Lotus Elan

Why restore an Elan

PostPost by: Jens » Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:09 am

When I see all of this my Elan, wich is in need of some TLC as well, just seems to be a pretty ok one!
"Make the suspension adjustable and they will adjust it wrong - look at what they can do to a Weber carburetor in just a few moments of stupidity with a screwdriver..." (CABC)

My one problem is that distance keeps me from my Elan. (36/5395)
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PostPost by: Jens » Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:48 am

Having said the above, maybe I should consider posting a few pictures!

EDIT: Pictures posted....

Image
Interior...

Image
Britains finest

Image
Sideshot

Image
Awaiting another long sleep

Image
Almost original wheels.....

Image
Bedtime behind the lawnmower
"Make the suspension adjustable and they will adjust it wrong - look at what they can do to a Weber carburetor in just a few moments of stupidity with a screwdriver..." (CABC)

My one problem is that distance keeps me from my Elan. (36/5395)
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PostPost by: Famous Frank » Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:09 pm

Jens, what a great looking coupe! Those pics want me to leave the office early and get working on my car. Although you need to straighten out that front number plate, it's driving me crazy. Such a straight car with a crooked plate!

Anyway, with all the discussions going on, I've been working every evening on mine. After cutting the nose off, I dug out the fiberglass around the lattice work on both sides, I may have said this already but in 76 when the body work was done, it appears they never welded the lattice work back together. They just sort of layed it in place and fiberglased it in. And hid the three areas where they cut the lattive work out..

As you know, I'm still looking for a L/side foot pedal assembly. I've decided not to use the one that vame out. After careful examination, not only is the bracket broke and the accelerator pedal cracked in two places (cracks 1 inch long) but the bushings are shot and it's bent to boot. The car must have taken a good hit. I sure would like to talk to the person who owned backed then.

I media blasted the cut lattice work and repainted it a stainless steel gray. I did not paint the ends as they need to be clean for welding. My buddy at the body shop is an expert TIG welder, so we'll probably do that before fitting the two halves together.

Greg and and I did bring the two halves to the body shop last Saturday. I told them I bring them a roller chassis this week, so i am working on that every night. Greg and I pulled the frame down from storage. I spent the good part of 5 hours chasing every thread. Between the sandblasting of the frame, the powder coating and then another coat of flat red to make it look more like it did when it left the factory, there was plenty of stuff to remove fromthe threads and from the front control arm mounts.

I've temporarily mounted the newly built front steering rack. Bump steer has not yet been set. More questions will be forthcoming regarding that. No shims came off the car when we took it apart. And as the rack was bent pretty bad, I can assume whoever did this fine previous crash repair never put the rack shims back in either.

Last night i started to assemble the front suspension. Replaced the trunnions, all new bushings in the blasted and powder coated front control arms. (Replaced two that were bent). Installed new wheelbearings, ball joints, and tie rod ends. Why do new trunion kit not come with the rubber cap that keeps the grease from coming out the top? Now I have to buy those too. Luckily, this is just a test fitting of all the parts and getting a roller chassis ready for the body shop for when we start to fit the two halves.

Another small problem cropped up. As I went to fit the new Lotocones, they wouldn't fit the openings due to the extra gusseting that was welded in to strengthen the rear uprights. I'll have to shave a small amount from the outside edge of the Lotocones and elongate the bolt holes. One other problem is the top cups that locate the rear springs will also have to be narrowed.

Finally, I make what seams like my weekly trip to "Threads for the South". A local company that supplies all sorts of threaded products. I couldn't find the few body to frame bolts I removed when taking off the body. Some were the wrong thread, some where missing along with one where the bobbin was missing also. Again due to the accident damage in 76. So a trip to Threads for the South gave me all new grade 8 bolts for the body to frame mounting. 16 total but I purchased double what I needed so I'd have them when needed when i start on the 26R. Also picked up the narrow nylocs for the front control arms. And also picked up standard nuts for the control arms, ball joints, and tie rod ends so i would be tightening and untightening the new nylocs numerous times. I'll save those for the final assembly.

