally pulled the Ultradiscs off the front and the put the OEM discs back on. ALL braking issues are gone, no chatter, no squeal and braking performance is better. Seems a defective set of discs (as the rears are excellent). S111 now has new stock on the Ultradiscs and are sending new ones... hopefully these work better.

2- Battery: Braille is very slow to respond to both email and telephone as they don't appear to be in the office 5 days a week. I ordered the carbon-fiber cased battery as they listed identical dimensions for the B2015 and B2015C with the C version being more resistant to heat. Turns out the B2015C is B2015 with a CF sheath glued over it. Hence it is about 1/4-inch larger and won't fit the RLS mounting bracket. I did get the normal B2015 and installed it with the RLS clamp.. nice setup and dropped about 14 pounds from the stock setup. Braille is accepting the B2015C battery back.

3- Exhaust: Despite me putting it back on the lift and checking everything, there's nothing wrong with the install... everything is tight, no leaks, both O2 sensors working, etc. After almost 2000 miles, there is still no cam switchover. You can hear the airbox flap at 4000 RPM but that's it... and boost, while there is some, is quite limited. I picked up a Mongoose ISO/CAN cable and PCMSCAN software, everything reads fine from the ECU... but still no cam switchover. Worse, there is NO way to reset the ECU with the Mongoose/PCMSCAN setup. I've really grown to hate pretty much everything OBD-II related, It's a poor pseudo standard that has lousy implementation.

So, the next step is to put the stock brick exhaust back on and see if the ECU will figure it out and re-tune itself so I can get power back. Oddly, it seems I'm too old for the louder sound from the Larini... so it will go up for sale and I'll worry about a new exhaust later in the upgrade game.

I'm going to look at upgrading suspension next... sway bar, Ohlins and a stronger rear toe-link arrangement. As more positive changes are noted, I'll post more.

Regards, KM
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Old 05-31-2010, 12:05 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I don't think Brails work good in our cars.
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Old 05-31-2010, 12:09 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I don't think Brails work good in our cars.
I've had a Braille with an RLS bracket for about a year, zero problems.
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Old 05-31-2010, 01:04 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I have an 2008 Elise SC and installed the Stage II exhaust and have had no issues with power loss or the like. I do notice a slightly faster throttle response (or at least I think I do). I have installed the Sector 111 rear toe links & brace and althought this hasn't made a decernable difference in the handling it does give me peace of mind. I have single adjustable rige height shocks (BC Racing) and a Blackwatch adjustable track sway bar. These do make a noticible difference in the hadling department. If I were to do it again (and I will) I would spend the extra $ and opt for the two way Nitrons over the BC Racing shocks & springs. Definately spend the time & bucks to do a ride height, corner balance and alighnment as this makes a huge difference in the handling. For brakes I have changed to Super Blue fluid with the stock discs and ferodo 2500 brake pads which work much better than the stock, have less dust than the OEM's and only sometimes squeal when cold at very slow stops. The biggest improvement so far to the handling and performance has been to use Kodiak three piece race wheels with Toyo R888's on the track. Acceleration, braking cornering all have benefited with the weight reduction at the corners. The last performance increase hase been with me as I have lost 36 pounds of lard off my a**( 3.6 free h.p.!). I have also installed the Sector 111 front splitter (without the splitter plates) and this seems to settle the car nicley at high speed. I think the stock SC rear spoiler does give just enough downforce over the standard Elise n- tail to make this a worthwhile addition. The tail-less Elises that I have diven at speed on the track were not quite as front end light as the SC seemed to be at speed.
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Old 05-31-2010, 01:16 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I'm interested in the brake squeal issue. I put on Ultradiscs and new Pagid RS14, got remarkably loud squeal as soon as things heat up at all. I've been through 3 sets of the Pagid 14s on stock rotors with some squeal, but not the stuff that turns heads. Can't tell where it's coming from though.
You say replacing a new rotor fixed this? Any other experience out there?
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Old 05-31-2010, 04:59 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I'm interested in the brake squeal issue. I put on Ultradiscs and new Pagid RS14, got remarkably loud squeal as soon as things heat up at all. I've been through 3 sets of the Pagid 14s on stock rotors with some squeal, but not the stuff that turns heads. Can't tell where it's coming from though.
You say replacing a new rotor fixed this? Any other experience out there?
Well, maybe I wasn't clear.... I put Ultradiscs all around with Pagid Blue pads... rears are perfect, zero issues.

The front setup squeals incredibly loud as soon as they warm up a bit, plus the right front rotor was chattering badly... I was ready to shoot myself after a 3-hour highway run as it chattered all the way home! I finally had to take the Ultradisc rotors off (the front) and put my original rotors back on (but kept the Pagid Blue pads). Once I did this, the fronts are now very quiet regardless of cold, warm or hot.

Conclusion: the (Ultradisc) front rotors appear to be the culprit. Perhaps it's a tolerance issue with the specific pair I had. S111 is sending another pair out but they have not arrived yet. Once they come in (hopefully this week) I'll put them on and see if they are quiet. If not, then I have to consider them as having a design flaw and will need to look for another solution.

Hope this clarifies my earlier post better.
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