Kiss of the K-wall at Laguna 'no es' Seca: Need non-authorized chassis repair ideas - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 08:44 AM Thread Starter
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Question Kiss of the K-wall at Laguna 'no es' Seca: Need non-authorized chassis repair ideas

Hello Folks-

I have an Elise that I ran into a K wall at Laguna Seca this past Tuesday -- wheelspin + LSD + inappropriate rain tires + inexperienced driver = short day on track. By the book, this is a total. The loss is insured and I could just have the insurance company write me a check and walk away, but I'd prefer to repair the vehicle vs. add it to this list. I intend to keep it -- it's a "sports car" for me, in the literal sense of the word. While it's registered and such, 90% of its miles will be on track.

So, I am looking for a CHASSIS front clip -- We essentially want a clean front end to use as a donor for parts to replace the right front bent bits as shown:







Yeah, I know that Lotus will be doing this: , but I am working with a shop that I know and trust and we believe we can pull it off. (The chassis passes the straightness checks when measured via the tooling holes as described in the Service manual.) Our alternatives are to fabricate replacement parts (since we can't buy the raw extrusions from Lotus directly...) An ideal donor vehicle would be something that has had rear end damage and was totaled and is being parted out. While I do need a front clam and lights and squirrelly bits like that, I'm not currently looking for salvage bits for those items. That's not to say that I wouldn't be opportunistic if the items were available, etc. (but I can afford to buy new and such. Speaking of which, is there a general consensus on the "best" aftermarket replacement front clams -- I *can* buy OEM, but this might be an opportunity to buy lighter/stronger -- what's the conventional wisdom on the revozport stuff? Other suggestions? WRT aftermarket, we're worried that the potential rework for fitment will not be worth the hassle to gain strength, lose weight.)

FWIW, I don't intend to obfuscate the history of this vehicle should I accept the check and buy another Elise. The VIN for the Elise described below is SCCPC11105HL35320. Again, I'd MUCH prefer to stick by this car and resurrect it for my personal use.

Thanks in advance for any advice, thoughts or ideas/references you may all have. If someone's got something that might help keep this piece of art on the road, please feel free to give me a ring at 209-795-4588.

Best,

John

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post #2 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnmsykes View Post
The loss is insured and I could just have the insurance company write me a check and walk away
Really? What insurance do you have if you don't mind me (us) asking?

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post #3 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 10:20 AM
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Long ago, about 3 years. I came across a Japanese company that sold repair kits for Elise suspension damage. I saw it online somewhere.
From what I read it seemed to be a common practice to fix your sort of damage. ( please don't flame me !!!!! )

I have looked to find them but no luck.

Maybe someone else can remember the name.

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post #4 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 01:02 PM
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I don't think that upper arm mount can be repaired since it's basically a part of the chassis/tub.


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post #5 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Insurance was event-specific for the Audi Club GG event at Laguna Seca -- Mt. Hawley Insurance, which is a division of RLI Corporation. RLI has an A+ rating and their responsiveness to date leaves me no doubt that they will uphold their end of the bargain. They've been super-easy to work with. Appraiser's already been to the shop, claim number personally delivered within 24 hours and discussion with adjuster same day.

Thanks for the tip about the Japanese suspension bits. With all seriousness, why would anyone flame someone trying to help out! Thanks, again, Jim! (Per below, I, too, understand that it's relatively common to "fix up" this sort of damage.)

As I understand it, you can de-bond items in the chassis/tub and it's done with some frequency. Again, I recognize that "by the book" this is a total, but I'd like to write a happy ending to this story and the folks I'm working with are itching to get at it and get it done. We're at the "build" vs. "buy" point with respect to the pieces that got bent. It's entirely likely we won't be able to recover this car, but I'd rather give her a fair shot at well-loved life.

John

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post #6 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 01:22 PM
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I guess I don't understand why you wouldn't just want to see this one written off. Start again with a clean chassis.

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post #7 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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Fair question, Paul.

I know how this car has been treated and its full provenance. It was not insured to new values -- It was insured to what some quick research indicated an "equivalent" would cost on the secondary market.

I have NOT beat the crap out of this vehicle and I know every nook, cranny and idiosyncracy of "my" car. For me, it's personal and this car is not just an object to be cast away.

