Lotus Elise

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January 2nd 2013

Happy New year!!!

Once again apologies for lack of site updates, not had much time over the summer due to an international sports day in London somewhere.  I seem to have been playing catch-up ever since.

Ok, update time.

The Elise has behaved faultlessly during the time I’ve had her and continues to deliver a big grin to my face every time I get in.  She’s doing  41mpg on my daily commute.

Since coming back from Le Mans I’ve replaced the rear toe links (no more squeaking now), done a trackday at Goodwood, replaced all four brake discs and pads, new tyres, refurbished the dash, designed and built an illumination system for the heater controls, made the heater more efficient and fitted Stack oil pressure and oil temperature gauges (thank you Father Christmas – alright – Hilary & Dominic!)

So without further ado I give you a summary of the above.

August 2012 - Rear toe links

The rear toe link replacement was a job I tackled with some trepidation as any alteration in the length of the toe link bars would destroy the handling and need a complete geometry reset by specialists.

The first step was to remove the toe links. To do this I first had to remove the diffuser, the toe link heat shields and both rear brake callipers including the handbrake mechanism.  Getting the toe link bars off the car was rather fiddly as the nut for the inboard joint is inside the chassis and only accessible by putting your hand and spanner through the hole in the chassis that the drive shafts occupy.

NS toe link in place
Hole in chassis to access inboard nut

Condition of original inboard toe link joint

Nevertheless, with the link bars off I marked the centre of the joint and a fixed point 80mm away on the bar. I then marked the centre of the new joint and wound it into the bar until the centre was 80mm away from the mark on the bar. Simples!

New toe link joint

Re-assembly was the reversal of the removal, as they say in the Haynes manuals.  And it was too!

Nearside re-fitted
Offside re-fitted

I checked the toe in/out measurements with Dom using the long straight edge method before and after the replacement and got identical measurements, with much relief.

September 2012 - Trackday

In September I took the plunge and booked a trackday with Club Lotus/Club Elite at Goodwood.  I was the main driver and took Dominic and Vince with me as additional drivers.  We all had a FANTASTIC day, Dom’s first drive of a rear wheel drive car and first time on track. We all went out with an instructor for our first sessions just to make sure we didn’t do anything stupid and then took it in turns to drive or be passenger.

Me in the queue for the first session of the day
Dominic in the queue
Vince in the queue
Waiting in pit lane ...

 

It never ceases to amaze me how fast you can drive a Lotus round bends safely without losing traction, how fast it accelerates and how fast you can scrub off speed with the brakes. I know the car only weighs 730Kg, but even so ... Bloody Hell :0)

Having had a full day with 8 or 9 sessions, we came in from the last lap and parked with all of us really buzzing from the excitement of the day when Hilary called me over to the airfield entrance from the paddocks.  I duly went over and was rewarded with the sight of a Spitfire on the apron, what an end to the day.

Even better, one of the crew called me over to have a proper look. I went over and spent some 20 minutes chatting to him, I climbed the step at the trailing edge of the wing and had a good look in the cockpit and was then invited onto the wing.  I walked up the wing and finally sat on the leading edge where Dominic joined me for photos.

Dom with the instructor
Vince with the instructor
Andy & Dom
Dom & Andy
Vince & Andy
Vince (The flasher) & Andy
Good looking car .....
Shame about the driver ...
Achtung!!! Spitfire!!!
The driving seat
Caption not necessary!
Leaning casually on the cowling of my Spit.

 

I have to tell you that this was such an emotional experience I was really choked, lost for words.  I have admired Spitfires for years and never dreamed I would be that close to one, let alone sit on one. What make it more special was that there was no one else around, just us, the crew and a Spitfire.

October 2012 - Brake discs & pads

Before the trackday I put a posting on SELOC to ask advice on which replacement brakes to choose as those on the car would need replacing, probably just after the trackday!  Having been overwhelmed with options I retired defeated. We went to the Brands Hatch Lotus festival in August and I met with a company called Seriously Lotus who was recommended to me by many people on SELOC and by a mate John, who also has an Elise – one of my comrades from the Le Mans trip.

After a chat with him about my options and what would be best for me with the use the car gets, he recommended standard discs, but handed ones and Mintex 1144 pads. I was really impressed, he could have sold me the most expensive set he had on display but was keen to sell me what I needed.

With the trackday behind us the brakes were looking decidedly second hand and in need of replacement so the job was on.

The disk and pad replacement was easy, the matter of a mornings work.  I delayed it slightly as I painted the inner parts of the discs with a dark zinc heat proof paint to stop them rusting.  Whilst I was at it, I stripped the awful red paint from the callipers and repainted them with the same heatproof paint.

OSF before ...
OSF before ...
OSF after
OSF after

OSR after

I’m happy with the result, the paint’s still there and looks as good as the day it was applied.  Result.

The new pads took a bit of bedding in, about 200 miles or so. They have much more feel and seem more positive than the OEM ones fitted when I got the car. More confidence inspiring.  The only downside is that they groan slightly during the last half meter of stopping, more so in the dry.

