8.17.13 The Esprit vibe:
A common problem with S2 Esprits seems to be a vibration through the steering wheel that begins in the 50 to 60 mph range. The forums are full of chat about the problem; however, it seems to be an accepted complaint. My car was no different; it shook the steering wheel, instrument binnacle, rear view mirror and body all the way from 52 mph upwards. Not only was it annoying but uncomfortable holding the steering wheel for extended periods of time. Having sorted out the chassis/brakes/suspension I was determined to get to the root of the problem.
First up was aligning the steering rack so the arms were parallel to the road and level when the car was at the correct ride height. It was pretty straightforward to undo the rack mounting bolts and use a magnetic level on the arms to get them lined up. Next up was securing the anti roll bar(ARB). Lotus, in their great wisdom, used it as a forward link for the front suspension as well as a ARB. Unfortunately they didn't secure it to prevent side to side motion which was evident on mine by the wear marks in the fresh paint. Some bar clamps
were sourced from McMaster Carr in the correct 20 mm diameter and fitted inboard of the ARB mounts and snugged up against the rubber bushing. A quick road test and improvements were already noticeable, I would say a 20% improvement.
As I'd had the suspension apart a good alignment was due, it was over 15 years since the last one according to service records with the car. The tires/wheels were balanced and the chassis aligned to factory specs. Again a further improvement with the vibration occurring from 55 to 60 mph, lets call it a further 50% gain for 70% overall. A 500 mile round trip on mountain roads that saw the suspension bottom out a few times was more than enough to bed everything down after the winter's remedial work.
The new Federal tires were nicely worn in and pressures increased to compensate for the soft sidewalls. Lotus originally used Dunlop Sport in a V rating that had quite stiff sidewalls, 18 front and 27 rear the preferred pressures. I found this was too soft on the new H rated ones and eventually ended up at 25 front and 33 rear. This took some more vibration out and reduced the dive under braking. When we balanced them up during the alignment we could see a flat spot on each tire, we suspected this may be the source of the latent vibration. Back to the tire shop to shave 2/32" off each one to true them up. A rebalance to compensate for the rubber removed and weight placed on both the inner and outer edges of the rims foregoing aesthetics for performance.
The result was remarkable, smooth right through the speed range with a very tiny vibration at 59 mph (the lower steering UJ has a slight bit of give). Overall I reckon we are at 98% improvement and JPS # 010 is a joy to drive. Steering feel is much lighter, fatigue through the hands is non existant and the car tracks much truer with very little kickback.
While I was working around the front end a tidy up of the luggage compartment was in order. Brake fluid had spilt and taken some of the floor paint off so it was out with anything that could be unbolted and in with a new coat of trim black paint. The bonnet hinges were looking a bit scabby so those were powdercoated and the underside of the bonnet redone in trim black. All the bolts got cad plated before reassembly. To finish off things nicely I had a quilted cover made for the underside of the bonnet, it cleans everything up and covers the unsightly painted fiberglass. The original spare wheel was still in place so a good scrubbing and treatment with protectant had this looking like new. At sometime wires had been fitted with the wrong connectors so I replaced all the offending items with the correct Lucar ones, an added bonus was the left side indicator started working again. Any more tidying up can wait until the winter.
The trim shop finally finished recovering the console and gear surround. A quick coat of Gliptone black leather paint and they matched perfectly with the surrounding trim. I had an old Blaupunkt cassette radio that came out of one of my Astons, being period correct it fit perfectly in the Esprit. It came with an amp that fit neatly up under the dash to power four new speakers. The ones on the doors had black mesh which I repainted gold to match the original look. We managed to rebuild the original sill and drivers side carpets using the untouched carpet from under the seats, which was replaced by some almost identical black shag pile mats from Walmart of all places.
My todo list is down to a few lines and I have one of the best sorted Esprits around. I've done 1000 miles since putting it back together and every drive gets better. The next few months I'll give it a good thrashing but I doubt I will have to do much to Mario other than add fuel. At least I know how much is in the tanks after fitting a new fuel gauge sender unit. The old one had stuck on empty and Ray at r.d. enterprises had a nice NOS one in stock. When I opened up the tank the old one had very little corrosion but was seized in the housing. Even though I freed it up I still thought it prudent to fit a new one to be on the safe side.
I'm looking forward to getting the Esprit out on the track to see how it handles when pushed. Each trip is an adventure and the JPS is warmly welcomed by loads of admirers.7.29.13 500 miles in a Lotus...and no trouble:
JPS #010 just completed a very enjoyable 500 mile round trip jaunt this past weekend. After sorting it out over the winter this was my first chance to get to know the car. The first day my son and I did 230 miles up through the Cascade Mountain passes on deserted back roads that gave the suspension a through workout. Boy the thing handles well and eats up corners!
