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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, the other thread raegarding Esprits being junk right off the assembly line thread started turning into a timing belt discussion which I find interesting and potentially useful. So, someone suggested a new thread. Here it is.

My deal is this: The last major was done on my car in 2009. A gates blue belt was used. The car has 23K miles on it since that major. My plan was to do a major at the end of this driving season(late summer/early fall). But, lately Ive been thinking I could wait another driving season and hit about 30K miles before doing it. I dunno. The Lotus interval of 3 years/36K miles seems fair on the mileage but 3 years? Thats kind of short. Ferrari ironically requests the same interval on their cars from the 355 and antyhing before that. That also seems a little early and some F-car guys also question it. Are the belts that fragile? Maybe they are...???? :shrug:

Now, I get the whole "if the belt breaks its game over" attitude. But, that got me thinking that a belt or tensioner could go anytime. Kind of like you *could* get struck by lightning, run over by a bus, hit by a meteor, or whatever else at any time. Would replacing the timing belt every 2 months be better? How about every week? After every drive? Who knows? Whats the "gaurantee" youd get with overly-frequent changes?

What I would ask is that someone show me real-world, empirical data that clearly shows "impending doom" if you dare go past the 3 years mark. My feeling is that there is NO such data. Check Ferrari Chat too - I bet a few guys have gone ....GULP....4 years before dong their belts on their 3x8 and all is just fine.

Just my take on it.
 

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It's not every 3 years; early trapezoidal belts are sooner and later HTD HSN belts are longer if you go by the generally accepted wisdom for these engines. When it comes to a rear mounted engine the belt gets a lot less cooling air passing over it which affects its lifespan. Also, the lack of an automatic tensioner reduces belt life considerably due to the increased cyclic loadings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's not every 3 years; early trapezoidal belts are sooner and later HTD HSN belts are longer if you go by the generally accepted wisdom for these engines. When it comes to a rear mounted engine the belt gets a lot less cooling air passing over it which affects its lifespan. Also, the lack of an automatic tensioner reduces belt life considerably due to the increased cyclic loadings.
Good point - but the tension can be adjusted. The Esprit belt is basically exposed so even though that seems scary I suspect it gets more airflow than a closed belt in a front engine car. Could be wrong.
 

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I would ask Jeff at JAE what he thinks on the blue belts. He is the only source on the planet for the blue 133 tooth belt, gates makes them only for him. The HSN HTD belts were lotuses first attempt at a 100k mile belt for California regs, and I think they were rated for like suggested 48k miles or 8 years. I think the original hsn belt was on my S4, as in 18 years old, and the teeth looked quite good (but obviously changing).

The blue belt is the best of the best, other than monitoring the tension, I would expect it's life to greatly exceed the hsn belt. I hear you have to go a little under the suggested lotus book tensions, or they will howl (stiffer belt - again, ask Jeff).

I taked to Jeff the other day about it, and since I already had HSN belts on the shelf, he said to just use those instead of ordering a blue belt, as far as saving some coin. Either may outlive me.

5 year blue belt I would expect is just getting broken in, but check with the experts.

Brian
 

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Jeff at JAE recommended talking to Viking Motorsports for the proper tnesion on the blue belt. I don't recall the proper tension they told me though. I know that I downloaded a very cool spectrum ananyzer on my Android phone to find the proper resonant frequency of the belt when properly tensioned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I would ask Jeff at JAE what he thinks on the blue belts. He is the only source on the planet for the blue 133 tooth belt, gates makes them only for him. The HSN HTD belts were lotuses first attempt at a 100k mile belt for California regs, and I think they were rated for like suggested 48k miles or 8 years. I think the original hsn belt was on my S4, as in 18 years old, and the teeth looked quite good (but obviously changing).

The blue belt is the best of the best, other than monitoring the tension, I would expect it's life to greatly exceed the hsn belt. I hear you have to go a little under the suggested lotus book tensions, or they will howl (stiffer belt - again, ask Jeff).

I taked to Jeff the other day about it, and since I already had HSN belts on the shelf, he said to just use those instead of ordering a blue belt, as far as saving some coin. Either may outlive me.

5 year blue belt I would expect is just getting broken in, but check with the experts.

Brian
Yep - Jeff and I did have a good talk about this exact issue last year and he said id be crazy to change out my timing belt after just 3 years and about 18K miles. That was last spring. Now, Im closer to about 4 years and 23K miles. At the time he told me the blue belt is a Mo Fo and is nowhere near its life expectancy at 23K. he even joked that he benefits from a major service since he'd be selling me some parts so if he says dont do it I tend to agree with him.

