Lotus Elan

Elan S4 being awakened after 35 year slumber.

PostPost by: innesw » Fri Oct 04, 2019 1:02 pm

Great work,

Can't say I'm not a little jealous, sometimes I feel I rushed through the resto on my JPS but then I have the car to use now but like you mentioned before I'm a little nervous to use it in anger or pop down the shops as it's so perfect!

You never know sometime I may get my hands on another project

Keep the pictures coming and keep spannering

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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sat Oct 05, 2019 2:39 pm

Once you get the bug for restoration Innes you have it for life!

I’ve mainly restored complete wrecks, where there’s been no option but to do the whole car down to the last nut and bolt. But I’ve done a couple recently that needed some areas needing complete restoration whilst other bits just wanted a bit of tlc to complement the ‘new’ bits. I did that with an Escort Mexico recently which was rust-free but had poor paint, and all the mechanical parts were tatty and needed some renovation. The interior was completely untouched, along with quite a few other areas, and the result is a very pleasing original looking car in superb condition with a bit of patina!

I am in the middle of another project right now, a car that I rescued from Zimbabwe. That was pretty much a scrap car sitting on bricks out there, so you can imagine that it was very, very tired….to say the least. I was holding off on starting the Elan as I was expecting the restoration of the bodyshell for the Zimbabwe car to be finished by summer, but with delays looking like it wouldn’t be completed until Christmas, I thought the Elan could fit in nicely, as it ‘only’ needed a mechanical renovation.

The day I separated the body from the chassis on the Elan I heard that work had continued on a pace with the Zimbabwe car and the shell would be ready in 4 weeks! Oh well, I like to be busy.

The Elan chassis is now stripped and all the parts laid bare. The only difficulty was getting the differential out. Not the normal problem of persuading it out of the chassis; that went pretty well. The problem I had was the long mounting bolts that go through the aluminium differential housing were frozen in solid, showing yet again that steel bolts in aluminium, probably sitting untouched for 50 years, is not a good idea. But with lots of heat and penetrating oil, and small movement back and forth, they came out. One took just over an hour!

Next thing to do is to clean everything, and then strip the engine to see what needs doing on that. And take some better photos!

The last photo shows the S4 and Mexico, taken about 10 years ago before the Mex was restored.
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PostPost by: jbeach » Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:09 pm

Hi Mark,

Really enjoying participating vicariously in your worthy project. When I replaced my rear suspension lotocones, I had the same concerns as you. The bolt heads are half the standard thickness. You feel like you have only one chance, and you don’t want to blow it.

Fortunately, my bolt were previously untouched, and with no rust. also helpful, the bold heads are cut fairly flat, with very little “shoulder“, so if you can get a positive connection with a socket, it’s all fine.

I got an old socket (1/2” or 9/16”, I can’t remember) and ground it down to completely eliminate the “dimple” originally machined into the socket opening to make it more easily “find” the bolt head. This gave me the maximum contact area, yielding the best “grip” possible.

Once I did that, the bolts came right out, slick as a whistle.

If I had some rusted threads, I would consider machining the socket as described above, but using an impact wrench on a mild setting.

Either way, you should have absolutely no trouble getting these bolts out.

Keep us posted!!

-John
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PostPost by: trw99 » Sat Oct 05, 2019 7:08 pm

Always, always keep bailer twine in the tool box, Mark!

Tim
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:31 pm

Thanks John, I will try out your suggestions after the bolts have soaked a bit longer.

Tim, how else could you tie the anti-bump-steer shims to the steering rack other than with bailing twine?!

Last winter I was re-building the Twincam in my Lotus Cortina, along with my chum John. He used to have the local garage, but sold it last year so now spends a day or two a week here having fun with old Loti and Fords from the 1960s.

We were putting the engine back in the car in January, when it was around 4 degrees C outside. There are no lights in that garage, which is just a lean-to on the back of a barn, so with the doors open for light, we were beavering away in the engine bay fitting up various ancillaries. We both became aware at the same time that it was getting warmer where we were working, and there was some heavy breathing going one. Looking behind us, back towards the open doors, around 30 sheep had wedged themselves in with us as it had started to rain. They were happy, and just sat down and watched us working until the rain stopped.

I think it was at that point that John, a Forest man all his life, accepted that after 20 years I really did fit into the forest culture and way of doing things!
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Sun Oct 06, 2019 12:05 am

Wouldn’t want one of those getting horny with you!
Steve

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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sun Oct 06, 2019 6:15 am

The girls are very peaceful Steve, it's the blokes who are super-aggressive. Carol takes the rams to shows on a halter, holding on to one horn all the time. They can and do get very nasty, and then inflict a lot of damage!
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:55 pm

I cleaned off the 3 main sub-assemblies today, and they are looking very good. No damage to any of the castings, and even the nuts and bolts are in very good nick with no rounding off. The car has either been very well looked after, or has been untouched!

The gearbox is, as expected, painted in the dark green colour with black bell housing. But I was surprised to see the differential 'nose' (the cast iron bit) has traces of dark green as well. I always thought they were satin black, with the aluminium part unpainted. I doubt very much that the differential has ever been out given how stuck the mounting bolts were in the aluminium lugs. Anybody else come across the cast iron bit being green?

I think the car was built as a kit as there is no engine number recorded for the car, but it's in the range for a Jan 1970 car, and the block was cast in November 1969, which is spot-on. It's a strange blue-grey colour, but that will soon be gone.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll strip the engine and all will be revealed.

Mark
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:07 pm

John (jbeach). I tried your trick today of grinding down a 9/16 socket as the normal sockets just wouldn't touch those half headed Lotocone bolts. It worked a treat, and all four came out without a problem.

