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365 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all.

I'm just putting this up as a few people expressed interest in seeing it here from a link I posted in another thread.

Now, I know you don't get too many S1s in the US (around ten I gather?) and there aren't many/any legally on the road over there, certainly not in most states!

Where I live, in New Zealand we were the same, there were never any S1 Exiges here from new, just due to the expense of them at the time. I had my heart set on one though, and decided to import one back in October '07. Coincidentally, another one arrived at about the same time, both cars beating the new emissions regulations for '08 that banned any more coming in, so there are now two here, both on the road, and that's the lot.

The first half dozen posts or so in this thread are very pic heavy and YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! :) This is pretty much a tale of what happens when an obsessive, perfectionist takes his car apart for a winter, intending to tidy a few things up, a small project which snowballs into pretty much a nut-and-bolt rebuild of a fairly good condition car with the aim of creating one of the best S1 Exiges in the world.

By "best" I mean pretty much the best road/track Exige possible within the original design (no engine swaps or wild mods). I like to think that the car I end up with would have been something like what I would have gotten had I been extremely rich in 2001 and commissioned Lotus to build their version of the ultimate Exige.

This rebuild focuses on all the under-body and mechanical work. For now the body will remain untouched as it's in great condition. I may, however take it off again in another year or so and treat the car to a respray (in original Lotus Titanium) to get rid of the stonechips it's picked up in its 6 years of motoring.... but for now, I'm sticking with the important stuff.

So.... enjoy :)

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #2

Background on the car is that I imported it (to New Zealand) from Edinburgh, Scotland September '07 after it had spent its first 6 years on this earth with its first owner in London and Edinburgh. It arrived in NZ along with another for another NZ owner to beat the emissions laws that would ban their importing as of Jan 1 2008. There were no others in the country and to this day remain the only two.

Now the Exige S1 is pretty much similar to an Elise S1 under the skin, basically just being a racing version thereof. Given that the Exige was derived from a competition car though, many of the peripheral items were low-volume bits (they only ever made 601 Exige S1s) and as such many of the bits and pieces had little or no rustproofing on them. As a result, after a few winters on salty UK roads they do start to look tired under the skin.

My car was in superb condition throughout compared to many but it was always my intention to spend its first NZ winter stripping it back, giving it a good look-over and pretty much bringing it back to new condition underneath. This meant replacing all the bushes, balljoints, rod ends and cleaning up all the steelwork beneath as well as the chassis and all its hardpoints (which, because they're in aluminum, stay in pretty good nick).

Given that the clutch was starting to show signs of wear and started slipping badly after NZ Autocar magazine had it to do their 0-60 tests for the magazine, this would be replaced at the same time. Also, given that the front pulleys made a bid for freedom off the end of the crankshaft in November, it was decided the front end of the engine would get all new pulleys and cam-drive to be on the safe side. This would be easiest done with the engine out, and we'd also use this time to diagnose a clatter that had started in the engine over the Easter break... we suspected something amiss in the valvetrain of the mightily fragile Rover K16-VHPD lump.

Anyway... on with the show!

20 Apr '08

Well I'm embarking on a winter rebuild for the Exige to freshen it up, and basically return it to as-new condition under the skin. Lotuses don't tend to age in the dry, salt-free environment of NZ so I want to get it right so it'll be many many years before it needs any further care under the skin.

First step's been stripping the car back, removing the bodywork, which was finished today. Car's to be trailered into KW Historics this week to have the engine removed and then stripped down and inspected before being rebuilt. The rolling chassis will come back here in the meantime to be stripped and refurbished, before hopefully getting it all back together in time for spring :)

Introducing the new lightweight, no-frills SEXIGE:

01 Jun '08
Little progress to be seen in May really... much of May was taken at Lotus getting the engine out.

Got the back brakes off yesterday, will get all the suspension and brakes off today then should be able to start separating hubs and balljoints etc.

Not looking too pretty at the moment :(

02 Jun '08

Suspension's all off now :) Was a bit of a nightmare getting some of the more corroded bits apart but the good news is that there's nothing that'll not clean up as good as new once I've thrown some money and elbow grease at it :)

I was actually surprised how good it is. Most of the "rust" has turned out to be caked on brake dust. One of the wishbones has a little flaking on it, but this is very minor and should media-blast up to virgin metal pretty easily and will look like new when re-plated. The chassis has stood up impeccably. It REALLY needs a clean and it'll get a bit of a light buff with AutoSol in places and maybe an undercoating of ACF50 to keep it from any further damage but once it's back together and in a salt-free NZ climate (and under my careful ownership), it should look as good in 20 years time as it does when I'm done :)

09 Jul '08

Well it's been VERY slow progress lately... working 100 hour weeks hasn't helped, but hopefully as winter really sets in I'll be making some good progress.

The engine is being stripped, currently have no indication of what the noise was though... hope to find this out in the next day or two.

All the suspension is now off the car and awaiting cleaning up and repainting. All the hubs etc are all split and the old bushes and balljoints have been binned.

Here you can see the wishbones as they've been removed from the car. I plan to have these bead-blasted and re-plated/passivated to the same finish they had when new. I'm intending to get the platers to do a debrittle treatment on them too as I've heard the welds can crack if this is not done... pays to be on the safe side I guess.

Here are the upper shock mounts (rear). They're not too bad, but the plating (looks like hot-dip galvanising or electrogalv) has seen better days. I'll probably leave the front ones as they look okay, but the rears will be replated all shiny and new.

I'd love to replate the rear subframe as well as the galv has blackened here, but still appears to be intact. due to the hassle involved with removing and re-galving it, I'll probably not bother. It's not exposed to the elements and the galv still seems to be doing its job.

Pretty much ready to send the lot of stuff out for blasting/plating. There may be a second batch of odds and ends, but this will cover off 95% of the stuff I think.

I've also had a go at cleaning up the hubs. They weren't too bad, but have seen better days. It looks like they were just plain, unprotected cast iron and as the photos show they've cleaned up not bad (see before/after). Some pitting is still evident, but that doesn't bother me too much. I'll probably give these a degrease and mask them up and give them a spray-lacquer (clear) on the exposed surfaces... should keep them in good enough nick for the next dozen years or so.

Will do the other two hubs this weekend and will start to clean up the ali uprights also. Will get the blasting/plating sent off during the week, so hopefully that will progress pretty quickly. I'll then be on to cleaning up various bits on the tub/engine bay and onto cleaning up the driveshafts/CVs as I reckon we can make these a bit prettier before giving these a coat of something to keep them looking semi-okay. That should keep me busy for a few weekends and hopefully by then I'll know more about the state of the engine and can plan the reassembly :)

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
13 Jul '08

This weekend's efforts have involved doing the remaining two hubs, which have come up okay as well as pulling a few more bits off the car and masking for sandblasting. Hope to get this all off for blasting/plating this week! Smiley

I've started on the cleanup of the front uprights too, have one cleaned now and am halfway through the other... the pics show comparison between the two. Once they're both cleaned, they'll be buffed up with some autosol to protect them then probably finished off with a good coating of ACF50 protectant to keep them free from corrosion.

20 Jul '08

Today's job was to begin stripping and refurbishing the Driveshafts and CV joints. These, like the hubs, were heavily corroded thanks to being unprotected and exposed to salt splash. I decided to only do one side at a time so that I've got less parts sitting around in bits to lose/mess up.

I started off with the Nearside driveshaft assembly, it looked like this.... rather scungy.

I ditched the boots (new ones on the way from the UK) and split the joints from the shaft. Took about 2 hours to get both the CV joint end and the tripod joint end all degreased and meticulously cleaned and inspected for wear. They look good with minimal signs of wear so they're worth refurbishing rather than getting completely new ones.

Next task was to mask them up with duct tape so prevent the ingress of dust/grit and also to protect the engagement splines. Pics show the Outboard and inboard joints respectively before they were cleaned up. Corrosion is worse on the outboard end because it's more exposed. Note the trigger wheel for the ECU speed sensor... corrosion on this was causing some ECU faults, so carefully cleaning this up would be a priority. Pic also shows the bare driveshaft.

20 Jul '08

What followed next was a couple of hours of cleaning up with the wire brush, the brass brush, the emery and the polish in the lathe. They're not 100% complete here but it shows a bit of an improvement.

The outboard CV is mostly cleaned here with just some fiddly hand-work to do with the emery between the trigger wheel teeth. The Inboard CV cleaned up really nice and required minimal work, while the driveshaft took a little more work but came up well.

Due to the heaviness of the corrosion on some of the bits there's still some evidence of some pitting, but this doesn't bother me too much, they don't need to be prefect, I just don't want them to look like they've been sitting on the bottom of the ocean for 10 years!

This week I'm going to track myself down the POR15 supplier in Auckland and get some of their kits. They do a clear coat now I believe, so this will be used on the outside of the CV joints and hubs to keep them looking reasonable after being exposed to the weather. The driveshaft will be painted gloss black along the centre (left uncoated at the ends where the boots fit over as that's grease-filled and needs no protection).

Next weekend I aim to finish off polishing the uprights I started last weekend (may look at getting these anodised after some recommendations from the SELOC guys... will take them to the anodisers this week to enquire (won't bother if they're not going to come up really nice) and I will do the same as what I've done today with the offside driveshaft and CV joints. Now that I've done one side, the second should be very easy. I also hope to FINALLY get my lot of suspension off for sandblasting and to chase up my STILL undiagnosed engine.... still, if I get all that done, as well as procure my POR 15, by the end of next weekend I should be well on the way! :)

21 Jul '08

Got to the bottom of the engine clatter today! Apparently there was a heat-shield that may or may not have been vibrating against the exhaust manifold at certain revs from resonance. Given that we had to bend a few things to get to the alternator when we rebuilt it, and the knocking started immediately after that, it's very very plausible that this could be the cause of the noise.

Still, I wouldn't mind inspecting the inside of the engine, perhaps replacing things like the valve-guides, main and big end bearings. Will take some advice from the UK K-series gurus though and see whether this is worth doing or whether I'm best leaving it all alone (if it ain't broke....)

26 Jul '08

Today I got the other (Offside) CVs split and cleaned up as per the nearside CVs in the pic. These are ready for clearcoating and reassembly now (after some finishing work I'll do prior to clearcoating).

The engine's having its head removed and inspected this week, as tempting as it was to just reassemble it without removing the head and sticking it back in the car, I'd rather just have a looksee so I can inspect bores, pistons and the top end. The engine's a bit thirsty for oil at high RPM (a common VHPD trait) so we'll see if we can't get to the bottom of it.

Big news this week is that the blasting's been done on all the suspension and I picked it up yesterday. No pics of yet as I'm keeping it locked up in the hot water cupboard, warm and dry until I tackle them tomorrow to remove the masking plugs I've put in all the bores. Will snap a photo then. They'll be off to the electroplaters on Monday. Tomorrow I hope to finish off polishing the front alloy uprights as well.... FINALLY some progress... might get this thing finished after all.

Hoping my package of rebuild parts will be here from the UK early next week, that'll enable me to start putting things back together ASAP as hopefully it won't be long before I can start tackling cleaning up the chassis one corner at a time and re-hanging the suspension.

27 Jul '08

Well more progress this weekend!

Got the second CV joint/driveshaft all split down, cleaned out and scrubbed up. Looks pretty much the same as the first, not perfect, but more than good enough, and a SHED load better than before.

I've also finished polishing up my front extruded alloy suspension uprights and they look uber bling now. I've just buffed them up by hand with a rag and Autosol, so they're not perfect, but they're not designed to look bling, I just wanted them polished so they'll resist corrosion a little better in future. I'm going to look into anodising them too, will take them in to Anodising Industries during the week and have a chat to them... so we'll see.

But anyway beholdeth bling:

Compare those to the DIRY one in the pic taken from a few weeks ago and you'll see it's a small improvement :)

Also snapped some photos of all my sandblasting stuff. All of the wishbones, steering arms, balljoint mounts, engine mounts, forged steel rear uprights and miscellaneous bits and bobs have spent this weekend in the hot water cupboard. Because they're now bare steel, I've been trying to keep them from getting moisty and rusting until I can get them into the platers tomorrow :)

Compare them to the earlier photos above of the suspension wishbones on the floor and you'll see it's a million times better. Can't wait to see them all plated up and looking shiny gold and/or powdercoated :)

Beholdeth more bling!

