Lotus Elan

S1 Élan Rebuild - My Story

PostPost by: Certified Lotus » Sun May 17, 2015 11:02 am

I bought a 1964 Elan S1 last summer and drove it for a few months while reading everything I could on the forum and the many books I had. The car had been through a cosmetic restoration and partial mechanical, but lots of things were wrong and not up to my standards. Clearly the PO and the shop that worked on it didn't know the full details of an Elan and it required much needed attention (motor mounts on backwards, my friend Bruce pointed that out right away).

The big items where an engine that smoked white smoke all the time and smelled like oil (although didn't burn any oil or use any water) and the front and rear suspension needed replacement as the car bounced around like it was only on springs. Then all the little stuff which is too much to list but drove me crazy regarding the way things were done.

So I had a major decision to make. Do I restore to "factory spec" or "enhance" the car to have a true "fast road" sports car with a great period look. I agonized over the decision and in early winter decided to rebuild the car using primarily 26R spec with the goal to make it comfortable for the road (I don't expect to track this car). The hunt was on for all the parts I would need (some of them "unobtainable") and determining how far to go with the rebuild. Typical for me, I bit the bullet hard.

Sourced a twin cam engine that had been in storage for many years and shipped it to a race engine builder on the East Coast who builds twin cams for historic race cars. My direction was to build a reliable engine with very good mid-range torque and produce about 160HP at the crank on 93 octane pump gas. No crazy redline spec so the OEM crank stayed in (after magna flux) with new rods, pistons, cams, bearings, etc. etc. Details to follow after the dyno in a couple of weeks.

Spent the entire winter sourcing parts and slowly filling my garage (and emptying my wallet) with everything I thought I would need for a rebuild.

Recognizing that the increase in HP had a downstream effect (I've build a couple of track cars) I decided to use Tony Thompson Racing (TTR) parts for the drive train and rear suspension. All the usual things, rebuild the differential with new bearings, seals, hub shafts, drive shafts, braces, etc. Bought TTR's fast road exhaust system and had the header ceramic coated.

Also ordered selected parts from RD Enterprises (Ray is only an hour drive from my house) and Dave Bean in CA (Thanks for all your help Ken). Seems I got one of the last crash pads from Type 26 before they stopped making them. QED supplied the larger airbox for better breathing. Bought a new reproduction radiator from Coolex Heat Transfer in the UK.

The big turn was acquiring a 26R chassis a couple of weeks ago that had been in storage since new that was already black powder coated and located only a couple of hours from my house. Thanks Bill!

With the engine builder giving me a time frame to completion in a couple of weeks, it was time to get the rebuild going.

Yesterday my friend Drew and I removed the body from the chassis. Neither of us had ever done this before so after reading as much as I could figured it would take is 8 1/2 hours from start to finish. It took us 8 hours with a 45 minute lunch break included. Now that I have done this I could probably do it in 6 hours next time (or even less).

What did I learn so far?

The design of the chassis is amazing and pure mechanical art.

There are 18 bolts that hold the chassis to the body (NOT 16).

The drilling of new holes in the chassis and tapping some of them is going to require patience and exact placement of the body.

Mice like the drive shaft tunnel as a nesting place ;-)

Here are a few photos from the day:
Engine bay before disassembly
DSC05522.jpg and

I made large pads for my lift to support the body
DSC05533.jpg and

Up in the air for work to be done
DSC05535.jpg and

Engine bay ready for body removal
DSC05539.jpg and

Jack stands and 2X4 to support chassis while lifting body with two post lift
This also allowed us to be underneath the car to remove chassis bolts
DSC05542.jpg and

Interior was a bit torn apart to get at the chassis bolts
DSC05543.jpg and

Separated from the body (after we found the chassis bolts behind the dash!)
DSC05546.jpg and

Time for a beer!
DSC05558.jpg and
Last edited by Certified Lotus on Tue May 26, 2015 7:53 am, edited 10 times in total.
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PostPost by: JC33supreme » Sun May 17, 2015 2:51 pm

Hello Glen, sounds like you're going to do a really good job, and you've achieved in under 9 hours what has taken me four months. I look forward to reading updates on how everything goes and how the finished article will go. I won't try to keep up with you, either in build speed or car speed, but hopefully you will inspire me. Time for a beer!

John
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PostPost by: JC33supreme » Sun May 17, 2015 2:58 pm

Hello Glen, sounds like you're going to do a really good job, and you've achieved in under 9 hours what has taken me four months. I look forward to reading updates on how everything goes and how the finished article will go. I won't try to keep up with you, either in build speed or car speed, but hopefully you will inspire me. Time for a beer!

John
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PostPost by: Certified Lotus » Mon May 18, 2015 3:21 am

Day two was focused on power washing the chassis and removing the engine and gear box. It was a nice day so Drew and I took the whole project outside and worked in my driveway.

After the power wash it became evident this chassis had been repaired a couple of times. There were a couple of areas that had been welded and a few areas (like the motor mount flanges) that had cracked again even though they had been welded.

The chassis wasn't rusted anywhere. But it had a couple of cracks and a number of locations where it had been jacked up and the frame was dented. I doubt this is the original frame. If it is, this car spent its entire life garaged and serviced by unknowing mechanics who lifted the car under the chassis in multiple points due to the areas that were dented.

The most surprising discovery was the right rear spring perch was rubbing against the sidewall of the tire. The left side was very close, but not rubbing. I'm changing to narrow springs and perch plates so this will not be an issue on the new build.

