Lotus Elan

Monumental screw-ups

PostPost by: rkneeland » Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:44 am

Most unusual home item thread reminded me of some mishaps, non fatal, that resulted after some innovative thinking.

My in-law's old car was suffering from damp ignition wires. I thought..."what do I have that would chase moisture away. I know.. This can of ether "quick start" will do nicely, I'll just give it time to evapourate". The resulting explosion indicated that I did not wait long enough.

I was never asked to help again.
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PostPost by: handi_andi » Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:10 am

That I believe would qualify you for an honourable mention in the Darwin awards

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PostPost by: paddy » Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:15 am

I heard a few days ago of an ex-colleague who tried to use an eletric drill and pump to transfer fuel from one car's tank to another. The drill was the old kind with ventilation around the brushes. Both cars were written off in the resulting fire.

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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:25 am

I had some new wider tires installed on Plus2 rims for the white S4 DHC that I rebuilt. Up until then I was using some old wheels and stock tires off of the other White FHC that had been around for 20 or more years (unsafe, I thought). Well I neglected to check the clearance on the rear where the flex brake line protrudes toward the tire and one side was just fine but the other rubbed a bit, probably not all of the time but enough on bump that after a while it wore through. I was giving a friend a ride and when I hit the brake pedal it went to the floor. This was with a single reservoir master so I had three pumps to slow down. Wouldn't you know it, the car in front of me actually stopped at the stop sign. I had three choices, hit the car that was stopped, turn right into a 8 inch high curbing or pull around to the left into the oncoming lane. I didn’t see any one in the oncoming lane so that was the choice I made. As I pulled up beside the stopped car I said to them “No Brakes”, they were not amused but it finally stopped before rolling into traffic. Lesson learned, plastic armor spiral things on flex lines are useless and check every thing when you make changes.

Andy, I hope you don’t have to remember that phase someday when you do something that seemed like a good idea at the time.
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PostPost by: RotoFlexible » Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:05 pm

garyeanderson wrote:Andy, I hope you don’t have to remember that phase someday when you do something that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Gary, at first I thought this was directed at me since I did exactly what you did with the brake lines! Twice! The first time was a non-event, the second is the reason I have an S3 nose on an S2 body. I would like to think I have become more careful but my right thumb (shortened slightly while replacing my rear suspension) reminds me that I have a ways to go in this regard.
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:18 pm

I think most of us will have made some "elementary mistake" at some time, probably my worst was forgetting to refit the oil plug in the main oil gallery on an engine I was overhauling....the one behind the flywheel :oops:
I was wondering why I couldn't get oil pressure until I saw the huge oil slick coming out from under the car!..........engine out again!
I know of someone (NOT ME) who fitted the crank thrust washers the wrong way round........they eventually cut a groove into the crankshaft!
Another "mistake" I know of (ALSO NOT ME) was, when converting a 711 to T.C. it is best to remove the timing pad pivot pin from the front main bearing cap, well it was not removed and the T.C. timing chain went round it before going on the crank sprocket.........made a bit of a noise but it ran!
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:22 pm

RotoFlexible wrote:
garyeanderson wrote:Andy, I hope you don’t have to remember that phase someday when you do something that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Gary, at first I thought this was directed at me since I did exactly what you did with the brake lines! Twice! The first time was a non-event, the second is the reason I have an S3 nose on an S2 body. I would like to think I have become more careful but my right thumb (shortened slightly while replacing my rear suspension) reminds me that I have a ways to go in this regard.

Hi Andrew

I have 2 Chain saws now, both given to me (I guess my friends like me too). I have not and never will operate one. Both are going over to Willie Hough's today. They scare the hell out of me. On the other hand, fire and fluids are just tools to me. Everyone has a different idea of what is dangerous. My friend uses a leaf blower to help when he is clearing a building lot and there isn't enough wind to get a good fire going, what a great idea I thought...

Gary
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:56 pm

This thread has set me thinking and here are some other "screw ups" I have seen,
Sometimes non Lotus pistons or con rods are used in modified engines and the pistons don't always have "fully floating gudgeon pins" ......the pistons don't have a circlip groove so it is common practice to make up Teflon plugs to push in to the end of the gudgeon pin..........I have seen it done where some sort of plastic was used instead of Teflon.....of course it melts and the pin puts a groove down the bore.

How about the rear welsh plug (cor plug/freeze plug) being removed with a chisel or something and the bore opposite the plug being cracked.......seen it done!

Or a camshaft not being tightened down evenly and it has snapped........seen it done!
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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Mon Sep 21, 2009 3:07 pm

types26/36/74 wrote:Or a camshaft not being tightened down evenly and it has snapped........seen it done!

While adjusting the valves on my Europa, I was installing and removing the cams repeatedly. Upon one of the installs, I didn't notice that I accidently placed the cam on the head incorrectly. As I tightened the caps, I heard a loud bang. The front end of that cam is now serving as a one-of-a-kind paper weight on my desk.
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PostPost by: Robbie693 » Mon Sep 21, 2009 3:36 pm

Not quite so monumental but here's my recent one:

Whilst changing the head gasket not long ago I was in the midst of removing the silicone around the head to block drain hole. Not wishing to have bits of silicone fall into the engine I thought I'd use a technique I picked up from a diy programme on TV..

