Lotus Elan

Twin-Cam to T5 Bellhousing Anyone?

PostPost by: johnc » Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:36 am

Group, instead of posting this under “5 speeds some more” I thought it best to start a new thread.

I ran across a company name Quad 4 Rods which among other things makes Duratec, Zetec, and Ecotec to T5 bellhousings as well as a hydraulic throwout bearing. See: http://quad4rods.com/.

I sent them an email asking if they would be interested in doing a Lotus Twin-Cam to T5 bellhousing. The following is their response:


Good Morning John,
I have made a number of special bellhousings . I charge $2500.00 to help offset the cost of the casting pattern and require a initial order of 10 bellhousings at $425.00 ea.
Prices are FOB Denver Colorado and USD.
Regards, John Ehrlich”


This opens the door to numerous subjects. A few that come to mind:

What is the near term demand?
What is the long term demand?
Is the up-front pattern reasonable?
How does one ensure that pattern full fills the need (requirements), and what is the recourse if it is unsatisfactory?

That is involved in adjusting the depth of the bellhousing to center the shifter in the chassis opening?
Could a speedo takeoff be developed which does not require a chassis modification?
Would Quad 4 Rods be interested in developing a complete kit: bellhousing, speedo takeoff, transmission rear support bracket, etc?

My instant thought is the key issue in moving forward is determining the near term demand for the bellhousing. Say it another way, with 100 commitments, the up front pattern cost drops to $25 per person! Another important number is an estimate of the long term market demand over say 5 years.

So group. what is your willingness to participate, and what is the long term market demand?
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PostPost by: worzel » Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:39 pm

Hi

Please don't read this as "negative"- it's only my personal experience.

For about the past two years or so I tried to sell a Type 9 modified to bring the lever to the 4 speed position. The box was effectively "new" in that having been removed from the Ford assembly line for them to "play around" with the lever position it then ended up in their skip. It had never been fitted to any car. I converted it for my own use to replace the existing Type 9 in my own car which had begun to occasionally "growl" in 3rd when hot (entirely unrelated to the conversion I should add).

Had lots of initial enquiries but interest soon tailed off- variety of reasons probably- some were trying other conversions, some had spaceframe equipped cars to which the T9 won't fit others had their own motives for contacting me.

I did point out to all who enquired that compared with the commercially available Type9 kits mine would be about half the all-in cost (about £950 -1000) if done on a diy basis and didn't require much in the way of mechanical skills other than being able to remove/refit and engine and box and have a few items made up (prop etc).

I'm not complaining because as it turns out somebody did recognise the box as a very good deal and it's now sold. As a footnote- the person who actually designed the conversion to the box some 25 years ago (yes it really was done in 82/83) and who actually made and sold around twenty odd of these told me that these conversions would never sell in any great numbers simply because (his opinion) most elans are treated nowadays as weekend cars so lowish gearing is less of a problem for them.

So- if a proven conversion wouldn't sell easily (and one not requiring sandwich plates, specially cast bellhousings or the need to play about with positions of starters, clutch hydraulics I wouldn't expect too much from would-be customers.

Regards

John
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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:21 pm

John,
The short answer is yes, there is interest at least in the US. This is an active topic in our little group in New England. I just made the same enquiry to Bruce Couture of Modern Driveline (http://www.moderndriveline.com/). Modern Driveline sells a new T-5 with forward gear lever location that appears to be close to perfect for an Elan. There are a few other issues such as the input shaft diameter at the pilot bearing (new T-5 is 0.620", Cortina is 0.590"), an output sliding yoke with a suitable Cardan joint size, 5th gear ratio (0.73:1 is a bit steep) and probably others. I am trying to get a fairly well dimensioned drawing for the box in hopes of identifying interferences early. I worry about the size of the box because the new T-5s are rated for more than 300 ft-lb or about twice what we need. The attractions are that these gearboxes are still in production and are very reasonably priced.
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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:25 pm

John,
I realize I didn't answer all of your questions. Worzel's points are well taken but I'lll go out on a limb and say that an initial order of ten machined castings will be easily satisfied. The initial charge of 2500 USD for the pattern seems very reasonable to me. This is equivalent to one week of labor at 60 USD per hour. I doubt very much that 2500 USD would actually cover the full cost. Ensuring satisfaction involves a couple of things. One is that the group of initial buyers will need to settle on a specification that would include a dimensioned drawing. The specification will deal with issues such as incorporating features for the standard clutch actuation or will everyone be happy with the internal annular hydraulics. The second will be reference checks with similar buying groups. I'll be happy to help on all fronts.
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PostPost by: RotoFlexible » Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:29 pm

