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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've decided to put my beloved 90 Esprit back on the road. It's been dormant for about five years, while I dealt with crisis after crisis.

It was running when it was finally parked, overdue for a cam belt change. One thing led to another... anyway, I was looking for any tips and pointers of things to do and not to do with an Esprit that hasn't been started for five years.

Obviously, the cam belt must be changed, especially after sitting for that long and being marginal when it was shut down.

Any other clues? Only obvious problem is the clear coat peeling in places, which brings to mind a question - should it be repainted entirely, or can it be just re-clearcoated?

Thanks for any pointers you can offer. Why did I ever let it sit for so long?
 

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Get the C - service and all new fluids, filters, plugs, tires and battery. Grease the wheel bearings. Check that all electrical stuff works. Expect that the clutch to be frozen which can give you a moments excitement when your first start the car. If the rotors are heavily rusted consider new rotors and pads. Get a fire extinguisher. Wash, clay, wax and get driving.
 

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1988 Esprit Turbo
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Get the C - service and all new fluids, filters, plugs, tires and battery. Grease the wheel bearings. Check that all electrical stuff works. Expect that the clutch to be frozen which can give you a moments excitement when your first start the car. If the rotors are heavily rusted consider new rotors and pads. Get a fire extinguisher. Wash, clay, wax and get driving.
Wait a minute...

You also want to be able to STOP. :eek:

Flush the brake and clutch hydraulics before driving even a foot. They at minimum will need new fluids. Look-out for leaks of any kind.

Your clear coat is peeling? Your Esprit must be red.... :(
 

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In addition to the above mentioned items, don't forget to drain and discard (in an environmentally friendly way) any old fuel before attempting to start.
 

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Examine every piece of rubber in the engine bay - hoses, belts, etc. and replace anything that looks remotely dodgy. Keep in mind that gaskets are difficult or impossible to inspect, so drive carefully for a while and be on the lookout for leaks, both internal and external.

The suspension pieces, like bushings, should also be examined, at least before any serious driving.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Just to follow up on this a bit, having spent the weekend cleaning and examining...

Something tells me to replace the cam belt before even trying to start it. Where can I find one in the US? No Lotus dealer anywhere near me.

Also, a couple of the hoses do appear to be a bit dodgy, so as long as I'm draining the fluids and removing hoses to clear the cam belt, may as well replace them before they blow and strand me.

Otherwise, the Esprit appears to have weathered the hibernation in remarkably good condition. I had forgotten that wonderful feel on the inside. All that leather and wood, like an exclusive men's club.

One casualty is the speedometer. I took it out a few years ago as it had gone haywire, needle jerking all over the place. Now I can't find it. Given the Esprit's propensity to drawing law enforcement attention, I'd better know what speed I'm going. Anyone got a spare speedo? I see my insurance company cackling at the profits they might make...
 

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The cam belt should be a Gates T188 that you can have any auto parts store that deals in Gates products order for you. The last time I bought one it was less than $20. That is the easy part. Installing it, however, is a whole different story. You can do it yourself, but it helps to have a lift and a lot of time and patience. Also setting the tension on the belt is not easy seeing as Lotus uses a tension meter that is not readily available here. I ended up using the old method of finding the longest straight span between the cam and crank pulleys, twisting the belt in the middle of this span with my fingers and when I could just get a 90 degree twist, I set the tensioner. This method always seemed to work just fine for me but YMMV.

For new hoses, check this website under Parts: The Official Lotus Esprit Fact File and you will find a cross refference chart to off the shelf hoses that will fit the Esprit. You may have to cut some of them to size, but they work.

As far as your clear coat problem, your only real option for a nice result is a full sanding and new paint. The old clear coat will continue to fail and applying new clear coat over the failing stuff will just make matters worse.
 

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Just to follow up on this a bit, having spent the weekend cleaning and examining...

Something tells me to replace the cam belt before even trying to start it. Where can I find one in the US? No Lotus dealer anywhere near me.

Also, a couple of the hoses do appear to be a bit dodgy, so as long as I'm draining the fluids and removing hoses to clear the cam belt, may as well replace them before they blow and strand me.

...
Or just call Jeff at JAE Parts. JAE - Vintage and late model Lotus car parts specialists
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's alive!

Thought I'd never get that old oil filter off, it was on there good. But, it came off, and the old oil that came out actually looked pretty clean.

Installed a new battery, and expected the worst when I turned the key, figuring that the electronics might have died from corroded connectors. All the right lights lit up. I was still nervous about the cam belt (which looked pretty fresh) , but yielded to temptation and gave the key a twist. After several seconds of cranking, it sputtered to life. And after about ten seconds of idling, all cylinders were firing.

Sure enough, the clutch was frozen. Last time I freed up a frozen clutch, it was a Triumph Stag, and it took half a mile of driving with the clutch depressed to free it up. In this case, put it in 1st, pushed the clutch, cranked it, and after a brief lurch, it freed up. Took it down the driveway briefly - clutch is good, power assist working on the brakes. In respect for the iffy cam belt, I didn't rev it over 2k, and shut it down for good after about a minute of running.