Sure, I have a "right" to claim the full insurance value, but it's a waste and it sure wouldn't help all of us down the road if this specialty insurer pulls out or refuses to cover these specific vehicles because their loss history doesn't pencil.

John

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post #8 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
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I don't think that upper arm mount can be repaired since it's basically a part of the chassis/tub.
.
I would have to agree with that assessment to. Having rebuilt the entire front end of one with similar damage...but with no damage to that A arm.

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post #9 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 01:54 PM
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John,

My flame comment wasn't directed towards you. My post was a little confusing.

I didn't want to get flamed by everyone else.

If that was my car I would fix it right up. I wouldn't think twice about it.

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post #10 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 03:09 PM Thread Starter
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Jim-

I think I found the Japanese site you mentioned with A-arms, etc:

TK-Sport - Company Site and US Rep(?)

Thanks for the lead...

John

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post #11 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 03:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnmsykes View Post
Jim-

I think I found the Japanese site you mentioned with A-arms, etc:

TK-Sport - Company Site and US Rep(?)

Thanks for the lead...

John
Hmmm, not sure that's the one I saw. The company I saw sold extruded and
machined parts that attached to existing chassis with adhesive and mechanical fasters. They had pictures of completed repair etc.
I looked a few weeks back but couldn't find them.

Maybe you can try SELOC | Lotus Enthusiasts Club for additional info.

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post #12 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 04:14 PM
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I am interested in the responses to this.

I would like to see the factory develop repair procedures, BMW fixes their aluminum units, and they are adhesive bonded with mechanical fasteners.

Last edited by elancoupe; 02-21-2009 at 04:30 PM.
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post #13 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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Appreciate the redirect/correction, Jim.

I will continue to look and report my findings here, Elancoupe.

There is a fair amount of chatter on SELOC about fix-ups and not needing an autoclave to cure the adhesive, etc.

Definitely feels like this is eminently doable in a safe and workmanlike manner.

Rugbyduck, if you have a chance to generally describe the approach you/your shop took in repairing the car you described, it'd be much appreciated. I am surprised that there's not more on LT fka *ET* about these types of repairs...I probably need to search harder...

Thanks all,

John

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post #14 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnmsykes View Post
A
Rugbyduck, if you have a chance to generally describe the approach you/your shop took in repairing the car you described, it'd be much appreciated. I am surprised that there's not more on LT fka *ET* about these types of repairs...I probably need to search harder...
People are hesitant because they get continually flamed for posting repairs or saying something can be repaired safely. Considering we have about 9K miles on Baby Blue...which includes track days...I'm not at all concerned as to there being a problem when it comes to safety. I'll find the link I posted on here. The damage was VERY similar to yours.

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post #15 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-21-2009, 05:45 PM
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Here is the link...

Check this out first. If you have any questions I can give you the e-mail of my buddy/co-owner, Steven, and he can answer your questions.

https://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f3/b...i-skirt-49155/

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post #16 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-22-2009, 03:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnmsykes View Post
So, I am looking for a CHASSIS front clip -- We essentially want a clean front end to use as a donor for parts to replace the right front bent bits as shown:
I fully understand your wish to retain the car and repair rather than write-off - but wouldn't the cost (and time) required to dismantle the donor front (if you can get one) then repair your chassis exceed the cost of a new chassis partial assembly? In this post (couple of years old) the chassis is just under 9k. The added benefit to a chassis partial assembly is that it comes with the crash structure attached saving that remove/replace job.

All the best with the repair which ever way you go!
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post #17 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-22-2009, 05:18 AM Thread Starter
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Aedo-

That's interesting about the cost of the chassis replacement. We got quoted a substantially higher figure locally ($19K and 5 - 6 months) -- With a chassis, I could do most of the work myself...At $9K, it's something to think about. At $19K, it's out-of-reach.

I want to run down Mr. Clayton's tip about extruded bits from Japan. After searching SELOC, it appears that it's quite common to pull a one-off extrusion that is inserted into the damaged (but now straightened) box section. This adds wall thickness and geometry/hard points are maintained by appropriate use of washers/shims, etc. Sections from 6" to 16" inches were described.