As a potential initial customer for the bellhousing, I have to say that $425 + $250 ($2500/10) seems like a big outlay. The trick is in finding a way to spread out the $2500 over a larger customer base, possibly over time. I would think that there would be a big market across the English Ford enthusiast community although non-Elan buyers would need to work out a different shift location arrangement. The availability and modifiability of the T-5 is a big plus (and the .73 5th would work fine with a 3.9 diff and a 1700cc Twincam :) )

A clean adaptation of the T-5 to an existing bellhousing, if possible, would be a much less expensive solution, I would think. It's easier to make a sandwich plate than a bellhousing.
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PostPost by: elansprint » Fri Jan 18, 2008 6:22 pm

I would think the physical size of the T5 will be an hurdle to fitment in the bacbone i have a T5 from a cosworth sitting on the garage floor it is big & heavy albeight strong. As for speedo been thinking about using a stepper motor to drive the speedo using sensor on prop or driveshaft
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PostPost by: elansprint » Fri Jan 18, 2008 6:22 pm

I would think the physical size of the T5 will be an hurdle to fitment in the bacbone i have a T5 from a cosworth sitting on the garage floor it is big & heavy albeight strong. As for speedo been thinking about using a stepper motor to drive the speedo using sensor on prop or driveshaft
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PostPost by: johnc » Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:27 pm

elansprint wrote:
I would think the physical size of the T5 will be an hurdle to fitment in the bacbone i have a T5 from a cosworth sitting on the garage floor it is big & heavy albeight strong. As for speedo been thinking about using a stepper motor to drive the speedo using sensor on prop or driveshaft


Based on the discussion under the thread "5 speed some more" my assumption is that a T5 with an S10 tailhousing will fit.

I have been thinking about using a stepper motor to drive the speedo as well. The circuitry should be straight forward and inexpense to implement. One could use either a variable reluctance or hall effect sensor for the pickup. Though the hall effect sensor would be a better choice if you wanted to keep open the option of adding auxiliary rally oriented features. Never the less, a mechanical solution should not be ignored.

RotoFlexible wrote:

A clean adaptation of the T-5 to an existing bellhousing, if possible, would be a much less expensive solution, I would think. It's easier to make a sandwich plate than a bellhousing.


Yes, but a sandwich (adapter) plate would move the gear shift rearward by the thinkness of the plate, and as I understand it the gear shift position of the T5/S10 by itself may be 3/4" rearward to begin with.
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:15 pm

johnc wrote:RotoFlexible wrote:

A clean adaptation of the T-5 to an existing bellhousing, if possible, would be a much less expensive solution, I would think. It's easier to make a sandwich plate than a bellhousing.


Yes, but a sandwich (adapter) plate would move the gear shift rearward by the thinkness of the plate, and as I understand it the gear shift position of the T5/S10 by itself may be 3/4" rearward to begin with.


but you could use the stock pressure plate and one of Keith's starters would fit nicely too. The clutch disk would need to be determined by which ever input spline and diameter, I think 8 1/2 inch is as large that will fit on the stock flywheel.
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PostPost by: msd1107 » Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:55 pm

I can remember getting confused between the T9 and T5 (They both start with T, don't they?)

But several people quickly reminded me of the error of my ways.

Whereas the T9 will fit in the Elan chassis (with the exception of the early Spyder space frames) and is only moderately heavier than the 4-speed, the T5 is an entirely different animal.

It is larger in all dimensions, and is almost twice the weight of the 4-speed.

With a reasonable amount of effort, and not so reasonable cost, a setup with Alan Voight's conversion with a BGH gearset would work well. Unfortunately, Alan seems to be having problems producing his tailhousing, so people have been waiting more than half a year for that particular solution.

As this thread indicates, unless some one is willing to provide a substantial amount of pro bono work, design, casting, and machining, and accept no profit margin, the economics of a 5-speed conversion for the apparently small market probably does not pencil out.

To illustrate, Mike Ostrov did a T9 conversion for the Elite. This was an easier conversion than for the Elan. While no one in the project made any money (except BGH), the cost probably would exclude a good number of those of us in the Elan group who are interested. But those who participated now have an exceeding nice 5-speed, and there are others who now regret not participating.

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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Fri Jan 18, 2008 9:46 pm

msd1107 wrote:It is larger in all dimensions, and is almost twice the weight of the 4-speed.


