Lotus Elan

Mods you have done - Hits winners, misses and loosers

PostPost by: garyeanderson » Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:10 pm

Its supposed to be hot today here in Scituate, Upper 90's and a bit humid too. Yea, on a roll , not much to do when its hot then to let out a little air. So here is the question: What Mods would you do AGAIN and what things were an utter waste of time and all but ruined what you where after.

So here is my list, not in any order.

Starter - nippondenso of what ever flavor you wish

Single circuit brake system NO booster, either 5/8 or .700 inch master lf14 front calipers

Electric fuel pump or Anna's suggestion is a outboard motor priming bulb in the boot between the tank and fuel line.

Stock springs and a big front sway bar 7/8 inch or so.

Europa u-joint on steering column

Hard clamp steering rack mounts

Near stock interior or none - dashes are open to any veneer.

Generators or alternators don't seem to matter much but with a alternator I run a garden tractor battery. I'm not sure that I would with a generator, The bonus with the generator is if the battery is dead flat you can push start the Elan and still make it home by dark.

Flairs are a case by case thing for me, the color and everything else have to be right for them to NOT be uggggly.

Access holes, not a big fan of them myself. 45/8221 had a access hole drilled for access to the diff filler plug, it was just large enough for a socket and plug to fit through. Said socket was slid in with the patented piss-ant Double plastic baggy stretched loosely across the the opening of the socket and inserted through the hole and when the plug was loose it was extracted with the socket. There was a grommet to keep the water out of the boot too, the grommet was out of a Triumph GT6.
I have a ford ratcheting box wrench that fits the filler plug now and it makes access from the left side with the wheel off good enough that I don't put hole in fiberglass anymore. Besides they are to hard to fix.

The next set of tires that will replace the 175/50 x 13 will be more like a straight 165 x 13 in what ever commuter tire I can find thats cheap, I would like to let the 3.55 diff do more than get me back to stock revs at 60 mph, 19 mile per thousand revs would be nice!

There are more of both kinds of mods that I missed but maybe someone will offer their list of hits and misses.
Last edited by Guest on Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: memini55 » Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:12 pm

Welcome to the heat and some humdity, if you really miss it come to the midwest as we are again over 100 with the heat index. We are to get rain tomorrow which will either cool it some or may make it even worse by just adding more humidity. Oh sorry this was on mods wasn't it!

I would add cv half axles as the roto's are getting harder to find good ones that hold up well and I am getting too old to continually change them.

Now don't shake your head on this one, but I really like the fuel injection system conversion and will do a second one this winter on the next project finish. You toss out the carbs, coil and dissy. With the ecu you add a number of features as well, cold start, variable warm up enrichment, fuel pump control and cut out, knock sensor and some other stuff.

Would also agree with most of your list so keep it going!

Mark
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PostPost by: prezoom » Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:44 pm

When I converted my system from a generator to an alternator, I also inserted a ten position fuse block. Used one from a Datsun 240Z, modified the internal wiring and fused all of the circuits in the car. Painted the cover black and mounted it on a plate where the original control box was mounted. It has proved its worth on one occasion with the fuse to the ignition failed because of an additional load I installed on a temporary basis. Thus, I know I have fused it just above the limit of the circuit. Shouldn't have any flambe' problems with it now.

Also flipped the turn signal to the left side and rewired the other stalk to replace the floor mounted dip switch. Works a champ.

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PostPost by: Yum-yum » Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:52 pm

High on my winner list is a change to electronic ignition. Its easy to forget the pain of having to futz with points in that awkward location. Plus, the motor settles into a steady reliable idle off throttle every time due to the e.i. tolerance of distributor bearing wear.
I toy with the thought of switching to modern alternator, starter, battery and all, but these haven't really been that much of an issue for me.
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PostPost by: lotocone » Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:10 pm

Interesting thread!

When I had the radiator out, I had it recored with an extra row of tubes and had mounts brazed on for a Spal electric fan. Also, I got rid of the mechanical fan that was attached to the water pump pulley.

Someday I should go with an electric fuel pump.
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:27 pm

One mod I somewhat regret (not entirely) is adding a third row to the radiator. It cools great but weighs a TON! Going aluminum next time.

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PostPost by: twincamman » Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:54 pm

I have done most of the above mods listed and they have improved the car reliability greatly plus the car came with a diff pump and cooler and a bias bar dual masters brake set up . One mod I had a great deal of trouble with was the Nissan Denso starter so I finally bought one of the high dollar race starters and there has been no looking back --[no destroyed ring gear from a second hand gear on a 'rebuilt' unit from Mr. Gustoff this time .]Having dragged the car into or close to the 20th century I am slowly gaining enough confidence in 26 R S2 33 to drive it more frequently and farther away , although I never leave home without my cell phone and CAA card but the tach is still wildly optimistic or I am doing 130 mph at 8000 rpm around other traffic doing the speed limit ,but on the twisty bits Im too busy to look or care what the tach thinks --how ever I still believe in points and condenser .I have seen too many cars stranded with a bad magnetic pick up . I can always scrape the points on a rock and set the clearance with a card board cigarette package and be on my way--ed
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PostPost by: collins_dan » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:24 pm

Agree with most of the above: starter, electronic ignition, alternator, cv axle, 7/8" sway bar, aluminum rad and dual fans. I would add Stromberg B1BT needles, louder horn!, speedbleeders (no friend needed), 5.5" plus 2 steel wheels, stainless braided brake and clutch line.

The jury is still out on the tires: 185/60R13, grip is fantastic, but the undersizing is a huge pain on the highway.

Looking forward to replacing front and rear suspension with TTR adjustable set-up, and Ferodo DS2500 pads to get a little more stopping power for stock tandem (no servo) S4 brakes.

Good thread. Thanks P-A.