So yeah, productive weekend :)

---------- Post added at 10:50 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:49 AM ----------

03 Aug '08

More progress.... some background first:

Now, With the Series 1 and early Series 2 Elises (and S1 Exiges) Lotus had a bit of a nightmare with the floorpans, they made rather an elemntary cock-up and designed in a rather silly fault.

The Elise chassis is anodised aluminium sections glued together and as such doesn't corrode really at all. This is useful as because it's glued, you can't just cut off and weld in repair sections like you can with a conventional welded steel unibody car.

Now, the car originally came with rubber mats bonded to the footwells... which was all well and good. But invariably, moisture got underneath and used to "sweat". Ordinarily that's not a problem, but given that the mats are rubber and don't breathe, you get a low-oxygen environment , and the stagnant moisture causes crevice corrosion to attack the anodising and then the base metal beneath. This was first discovered by owners in about 2002-2003 when some noticed the mats beginning to go lumpy as the piles of aluminium oxide (white powder). Upon pulling them up it looked like the floor of a cocaine factory. When the powder was scrubbed away, the aluminium was left heavily pitted, discoloured, pinholed and even cirrided completely through.

Now Lotus realised the fcuk up and issued a recall whereby the rubber mats were removed, the floors cleaned up and breathable synthetic mattiing installed. If the corrosion wasn't serious, then the floors were cleaned then coated with ACF50 (a protectant for aluminium). In more serious cases, the floors were cleaned and a new aluminium sheet was bonded in over the top of the old one hence double-skinning the floor. The floorpan is not structural, it's purely a cosmetic issue and obviously the sort of thing you want to stop before it gets too bad.


My car had the floor corrosion/recall done in 2004. My corrosion wasn't too bad by way of pitting with the worst pits being only about 20-30% of the way through the metal. The anodising was knackered though and had blackened badly, hence looking very ugly (see pics). Instead of doing the "B" fix (new panel bonded in) they did the small "A" fix. It really should have had the new floor bonded in but I'm rather glad they didn't as to my mind, while it's COSMETICALLY the best thing to do, it recreates the same issue the rubber mats caused in the first place (a sandwich where moisture can get to).

My floorpans as they were can be seen below.... ugly:

Anyway, I decided that I would clean mine up and would give them some kind of coating (Like Danoul from SELOC has :) ). I decided on POR15 as I've used this on floorpans of other cars that had corroded and the resultant finish was tough as nails and a complete seal over the metal. This is a special anti-corrosive epoxy paint that dries by sucking moisture out of the air and from the base metal below (it can only be painted on bare metal). It then forms an impermeable seal where Oxygen and moisture cannot get to (it's not porous like conventional paints). Especially given that now POR15 is available in Silver, I thought I'd give it a shot. If I'm not happy with the colour when done, I'll simply be able to over-coat it with a colour-matched conventional paint whilst keeping the POR15 coat in place to protect the metal.

Anyway... the floorpans were meticulously cleaned and prepped this weekend in order to receive the paint. They're already looking a lot better, and the pitting isn't as bad as I'd feared:

They're now ready for the POR15 which I'll apply later tonight or tomorrow. POR15 works as a filler/primer too so the pitting should be easily filled by the paint. Any pitting evident after coating will be filled on top of the basecoat so that there's no chance of moisture being trapped below the filler.

More pics once there's some paint on! :)

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
04 Aug '08

First coat on :)

Certainly not a perfect finish, but pretty good. second coat should fill most of the pitting and be a little more uniform... as I said, I can do a topcoat at a later stage if I desire... at least for now this'll prevent any corrosion from getting worse... and it don't half look better than before :)

Second coat on now... coverage is much better, colour is actually quite a good match and much more uniform on second coat... pitting pretty much filled in. The gloss level will dull slightly once the paint dries, but other than that should stay looking as good as it does in the pics. The job, as they say, is an orange coloured root vegetable :)

06 Aug '08

Today's update:

Well it's been a mixed day today... taken the decision to bite the bullet and rebuild the engine. I was hoping to avoid this and I could have just slapped it back in the car, but the prevalent oil-consumption would only get worse and the performance would begin to drop off before too long so given it's out and partially stripped I'm going to jump in boots and all and do it. It's outside my budget for the job and it means the car probably won't be finished until the end of the year at the earliest but it's the right thing to do. A little disheartened to be honest :(

On the plus side, I got the plating back today... all of the sandblasting as seen in a photo a few posts back now looks lovely and plated. Here's a bit of a teaser:

Most of the exposed parts will be overcoated with a POR15 epoxy clearcoat for further protection before they're ready to bolt back on the car... should look a million bucks! Hoping to get the car back on its wheels by early September to allow me to wheel the car around and give me space to work on the engine in there.


12 Aug '08

Not much progress this weekend... the POR15 clear kit I needed to do a bunch of the components didn't arrive so I was a bit hamstrung. Spent much of the weekend in bed with a migraine though and working on my daily driver so not as much Lotus time as I'd like.

Still, got the upper shock mounts all finished now. The plating place botched up and gold-passivated these too (I was after them bright-zinc plated to better match the OEM hot-dip galv finish) so I figured I'd overcoat them with the left-over POR15 I had from the floor as it'd look slightly better than having them in the gold passivate.

They came out quite good considering it was very cold and the paint was really too thick to do without leaving brush marks... once they were tough-dry, I brought them into my room to sit by the heater.... I can barely move in my room now for car-parts! The hazards of flatting and doing up an old car eh? ;)

Behold shock mount shininess:

17 Aug '08

Right well another weekend and more progress :)

Got the CVs, rear uprights and driveshafts painted. Decided to do CVs black too because the paint prep for the POR15 tarnished the metal quite badly and the CVs would have looked arse in clear. They've come out all very shiny and black, as you'd hope. They'll never rust again. Just need to get some more grease tomorrow then the driveshaft assemblies can go back together again!

Also got my wishbones all finally coated in POR15 Clearcoat (because it's a sandblasted finish it doesn't need the pre-paint) and they're looking better than I'd hoped. Nice and glossy and new-looking with the gold passivate below looking like some expensive trick pearlescent paint job. The way I've done it they should still look like this in 20 years time. Stoked!

19 Aug '08


Wishbones are all finished now and ready to accept their new bushes and balljoints (will do this in a few weeks when the car's ready to accept them). Also got the rear driveshafts/CV joints all repacked with nice new grease and fitted with new boots and fully reassembled. Took a bit of faffing around to get them right, but they're together now and ready to go back on the car! :)

So... on with the pretty shiny pics.... are these not the sexiest wishbones you ever did see? ;)

22 Aug '08

Well thanks to Mark's (M111 on SELOC) advice and also some tips from Phil (Junks), I've decided to bite the bullet and give the rear subframe a birthday too and get it re-galved.

Took it off tonight and over the weekend I'll work at separating the longerons and subframe from eachother without messing anything up.

I've also a few more things to go over with the POR15 coat so this should keep me busy this weekend. Hopefully if I can get the subframe isolated, I'll be able to get the galv turned around within the working week, along with the bulk of the powdercoating/ceramicoating.

Meanwhile... my poor, forlorn looking car gets even shorter!

24 Aug '08

Well very little progress this weekend due to me basically being flat on my back in bed with this god forsaken flu.

Anyway, one small thing achieved however, I got the rear subframe stripped down and ready for galvanising.

Here's how it came off the car:

Now the heat shield comes off nice and easy, drill out a few rivets. Then the boot floor and longeron reinforcements have a good few rivets that need drilling. The tricky part was getting the longerons off. The glue holding mine down didn't want to give up too easy, but after an hour or two of swearing at it, heating it and nipping away at it with a gasket scrper-come-chisel and a hacksaw blade, I finally got them both split off. Minimal damage was done to the longerons in the process (according to Lotus you pretty much have to destroy them to get them off) and these will be tidied up as good as new before going back on the car.

Meanwhile, the subframe now looks like this:

Now just need to find someone who can give it a nice shiny new hot-dip galv finish for me so it's nice and shiny then I can set about reassembling it on the car. Huzzah!

31 Aug '08

Another weekend and more progress!

Spent yesterday POR15 clearcoating the remainder of the suspension bits I wanted to coat, namely the steering arms, and balljoint plinths. They came out nice and tasty-looking, just like the wishbones. Can't wait to get them on the car and see how bling they look :) I also coated the front crossmember (oil cooler mount) as well as this had previously corroded quite badly and does seem to catch the worst of the road-spray so just making sure that it's as well protected as can be.

Yesterday, I also took the time to scrub the swaybar back to bare metal in preparation for painting today. This couldn't be blasted with the rest of them as it's heat-treated, high tensile tube. Blasting would have stress-relieved it and it would have lost much of its spring.

Today I tackled a pig of a job I've been putting off for a while. As part of the engine bay tidy-up, I'd also planned to repaint the rollbar backstays. These were painted/powdercoated black from new but in areas the coating was flaking and surface rust was starting to show. On the S1 these cannot be removed from the car to blast and paint so must be done in situ. This makes the job (particularly the rubbing back part) difficult and time consuming. So today I spent best part of 6 hours rubbing them back until they both looked nice and clean like this:

Then it's just been a matter of giving them a coat or two of POR15 black so they look nice and new again. They'll stay looking this good for years to come now :)

At the same time I also painted up the swaybar that I'd scrubbed up yesterday.

Tasks for the coming week include getting the subframe in for galvanising and getting my bulk-lot of powdercoating in.

I'm also going to be making another trip to the electroplaters. I'd initially planned to leave my toelinks as they were because they looked okay.... but now in the face of how good the wishbones have turned out, they'll end up looking god-awful by comparison, so it's off to be brightened up they go!

7 Sep '08

Frustratingly little to show for work of late.

Subframe has been acid-dipped and is currently in being galvanised, should be done mid-week giving me something to do next weekend (could next weekend be the weekend I ACTUALLY start bolting stuff back on the car?!?!?)

More destruction this weekend, I decided to drop the fuel tank out as they can sometimes rust out on top (they're hung up inside the chassis behind the driver, so the top is completely blocked off unless removed). I'll take this opportunity to replace all of the hoseclamps etc as well as these were all just mild steel ones happily fizzing away to themselves.

Upon pulling the tank out, it was clear that mine was in good nick and it's also clear to see why they rust out on top. It appears that any petrol that seeps from the filler hose joint sits on top of the tank... the odd seep here and there turns the paint coating to goop over a year or two, blistering it and leaving the steel exposed. Mine's not really started rusting yet, but would have if I'd left it. (Although this probably wouldn't have become a problem for several years yet, it's nice to nip it in the bud)

I was just going to touch the areas affected up, but rather a lot of the paint has been turned to soft crap, so it's best to start again. My options are to strip it (with a paint stripper) back to bare steel and re-paint with POR15 or just drop the tank off to a powdercoaters and get them to powdercoat the outside of the tank. I'm about 50/50 at the moment as to what to do as each method has their pros and cons:

- Powdercoating will look nicer but might be less resilient than POR (impervious to petrol/oil) and I'm not sure of how the powdercoat baking will affect the hylomar seal around the pump mounting boss
-POR will arguably provide better protection with no risk to damaging what's there or risk, but will take me a lot more time/prep and won't give quite as good a finish.

Given that it's not really a cosmetic item and will still look pretty good in POR, the only thing that's putting me off is the thought of ANOTHER weekend wearing sodding rubber gloves painting **** black with POR15.... getting a bit sick of doing that now. This is definitely the period of a rebuild that's worst... when boredom and a lack of VISIBLE progress despite hours in the garage start to take their toll. Thankfully I've been here before and know that these moments eventually pass :)

11 Sep '08

More progress this week. Got the stripper sorted for the tank so will tackle that this coming weekend. In the meantime I've got my toelinks back from the electroplaters and I've also got my subframe back from the galvanisers.... so shiiiiny :)



Going to have to get the sikaflex sorted for the rear longerons next week and also some rivets for the rear heat shield/subframe assembly.... should keep me busy.

Not long now before I can begin the long assembly process! :)

13 Sep '08

Today's progress thus far! Couple hours of elbow grease and working with the X-Strip has left me with a nice bare, shiny fuel tank :)

Next step as I'll begin shortly will be to wash-down then acid-etch/Zinc Phosphate (MetalPrep) the tank then cover with a couple of coats of black POR15. POR15 should be much more robust than the OEM paint, which seemed about as resistant to petrol/chemicals as... well... something that's not very resistant to petrol or chemicals.

