Lotus Elan

Back in the saddle again...

PostPost by: Davidb » Mon May 15, 2017 3:23 pm

(I had posted this in the 'Tires and Wheels' section but realised it was lost there)

Last Friday (May 5th) I set out on the rally that I have been rebuilding the car for: The Spring Thaw Rally organized by Classic car adventures here in BC. This involved driving the car across the city of Vancouver in the morning rush hour to get to the start of the event which is on the road to Whistler ski resort. Vancouver has been called the city with the worst traffic congestion in north america and Friday morning it went all out to prove it! Plus the car broke down-in the middle of a very busy intersection. And it rained-my god it rained. It was the worst 2 1/2 hours of driving I have ever experienced!

We made it to the start only to find out that the road we were going to drive through the mountains on-the only road through the mountains- was blocked by avalanches-three by mid morning! So we had to retrace our steps-all 100 cars-and drive for a total of 12 hours to get back to the route. Along the way the Elan continued to act up on occasion. When we got to the overnight stop a mechanic friend quickly found the problem-in the high tension wire- and we were fine after that.
18222503_251891171950011_4253791552698398692_n-1.jpg and




The next day we continued driving in rain-heavy at times and in one town we arrived shortly after they discovered that the Chief of the Fire Department had been washed away in a flood. Later in the day we encountered snow, hail and high winds.

I had fitted Sumitomo tires and as I related in the "tires and wheels" section I am very impressed with them and was able to drive the Elan hard wet or dry.

The third day the weather improved greatly and we had dry roads and even some sun.

The total distance covered was 1700 kms in three days. The car had maybe sixty miles on it when I set out so I am quite happy/relieved.


Some comments: The seats were bloody awful! We got home Sunday evening and my buttocks and back are still sore. I realise it is probably the foam rubber breaking down and I will replace that very soon.
18222503_251891171950011_4253791552698398692_n-1.jpg and

I could not stop oil leaking from the filler cap. There is a deflector plate over the cam and I fitted two seals but oil still runs out. I am thinking that a BRM valve cover at least has a screw on cap...

I fitted new springs and Gaz shocks with adjustable perches before leaving and the springs settled a lot-which was good and expected since they were quite high at first. The springs are 110 lb/ft front and 80 lb/ft rear as suggested by many experts. We found the ride to be quite comfortable at those settings. Despite my acquiring a 7/8" anti-roll bar I fitted the original so that I would have a reference point and found it quite good. I left off the rear 1/2" bar that was fitted to the car during it's racing career in the sixties for the same reason. I will try it in the future.

The engine is 1720 with a BDA crank and .385" lift cams and some porting work as per David Vizard that I did myself. It ran very well and despite fitting an aluminium flywheel and 3.55 diff it pulls away quite easily from a stop. I loved the snickety-snick of the gearbox but longed for a 5th gear-the noise was painful at times.

So there is my report-thirty two years after last driving an Elan (26R5 at Monterey '85) I am back in the saddle!
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PostPost by: sparkey » Mon May 15, 2017 5:27 pm

Great post!
Road trips in old cars always have their difficulties, but as long as it all works out in the end it's these that make them the memorable experience they always are..

Steve.
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PostPost by: Bill » Mon May 15, 2017 7:00 pm

David

Damn good for a first go after a loooong time!

Hope to meet you at the ABFM next Saturday.

Bill
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PostPost by: Davidb » Mon May 15, 2017 7:24 pm

Thanks Bill and Sparky.
Bill, I hope to have it at the All British Field Meet on Saturday but I had already entered my 'other' car, so now I am looking for a driver for the Elan (advt!)
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PostPost by: webbslinger » Tue May 16, 2017 12:27 am

I haven't​ heard anyone​ else mention the seats being uncomfortable, but I found mine to be unbearable. What fixed it for me was to remove the back 2 center clips that run fore and aft that hold the back spring to the frame. Those clips were right under my tail bone and no amount of padding mad it feel better. I was actually getting blisters. Now the seat hangs down a bit at the back, but it is comfortable. I hope you find a driver to get your car to the ABFM.
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PostPost by: Davidb » Tue May 16, 2017 12:54 am

Webbslinger: Presumably that wasn't you in the Pistaccio colored Sprint on the Spring Thaw Rally? He was from Washington State. He also complained bitterly about his seats. Very nice car with 26R wheels and an obviously good engine...
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PostPost by: webbslinger » Tue May 16, 2017 2:44 am

Not me, but I have a light green coupe that will be there on Sat.
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PostPost by: Davidb » Tue May 16, 2017 7:48 pm

Since we were behind the pack with a minor running problem on the first day I don't have any photos of the Elan in the rain but these two give some idea:
cobra-on-2017-thaw.jpg and

Yes, that is a real one.