Here's something from an industry clipping on the Sands Museum site (Thanks, Michael):

"One disadvantage of the bonded design of an aluminum chassis still remains, however. Maintenance and repair is not quite as easy as with steel. Should such a chassis be damaged in an accident, it cannot be repaired by any back-street garage. The bonding conditions are too exacting for that. However, the Elise chassis has been so designed that extra bolt holes have been formed in those areas susceptible to damage. These holes are there so that a plate can be bolted on to the existing structure to compensate for the damage, should it occur. In the event of a serious collision, the body and the chassis can be separated and whichever is beyond repair can be replaced."

I don't know if these "extra bolt holes" exist in some of the critical areas susceptible to this kind of damage. If they do, they are not obvious.

Yeah, regarding the flaming for repair comments. Silly. Sure, the factory says , but why would anyone surrender their faculties in a situation like this? Every circumstance is different, of course. I am sure Lotus has taken the most extreme position for a variety of reasons. In my case, it appears like this is a straightforward, albeit delicate repair that will require that attention is paid as things are trued up. I can't imagine what kind of country we'd live in if we all believed it couldn't be done because we read it somewhere.

RugbyDuck -- Thank you very much for the lead. Really appreciate it.

Hopefully I won't need to suit-up in Nomex, but if we move forward, I'm absolutely going to do what I can to fully document what, how and why. As I said, I was/am very surprised that there is not more on LT on this subject. Clearly, a large number of these rides get wadded -- It would be a shame if there are no resources available to help keep these vehicles safely on the road/track in greater numbers.

Best,

John

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post #18 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-22-2009, 09:31 PM
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John, Aedo guided me to this thread. I had the same exact damage on my car. I will post a pic of the "fix." I cant say its very clean but it works. That part is very fragile, and although an essential part bolts on to it.. It does not exert a large amount of force. (IMHO, some may think otherwise) I believe that most of the force is exerted on the lower control arm as the shock and sway bar are mounted down there. I moved the car around with the broken mount and there was minimal movement.

All the pictures are somewhere on an external hard drive, and I just moved.. So I would not expect a picture sooner then tomorrow.

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post #19 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-23-2009, 06:31 AM Thread Starter
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Smile

Aedo/Akandok-

Thank you both for your replies/guidance. So, Lotus Garage is quoting an AC/LHD Front Chassis WITH sills/rockers and all hoses pre-mounted for $7,600 USD. That's nearly too good to be true. Not sure I want to personally sign-up for the 12 - 18 month "weekend" project, but it's nice to know that (at that price...) it's certainly within reach.

Unfortunately, I don't believe I can rename the thread, but today my head's at "Need non-authorized chassis repair ideas", or to throw some marketing spin in to it: "Kiss of the K-wall at Laguna 'no es' Seca: Need non-authorized chassis repair ideas"

One of the guys on SELOC has mechanical drawings of some extrusions they built to address this type of damage. I'm going to try to PM (er, U2U...) him to get some details.

Jim Clayton mentioned a Japanese provider doing extrusions, too. Despite the fact that I was born in Yokosuka (a Navy brat...), my Japanese rather sucks/is non-existent. Perhaps Aerodyne can help out there if they are still an ongoing concern. I was pleasantly surprised at the healthy aftermarket they have in Japan. Some very, very nice bits if the pictures are faithful.

Akandok, I would sincerely appreciate the pics. I am hoping, too, that RugbyDuck's Baby Blue partner, Steven, is able to post some pics of their repair as well. As best I can, I will try to consolidate this information for the next poor bloke, eh?!

By the way, if Neckstrap is still out there, I'd love to get his two-bits on this. He seemed like a very practical-minded free-thinking professional with respect to these types of recoveries.

Again, thanks all.

John

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Last edited by johnmsykes; 02-23-2009 at 06:47 AM. Reason: Corrected typos/missing words...
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post #20 of 116 (permalink) Old 02-23-2009, 09:44 AM
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Mt Hawley Insurance

John,
Sorry to hear about your recent "incedent" at LS. Glad to hear Mt. Hawley is taking care of you.

Any chance you could provide me a contact phone for Mt. Hawley? Most track insurance companies seem so shady and like total scams.
I would like to see if they will cover individual's cars on tracks or even will provide another option for the Lotus Challenge Series in the future.

thanks,
Robb

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