Well, there were clearly some stress points during the life of this car. Glad I am replacing it with a 26R reinforced chassis.

Some Photos from the day:

Power washing the chassis, suspension, engine & gear box
DSC05566.jpg and


Nice and clean for inspection
DSC05567.jpg and


Brazed welds
DSC05574.jpg and


Brazed motor mount flange, but cracked again
DSC05575.jpg and


Rear spring perch rubbing against the tire!
DSC05573.jpg and


Getting ready to remove engine & gear box
DSC05577.jpg and


Needed to remove shift lever to get engine out
DSC05581.jpg and


Success!
DSC05584.jpg and


Test fit of new chassis
DSC05593.jpg and


Removing parts from old chassis to prep for transfer to new chassis
DSC05603.jpg and
Last edited by Certified Lotus on Tue May 26, 2015 1:54 am, edited 3 times in total.
Glen
72 Europa - 74/2358R
69 Elan S4 - 45/7941 - Sold
64 Elan S1 - 26/0379 Restored
12 Colin 30 - Lotus Racing Kart - Sold
07 Exige S - Wicked Road/Track Car - Sold
07 Exige S - Fast Road/Track Car - Wrecked at track
06 Elise - Track pack - Sold
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PostPost by: Karter7 » Mon May 18, 2015 4:41 am

Glen,
Great photos and write up. I look forward to watching your progress.
Love your HUGE spacious driveway. It is bigger than my house!
Regards Daniel
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Mon May 18, 2015 10:33 am

Looks great! Be sure to tap into Clark Lance as a resource. He lives in Long Valley, I believe. A Lotus
expert extraordinaire!
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PostPost by: Jentwistle3 » Mon May 18, 2015 12:59 pm

Glenn,
Is that a NJ license plate I see? Where are you located? I'm in Holmdel.
Regards,
John
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PostPost by: Certified Lotus » Tue May 19, 2015 11:20 am

Here is the time lapse video I shot of the work done on Saturday to remove the body from the chassis. Used a GoPro camera set to shoot 1 frame every 5 seconds. The 8 hours of work ended up taking 4 minutes on screen (I removed the lunch break where nothing was happening).

https://youtu.be/6kHOBrl8gKQ
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69 Elan S4 - 45/7941 - Sold
64 Elan S1 - 26/0379 Restored
12 Colin 30 - Lotus Racing Kart - Sold
07 Exige S - Wicked Road/Track Car - Sold
07 Exige S - Fast Road/Track Car - Wrecked at track
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Tue May 19, 2015 11:52 am

It exhausted me just watching the video

cheers
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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue May 19, 2015 11:53 am

Boy, do you guys work fast. But it seems you kept on knocking your heads together; must have hurt. By the way, you definitely slowed down after lunch.

Good effort!

Tim
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PostPost by: cal44 » Tue May 19, 2015 12:43 pm

Dang..........it's the perfect Denny's combo plate..............An early BRG, a guy that takes pictures.....and a sweet shop.......................
My fav post in a long time.
"Be Polite, Be Professional, But have a plan to kill everyone you meet"
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PostPost by: Certified Lotus » Tue May 19, 2015 1:37 pm

Thanks for all the kind comments and interest in my rebuild.

I've owned and worked on British sports cars since I was 16 years old. My parents never got to use our one car garage because one of my sports cars was always in it with the engine or trans out. They were very happy when I went off to college and the chain hoist was no longer needed ;-)

These days I am a very lucky man because my wife has never complained about building a bigger garage for my hobby or the tools needed to complete my projects. She is happy that I stopped track days, that always worried her.

The rebuild of my Élan is pure joy to me. Can't wait for the next step of removing all the suspension parts, rebuilding the rear differential, painting the bits that will make it look nice and the reassembling the entire car. I expect to have everything done in a couple of weeks. Hopefully ;-)
Last edited by Certified Lotus on Tue May 26, 2015 1:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
Glen
72 Europa - 74/2358R
69 Elan S4 - 45/7941 - Sold
64 Elan S1 - 26/0379 Restored
12 Colin 30 - Lotus Racing Kart - Sold
07 Exige S - Wicked Road/Track Car - Sold
07 Exige S - Fast Road/Track Car - Wrecked at track
06 Elise - Track pack - Sold
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PostPost by: Famous Frank » Fri May 22, 2015 2:20 am

Glen,

Awesome! The best part is the support you are / will receive from the Lotus Community. The guys on this Forum are absolutely the best. Feel free to contact me if you ever have a question or need a part.

Frank
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PostPost by: SADLOTUS » Fri May 22, 2015 8:06 pm

Mesmorising video! Great garage, you lucky lad.
Looking forward to more.
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PostPost by: peterexpart » Fri May 22, 2015 10:37 pm

[quote="Certified Lotus"]
The most surprising discovery was the right rear spring perch was rubbing against the sidewall of the tire. The left side was very close, but not rubbing. I'm changing to narrow springs and perch plates so this will not be an issue on the new build.

My S4 was the same, when rebuilding the rear hubs there is a "correct" sequence for assembly of the Hub Bearings, Spacers and Shims, the most common problem is that the previous owner has rebuilt the rear hub and inserted the inner bearing the wrong way round, this moves the wheel 1/4" closer to the Spring Perch and hence the tyre rubbing the upright. It is worth checking the Workshop Manual to ascertain the correct sequence.
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