Lotus Elan

prop shaft sliding spline stuck in tailpiece

PostPost by: elan3651 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:30 am

I did a quick search, to see if this issue has been addressed before, and didn't come up with anything, so here goes..

A lifetime ago, when I bought my Elan (actually June 1982), I learned very quickly that it was undriveable as-is, and started dismantling it for restoration.

I bought a few books (not a lot available back then, and certainly nothing like this Forum, pre-internet), and then tackled pulling the engine. Per the books, I was going to pull the engine and gearbox together, after pulling the sliding-spline of the prop shaft out, except... it didn't, and wouldn't come out. After various tapping, and gentle pulling, then more aggressive tapping and pulling, my semi-trusty assistant and I pulled the whole train out (engine, trans and propshaft) together. We thought that, once it was out of the car, with more access we'd be able to get it apart, but we never did; I did separate the engine and transmission, but the propshaft is still stuck! Any ideas on how to get them apart- a few times I've been tempted to make another attempt at it, but have always been worried that I'll break something.

If I separate the tailpiece from the trans. case, would there be room through the tailpiece for me to use a drift of some sort to try and apply pressure from that direction, to push the splined end out?
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PostPost by: RichC » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:10 am

Hi there, lets presume you'll be replacing the UJs.
In that case, how about removing them and then tapping the yoke in just to free the splines a little? there's a picture of the welch plug covering the output shaft in the thread below which you could knock out to view the output shaft ....
lotus-gearbox-f37/speed-gearbox-output-shaft-t19792.html
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PostPost by: 512BB » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:26 am

I am just curious 3651. You took the engine out in 1982 but you still have not managed to separate the propshaft from the gearbox?

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PostPost by: 2cams70 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:08 am

Maybe post some pictures of the situation
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:34 am

The prop shaft normally falls out of the gearbox. I have never heard of one seizing. The splines constantly move a fraction and they are generously lubricated with gear oil so no real way for them to seize. I wonder if you have the the standard 4 speed box arrangement ? post some pictures.

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PostPost by: elan3651 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:06 am

512BB wrote:I am just curious 3651. You took the engine out in 1982 but you still have not managed to separate the propshaft from the gearbox?

Leslie


Well, as they say, it's a long story- I'll try to give a shorter version.

I knew nothing about working on cars, when I bought Emma. All I knew was that I had to have her- I was driving on my delivery route (I was a UPS driver at the time) and saw just the back end of what I instantly recognized as a Lotus Elan, in the carport of a "little old lady's" house. I realize I'm probably older now, than she was then. I just had to stop and ask- turned out it was her grandson's, he was just visiting and was leaving to drive down to California in a few days. The car was pretty ratty looking, and I really doubted it would survive the trip. I met him there after work, and he was amenable to selling me the car, for what I thought was a reasonable price.

We went for a quick test drive- he drove first to a nearby gas station and put a little gas in, then I got in. I should mention here the car is RHD. He warned me to be gentle when applying the brakes (should have been a red flag), and I took off.

I went up a long incline from the gas station, and decided at the last second to take a sharp right turn- when I hit the brakes, the whole back end of the car made a huge shudder, followed immediately by flashing red lights, as I'm being pulled over by a Wash. State Patrol car. The officer gets out, walks to the left side of the car, and does a double take, as the owner is sitting there with his hands in his lap- he realizes that the "passenger" is the driver, and tells me that, when I took the corner the right rear tire literally jumped off the road, and gas had started pouring out onto the road as the gas tank was now leaking. I gingerly drove back to the guy's house, he dropped his price a little, and Emma was mine.

After a bit of research, I figured out that the shudder was due to a destroyed bearing in the right rear suspension strut- I had to replace the stub axle as well. Took quite a while to track one down, and started making a list of everything else that needed fixing, which kept getting longer and longer. But, I had the bug, so while I started disassembling the car, in my mom's garage, we started looking for a new house- moved in '83 to a great house, on 5 acres with river frontage and, most importantly, three-car garage.

I decided early on that I was going to need some expert help, so in "84 I founded the Evergreen Lotus Car Club.
A great group of people, willing to help each other out. One side effect of this, is that I started to get calls and letters, from people offering me their abandoned project cars, so within 3 or 4 years I was up to 7 cars (7, Elan, Plus 2, and 4 Elites). The more cars I bought, the less time and space I had to work on them, and the Elan got shoved back in the corner, buried behind three lifetimes of projects.

