Lotus Elan

Reconditioning the front grille

PostPost by: JonB » Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:51 am

A quick Sunday afternoon project...

My Plus 2's front grille had nearly rusted away, held together with tie-wraps and the number plate letters were falling off, so I decided to have a go at reconditioning it. A new grille costs about £50 with VAT and shipping so i figured I had little to lose!

I got some fine square mesh from a local DIY store (Wickes in the UK) for £5, galvanised. This stuff is finer than the original mesh but I doubt it will be noticeable. Then I cut the old mesh off the frame and tack welded a piece of the new stuff to it. Tricky, as the welding wire in my MIG is thicker than the mesh wire, so it has a habit of burning through, leaving a hole. Once done, I ground the leftover mesh away and peened over the stubs.

To painting, then - with rattle cans - one coat of grey primer and a good coat of Plasti-Kote gloss black.

img_4778.jpg and
Trial fitting the letters on a left over piece of mesh.

img_4780.jpg and
Not a perfect job by any means!

img_4781.jpg and
Close up of the welding. A bit blobby, but should be invisible once fitted.


The letters are secured with 5mm Star-Lock washers per lotus-chassis-f36/number-plate-letter-fixing-spring-washers-t42130.html
-- End of part 1 --
Late 1972 Elan Plus 2S 130/5 - UK - Unit 50/1115L
User avatar
JonB
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1512
Joined: 14 Nov 2017
Location: South Coast, UK

PostPost by: 69S4 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 7:40 am

I'm in the same boat as you with the grill. The damn thing has been slowly disintegrating for years and I've patched it up, welded it back together again and repainted it so many times I think it's only the paint maintaining the shape. I remember that last time (probably out of frustration) I sprayed the whole thing - numbers included - and then just wiped the still wet paint off the numbers to retain some semblance of white.

At the moment I'm hovering between pricey but easy (just buy another quick rust version) and cheap and 'better' but time consuming (your approach but from scratch including the rim in stainless). Galvanised should take care of the rust issue but getting paint to stick to new galvanising is sometimes an issue.
Stuart Holding
Thame UK / Alpe D'Huez France
69 S4 FHC
Honda GoldWing 1800
Honda CBX1000
Kawasaki H1 500
Yamaha XS2
69S4
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1041
Joined: 23 Sep 2004
Location: nr Oxford UK

PostPost by: JonB » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:29 am

Hi Stuart

You're right about painting the galvanised finish, of course. It'll probably have chips all over in a few years time, but as it only cost a fiver plus some paint to do, I'm not all that bothered. Touching up will be easy.

The grille I saw on Paul Matty's web site looked like it'd been plated, but it was relatively expensive. Here: https://paulmattysportscars.co.uk/produ ... se-grille/ - £34 plus VAT and shipping. I didn't bother trying to recreate the rim as it was really easy to reuse my existing rim (it wasn't too badly rusted). I used an angle grinder to remove the remains of the old grille, after cutting most of it off with a pair of snips.

The other thought I had was that as my grille was so rusty there was nothing to lose; if I messed it up completely I could just shell out on a new one. This way, though, is way more satisfying.

Cheers
JonB
Late 1972 Elan Plus 2S 130/5 - UK - Unit 50/1115L
User avatar
JonB
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1512
Joined: 14 Nov 2017
Location: South Coast, UK

PostPost by: ericbushby » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:45 am

Good morning Stuart.
There is no problem painting new galvanising. It is just a matter of using the right paint.
Ask at your local ironmongers or `wrought iron` fabricators.
My drive gates were painted immediately and have been good for 10 years or more now.
But i do agree with Jon, it is not a big deal in this case if you have to do it again soon.
Eric in Burnley
1967 S3SE DHC
ericbushby
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 720
Joined: 13 Jun 2011
Location: east lancashire

PostPost by: 69S4 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:57 am

Yes, that's the one I'd buy my way out of trouble with. From the picture the wire mesh on it looks a lot thinner than on my grille - must be the result of all that paint + rust + paint + ... cycling over the years. It's probably a contributory factor to my overheating issue - less air's getting through :lol:

I (foolishly) overpainted my newly galvanised Lotus chassis when I changed it 30yrs ago on the basis of "double protection". :? The paint's still flaking off in areas even to this day. :lol: Maybe Jon's general purpose paint over thin wire mesh may have sufficient film strength to hang on in there. And even if it doesn't, as he says it's not a big issue to redcoat it at some point in the future.
Stuart Holding
Thame UK / Alpe D'Huez France
69 S4 FHC
Honda GoldWing 1800
Honda CBX1000
Kawasaki H1 500
Yamaha XS2
69S4
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1041
Joined: 23 Sep 2004
Location: nr Oxford UK