What I first thought was the alternator light turned out to be the low coolant warning light. Heck, the windows even rolled down. Driver's side won't roll up without a pull to get past a rough spot, but it was like that when I got it. Right side headlamps wont rise up, the motor is truly frozen, adjusting knob on the back won't budge. But otherwise, the Esprit seems to have weathered its hibernation in remarkably good condition.

Tires are utterly shot. I was starting to scout around for a newer, larger wheelset when the online tire sellers said they couldn't find a set of tires to match what I had, but an individual search turned up Goodrich g-force tires in the correct sizes. Maybe not the ultimate, but the only wheelset I could find was the OZ's on ebay, and that's $3k I don't have right now.

Anyway, the box from JAE arrived, so this weekend, it's off with the cover plates, and on with the new cam belt, alternator and pump belts, tensioner bearing, and hoses. Ouch, that hose set was expensive. Follow that by replacing the chargecooler impeller, I have a new one I bought a few years ago. Also ordered a few sheets of burl walnut veneer to redo the dash, it's cracking apart. I never did like that light colored wood, anyway.

Assuming I survive the next round of layoffs at my company, a repaint should follow, the clearcoat is really coming off. I'm finding that a bit of polishing compound and wax gets the paint underneath looking pretty good, but it still looks like a bad case of sunburn. I did love that pearl white they put on the earlier Esprit.

Doesn't matter. It's alive, and seems to be forgiving me for letting it sit for so long. Don't do that again - next time I won't go so easy on you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just an update. The Esprit didn't really forgive me for letting it sit for so long, it was just waiting to dish out the appropriate punishment.

A month later, hands in shreds, arms bruised, but it's done. Cam belt replacement, hose replacement, chargecooler impeller replacement, all fluid replacement, tire replacement. No, it didn't take a month of effort, it was an hour here, two hours there... only so long I can spend spreadeagled across the chargecooler before I have to back off.

Wheels wouldn't come off, it took penetrating oil on the hubs and a few thumps on the tires with a sledge hammer to get them off. Now reshod with Toyo T1R's in 215/45 and 245/45. They are sticky! And feel a bit more responsive than the Eagles. Lord, those old tires were shot - probably were original equipment.

Cam belt replacement... what can I say that hasn't already been said by any first timer? The hard part isn't the belt itself, it's the things that would normally be simple on any other car. Bottom cover plate wouldn't come off, bolts rusted in place. Fortunately, someone had thoughtfully cut two holes in the plate that gave just enough access - maybe someone else had that problem with this car? Bumping the starter with a wrench on the crank pulley seemed fraught with danger, so I just put it in 4th gear, locked down the parking brake, and a 19mm socket on a breaker bar got it loose.

Alternator adjuster wouldn't let go, and it's plastic so I was loathe to go banging on it. Remove the alternator with the adjustment arm in place, a tap with a brass mallet and the adjusting bolt fell out. Side benefit - with the alternator out of the way, it's a lot easier to get to other things. Removing and reinstalling the AC compressor belt, it was tight. That tensioner pulley seems a bit redundant, as well as being tucked way up under there. Vacuum pump belt - how do you loosen up the pump? After taking off several wrong bolts, it turned out to be the allen bolt behind the pulley, and yes you do have to grind down an 8mm allen wrench to get in there.

Hoses - normally a five minute job, right? Uh-uh, this is an Esprit, and we have to do it the Esprit way. The troublesome one was the squiggly hose that comes out of the water pump, and I would have thought about leaving the old one on but I had to cut the clamp off with a dremel (screw facing the wrong way) and had nicked the pipe in the process. And if I'm going to all this trouble to get to it, may as well replace it. Problem was - the top part that goes into the water pump is in a rather inaccessable location, and the tight fitting sticky silicone hose didn't help matters any. Two hours of pulling and wrestling - no joy, it's barely on, and my arms are in shreds from rubbing the cam belt. Call it a day, pull out the bottle of Four Grain Woodford Reserve, and calm down. Came back the next day, took a fresh look, and found that a pry bar inserted between the cam pulleys pushed on the hose at just the right angle. A good shove, and it's in place.

Went to tighten the crankshaft bolt, forgot to lock the engine down, and forgot to tighten the cam belt tensioner. Yes, the belt slipped over the intake cam. Okay, pull the spark plugs, hand crank the engine back to TDC 1, sure enough the blue dot on the intake is off by about three cogs. 17mm wrench on the intake cam pulley, back into position. Reinstall the other hoses - thank god for clamps with a 1/4" bolt head, there's no way to get a screwdriver in there.

