Lotus Elan

Body to chassis fit

PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:01 pm

Some years ago I started a restoration that involves a replacement lotus frame.

I carefully fitted the body to the new frame, removed the body, then had the body painted whilst I got on with the various other items.

The other items have taken much longer than I hoped or expected. Last week I put the body back on the frame. To say nothing fits would be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Basically none of the frame to body bolts line up.

Is this normal, and what are my options? I am hoping that the body has changed shape and that with a bit of force I can push and pull it into alignment.

Advice please
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PostPost by: s28ven » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:26 pm

I may be wrong but my understanding is that in the factory the bodies where placed upon their corresponding chassis which were then drilled and tapped. When a chassis from another elan is used the bolt holes are mostly in the wrong position.

Our solution is to cut the fibreglass and existing bobbin out then thread the bolt into the existing hole with the bobbin in situ, then apply new fibreglass between the new bobbin and the cut fibreglass.

There are only a few that don’t line up in our case though.

Hope this helps.

Steven
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:37 pm

Steven,

I did what you have just described as the factory procedure, what I am trying to understand is why the body and frame that did fit before painting no longer fit. Body and paint are just about the only work I do not undertake myself. The idea of undertaking G R P alterations frightens me.

Richard Hawkins
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:55 pm

has the primer or paint been heat cured during the restoration then at what temperature (or the body stored on the side or not square)?
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PostPost by: Craven » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:55 pm

There is no doubt in my mind that body change shape if left supported in a different way, I have had a situation where door fit changed when supported for a year or so off the chassis. Work out how to bend it back.
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PostPost by: Slowtus » Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:06 am

Based on my feeble experience in this area I suggest you first try to get that body to meet up, somewhat, with the orifices patiently awaiting a reunion.

This may seem savage as you pull on one side as your friend does the same on the other side, while someone else gives the 'a bit left, a bit right, up, down etc..'

You will hear noises which will shrink your groin but the body - the Lotus body - will actually be fine.

And will fit 92.5% of the original locations.

Seriously.
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PostPost by: prezoom » Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:15 am

A couple of things I learned about restoring a fiberglass bodied coupe, was the longer the body is off the chassis the worse things get. When I restored the Sabra GT, one of the first things I did was remove the front and rear glass so no damage could occur. I had made a rolling cart that fit the bottom of the chassis from the front bulkhead to the rear bumper, and I figured that by doing so, would keep everything in alignment. As most projects go, it was several years before the bodywork was completed and the mating of the body and the chassis time had come. The first thing I noticed was doors didn't fit the openings. This was after spending many hours getting perfect body/door alignment. The Sabra door suffered the same pockets out problem as the later Elans. Now the carefully adjusted door to body gaps were so tight the doors would not close. The worst problem was with the front and rear glass. the opening had shrunk up to the point that it was impossible to reinstall the glass. The front required grinding the edges to reduce the overall size. On the rear, grinding was not possible, because the glass is tempered. Fortunately I found an old time glass guy, who after more hours than I care to remember managed to get the glass in place. One might think the profile of the new sealing rubber was the problem, but when cross sections were compared they proved equal. I guess good old Southern California sunshine and summer heat proved my undoing. With the Elva Courier Coupe next up, glass and doors will remain with the body, and any time the body is off the chassis, it will be returned to the chassis if it appears the project will be put on hold.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:33 am

Richard, I would mount the body back onto the chassis and leave it over summer to settle. Put dowels under a little pressure into the 6 main mounting points and keep checking them to see if things are settling / re-aligning.

If the worst come to the worst, you can just get the 6 pads on the chassis into which you've drilled and taped the holes ground off, new pads welded on and re-drill the body to chassis.

If it's a plus 2 then loosen all the bolts that hold the sill members in before mounting the body on the chassis.

Did you check that the holes aligned before you sent the body off for painting by putting the bolts in by the way?
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PostPost by: wotsisname » Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:10 pm

Richard,
I'm not sure if yours is a +2 or elan.
On my +2, I have noted that the top of the rear chassis legs move inward/outward a fair bit (spyder chassis) depending on whether the car has its suspension fitted or not (car up on stands) - this is with the cross brace removed.... maybe this is one of the issues you are facing ?
There was a fair amount of shimming required , particularly in the gearbox area, did you have this in place when you fitted the body/chassis together for drilling ?
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:46 pm

Thanks everyone for your replies. After a day's different activities I am a little less panicked than yesterday.

I should have said that my car is a 1968 S4 FHC. I carefully fitted the chassis to the body before painting. I assume that the paint shop SMS has some heat in their spray booth, but I did not think to ask about temperature at the time.

Whilst the body was off the chassis it has been supported on a timber platform on the flat area of the passenger compartment. The boot and bonnet areas have been unsupported. The platform has castors so that I can move the body.

Most of the holes that used to align with the body are approximately in the wrong place by about half a hole diameter. My measurements are only with a steel rule, and the holes are 5mm out at the very front and 3mm at the very back. To get the holes to align I would need to move the body backwards on the chassis. The only holes I can get a bolt through are those at the top of the rear springs towers. At the rear of the chassis there are two curved tubes, these tubes are jammed tight against the front face of the boot just above the handbrake tree. This seems to be the reason I cannot align the holes.

I am still at a loss as to how this has changed, but perhaps if I cut this area of the boot the chassis/body would fit, and the the cut section could be bonded back in a different place.

I could support the rear of the body, and put a fan heater inthe boot and use the weight to try and bend the body.

Has anyone had to do this? All comments welcome.

Thanks again,

Richard Hawkins
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PostPost by: elanman999 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:00 am

Richard,
If the body needs to be moved backwards on the chassis it's not the two curved tubes that are causing the problem.
How much paint has been put on the underside of the body on the front face of the rear towers? Did SMS fill any holes in that area?
I know it's not easy but can you check if there is any clearance between the body and the chassis where the bolts go through the body at the top of the rear towers?
Cheers
John
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PostPost by: PaulJ » Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:15 am

Hi
The last thing you want to be doing is trying to force anything on a newly painted body, especially if the doors now fit. Weld up holes in chassis and redrill, shim in any locations if required. Do not force anything just to make it fit
Welding may be less work than moving the bobbins, both equally viable solutions ... your choice really

cheers Paul
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PostPost by: wotsisname » Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:00 pm

another thought is whether the saddle was fitted when the chassis was drilled / whether it is interfering with the body settling into place
1968 Elan plus 2 - project
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2000 Elise S1 - Sold
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PostPost by: denicholls2 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:57 pm

PaulJ wrote:Hi
The last thing you want to be doing is trying to force anything on a newly painted body, especially if the doors now fit. Weld up holes in chassis and redrill, shim in any locations if required. Do not force anything just to make it fit
Welding may be less work than moving the bobbins, both equally viable solutions ... your choice really

cheers Paul


Welding is going to remove whatever coating is on the chassis, both inside and outside the box, and create a rust point. Messing with the bobbins will be tedious, but your chassis will last longer.

I do agree that stretching and pushing your newly painted body is not the best of ideas. Letting it sit in place for a month or so is the best suggestion I've heard. The purpose of owning a Lotus is to teach patience. :)
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PostPost by: s28ven » Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:33 pm

We sat our body on the chassis following 20 years being off it and the holes didn’t line up. 20 years later the holes still don’t line up so the bobbins are now being moved :lol:
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