4 years since last track day; want a new suspension - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
 
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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4 years since last track day; want a new suspension

Hey guys. Bought a house. Adopted a dog. And thus began a four-year track day hiatus. Now after doing a press event at Laguna, I'm itching to get back into it. But I also see this as an opportunity to give the car a new start. My current mods are in my signature. Not interested in power. So... Suggestions for upgrades?

I'm thinking it's finally time for upgraded coilovers -- but which set? And what else? This is a 2005 car, mind you. Just a base Elise with Touring pack, lighter wheels, stickier rubber, and harnesses.

The forums have changed a lot in the last four years. Much less activity. And I'm not sure where to find the best information. Is there a sticky on best suspension/durability modifications?

Thinking single-adjustable Nitrons, and upgraded bushings. But I'm also looking for any first-person-experience wisdom on next steps. This will stay as a fully streetable street car that's mostly used for track days. Thanks!

2005 Chrome Orange Lotus Elise:
  • hard top, touring pack, HIDs, SJ Racing 15x7/16x8 track wheels
  • RTD Brace, Nitron 46mm Race Pro 1-Way, BOE oil pan
  • orange/black Lotus Sport trim shop seats, 6-point Schroth belts, Safety Solutions R3 Head & Neck Restraint System
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 04:07 PM
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Nitron singles are a really nice choice in 450/600# springs for the price. Enough for most people. Nice in their simplicity as you simply dial them up or down for street or track, keeping a two click difference between front and rear.

If you want a little bit more and are willing to pay for it, go with 46mm Nitrons singles or Penskes. Penskes are really nice equipment and I've heard nice things about Frank at Blackwatch. I have a long standing relationship with sector 111 for advice and Mods, so I'd probably lean towards Nitron 46mm, especially since the adjuster is a bit easier.

Avoid doubles and triples unless you know what you are doing tuning wise or are willing to use someone else's settings.

Monoballs and stiffer motor mounts will make car more communicative and fun.

Have you addresses fuel and oil starvation?
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input. I would definitely stay away from double adjustables; don't need the complexity or opportunity to mess things up. I got a new oem gas tank some 3-4 track days before my hiatus to address fuel starvation (got it under Lotus emissions warranty!). I surely hope the tank hasn't degraded, because, yeah... High G left turns caused problems. As for oil starvation, never had a problem (topped off oil before every track day). But I would consider oil pan mod if labor wasn't too expensive. Think baffled oil pan is essential? It wasn't, like, common operating procedure for non race cars 5 years ago.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 04:18 PM
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I had the Nitron singles and went to the D/A Penskes from Blackwatch. Even with nearly twice the spring rate the Penskes are more comfortable and a much nicer coilover in every respect. No comparison in my experience.

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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I had the Nitron singles and went to the D/A Penskes from Blackwatch. Even with nearly twice the spring rate the Penskes are more comfortable and a much nicer coilover in every respect. No comparison in my experience.

San
UGH. Clicked on the Blackwatch link and was transported to Brooks Brothers. This is why Viglinks is EVIL.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 04:27 PM
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Blackwatch also has single adjustable Penskes.

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 04:28 PM
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The original gas tank didn't have sufficient baffling. But if you kept it full, wasn't a problem. Degredation wasn't the issue. If you had starvation before you will have it again.

Oil starvation was less of a problem, but can be on sticky tires. And the signs are less apparent compared to fuel starvation until issues arise. If address it because it's relatively cheap.

You already have an upgraded rear toe brace, so good.

Everything else is optional. I'd get a decent hybrid street / track brake pad like DS2500s. There are more aggressive pads out there too.

Do the Stan / reinforcer mod. Very cheap.

Already mentioned the Monoballs and motor mounts. If you feel like spending money, definitely nice upgrades but not mandatory. Shifter cables are nice Too as some break, But otherwise just an incremental improvement.

Honestly only the brace, oil pan, and fuel starve are necessary. Everything else is a nice to have.

Safety wise, need proper seats if running harnesses.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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The original gas tank didn't have sufficient baffling. But if you kept it full, wasn't a problem. Degredation wasn't the issue. If you had starvation before you will have it again.

Oil starvation was less of a problem, but can be on sticky tires. And the signs are less apparent compared to fuel starvation until issues arise. If address it because it's relatively cheap.

You already have an upgraded rear toe brace, so good.

