Restoring the Elan - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Restoring the Elan

In 1985, I sold my immaculate 2002 tii. It went for about 45% more than I’d paid for it, due to German mark rising against the dollar.

My first 2002 came in 1969, so I’d been driving the same basic car for 16 years. I loved them both, but became a bit bored.

(The only difference between them was flipping the wiper and blinker light handles at the steering wheel. For a month or two after getting the tii, whenever I made a turn, the wipers swept across the dry windshield. Hard for me, apparently, to relearn stuff.)

The tii had some modifications and was close to perfect as it wasn’t my daily driver. A guy came to see it from Long Island. He walked into our house, stood in the center hall, saw the large sunken living room and the yard through that.

He said, “Dis is claaass.” I didn’t like him and thought from our conversation he wouldn’t care for the car the way it merited.

I sold the car to a young fellow from MI, for a couple of hundred less. He was a real enthusiast.

The next week my friend Bruce told me a story he’d just heard at work. Seems a guy wouldn’t sell his BMW to a guy who offered more than the other buyer.

“Uh, I know, Bruce. That was me and it was the right thing to do.”

Next, a 1972 Elan Sprint was flat-bedded to my house. It was the color I wanted, sort of refrigerator white, which seemed to have a tint of blue in there.

I got it running, but the Stromberg carbs did not perform well. A chance came up to buy my friend Lee’s twin-cam. Built with Webers by QED in England, it ran beautifully and had about 160 hp. It was quick.

But, I’d also driven Lee’s Spyder chassis/suspension car and it felt much better than mine. Lee had bought a Dave Vader aluminum block, 2-liter engine; 200 hp and 200 tq. This made his Elan faster than the original 289 Cobra he’d bought in college. Forget quick; it was fast!

--

First drive with the new engine:

I had a partner in the car when I first got the Elan. After I got it running, I offered him the first test drive….after we put the wheels on.

I showed him the “buttons” that had to go into the corresponding holes on the Panasports and instructed him to make very sure each wheel was properly mounted.

When he drove down my driveway with me as the passenger, I yelled for him to STOP!

All four corners were wrong, with the wheels wobbling. I rolled out the floor jack and redid them. Randomly, you’d think he could get a least one right….

Now ready, we drove away. Except, he forgot to release the handbrake.

Our partnership was an unhappy one and a few months later, I ended it.

Those little emergency brake pads are very expensive. I had them relined locally once, much cheaper.

Then, I learned that a spring installed at the parking brake mechanism kept the pads from contacting the rotors and wearing early. Thanks, Lotus Club “ReMarque”.

----

But, Lee’s car felt so good, so solid that I went to the next stage.

So, I decided to order the Spdyer chassis, suspension components and roll cage. I’d already done their rear axle conversion, leaving only one Rotoflex per side. The CVT version was not yet available, so I used U-joints. The car didn’t do that rubber-propelled surge down the street, which makes it look like one doesn’t know how to drive.

I’d changed the old suspension bushings before I knew a Spyder chassis was in my future. I had no compressor then and didn’t think of an electric cutoff wheel. Instead, I stupidly used a single blade hacksaw handle and cut through the bolts. This took 5 nights of unpleasant work.

I wanted to use the yet-unpurchased Spyder suspension arms, but my friend Bill (race car mechanic) pointed out that if I hit a curb, the Spyder units were so stout that the impact would bend the old sheet metal chassis.

To help with the chassis change, my friend Bill was willing to work for $200/day and had built Lee’s car. I learned a huge amount working with Bill, a good teacher.

It took us one day to remove the body. I had to round up neighbors and a gardener I knew. We picked the body up and put in on the other side of the garage.

Bill could see I was surprised at getting this done on the first day. I was now committed. (As many thought I should be….)

We set the new chassis on jack stands and began pulling all the old parts off the old unit that we’d need. This was pretty much everything but the sheet metal suspension arms. Yes, the ones with the new bushings.

I cleaned and often painted all the old parts. I bought new metal brake lines and I managed to bend them by hand perfectly, each with a straight shot to the connectors to make life easy in future. (Bill was impressed, he claimed…)

We installed the new suspension on the car; it would be helpful when putting the engine in, being able to roll the car forth and back.