Interestingly, Jeff knew the previous owner of my car and they also discussed timing belts. I believe Jeff may have helped him get the tension set right and whatever else.

The more I look into this, the more Im leaning towards possibly waiting until spring of 2014 to do the belt and major. The components will then have about 5 years on them and about 30K miles. I can live with that. Cant live with 2 years or 3 years though..... thats simply way too early.
 

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I've done 5 years now on my standard belt (only about 15K miles)...I have no immediate plans to change it...

It's still a new belt!!!
 

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I purchased the JAE blue belt from Jeff so this is really good to know. Belt going in tomorrow so hope to not have to think about this too much longer.

thanks for the input guys.
 

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I purchased my '87 in 2001 with 30k, no service history except a clean car -fax.

In 2002 I was going to LOG 22 in Lake Geneva, WI and not knowing the history I replaced the belt with a new one the PO gave me when I brought the car. It's at 34k the tensioner didn't make any bearing noise and spun smoothly so I left it.

I drove 40k on that belt for ten years because I did not have the time to change it. I've been so scared reading these stories that every time I started the motor and drove it I felt like a ticking 'time bomb' and blow my motor.

Last summer a coolant hose let go so I replaced everything that could be replaced including the timing belt. I ended up buying the blue belt and contacted JAE about the tension and was told to set it at factory spec which is 95 on the Burroughs gauge.

Set the spec, at idle I did have a slight whine but it went away. The blue belt is much heavier than the black belt. The tensioner was 'raspy sounding' but I replaced it because it was due. When I took the old belt off after all of those miles/years it looked fine @ 71k.

Parts are parts. I worked many years for a Volvo dealer and we had a bad batch of tensioners failing. We were able to narrow down the cars with belts replaced through a 'batch' number on the tensioner. It just goes to show even though it's new does not mean it cannot fail prematurely.

A lady I work with told me she's been :sheep: running her Honda for 14 years without replacing the belt. -eek- I told her get it done NOW!
 

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Regardless of Esprit or my Mustang, bad tensioners render the belt longevity a moot point (there isn't a corresponding upgraded tensioner, is there?). So if I convince myself my 'blue belt' will last 8-10 years, how do I reconcile the stock tensioner durability to last the same period? You can't do that logically.

Yes - the belt/tensioner can fail anytime, so replacing every 2 months is not realistic.

I view the blue belt as a upgrade for the BELT ONLY. But as a SYSTEM with the tensioner, the tensioner is the weak link in the chain. So if I have the money, I plan to service by the factory spec.

Would I slack off and slide out to 4 years? or 5 years? Maybe. But if I did and the belt/tensioner broke catastrophically, well, it would be an awful feeling for sure.

Yes - I know there are Esprit owners with far more years experience with their belts. My fan belt failed after 18K miles and fortunately did not take out the timing belt with it. Pure luck. But this goes back to the 'weakest link' notion with the tensioner.

Disclaimer: I'm just stating my opinion, however uninformed, that leans far on the conservative side.
 

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my water pump dropped its water at 52,000 miles, about a week after I changed the timing belt...

Doesn't matter if your belt does last 100,000miles... You'll need to take it apart long before that for the wp, or the valve shim adjustments, or to re-seal the cam towers.

Not to mention that my original cast iron cam followers were cracked at 74k, and the bearings were due also at 74k, and compression was at the min spec in all 4.

The Esprit is not a replace a belt every 10 years and forget about it kinda car!
 

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[snip]Whats the "gaurantee" youd get with overly-frequent changes?

What I would ask is that someone show me real-world, empirical data that clearly shows "impending doom" if you dare go past the 3 years mark. My feeling is that there is NO such data. [snip]/QUOTE]

The 2nd owner of my 88 Esprit (I'm the 4th) owned it from ~1997 to 2009 and believe he put on 20K miles (in about 12 years ~1700 miles/year). He NEVER had changed the belt. The 3rd owner never did; the 1st owner likely never did.

So we're talking about a factory timing belt that is either 14 years old (when I got it in 2011) or as old as 23 years if it were truly original at 30K miles.

Some guys have all the luck; I replaced it immediately when I bought the car - the car went straight to the shop after I gave the seller a check; zero miles from me until I picked the car 3 months later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
The Esprit is not a replace a belt every 10 years and forget about it kinda car!
Not at all! I feel 4-5 years and about 30K to 40K miles is fair and reasonable. And, lets not forget that you will also be replacing a LOT of other stuff that really doesnt need it either since you are "in there". That too adds to the possible epic piss away of money that doing a major too early will cause. It must be sickening to replace perfectly good parts with all new ones. ARRGH!