Tonights job,..........finish the Lotocone installation, install the rear suspension and finish the front suspension assembly. With luck I can get the rolling chassis to the body shop tomorrow or Thursday. Then the real fun will begin!!!!
Attachments
Body halves on trailer.JPG and
Off to the body shop
Body halves at Legacy.jpg and
I must make sure to emphasize this is NOT going to be a future limo.
Elan rear spring cenering device.jpg and
Although i welded in these cups to locate the small diameter springs, these will now have to be cut down as they interfere with the rear upright 26R type of gusseting.
Frame frt with rack.jpg and
New steering rack test fitted. Bump steer still to come.
Lattice work cut and clean.jpg and
Lattice cleaned and painted, ready to be welded back together
Inside of frame.jpg and
Inside of frame with some of 26R type of gusseting.
L frt frame after repairs.jpg and
Left front after repairs
L frt test fit assembled.jpg and
Left front test fitting
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PostPost by: billwill » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:41 pm

Interesting front turrets you have there.
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PostPost by: Famous Frank » Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:35 pm

Bill, do you like those front turretts? Enclosing the front turretts is only one of the many 26R type of upgrades I had done when we fixed the frame. Once mounted under the body, very few of the mods will ever be seen.

Things are moving quickly ..........for a pleasant change! Last weekend I was able to transport the front and rear body halves to the body shop I am going to use to meld the two halves and most likely to do the final paint when that day comes. It's called Legacy Auto Body in Woodstock, Georga. Partly owned by a friend of mine named Greg Moore (another Greg to get mixed in with the build) and only opened for 6 months. Greg has been in the collision business for over 20 years and has always wanted his own shop. He works on some pretty high end cars but putting two halves of a Lotus together would not hurt their reputation. He has always been very fair with me and I've always been impressed with his work.

As the body shop now has the body halves, I've been under the gun this week to make the chassis a roller so the body shop can also use the frame as a locating device to meld the halves. I got the bent steering rack replaced. The is or now I should was a shop in Decatur, Georgia called Atlanta Auto. For many years they have sold new English spares and had a goodly amount of used parts from dismantling English wrecks. Also in the rear of the shop is a race car builder / fabricator named Bob. Don't know his last name, ..........maybe George does as he has made use of Bob's skills in the past also. Anyway, Bob helped me by fabbing up some of the nicest sway bar mounts I
have ever seen. Bob has forgotten more than I will ever know when it comes to vintage cars. So I asked Bob if he could take apart my steering rack, get rid of all the 40 year old grease, etc and make sure everything was OK. That's when we found the rack was badly bent. Luckily Bob was able to get a good used Spitfire rack from Atlanta Auto at the front of the building and combine the Lotus specific parts to make a bueatiful correct rack for my car. I had the arduous task of installing the rack and the new tie rod ends.

I assembled the front suspension loosely using regular nuts instead of the new locking nuts as I'll be taking it all apart again later after the body is ready. All the suspension parts have been media blasted and powder coated. I blasted and painted all the exisiting nuts and bolts but they still don't look like new CAD Plated grade 8 bolts, so I bit the bullet and bought all new nuts and bolts for the entire suspension.

Then last week when I picked up the rack from "Bob", I noticed Atlanta Auto had 55 gallon barrels of calipers. I asked if I could go through them and try to find some GT6 calipers. The owner said he had a guy coming from North Caroliner to look at buying all their used parts and if I wanted to look thru them I had better do it quickly. Then last week we a bad snow storm and I gave them a call. No one answered the phone. I looked at the web site to make sure I was calling the correct number and noticed the web page said it is no longer being supported as of January 12. This seemed odd and for some reason, I had an urgent feeling to look through those barrels of calipers.
The other day I realized I still need those rubber seal that go on top of the Trunnions so I thought it would be prudent to go to Atlanta Auto, pcik up the rubber seals and look for Calipers. Greg and I went last Thursday only to find the doors locked. We went around the back where "Bob" is located and were able to gain access to Atlanta Auto from the back. We met with the owner and he said he has closed the doors for good and is going through Bankruptcy. I nearly begged to go thru the barrels. He said go for it. I had brought grubby clothes, gloves, flashlights, etc as it's a dark, dirty, gloomy place. Not only was I able to find a pair of GT6 calipers but also some backing plates, and caliper mounts. Greg and I will be sad to see the place go. Luckily, "Bob" said he is fine and staying put. Bob has a enigne dyno (which George recently used with some very impressive numbers) and a transmission tester. We talked and soon I'll be taking my rebuilt trans to him to test it before I put it in the car (if I use it as I am a 5 speed bigot and would like to use a T5 if possible). And I'd like to use his dyno just run my engine and make sure it doesn't leak or anything. Although I have the orginal motor, I'm going t ojust keep it to the side. Fifteen years ago, I built up a small 1715 cc stroker. It made close to 150 hp and almost the same amount of torque. (Gary, that's when I had money) It should make for a fun street car. It's been sitting in my basement ever since. I just want to make sure all the seals, carbs, etc are good.