I have maintained that the Elan weighed 5 pounds more than it had to. Because every bolt had either Locktite or anti-seize – or both – on it. When it came time to refresh the front suspension bushings, the job was easy and quick.

We began the project in late fall. I had a salamander space heater, which made the temperatures decent and bearable.

I had a wild, pet squirrel “Petey”, who would come when I called her and sit on my lap and eat peanuts (hence the name). She loved coming into the garage and hanging around with us.

Of course, she did. It was warm and peanuts were in stock.

One day, I was under the car, with some heavy part in one hand and a wrench in the other. I always wore coveralls to keep warm and clean.

Petey came in the partly open door and walked over. Then, while I was straining to install the part, she went through all the pockets of my coveralls, looking for peanuts. “Very goal-oriented squirrel”, I thought.
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05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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I got a new fuel tank and bent the float arm on the gas-level sending unit. It had always been off and I knew which way to go. After that, it was very accurate.

When it was time to mount the body on the chassis, I learned Crazy Glue (cyanoacrylate) was the right stuff for gluing the bobbins in.

I did two other things. One was to use a plumb bob to ensure both rear fenders would provide as much room as possible, evenly. That area was more difficult than the front to get big tires into.

I also moved the body as far back on the chassis as I safely could, looking for favorable weight distribution.

(When I corner weighted/jacked the car, 56% of the weight was on the rear tires. Riley & Scott Racing said they didn’t care where the engine on a car was, as long as 56% was on the rear. This will come up later.)

These Elan bodies were all a bit different. Supposedly, they were not stored properly while the fiberglass cured. I think pictures showed them sort of just stacked.

After the body was bolted, we put the engine and seats in and all the other stuff. I had purchased a new wooden dash panel, which was really nice.

Gary and I ran into a former Elan owner who wanted to sell us some stuff very inexpensively. So, we bought the lot.

Neither of us liked the old wood shift knob. Among what we bought were two really good leather knobs, in a much more comfortable shape too.

But, the insides were simply some sort of plastic which would never hold the stick shaft threads properly.

We bought some parts at local specialty hardware shop. Screw in inserts, other threaded stuff.

We tried many ways, for many hours, to get any of that to work. None held well enough. I bet we had 6 man/hours into this project.

But, while at a body shop I saw a two-tube gun for polyurethane goop, for fixing bumpers. I asked if we could borrow it.

We drilled out more plastic in the knobs. We notched the thread insert for more friction and surface area.

After centering the inserts, we shot the goop in. Waited, held our breath(s).

It worked!! Thousands of miles later, not a hint of movement.

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 03:44 PM Thread Starter
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The Spyder chassis was really good.

First, the motor mounts were on the chassis attached to metal arms, not the engine. So, they weren’t ruined by engine heat. A few had failed on me before. When the rubber went away, you had metal to metal contact, but at least the engine stayed in the car.

The cross-member under the transmission had conical ends, so when they were bolted there was no movement. On most Elans and mine, the factory piece was just cut and bolted.

It weighed 20 or so pounds more than the sheet metal chassis, but unlike the stock unit, this chassis was really stiff.

If you jack up a corner of a car and the door gap changes, you do not have a rigid frame. That was true until the Spyder was under the car. Then the door gap did not change a bit.

By the way, one chap at Spyder I spoke to a few times is Phil Abbot, who later started the iconic car manufacturer Radical.

It also allowed me to replace the rear “Chapman Struts” with double A-arms, which in turn allowed for much larger tires, as well as better geometry.

I was really careful while adjust the suspension heights; counting threads, using calipers, etc. Hour and hours on this.

When I did the weight jacking, only one corner needed a slight adjustment and that, as they say, was it.

Later, the engine builder said mine was “the most stable Elan” he’d ever driven. My friend Gary, fellow Elan owner and a pro mechanic, was with me on the highway where I was doing about 100 mph. He said my speedometer was wildly optimistic. I pointed out that the big tires ensured it was dead on. He was surprised.

The “roll cage” was not what you think. The roll bar was fine, but the cage consisted of a longitudinal piece that ran through the rocker panel, where another tube was bolted to it and that then bolted to the chassis.

This was to keep the front wheels from encroaching into the footwells in the event of a crash. That longitudinal piece was way too low to help in a T-bone crash. Well, some safety is better than none, I guess.