14 Sep '08

Right, well it took long enough through having to do 4 coats on the damned tank (2 coats, but done in two parts so I could get the whole tank coated as I had nothing to hang it from). Took AGES waiting the requisite 2.5 hours between coats so it's taken pretty much all day, but it's bloody done now and will never need to be done again :)

The top still looks manky in this pic as it's still wet and showing brush marks but it should level out pretty good. The finish isn't perfect, but again it's more than good enough for the fuel tank that'll never be seen and it won't suffer the same fate as the original paint and it'll never rust :)

27 Sep '08

Right well today's update centres around the engine. Finally got it all pulled down today to see whether I needed to add new pistons to the shopping list. I already really knew the answer to be honest, but I figured that I would double check since the engine needed to come to bits anyway.

The pictures show that new Omega forgies will DEFINITELY be going on the shopping list as these ones have certainly seen better days.

Pistons on bench

Number one Piston (thrust side)

The background of the engine was that it had done 25,000 miles, many of these on track and was using a fair bit of oil. A bit of a rattle had also developed that we'd traced to a resonating heatshield bracket. Although I could have just dropped the engine back into the car and pressed on with it, I made the call a couple of months back to go ahead and rebuild it top-to-bottom since I had a hunch I'd regret it if I didn't.

When I saw the state of the bottom end today though, I'm now 100% glad that I decided to rebuild it when I did.... I reckon this is about as close to death as an engine can come without actually throwing itself to bits!

#4 Big end bearing starting to show signs of wear:

#1 Big end!!! :eek: :eek: :eek: ... I don't think I've ever seen ANYTHING look this sick apart from on engines that have already flown to bits!

Thankfully though (and amazingly) the big end crank journal looks fine and in perfect condition so despite the awful state of the big end, the crank looks like it's in perfect nick to fight another day.

So now I'm able to complete my engine rebuild shopping list and get an order underway. On one hand I'm disheartened to be spending all this money on the car when I'd not budgeted to do it... on the other hand I'm thankful that I decided to strip it down when I did as things would have got REALLY messy if I'd chanced my luck doing another trackday on the engine.

Sadly now this means that over the next few months that progress will be slowing and the bills will be getting LARGE. This has gone from an over winter refurbishment to what amounts to a full nut-and-bolt rebuild of the entire car. Much more than I'd ever planned, but I'm hoping that's when it's all done, the car and its performance should reflect the time, effort and money put in by myself and others.

Stay tuned... :)

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
2 Nov '08

PROGRESS!!!! ... ok well no, not really... but I felt I should update y'all to let you know where I'm at with things :)

As I've mentioned before, the VHPD is going to be rebuilt. After weighing up several options, I've decided to go "the whole hog" and build the engine with a decent budget doing everything right, rather than just slapping it back together as a standard VHPD. Everything's been pulled apart and inspected and I'm hopefully going to soon pack up the complete cylinder head, crankshaft, flywheel, clutch cover, pulleys and oil pump to send back to the UK.

The plan is to order new rods and pistons in the UK and have them meet my bottom-end components at Vibration Free so that I can follow what Steve Butts/Skeggsy have done with their Ks and do the full on high-tolerance balance and tungsten crankshaft insertion. While this is going on, my head will go on to DVAPower and get the magic DVA tough with porting and will be rebuilt with all new fresh bits and pieces and all the good bits to make the head able to make more use of a freer bottom end. I'm currently just trying to find out when Dave's got some free time to do the job but other than that it's all go! :)

The other hold up has been (as some of you might have seen from my other thread on SELOC) that I discovered some corrosion in the lower rear firewall. This was discovered as a small 4mm diameter hole in the bulkhead when I was reinstalling the fuel tank. Subsequent stripping of the firewall heatshield has shown that moisture has gotten in behind this and has caused an identical crevice corrosion problem as to what occurs with the OEM rubber floor mats.

The images I below show the state of the engine bay with the corrosion being clear in the fourth picture. There's a few other small pits on other locations along the firewall.

I have been in contact with Lotus over this issue and they have been very helpful to date. They are interested in learning more about this as they've not been aware of this area being a problem on the chassis before. My chassis is under the 8 year corrosion guarantee and they are currently formulating a fix and are going to send me a repair kit (and new engine bay heat shield) free of charge once they determine the best cause of action to affect a repair and prevent any further corrosion spread.

If any of you are contemplating a strip down and rebuild at any stage in the future, or doing an engine-out job, it would certainly be a worthwhile exercise to strip back the firewall to see if there's any corrosion damage lurking underneath.

Alternatively you can simply drop out the fuel tank and look at the bulkhead from this side to see if there are any holes that have gone through, although this may not show any corrosion that's still in its infancy. I'm certainly very lucky that I bothered to check as I've caught this at a reasonably early stage and can now hopefully arrive at a permanent fix so it'll never need doing again.

All this has put a large pause on proceedings and what was initially meant to be an over-winter refresh (as the thread title suggests) is now turning into something altogether rather more comprehensive. I'm hoping to have the car back together in the NZ Autumn in time for the last of the nice weather before I have to put my toys away again for winter '09.

Rest assured, when she's all done, it's going to be SIGNIFICANTLY better than it was before.

Jobs coming up in the next couple of weeks will be to finish cleaning up the engine bay and to re-hang the rear subframe. Once this is done, I'll then install bushes and balljoints in all the wishbones and set about hanging them back on the car. I'm hoping to get the car rolling again by early/mid December as this'll give me a chance to clean up the garage a bit and also to wheel the car in/out so I can work on it in the sun when the weather's nice as the garage is a little dingy, even in daylight.

f**k me, I don't do things by halves do I? :D

8 Nov '08

Well a little bit more progress today.... aside from the engine dramas that is, but I got my wishbones preassembled today including the suspension bushes and ball joints.

Fingers crossed, I'll be hanging these off the car sometime in the next week or two as I work towards getting the car back on its wheels and rolling so that it's a little more easy to work on.

Tomorrow's job is the rear subframe detailing.

But for now, wishbones...

23 Nov '08

The last week or two has been painfully slow going... I've been slowly cleaning up the chassis corners so that the suspension can be bolted back on. Getting rid of 8 years worth of grime and accumulated crap that had sunk into the anodising has proven tricky.... the only way to clean it is by rubbing down with a solvent first to remove most of the stuck-on stuff then going over and cleaning the resultant with Autosol.

This has to be done by hand as you don't want to machine buff it and go through the anodising....just rubbing down by hand with the Autosol is quite safe on the anodising (so long as you don't go nuts) and it cleans it up well, albeit slowly. I've done the front corners and also the front underchassis (see pic showing in-progress cleaning). I've also done one of the rear corners and also much of the engine bay. Another 5-6 hours elbow grease and this will be done. I'll also do the full underfloor as well but this will wait until after the car is back on its wheels again as I've more pressing matters. I'll also give the undertrays and fuel tank shear panel the same treatment to get it looking presentable before this whole shabang is finished.

I've also started making up my fastener list. Done the front and some of the rear suspension for starters, will complete this this week as I want to order fasteners shortly. Still to go are all the clam fixing fasteners and other miscellaneous ones from around the car. The list probably won't be 100% complete on its first iteration as I'm bound to miss a few, but it'll post a link to the Excel spreadsheet up on SELOC when done for those who want to look. It's pretty specific to my build but it should include MOST of the external fasteners on the car that suffer from weathering should anyone want to replicate what I've done.

Other big news is that I've also now finalised the engine spec and now plans are actually underway to get it rebuilt. Rough spec as follows:

New Stock Rover crankshaft custom tungsten inserted by Vibration Free
New Steel H-Beam rods from Arrow Precision
New Omega Pistons / rings (machined by DVAPower for larger valves)
Bottom end will be balanced as an assembly with my existing flywheel/clutch cover and pulleys

VHPD head will be sent to DVAPower to receive his porting magic. Head will then be rebuilt with:

Larger valves
Dual valve springs
Colisbro guides
Piper 1444 Cams
Piper Vernier cam pulleys

Engine will then be rebuilt here in NZ with all new consumables (seals, gaskets, fasteners, liners etc). Whole setup will be run from a new Emerald ECU which will be mapped locally.

Ideally the goal is to build a reliable road/trackday engine that spits out enough power to keep a Honda-powered car at least semi-honest on track. Theoretically, anything up to about 240bhp should be possible in this spec but in the interest of longevity I will be trying to tune it to produce some solid torque without raising the VHPD redline... down the track I can investigate if I want to up the RPM envelope to chase more power. I'm hoping for about 220bhp in a semi-reliable package... something that should be possible.

So yeah, that's it in a nutshell... things should start moving in the next couple of weeks, engine bits being ordered this week and I'll be freighting off my stuff to the UK shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, I've a chassis to finish cleaning up and fasteners to order and still a VERY long list of things to do before the engine comes back together sometime late February..... can't say I don't keep myself busy!

7 Dec '08

Progress on the Chassis...

The fastener list is coming along and will be placing an order this week.

I've been working this weekend on the firewall. Lotus have specified me a fix which involves bonding on a reinforcement plate with epoxy over the worst of the corrosion as well as treating with ACF50 before reapplying the heat shield. They have ascertained that in my case there is no loss of structural integrity (in the scheme of things the corrosion damage is very very minor) but they are rather alarmed at the corrosion in this area as they've not seen it before, mainly due to the fact that very few cars have actually had their heat-shields removed for a look-see. Certainly if you're ever pulling the engine out of your Elise/Exige, I'd be stripping the heat-shield off for a good check-over as it could potentially end up in a VERY bad state if left unchecked.

Given the lack of structural damage and my desire to completely stop/prevent corrosion in this area I've basically done the same fix I did on my floorpans. I could go ahead with the Lotus fix, but I think my fix will be more comprehensive at solving the issue in my case.

I've scrubbed the firewall and wire-brushed / ground (with a dremel) out all of the corrosion/pitting from the firewall. The one through-hole I've drilled out with a 10mm drill (to remove all the active corrosion) and will be filling the hole with a blanking grommet. Given that the fuel lines exit just above this as well as another large blanking grommet (unused penetration) then this should look tidy when done.

I then went through the full three-step POR15 treatment (in silver) to clean, etch and coat/seal the firewall. The result has come out absolutely fantastic and I'm very pleased with it. As with the floorpans you can still see the pitting evident beneath the POR15 but I decided not to try filling these as I wanted the the POR to be in direct contact with the metal, providing the best corrosion protection. With filling there's always a risk that moisture can get trapped between the metal and the filler, allowing crevice corrosion to continue beneath the coating. Either way it looks ace and it'll be hidden anyway once the new heat-shield is affixed in place.

Firewall masked up with pitting and corrosion-affected areas scrubbed free from corrosion:

Completed firewall:

As you can see, the POR15 finish looks very aluminium-like anyway, so I'm very very happy with the repair.

Next job will be to get the fuel lines and fuel tank back in hopefully later this week.... stay tuned :)

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
14 Dec '08

Well another week, another update!

Decided this week to press on with a few other things and I've ordered a new oil pressure/temperature gauge. I've gone for the SPADesign dual temperature/pressure gauge as it seemed to be the pick of the bunch for quality and functionality in a single gauge. Part of me wanted to stick with an analogue gauge, but the SPA I was able to get external triggering and two-gauges-in-one functionality, so it won out.

She'll be like this one but with a white face to match the STACK dash cluster:

I will be mounting the gauge where the radio usually goes (I don't run a radio in the Exige) and I shall be making up a glassfibre replacement for the OEM blanking plate (in blue alcantara). Once this is made up I'll be upholstering it in the original alcantara so hopefully it'll all look like a factory-fitment when it's done.

This is where it all gets a bit crazy though. I was reading through the gauge specs and looking at the external warning triggering and I got to thinking about how I could best use this in the car. I sat down and made a plan of what I ideally wanted and how I wanted it to work. I wanted something that I could rely on on track (or on the road) to draw my attention as we all know gauges are only useful when you notice them! I decided on the following:
- Super-bright LED lights for both oil overtemperature and oil underpressure (Red for overtemp, White for underpress)
- Loud audible warning for both (constant-on for underpressure, 0.5s on, 4.5s off for overtemp)
- Audible warning to be latching (as in it'll stay on even if the oil pressure/temperature only briefly gets out-of-range)
- Audible warning to be silencable (much like a "snooze" button on a clock radio)
- All external warnings to be switchable (as in a toggle-switch overrride for all the external gubbins leaving only the gauge functioning)
- A little bit of intelligence built into the audible warning (so that the alarm doesn't go off as soon as you switch the key on before cranking the car as this would get annoying!)