I also assembled the rear suspension, again just a little tighter than finger tight. Friday night I had to make a last minute modifation to the rear spring top hats I had welded metal in to properly locate them on the smaller diameter rear springs. It turned out the top hats interferred with the triangular shaped metal I welded into the rear shock towers (part of those 26R mods) so I had to quickly cut off the outer portion of the top hats to fit within the shock towers. I'll make new ones later that will look much better that what I have now.

I was able to get the rolling chassis to the body shop late Friday afternoon. It's in their hands now. This weekend I'll work on cleaning up the garage and will be watching the Barrett Jackson Auction at the same time with the TV in the garage. I can't wait to get the body and chassis back !!!

Now does anyone know of a great place to have Calipers rebuilt?
Attachments
Chassis assbled L side.jpg and
Chassis going to Legacy
Chassis assbled front 2.jpg and
Front steering rack
Chassis assbled front to rear.jpg and
Another rear view
Chassis assbled rear.jpg and
Rear of chassis going to Legacy
Chassis at Legacy R side shell in background.jpg and
Chassis at Legacy with shell in background
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PostPost by: Famous Frank » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:41 pm

Jens, I agree whole heartily! Your car is gorgous! I love the look of the coupe and yours is wonderful.

There are days I really miss having one done and ready to enjoy. But I must admit, there is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when you take something that's messed up and bring it back to perfection. Also, when the weather is bad, it's lots of fun to go in the garage and start to restore another part. There are many times, I actually believe I enjoy the restoration as much or more than the driving. Although this most recent project is the biggest i've ever taken on.
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PostPost by: Greg Foster » Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:09 am

Frank,
Looking at the pictures of the upper spring and shock mount, it seems the hole was wallowed out. It should have a "D" shape to lock the shock in position... Am I wrong in viewing this?
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:37 am

Great updates and pics frank. Looking good. Can't believe the progress you are making! Keep it coming.
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PostPost by: Jens » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:06 am

Frank,

Thanks! I am really enjoying the pictures you are uploading as it gives me an idea of what an enormous amount of work I have in front of me.
Seems like a great job you are doing!
"Make the suspension adjustable and they will adjust it wrong - look at what they can do to a Weber carburetor in just a few moments of stupidity with a screwdriver..." (CABC)

My one problem is that distance keeps me from my Elan. (36/5395)
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PostPost by: Famous Frank » Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:15 pm

Greg, ..........GOOD EYS !!!! The hole in the spring top hat or whatever you call that part was wollowed out. I fixed them by welding a bead on the inside of the hole and used a half round file and a flat file to give a perfect fit to tops of the Koni Shocks. Now I'll have to weld up the outside where I recently cut out a 1/2 ring in the perimeter to allow them to fit under the frame where I guessetted the tops of the rear uprights. Welders are expensive tools but they allow you to do so much. it doesn't take long for them to pay for themselves.

I have just tried for the first time in my life to draw lines on a photo of where I recently cut off the perimeter. I think it worked. And I cut it almost as good as the crooked lines show in the photo. A bench grinder repairs all kinds of sins. And it's amazing how restoring a Lotus improves your PC skills!

Frank
Attachments
Elan rear spring cenering device cut lines.jpg and
Blue line descibes where I had to remove the outer perimeter of the spring retianer.
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PostPost by: zog » Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:36 pm

Glad to see you are really making some progress on your project Frank!

As to your coment regarding rebuilding calipers. You should be able to do that yourself. RD has all the parts. You start by sandblasting the whole thing to get all the crust off. Getting the pistons out is the hardest part. They usually pop out with 120 lbs of air pressure in the bleeder hole, making sure to have a piece of wood inbetween them and a big rag over the whole thing. If the air does not work then a grease gun will do it but it makes a big greasy mess. Call me and I can go through the rest of the messy details.....
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PostPost by: Famous Frank » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:02 am

Bob, Thanks for the thoughts regarding the calipers. I do know how to rebuild them and have performed that activity in past. But I want them red or maybe silver or gold. Probably Red! Powder coating is one thought but there are other coatings that are much thinner than powder coating and are considered better for calipers. That's what I'm going to look into.