I also learned how to anneal and form aluminum. (To make hats for where chassis stuck though the trunk floor a little.)

1. Rub Ivory (only) soap over the metal.
2. Apply torch.
3. When soap turns black, metal is ready to be formed.
4. Start gently hammering. I used a small pail of sand to backstop the metal.

Due to the extra horsepower, I installed front brakes from a Plus 2 Elan. Yes, they were heavier, but I didn’t want to spend the extra money on the specialty lighter parts. Car stopped very well.

The next few years were fun while I tried to make the Elan into a reliable driver.

That meant getting an alternator to replace the generator, which also saved weight. But, I found that the alternator was being shaken into some other dimension without a mount with rubber in it. So, I got a new mount.

I also changed to an electronic ignition, which only failed twice. (I carried spares….) Eventually, I got a new Lucas breakerless distributor.

Replacing Lucas components was key. So, more fuses, different and more relays, etc went into the car.

I had to add a lot of fuses, as all British cars made then had the same, crappy 2-fuse box. I always assume that sometime in the1930s, a production order had an extra zero or two on it. And, the Brits wouldn’t use anything better until the extra million or two of the old piece was used up.

At some point, we Lotus guys rent the Pocono track, North Course, for the day. I hadn’t found the right tires, but still managed to pass a lot of cars.

People kept coming by and asking Lee and me how we managed to go so fast. Generally, we’d shrug and say something about luck.

During lunch, they (perhaps stupidly) let us out on the tri-oval. I hung back because I wanted to go as fast as possible.

At an actual 132 mph, I was on the rev limiter. But, I had a lot more power. I lifted off the throttle pedal about 1/3 and was still on the limiter!

But, really, did I need to go faster in this little car? Probably not. I didn’t want a higher (lower ratio) rear axle and no good 5 speeds were available.
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05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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This story takes place on an enclosed racetrack:

I was in my hot rod Elan, stopped at a traffic light. Couldn’t imagine what a stoplight was doing on a racetrack….

Nice summer day, top down, waiting for light to turn green.

Up pulls a Buick GN (probably not a GNX) with a Camaro behind him. These guys knew one another.

As light goes green, we pull away very, very quickly. I am ahead, but at the time I had a rev limiter in the car, against which we bounced.

I lost by 2 feet or so.

As I roll up to the next oddly placed light, Camaro driver says something like, “Looks like my friend beat you”.

“We’ll see. There’s another light.”, was my answer.

This light goes green, I avoid the rev limiter and win by half a car length.

These two guys are incredulous. “Is that a V8?” No. “Turbo?” No.
“Fuel injected?” No, two Weber carbs, that’s it.”

I wasn’t sure they believed me.

“That Buick’s never been beat before!”

Me, “OK”.

I drove slowly away.

(The GN was a sub 14 second car in ¼ mile.)


At the Drag Strip

I took the Elan to the drag strip. It was more than 2 seconds faster than Gary’s.

Taking off very, very gently, it turned in the 14s at over 100 mph. I later found that the tach was reading artificially high, so I’d left some significant power on the table.

---

Tires

Finally, I found the right tires for my 13” knock-off wheels. Dunlop Formula R D83J I think. Tires made for British racing that required street tires.

These were 175/70 and huge. Even though I’d provided as much room as possible under the rear fenders, I still had to shave the fender return lip.

Worth it, as these were remarkably good. Bill, the racecar mechanic, said we had to be pulling well more than a g. They even worked in the rain.

They were not easily available here, only 2 shops had them. The Dunlops were not long-lasting, but more than acceptable.

Alas, when I went to reorder for the 3rd or 4th time, I found that the earthquake in Kobe, Japan had broken the mold for this size. The 165/70s were an inch narrower.

I tried other brands, but none quite matched those Dunlops.

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 03:50 PM Thread Starter
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The Lotus did become reliable. I drove that car over 100,000 miles. It let me down once due to a dumb engine builder mistake. I will never use that shop again.

Once, it stopped running because of the anti-theft switch in the glove box. (My cousin bought his car new in 1970, but didn’t know the car even had an alarm system until I told him.)

Before I figured out the problem (the alarm would prevent ignition), I called Lorraine to tow me 3 blocks home.