Everything else is optional. I'd get a decent hybrid street / track brake pad like DS2500s. There are more aggressive pads out there too.

Do the Stan / reinforcer mod. Very cheap.

Already mentioned the Monoballs and motor mounts. If you feel like spending money, definitely nice upgrades but not mandatory. Shifter cables are nice Too as some break, But otherwise just an incremental improvement.

Honestly only the brace, oil pan, and fuel starve are necessary. Everything else is a nice to have.

Safety wise, need proper seats if running harnesses.
Seats are Lotus Sport (OEM) which already have holes for shoulder harnesses. TCDesigns (race fabrication shop) modded them with the hole for the leg straps. Running 6-point harnesses. As for the gas tank, this is all I can tell you: It was an OEM tank that started giving me starvation issues after 2, maybe 3 years. Always on high G left-hand turns. (Turn 2 at Thunderhill mostly.) Back then, the conventional wisdom was that something in the tank changed over time (some kind of adhesvive or caulking or foam?) -- hence a tank developed the problem over time. But maybe conventional wisdom knows more now! All I can tell you is that I was among a number of people who developed fuel starvation problems. Some people upgraded to modded tanks. I slipped in and got an OEM replacement, but I have no idea if it was an OEM tank with a design that fixed the original flaw.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-02-2015, 07:12 PM
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Heard rumblings about gas tank changing at some point but I think some had starvation from the start. So I guess take what I say with grain of salt. I suppose you can just keep an eye on it and see what happens.

Have fun with the build. Coil overs are probably the biggest single item in terms of how the car feels. Just a matter of what you want to spend.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-03-2015, 10:29 AM
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My understanding is the reverse - that topping up the oil doesn't obviate the need for a baffled oil pan, but that keeping the gas tank above 1/2 does eliminate the danger of fuel starvation. I run the stock tank but have a baffled oil pan from Sector.

Curious about your Hans set-up. Could you post pics?

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2015, 08:03 PM
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Or you could go full crazy, like our guys and just go triples... a roll cage... and go racing =) Let's integrate technology into the series so you can "work" while out at the track with us.

Plus, don't forgot you're favorite driver coach!

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2015, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by craigyirush View Post
My understanding is the reverse - that topping up the oil doesn't obviate the need for a baffled oil pan, but that keeping the gas tank above 1/2 does eliminate the danger of fuel starvation. I run the stock tank but have a baffled oil pan from Sector.

Curious about your Hans set-up. Could you post pics?
Curious about *my* HANS? I have been running a head and neck system from Safety Solutions. The R3. I found HANS didn't work with the Lotus Sports seats and my belts (and my height). It's been years since I researched head/neck systems, but if memory serves R3 tested better than HANS in some situations, and worse in others. But I found the R3 comfortable, and easy as far as entering the car with the system on. URL: http://www.summitracing.com/parts/sa...l-10/overview/

I guess there's now a HANS that even works with 3-point belts. This shocked me. But maybe a lot has changed since I last tracked the Elise. I didn't write the model number down, but this is what Ford gave us for the GT350 drive:

Edit: I now see it's not a HANS, but a Simpson Hybrid. Nevermind.

On gas tank: Yeah, getting a full tank before every session was a failsafe. Fingers crossed that my (new OEM) gas tank hasn't somehow degraded over last four years. If memory serves, the original tank was good for about three-four years before fuel starvation appeared in high-G left turns.

Last edited by JonOrangeElise; 09-04-2015 at 09:06 PM.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2015, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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Or you could go full crazy, like our guys and just go triples... a roll cage... and go racing =) Let's integrate technology into the series so you can "work" while out at the track with us.

Plus, don't forgot you're favorite driver coach!
Hahhaha. Maybe I can get work to pay for a season (???). But we can do a video for sure! With drone.

(I'd feel better with a cage, but at what point will I have doubled the original out-the-door price of the car?
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2005 Chrome Orange Lotus Elise:
  • hard top, touring pack, HIDs, SJ Racing 15x7/16x8 track wheels
  • RTD Brace, Nitron 46mm Race Pro 1-Way, BOE oil pan
  • orange/black Lotus Sport trim shop seats, 6-point Schroth belts, Safety Solutions R3 Head & Neck Restraint System
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2015, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by oldmansan View Post
I had the Nitron singles and went to the D/A Penskes from Blackwatch. Even with nearly twice the spring rate the Penskes are more comfortable and a much nicer coilover in every respect. No comparison in my experience.