Dan
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PostPost by: lotocone » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:13 pm

Dan,

I'd like to know which CV axles you have.

I'm looking forward to the same Ferodo front pads. They are here, but not installed yet.

Thanks,

Bob
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:04 am

twincamman wrote: --how ever I still believe in points and condenser .I have seen too many cars stranded with a bad magnetic pick up . I can always scrape the points on a rock and set the clearance with a card board cigarette package and be on my way--ed


I concur with Ed. Electronics are great but this is one area that I leave stock with points and condenser. I think the I just swapped out the set that the engine was built with in 1997 at Gettyburg, they really do last a long time.

Only made it to 94 F yesterday, starting at 77 this morning so my guess is "hotter today"

45/8221 had all of the horse hair insulation removed, there wasn't much to start with but the glue and remnants were still there. I got some 1/4 closed cell polyurethane foam for the interior to replace it with, it worked pretty good for the heat and cold and wasn't too bad with the sound. I liked it enough that when I did the interior of the 1970 Elan Coupe I used the leftovers (I bought enough for at least two) before installing the carpet. I need to get it finished sometime.

I forgot to mention in the opening post. I do like Spyder's tubular chassis, the early ones with the stove enamel I thought were best. I built up one galvanized Lotus chassis and I don't think I would do it again. If I used one of the new Lotus chassis, it would need to be unpainted steel from Miles for an early Elan.

Thanks to everyone that has offered there own list.

p-a
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PostPost by: trw99 » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:51 am

Interesting thread.

Without intending to go off topic, one day it might be interesting to speculate on what components Chapman & Hickman might have used for the Elan back in 1962 if money had been no object, but without altering the whole concept of the car. For example, might they have used a different drive system, different electronic components, leather seats and so on.

The reason I ask is that owners often justify their modifications by saying 'If that had been around when Chapman was making the car he would have fitted it'. So what was around then that would have done the job better?

Back on topic, I personally prefer to drive the car as it was designed, foibles and all, to replicate the experience of the time! But it is still interesting to know what others are doing to their cars.

Tim
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PostPost by: ardee_selby » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:27 am

trw99 wrote: So what was around then that would have done the job better? Tim


Hmmmm...food for thought, Tim. Deserves its own thread, methinks.

Cheers - Richard
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PostPost by: twincamman » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:57 am

Well I dont think Chapman would have used Brit bits when he found how cheaply the Japanese products were . I just want to remove as much chance of componant failure as I can . The thought of one of the hundreds of 18 wheelers pounding down the highway around me when the car quits is frightening . The new Police attude towards you when your car fails is scary enough , all the cop wants is to issue you a summons and the truck driver wants you out of the way or under the truck . ----scary times on the 4 hundred highway system these days . A point I have always noted . the SCCA guys always painted the interiors of their cars a nice light grey and CASC guys use gloss black . I wonder why ? [ 101 DEGREES F yesterday and my son and son in law played hockey at the Falls arena after work . Ill bet they had to skate around people melted into the ice ]---ed
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:26 pm

trw99 wrote:Interesting thread.

Without intending to go off topic, one day it might be interesting to speculate on what components Chapman & Hickman might have used for the Elan back in 1962 if money had been no object, but without altering the whole concept of the car. For example, might they have used a different drive system, different electronic components, leather seats and so on.

The reason I ask is that owners often justify their modifications by saying 'If that had been around when Chapman was making the car he would have fitted it'. So what was around then that would have done the job better?

Back on topic, I personally prefer to drive the car as it was designed, foibles and all, to replicate the experience of the time! But it is still interesting to know what others are doing to their cars.

Tim


Tim,
Over a 13 year period Lotus saw fit to make changes that I would call Mods, these are factory mods and are called S2, Coupe, SE, S3, SS, S4 , Sprint. Most of these factory mods had more to do with replacing unavailable parts or they were trying to move the Elan "up market" and cut the cost of the build.

To tell you the truth I thought that this post would have died on posting but it didn't. Seems a lot of folks read this stuff but few are willing to offer there experiences for some reason. Thanks to all that have offered their own experience.

Mods are for all that want them. They are not for everyone but those that don't like the idea of changing there Elan's, don't have to. They can read but don't have to read this stuff, but its interesting to see just what others think and do.

p-a
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PostPost by: prezoom » Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:11 pm

I can agree with Ed on the police tolerance towards a failing car. Last year, coming back from the local historic races, the electric fuel pump started dying. Obviously continuing on the freeway was not going to work, so I ducked off and started hitting the local roads. Could only keep the car running by cycling the ignition key and getting a few short bursts of fuel to the carbs. While lurching along, the rear view mirror filled with red and blue flashing lights. It took some explaining of what was happening, but I still got a verbal lashing. Was able to nurse the car the last 10 miles home and replaced the errant pump with the priming pump from my other LBC so as to make it back down to the races the following day.

Would I dump the electric pump for a mechanical unit? No, I don't think so. I like the fact that I can prime the carbs and only a bump of the ignition key will start the engine. But I now have a spare, small Facet pump in the tool bag, along with the original points and condenser in case the Pertronix takes a dump.

The car does have CV joints, which were installed when I bought the car. I do not believe I would ever change back to donuts. One other mod was replacing the carb O ring, flexible washer sealing arrangement, with a double flanged isolator from a Nissan/Datsun unit, used on their Hitachi/Solex carb mounting system. No more fuel leaks, no broken thackery washers, or failed rubber pieces. The carbs stay in perfect sync and it is a fix and forget solution.

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1964 Elva Mk4T Coupe (awaiting restoration)
1965 Ford Falcon Ranchero, 302,AOD,9",rack and pinion,disc,etc,etc,etc
1954 Nash Healey LeMans Coupe

Lotus is a life sentence with no parole
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