I hooked up the tow cable to both cars, but it was rush hour and we were at a stop sign trying to get onto a very busy road.

I was in no rush, but she got flustered. Finally, when she saw an opening, she took off. I mean FAST.

Luckily, the tow cable had come off. I got the Lotus running and drove it home.

If the cable hadn’t fallen, it could’ve been bad. We needed a large gap (for two cars with space between them). We could’ve been hit…a few times.

---

Windshield

Eventually, I decided to have the car painted in the same white color. A shop in south Jersey got the work, as I liked the guy and the price was right. South Jersey is generally less expensive than north.

He did a nice job and I was happy.

We had to install the new windshield, though, before I could drive home (about 2 hours).

We really struggled. The windscreen surround is fiberglass, and I’d bought a new rubber gasket; a rather wide thing.

We lubed the gasket and tried to jam the glass in. We tried the rope trick and a couple of other techniques, some of which involved threatening the windshield and cursing.

After a couple of hours, we were done…and tired.

Those familiar with the British windscreens have seen that little chrome-looking plastic strip that, when pressed into the gasket locks everything in place.

In his youth, Gary decided he didn’t like that old part on his Triumph and removed it, not knowing its purpose.

When I heard this, I told him the removal was a safety feature. If his head hit the screen, it would pop out. Leaving him perfectly okay.

When we were wrestling with Gary’s Elan screen, I realized the secret.

There was a threaded metal rod running from the top of the dash to the interior side of the windscreen surround, for strength.

Wait! We don’t we loosen that? We finished the rest of that job quickly.

(Gary had opted to drive his newly painted car to and from south Jersey with no windshield. It was tough at highway speeds and I told him to wear a face safety mask next trip. Sunglasses did not cut it.)

A couple of years later, Gary and I installed a new screen for my cousin. I think we may hold the world’s record: 46 minutes from pulling the car in to driving it out!

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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Wheels

I traded a Stromberg airbox for drilled knock on wheel nuts. This was important because when those nuts loosen, bad things happen.

There are more than a couple of Elans with slightly damaged right front fender lips, from where that wheel parted company with the car.

So, I learned to safety-wire the nuts and lots of other stuff.

The Panasport wheels’ spokes meant I had to bend the thick metal “wrench” for clearance. These cars came with hammers, some brass, some plastic.

I made some device to protect the Panasports’ paint while I hit the wrench.

We once stopped to help another Elan driver we saw stopped on the way to a British car show. Nice car, owned by a fellow with no mechanical skills. He’d pulled over due to some noise and a funny feel while driving.

Looking all around and under the car, he didn’t know what to do. We pointed toward a loose wheel. He got out his hammer and wrench, but I told him to wait until I grabbed the device from my trunk.

He didn’t want to wait 15 seconds and then badly chipped his freshly painted wheels in a few spots.

--

First Test Drive with New Chassis

I finished the car in December. It was brutally cold out, but I took a test drive…with the top off. Lorraine wanted me to pick up some food for our annual Christmas Eve dinner.

I think it was about 20 degrees out. While waiting for a light, the fellow in the Volvo next to me asked, “Aren’t you cold like that?”

Smiling, I asked “Aren’t you way too warm in there?” We both laughed.

The heat in the Elan was remarkably good. (Uh, with the top up.) I couldn’t leave the heat fully on without becoming way too warm. Fiberglass is a wonderful insulator.

---

Driving the car:

If you haven’t driven an Elan, you’ve missed what I consider the finest classic British sports car.

Forget agricultural big Healeys. And, MGs, early Jags, etc.

Compared to the Elan, they were slow, handled poorly, rode horribly and, with drum brakes, stopped only on occasion.

Elans are a dream. Best steering I’ve ever experienced, although the Elise is close.

Gordon Murray said the he aimed at the Elan steering feel when designing the McLaren F1. He admitted he did not achieve that particular goal.

The transmission shifted beautifully (hey, no cables). But, I had called Redline to ask what lube they had for the car. I think it normally used engine oil.

I put in what Redline recommended and quickly had to drain it. The synchros were not working well at all. I assumed they needed more friction than the Redline afforded.

Alas, the wheel bearing in the Spyder rear hubs began to make noise. Using an old “ReMarque” trick, I pressed out the old ones and installed the new bearings. (I now own a press, but didn’t then.)

