Lotus Elan

Hydraulic handbrake

PostPost by: Melodyk » Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:09 pm

We've just fitted a hydraulic line-lock type handbrake to an Elan Plus 2. The original handbrake is still there and works ok. It's just awkward to lean forward to use it. The new handbrake locks the brakes on after you've come to a halt using the foot brake. So you stop as usual then flip the hydraulic brake on and you don't need to hold the car on the foot pedal anymore. The lever is quite small and is attached to the side of the centre tunnel just forward of the seat. According to the UK MOT manual a pre 1st Jan 1968 car does not need a mechanical handbrake anyway. You just need a handbrake of some sort. So a hydraulic handbrake is technically ok for early cars. Ours is Oct 1967. I've not explored that point with an MOT station yet though!
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:52 am

Interesting!

I'm no mechanic but I assume line lock means you have a mechanism that holds the pressure in the brake lines once you press the brake and keeps it there once you release the pedal? I don't know if you might expect other issues from keeping the system pressurised over a long period if you were to say leave it parked for a week, surely you are putting extra wear into. System only designed to work intermittently? Will brake binding become an issue?

I believe there was some conversion that was tried I think using calipers from a Rover 3500?? Which allowed for an hydraulic handbrake.

Let us know how it works out longer term. I'm sure the mechanics here would like links to or details of how you did this.
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PostPost by: Chancer » Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:55 am

I did a similar thing as an anti-theft system with my Westfield, I used a hidden mortice rack bolt to hold the brake pedal down, I could engage it with my foot and release it with the security key.

I used it for 7 or so years with never any hydraulic problems, in fact it gave me early warning of a minute weep from a rear wheel cylinder long before I would have been aware of it and before the lining were contaminated, one drip is enough to lose all the pressure and release the anti-theft device, and that would be my concern about using it as a parking brake.
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PostPost by: wotsisname » Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:57 pm

I can see how useful it could be for hillstarts, when you're trying to reach under the dash, with seatbelts on.
if installed as has been suggested.... I wonder about heat-soak from the brakes... eg on a trackday I was advised to not use the handbrake for a while, just park it in gear.
Also, I had a situation on an Elise (S1) where the battery was going flat, this turned out to be the rear brake lights which were activated by a badly adjusted brake pressure sensor.

I'll be interested to hear how this goes
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PostPost by: Melodyk » Tue Aug 22, 2017 5:36 pm

We weren't planning to use it as a long term parking brake but as a hill start aid. I've spent years just jumping on and off the pedals and usually don't bother with the old handbrake but I still get stressed crawling up hill in traffic with someone close behind. I will report back once I have tried it out. Also could post photos or details if anyone is interested. My husband did all the work himself.
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PostPost by: webrest7 » Wed Aug 23, 2017 3:32 am

Melodyk wrote:We've just fitted a hydraulic line-lock type handbrake to an Elan Plus 2. The original handbrake is still there and works ok. It's just awkward to lean forward to use it. The new handbrake locks the brakes on after you've come to a halt using the foot brake. So you stop as usual then flip the hydraulic brake on and you don't need to hold the car on the foot pedal anymore. The lever is quite small and is attached to the side of the centre tunnel just forward of the seat. According to the UK MOT manual a pre 1st Jan 1968 car does not need a mechanical handbrake anyway. You just need a handbrake of some sort. So a hydraulic handbrake is technically ok for early cars. Ours is Oct 1967. I've not explored that point with an MOT station yet though!


Hi Melodyk
Any chance of some more info on that or even a photo or two.
Bit hard to fathom how it all works.
Assume you tap into the rear brake lines.
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PostPost by: Melodyk » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:08 pm

I will get some photos over the weekend and ask my husband for some more details. The main front to back hydraulic pipe runs inside the centre tunnel. What we have done is insert a valve in the line and add an on/off lever. In normal driving it is off. When you stop using the foot pedal you can then turn it on and it holds the hydraulic fluid in place and therefore makes the main back brakes stay on. So you can take your foot off the pedal (like you do in a normal car when you've pulled the handbrake on!). You then turn the lever back off when you want to drive away. The lever itself is not a handbrake really, it only works if you have already stopped using the pedal. If you turned it on when you had not stopped it would actually prevent the back brakes working as it would stop the pressure going to the back of the car. You would only have front brakes! So it's only use is to lock the brakes on when you have stopped already.
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:42 pm