Since then we've moved three times, each time moving multiple bodyshells and truckloads of parts, and with that, two career changes and some long-term health issues I've made very little progress on any of the cars. Now that I've pared down to just three cars (7, Elan and Plus 2), and I'm getting closer to retirement, I'm thinking of getting back to work on them. So, as I'm looking through my parts storeroom in the basement, I see the trans/propshaft sitting there, right where I put it when we moved to this house 20 years ago, and I think, maybe I should finally figure out how to take them apart.

And, this is the short version!
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:17 am

great story :D
I try to only have one Lotus waiting for work at a time. Any more and I loose track of what I am doing :lol:

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PostPost by: elan3651 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:20 am

I'll post some pictures later today, as several of you suggested. Thanks, guys, for the suggestions, and links to additional info.
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PostPost by: billwill » Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:35 am

Further to what was said above, I would think that with the universal joint removed and with the welch plug removed you could squirt PlusGas in the end and then use a claw hub extractor to pull the output shaft while pressing the centre screw of the extractor on the end of the gearbox shaft.

Hence no hammering & forces applied only to the pieces themselves so not going to break anything in the gear box.

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PostPost by: Elan45 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:49 pm

I agree with Bill that once the plug is removed from the back side of the hub, that a puller should do the trick. You'll want to use a 2-jaw rather than a 3 jaw puller as pictured. If it still doesn't want to move, my next step would be application of heat to just the splined hub. I would use my oxy-acetylene torch, but you may not have access to one.

Perhaps, after you've gotten the plug out of the hub, you might take the whole assembly to a real "old time" mechanic and ask him to remove the hub.

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PostPost by: elan3651 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:12 pm

Thanks for all the additional input, everyone.

I do have a 3-jaw puller (the top picture from billwill's post), but I agree with Elan45 that a 2-jaw would probably be the better choice. I know where I can borrow one, as well as an oxyacetylene torch setup, so (after I haul the assembly out of my basement- I'd rather not burn my house down), I'll give it a try (and I'll take pictures to share).

I mentioned, in my lengthy post, that I've made two career changes during the time I've owned my Lotuses- after I left UPS I went to a local technical college, and completed first their welding program, then followed that with a machinist program. I have worked professionally as a welder, but most of my career has been as a machinist, both manual/conventional, but mostly as a CNC lathe machinist. More recently, I've transitioned into teaching machining at the college level. So, I do have vastly more skills than I had when I bought my first Lotus, and actually made the career change in part to be able to do more with my multiple lifetimes of projects. So, I can at least indirectly thank that chance encounter that led to my buying Emma, with what has been a very rewarding career.
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PostPost by: billwill » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:27 pm

I had momentarily forgotten that then U/J end of that piece has just two 'prongs' and they have holes for the bearings. I suspect they might not be strong enough to poke the jaws of a two prong puller in there, so I would be inclined to find or make a collar. A disk of thick steel with a notch cut in it to fit around the output shaft. Then you could use a 3 jaw puller.

i.e something like the notched disc on this Bendix spring compressor but much bigger. {I have a similar Bendix tool which is what brought this idea to mind.}

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PostPost by: elan3651 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:53 pm

Thanks for the additional input.

I'm going to design and machine a tool specifically for this job- something I've done a lot of in my career.
For example, I machined some tooling and fixtures, for pressing suspension bushings in and out- if I can find them, I'll post some pictures on the Tool Talk forum here. It's one of the things I enjoy the most about the trade- designing and fabricating, by welding and/or machining, tools and fixtures to do a job right.
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:50 pm

Think I would try using a slide hammer, easy enough to make, a bit of rod and a weight.
Would just have to make something to attach to the prop flange.
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PostPost by: Chancer » Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:10 am

Fit a U/J to it and a propshaft flange, then use a hakfshaft slide hammer.

We are all very cautious with our vehicles and rightly so perhaps with the rarety and price of parts but I have read pages of threads theorising how to do a simple job that in the day or even today a mechanic would just pick up his favorite persuading hammer and give the good news to the part, he would not even consider there was a problem, it would be as automatic as tying his shoelaces.

A good compromise would be to fit a U/J to strengthen the yoke then give it the good news with a rawhide or copper mallet.
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