I now will plug Lotus Limited (Club) and its very good quarterly magazine. PLUS, you get a listing of all members, including who will help you when your car breaks down in the hinterlands. (My old copy goes in the Corolla XRS.)

At the Connecticut LOG years ago, I missed the Lime Rock track day. This was my home track with the BMW CCA and I always did pretty well there.

The issue was an alternator that didn’t offer the alternate of actually charging the battery.

I pulled the piece and got it to a friendly shop, which rebuilt it quickly. I was quite happy.

Until I wasn’t.

Installed in the car, it did not charge. Back to the shop, where they proved it worked.

We left for home, hoping the full-sized battery would get me there. It did.

Weeks later I realized how stupid I could be (again). The alternator’s plastic plug connector had 3 positions. One was fixed for only that connector. But, the other two slots could both be used by the remaining wire. My 2nd wire was in the wrong spot… Yes, I am sometimes a bit dumb.

My cousin got to do his first and only track day. He was happy he passed a car. (I was happy only if I passed almost all the others, but I’m type A. That assumes “A” stands for asshat.

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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Elans, even stock, are wonderful cars. The chassis, suspension and engine mods made mine ever nicer.

Leaving from an appointment in upper NY State, the weather was beautiful. So, I took back roads along the Hudson River and had a terrific time.

This kind of thing happened regularly. The Elan is a joy.

And, larger trunk than Elise; more space in passenger compartment; it has frigging SPARE TIRE. (Note: On track days, we always left the spare in the Elans, for a bit extra crash protection.)

But, it was too narrow for the best handling. And, not the most crash-worthy car on Earth.

Nevertheless, I loved the car. I remember driving a Honda S2000, which was slower, bigger and heavier and thinking that it was not going to supplant my Elan.

Wife Borrows Car

Lorraine’s favorite car was the 7, but the Elan was more comfortable and faster in a straight line.

She liked to drive both.

One day, she took the Elan. I hadn’t thought much about it, but probably should have.

The police stopped her for an expired inspection sticker. She used the still unadjusted parking brake, so the car rolled a bit. There was a 3rd problem, but it escapes me at the moment.

I think the policeman thought all this was funny and did not cite her. The fact that she was a remarkably beautiful woman likely didn’t hurt.


Inspection:

This was always a trip and a challenge. It took me about an hour to ready the car, fooling with timing and idle mixture on the Webers.

Then, another hour to get things back to normal. I did a test for other reasons and found that at a steady 65 mph on the highway, CO was less than 2%, which I think was sort of stellar.

One day, while waiting in line at Montclair’s inspection station, I knew I’d forgotten something. But, I was in line and thought it was worth a shot. (Note: State car inspectors are not armed.)

The car passed. As I was leaving the station, I realized what I’d missed: the car had no front license plate! (The beauty of very low cars.)

Later, NJ decided that cars older than 25 years no longed needed a front plate. As you might guess, this didn’t really affect me.

I mentioned this change to my cousin. Cousin called the next week to tell me I was wrong.

“How do you know?”

“I asked a cop I know.”

“Really, you think he’d be aware of such a recent change? To me, it’s like going to the drive-thru window as McDonalds and asking the cashier how the stock was going to do this year.”

(At my house, sarcasm is our most important product.)

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 03:54 PM Thread Starter
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Keeping Cool:

Determined to reuse the old and tiny radiator, I did a lot of work to get the temperatures down, like blanking off any holes that would allow incoming air to bypass the radiators.

I had an air bleeder welded onto the thermostat housing, which was a high point in the system.

Nothing worked well enough. More horsepower means more heat, right?

So, I finally bought a full width radiator, which bolted right in. Lotus had a metal blanking plate on each side of the undersized radiator (as if we wouldn’t notice).

Finally, reasonable coolant temps.


Trouble in Dribble City:

One day, soon after changing the Weber needles and seats to versions with rubber tips on the needles, I got gas at a nearby Sunoco.

It was early and I was likely the first customer.

Minutes later, the Elan began to run poorly. I went home, fooled with it and found a bunch of junk, plastic and other stuff in the fuel tank.

I went back to the station and had them drain the gas back into their tank. I assumed that someone put all that crap in the pump hose.