Regardless of Esprit or my Mustang, bad tensioners render the belt longevity a moot point (there isn't a corresponding upgraded tensioner, is there?). So if I convince myself my 'blue belt' will last 8-10 years, how do I reconcile the stock tensioner durability to last the same period? You can't do that logically.

Yes - the belt/tensioner can fail anytime, so replacing every 2 months is not realistic.

I view the blue belt as a upgrade for the BELT ONLY. But as a SYSTEM with the tensioner, the tensioner is the weak link in the chain. So if I have the money, I plan to service by the factory spec.

Would I slack off and slide out to 4 years? or 5 years? Maybe. But if I did and the belt/tensioner broke catastrophically, well, it would be an awful feeling for sure.

Yes - I know there are Esprit owners with far more years experience with their belts. My fan belt failed after 18K miles and fortunately did not take out the timing belt with it. Pure luck. But this goes back to the 'weakest link' notion with the tensioner.

Disclaimer: I'm just stating my opinion, however uninformed, that leans far on the conservative side.
I was joking about the two months comment - but it does highlight that if its really just about increasing the odds that the belt or belt system doesnt fail you only have two choices: Dont drive the car at all or change the stuff out extremely frequently ;)

I agree and did mention that the tensioner scares me way more than the timing belt. That blue belt looks and feels like you'd need a two stroke chainsaw to cut it. But, there was NO blue-belt tensioner ever made. :)
 

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Guess we could invent a water cooled, oil pressurized tensioner bearing assembly, made out of depleted uranium...

The hsn belts are pretty inexpensive, and I would not worry about 5 years, 50k miles.

The blue belts, if you are going to change them that frequently, save them to make a bullet proof vest.....

More than the tensioner, I would worry about small rocks, that one perfect bounce can be terminal.

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Guess we could invent a water cooled, oil pressurized tensioner bearing assembly, made out of depleted uranium...

The hsn belts are pretty inexpensive, and I would not worry about 5 years, 50k miles.

The blue belts, if you are going to change them that frequently, save them to make a bullet proof vest.....

More than the tensioner, I would worry about small rocks, that one perfect bounce can be terminal.

Brian
Yeah, really - there has to be a fairly heathy market for exotic car belt and tensioner systems that last a while and improve greatly on the stock setup? Imagine that market for Ferrari owners, Lotus guys, Lambos, whomever. heck, many Japanese sports cars had belts too like the 4th gen 300zx and NSX. Im sure it would piss off dealers and shops but I think you'd have quite a product if you came up with a belt solution for all of these makes and models that required changing much less frequently. :)

No doubt on the small rocks and whatever else. The belt is frighteningly exposed.... -eek-
 

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loolks like I am one of the cool kids now (I think). Had the timing belt replaced yesterday with JAE's super belt and feel good about it. Old belt didn't look too bad but still now have a warm and fuzzy feeling about the car. Drove it home and noticed that the belt has a slight whine. Texted Julian and Gonzalo and they assured me that this is normal.

You guys with the blue belt have this whine yes?

 

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loolks like I am one of the cool kids now (I think). Had the timing belt replaced yesterday with JAE's super belt and feel good about it. Old belt didn't look too bad but still now have a warm and fuzzy feeling about the car. Drove it home and noticed that the belt has a slight whine. Texted Julian and Gonzalo and they assured me that this is normal.

You guys with the blue belt have this whine yes?

:clap:
 

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You guys with the blue belt have this whine yes?

I can't say - I test drove car briefly before the change. Note that my mechanic bought the specialized ultrasonic tool for adjusting the blue belt so it's possible it's whining but my old ears can't detect it :-(
 

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We have 3 blue belts running in 3 different Esprits. None of them whine.

We have used the kricket gauge to adjust belt tension and recently have been using a smart phone app frequency sensor to adjust it. Both systems tend to agree with each other. With the Kricket the tension should be at about 50 lbs.
Crank position matters. I don't remember the frequency value.

Tension is measured between the intake pulley and the aux pulley on a cold belt.
The old fashioned belt twist test also gives some clue. You should be able to twist the belt no more than 45deg with your fingers. If you can barely twist it it is likely too tight.

Get a gauge or app and learn how to use it.

Randy
 
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