Thanks very much for the suggestion.

Mark
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PostPost by: jbeach » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:14 pm

I'm delighted, Mark! I cannot tell you how many times I've benefited from information I have learned from the members of this forum. It really makes me feel good to know I have actually contributed to another member's success. Thanks for taking the time to let me know. You made my day!!
Keep us informed as your progress with this project. I like your restoration "ethos."
-John
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:53 pm

The short engine came apart nice and easily with no horrors uncovered. As the head had restored so well just by a light grind of the valves and new cam bearings, I was hoping that the short motor would be the same…..new rings, a hone, new bearing shells, a timing chain and a water pump. It would be running next week!

Not to be though. It’s on the edge of being a bit tired, with just too big a gap in the compression rings when they are sat in the bores, and the bearing shells have a fair bit of wear. The bores look great with no discernable lip, and the crank journals, whilst marked, would probably polish. But I don’t think it would perform as well as it could.

So it’s going in for a chemical clean, re-bore, crank grind, full balance of everything that moves, facing where needed and new pistons, bearings etc. I built a Ford crossflow engine a few months ago and had it balanced, There was something like 24 grams difference between the heaviest and lightest conrod, where the maximum is meant to be 5 grams or so. There is now less than 0.25 grams between the heaviest and the lightest with pistons fitted! That makes the difference between a rough running engine, which usually shows up at cruising speed around 4000 rpm, and something super-smooth.

I’ve just found a company who will blast and paint the original chassis, along with all the other bits and pieces, so that lot will be going off to them next week.
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PostPost by: innesw » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:38 am

Interesting to hear your analysis of the short motor.
I inherited a spare L block with crankshaft when I bought the JPS, any recommendation for storing them long term?
The crankshaft is still insitu and they are just covered light oil and bagged up. Would you recommend I separate them?

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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:49 pm

I would separate them Innes. One of my Plus 2 project cars came with a spare engine that had been machined, with new pistons and bearings etc. still in their boxes. The engine was completely apart. The work was done in the late 1980s, and I unwrapped everything last year to build the engine up for my Lotus Cortina, and it was all in perfect condition after 30 years stored!

He had greased the bores, lightly oiled the inside of the block, made a small cover for the top of the block out of ply then taped that to the block with gaffer tape. The main bearing caps were put back in sutu, and the sump replaced, with the openings for the crank taped up, again with gaffer tape.

The crank and rods were separated, heavily oiled and wrapped in cling film (a lot!) and than wrapped in a plastic bag. Same for the rest of the components.

Being apart means everything is a bit more manageable for moving, and can be better protected.

Mark
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sat Nov 30, 2019 12:30 pm

I was excited to see the original chassis still on the car when I lifted the body off, but on closer inspection (putting glasses on and having a knowledgeable friend look at it!) it was obvious it had been repaired in the usual place. So the option was to take it somewhere to get the geometry checked out, probably re-do the repairs and get it blasted and painted, or to use the new chassis I already had. No contest really, but I am keeping the original….just in case!

The front suspension and steering has been rebuilt and fitted to the new chassis. What a fight it was getting the ARB drop arm to fit and work properly! A combination of after-market rubber bushes and too much powder coating on the ARB meant that as soon as the arms were in a position, they just froze there. The powder coating was removed from the area where the bushes would sit in operation, and it’s all fine now.

The detail build of the new chassis is very poor, and everything has had to be fettled to make things fit / work properly.

The first thing I offered up was the steering rack, and the mounting holes in the chassis were 6 mms too wide apart.

The ARB drop arm locating ‘tabs’ on the chassis are 7 mms too wide, so the gap had to be packed out to make them fit.

The handbrake cable doesn’t have a captive nut on the chassis so has to have double nuts to make it secure and adjustable. The gap at the rear for it to poke though was also non-existent so that had to be made.

There were no captive studs on the chassis for the differential torque rod to be fastened to, and with a bolt fitted, there is about 4 mms too little clearance between the bolt and the chassis flange for the rod to fit. So the chassis flange had to be ‘relieved’ with use of a hammer.

The captive nuts on the chassis to secure the differential mounts are 2 mms too wide apart so the mount holes have to be filed out to fit the bolts.

The chassis has been stored in a dry barn for 5 years, and it is starting to rust at the edges of the metal where it wasn’t painted properly.

All in all, not very impressive!

But the mechanical bits and pieces are coming on well. The engine block, crank, rods etc. are down with Maynards in Stroud for machining and balancing, and should be back in 2 weeks. The head is all done, so in the new year I can have a bit of fun rebuilding that lot.

The gearbox was stripped and is in fine fettle, just requiring new gaskets and seals, and painting back in its original green and black.

The differential was stripped and looks superb. The output shafts had new bearings (they really must have been very noisy!) and new seals were fitted, and it was re-painted back in its green colour.

The rear struts are a bit poorly! The spring platform on one is quite rusty with holes where they shouldn’t be, the bearings are shot, and one bearing housing has been welded where a Rotoflex has let go at some point.

I have the bearings really to fit, but I also have a spare pair of struts in perfect condition, unfortunately from a Plus 2. The plan is to swap over the Elan shafts and hubs with the Plus 2 ones, with new bearings, and the job’s done properly, So far I have got the hubs off with a bit of heat and not too much struggle, but getting the shafts out with the bearings is going to take a bit of thinking about, and, I suspect, a lot of heat!

In his book Mr Buckland suggests putting the strut in the oven and getting it hot hot hot, then banging out the shaft. I think I will wait until after Christmas as I don’t want the turkey tasting of axle grease!
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