Compared to the cam belt, the chargecooler impeller was a snap. You do need a 10mm box wrench to get to the one bolt, and don't go for the 'sucker bolt' to the front that's a lot easier to get to. It is one of five that hold the pump mount on. Has me thinking those ratcheting box wrenches are a pretty good idea. The old impeller had come apart, but most of it was jammed in the pipe. Clean all that out, on with the new Lotus impeller I had found on ebay two years ago - weak design, though. Electric pump definitely goes on when this one gives out. Oh, and if you hand crank the engine with the oil filter off, you get a mess to clean up.

Hand crank the engine with plugs out just to be sure the valves and pistons aren't getting too friendly. Looks good. Go to start it, it fires, and thump! thump! thump! Shaking like crazy. Shut it down, and revisit that expensive bottle of bourbon. Come back the next morning, recheck valve timing. Spot on. Pull the plugs, clean off the petrol, put back in. Let's hear that noise again. Fire it, and it runs fine this time. Messing with my head, are you?

Idle is rough... let's get that old fuel out of the car, and that led to a final adventure. Plan is to loosen up the big fuel hose on the left side, and let it drain into a large tray. I start loosening the clamp on the hose, and this would be the one and only hose on the Esprit that wasn't cemented in place by age. It popped off all by itself. And gas didn't run out, it gushed out, everywhere. I made one stab at putting it back on, but fuel was running down my arm. Screw the environment, I'm out of here and set a record for backpedaling from under an Esprit. Yes, I did have two large extinguishers nearby, but I have probably ten gallons of volatile gasoline spurting out onto the gravel driveway, and much of it on me. Back up, looking to avoid anything that might have a spark, when my cell phone goes off. I snatch it off my belt and throw it as far as I can. Grab the garden hose, hose myself off, and then turn the hose on the underside of the Esprit, to disperse the fuel. All's well that ends well, but be careful with that fuel hose, it comes off easy and that's a big fuel line. You'd be surprised at how much gas comes gushing out.

All that remains is to update the license plate, which gets done today. I've done a few dashes up the road, fortunately I live way out in the boonies on a twisty, seldom traveled road, but with the plate expired in 06, I don't want to push it. Wow, those Toyos really make a difference.

Well, that was an adventure. If you haven't changed an Esprit cam belt - it can be done. But you will need plenty of patience, lots of good advice on how to remove components, and a bottle of fine bourbon close by.

Anyway, here it is, much improved.

 

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:clap::clap:

nice story glad it has a good ending
:coolnana::coolnana::nanner::nanner:


now go :shift:
 

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Nice job TJ, car looks great!

FYI, I did the same thing on the fuel tanks....then later realized there is a drain plug in the bottom of the right hand fuel tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yes, I also found the plug after the ordeal. Duh.

Well, I'm not out of the woods yet. Went for my first drive, and it developed a serious fuel leak on the right side. I'm thinking - rusted out tank, lord that's going to be an ugly job. However, it's only losing fuel when it's running, so it's probably not a rusty tank. Left it sitting for a day with 1/4 showing in the tanks, no loss. I lost over 1/4 tank of fuel on the six miles back to my house, and I wasn't waiting around on that drive, so it's not a mere dribble.

Thought it was the fuel return line as it looked like it was rubbing on the cam belt, but I removed the plastic line this evening, and that wasn't the case. Just an oily spot, no rubbing. So tomorrow evening, it's off with the access panel in the back to see if anything ugly is happening there. Hate to do this, but I may have to start it to see where the fuel is leaking. Two large fire extinguishers close at hand.

The shame of it - what a wonderful drive that was. The T1R tires stick to a scary degree, and that's before the anti mold compound has been scrubbed off. Other than the fuel leak, everything worked perfectly.

I'll get it right yet. So close...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The driving? Fantastic. It's not developing full power yet. Close, just doesn't have that scary top end. But, do those T1R tires ever stick. Haven't broken it loose yet, getting into limits that are downright scary.

Fuel leak turned out to be a rusty fuel line, right where it comes out of the tank. Foam was touching it there, held moisture against it. Fortunately, the tank itself doesn't seem to be rusty. The entire tank unit (fuel lines and pump) is a GM part, got one on order, but I couldn't let it sit when I was so close, so I wrapped the rusty section in fiberglass. Sealed it up nicely. The devil to get the fuel pump/tank unit out, about as hard to get it back in, but at least I didn't have to remove the tank. If I never smell gas again, it will be too soon.

So the revival has moved to a less dramatic stage. Pull the door panels and lubricate the balky window mechanism. Replace the dead headlight motor - frozen solid. Reinstall the speedo, not safe (financially) in a vehicle that masks its speed like this.
 

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This is true Lotus ownership "Old Testament" style compadre!

Just an update. The Esprit didn't really forgive me for letting it sit for so long, it was just waiting to dish out the appropriate punishment.

A month later, hands in shreds, arms bruised, but it's done. probably were original equipment.

Anyway, here it is, much improved.

You are one of the very few ******** here on Dogpatch that have truly warmed my heart. This is the way is was and yet another "baptism by fire" for a Lotus owner. :up:

Nice looking car by the way.



:cool:
 
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