I then set about thinking about how to achieve all this and I thought back to my old varsity days and computer science papers and started to draw up a logic circuit using logic-gates. A couple of late evenings head-scratching got me a circuit that I was pretty happy with. A bit of binary mathematics showed that it should take care of every case I wanted to achieve so I then set about laying out an electrical diagram. This took another evening to get right, so the next day I went into Jaycar (electrical retailer over here in NZ) and bought up a bunch of circuit componentry.

I spent all afternoon with the soldering iron this evening and the circuit is now about 80% complete. I've tested subsections of this and so far, everything checks out well... impressive for a colour-blind, complete novice when it comes to electronics! Couple of photos that show the circuit in progress and also the ***-packet sketches I used to figure out what the hell I was doing! My soldering skills still leave a little to be desired though ;)

Another evening I should have it done and tested.... it'll then be shelved for a bit while I make up the mounting panel (will begin in January). I just wanted to get the circuitry out of the way so that I knew it could be done (or more that I could do it, I'm sure anyone with half a brain when it comes to electronics could do it easier and far more elegantly than I've done). I've got all the push-buttons, LEDs and switches too and I forked out for high quality ones. I figured it'd be on-show, front-and-centre so I'd best try to make it look and feel as quality as I could get it! :)

And now for something a bit more special (but still very much relevant to the subject of the thread). Last night some friends and I all met up around Ian Wilson's (PHer iwilson) place for a BBQ and poker evening. Ian's always a great host and it's always fantastic to catch up with friends (most of them petrolheads!) in that environment, especially when I seem to spend all of my time either at work, in the gym or working on the car!
Anyway, during the evening I was called into the lounge whereupon I was sprung with what can only be described as one of the most fantastic surprises I've ever had in my life.

My friend Graham (PHer "Kiwi XTR2") had organised for Kylie (another PHer "Kylie") to paint a picture of SEXIGE. Kylie is a highly accomplished landscape artist (one of her many talents as she's pretty handy behind the wheel of her Esprit Sport350 too!) and has recently turned her hand to airbrushing. Graham had set it all up (so I understand) and between the two of them they'd seen it through to what can only be described as an utterly amazing conclusion. I suspected nothing and they sprung me good and proper... I was totally speechless and very, VERY humbled.

It seems that Graham had grown tired of all my moaning about how long this project was taking and about how it had ballooned out of all sensible proportion... all I can say is what a fantastic way to shut me up! The picture is about a metre across by about 700mm high so it's a big-un! I'll be hanging it after Christmas as a reminder and an inspiration as to what I'm toiling towards. Apologies for the photo quality as I've not had a chance to photograph it in good light yet but it gives an idea. The detail Kylie has reproduced is stunning and it captures the attitude of the car brilliantly. Compare with the original photo in the first post in the thread and you'll agree she's made a wonderful, wonderful job of it.

Right, I'll stop rambling on now as that's enough for one night I think. But I'll just finish off by saying that quite apart from the tangible pleasures that Lotus ownership brings, the friends I've made over the last 3.5 years of ownership (both Lotus owners and otherwise, through trackdays with owners of many different marques) is WELL worth the price of admission on its own. I live and breathe these little glued-together cars from Norfolk and many of my friends share this passion with their own cars (whatever the badge) and it's my experience that surrounding yourself with these kinds of people truly enriches one's life.

So to all of you who I've met; either online here or in person, whether we've known each other for years or we've spoken just once, to each and every one of you I thank you from the bottom of my heart for making me a very happy person... I'm one lucky sonofabitch!

And to Graham and Kylie, again I thank you... I shall never forget this! :)

21 Dec '08

Well, another update:

Not a whoole lot of progress of late as I've actually been rather sick this last week or two. I've had a stomach bug that this week turned into a killer virus from 'nam meaning I couldn't eat or drink much and you could have fried eggs on my forehead with the fevers I've been getting. Still, the show must go on and I'm happy to report some very minor progress.

After a LOT of faffing about, I've finally completed my oil temp/press warning circuit. I've no pictures as of yet but the circuit board is now looking a lot more messy but basically the same. It's taken me MUCH more work than I'd originally anticipated (doesn't it always?!?!)... not helped by manufacturers putting misprints in their datasheets causing me to have to do stuff three times, only to find they STILL don't work before questioning the datasheets and finding that they're wrong. Good news is that I managed to get to the bottom of it in the end and after about 4 trips back to Jaycar to get bits and pieces to modify the circuit, I'm happy to report it works EXACTLY as I'd laid out in last week's update!

I'm very proud/happy with this since I'm a complete and utter novice when it comes to electronics (at least I can claim to be a spirited amateur on the mechanical side of things!) and just through using my head and doing some study, I've built a pretty comprehensive little digital logic circuit to control everything... it's pretty simple in the global scheme of things but for something like this it's actually got a fair bit of smarts to it :)

I've also picked up my nicely ground flywheel ready to pack up and ship off to the UK with my pulleys, clutch cover, head etc. This now looks really pretty and will mean that when the new clutch is put in prior to the engine going back in, it'll have the best possible surface to bed into meaning the slippage issues I had with my last clutch shouldn't re-emerge, even if it is dealing with another 30-40bhp than it was before.

Good times.

This week I'm just crating my stuff up to send back to the UK and will be taking a break for a week or two over Christmas down-country so there won't be much action. I am going to take some work away with me though and am going to set to work making up the wooden "plug" for making the fibreglass mould for my dashboard gauge-pod. This should keep me busy and allow me to start glassing early in January. I'll also contact the Lotus Trim Shop and see if they can't track me down some of the original Blue alcantara so that when the time comes, I can upholster the gauge pod and make it look just like it came from the factory! :)

Onwards and upwards (hopefully with less viral infestations!)

Here's a pic showing the finished circuit on benchtest. The two LEDs are both illuminated. One is white and the other red but they are so bright they overexpose the camera here so they both look white. You can also see the buzzer. I may opt for a louder unit but will trial this one in the car and see how I get on, it's an easy retrofit. The circuit borard will be trimmed of its excess and then mounted on the back of the gauge mounting plinth. It'll then be wired into the switches/LEDs.

Also here's my flywheel/clutch cover/front pulleys ready to set flight to the UK for balancing at Vibration Free. Flywheel's been ground and I've also machined off the redundant front pulley boss off the alternator pulley/harmonic balancer. The elastomeric balancer will be retained. I've given the pulley a coat of black POR15 to make it look not quite so crap once it's bolted back on the engine :)

23 Dec '08

Christmas has come early! Special delivery from the UK :)

12 Jan '09

Not a WHOOOLE lot has gone on of late, I've been busy organising stuff.

Late last week I bought my nice shiny new Arrow rods and these are about to be shipped for balancing... works of art they are :) (pic stolen from mikelr because I've obviously not got them with me! :) )

I've just tonight finished crating up my clutch cover, flywheel and pulleys to go to Vibration Free for balancing with my crank, as well as mycylinder head to get some nice DVAPower loving :) God speed my little mechanical componenty friends!

15 Jan '09

Another small but significant step today... my alcantara for the dashboard gauge pod arrived today. I can now start doing the work to mould this piece up secure in the knowledge I can upholster it when done and get it looking nice :) In the ziplok bag is also a couple of fresh snubber washers for my front suspension :)

27 Jan '09


Well I've been busy lately so I've had precious little time to cavort around doing car stuff sadly. Busy as fook at work, but fingers crossed I'll be able to steal an hour or two here and there to do stuff.

I've decided that after all this work, bolting my rusty old Koni LSS shocks and springs back on the car just won't do, so I'll be making the call to Hofmann's before too long to order some of the Randy-tuned Nitrons for it. I'll be taking Chris's advice as to spring rates etc just as soon as I've given some thought to ride-heights and usage. But here's a pretty picture of them anyway:

I've been doing a bit of work on the ergonomics side of things for the oil pressure/temperature gauge install. As I've said before I'm installing it in the blanked-off radio slot in the dash. I don't intend to ever run a radio on this car so it seems a logical place to put it.

It's not in line-of-sight really, but that matters little as I've got the audible warning circuit (as detailed earlier in this thread) as well as some blindingly bright LEDs to back it up.

This is the blanking plate moulding as removed from the dashboard sitting on my desk.

I then used a couple of measurements as to the radio location from the driver's head (thanks to SELOC's Alex/"dt95aac" and Danny/"Chopperver1") to figure out some viewing angles and reaches so that I could do a lay-out of the new "Gaugepod" blanking plate replacement.

I decided to quickly draft it up to make sure I could get a decent shape when I came to cut the buck from plywood and so that I could play around getting it looking right first before I cut wood and began moulding any glassfibre.

A couple hours on SolidWorks later and bingo, one raw moulding ready to go!

Of course in typical fashion, I then got carried away and wanted to check how everything would look so a couple more hours on the SolidWorks and I produced a couple of "artists impressions" so that I could see what it'd roughly look like all finished up and upholstered in the OEM alcantara:

The gauge and warning LEDs are positioned to the far left (worse for line-of-sight) because I wanted to use the right hand side of the moulding to mount the buttons. This is because when harnessed in, I won't be able to reach beyond about halfway along the panel and I want the controls within reach when on track.

I'll use these to generate some 2D templates for cutting the plywood and then there'll be a lot of hand-shaping to get the buck looking right before it's ready to take a mould. Watch this space over the next few weeks.

Oh... and one more thing, flicking through a copy of "Top Gear" magazine while on the bog today and the buttons I chose to programme the gauge and silence the alarm are exactly the same as the ones used on the cockpit/steering wheel of the Le Mans-winning Audi R10 racer... how f*cking sad am I to notice that?!?! I think I need help.

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
6 Feb '09

Well a VERY VERY VERY big day today, not in so much that I got a lot done, but more in what today represents... a very very special part of any rebuild. Today was the day when my car hit the turning point. To this point it's all been dismantling/cleaning/prepping/refurbishing, but today I finally started on the long-overdue REASSEMBLY!

I've been saying for months now that "next week or two I should be able to start bolting things back together" but it never quite happened, I always found something else to pull apart or work on, but I'm at the stage now where it really is time for some stuff to be reunited again.

First a couple of pics of the mess so far... really not a lot of difference from the pics I first took last may really, although a LOT of work has gone on since:

Still not really looking much at all like a car, but what's there now is clean as a whistle, fully fettled and ready to start becoming a car again.

Today I finished cleaning up the chassis around the engine bay and then began a couple of hours sorting through all my new fasteners. I've got the bulk of them now but am still missing a few so it's not quite all smooth sailing.

First job was to re-mount the rear lower wishbone mounts, which had the honour of being the first thing to go back onto the chassis.. and here they are in all their refurbished glory:

Then, a slightly more substantial part to go back on was the shiny, re-galvanised rear subframe. Bolted up a treat after I'd spent a bit of time cleaning and re-tapping some holes that were a bit blocked up with extra zinc! Still a long way to go to become a car but she looks better than she did this morning! :)

Tomorrow I hope to get a few more fasteners (hoping my supplier is open on a Saturday morning!) and I will mount the rear wishbones. I will also mount the front lower wishbones, but I can't mount the upper ones as my new castor shims (I'm having some stainless ones laser cut along with my new camber shims) aren't ready until early next week.

We're on our way.... FINALLY! :)

7 Feb '09

And on tonight's episode of "PIMP MY WISHBONES"

Got the first rear ones hung tonight and they look even sexier on the car than they did sat on the floor! :) I can't fully hang them or go much further as it seems I'm missing a bunch of the bolts I need to do it so can't go much further now sadly. I'm sure I'll find plenty to keep me busy while I get them though.

---------- Post added at 10:52 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:51 AM ----------

1 Mar '09

Frustratingly little progress of late. Work has been INSANE and to be honest, after working from 8 in the morning until midnight, I don't much feel like popping out to the garage for a couple of hours. When I DO get a day off it's been spent mainly in bed catching up on sleep!

Still, I've been working away at getting together more bits I'm missing.