In this case, the early bird got the worst (goop).

I cleaned the tank out, but the car was definitely not right.

I talked to racecar mechanic Bill who had a series of wild theories.

Then, based on the idea that the crap in the hose might have affected those rubber-tipped new parts, I put the old completely metal needles and seats back in.

Car ran perfectly again.


What Goes Down Must Go Up

The Elan convertible top is pretty good; it has 3 rear windows. Most drop-head coupes/convertibles have copious blind spots. Would the word for this be “Copaque”??

It also seals reasonably well.

But, it takes about 6 trips around the car to erect. There was this great Miata TV commercial where a bunch of much more expensive convertible sports cars were on the starting line for a race. Each car had its top down. A water truck simulated rain. So, tops had to go up before the race began.

The Miata driver simply reached back and pulled the top shut. All the other cars were still in process and the Miata easily won the race.

The poor fellow in the Elise was still “erecting” after all the other cars finished. But, the Elise would still have beaten the Elan.

Helpful Hint: Because I wouldn’t put the top up unless it was really pouring, I kept a towel wrapped around the metal top bows. That way the bows didn’t harm anything such as the plastic window and, moreover, I had a towel to dry the interior and myself.

On the way to a dirt track race, I was forced to pull over. Cousin Norman was with me. Remember, he’d bought his Elan new in 1970.

It was really teeming and Norman was trying to do the passenger side of the top. Way, way too slowly! I ran to that side and finished.

I got caught in a storm a couple of miles from home once. It got worse quickly and the little tray on top of the transmission tunnel filled with water! I think that when I cornered, there were whitecaps!

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Engine Rebuild:

I decided to have a well-known shop rebuild the Elan engine.

This didn’t turn out so well.

Their engine dyno showed about 180 hp, but the car did not feel significantly faster than the QED-built 156.

The shop was not inexpensive.

First, the engine had issues with low speed running. The new 45DCOE Webers did not like any extra fuel pressure, even from my mechanical pump. The 40s had been fine.

So, I drove out to Long Island again. I always dislike driving to anyplace on that island and have no idea why anyone would live there. There are only 3 ways to go and each of those is unappetizing and slow.

We put a fuel pressure regulator in and that problem was solved.

Another issue solved was the Lucas distributor advance curve. My brilliant machinist had built many twin-cams for a shop that raced them.

(This guy was really something. For a while, he converted 4 speed Porsche transmission into 5 speeds for RUF. He work on Porsche engines – air cooled back then – was terrific. He showed me that the part of the cylinders with cooling fins could not be machined the way the section without fins.)

He told me that when those distributors got old and got really hot, they lost their advance curves.

I checked his statement. After warming the car up fully, I used an advance timing light and the curve was correct.

Then, I went out for a fast, hard run.

Indeed, the curve now ended early and was wrong. I took it apart, cleaned and lubricated the distributor, but this didn’t improve the issue.

The LI shop tested the old distributor on their machine, which couldn’t really work.

First, the thing wasn’t hot. Second, it was being driven differently in the machine than it was in the engine.

But, I knew what I’d seen and specified a new Lucas breakerless unit.

I have run into a nice British fellow lecturing about Elans at a LOG or two. I mentioned the hot distributor problem to him, but he said it was not true. Oh, well.

The next engine problem was much more serious.

The engine died not far from my house.

It is somewhat common knowledge that the illustrious twin-cam has, well, 3 cams. The third runs the oil pump and distributor. (Also note that the “Hundred Year War” lasted 116 years…)

The LI shop had apparently not checked that cam well. Some teeth broke and the distributor stopped turning.

I was stuck on a 4 lane, 45-mph road and rush hour was approaching. I set out flares (or triangles) and was dismayed to learn that drivers looked only about 30’ in front of their cars.

Dismay turned to panic. I managed back the car down the hill into a parking lot, where the car and I were both much safer.

I assumed the shop would fix this for free. I was wrong. The worry is that pieces of the phantom cam might have gotten into the engine. So, it had to be torn down again. They discounted this, but I still see it as their problem.

They had also not put the front cover on properly and we had an oil leak.

That, they paid me to fix. Anything to avoid another ride to LI!

LIE doesn’t stand for “Long Island Expressway”. It denotes what I’d do to avoid it: “Lie in Excrement”.