San
Isn't going from singles to doubles a step up in class anyway? I wonder if the Nitron 2-way is of the same caliber as the D/A Penskes and the Nitron 3-way even better than the D/A Penskes...
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 08:59 PM
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Are you planning to go to the Nov 4th Golden Gate Lotus Club trackday at Laguna Seca? I think I'll be there and would love to see what you decide on suspension -- maybe I can even grab a ride with you as I've been thinking about the Penskes for my car at some point. (I keep telling myself when I can run sub 1:50s at Laguna on the OEM base suspension, then I'll upgrade.)

As for Vantage's comments, I use those Ferodo DS2500 pads on my Elise and they are a good street/track combo pad. Not noisy, some dust, good braking performance. Probably a little better than OEM or the same, but the OEM brakes actually aren't too shabby.

Definitely get a baffled oil pan installed ASAP though. I went with the gPan3. I'm sure Tony at TC Designs can install one for you with no problem. Those guys also modded my OEM seat for harnesses. Good folks.

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post #16 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 07:55 AM Thread Starter
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Are you planning to go to the Nov 4th Golden Gate Lotus Club trackday at Laguna Seca? I think I'll be there and would love to see what you decide on suspension -- maybe I can even grab a ride with you as I've been thinking about the Penskes for my car at some point. (I keep telling myself when I can run sub 1:50s at Laguna on the OEM base suspension, then I'll upgrade.)
Nope, the timing just doesn't work out. I'm doing Hooked on Driving Sept 26/27. This will probably be the first/last track event I do in 2015 (aside from driving the Shelby GT350 at Laguna last month), but I plan to do three or four events in 2016.

I'm going with 46mm single-adjustable Nitrons with 450/600 spring rates. This is what Suspension Performance does for many of its cars. Per what Eric of Suspension Performance shared in an email: "The 46mm are slightly more compliant on the street. For the spring rate, we use soft springs -- 450 lbs front, 600 lbs rear. We have that on both our Lotus Cup race car and so far we won every race we finished this year. The chassis is very rigid and the car likes suspension compliance."

Obviously, there are a few coilover options out there. But I know I don't want the complexity of double adjustables, I "save" a bit of money with the Nitrons, and two people I know and trust (Eric and Robbie Montinola) see a lot of satisfied drivers with the Nitrons. And let's face it: I still can't wring out fastest possible laps from my base suspension, so regardless of which package I get, I'll still have a long ways to go.


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Originally Posted by chiarov View Post
As for Vantage's comments, I use those Ferodo DS2500 pads on my Elise and they are a good street/track combo pad. Not noisy, some dust, good braking performance. Probably a little better than OEM or the same, but the OEM brakes actually aren't too shabby.

Definitely get a baffled oil pan installed ASAP though. I went with the gPan3. I'm sure Tony at TC Designs can install one for you with no problem. Those guys also modded my OEM seat for harnesses. Good folks.
I still have fresh sets of Porterfield R4s -- so that's what's going on the car! Tony did my harnesses as well (Lotus sports seats, modded for the anti-sub strap). It's good to see he's still doing that mod.

I'm still not sold on the necessity of the oil pan. But I will discuss with Suspension Performance. For what it's worth, when I stopped tracking four years ago, the oil pan mod wasn't quite so popular. (Though the fuel starvation problem was a big issue.) Have there been a lot of catastrophic engine events in the last four years?

Oh, one more question for everyone: Any new developments and fixes for the "ice mode" problem? I was one of the afflicted, and just learned to cope with it. But if there's a legit fix (other than disabling ABS), please share. I've done forum searches, and it's really hard to sift through the information. My ice-mode issues cropped up after switching to 15/16 wheels and RA1s. But maybe the wheel/tire change was incidental, and ice mode was more a function of simply faster/harder driving.

2005 Chrome Orange Lotus Elise:
  • hard top, touring pack, HIDs, SJ Racing 15x7/16x8 track wheels
  • RTD Brace, Nitron 46mm Race Pro 1-Way, BOE oil pan
  • orange/black Lotus Sport trim shop seats, 6-point Schroth belts, Safety Solutions R3 Head & Neck Restraint System
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post #17 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 08:53 AM
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Nope, the timing just doesn't work out. I'm doing Hooked on Driving Sept 26/27. This will probably be the first/last track event I do in 2015 (aside from driving the Shelby GT350 at Laguna last month), but I plan to do three or four events in 2016.