Another consignment of fasteners has arrived from Lotus courtesy of the fine lads at Bell & Colvill. Geary at Eliseparts is also sending me the remainder of my fastener set which was missed in the last shipment.

I've also been trying to get together the necessary adhesives and primers to bond on the rear longerons. After much searching I managed to find all the components locally. I had hoped to be bonding them on this weekend and completing the boot floor but thanks to the global recession and cost-cutting, most fastener places here aren't open Saturday mornings now... which is a MAJOR piss-off as it means MORE time during the week I have to spend f*cking around getting stuff.

Anyway, this weekend I got all the plinths bolted onto the balljoints as well as a bunch of custom fasteners turned up in the lathe... these were just a bunch of non-standard length bolts I needed that I've shortened down from longer ones.

Another job, which took a lot longer than expected was to clean up the rear longerons. Getting all the old glue off and getting them cleaned up was a mission and a half. Much elbow grease later though they're as good as new and ready to bond on as soon as I get my missing rivets.

Hopefully more progress by next weekend.

14 Mar '09

Well time marches on and progress of late has been slow. Still working insane hours and been suffering a bit of ill health lately (damned viruses), which have kept me outta the garage. Have been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work though getting fasteners sorted (I've now got a full compliment of all the right ones I need to finish the rolling chassis) and also sourcing the glue / primers to bond the rear longerons back on again.

I WAS going to bond the Longerons back on this afternoon but I didn't have a rivet gun large enough for the 1/4 stainless rivets that clamp the longerons down. I borrowed my boss's industrial lazy-tong rivet gun and duly broke that (oops, sorry boss) so I didn't manage to get it done today. Off to Hirepool first thing in the morning though to hire a compressor and a 1/4" pneumatic rivet gun so that'll deal to the bastards.

Got everything mocked up though and it all fits together! :) (I shouldn't sound so surprised).

Fingers crossed by the end of play tomorrow I should have the rear end structure including the boot floor all bonded in place and finally sorted, the rollbar backstays bolted and torqued and all of the wishbones (bar one, which needs a new balljoint after I accidentally buggered one of the threads.... (don't ask) hung on the chassis and torqued on. All of the shock mounts should also be hung on the chassis as well as the front ARB.... tomorrow will be a busy day! :)

On the engine front, the wonderful Mr DVA had just about finished my head. It's now fully ported with Colisbro Bronze valve guides, new stem seals, larger Paul Ivey valves, dual valve springs with stock VHPD solid lifters. Everything's all ready to bolt together although I decided to have the camshafts (Piper ARK1444s) and vernier pulleys balanced as a precautionary measure... I know balancing cams is complete overkill, but given how much I'm spending on balancing the bottom end, the paltry sum to balance the cams too seemed like a complete no-brainer.

Crankshaft has been drilled and now tungsten inserted by Mr Steve Smith at Vibration Free and is just awaiting balancing with the lower assembly (Crank, Flywheel, Clutch Cover, Crank Pulley, Cam Drive Sprocket, plus rods and pistons).

Once this is done, my head will be built up, and then I'll be getting everything back to NZ along with a full engine rebuild kit (including new liners, uprated oil-rail etc) so that i can begin engine reassembly.

Still a long ways to go, but as we enter autumn here, I'm not too worried about deadlines so long as it's ready for springtime :) In another couple of weeks it'll have been a year since I started what was going to be "just a suspension refresh"..... my how these things get out of hand!

23 Mar '09

Well it's been a frustrating week (yes, another one!). I made preparations to hire a suitably-sized rivet gun and the required compressor this weekend, all sure that I'd have this infernal rear subframe job FINALLY finished this weekend come hell or high water, but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Predicatably, all mother of cock-ups has resulted in it still being unfinished.

This morning I started in the garage, full of hope. Tested the rivet gun on a spare rivet and it worked perfectly, FINALLY I was going to finish the job. I loaded the sikaflex in the caulking gun and applied a bead as described in the Lotus Service Notes, I hooked on the longeron and then installed the boot floor and then shot in three rivets.... easy, job done!

But... then I noticed the boot floor was still free to move about a little. Inspecting the rivets (that I'd sized from the Lotus Parts catalogue) were too long to grip and were loose in the holes as a consequence. So now I had sikaflex going off, with an improperly clamped joint!

I had some shorter rivets I bought as a backup (but only had four instead of the six required for the job), so I tested them when I installed the left-hand Longeron. I again applied the requisite bead of sikaflex and shot three rivets through and voilà! Perfection!

Now, I had to then drill out the too-long rivets on the otherside and find a way to temporarily clamp the longeron so the glue would bond correctly. Now these rivets are stainless (read, HARD) and since they were loose in the holes they just spun... GAH!

However, after much swearing, I dug out the trusty Dremel and with a small cutting disc attached, I managed to gradually mangulate (yes that is a word dammit!) the head enough so that I could punch it through. This took at least an hour to do all three rivets as it took GREAT care to cut the rivets without touching the boot floor.... today I had hands like a neurosurgeon!

With the rivets finally removed, I was able to temporarily install some M6 machine screws to clamp the joint sufficiently to allow the bonded joint to form properly. Now I need to waste MORE time (and money) tracking down further supply of the shorter rivets during a lunch break this week as well as popping back next Friday to re-hire the pneumatic rivet gun (at a cost of about $100 (that's about 35 quid to you Brits) and compressor to bang in the final two rivets to complete the job! F*$#ing annoying!

This rear subframe re-galving has turned out to be one of the worst bits of the whole job so far. It wasn't really a necessary (the subframe was in fair shape, but I decided to do it because it was easy and accessible only in the current state of disassembly. The job was budgeted at about $150 (50 quid) all up, but I think the costs add up to the following:

Acid-Stripping $50
Galvanising $40
Sikaflex and Primers $130
Rivets $35
Rivet Gun ($65x2 = $130)
Compressor ($35x2 = $70)
Petrol and running around to various places (2 tanks in all, @$70 per tank = $140)

= $595 total which is about 200 quid. This assumes I WILL actually finish the job next weekend (bear in mind I've not reattached the heat shield yet) and bills my time out at $0... so not really the cheap and easy job I've hoped for.

Still, I'm sure that when the car's finished, it'll be something I won't have regretted doing and the extra bling of a nice shiny, new-looking subframe will allow me to sleep well at night.... I hope.

Still, chin up eh? :)

23 Mar '09

Well I've got it sorted... FINALLY!!!

SEXIGE now has fully structural rear subframe, longerons and boot floor, all shiny, as new and ready to take many years of abuse :) Thanks to James and Scott at RivTec in Otahuhu, if I'd known about you guys I don't think I'd have had half the issues I did getting the riveting bit sorted.

The longerons and boot floor are now all riveted down with 1/4" Stainless rivets (through the subframe) and bonded with Sikaflex221, all properly primed and prepped. With this job finally behind me I can get on with getting the rollbar backstays bolted down and the suspension hung. But for now, pretty pictures of this week's progress.... I HAVE A BOOT AND SEXIGE FINALLY STARTS TO BECOME A CAR AGAIN! :)

10 May '09

Well here 'tis, the first update in AGES... the last month and a half I've barely even LOOKED at the car. I've been working insane hours then spent best part of 3 weeks in the states with work, so only now back to it.

It's taking a while to get back into things. Spent early this week chasing up e-mails etc and paying for engine bits (ouch!). Good news is that everything's finished over there now and will be shipped back here in a couple of weeks, should be ready to start engine reassembly in a month! :)

Spent saturday pressing my front hubs back together and torquing them up. All went pretty smoothly in the end, which was nice.

Spent this evening in the garage and while I've not made any great progress, tonight I FINALLY got my first suspension corner hung on the car! I've got the driveshaft torqued in and the upright bolted on. I've yet to torque in the wishbones or toelinks as I've got to get the toelink heatshields powdercoated first (in heat reflective ceramic). Going to get my powdercoating done this week so hopefully if I get a good run at it next weekend, I'll have the bulk of the suspension hung on the chassis! I'm stoked because it'll then start to look like a disassembled car rather than a bathtub on axle-stands.

But for now, a couple of photos of gratuitous rear suspension porn :)

11 May '09

Another cheeky hour or two out in the garage tonight... now have the right rear looking suspiciously like the left rear! :) Note toelink boots missing from this side as they're currently in transit. These will be added later.

Also snapped this pic to show that after about 11 months, my engine bay is now officially no longer empty! It contains driveshafts! (and an old, dirty tee-shirt) Of course these will be removed prior to the engine going in, but will sit there until then to hold the hubs together while it's being wheeled around.

Next job is to measure up the wheels and tyres to get some idea of what the wishbone angles will be at ride height. This weekend when my powdercoating is back, I'll be able to torque the wishbones in place. Then I can move on to the front as I'll have my missing balljoint by then to press in.

Then attention will shift to cleaning up the brakes so that they can be bolted on and then the old LSS shocks will then go back on as a placeholder until Randy can get me some nice shiny Nitrons sorted *hint hint Chris* :) This will allow me to put some air in the tyres and then drop it down off the axle stands and she'll be a roller! God that is going to be a momentous day! will give me a chance to clean the garage out!

One thing I've noticed (happily) is that my hands are staying a LOT cleaner bolting all this together as they were when it was coming apart! :)

17 May '09

Right, not quite as much progress as I'd hoped this weekend due to the garage being a bit of a mess and also because I spent a lot of the weekend tinkering with my new toy, a Peugeot 306 GTi6. This will take the daily driving / Lotus parts-hauling duties from now on :)

I DID however get the left front corner hung on the car. This took a bit of mucking around as anyone who's done it before will attest to. Getting the castor shims in just right was a little bit tricky, but I managed it in the end, the anti-roll bar mounting particularly proving to be a pain in my *******.

But a few hours work yielded a VERY fine-looking front left corner and it's turned out looking even better than I thought it ever would! :) I'll do the FR corner another night as that's currently buried in a very packed corner of the garage and I should clear some space first. One of the bits in the way is the fuel tank, which can now go back in so that might be a job one night after work this week as I can't think of any good reason not to get that done.

Pick my powdercoating up tomorrow, although in typical fashion, I found one bit that I left out of the consignment that I'll have to get done this week... such is life :)

On with the pics! (ignore the random crowbar... it was just there to brace against while I was torquing up the plinths and anti-roll bar drop-links)

18 May '09


Got a batch of stuff back from the powdercoaters today. Here's a random assortment. The silvery stuff is ceramic coating (for heat shielding/retention purposes) and the black stuff is all done in satin black :)

Came up nice.... although I think I may need to hack apart my exhaust flexi and weld in a new flexi section (and re-coat) as it looks a bit fragile in one place... had hoped to make it go again, but I guess it'll need to be replaced... ho hum


365 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
19 May '09

Another night and more chipping away at the Exige. Right front suspension is now hung on the car so all four corners are now hanging off the tub. Some calculations and measurements are now necessary and I'll have to jack and torque the wishbones up at the correct angles and that's that done!

In typical fashion though, it's all finished BAR ONE NUT! I realised that one of my steering balljoints didn't have the nyloc nut on it that it should have. Now either it didn't come with one or I've pulled it off at some point (for god knows what reason) and put it somewhere. Bugger is that it's a fine-pitch one so I'm going to have the devil's own job to find a replacement. Does anyone have any idea where I might find a M10x1.25 nyloc nut? Will have to have a ring-around the fastener suppliers tomorrow I guess. No huge hurry for it I guess but I'd like to get it signed off :) Given that everything's gone so smoothly so far, I should be thankful that this is the first truly missing bit that I've had thus far :)

21 May '09

Got my fine-pitched nyloc nuts now so should be able to finish off the suspension this weekend.

This weekend's job-list (not sure if I'll get through all of it):

- Finish suspension assembly
- Calculate and torque wishbone pivots to correct height
- Finish off corrosion-proofing fuel tank cavity
- Run oil gauge sensor lines to engine bay (through fuel tank cavity)
- Install fuel tank
- Begin cleaning up brake assembly and begin hanging brakes on car
- Install old LSS shocks
- Reinflate tyres
- Install wheels
- Get car back on ground! :)

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
23 May '09

Well today, thus far, I've been cleaning up the brakes. Like everything this is turning into a slightly bigger job than I'd imagined, but meh, I'll get there in the end :)

Discs have been cleaned up/degreased and are sitting on the car. I've spent a few hours cleaning up the front callipers and have used the excellent POR15 "Marine Clean" product for this... it does a great job at removing all the in-ground brake dust, grease and road-grime that builds up on the calliper. Here's some before/after shots:

I've made the decision to rebuild the callipers with new seals as they've been off the car a year and I've made the mistake of not rebuilding callipers in the past when they've been sitting empty for a while. For the $80 or so a seal kit costs, it's worth doing while they're off the car. I'll have to wait a month or so for the kit, but that's no biggie, don't need the callipers on the car right now anyway.