Tremec T-5 gearboxes weigh 75 lb without bellhousing and are somewhat heavier than the ENFO 4 speed gearboxes, but nothing like twice the weight. The length dimensions of the two gearboxes are nearly identical. I am not certain of differences in width and vertical dimensions but I am digging in to this. One of our members has installed a T-5 in an Elan, apparently needing to modify the chassis only to clear the speedometer drive. Tremec T-5s are still in production and are typically offered in the $1700 US range from a number of dealers. The T-5 seems to be an attractive approach. The T-5 conversion is in many respects much easier than for the T9. Everything needed to move the gear lever into a suitable location is off the shelf for the T-5.
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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Fri Jan 18, 2008 9:55 pm

I failed to mention that Tremec T-5 has a large range of gear sets including one with the following: 2.95:1, 1.94:1, 1.34:1, 1.00:1 and 0.82:1. The first four ratios compare well to the Lotus semi-close set. The fifth gear is arguably too tall.
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:05 pm

msd1107 wrote:I can remember getting confused between the T9 and T5 (They both start with T, don't they?)

But several people quickly reminded me of the error of my ways.

Whereas the T9 will fit in the Elan chassis (with the exception of the early Spyder space frames) and is only moderately heavier than the 4-speed, the T5 is an entirely different animal.

It is larger in all dimensions, and is almost twice the weight of the 4-speed.

With a reasonable amount of effort, and not so reasonable cost, a setup with Alan Voight's conversion with a BGH gearset would work well. Unfortunately, Alan seems to be having problems producing his tailhousing, so people have been waiting more than half a year for that particular solution.

As this thread indicates, unless some one is willing to provide a substantial amount of pro bono work, design, casting, and machining, and accept no profit margin, the economics of a 5-speed conversion for the apparently small market probably does not pencil out.

To illustrate, Mike Ostrov did a T9 conversion for the Elite. This was an easier conversion than for the Elan. While no one in the project made any money (except BGH), the cost probably would exclude a good number of those of us in the Elan group who are interested. But those who participated now have an exceeding nice 5-speed, and there are others who now regret not participating.

David
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I have hefted T5's T9's and elan 4speeds, I thinks there all heavy.
The 4 speed is close 70 lbs with the Iron bell, I think the T9 is around 85 and the t5 95 to 105. My bad memory aside, its not that much. The main reason to go withe the T5 is there available here in the U.S. and they have some good ratios available here in the U.S. The best you can do is the merkur box and that will need a lot of work. Or you could send $4k to Alan, then you need some decent ratios for another $2000 to 3000. That aint ever going to happen. A $250 (or what ever it is) adapter plate and the appropreate companion flange adapted to the Elan propellor shaft and some form of off the shelf concentric bearing. This is something that an Elan owner can and would (well maybe, possibly) be willing to pay for. It would be best if that person didn't have to pay all at once and could source the parts as they needed to get them, locally where possible.

Just a few thoughts...

ps I don't like the shift action on a t5 but my old 5.0 Mustang that I had was just a $2500 commuter rat.
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PostPost by: worzel » Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:12 am

Hi again

Fascinating discussion.

Just a couple of points-

You'll probably find that 0.82 for 5th might even be slightly low!. I've a Type 9 in a std spec sprint with a 5th gear speed of 22.7 mph/1000 revs. Occasionally I find myself looking for 6th- honestly- so much so that later this year I'm going to do a further mod to change 5th to 0.75 to give 24.9 mph/1000 revs. It's only possible to do this on Type 9 boxes sourced from 2.8 engined cars unfortunately.

I don't know anything about T5 boxes but I do know that converting a Type 9 is not as difficult as first appears- nor is it unduly expensive. Mine cost £400 to fully alter (admittedly 9 years ago) but one I recently did only cost £300 in machining costs. In fact there are as far as I know 3 ways to shift the lever-

The simplest (easiest) is the one in my car. I didn't alter this one, it was done for me by the person who first designed the conversion in 1982. His car was altered in early 1983 and has never given any problems. Might not suit a lot of owners though because the lever is not quite where the 4 speed is- the exact position is achieved by means of a short extension to the lever- think of the rubber bushed metal sleeve designed to reduce "fizz" on the 4 speed box which locates the lever behind the "true" position to avoid it contacting the dash panel. This short extension works similarly.

The other 2 conversions involve a lot more machining since relocating the lever in exactly the same spot as the 4 speed means you are putting components where they were not designed to go. - the first requires that a new one-off 5th gear selector fork is cast since this is now required to operate 180 degrees around. This is the conversion I recently carried out. Lots of assembly/disassembly to ensure everything works without jamming.

The 3rd (and probably the best from an engineering point of view) takes it a stage further. In the main casing of the box the 1st 4 ratios are "controlled" (if that's the correct expression) by a "D" washer with suitable projections on the selector shaft. 5th has its own "D" washer. Here's the clever bit- by attaching an extension to the std 5th selector fork and running this thru an appropriate part of the casing this extension (which is attached to the fork via grub screws) meets the "D" washer in the main casing. The beauty of this is that now the gearlever doesn't intrude onto any component in its new location and the std 5th selector fork (albeit modified) is retained. It's a very elegant solution. Cost- well the guy who showed me the working box reckoned the machining should not be more than £300 tops plus around £50 for the alloy welding so it's cost-effective.