November 2012 – New tyres

Again, post trackday the tyres were ‘beyond their best’ shall we say? Some internet surfing provided the same results as the’ what brakes’ question, but more extreme.  It turns out that my car came from the factory with Bridgestone RE040’s, these are no longer made and are therefore unavailable.  The current tyre of choice is the Yokohama.  These are made by Yokohama ONLY for Lotus and are extortionately priced, just short of £1000 for a set of 4, ouch! Apart from that, they don’t make them too often and so are scarce. I decided not to be ripped off and the hunt was on for a road biased tyre that would provide good service for the occasional trackday, not for a trackday tyre that can be used on the road.

I spoke to tyre specialists, Lotus specialists and other owners and settled on Falken ZE912’s.  These were supplied and fitted by my local independent tyre fitters for under £400 the set. Impressions so far have been excellent.  They feel much more grippy than the Bridgestone’s and haven’t let go once, whereas the Bridgestone’s did, several times in the wet on roundabouts and on braking

December 2012 - Dash refurb.

When I had the car serviced at Lakeside Engineering it was pointed out to me that my car was not standard as it had a black dash and shelf.  Ever since this has been bugging me so at the beginning of the Christmas break I decided to do something about it.

I tried a small area of the underside of the lower shelf with some Nitromors and a soft plastic scraper to see if the paint would come off and what the finish underneath was like. It was with much relief that I discovered the black paint came off well and left me with a nice, original, anodised silver finish. With this confirmed I stripped the dash top, air vents, instrument binnacle, radio and heater controls off of the car and proceeded to strip the paint from the rest of the dash.  This was rather time consuming, very fiddly in places and quite painful – the shapes I had to contort myself into for full access were beyond belief. However, two full days and half a can of Nitromors later I have a nice original silver anodised dash.  I can’t find any reason why a previous owner should have wanted a black dash – no horrors, just two or three tiny scratches to the left and right of the radio.

Testing the paint stripping
Nitromors takes effect
Still more Nitromors
All cleaned off
Radio back in
Finished result

 

Whilst the dash was apart it seemed to be a good time to sort out some sort of illumination for the heater controls .....

December 2012 - Heater control illumination

It seems that the non A/C cars do not have heater control illumination so after fumbling in the dark I decided to do something about it.  Again, looking on SELOC it appears that others feel the same way and have fitted LED’s above the heater controls, but I wasn’t keen on the finished result.

Having examined the heater controls and how they fit to the car I thought that I would be able to sandwich a thin piece of Perspex between the controls and the back of the dash.

So, I bought some 4mm thick Perspex, 8 blue 3mm LED’s, an LM317 voltage regulator and some resistors and fabricated the following ...

The first attempt showed that the LED’s were too dim so I changed a resistor value and got the result I wanted. I fitted this plate between the heater controls and the back of the dash and connected the wires to the output of the lighting relay pack via the voltage regulator and hey presto! Exactly the result I was looking for.

And the final result looks like this ...

December 2012 - Heater fix

This came about as a result of dismantling the dash for the stripping of the black paint. Having got the dash top pieces off I found loads of leaves and what looked like crumbly dehydrated foam. I was rather puzzled by this as this lot was found in an area that does not have any vents to the outside world.  My conclusion was that the opening in the lower part of the dash didn’t seal to the opening in the plenum chamber in the top part of the dash. When the blower is switched on to demist the air is directed to the plenum chamber but was escaping through the joint, resulting in low air volume on demist and debris in the area under the plenum chamber.

You can see the heater connection to the plenum chamber just above and to the left of the radio, it's a rectangular hole.

In this photo you can just make out dead leaves and dust to the right of the radio.

I edged the two holes that are supposed to join together with some self adhesive high density foam tape and when the dash was re-assembled I found I had MUCH better air volume on demist. Only time will tell if it’s sealed properly.  If so, next time I take it apart there should be no debris.

I subsequently had a quick search on SELOC (South East Lotus Owners Club) forum and had my findings confirmed.
 
December 2012/January 2013 - Stack gauges

The Christmas morning present frenzy revealed two Stack gauges – oil pressure and oil temperature, a pod to fit them into and an adapter plate to allow the sensors to be fitted.

Two gauge pod
Adapter plate

Having rebuilt the interior of the car after the dash refurb, heater control illumination and heater fix, I had to dismantle part of it again to fit my new goodies.

The gauges fitted into the pod nicely, it fits between the underside of the dash shelf and the centre tunnel. The adapter plate goes between the oil filter and the engine casing and has the two sensors fitted to it.

The pod in place
Top is Oil Pressure, bottom is Oil Temperature

I made a loom, covered it in snake wrap to protect it.  The loom provides ‘ignition on’ power to the gauges, panel lights and inputs from the sensors.  This loom fitted nicely into the car and only required partial dismantling of the dash and centre tunnel.  The loom exits the cabin through the hole in the rear firewall between the seats where the gear change cables, handbrake cable and wiring loom exit to the underside and engine compartment. Under the car I had to remove the diffuser and rear section of the undertray to give access to the oil filter.  I removed the oil filter without damaging it using a Baby Boa from Homebase. With the filter off I lost about ½ cup of oil – caught in a clean tray, fitted the adapter plate with sensors attached and then re-fitted the filter.  Finally connected the cables to the sensors started the car to check for leaks. Having found none the undertray and diffuser were re-fitted.

Adapter plate and sensors fitted

Phew, the end of a marathon update.

I’ll try to keep them more regular this year and do some more work to the much neglected MGA.

 

 

 

 

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