Lotus Elan

Play in steering / Brake bits on the new to me '69 Elan DHC

PostPost by: tdskip » Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:53 pm

Well, now that I've done a deal on a car I should probably start thinking about getting it sorted out. I am hoping to have other known issues understood and have a plan and bits in hand by the time the car can be picked up (June) and engine sorted. Hoping to learn from others here to get off to a solid start

The engine needs a refresh/assembly but I've connected with John K here in SoCal on that, thanks for the introductions there.

1) Play in steering

There is more play in the steering then there should be, I can wiggle the wheel (car is static) before there is any movement at the tires. The seller - super nice guy - said it was vague and had a delay in input at the wheel resulting in actual turning.

My immediate thought is tie-rods and flex coupler first, then rack mounts, and only then if not sorted maybe rack wear? Correct line of thought on an Elan?

2) Brake and clutch system refresh

This car has been off the road since 1992 so all of the softlines and master / slave cylinders are going to be perished. She will be a road car, not race. Do you have recommendations on sourcing the lines and brake/clutch cylinders? I ask because on the TRs there are known issues with some of the vendors (or at least had been) and I'd rather just do this once.

I believe that a healthy stock brake set up should be fine for street use but please coach me if there are sensible upgrades I should be thinking about given I'm going to have to go through it all anyway.

Thanks!
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PostPost by: collins_dan » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:05 pm

Steering - Probably tie-rod ends or coupler, which some can be just tightened up.
Brakes - I would just contact Ken at Dave Bean for stainless brakes lines, should do clutch and oil pressure lines as well if they haven't already been done. May want to just pull all brakes while you are at it and rebuild with stainless pistons. My guess is they are rusted.
All easy jobs. Good Luck! Dan
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PostPost by: JohnCh » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:25 pm

My car arrived with 1/4" play in the steering which was traced to failed rubber bushings in the coupler. It's very easy to check when rotating the steering column, so I suggest starting there. If that's the cause, you can either stay stock or replace with a u-joint. I opted for the latter and ordered one from Dave Bean that was a cheap design and only removed half the play. That was replaced with the version carried by RD Enterprises which is much heavier duty and fixed the issue.

-John
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PostPost by: tdskip » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:32 pm

Thanks gentlemen, great input. Will do some online catalog surfing.
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PostPost by: tdskip » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:44 pm

Oops - intended to ask if there is any downside to running a u-joint? I suppose some slight increase in harshness but my guess is that is fairly minimal?
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PostPost by: JohnCh » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:01 pm

Looking at the design, the stock part adds rubber in the steering system that theoretically should dampen vibration at the expense of introducing just a touch less precision. In practice, I'm not sure either is noticeable compared to a u-joint, but to be fair, my rubber bushings were shot, so my experience between the two designs is compromised. I will say that I don't notice any issues with the u-joint installed. There is neither harshness nor vibration. Others with more experience may have a different opinion.

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PostPost by: tdskip » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:11 pm

Thank you John
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PostPost by: JonB » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:15 pm

In order to combat looseness in the steering:

  • Swap out the track rod ends
  • Replace standard coupling for a U/J and make sure it is proper tight
  • Check kingpin / trunnions, top ball joint and front suspension bushes for excessive play, replace if necessary

On my car it was mostly the track rod ends that were the problem. They were tatered:

http://images.lotuselan.net/lel/52217/0/img_4306.jpg
Late 1972 Elan Plus 2S 130/5 - UK - Unit 50/1115L
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PostPost by: joe7 » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:28 pm

Another place to look is the collapsible steering column clamp.
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PostPost by: prezoom » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:39 pm

U-joints on both my cars. I prefer precision to a vague feel. As a Triumph guy, shop around for U-joints for a Spitfire, as well as for the Elan. As for changing the braking systems soft lines, they are just AN bits and pieces. Any race shop can supply what you need. Only the connection to the calipers need additional attention. One the best lines to replace is the clutch slave line, make it long enough to keep it well away from the exhaust. I purchase (just yesterday) all my AN needs from a local off road shop, VW Paradise. The also have, already pre made lines of various lengths. For brakes go with AN-3, for clutch AN-4, though -3 will work.
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PostPost by: tdskip » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:51 pm

Thanks Rob!
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PostPost by: tdskip » Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:58 pm

JonB wrote:In order to combat looseness in the steering:

  • Swap out the track rod ends
  • Replace standard coupling for a U/J and make sure it is proper tight
  • Check kingpin / trunnions, top ball joint and front suspension bushes for excessive play, replace if necessary

On my car it was mostly the track rod ends that were the problem. They were tatered:

http://images.lotuselan.net/lel/52217/0/img_4306.jpg


Thanks Jon.

Are parts quality pretty much similar from all the vendors on those bits?
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PostPost by: JonB » Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:16 pm

The U/J and ball joint / track rod ends, pretty much yes. Although they are safety critical components, they don't tend to have catastrophic failure modes.

The upright and trunnion, not at all. If you want to know more, read this thread: viewtopic.php?t=40847&p=285750

Two things are important here:
  • Check the kingpin (that's the threaded end of the upright that screws into the trunnion) for rust / chatter marks, replace if any found. Also check for looseness in the thread. In the UK it is a road test failure if there is any ply up/down in a trunnion (they don't test left/right play as you need partially to dismantle the suspension to do this).
  • Lubricate the trunnions at regular intervals (at least every year or 5000 miles) with EP90 (gear) oil (not grease - despite the holy wars that have been fought over this topic, my advice is to stick to what it says in the workshop manual).

To be fair, though, the truns aren't going to contribute to steering play unless they are literally disintegrating. But if you have the suspension apart, check them!
Last edited by JonB on Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: tdskip » Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:24 pm

Good coaching Jon, thanks for the follow up.
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PostPost by: tfb0001 » Thu Apr 25, 2019 4:39 pm

once you get the brakes hydraulics sorted out and everything is back to stock specs, if you feel that you would like a little better braking you might consider adding a brake booster. RD ENT. has them available. I added one to my 69 S4 years ago and I really like the added braking with less pedal effort. Our 69 models with dual master cylinders would require two boosters but I only use one on the front brakes and it does the job
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