Perhaps a silly question, but are hydraulic brakes legal in the UK?
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PostPost by: webrest7 » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:49 pm

Thanks for the prompt reply.
Well explained and I like the concept Melody. I now understand how it is done and how it operates. Look forward to the photos and the name of the stop valve used.
Wish my wife could explain things like you do :D
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PostPost by: Chancer » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:42 am

Mazzini wrote:Perhaps a silly question, but are hydraulic brakes legal in the UK?


I think that you mean hydraulic [u]hand[u]brakes.
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PostPost by: Craven » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:31 am

I understand an Emergency brake is required ( UK MOT ) and must be a completely independent system with efficiency of 20%. Reduced to 10% for a duel brake system.
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PostPost by: Chancer » Thu Aug 24, 2017 4:51 pm

I took my test in an A35 which had a starnge sort of system, could not really be called independant.

The rear brakes were rod operated and were effectively the handbrake, there was a slave cylinder actuator under the handbrake lever which would apply the handbrake (rear brakes) when the hydraulic foot brake was operated, it had a sliding linkage so that the handbrake lever would not come up when the footbrake was applied.

At least that was the design but they hadn't reckoned on the apprentice Chancer bolting it up solid to get a more solid pedal, each time the footbrake was applied the handbrake would come up and lock itself on by the ratchet and I then had to release it.

Believe it or not I took my drivin test in that death trap in that condition 2 weeks after my 17th birthday and never having had a single lesson, and I passed :shock: :shock:

Tha handbrake was on the right by the drivers door and I thought hidden from the examiner although I'm sure he was aware of exactly what was going on, he was either impressed with my right hand dancing around releasing the brakes and my other arm and clutch foot having to double de-clutch in every gear or he felt sorry for me.

I think, dependant on the age of the vehicle that a hydraulic handbrake is not road legal as a service brake but if the umbrella one is stlll there whats the problem?

Most modern vehicles with these infernal automatic parking brakes are they not hydraulic? I have only ever driven one modern car with one and dont wish to repeat the performance I was trying to drive it out from being bogged down in a sloping field for the owner, something I am usually very good at and the handbrake thing was working against me, ditto when the tractor was towing it out.
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PostPost by: Melodyk » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:48 am

I have asked a friend of mine who is an MOT consultant and previously worked for VOSA as a regional MOT test station inspector. This is what he replied:

Here is an extract from UK MOT tester's manual:
Information column
Hydraulic parking brakes as a sole means of operation are not acceptable on vehicles first used on or after 1 January 1968. However, they may be used to assist the application or release of a mechanical brake
Reasons for Rejection column
For vehicles first used on or after 1 January 1968 the parking brake is not capable of being maintained in operation by direct mechanical action only.
As you can see vehicles first used prior to 1st January 1968 can be fitted solely with a hydraulic parking brake. Remember if you solely fit a hydraulic parking brake you will have to inform your insurance company as it is a modification.

So that clears up the legalities. We have retained the original handbrake and it is in full working order. If we ever parked on a hill then I would put both the brakes on, turn the wheels into the kerb and leave it in gear.
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PostPost by: Melodyk » Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:20 am

Here are some photos. The two in the car show the brake lever on and off (on is in the up position and off is when it is horizontal) and the photo of the underneath shows the brake line slightly re-routed and then disappearing through the big hole in the chassis, through the body using rubber grommets and into the car where it goes to the brake valve and then comes back out again. In the photo you can also see the bottom fixing bolt for the valve itself. It is just above the big hole in the chassis. The other fixing is higher up out of sight.
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PostPost by: Melodyk » Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:19 pm

So anyone can have a hydraulic handbrake but if your car is registered after 1st Jan 1968 you need to keep the mechanical handbrake as well. Our car is Oct 1967 so technically we don't need the umbrella type as well but we are keeping it anyway. It gives us two options to get through MOT!
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