I'll give the callipers a second bath tonight to get them really clean before giving them an external acid bath (vinegar!) to brighten the alloy on them and de-scale them. I'll then pop the pistons out and remove the seals in preparation for giving them a rebuild once the kit arrives.

Front right suspension is now finished and tonight's job is to reinstall the fuel tank.... wish me luck.. :)

23 May '09 (cont'd)

Well, tonight I've got carried away with cleaning up the front callipers.... now they're as shiny as I can be bothered getting them. I don't want them to look bling (hence why I've not painted them), just like new.... so that also rules out polishing (I like the cast look).

So after several hours of careful acid and alkalai baths, followed by a few hours of light scotch-briteing and then filing and buffing (of the LOTUS and AP Racing emblems to make them stand out a little, the callipers are now clean!

All that remains now is to pop the pistons out and put a new seal kit in them. I'll probably also replace the bleed-nipples as well, just because I can get these at the same time as the seal kit and it's easy :)

24 May '09

Hmm... funny thing. Was working in the garage tonight and something just looked different.... I couldn't quite put my finger on it!!!

:D :D :D

20 Jun '09

Well more progress this weekend (although not a lot to show).

I got the towing eye post mounted up today and in place, was just one of those little jobs I couldn't see any reason not to. I will blast and repaint the eye at the end of the job most likely, no point doing it before then as it's going to get used to haul the chassis around a bit in the interim.

Other job of the day was to get the inside of the fuel tank cavity prepped with ACF-50 and get the fuel tank in. The ACF-50 is just a precaution. Since I had the corrosion problem on the other side of this panel and because this area is impossible to access with the tank in place I decided to just give it a good wipe-down with ACF before the tank went in.

It was then just a case of digging the tank out of the corner of the workshop (see posts from last year where I stripped and re-coated it) and to jack it up into place. Job's a good'un.

I bought a new shear-panel warning lable to go on the tank underside (the old one was destroyed before repainting)

Then voilà! One freshly installed and shiny looking fuel tank! :)

2 Jul '09

Right... well I'll be getting my engine gears in a week... due to it arriving a week sooner than I expected I don't have the wedge handy to pay the full shipping bill! Bloody expensive this freight business (especially when it includes tax on almost 5,000 pounds worth of engine work!).

Given that I'm going to be skint for a good few weeks while I let the bank account recover, I've decided to focus on a few little jobs that shouldn't cost much to complete, other than my time. I've ordered the brake refurb kits and my PRRT (Pressure Release Remote Thermostat) kit, which will be arriving from Eliseparts in a week. Brakes will then have their refurb completed and be bolted on the car :)

I've got my new brake lines, all shiny, new NZ-compliant HEL braided lines. Shown here with the Goodridge lines that came off... note the rust on the end-fittings, honestly I don't know how you Brits drive in the stuff over there it rots your cars so bad!

Another job that's been on long term hold is the manufacture of te gauge-pod for the dashboard. Given I'm going to be skint for a while and can't do much spendy stuff on the car, finishing the dash stuff, which shouldn't cost much at all is a good idea :)

First step in this is making the plug to take the moulds from. This will be a block of wood that's formed into the shape I want the final part to be. This will then be dressed, bogged and sanded and finally painted. This then gets fibreglass laid over it, which will set and form the mould that I can then lay up the final part inside.

So the plug... I started with what I had, a couple of sheets of MDF-sandwiched industrial chipboard. I used PVA adhesive to bond them together (I needed the thickness of two sheets) and leave to set. Then cut the very basic shape out of them using a radial arm saw I happened to have handy. The results you can see below alongside the radio blanking plate:

So follows a couple of hours with the wood-rasp to begin hand-shaping this to approximately the right shape. Details aren't too important as the whole thing will end up getting bogged and finish-sanded (much like the panelwork on a car) to form the final shape. You really just want a rough shape to form an armature on which to lay the final surface. The end result will look something similar to this:

You can see the shape starting to look more like the profile of the blanking plate.

That was enough for one night so I left it there... will probably attack it more in the weekend and start drawing on some details so that I can figure where more shaping needs to occur. Bear in mind I've never done anything like this before so I'm really just feeling my way in the dark! :) Self-taught experimentation FTW!

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
11 Jul '09

Ok, so here it is... the big one! Yesterday my crate of goodies from DVA/VibrationFree touched down, bringing with it the lion's share of things I need for the engine rebuild.

This is really the unintended part of the rebuild since I'd not planned on touching the engine, but when it was clear that all was not well with my VHPD, I decided to rebuild it and rebuild it well. This is BY FAR the most expensive part of the project and what you're looking at in these photos represents many many thousands of dollars... but fingers crossed, the engine will come together, make good power and be pretty reliable with it :) Hats off to DVA and Steve Smith at VF as initial inspection shows that their work appears to be utterly, utterly first class. I would certainly not hesitate to use either of them again based on what I've seen thus far!

On with the porn... err I mean pics.

Full set new gaskets including MLS head gasket:

Mocal Oil thermostat. This will be plumbed in and prevent overcooling of the oil, which can happen on the Exige:

New Land Rover oil rail. This was replaced as a precaution as the current design is acknowledged to be superior to the early design already in my engine:

1 x set of new head bolts.... every time I see these I can't get over how long the f**kers are!:

Flywheel, clutch cover, front pulley and cam drive pulley, all balanced to the new bottom end as an assembly:

CRANKSHAFT! Brand new stock Rover item, tungsten-inserted to bring counterweights up to the correct weight for the pistons and conrods and then balanced with the bottom end as assembly:

Conrods, forged H-beam Arrow Precision rods.... it'll be a shame to put these things in my engine, they're such beautiful items they really should be framed and on the wall!

New cylinder liner, ready to go:

New Omega Pistons, with larger valve-pockets to clear the larger valves now in my head:

New Piper vernier cam pulleys.... finally, I won't have to put up with rubbish stock cam timing! :) These have also been balanced with the camshafts.

Shiny new Emerald K3 Programmable ECU:

And finally, the cylinder head. Fulley ported by Dave Andrews at DVAPower, Fire-rings tamped and skimmed, new colisbro valve guides, new, larger valves (over and above the large VHPD valve sizes). Cylinder head built with Piper ARK1444 Race cams (276 duration, 12.2mm lift!), new cam seals, stem seals, new dual valve springs with the stock solid lifters retained (about the only moving component in the engine that's NOT being replaced!).

Feast thine eyes! :)

Can ye say LIFT?!?! :)

Inlet and Exhaust ports... soooo gorgeous:

Also not shown are all new seals, bearings etc.

Things come to a grinding halt now as I'm skint (gee, I wonder why!). I'll be doing a few more things on the dash shortly, but that's about it. I will be getting my engine builder to dig out my block and get that cleaned up and ready to begin reassembly shortly. I'm off to the states again soon for work, so hopefully when I return I'll be able to push the "go" button on engine assembly. Thanks to the fact that I'll be paying someone to do much of the engine rebuild, hopefully it'll progress faster than the rest of this project... which has been glacial to date.

19 Jul '09

Well this weekend I've been working away on the rear brakes. As always, turned out to be a MUCH longer job than I anticipated, as the brakes were much more corroded than I originally thought. I was hoping they'd largely clean up with some brake cleaner then just buff up... how wrong I was!!!

How they came off the car:

A good few hours elbow grease with the scotch brite and wire wheel followed by a nice vinegar bath for a few hours to strip back the worst of the corrosion:

After that, the castings came up largely clean. I was going to leave them bare, but realised they'd end up back at square 1 in about ten minutes so I gave them each a light coating of clear POR15. It's not a proper quality coating, but it'll do to keep the castings looking reasonably good. Certainly the bits you'll actually see when they're bolted on the car came up looking like brand new so I'm pretty happy and they're about as good as I could get them without doing what everyone else does and spraypainting them a colour. Trust me to do things the hard way!! ;)

(flash makes them seem crappier than they really are)

9 Aug '09

Right, well there's not been a lot of progress this last few weeks as I've spent most of them in Texas for work. Today was the first time I've spent on the car in what seems like forever!

Today I've rebuilt the brake callipers front and rear and they're now ready to bolt back on the car. No pics of this as there's not much to see. I've replaced the sliders and boots on the rear calliper (didn't fully strip it as it was in good nick and it's NOT a simple job) and the front callipers have been fully rebuilt with new pistons and seals.

I've also begun scrubbing up my front brake shields. Not sure yet whether I'm actually going to use them. They were pretty corroded, and I'm thinking of scrubbing them up a bit further and then re-anodising them... we'll see. Any SELOCers have any idea whether they're actually worth using or should I just leave them off?

The other thing that's arrived lately is my new Wideband O2 sensor/gauge/logger for the dash. This will enable me to keep an eye on the Air/Fuel as well as run closed-loop with the Emerald. I went for a Stack gauge as I've heard good things about them, it's just a shame they don't make this one in white-face to match the Oil gauge and the Stack dash.. oh well, I'm colourblind anyway :)

Of course, this has necessitated rethinking the dashboard gaugepod idea a bit, so thankfully I hadn't rushed ahead and made this up yet :) I'll kick things around in SolidWorks for a bit (see below, work in progress) and figure out how I want things to go and then will start shaping something up from there.

REALLY have to get into Forman Insulation place and sort out some insulation material for the firewall this week... going to have to sort that pronto, and I'll chase up KW and check that there's a rapidly-approaching spot for them to begin work on my engine! :)

Project SEXIGE... moving along with all the speed of a glacier!

15 Aug '09

Another day working on the brakes today and will have more progress by this evening/tomorrow.

In the meantime, I found this video of Mike Reed's Exige in the US lapping Summit Point Raceway. Mike's engine build was somewhat similar to mine, although he upped the compression ratio a little but went for slightly less extensive porting work and didn't go quite so OTT on the balancing. I'd hope to make pretty similar horsepower to his, and he just nudged 230bhp (199bhp ATW). Mike's car also runs the UCR (Ultra Close Ratio) box where as mine just runs the stock CR box. I have thought about swapping to a UCR gearset, but since I'll actually drive mine on the road (S1s are track-only in the states) his one can get away with the UCR box. Of course I might upgrade to a quaife 6-speed at some point, but that won't be part of this build.

Anyway, sit back and enjoy something pretty close to what I hope my car ends up going (and sounding) like!

YouTube - Summit Point

15 Aug '09 (cont'd)

Another Saturday and more progress! Although to be fair, I've had an absolute C**T of a day and yet another setback :( (see below)

On the bright side, the day went rather well as I managed to get all the brakes hung back on the car, all ready to go and the new braided brake lines (HEL lines with stainless ends to replace my rapidly dissolving Goodridge ones) and everything was looking tickety boo! :) (see pics).

The brakes look prety much like brand new on the car, which is what I was aiming for. Factory fresh! :)

I then started to bleed the brakes, starting by replacing all of the bleed nipples with new ones (The nipples were the last bit of the service kit I had to add). All went well until I got to the left front calliper where the nipple had seized solid into the calliper. I managed to get it out in the end but it damaged the calliper thread getting it out. I thought there was enough thread left to work, but during the bleeding of the brakes, the rest of the thread let go, ****ing the calliper altogether.

Initially I thought it had been cross-threaded by the last monkey who changed the pads, but looking though the SELOC archives, I can see that it's a relatively common occurrence thanks to your f**king salted roads that just bloody ruin your cars.... to be honest, I can't believe how much damage it really does to a car. The differences between my old '98 NZ-new Elise and this '01 Exige (of similar mileages) are poles apart... I can't believe how badly the UK climate is on a car! But... I guess that's why I'm doing this project... when it's done it'll be better than a new one and all traces there were that it had ever been on a god-forsaken British road will have been erased!

I'll be taking the calliper into work to strip it down tomorrow, then around some machine shops early in the week. Fingers crossed I can find someone who can helicoil the thread for me and not completely write off the calliper.


18 Aug '09

Little bit of midweek progress, just picked the brake shields up from the anodisers today, had them anodised black to try to tidy them up and they came out perfect... much better finish than paint :)

Bling bling.

20 Aug '09


Right, now that's the "stopping it" part sorted out, just the trivial matter of "making it go" to sort out now :)

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
23 Aug '09

Right, well not a lot in the way of progress this weekend. Just got the oil cooler bolted back onto the crash structure. This involved a bit more work than expected as the front crossmember needed re-tapping as the threads were still pretty corroded even though I had the part blasted and re-plated.

I also turned up some custom stainless screws to bolt the oil cooler to the crossmember, just replicating the OEM Lotus screws in stainless. They have lower profile heads than stock bolts.... having a lathe just down the road at work comes in handy sometimes!

But, and this is BIG NEWS for me, THE CAR IS NOW ROLLING!!!!!! At about half past noon today, I dropped her off the axle stands and rolled her out of the garage for the first time since APRIL 2008!!!!! She then spent the afternoon basking in late-winter sunshine while I gave the garage a square-up that was MONTHS overdue... I can see the workbench again! :)

Obviously I've still a long way to go, but at times in the past year or more, I wondered if I'd ever even get this far since it seemed to get further and further away with every new bit of the car I began working on! At least now I can shuffle the car in and out if I need to work on it, which will make life a bit easier.

I'll shut up now and you can see my car, back on its wheels for the first time in so very very long..... I'd REALLY forgotten how low these things are!!!!!

And one final shot.... a clean garage is a functional garage! It's not looked like this in a LONG time.

24 Aug '09

Well been off work sick today, so in between bouts of coughing my lungs up, I thought I'd start to tackle the making up of the firewall heatshield. The original item or material is not available from Lotus, so the guys here at Forman Insulation have sorted me out what appears to be about the closest thing that's possible. It seems to be a very similar type of material and will hopefully do the job.

Using the destroyed one I removed as a template, I carefully cut out a new one (although I won't mention that I initially cut one that was perfect, but a mirror-image of what I wanted!!!.... working on your car with a virus-affected brain is dangerous!

I've also kinda jostled it into place to see where it needs trimming and fettling.

It's going to need a bit more work and it's going to be a real pain in the ass to get in and get right. I think I'm going to remove the roof as I need to remove the rear window and surround to give better access at squeezing the heatshield in. This is the order it'll have been fitted in in the factory so I probably should take the extra couple hours to remove the roof to make a tidier job of things. I'm trying to make it look as good as I can, even though you won't be able to see much of it once the engine's back in and the rear clam is on.

25 Aug '09

Well spent today being rather sick in bed. Managed to get out to the garage for half an hour and get the roof off and the back window out. This has allowed me to remove the rear window frame which gives me better access to the upper firewall. This'll make fitting the heatshield easier.... hopefully.

But yeah... visually a step backwards.

6 Sep '09

Well another weekend and more progress, although admittedly slow as I've still been getting over the tail end of this flu. The engine block is being cleaned up as we speak and I should hopefully be due to start measuring up and pre-assembly stuff in the coming week or two (ABOUT BLOODY TIME!).

The significant progress came this weekend getting the firewall heatshield finished. This was a bigger task than it looked, and the real tricky bit was to get it looking tidy. It'd have been easy if I wasn't worried about a tidy looking job. Either way you'll barely see it when the engine's in, but it's nice to know that it's done nicely.

Now, the first thing I did was to turn up a small plug to fill the drilled-out corrosion hole in the firewall. I was going to use a rubber body plug to do it (blanking grommet) but since I didn't have one and I had some UHMWPE bar stock and a lathe, I figured I'd make me one.

15 minutes with the lathe and I had one turned up, got it so that it was a nice snug press-fit in the hole, then a dab of contact adhesive to make double sure it wasn't going anywhere and voilà! no more hole in the firewall :)

Then the nerve-wracking bit came, the time to stick on the firewall heat shield I'd painstakingly cut out. This was V3, as I bollocksed up the first one, and the second one was fitted and removed several times to get the shape just right. The third was my good one after I'd had plenty of practice at cutting the stuff right.

It's not 100% perfect but it's about 99% there. Either way it's certainly a better fit than the OEM one that was on there, so I'm happy with that. I just hope now that the material is up to the task as it'll be a clam-off and engine-out job to sort if it's not. It's certainly the closest stuff I could find to original though, so it shouldn't be an issue.

On balance I think it's a success :)

11 Sep '09

Right, been a busy week, sadly not on car stuff. Health is STILL rubbish so I'm not fancying spending all weekend in a cold garage. Might spend a bit of time thinking/designing up the battery mount and also might spend some time in the office doing a bit more designwork on the dash pod.

Had the oil unions arrive. These things are like gold dust (and certainly no cheaper than gold dust!) Finding BSP oil unions in aluminium proved to be the devil's own job. Nobody in New Zealand could help me, and it took the wonderful guys at Merlin Motorsport, UK to help me out again. The Aeroquip socketless hose for these is in transit from the UK as well as I could get it from there for just over half the price the local suppliers wanted! Talk about ripoffs!

Anyway, they'll look bling once fitted I'm sure :)

13 Sep '09

Well today, I picked up a seemingly completely unrelated part for the project. It's the ECU out of a '96 BMW E36 318i.

Just so happens that the Bosch/DME ECU from the E36 shares the same connector as the Lotus Esprit V8 / Lotus Exige S1 ECU, so this is very helpful.

The BMW ECU will be cracked open and the connector will be desoldered from the board. I'll then make up an adaptor loom to go from the stock plug on my Exige loom to the Emerald ECU connector. This will enable me to hook up the emerald without having to cut my OEM loom (which will be handy should I ever decide to go back to running the original engine/ECU combo in the future. It also means that I'll be able to do the bulk of the soldering from the comfort of my workbench instead of crouched inside the cabin, all cramped up. Win/Win! :)

The donor ECU cost me $50, or about 20 quid for those of you reading in Blighty.

16 Sep '09

Well the last few days I've been looking at how to tackle the mounting of the lightweight battery I'll be running. This battery is SUBSTANTIALLY smaller than the OE spec item and weighs in at under 5kg, substantially lighter than the >13kg OE item.

Now, I ran this same battery to great effect in my old Elise and I mounted it standing up. I made up a moulded fibreglass cap, which I then mounted to the OE washer bottle/battery mount to hold it in place. This worked well, and held it pretty securely, but the battery was able to move via flexing of the mount and cap and I thought that if I ever entered any motorsport events here, they might potentially have an issue with it (battery mounts in NZ motorsport are for some reason super-heavily scrutinised compared to the UK it seems from what I've seen some of the Brits get away with!).

So, after looking at the problem on the weekend, I've hatched a plan to mount the battery lying down. This has two benefits... it's more stable, and it gets the centre of gravity lower. The battery is an AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) version and is valve regulated (VRLA) so needs no venting and can be mounted in any orientation except inverted.

I measured up the front compartment and the original bracketry and I'm about halfway through the design of the new bracket. This can be seen in red, with the existing car/bracket shown in blue. I've still some work to do on it, so it's by no means finished, but it shows the direction I'm heading in.

The aim is to make a nice, stiff, motorsport compliant bracket that attaches to the OEM washer bottle mount / battery mount that weighs as little as possible.... I reckon it'll be possible to keep it down to about 200-250g when done.

19 Sep '09

Well, a busy day today, centred around replacing the oil cooler lines between the engine bay and the oil cooler up front.

I got a supply of 7 metres of Aeroquip AQP socketless hose from the UK for the job, which should have been plenty.

Now, a bit of background on the oil cooler, recapping some stuff a few pages back. I made the call to replace the oil cooler lines as I found the rubber on the original ones was beginning to perish. I figured it was good insurance and a good thing to do while the clams were off and the engine was out.

I also made the decision to plumb in an oil thermostat since the bottom end bearing damage seemed to be partially symptomatic of the engine being run too hard on cold oil, most likely caused by over-cooling of the oil. A MOCAL oil thermostat and all Aluminium MOCAL 1/2"BSP fittings were drafted in from the UK for the job.

So today, I started off by cutting the end-fittings off the old hose to enable me to pull the hose through. The initial plan was to pull the hose from back to the front so that I could terminate the ends at the front and have a loop at the back to use when I decided to position the oil stat. This proved to be fruitless though since the oil hose goes through an "S" bend just behind the front wheel-arch, making it more difficult to pull this way.

So after a few attempts, I tried from the front to the back and this was much more successful. The new hose was duct-taped to the old hose and the old hose was used to pull the new hose through. It was at this point that I realised I might have short-ordered the hose a little because it didn't look like I had a huge abundance! Anyway, it turned out that I've got enough to get back as far as the oil stat (yet to be located, but will probably be near the fuel tank or up against the engine bay bulkhead). This is okay though since it's all I need until I get the engine anyway. I'll just have to make a second order to run the catenary section from the stat to the engine. Annoying, but not a train smash.

Here's the old hose and fittings removed and ready for the bin:

Anyway, the R/H front wheel-arch liner was installed to check the length I needed to leave (the oil cooler lines pass through loops on top of the wheel arch) before slicing the hose loop up front and trimming the hose to length. The following pic shows me how much hose I had spare! (Oily hand gives scale):

Once this was done, it was simply a matter of warming up the hose to make fitting insertion easy, lubing up the hose and fittings with fresh oil and pushing them in... a bit of brute strength and they were done. All that was left to do was to connect them up to the already-installed oil cooler. Job's a carrot! :)

This is also pretty exciting since it's really the last thing I need to do before the front end goes back on. The battery mount is all measured up, so hopefully it won't be too much longer (next weekend maybe) and I can fit the front clamshell and free up some space in my bedroom! (I've been sleeping next to my clam for 18 months now!)

Anyway, on with the pics!

R/H fitting connected to oil cooler:

L/H fitting connected to oil cooler:

General view of the oil cooler in place with the lines run... everything looking nice and clean... just like a new car!:

New oil cooler lines running over the R/H inner wheel arch to check the line-lengths.

Floating ends of the new oil cooler lines sitting in the vacant engine bay:

All in all a successful day and just sitting back now for a cruisy evening with a couple of Beck's and maybe a wee dram of Glenfiddich :)

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
23 Sep '09Well a bit of progress for a Wednesday.

Today I did one of those little jobs that doesn't really fit in anywhere. The rear inner arch liner had a small hole where the tyre had managed to rub through at some point. Now they're prone to do this anyway, so any repair was probably only going to be temporary, but I thought for the $40 it would cost to patch it up (~17 quid for the poms), I figured why not. The first couple of pics show the pre-repaired state and the last one shows the repair. It's not pretty, but it's an inner wheel arch and other than perhaps giving it a buff up with some emery it can stay ugly for all I care :)

Other big news today is that I went to see my engine and the build-up is underway! The block has been cleaned up and the liners dry-fitted to check the stand-proud. They're at about 4 thou, which is about right for the MLS gasket to do its job and the crankshaft is about to be test-fitted and plastigauged to check it's all sitting how it should. I meant to get some pics but clean forgot!

Things are coming along nicely at the moment, which makes a lovely change! :)

26 Sep '09

Right, well a perplexing and frustrating day today. Today's mission was to clean up the front end a bit more so that perhaps tomorrow I could get the front clamshell on the car, ready to bolt it on next week when my new fasteners arrive. This is going to be a HUGE milestone for me :)

Anyway, I decided to replace a few of the fasteners around the radiator mount and shroud as some of them were looking rather brown and fuzzy.

It shortly became apparent that it would be best to pull the radiator out and just replace the lot of them.

So the radiator came out:

Upon seeing the corrosion on the rad, and knowing the bad things most people say about the original plastic-ended radiator, I'm now thinking that it may be worth replacing this with a ProAlloy radiator as people seem to rate them extremely highly. Now, this would normally be an expense and a half, but since the NZ dollar is kicking arse against the pound at the moment, I've priced it up and I can probably swing it pretty well.... now I just have to decide which version of the ProAlloy rad to get.

The spinoff of all this is that it'll probably be another few weeks before I can get the front clamshell fitted, which is a bit disappointing. This isn't slowing me down or anything, it's just one of those milestones I'd love to get to as it's visually a big step forward. Still, I've waited this long, a couple more weeks won't kill me I'm sure.

