Lotus Elan

Vacuum head light switch / valve??

PostPost by: nomad » Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:27 am

Just curious as to whether anyone knows the source for the vacuum valve for the headlights? Seems as though it could have been a valve /switch for vacuum windshield wipers. If not one could probably replace it with such a valve if any are available anymore.

Again, curious

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PostPost by: billwill » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:11 am

It should be quite easy to find a solenoid operated air valve as they will be in use in pneumatic control systems.

But a hand operated valve as on the 2-seater Elan might be very hard to find, but not too difficult to make from an aluminium or perspex block with a column drill and a lathe.

Making a circular barrel would be easiest if you have a lathe, but you could do it with rectangular moving bit (more like the original) with just a drill and a file & glue etc.
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PostPost by: nomad » Wed Nov 20, 2013 7:37 am

Thanks Bill, but I don't have the switch or usable vacuum pods so was looking at another alternative anyway. Just was daydreaming about the source. There was a time not that long ago when nearly all windshield wipers were vacuum operated....at least here in the state's. Lotus didn't go out of their way to have one off's made.

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PostPost by: Keith Scarfe » Wed Nov 20, 2013 9:00 am

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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 10:13 am

Kurt, I made one using a Corvette headlight switch. It's a basic push to hold vacuum/pull to release switch. Here's a link to one:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-1968-1982-C ... f0&vxp=mtr

Here's a picture of how basically I made mine. I used the bracket, shaft and knob from a Ford Zodiac headlight switch. I turned down the fat end of the Corvette switch to fit inside the hex shaft and 'tied' them together with the clip.

Mine has the microswitches attached and I have pics of that, if you wish.

I got lucky finding the Zodiac switch. The knob and its attachment to the hex shaft is the same as an Elan, but I'm sure you can fabricate something similar.

Let me know if you want the full story on my switch.


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PostPost by: nomad » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:04 pm

Looking at the one on E-bay is what got me to thinking about the source, Keith.

Very nicely done Greg. I have sourced a Ford Zodiac switch also but as of now I'm not sure what I will do with it. It may control a Miata motor or may just end up a dummy to fill the hole in the dash. If a good cheap source for the pods existed then your system looks good. There are pods for sale right now as well but I expect them to hit the moon price wise.

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PostPost by: Maulden7 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:39 pm

In the UK all mid 50's Fords (& perhaps later) had vacuum operated wipers (I had a Mk.1 Ford Consul in the 60's)

As you went uphill the vacuum dropped & the wipers slowed down unless you changed down (3-speed box with a column mounted change)

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PostPost by: AlfaLofa » Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:11 pm

Ditto Dave :D

I too had a Mk1 Consul in the 60's - it was my first car.

I well remember the useless wipers which used to stop when you needed them most.

The Consul had an exiting existence with me behind the wheel. I went into the back of a stationary queue of traffic on the Southend Arterial. Next I uprooted a road sign and accompanying paving stones at Queensbury Circle near Kingsbury NW9.

Finally (and this one wasn't my fault) a motorcyclist came through the windscreen headfirst outside the Royal Salvatorian College in Wealdstone. Luckily the set of darts he had in his top pocket missed my head and landed in the back seat.

The car was wrecked - in fact the car stopped so suddenly that there were large indentations in the steering wheel rim where my hands had been.

Anyway Kurt - good luck with your vacuum switch endeavours.
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PostPost by: Maulden7 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:17 pm

But the possibilities of "quick action" on the wide front bench seat made up for the wiper problems I think ...... well they did for me!

And back to the subject.

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PostPost by: pharriso » Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:36 pm

gjz30075 wrote:Here's a picture of how basically I made mine. I used the bracket, shaft and knob from a Ford Zodiac headlight switch. I turned down the fat end of the Corvette switch to fit inside the hex shaft and 'tied' them together with the clip.

Mine has the microswitches attached and I have pics of that, if you wish.

Greg Z


Greg, my Headlight system is modified in that there are no vacuum connections to the switch in the cockpit, the DPO added an electrical solenoid to control the vacuum supply to the headlights.

I believe the federal headlight switch is different to the UK switch in that it also has 2 microswitches attached.

