Lotus Elan

Strange thing behind the dash!

PostPost by: pabbage » Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:20 pm

Hello - given I own currently the most problematic elan sprint in the UK I thought i'd post another 'whats this' question.

The car is running dreadful - awful occasional misfires and cutting out then wonderful and no issues then awful and cutting out.

After spending a bit of time broken down at the side of road I found the following….

1. I have no ignition light or full beam light
2. Wiggling the key in the ignition barrel (and generally shaking wires) seemed to cut the electric fuel pump at times
3. Found this metal fork (resistor?) thing hanging down (please see photo) - what is it?
img_0875.jpg and

Bonus question
4. Also - in the photo the discerning viewer will see a switch - what is this? any idea? I already have a working anti theft switch in the glove box. This switch under the dash does not do anything - allegedly.

Thanks in advance!

Paul
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:04 pm

pabbage wrote:3. Found this metal fork (resistor?) thing hanging down (please see photo) - what is it?Paul

radio suppressor ???
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PostPost by: pabbage » Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:37 pm

I'm not sure if it would be a radio suppressor - Its strange that the ignition light and full beam indicator are also not working…and where should it connect to?

As a new development to the above …

1. the windows now don't go back up - only down

2. The car starts well but the tacho does not work - no movement at all

3. The heater does not turn work

I've put the battery on charge and will have another look tomorrow .. any suggestions welcome!
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PostPost by: tesprit » Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:19 pm

I'm not sure about the rest of the electrical failures and that capacitor, but as far as the intermittent rough running goes I would suspect the electrical part of your ignition switch has gone bad especially considering wiggling the ignition key cuts out the fuel pump. It's very common for the internal ignition switch contacts to fail especially if you still have your original switch. The good news is you only need to replace the switch and not the entire mechanical key/lock assembly and it is a common Triumph part. It also can usually be replaced by leaving the lock assembly in place on the steering column and removing the switch from the base of the lock assembly.
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PostPost by: Chrispy » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:02 am

Get a new ignition switch, and if you're keen completely rewire the car. Pay particular attention to earths. Since I've done mine it's so much better. Everything works again!
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PostPost by: pabbage » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:29 am

Thanks Chris …

I pulled the ignition switch and two wires were not connected (just touching). Replugging hose has brought windows, fuel gauge, fuel pump etc back to life.

I'd also noticed a door switch - fizzing - so cleaned this up and now appears to not be fizzing!

So I am back to the beginning … I have no ignition light and no full beam light on the tacho, a dangling wire that may or may not need connecting … any idiots guides for tracking these issues?

Can't comment on the misfire at the mo…

Thanks Paul
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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:55 am

Paul,

The metal fork thing is a capacitor (condenser, suppressor), used to filter out RF noise to improve the quality of sound from a radio. The RF noise could come from a number of places, the dynamo/alternator and its controls, the ignition system, or even the voltage stabiliser for the instruments. For electrical reasons it is usual to mount the capacitor as close to the source of the RF noise as possible, so the fact it is behind the dash would indicate it might be trying to clean up the voltage stabiliser - or equally the PO didn't know what he was doing. If you don't have a radio, discard it. If you do have a radio and there is no noise, discard it. If you have a radio and it is noisy, try earthing the fork - the capacitor is designed to be mounted under an earthed bolt - which are few and far between on an Elan.

Good luck.
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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:05 am

Paul,

Regarding the indicator lights, they are likely to have different causes. The main beam light relies on the instrument case being earthed, the ignition light needs a switched supply. Its a rat's nest around the instruments, and wires fall off, bulbs fall out (or blow), and poor earths cause no end of trouble.

I would start by checking all the connections to the bulbs and that the instrument is well earthed, then testing the bulbs if the connections seem OK. If all that is good, and assuming the main beam lights work and the dynamo/alternator charges, you will need to track back along the indicator circuits to find the problem.
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PostPost by: pabbage » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:32 am

Thanks Andy - really helpful stuff.

I found the ignition light was just a blown bulb… should've been the first check really but given all the other problems and the fact that I new it had been working it just slipped my mind.

Just been out for run in the car and not one of the issue from yesterday - like a different car. Amazing what poor electrics can do… though by the look of it there's plenty of opportunity to today wires and improve connection in the future.

So I'd imagine that the hanging wire and cylinder is a capacitor for the radio - The radio just makes noise (I cant seem to get any music out of it) but has been adapted (somehow) with a jack connector for iPhone music etc which does work.

So I'm back at a point now where the car starts, lights work, and it currently drives.

The random switch fitted next to the steering column is the next question!! No idea what this is - doesn't seem to do anything - one wire is earthed and one just disappears in the rest of the wires…
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:43 am

Could it be a hazards switch? My car had a switch like the glovebox cut out one mounted on the bracket that held the bonnet pull handle. Just wondering if it’s something that’s been played with and no longer looks original/ no longer works. Just a thought...
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PostPost by: mark030358 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:57 am

As stated, thats definatley a radio suppressor (capacitor). Also as stated, if the switch is similar to the slide type in the glove box then its likely to be a hazard switch.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:39 pm

Is your Sprint a FHC? If so that switch looks as if it may be for the rear window demister, though they tend to be on the drivers lower dash side trim. Its difficult to tell the distance from your photo.

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PostPost by: JonB » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:16 pm

Another possibility for the mystery switch - a manual engine cooling fan override (assuming your car has an electric fan).
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PostPost by: Sploder90 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:03 am

+1 on possible fan switch.
Mine has one as found when it got whacked by my knee... :x
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