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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have had my V8 for 3 weeks now. It's running well. Today I was detailing the engine bay, and since I had the struts from the trunk removed, I thought I would take a quick peak under the timing belt covers. The timing belts were replaced before I took delivery with JAE blue belts about 300 miles ago.

The passenger side felt really loose between the cams (video). The same belt felt tight after the cam toward the center of the engine.

On the driver's side, the belt felt very tight between the cams, but I couldn't video that because the cover doesn't move away as easily as the passenger side.

Is there any scenario where this looseness is ok on the passenger side? I know the tension varies depending on the position of the crank, but this loose?

Is it really safe to drive like this?

 

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You will never know what the tension is on the belt unless you know the crank and cams are in the correct position. Seems a bit wobbly but without the engine in the correct position there is no reference. A random check of the belt tension will cause confusion. Condition of the belt is all you can check this way. Get a spectrum analyzer for a computer and a microphone, set to proper specs, and check it.
 

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You will never know what the tension is on the belt unless you know the crank and cams are in the correct position. Seems a bit wobbly but without the engine in the correct position there is no reference. A random check of the belt tension will cause confusion. Condition of the belt is all you can check this way. Get a spectrum analyzer for a computer and a microphone, set to proper specs, and check it.
If you have ANY doubts about the belts the safest thing to do is to have it checked. If the belts were just replaced I would check with the shop that did it. I would ask if they have the proper tools. You want to hear that they used some kind of frequency counter (Clavis gauge) NOT a tension measuring tool. If you have any doubts about the shop get the car to a Lotus guy who knows how to do it and has the proper tools. The engine also must be rotated into the correct position for the measurement. There are fixtures (tools) to verify that and the timing.
David Teitelbaum
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The belts were supposedly changed last month by the master himself, Harry at Viking. I certainly got the bill for it.

I sent the car to him before I took delivery to take care of the belts as well as the clutch, radiator hoses, radiator, A/C, etc. since there's no one you can trust in Houston.

His work on the A/C was inexcusably bad and could have cost me thousands in repairs if I didn't get it reworked by a local mechanic before it blew itself to pieces.

The blue belts do look oddly old for only 1 month and 300 miles on them. Supposedly all the tensioners were replaced also -- now I have to wonder about that. Even the accessory belt looks pretty worn for what is suppose to be a new one.

I guess I'll be renting the tools from JAE and learning about timing belt service a lot sooner than expected. Unfortunately, I have business travel coming up, which is going to delay getting this done.

The original plan was to have Harry make the car rock solid so I would have a year to get comfortable with the car before I learned how to do the timing belt maintenance myself. Oh well.
 

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It appears that there's some speculation if the belts were actually really changed. That's why it's important to ask for the old belts back or other parts back when work is done.

I just had all my belts changed at Lotus of Orlando and specifically requested that all the pulleys and belts were to be returned which was done, plus I was curious to see what condition they were in. The drive belt wasn't in very good condition but everything else was in good shape. However, with no record that the belts had ever been changed in 11 years it was good insurance to have it done.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I did asked for the belts, tensioners and everything else back from Viking, and I have them. They are black timing belts that don't look that bad at all. Surprised someone said the one in the video doesn't look blue. It looks very blue to me compared to the stock black ones.

But if you go to a shop that specializes in Esprits, how would you know those old belts are from your car and not just ones lying around the shop unless you secretly marked them?? You wouldn't and I couldn't mark them because I hadn't taken delivery of the car yet.

So, I just started the car briefly, and now that same section of the belt feels very tight. So that was my original question: Has anyone seen a properly tensioned belt get that loose depending on the position of the crank? I know the position makes a big difference when setting the tension, but that much?
 

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We can guess the whole day, no one here has an absolute answer. If it's me, I will
rent a gauge and check the tension. I've been there and I know how much it cost to rebuild the engine. Which is cheaper route?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Looking at the video clip it looks dark. Just get a gauge and check the frequency.
I plan to go through the tension check process. I wish it was as easy as you make it sound, but just "getting a gauge and checking it," it is not.
 

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Sorry. Not really an easy process. Sucks that you have to do it though. I thought I saw a post on someone using an IPhone program to check the frequency of the belts. Can someone else elaborate on this?
 

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All we can do is speculate until the crank is at the correct position to check timing. However, on my 928 if its not at the correct crank position to check tension it will have more slack as shown in this video even though the tension is perfectly set.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Dan that's interesting info about your 928.

I ran the car with the cam covers off. The driver's side belt stays very steady when revving the engine. The passenger side does vibrate ever so slightly when revving it. But it definitely does not give the impression that there's enough slack or vibration to skip an entire tooth or come off the sprockets.

Still going to need to plan out the process and do the tension check.


1998 Lotus Esprit V8
 

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I have a set of tools for checking the tension that I could loan you, but they are currently loaned out to someone else at the moment, so you might need to wait.

PM me if you are interested.
 

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Don't know the V8 belt.
On the 4 the belt is tight. The blue belt is bright blue.
I would think the two belts should "feel" the same at the same point. It doesn't take much slack for a belt to jump a tooth under hard driving.
In any case knowing how to check your own belt tension is good insurance. I periodically check mine by "feel" and gauge.

Randy
 

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You can't trust the colors on the computer, everyone's monitor could be off unless it is calibrated and even then you still have to be suspicious. At this point the thing that makes the most sense is to check the tension. You're right, he could have given you someone else's belt and parts if you didn't mark them and you don't trust him. It is possible he did not change the parts, lets hope the belts are tensioned correctly at least.
David Teitelbaum
 

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:confused:

Perhaps I'm missing something here but the comment that the engine needs to be at TDC and the cam sprockets aligned in order to measure the timing belt tension would not apply to a 4 cylinder car. The belt tension is a constant and does not vary with the position of the crank or cam shafts. Perhaps there is something going on in the V8 which justifies this statement - I've never worked on one - but the 4 cylinder motor belt tension is constant across all positions of the crankshaft and cam sprockets. In fact it is my practice after installing a belt to check the belt multiple times rotating the engine by hand to make certain that the tension returns a constant value regardless of the position of the crank or cam sprockets.

And if you are in somewhat of a hurry to at least determine if the tension of your V8 is radically off you can use a kriket gauge from Gates - they only cost like $10. I would check both belts to see if they produce the same value on the kriket. That way you can at least know whether they are equal or not. You will also be able to identify the looser belt and get some idea of how far from the necessary tension the loose belt is. I have used a kriket quite well on 4 cylinder engines and found it to be pretty reliable. It's also relatively easy to use the gauge for routine tension checks during oil changes, etc. That is not to discourage from using other methods (frequency, Burroughs, etc.) but the kriket is an affordable and quick option.
 
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