Lotus Elan

Evans coolant

PostPost by: Foxie » Mon Nov 18, 2019 1:23 am

Here is my experience with Evans coolant.

I converted my water/antifreeze cooling system to Evans waterless coolant about 5 years ago.

What influenced me was that over the years I have had quite a few problems with water leaks, burst hoses, loose connections, as well as a few blown head gaskets.

So a system that has practically no pressure was attractive, the coolant hoses and joints were not pressurised, you could come off the track and remove the rad cap straightaway to check coolant level. The fact that Evans coolant has a boiling point of 190 C meant that coolant would never boil and blow the rad cap.

Evans also make a point of telling how it prevents local boiling at hotspots in the cylinder head, but on reflection, I can’t say they have ever been evident or have been a problem.

Two undesirable characteristics I discovered were :

1. If you spill it on the garage floor or on paving it does not evaporate, due to the high boiling point/low volatility. You have to mop up every last drop.

2. It burns. It’s not highly inflammable, but if it drips on to your exhaust pipe (my rad filler cap is on the thermostat housing ), or if it gets into the cylinders due to gasket failure, it creates quite a dense white smoke from the exhaust

I was very happy with it until recently. In fact, one hill-climb weekend I was able to do 5 runs each day over the two days with a blown head gasket. The temp gauge would be off-scale high ( 140 C. ) at the end of each run, and I was leaving a smokescreen behind that would hide a battle-ship. I even managed the 40 mile drive home afterwards without the engine failing .

However this summer I had an unfortunate set of circumstances that almost ended in disaster.

I achieved a long term ambition of fitting a mapped ignition system (DTA ) with a Valeo twin-coil pack. I proceeded to my local rolling road, and had him set it up using the initial map.

Starting up afterwards I noticed there was a lot of kickback. It seemed to me that there was excessive static advance. However it did start, and there was a noticeable increase in power on my 15 mile drive home. I had an event coming up that week-end.

That week-end I drove around 100 miles to the event. The engine seemed to be running very well all the way.

However, when I got up the following morning and was leaving my accommodation to go to the event, no way would the cold engine start. It kept kicking back, until eventually the battery was totally flattened.

I got a staff member with a big SUV to give me a jump start, and I headed off the two miles to the event.

By the time I got there I was late, and I had to immediately join the start queue, changing into my race gear on the side of the road, not daring to turn the engine off, what with the flat battery.

We were on a narrow country road, with banks and high hedges on each side. There was some hold up, as the queue was moving forward very slowly.

So I was sitting in the car, suited up, gloved, helmet on. I could see the engine temperature had gone off scale +140 C, but I had seen that before. All I could do was to hope and wait. The next thing was there was a burst of black smoke from the gap in the bonnet opening, quickly followed by a sheet of flame. I turned the ignition off ( I did not think to turn off the dash electrics cut-off switch ) and attempted to get out of the car. The first problem was, with my helmet on, I was getting stuck in the door opening. Succeeding in getting out, I then attempted to release the 2kg AAAF extinguisher under the front of the driver seat. With my race gloves still on, I could not manage to release the locking catch.

By the time I got my gloves off and released the extinguisher, the Chief Marshall and at least 4 other marshalls who were on the start line fire point were ready to go with 4 x 7kg extinguishers. I was extremely lucky to be right at the fire point ! I have some firefighting training and experience, but I have to hand it to the man in charge. “Don’t open the bonnet ! turn off the electric cut-out ! everybody round to the right hand side of the car ! pull the pins on your extinguishers and get ready !”

When all were ready, the bonnet was lifted an inch or so, the nozzles inserted, and the extinguisher activated. Within seconds the flames were extinguished, and the engine drenched with foam.

I was very relieved, I was sure the car was going to be burned to the ground.

A local garage had a recovery truck at the venue, and transportation home was arranged.
As I had no car for day 2, I volunteered to marshall for the day, and got a lift home that evening with one of the other competitors.

When the car arrived home the following day, I got a chance to assess the damage. The airbox cover was completely burned and distorted. The airbox trunking was burnt. The plastic vacuum tube to the headlights, and the plastic clutch line had melted. The throttle position sensor and its wiring were destroyed. The wiring to the oil light and coil were burnt. The plastic brake fluid reservoir was distorted. The throttle cable was destroyed. The throttle return springs were literally toast. The solenoid wiring insulation was burnt. The ignition leads were burnt. The paint on the bonnet had just started to blister.
Miraculously, when I removed the airbox, the carburettors were spotless !

Analysing the incident, it seems that, previously when I had very high coolant temperatures, the car was driving and the engine compartment did have a cooling airflow, so the carburettors were cool.

Sitting stationary, with the engine running and an over-advanced ignition, at an engine temp of + 140 C, the carburettor temperature would have exceeded the boiling point of petrol (~80 C ) the petrol had boiled with the vapour filling the engine bay, and some spark or backfire had ignited the mixture.
I was able to repair all the damage , and took it back to the rolling road. It turned out the the static ignition setting was +20 degs ! This was set back to 12 degs and resolved the starting problem.

I had it ready for the next event a month later, and went on to take first place in Class 4 (Historics ) in the Irish Hillclimb Championship for 2019.

So I’ m beginning to think that replacing the standard water/antifreeze mix with Evans “waterless” coolant may be not such a good idea after all.

It’s inconvenient when there is a problem that will cause the normal water/antifreeze mix in the cooling system to boil , which will cause you to shut your engine down, but that can be seen as a natural safety valve. It means you have a cooling problem which you should fix.