As for ratios- this seems to be a moot point- originally when I had the 4 speed box in my car this had a 2.97 1st. Currently the 5 speed I use has a 3.35 1st. Translating the numbers with 1737mm rolling circumference tyres (155/80/13) using a 3.55 diff the 2.97 would give 6.142 mph/1000 revs. 3.35 gives 5.445 mph. Not much of a difference there (.697 mph) so at 6500 revs this would equate to 4.4 mph difference. How many owners HABITUALLY use all the revs on take off?

In practice hill starts now are less effort and in any case the changes to the intermediates offset this lowered gearing- 2nd in mine at a theoretical 6500 revs runs out at 66 mph, 3rd gives 92 mph. The light weight of the elan masks the gearing differences anyway.

Hope this gives food for thought.

Regards

John
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:29 pm

worzel wrote:Hi again

Fascinating discussion.

Just a couple of points-

You'll probably find that 0.82 for 5th might even be slightly low!. I've a Type 9 in a std spec sprint with a 5th gear speed of 22.7 mph/1000 revs. Occasionally I find myself looking for 6th- honestly- so much so that later this year I'm going to do a further mod to change 5th to 0.75 to give 24.9 mph/1000 revs. It's only possible to do this on Type 9 boxes sourced from 2.8 engined cars unfortunately.

I don't know anything about T5 boxes but I do know that converting a Type 9 is not as difficult as first appears- nor is it unduly expensive. Mine cost £400 to fully alter (admittedly 9 years ago) but one I recently did only cost £300 in machining costs. In fact there are as far as I know 3 ways to shift the lever-

The simplest (easiest) is the one in my car. I didn't alter this one, it was done for me by the person who first designed the conversion in 1982. His car was altered in early 1983 and has never given any problems. Might not suit a lot of owners though because the lever is not quite where the 4 speed is- the exact position is achieved by means of a short extension to the lever- think of the rubber bushed metal sleeve designed to reduce "fizz" on the 4 speed box which locates the lever behind the "true" position to avoid it contacting the dash panel. This short extension works similarly.

The other 2 conversions involve a lot more machining since relocating the lever in exactly the same spot as the 4 speed means you are putting components where they were not designed to go. - the first requires that a new one-off 5th gear selector fork is cast since this is now required to operate 180 degrees around. This is the conversion I recently carried out. Lots of assembly/disassembly to ensure everything works without jamming.

The 3rd (and probably the best from an engineering point of view) takes it a stage further. In the main casing of the box the 1st 4 ratios are "controlled" (if that's the correct expression) by a "D" washer with suitable projections on the selector shaft. 5th has its own "D" washer. Here's the clever bit- by attaching an extension to the std 5th selector fork and running this thru an appropriate part of the casing this extension (which is attached to the fork via grub screws) meets the "D" washer in the main casing. The beauty of this is that now the gearlever doesn't intrude onto any component in its new location and the std 5th selector fork (albeit modified) is retained. It's a very elegant solution. Cost- well the guy who showed me the working box reckoned the machining should not be more than £300 tops plus around £50 for the alloy welding so it's cost-effective.

As for ratios- this seems to be a moot point- originally when I had the 4 speed box in my car this had a 2.97 1st. Currently the 5 speed I use has a 3.35 1st. Translating the numbers with 1737mm rolling circumference tyres (155/80/13) using a 3.55 diff the 2.97 would give 6.142 mph/1000 revs. 3.35 gives 5.445 mph. Not much of a difference there (.697 mph) so at 6500 revs this would equate to 4.4 mph difference. How many owners HABITUALLY use all the revs on take off?

In practice hill starts now are less effort and in any case the changes to the intermediates offset this lowered gearing- 2nd in mine at a theoretical 6500 revs runs out at 66 mph, 3rd gives 92 mph. The light weight of the elan masks the gearing differences anyway.

Hope this gives food for thought.

Regards

John


Hi John

The T9 makes for a very nice conversion. I think the point is that the folks in the U.S. only got the T9 in a Merkur with a turbo 2.3 litre. This had a rated torque that was near that of the 5.0 mustang. Most T9's have been beaten pretty hard over their life span. This is the pool of T9's that we have to work with and the merkur wasn't that big of a seller over here.
It makes little sence to start with a box that has limited availablity here. Now 5.0 mustang and Cameros all had T5's as standard, get the idea yet...

Gary
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