I do not recommend this shop. Surprise!

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
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Saying Goodbye to the Elan:

I moved into my new (smaller) house after our divorce, with all 3 cars. I’d purchased the Elise in 2005.

The house and grounds needed a lot of work. I was also feeling a bit poor, having lost half my stuff.

The Elan was not being driven, as the Elise was my first choice. I knew that the 40-year old car would always need some fixing, for which I had little time.

So, I sold it to a gentleman I knew would love and maintain the car.

The question was: Would I miss it?

The answer was no. After all, I’d been driving the Elan for 20+ years and about 100,000 miles. I still enjoyed it, but, as B.B. King sang (but didn’t write), the thrill is (was) gone.

I have wonderful memories of the car, the rebuilding process, its feel and size. It may be the most space efficient sports car ever created.

It’d be fun to drive one in the future. Perhaps.
MoBoost, Dylan and John D. like this.

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 05:58 PM
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Excellent - love it.

Makes me want an Elan!
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 09:39 AM
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Nice write-up. The Elans are really something and while the Elise is much more modern, it definitely doesn't feel as special to me. Mine is in a torn-down state and I'm planning on making real progress on it this summer and it's so tempting to put a Spyder chassis under it while it's so far apart (engine out and all wiring ripped out) but I hate to do anything that'll make it take even longer to get it back together!

Having never put up the top in an S3-or-later Elan, I can't imagine that it's as time-confusing as the S1/S2 Elans, where literally everything for the top is stored in the trunk and you have to build the thing essentially from scratch - first one window frame, then the next, then the crossbar, then tuck the ends of the top into the hooks on the back, stretch it forward and tuck it into the windshield channel, then yank and pull all the snaps into place... yet another reason to never put it on except in an emergency.

2013 Subaru BRZ, 2005 Elise, 1965 Elan S2
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 10:18 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, you're right about the later vs. earlier tops. And, yes, I avoided having the top up when it was sort of silly. No regrets, tho.

Not sure Spyder is still in business.

Why did you remove all the wiring?

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 10:53 AM
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Spyder's web site is still up. At the very least, I want to get a roll bar and side intrusion beams fairly soon - I hate just having lap belts and I'm not comfortable mounting harnesses to the back wall of the interior. Of course, in a serious accident, you're probably a goner no matter what, but everything helps!

The wiring is out because it's 50 years old and has had a fair amount of hacking done to it over the years, especially behind the dash - my car has a lot of extra gauges. Most of it works but it's certainly not perfect. The early car wiring is SO simple that I think it should be pretty simple to build an entirely new harness out of a pile of wiring. I've pretty much got the colors and lengths figured out, I need to double-check wire sizes and decide once and for all if I'm going to use those damn bullet connectors or something more modern. I am leaning towards modern. I've also got a better fusebox that I'll add at the same time and plan on switching to negative ground, alternator, and little USB or lighter charger plug behind the dash and I picked up a permanent little worklight on a reel (originally found in some GM trucks, I think) that I'm going to hide somewhere. I also plan on putting nice disconnects here and there so hopefully it'll be easy to remove the body in the future; I figure I'll put in a new chassis SOME day since I plan to keep this car until I'm pushing up daisies.

Meanwhile, the engine had a leaky water pump - I have a new Burton kit ready to go, then decided to get the bottom end done while the engine was all apart, and the shop closed mid-way through their work on it. They did all the machine work but just gave me back a pile of parts, so I have a crank, pistons, etc all separate and have never done this kind of engine work before so I've been in a sort of mechanical paralysis trying to figure out what to do next, which parts are best to buy, etc. As soon as I finish the steering rack on my Elise, I am planning on concentrating on the Elan this summer, so hopefully I'll make some good progress - really, it should easily be able to go back together, but my pace can be a bit slow, between general laziness and distractions like wife, kids, and competing hobbies.

2013 Subaru BRZ, 2005 Elise, 1965 Elan S2
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post #16 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 11:16 AM
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Great story, thanks for sharing

2005 Nightfall Blue Elise: Sport, Touring, Quantum Zeros, Pro Alloy, BWR De-Cat, Stage II, BOE Torque200 tune
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post #17 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
Spyder's web site is still up. At the very least, I want to get a roll bar and side intrusion beams fairly soon - I hate just having lap belts and I'm not comfortable mounting harnesses to the back wall of the interior. Of course, in a serious accident, you're probably a goner no matter what, but everything helps!