On another subject Bob, I heard you were considering a 5 speed. Did you buy one or are you considering one? A T5 or a T9?

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PostPost by: Famous Frank » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:31 am

The excitement is overwhelming! I stopped in the body shop today as they were about to start working on joining the two halves. It's magnificent! So far so good.

First, the Lattice work got welded back together and looks great! Second, they trimmed more of the NOS front clip and more of the original rear clip portion. I had left a generous overlap when I cut the front off. My thoughts were it's easier to cut off than to add on. There was also more cutting in the rocker areas. This was not just one cut. It was numerous cuttings and shaving with still more to do, but it's coming along nicely. These guys truly know what they are doing.

Keith, the expert doing much of the work spent the last couple of years with the team of people building the winning Riddler Award car. For those in other parts of the world, here in the states, the most prestigous Street Rod Show is called "The Riddler Award"! Usually the winning cars (different classes) take years to build and may cost in excess of $1M dollars!!!! More importantly, the builders usually possess extreme fabrication skills as man of the parts are hand made one off peices. Keith has many of the these skills. It's wonderful to see someone look at the parts numerous times, thinking, deciding cause and affect, before any cutting / grinding takes place.

It is amazing how much load the lattice work provides. The two halves were fitted but not bonded at all. There has not been any fiberglass bonding done yet at all, .........yet with the front half positioned over latice work, the entire body was able to be lifted onto the frame. Again, there is NOTHING bonded together at this point. It's almost like well fitting building blocks that snap together without glue.

I cannot thank Ross Robbins from this forum, enough, for selling me this front clip a couple of years ago. It is truly a God send! Thank you Ross!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you. It's going to a good home.

We were able to get 8 of the sixteen body bolts in without much trouble at all. Door fitting will be tested before we actually do any bonding. Here are some recent pics.
Attachments
Rewelded Lattice 2  better.jpg and
The lattice work is looking much better now that its welded back together again. Nice looking welds.
R Frt test fit to body.jpg and
Body to rack clearance.jpg and
Body to steering rack clearance.
Body seat belt hole to frame.jpg and
Holes are nearly lining up perfectly.
Trial fitting the body halves Floor.jpg and
Center seam looks good. Amazingly, the repair work in 1976 produced at least 13 seams where as this repair will have one!
Trial fitting the body halves L Seat.jpg and
The new seam area. The old part looks narrower because the bondo fell off from the previous repair. This will need to be built up.
ElanS2 botched repair 1024 size.jpg and
Remember, this is what the rocker and floor use to look like before i took this car apart.
Trial fitting the body halves L Rocker.jpg and
The rockers already look better than when I bought it.
Trial fitting the body halves 2.jpg and
What a great feeling to see the two halves going together.
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PostPost by: RedS4 » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:18 am

I want them red or maybe silver or gold. Probably Red! Powder coating is one thought but there are other coatings that are much thinner than powder coating and are considered better for calipers. That's what I'm going to look into.



There is a number of quality high-temperature "caliper paints" on the market you might want to look at - I have used a silver one on my calipers and they look great (I'll post some pics next time I take a wheel off). 8)

This build is going to be well worth following - well done so far Frank!! :)
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PostPost by: Famous Frank » Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:50 am

Evan, I've seen some of those caliper paints. Always was concerned that the paint may be too thick to allow proper heat dispation. Originally I was thinking of some sort of electronic coating. Something durable, not affected chemicals or brake fluid. Have you ever spilled brake fluid or sprayed brake cleaner on your painted calipers? Did the paint come off? Or does it still look good?

Bob, and Even, thanks for the thoughts. I believe you both have me thinking of rebuilding and painting them myself. It will fun and will save a bundle of $$$.

Also, it was brought up earlier the rear spring caps no longer showed their "D" shape. And I mentioned I had to cut the perimeter to fit under the frame gussetting mods. I've included a picture below. I'm trying to include pictures as I have problems understanding what someone is is trying to describe and a pictue is worth a thousand words. In my case, .....maybe 5000.
Attachments
Spring tops cut.jpg and
Perimeter of spring caps cut off
Spring tops cut installed.jpg and
Trial fit of body over rear suspension
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