On the show they were filling a hole in a ceiling, and to suporrt the filler whilst curing they inserted a cardboard disk with a bit of wire though the middle which, when the filler was set they would pull the cardboard through the now smaller hole with the wire.

Hmmm thinks I, maybe a cardboard disk stuck through the hole in the block and pulled up against the inside of the hole would catch any errant bits of silicone, enabling me to fish them out before they go any further.

Obviously the cardboard softened and fell off the wire into the sump!

Fortunately I managed to remove it by pouring oil down the drain hole and washing it towards the sump plug hole. Bit of a worry at the time though :oops:

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PostPost by: sgbooth » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:13 pm

Lovely stories - please keep them coming !

I have none for now, so maybe brain is in denial !

At a much lower level, I have been converting from mechanical to electrical fuel pump.

This afternoon/evening I have so far 'lost' 1 half inch socket, 3 carb to manifold nuts,
and one thackery washer. And no, they didn't go into the head (everything is plugged)
just dropped into the engine bay "ether".

And to cap it all, when I started it - it didn't.
Just a click from the solenoid on the pre-engaged starter.

Very productive days work.

Oh well, back to it.

Regards,
Stuart.
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PostPost by: rkneeland » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:28 pm

I think I have more than my share. Maybe there's a message in there.

Not dramatic, but of interest was the attractive water feature created when I reversed a vacuum line and a water heated inlet hose on my S2 Europa after an all night engine change. Turning it over with the engine cover removed and without spark plugs created 4 beautiful fountains of coolant pulsing to the rhythm of the firing order. No broken rods. Thankfully.
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PostPost by: Galwaylotus » Mon Sep 21, 2009 6:26 pm

garyeanderson wrote:. . . when I hit the brake pedal it went to the floor.

Been there. Done that. Many years ago I replaced the rubber brake hoses with Aeroquip lines. Put it all back together and was enjoying the firmer pedal. I drove up the road from my apartment when the firmer pedal suddenly wasn't! Fortunately I was still travelling slowly, there was no one ahead of me at the stop sign, no one coming on the cross street, and I was only a block or so from home! :shock: When I got it back to the garage I found that the rear disc had worn through my lovely new Aeroquip line! The replacement was carefully routed I can assure you!! :oops: These days I hope I'm a bit wiser as I'm planning the same conversion on my current S3 and converting to a tandem master cylinder. Unfortunately, I don't now have a garage.
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:08 pm

Not Lotus related, but many years ago a friend had a Honda 400/4 bike with a siezed cam chain adjuster. For those of you not familiar with 400/4s the mechanism is prone to jamming and there are a number of unofficial methods to force it into adjustment but none of these worked so an engine stripdown was the only option. I offered to do it for beer and the cost of parts.

No problems taking it apart, it came to bits very easily over the course of a few evenings. I found out what was wrong and ordered the parts. About a week later they turned up and I started the rebuild. Crank with rods and pistons into the crankcase halves, fit the cam chain bits etc, fine.
Fit the cylinder block in top, hmm, three pistons fit but one of the outside ones won't. It seems to be slightly offset? After a bit of checking I discover a bent con rod. How the hell did that happen, it wasn't bent when I took it to bits, I haven't dropped it or damaged it in any way and nothing else is marked or damaged. You'd need to put it in a vice and hit it with a hammer to bend it this much and I certainly haven't done that.

It took me two weeks (of increasingly feeble excuses) to get a new con rod and finish the rebuild. The bike was fine and went on for years afterwards. I never told the owner and I've never worked out how the rod got bent. It's still around in my garage as a warning to not take anything for granted. My only thoughts were that other people had access to the workshop I was using so maybe ... who knows.

Next up, the £25,000 vintage Lagonda engine rebuild for not knowing how to start it.

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PostPost by: handi_andi » Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:22 pm

I've had a few but then again too few to mention, not....

Anyway, a vaguely lotus related one, given it happened on a spitfire wishbone was that I was fitting poly bushes using a 1tonne vice. Well lets just say poly bushes need more than a one tonne force to be pressed in and there is still a dent in the wall where the back of the vice fired off under the force. At that point I upgraded to a five tonne vice and it worked just fine.

I think the break pedal problem must have happened to quite a few people, it happened to be in an old subaru legacy estate in the middle of aberdeen rush hour traffic as I approached a red light in the middle lane of a set of cross roads. Luckily it was slow speed and I managed to stop with the aid of the handbrake. Problem then was what to do next, as the road on the far side of the junction drops away sharply. I managed to pull away and immediately into a parking space using the kerb and handbrake to arrest progress ASAP.

I am sure there must be some other ones, like not leaving an ignition problem too long or you will have knackered pistons like I have now, but can't think of too many thankfully.

Cheers

Andy
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