The wiring is out because it's 50 years old and has had a fair amount of hacking done to it over the years, especially behind the dash - my car has a lot of extra gauges. Most of it works but it's certainly not perfect. The early car wiring is SO simple that I think it should be pretty simple to build an entirely new harness out of a pile of wiring. I've pretty much got the colors and lengths figured out, I need to double-check wire sizes and decide once and for all if I'm going to use those damn bullet connectors or something more modern. I am leaning towards modern. I've also got a better fusebox that I'll add at the same time and plan on switching to negative ground, alternator, and little USB or lighter charger plug behind the dash and I picked up a permanent little worklight on a reel (originally found in some GM trucks, I think) that I'm going to hide somewhere. I also plan on putting nice disconnects here and there so hopefully it'll be easy to remove the body in the future; I figure I'll put in a new chassis SOME day since I plan to keep this car until I'm pushing up daisies.

Meanwhile, the engine had a leaky water pump - I have a new Burton kit ready to go, then decided to get the bottom end done while the engine was all apart, and the shop closed mid-way through their work on it. They did all the machine work but just gave me back a pile of parts, so I have a crank, pistons, etc all separate and have never done this kind of engine work before so I've been in a sort of mechanical paralysis trying to figure out what to do next, which parts are best to buy, etc. As soon as I finish the steering rack on my Elise, I am planning on concentrating on the Elan this summer, so hopefully I'll make some good progress - really, it should easily be able to go back together, but my pace can be a bit slow, between general laziness and distractions like wife, kids, and competing hobbies.
I dislike bullet connectors.

I read somewhere about replacing wiring harness (not building new). Author said to leave the connectors and bit of wire on when cutting out the harness, so he could track color coding and wire size. (Probably not applicable here.)

Once built a turbo Esprit engine at show where I helped out. It did not explode. With the manual, lots of shops can do that work if req'd.

IIRC, almost all the wiring stays with body, few connectors to chassis.

When Gary did his new dash, he found excess wire taped to firewall, so he had enough length to pull dash forward and not work upside down, reaching gauges from behind.

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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post #18 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-26-2017, 07:11 PM
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Yeah, I'm not a fan of bullets either, but I'll need to keep a few, or cut off the existing bullets on things like the actual light harnesses. I'm not worried about originality - the car has flares and black bumpers and will never be mistaken for a stock one.

I did carefully label both ends of all the wires when I pulled them out but I'm sure I didn't do it well enough. The garage is overflowing and there's a mess of Elan parts and wires all over. I'm figuring that I'll go off the wiring diagram primarily - I am going to try to match colors with stock ones. If you want a laugh some time, look at the S1/S2 wiring diagram - it comfortably fits on a single sheet of letter paper - it's pretty much ignition and lights, wiper, and fan. No radio or power windows in mine! Even the S3 diagram is much more complex. I definitely will keep the dash connections going through a couple disconnects if at all possible, I want it easy to pull the dash in the future. I always wanted to pull it and this is my first time (I've owned the car for almost 20 years now.) It's not the original - it's a marine plywood one. I sanded it and tried to refinish it but my woodworking skills are even worse than my mechanical skills and I got close but ultimately messed it up, so I'm going to hand it to a pro to finish it. I'm not worried about stock so I'm not going to get it veneered.

2013 Subaru BRZ, 2005 Elise, 1965 Elan S2
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post #19 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 03:22 AM
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glb,

Thanks for posting your Elan story. I found it quite interesting and fun to read.
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post #20 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 06:59 AM Thread Starter
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Glad that you liked it. Thanks.

05 elise (BOE Rev300 supercharged, SSRs, shift tower mods, Multivex; HID hi/low beams); 05 Corolla XRS. Past '72 Elan Sprint (I restored), Lotus 7 w/X-flow, TT Supra, Bugeye Sprite, BMW 2002 & 2002tii, '65 GTO.

Driving Tips-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...art-1-a-49665/
Moss Emergency Line-https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...cy-line-36631/
Bleeding Brakes- https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f10...-brakes-241138
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