I will revert back to original at some point, so do you have a wiring diagram of the US system?

What do the 2 microswitches do?

I'd appreciate a picture/pictures of your complete switch with microswitches attached.
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Wed Nov 20, 2013 5:57 pm

Phil, if the same as my Federal Plus 2 (big assumption!), the two microswitches attached to the dash vacuum switch replace the two microswitches located in the light pods. The vacuum raises and lowers the pods. The two microswitches electrically activate the side / running lights and the head lamps. Sorry, thought I had posted a pic of the bracket and switch, but not finding it now.

Here are a few links to threads that include a link to the correct microswitch from Allied. The original Burgess switch is NLA, and superseded by Johnson Electric Mfr's Part #: XGG2-88Z1. They are a button type switch with both NO and NC contacts.

I also posted a wiring diagram for the Federal Plus 2 side light circuit; not sure if this is the same for the Federal Elan though. Note my Federal Plus 2 did not use the giant Lucas light relay thingy that seams to be a complete original equipment bodge, presumably needed to get the emergency flashers and side light head lamp circuits to work with minimal changes to the loom?

I understand some Elans use the pod mounted microswitches for turning on the headlamps and for the problematic "come up flashing" circuit. Not sure how the sidelights are handled with this configuration, and assume this was not part of a Federal configuration..

A side note. The provision of both NO and NC contacts in the Federal microswitches makes wiring the Toyota / Mazda pod motors easier. Details if req'd.

One of the treads shows another option, using lever style replacement micro switches mounted at the pods to replace the originals, which are sort of like door switches.

lotus-electrical-f38/micro-switches-t19608.html

lotus-electrical-f38/side-lights-t17589.html

http://www.alliedelec.com/Search/Search ... 2f-0062|3|

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PostPost by: pharriso » Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:24 pm

stugilmour wrote:Phil, if the same as my Federal Plus 2 (big assumption!), the two microswitches attached to the dash vacuum switch replace the two microswitches located in the light pods. The vacuum raises and lowers the pods. The two microswitches electrically activate the side / running lights and the head lamps. Sorry, thought I had posted a pic of the bracket and switch, but not finding it now.


Many thanks Stu, all is becoming clear.

I think the microswitches must be ensuring that the lights are raised before the headlights are switched on (rather than electrically activating the side / running lights and the head lamps.)
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:39 pm

Phil, Stu's got it right. This is the very crude final version of my switch. It works very well and I made it so the Corvette vacuum switch can be replaced, if needed. Since the installation, I've fixed the hose arrangement you see now to use the 90 degree pieces that would be OEM, to allow the under dash trim piece to fit better.

The first pic is the backside of the oem setup. The vacuum switch is unique because it has a 'dorsal fin' on the slider, with a small plastic piece attached to work the microswitches. My coathanger arrangement replicates that.

The Corvette switch is screwed to the bracket on the front half and tie wrapped on the back half, with a spacer under the switch to keep it from wobbling.

Hope this helps.

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PostPost by: stugilmour » Wed Nov 20, 2013 6:42 pm

Phil, was still digging around and found this photo of Greg's dash switch. This is similar to mine. The two plates are held together with the four small screws, and the screws go through the mounting holes in the microswitches. I figured it was pretty critical to get the exact switch call-up for the replacement microswitches as the mounting is very critical for them to work. the buttons are activated by a bump on the hex rod IIRC.

lotus-electrical-f38/sprint-light-vacuum-switch-wiring-t28905.html

I think i get what you are saying. To clarify a bit... With the original system, the pods have to be in the raised position for the headlamps to come on, as the pod electrically closes the microswitch. With this setup, the pods fail in the down position. With the dash microswitch, the switch turns on the lights. The Federal pods fail in the up position, so by definition they are up whenever the lights are turned on.

PS I see greg posted way better detail already!

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PostPost by: nomad » Wed Nov 20, 2013 7:40 pm

I am enjoying all the posts and just wanted to say, though non Elan related, that I well remember trying to pass a car at night in a rain storm with vacuum wiper's! Took a little courage!
Also can appreciate bench seats. The first of only three auto transmission cars I have owned was purchased for the transmission AND the nice bench seat back in my dating day's!

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