I'm going with 46mm single-adjustable Nitrons with 450/600 spring rates. This is what Suspension Performance does for many of its cars. Per what Eric of Suspension Performance shared in an email: "The 46mm are slightly more compliant on the street. For the spring rate, we use soft springs -- 450 lbs front, 600 lbs rear. We have that on both our Lotus Cup race car and so far we won every race we finished this year. The chassis is very rigid and the car likes suspension compliance."

Obviously, there are a few coilover options out there. But I know I don't want the complexity of double adjustables, I "save" a bit of money with the Nitrons, and two people I know and trust (Eric and Robbie Montinola) see a lot of satisfied drivers with the Nitrons. And let's face it: I still can't wring out fastest possible laps from my base suspension, so regardless of which package I get, I'll still have a long ways to go.




I still have fresh sets of Porterfield R4s -- so that's what's going on the car! Tony did my harnesses as well (Lotus sports seats, modded for the anti-sub strap). It's good to see he's still doing that mod.

I'm still not sold on the necessity of the oil pan. But I will discuss with Suspension Performance. For what it's worth, when I stopped tracking four years ago, the oil pan mod wasn't quite so popular. (Though the fuel starvation problem was a big issue.) Have there been a lot of catastrophic engine events in the last four years?

Oh, one more question for everyone: Any new developments and fixes for the "ice mode" problem? I was one of the afflicted, and just learned to cope with it. But if there's a legit fix (other than disabling ABS), please share. I've done forum searches, and it's really hard to sift through the information. My ice-mode issues cropped up after switching to 15/16 wheels and RA1s. But maybe the wheel/tire change was incidental, and ice mode was more a function of simply faster/harder driving.
If you're tracking the car, you NEED an upgraded pan and toe link brace at the bare minimum. Even momentary oil starvation will kill the 2ZZ, and it's been well documented here.

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post #18 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 10:07 AM
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Eric has seen his share of blown motors from oil starvation. The fact is, the 2ZZ engine wasn't built to withstand 1G cornering forces because the car it was originally designed for (Celica GTS) couldn't corner that hard.

What's the Ice Mode problem?

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post #19 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-15-2015, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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What's the Ice Mode problem?
From wide-open throttle to heavy braking, well... the brakes momentarily stop working! (Or feel like they've stopped working, if we assume this to be true.) I think whoever coined the term was making an allusion to the car feeling like it it was sliding on ice. The problem seems related to brake bias issues and ABS. Worth noting that I only started seeing "ice mode" when I switched stock wheels and stock pads for lighter wheels and race pads. At any rate, there are various approaches to dealing with it ... My approach was to go from WOT to coasting for a moment, and then heavy on the brakes. I was just wondering if someone (or some shop) has definitively landed on a pad or wheel set-up or something that fixed it for good.

Here are some threads that discuss it:
https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f100...thread-248849/
https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f100...-solved-36810/
https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f91/...-victim-70922/

2005 Chrome Orange Lotus Elise:
  • hard top, touring pack, HIDs, SJ Racing 15x7/16x8 track wheels
  • RTD Brace, Nitron 46mm Race Pro 1-Way, BOE oil pan
  • orange/black Lotus Sport trim shop seats, 6-point Schroth belts, Safety Solutions R3 Head & Neck Restraint System
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post #20 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-16-2015, 04:20 AM
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I had the Nitron singles and went to the D/A Penskes from Blackwatch. Even with nearly twice the spring rate the Penskes are more comfortable and a much nicer coilover in every respect. No comparison in my experience.

San
Absolutely. When i first saw this thread and had not read all the posts yet, I was going to post, "Two words: Fred Zust."

Don't worry that you don't know where to adjust the D/A Penskes from Blackwatch. I spent some time on the phone with Fred about what wheels and tires I use and what our local autocross sites are like. I set it to his recommendations and have not fiddled with them since. Some day I will get a sharp guy like Neal Tovson or Pat Washburn to evaluate it, but for now I know my driving is what needs to improve. Mostly on the strength of this suspension change, I have jumped from 30th overall to 5th overall at local autocrosses. At one tight airport event I had the fastest time in a car (I don't recognize a shifter kart as a car).

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