Allowing the engine to reach temperatures for which it was never designed, and causing problems which were never envisaged, is another kettle of fish.

:o
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PostPost by: USA64 » Mon Nov 18, 2019 3:22 am

A cautionary tale for sure but I'd have to say it was about pushing your luck and ignoring warnings. I certainly wouldn't blame the coolant.
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PostPost by: 2cams70 » Mon Nov 18, 2019 4:52 am

I certainly wouldn't use that sh** in any of my engines! Having worked in the industry you can safely assume that if it (or a similar product) has never been used by an OEM it's snake oil.

If your engine is overheating there's something wrong with your cooling system that isn't related to the coolant. If the engine is overheating particularly at idle it must be something related to either coolant flow or air flow.

Think about it - An idling engine in traffic (no matter what it's peak power) is probably only generating 1 to 2kW in order to run. 1 to 2kW does not result in a lot of generated waste heat. A fancy dandy radiator or coolant is not going to help at all under those conditions.

I've never had any problems with LTC cooling in Fords. There must be something attributed to it's installation in an Elan that makes it susceptible.
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PostPost by: h20hamelan » Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:32 am

Ied say good work

had it ready for the next event a month later, and went on to take first place in Class 4 (Historics ) in the Irish Hillclimb Championship for 2019.

And more than a few lessons learned

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PostPost by: nmauduit » Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:13 am

thank you for sharing.

The possibility of fire would make me ponder a bit, but I would primarily be concerned with the running of the engine at elevated temperature, which may increase the chance of head distortion, maybe even block hot point favoring crack? granted, 140°C is not a all lot more than say 110-115 that one can reach when water/glycol boils out, but still I always feel very unconfortable when the temp gauge goes higher than 100°C... and in retrospect I think it always happened when there was an engine issue (small head gasket leak starting to pushing air bubbles in the system), which may be a nuisance on the spot but actually quite convenient to diagnose the problem early.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:20 am

I understand several national race bodies have already banned waterless coolant at their events.

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Mon Nov 18, 2019 9:44 am

The biggest problem with a temperature of 140C of the coolant is what it does to soften the head. This increases exponentially with temperature and with coolant at 140C the head metal is hotter and it is getting very soft very quickly.

Also risk of pistons seizing in the bores with that temperature as the pistons expand more than the bore at higher temperatures.

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PostPost by: JonB » Mon Nov 18, 2019 12:55 pm

Hey Foxie

Thanks for this well written and informative post. I'd been considering using this stuff in my Plus 2 but the cost always put me off. That and the observation that my car is 103 thousand miles and 47 years old, and the waterways looked really really clean when I had the head off a fortnight ago. I do not like the idea of the engine getting to 140C at all! Was going to comment about the head distorting but others beat me to it. So I think I'll stick with water / antifreeze for now.

Congratulations on your win. Plus 2s don't get the respect they deserve in my view. Otherwise they'd be as expensive to buy as baby Elans.
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Mon Nov 18, 2019 8:12 pm

Roxie,

I thought I remembered something about ethylene glycol used in piston engine aero engines from my student days.

I have just googled to find what coolant was used in the Rolls Merlin engine. The Spitfire Society website says 70% water 30% glycol to prevent fires and oil leaks when using 100% glycol. I suspect Evans is glycol.

Hope this is of interest,

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PostPost by: prezoom » Tue Nov 19, 2019 1:10 am

Except for using straight water in the cooling system, every liquid in a vehicle can catch fire. Glycol will burn when mixed with water, if there is a pinhole leak in a hose and the spray contacts a hot surface. The water will turn to steam, leaving the glycol to ignite. Land Rover had problems with delaminating coolant hoses back in the early 2000's that allowed a number of their vehicles to catch fire. Chrysler Pacificas also had problems with a line that crossed over the bell housing and was close to the exhaust, that caused fire problems. Both manufacturers issued recalls on the affected models. Interestingly enough, Ford is now using a coolant that will last 200,000 miles in its iron block aluminum head engines.
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PostPost by: The Veg » Tue Nov 19, 2019 1:26 am

prezoom wrote:Interestingly enough, Ford is now using a coolant that will last 200,000 miles in its iron block aluminum head engines.


WILL, or CLAIMED? My former VWs (early 2000s) claimed in the manuals that the coolant was good for the life of the car. :lol:
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Tue Nov 19, 2019 1:43 am

RichardHawkins wrote:Roxie,

I thought I remembered something about ethylene glycol used in piston engine aero engines from my student days.

I have just googled to find what coolant was used in the Rolls Merlin engine. The Spitfire Society website says 70% water 30% glycol to prevent fires and oil leaks when using 100% glycol. I suspect Evans is glycol.

Hope this is of interest,

Richard Hawkins


Richard,
You are right, Evans is 100% propylene glycol.

Regards,
Dan
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Tue Nov 19, 2019 7:01 pm

Dan,

Thanks for confirming my suspicion.

Foxie,

Sorry about misspelling your name.

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PostPost by: Foxie » Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:42 pm

RichardHawkins wrote:
Foxie,

Sorry about misspelling your name.

Richard Hawkins


Now don't you forget it !
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PostPost by: Foxie » Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:53 pm

USA64 wrote:A cautionary tale for sure but I'd have to say it was about pushing your luck and ignoring warnings. I certainly wouldn't blame the coolant.


Agreed.

A grossly over-advanced ignition map. In consequence a flat battery as a result of multiple failed starting attempts.

Sitting on the start line, leading my Class in the Championship.

High engine temp because of the ignition over-advance, with no chance of re-starting if I switched off to cool.

I'd say I was pushing my luck !

:)
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