laurie-and-verna-on-2017-thaw.jpg and
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PostPost by: Davidb » Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:41 am

An update on this:
The body of the missing Fire Chief was discovered several weeks later. However, the community that he was Fire Chief of was destroyed in forest fires in the past few days as were several other communities in British Columbia.
Climate change? What climate change?
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PostPost by: Davidb » Tue May 01, 2018 3:56 am

It was deja vu all over again this past weekend. The 2018 running of the Spring Thaw rally in British Columbia. The start of the event was in Kamloops, 260 odd miles from Vancouver. My co-driver lives in Pemberton, the other side of Whistle, the skiing centre so, my drive was via Whistler, Pemberton, Cache Creek (where the fire chief drowned during last years event) and into Kamloops. This route entailed using the road that was closed by three landslides last year. However, it is an Elan road! fast runs, lots of hairpin bends and huge elevation change.

When I arrived at my co-driver's place he announced that a Bug Eye Sprite would be joining us for the run to Kamloops. It has been trailered from Colorado for the event. It looked bone stock. I said to the owner "Does it have at least a 1275?" "Oh yes, and it is a good one" he responded. Okay...

We set off. My car is running well. 1720cc and good cams and compression plus six inch rims with good tires. I haul up the first incline going fast, the Sprite is still there. I wind it up along the straight sections, the Sprite is still there. OK we have a good run to Kamloops.

The next day we go on back roads to Sicamous-we are now on Hwy1-the cross Canada road but there is no optional way of getting to Revelstoke. At 3.00pm we see an illuminated sign "Road closed due to fatal accident" Bugger!

We all finally pile into a motel parking lot that has a pub attached and wait--for seven hours!
Meanwhile the transport trucks are backing up...

We get moving slowly at 10.00 pm-at 11.30 we are finally clear of the accident and the associated back up but it is dark and we are going into the headlights of hundreds (thousands?) of transport trucks. Since it is the end of winter and this is a high level road the lane markings have been worn away by snow plows, tire chains and salt--it is the drive from Hell! Blinded by the trucks, tired at the end of a very long day and being passed occasionally on the left by morons in pick up trucks who must be driving by feel we finally make the hotel at 12.30 am.

The one saving grace? My co-driver pulled out a bottle of Scotch! The next thing I knew it was 6.30 am.

The rest of the rally was great time-ferry rides and brilliant roads.

I converted the Elan to 26R style lights over the winter and they worked very well-I like to drive with the lights on and the car looks better with this style of light:
31530965_10155837346122886_7677363808079183872_n.jpg and


The total distance was 1200 miles in 4 days. On the return run to Whistler we encountered snow briefly at the summit otherwise we only had about 2 hours of rain in the entire event and that was at the end.

The Elan used about 1/4 liter of oil and I think that mostly leaked from the oil filler cap. However, the rear tires, which had only done about three thousand miles: last years Spring Thaw rally, the mid summer rally I entered and then this one were gone! No tread left whatsoever! Bald. I had a couple of squirrelly moments in the rain but nothing serious. The fronts still have about 75% tread remaining.
Last edited by Davidb on Tue May 01, 2018 4:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: Frogelan » Tue May 01, 2018 4:27 am

Great story. I'm impressed that you are using your Elan in such tricky conditions over a long distance.

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Tue May 01, 2018 10:26 am

Only ever been in the area in winter for skiing but the roads sound great for an Elan. On the track the fronts wear faster than the rears on my car but i guess you cant corner as hard on public roads and thus load the rears more
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PostPost by: Davidb » Tue May 01, 2018 3:06 pm

I think you are probably right Rohan-on the track the fronts would get a work out from the brakes , I was on public roads so had to drive reasonably responsibly. No limit on hard acceleration through fast bends though...
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PostPost by: Davidb » Tue May 01, 2018 11:17 pm

Frogelan: It meant spending 4 months preparing the car-full race prep. It is the only way to ensure you have a trouble free run and a good time.
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PostPost by: Gardog » Wed May 02, 2018 12:55 am

We were there too in our S4, occasionally catching glimpses of David's tail lights.

Our car fared just as well and the crew a bit better. When faced with the road closure we opted for a room at "Joe Schmucks Roadhouse" and avoided the late night drive and the later night whisky.

Our tires stood up a bit better too. Probably due to our near-stock set-up and 44 mpg driving style.

We had two small mechanical glitches but neither were serious. The carbs (Strombergs) iced up on the descent on the Duffey Lake highway on the last day but cleared themselves after just a few minutes. A bit earlier in the trip we accidentally discovered the anti-theft switch in the glove box. Fortunately though I had remembered a conversation with an Elan owner about a similar experience and was able to react quickly enough to avoid being left behind by the ferry.

Very pleased over-all with the car.

And thrilled to have spent the weekend on such wonderful roads with such a great group of people.

Gary
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