We spent the afternoon at the all British Field Meet in Bellevue before heading south on the I-5 Freeway on Sunday. We had no trouble cruising at an easy 75 mph for 250 miles with the Esprit never missing a beat. A slight vibration from the tires is the only thing needing attention. We did a alignment last week and the tires were slightly out of round, a common problem with most Asian built tires. We'll shave them and see if that solves the problem, all the suspension
components have been rebuilt and correctly set.
The fuel gauge lost interest in registering so the fuel sender unit in the tank will need replacing. We had a chance to catch up with the previous owner of #010, he seemed genuinely happy the car is getting lots of love and attention. It was a chance for him to see first hand all the work we had done sorting it so we can drive it regularly and know it will not let us down.6.20.13 On the road again:
136S is back on the blacktop and undergoing a good shakedown. The front end went back together without any trouble. It's all looking like new under the car and everything is nice and tight. With the new headliner in place there's just a few interior trim jobs to complete.
The EBC Yellowstuff brake pads (DP4198R rear/DP4197R front) and the new slotted rotors from Brake Performance are now bedded in and heat cycled. One more bleeding of the system will make sure the pedal stays firm. With Speedbleeder nipples on all the rebuilt brake calipers it's easy to bleed the system in a few minutes. The rear calipers used the SB7100 and the fronts SB51624L.
Jeff at JAE came up with NOS Lotus bearings and seals for the front axles and also new rubber boots for the steering rack. All it required was a good cleaning and repaint before reassembly. Lots of white lithium grease should keep it nicely lubricated for the next 35 years!
A few hours with the wire brush had the chassis cleaned up and a coat of rust preventive paint made it shine. I took particular care to secure all the hoses and pipes so they can't bang around from road vibrations. It was worth the effort as the car is as quiet as a mouse on the road now. The wheel wells and inner spoiler area came in for a coat of trim black. Any redundant holes were sealed up with rubber plugs and all the bolts/nuts/washers/clips cleaned up in the tumbler and ultrasonic cleaner.
A set of NOS gold window trim and cant rails were fitted all round. The rears were original so took some effort to extract! Pond filters replaced the foam in the b-post air vents so dust and insects can't find their way into the car. I had a mate in the UK make a nice display plate for the front of the car "79 JPS" looks great on the euro spec bumper.
The first road test was uneventful other than firming up the Spax shocks to prevent some front end dive under braking. The new tires provide plenty of grip and good ride comfort on the freeway.4.14.13 The other end:
Now the back end is all sorted and re-installed its time to tackle the front end. At some stage Spax shock absorbers and galvanized lower wishbones have been fitted so they don't need any attention other than some cleaning. The original rotors were worn down to their minimums so new ones are on order. I ordered some EBC UPR005 only to discover they are putting Centric ones in the box. Shame EBC don't tell you and charge double what they cost from Centric! The calipers and associated bolts and brackets are being CAD plated. The brake back plates and steering rack mounts are being powder coated. Upon removing the steering rack the only attention needed was a set of boot rubbers. Everything else was to spec and functioning correctly after 42,000 miles and 35 years. While it's apart I'll clean the front end chassis frame and re coat it in rust preventive paint. The wheelarches will get a nice coat of trim black to freshen them up.3.16.13 Disassembled:
It only takes one nut to disassemble a car...but loads of nuts to put it back together! Thankfully after months of unbolting bits that littered my garage floor, it's now time to put it all back where it came from.
Once the JPS was up on the 4 post lift I could find where the oil leaks were coming from and attempt to breach the flow. The crankshaft rear main seal was leaking into the bellhousing saturating the clutch. The gearbox came out to get access, it also had a few leaks that needed addressing. While it was out the driveshaft hubs went off to Jerry at SM World to have the bearings checked and new seals fitted. Jeff at JAE sorted the rear crank seal and the tool to mount it correctly to prevent leaks. The rear casing on the gearbox was also leaking so that was resealed with Loctite 518 Anaerobic gasket maker. While everything was apart I had all the nuts/bolts/housings/calipers Cadmium plated at Precision Metal Finishing in Canby, OR.
The rear discs were down to the minimum so Jeff relieved me of some cash for 2 new ones that are also used on Lancia Gammas of all things. The calipers were rebuilt with new seals after being CAD plated. As the bottom of the car was easily accessible I cleaned off every inch with lacquer thinners. Any brackets were unbolted and powder coated in satin black while the rest of the chassis was finished in rust preventative paint. The fiberglass was cleaned back to the gel coat and areas above the gearbox and in the wheelarches coated with SEM Trim Black.
The handbrake had been MIA for a few years with a broken mounting and seized cable. Getting the bracket involved drilling out the rivets on the sill cover to reach up inside and remove the faulty part. The cable was freed up, lubricated and fitted with a new heatshield. After welding up the mounting lug/bracket I had it powder coated before refitting it.
Leaks from the end of the camshaft covers were sorted with new O rings. A tidy up of the hoses/cables/wires in the engine bay revealed some incorrect parts. New one way vacuum valves were sourced for the brake/AC lines and the one to the charcoal fuel canisters plumbed back in.