The other news today is that I went to visit Ken at KW and see my engine build. The liners are in and the crank was test-fitted yesterday. Today we were going to get the crank bolted in finally, but when we did so, things went alarmingly tight. Bruising on the new bearings seemed to suggest that the block and the crank cradle are slightly out of alignment. I'm guessing that the engine has probably been this way from new.

I'm going to take some advice from the legendary DVA on which way to go with this but it looks like the liners will come out again, and the block and cradle will go off to get line-bored. Again, it's a bit of a bastard, and a setback, but much better to invest time and money now than rebuilding the bugger again in a year's time. Will update y'all when I know more.

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
26 Sep '09

Well think I've got to the bottom of the crank issue... turns out the crank must be torqued up with the head on, because the crank boes are loaded round by the head clamping on... tricky. The bearings will be fine so I'm told as they always bruise a tiny bit as they're being torqued anyway.... so all I need now is to find a dummy head casting and we can recheck, remount the crank :)

As for the Radiator, a new ProAlloy uprated item will be ordered on Monday... should have it here about a week after it's ordered.

29 Sep '09

Just finished the design of the battery holder. I'll draft it up tomorrow and send it out for pricing. Will get it lasercut and folded out of 2mm Aluminium sheet, I'll then fettle it and get it black-anodised before lining it with EVA foam and installing it. Should hopefully do the trick without too much modification required.... fingers crossed.

Anyway, here it is. I've not blinged it up too much as there's no point... it's not a visual thing:

4 Oct '09

Well not a huge amount of material progress to report this week. I've done a lot of parts ordering and currently have a TurboXS knock-lite on its way from the states. This will be integrated with the dashboard when I can find a way to make it fit. I've also ordered the three-way switch that will enable me to switch between the alternate maps on the ECU.

Also en-route from the states are my new injectors. These should supply all the fuel I need to sustain up to about 260-270bhp so will be plenty.

A shiny new ProAlloy radiator will be on its way very shortly and I'm expecting my battery clamp pressing to be here by the end of the week ready for fettling prior to anodising.

Today I've also stripped down my sacrificial BMW E36 ECU. I've managed to desolder the connector (see pics), and will now be able to use this to create a converter-loom between the Exige loom and the Rover MEMS-style-plug on the Emerald.

This will take some thought as I'll need to include all the external signals I wish to route to the ECU so some heavy-duty wiring schematics will be the order of the day in the coming weekends. Perhaps something to do whilst sat in front of Bathurst next weekend?

6Oct '09

Right, well the Proalloy Radiator is now on its way and should be here next week. Injectors now shouldn't be far away either, and the battery clamp pressing should be here by the wekeend, giving me something to do.

My TurboXS KnockLite arrived today, which will be used to warn of knock conditions in the engine. This is particularly useful in NZ where our fuel is known to be of.... shall we say "variable" quality and it's not uncommon to get a bad tank out of the blue.

The KnockLite looks like this:

I'll be purchasing a Bosch Knock sensor to go with it and hardmounting it on the block.

What I plan to do is dismantle the knocklite from its casing and integrate it into the dashboard. The circuitry is siliconed inside the aluminium tube so I need to find out how to separate that (without damaging the circuitry) and then sliding the circuit out. I've had a bit of a careful cut-away and have managed to remove some of the silicone, but the rest won't budge. I'm thinking some kind of solvent to help break the silicone bond and help lubricate its passage (ooerr!) In the past I've used isopropyl alcohol to reasonable effect in releasing optical silicone moulds, but soaking the circuit in isoprop probably isn't a good thing.

Any ideas? Answers on the back of a stamped, self-addressed envelope.... :)

Once the circuit has been removed, I'll remove the LED and microswitch from the circuitboard. I'll then solder on some fly-leads to enable me to mount the LED and a remote switch in the dash.... all discrete-like! :) The circuit can then mount behind the dash panel out of sight and I can have the full functionality without a chavvy-looking thing tacked onto the dashboard.... or so the plan goes anyway.

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
8 Oct '09

Well, 20 minutes with the dremel tonight and I managed to carefully cut away the casing on the KnockLite. I've now got a KnockLite-lite :)

I've ordered a third push-button switch from RS, coming in from the UK, so it'll look like the other two I'm already using on the dash. This will replace the board-mounted microswitch you can see to the left of the photo. The LED will also be stripped from the board and soldered onto a fly-lead so that it can be bulkhead mounted like the other two identical LEDs on the dash. My rotary-switch for the Map-switching is due soon, which will hopefully complete my plethora of things I've now got to squeeze into my gaugepod. I'll be working a few miracles on the SolidWorks on the weekend I think to see if there's any way I can get it all to fit. Fingers crossed I'll come up with something :)

My radiator is now in the country and has been held at Customs so there'll be a wedge of tax to pay on that.... will no doubt have to go through a customs broker again, which will cost me the proverbial arm and leg.

Must chase up my engine this weekend too. I've been contacting Ken @ KW and he's been strangely silent the last week or so so I'm hoping it's a good silence, not a bad one.

11 Oct '09

Right, a good bunch of hours on SolidWorks later and I've finally managed to massage the radio-gaugepod into a shape that I'm happy with, and still manage to (just) fit everything in. The pics below show how everything should look when it's in. SolidWorks predicts that everything should be pretty well visible at the angles, which is nice :) :

Click pics for supersize images:

Showing what this all contains is as follows:


SPA Design Oil Temperature/Pressure on left
Stack Wideband Lambda on right.

10mm LEDS (left of panel):

Top = Oil Pressure Warning (Latching, white when lit, accompanied by latching audible tone)
Middle = Programmable Knock warning (yellow or orange when lit, and optional green-lit shift-light)
Bottom = Oil Temperature Warning (red when lit, accompanied by latching audible tone)

IP64 Momentary Push-Switches (Right of panel):

Top = Red = Oil Pressure/Temperature warning acknowledge/reset
Middle = Black = SPA Design Oil Pressure/Temperature gauge programming button
Bottom = Yellow = KnockLite Knock display programming / adjustment button

2-position toggle switch: Master power on/off for oil pressure temperature external warning (LEDs and Audible)

3-position rotary switch: Emerald Map-selection: Green = 95 Octane Map, Yellow = 98 Octane Map, Red = Avgas Map.

So yeah, it packs a fair bit of stuff into the vacant radio slot. Fingers crossed it won't look too garish and ad-hoc once it's in place, but if it comes out looking like the CAD renderings, then it shouldn't come out looking bad at all (hopefully).

Now to get making up the buck to mould the damn thing!

14 Oct '09

Today was Christmas come early! Stuff arriving left right and centre :)

First off are my new injectors (which have been here for a few days). They're new 380cc Bosch EV6 injectors. Should be more than enough for my application and sized to be at about 70-75% duty cycle at max power. These are a much more modern and fast-reacting design than the old EV1 type, so should hopefully do the business in terms of fuel-metering :)

Secondly was my gorgeous new ProAlloy radiator. It's beautifully made and very much a "nice to have" piece, now that I won't have to worry about exploding end-tanks. Will now measure up and make up some new ally fan mounts to go on it before it goes back in.

And lastly, my new battery mount arrived today and am MEGA stoked with it thus far. It's a LOT stiffer than I expected, which was good because I was trying to design in stiffness. It's probably overkill and I could have made it a bit lighter! Having said that it's also much lighter than I was expecting. It's bang on the predicted 225g weight, but holding it in your hands brings home how light that is :)

I'm confident that if it fits in as I intend it to, it'll be MORE than stiff enough to do the job to even the stingiest scrutineer's satisfaction! There's still a fair bit of work to do on it, I've got to test-fit it, drill it and the washer bottle mount for the through-bolts that'll hold them together. The battery clamp will then go off to the anodisers to get a nice black anodised coating, before having rivnuts and EVA foam lining attached prior to final installation.

So far so good! :)

14 Oct '09

Good news everyone!

Test-fitted the battery clamp tonight and it fits perfectly... well almost :) It looks like it's going to do the job peeeeerfectly and is going to be immensely stiff and solid once in place.

You can see it mocked up in place below:

When designing it, I couldn't get an accurate measure of the angle that's bonded to the Exige chassis (at bottom of the photo). Due to this, I deliberately oversized the lip on the battery clamp that fits underneath it. The idea here was that it could be trimmed back after test fitting. I've got 10mm to whip off at work tomorrow and it'll be good to go :)

It's always nice when you design something and it works just as you plan :) There's a bit of slack in it still, but I'd designed in an allowance to line it with EVA foam so as to stop any chances of it vibrating and making any noises or anything. Will hopefully trim it at work tomorrow and then a second test-fitting will be made to mark out the rivnut drillings then it can go off for anodising :) SWEET!

365 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
17 Oct '09

Today I went over to visit Ken at KW, who is handling the engine assembly. Progress has been steady, with the block oilway modifications now complete. These basically involve basically port-matching the cast-in main bearing oil delivery channels in the block to the larger, machined-in ports in the crank cradle.

From this point there's just been a lot of check-assemblies to test everything's going together as it should.... so far so good :)

State of play at the moment is that the bottom end is effectively done now, with the final seal-up on the oil rail and crank ladder to happen this week. Then we'll be bolting on the dummy head again to check that everything spins freely as it should with the pistons and liners all in place. The pistons will be centred in the bores and then the actual cylinder head will be installed and dummy-torqued for the first time (with the old gasket) to check the valve-to-piston clearances.

This will just allow us to verify that nothing is going to collide and go explodey when we first spin it over. After that's done, the head will come off again, and everything will be given a final clean-up and lube prior to finally installing and torquing the head with the new MLS gasket. Cams will then be finally timed to Piper's specs and the ancillaries like the oil pump, water pump etc. will be bolted on.

The last thing to do then is to spend a bit of time port-matching the inlet and exhaust manifolds to the new ported head.

The long-block will be completed at that stage and I think that's probably when the time will come to re-mount the engine to the gearbox and the whole lot will go back in the car shortly afterwards.

I'm hoping that in the meantime, the car will have come along far enough that it's ready for the engine and there'll just be some minor plumbing and wiring left to do before we can start thinking about livening it up... perhaps around middle-end of November :)

Still a way to go, but there's a small twinkling light at the end of this tunnel now :)

Oh and no update would be complete without pics so here we go:

The block from below, HMI Crank and Arrow rods in situ:

Looking at the deck from the top with the liners fully installed and Omega forged pistons pretty much ready to go:

Another view of the deck from the top:

The cylinder head uncloaked and basically ready to bolt on :) :

23 Oct '09

Houston: We have clearance! :) 2.9mm of it in fact! No pistons smashy valves for me!

The bottom end is now together and looking brilliant, and Ken will be doing the final head torque-down soon, so it'll become a long-block at long last (see what I did there?!). Starting to look like an engine again! :)

In other news, my Canton Racing oil filtration stuff arrived from Uncle Sam today... stung me a packet on shipping for some reason, which reminds me to always get quotes for shipping stuff.... costs seem to vary wildly between suppliers... this package costing about five times as much as others of similar size/weight I've had sent! Oh well, lesson learned, it's here now at least.

Had these filters recommended to me by a few people in the know and I couldn't see a reason to go against them. Shown here is an adaptor canister with takes a replaceable filtration element (shown at left). I bought a 6-pack of the filters, which should last me a while.

These synthetic filters offer twofold advantage over standard off-the-shelf filters. For starters they filter down to smaller particle sizes, down to 8 microns as opposed to about 25 microns for a pleated paper-media filter. Secondly, since the filtration method is different (depth filtration versus surface filtration) the oil filter can flow much more oil than a standard type filter, far more than the engine will ever pump, and hence can do without a bypass valve. This means that the engine is filtering all the oil, all the time, whereas a normal oil filter at high RPM may be bypassing a significant amount of the oil around the filter.

It's probably needless, but I figured it was worth a shot for the extra peace of mind :)

I'm away for the long weekend as of tomorrow so nothing will happen on the car this weekend, I will return next week though for more pointless rebuild action.

333 Posts
Thank you for moving it over to this web site. I was visiting the other one just to see how your rebuild goes. I really want to get a hold of a S1 myself for some fun... :)

Great job and I hope you get it done soon so you can once again enjoy it on the road.

455 Posts
Thanks Tuscan! I've been following your rebuild over at Seloc and I've been very impressed. Thanks for posting your progress for the rest of us to learn from. :bow:

109 Posts
Absolutely brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Clearly a labor of love.
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