PostPost by: RichC » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:10 am

Good Job! :D
User avatar
RichC
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 833
Joined: 28 Apr 2009
Location: Tendring Essex

PostPost by: JonB » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:39 am

Few points in reply:

  • It's been undercoated, too. I expect the primer will stick to the metal much better than a single top coat (here's hoping, at least).
  • New (i.e., "proper") paint would have cost more money so I decided to use what I have lying around the garage.
  • The Wickes chicken wire grille is a fair amount smaller than the original - not that anyone would notice, save a concours judge.. 8)
  • Got the star-lock washers on order - picture of the finished article coming soon, then we'll see if it's worth the time taken (roughly 2 hours, by the way).
  • You might notice that I have opted not to repaint the letters. Basically, I'm lazy... so let's call it "patina".
  • @RichC - thanks!
.
Late 1972 Elan Plus 2S 130/5 - UK - Unit 50/1115L
User avatar
JonB
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1512
Joined: 14 Nov 2017
Location: South Coast, UK

PostPost by: MarkDa » Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:23 pm

I don't suppose your local plod will be that bothered but I'm not sure silver numbers are legal on the front.
There was a big deal at the time about the I side of nose-cone being dark enough for the white numbers to be visible.
Might be just the job for speed camera vans tho!
Last edited by MarkDa on Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
MarkDa
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 781
Joined: 15 Apr 2017
Location: Stroud

PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Mon Jun 04, 2018 7:12 pm

Since a previous post brought up mesh size, the mesh (at least on the regular Elan (S4)) was rectangular and not square. The replacement grilles have square mesh as was pointed out to me by Sue Miller.

As such, I decided (for originality) to refurb and use my original unit.

img_9777.jpg and

(Note: US Federal car with original UK numbers as the car was registered for short use prior to export. Now installed for cosmetic and sentimental reasons only.)

Pretty subtle mesh variation to me, but I note it "just for the record", and perhaps only noticed by a sharp-eyed concours judge.
'69 Elan S4 SE
Street 181 BHP
Original owner
User avatar
1owner69Elan
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 533
Joined: 16 Jun 2015
Location: California

PostPost by: jeff jackson » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:06 pm

I made mine out of stainless hole punched sheet and stainless rod.
I did leave it unpainted for a few years but painted it black a few years back to give the registration a bit more clarity.
Still have the original one for the purists, but no-one has ever mentioned the fact that it's not original!
Regards
Jeff 72 +2.
User avatar
jeff jackson
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 359
Joined: 31 May 2004
Location: South of England

PostPost by: JonB » Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:44 pm

Interesting.

I'm pretty sure my old one was original but who knows? It had a square grille so maybe not.

About the numbers, it's had silver on there from new I reckon. Certainly for the last 20 years, I have a picture of it. Guess Plod aren't that interested!
Late 1972 Elan Plus 2S 130/5 - UK - Unit 50/1115L
User avatar
JonB
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1512
Joined: 14 Nov 2017
Location: South Coast, UK

PostPost by: MarkDa » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:54 pm

I bought a new grille direct from Hethel in 1984 and it has a square mesh.
MarkDa
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 781
Joined: 15 Apr 2017
Location: Stroud

PostPost by: JonB » Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:59 am

Regarding the legality or otherwise of black and silver front plates, I found this:

https://insidedvla.blog.gov.uk/2015/11/ ... er-plates/

Which says they are legal on cars registered before 1st Jan 1975 if they are Historic Vehicles, so I think we're covered.
Late 1972 Elan Plus 2S 130/5 - UK - Unit 50/1115L
User avatar
JonB
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1512
Joined: 14 Nov 2017
Location: South Coast, UK

PostPost by: jeff jackson » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:44 pm

lotus-grille.jpg and
If anyone is interested, here is a pic of my stainless grille.....
Regards
Jeff
User avatar
jeff jackson
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 359
Joined: 31 May 2004
Location: South of England

PostPost by: JonB » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:24 am

Here's an update on this mini project.

Star-locks turned up today (£2.79 including postage) so I transferred the letters onto the grille. I used a metal pen lid to push the star-locks down onto the plastic pins of the letters.

img_4786.jpg and
After a trial fit of the letters - looks OK to me!

img_4784.jpg and
Pressing the star-lock washers in.

img_4787.jpg and
Finished!


As you can see, it doesn't look perfectly centred in the opening, but maybe that is a sort of optical illusion due to the shape of the L.
Late 1972 Elan Plus 2S 130/5 - UK - Unit 50/1115L
User avatar
JonB
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1512
Joined: 14 Nov 2017
Location: South Coast, UK
Next

Total Online:

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests