hilly

1981 - 1985 S3/Turbo Esprit Suspension Upgrade

56 posts in this topic

This may be of interest to a lot of S3 and Turbo Esprit owners with cars aged between 1981 and 1985 (pre front suspension re-design).

The above cars use front suspension components sourced from the BL pats bin, this was done to reduce costs by utilising compnents accross the Lotus range. So what these models have is suspension uprights from Triumph Herald Vitesse/GT6 cars with lotus lower/upper arms and hub.

Instead of using a ball joint for the lower suspension link like on the older and newer cars, Lotus were stuck with using trunnions.

A trunnion is basically just a threaded pin (part of the cast iron upright) which fit into a threaded socket (brass unit fitted to the lower suspension arm) as you can see in this picture.........

IMG_1063750x562.jpg

Now these trunnions have a whole load of undesirable issues

1) The suspension geometry changes as you turn the steering wheel as it is going up/down a thread (not much, but it does).

3) They need regular oiling (not grease as this can harden and cause the following problem)

2) They have a tendancey to snap off at the base of the thread which BAD news!!!!!

The threaded pin on the upright has a hole drilled up the middle of it to allow oil to be pumped into the joint via a grease nipple.

This drilling combined with material loss due to corrosion (remember the upright is made from cast iron so rusts) or poor maintenance can mean that the upright snaps causing complete loss of wheel control. Now I have yet to see this on an Esprit, but I have on a number of Triumphs and the results are not pretty.

As time goes by this is bound to start happening to Esprits and as they are a fair bit faster than a Herald, the damage will probably be worse........

This has been an issue I wanted to address since owning the car and after a long search for a solution, one has arrived.....

A company called Canley Classics have developed trunnionless front uprights.

You get a pair of complete new re-designed uprights which are a swap in replacement for the old ones.

The trunnion thread at the bottom has been replaced with a fitting for a rose joint and the whole area beefed up, plus no need for regular lubrication.

Here are the new uprights along side an old one.

IMG_1056.jpg

And a close up of the new ball joint.

IMG_1057.jpg

Comparing the old and new you can see there is a lot more material where it matters plus there is no hole drilled up the middle to weaken things.

IMG_1062.jpg

It takes a couple of hours to fit each side, but it is all simple stuff.

IMG_1059.jpg

Canley Classics sell 2 types and the Esprit uses the more beefy GT6 uprights (CATKIT1).

A pair of uprights come in at

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I do agree with Hilly that if yo are in the market to uprate your front upright this is a good upgrade but I have yet to find anyone who has actualy snapped an upright. This is however common on a GT6 but then again that is a front mounted engine and a heavy bugger at that. I have a friend who specialises in these cars and on his advice I replaced mine with new ones.

So if you are in the market they sound like a perfect upgrade but I don't think most will need to worry too much. Mind you it would help if you oiled the buggers every now and again :lol:

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ooooh good sales pitch :lol:

Yeah, I kinda looked at what I had typed and thought, hmmmmmm, sounds like I own Canley.....

Trouble is if I didn't mention who I got them from I only would have been asked anyway, so plug it was.

I have yet to find anyone who has actualy snapped an upright.

Me neither.

A friend of mine had got a 1500 Spitfire which he has had converted to a 2.5l straight 6 (into a GT6 basically) and he pointed them out to me.

The near side upright on my car was very corroded due to lack of lubrication when I got it 5 years ago (the trunnion was infact full of water when I dismantled it) so needed changing anyway.

I have put it off until now as I was looking for such a replacement.

Hilly

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Shit! :blush: I just replace trunions and ball joint and tie rod ends.

Clay

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I had a 1300 Spitfire which I tuned the engine and put wide alloys on and did nothing else (except replace clutches every 6 months or so) and then drove it like I was 19! Wait I was 19.

The passenger side trunion did indeed snap as described. These were the weaker of the two designs and not the ones found on Lotus but they are pretty similar.

I was fortunate that I was just leaving my office at the time and there were those coarse plastic speed bumps on the industrial park which I suspect you are all familiar with. This was the last straw and the front just collapsed as the wheel disappeared into the arch. This was at about 5-10mph so not very scary but I wouldn't want to do this at normal speeds, even 30mph could have ended up being nasty.

Even if you are not sure about the strength of the standard upright those parts with the ball joint look great. :blush:

cheers

-Chris

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I've repaired a couple of them in my shop that had snapped, and am aware that others have broken as well. Get them out of there!!

I hope that somehow word can be passed around throughout the Triumph community as well about the conversion. It may truly be a lifesaver!

Regards, Lee

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Driving the rough roads of rural Norfolk I might consider that change myself.

These trunnions were standard fitment on Sevens for donkey's years too.

Mine is a later model that uses a rose jointed lower fixing .. trunnions don't like hard work on tracks!!

Interesting to see Canley Classics also do an uprated hub kit, another upgrade I've done to the Seven - seems they have followed Caterham's lead - even after 50 years the Seven is still at the forefront of technical evolution !! :wallbash:

Edited by Nifty

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hilly, you sir are a bloody gent and a half!! they will do nicely for me thank you :thumbsup: mine are fine but when i fit the brake upgrade kit from pnm that kellys got me for xmas i will fit those also.

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Hey Hilly :) I was wondering what your feedback was on the trunionless steering was after 3.5 years?

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Well........................

It hasn't been plain sailing, but over all pretty good.

These units are designed for Herald/Spitfire and a a consequence don't transfer over to the Esprit without a bit of adjustment.

Nothing major, just a couple of minor tweaks which relate to the bottom bearing carrier.

1) the 1/2" nut which holds the upright to the ball joint can clobber the bottom carrier at extremes of suspension travel, this caused the ball joint to wear prematurely, this was fix by the simple addition of a 5mm sleeve to move the nut away from the carrier.

You could get the same effect by necking down the back of the nylock nut, but my solution is re-useable

2) the bottom ball joint carrier fits onto the bottom suspension arm using the same single bolt as the trunnion. However seeing as there is also a ball joint with this new upright means that the carrier can pivot about on the arm, further increasing problem 1)

The trunnion doesn't suffer from this as the long thread in the bottom of the upright doesn't move about like a ball joint, the single bolt can't be tightened up enough to prevent movement.

So to get around this I just welded the carrier to the arm with a couple of small tack welds (nothing to big so that if ever needed the carrier could easily be replaced) and the problem is fixed.

Other than that it has been fit and forget.

Hilly

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The only time my car has 'failed to proceed' in 15 years was when an upright snapped, so it certainly does happen on Esprits. Luckily I was only going 5mph, 30 seconds from home (following an earlier high speed run...) It then leaves you a tricky problem of moving the car....

I suppose fatigue and kerbing (not by me!) may have taken its toll after 27 years. They actually seem a lot more reliable than Morris Minor trunnions. I have seen a number of these in a state of collapse over the years.

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Useful reminder this was...been intending to do this mod., and have now ordered the kit!! Never did like trunnions....

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I dunno, I quite like trunnions - A brass threaded suspension joint that needs oiling every 1000 miles seems like the last link with a bygone age. Thought you of all people would appreciate that John.....

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Hilly, did you notice any change in roadholding? From the photos it looks like the roll centre and camber control could have changed.

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So what kind of oil did Q use on 007's trunnions?

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I have a mk3 Spitfire as well as my Esprit and have owned plenty of Triumphs in the past.

I had a trunnion snap in Staines High Street (spitfire) and another snap in the middle of Egham roundabout (gt6)!

Hilly being local will appreciate how much inconvenience I must have caused to other motorists breaking down

in those busy places!

Kind of related to topic, I actually don't have trunnions on my Esprit as its the post 85 model but the PO had

new springs and shocks fitted maybe 1000 miles ago. He said that they may have fitted the wrong ones- no kidding

it looks like an off roader! Its ruining the look of the car but I wondered if there is a difference in spring length- ie

pre 85s have been fitted? Sparky has checked it over, theres no damage or anything? My remedy is hopefully

to fit pro-tech adjustables to bring it down or but a barrel of water in the front compartment! :whistle:

Brought it into work at 6.30am this morning, no one on the road- what a drive!

Mark

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Oh no, please don't fit the pro-techs if the springs are at fault, and don't fit the pro-techs is a certain specialist supplies the springs to go with it.

you really need to find out what springs are fitted, then work out what to do from there.

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Yes it does seem a shame to change as they are recent but the stance does ruin the look of the car-

Identification wise the springs are yellow if that narrows it down as to what they are?

Regards, Mark

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HI EVERYONE... PLEASE READ THIS.... CC SPORT AND RRF CLASSIC CARS / VERMONT / USA HAVE BEEN DEVELOPING A KIT FOR THE LOTUS ELITE AND ELCATS AND HAVE DETERMINED IN TESTING THAT USING THE STOCK KIT MADE FOR THE TRIUMPH GT-6 CAN AND WILL CAUSE FULL SUSPENSION FAILURE !!!!

RRF CLASSIC CARS / VERMONT / USA STRONGLY ADVISES NOT USING OR DRIVING ANY LOTUS CAR USING A STOCK CC SPORT / CANLEY CLASSICS, UK GT-6 TRUNNION FREE KIT. WE HAVE DOCUMENTED FAILURES IN TESTING.

IF YOU THINK BRAKING A TRUNNION IS BAD YOU WILL BE DUMB FOUNDED BY WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN THIS WRONG KIT FAILS. THE CANLEY CLASSICS KIT IS 100% SAFE FOR THE GT-6 IT WAS DESIGNED FOR AND NOT THE LOTUS LINE OF CARS FOR ANY REASON.

BOTH CANLEY CLASSICS, UK AND RRF CLASSIC CARS / VERMONT / USA ARE BOTH COMMITTED TO OFFERING RELIABLE PARTS THAT FIT CORRECTLY FOR THERE INTENDED USE.

AS SOON AS THE NEW CC SPORT / RRF CLASSIC CARS KIT IS READY TO MARKET WE WILL BE GLAD TO OFFER THEM.

THANK YOU, TRUNNION FREE

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First post....shouting loudly...seems to have a commercial interest? I would be interested to see what evidence there is for this allegation...as I'm about to fit one of the "dangerous" kits to my Esprit...and Hilly doesn't seem to have broken his, yet, with the V8 in the back....

Just done a Google search for both RRF Classic Cars and CC Sport with no sign of either of them anywhere.

Hello there, TrunnionFree...I see you're lurking out there...do you have any further details/photographs of the failures?

Edited by molemot

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To be fair, Hilly did iderntify thet there was a further engineering mod required to cater for the differences between a Triumph and Lotus lower link, I assume that's probably where the issue lies.

Steve

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I met Robert (TrunnionFree) by accident on Saturday at the Tanglewood British Motorcar Festival (photos here) as we drooled over a Concours-quality Type 14 Elite, and he has some interesting things to say about the retrofit trunnions, but I'll let him reply. But here's a shot of Robert's Type 75 Elite with the new prototype upright in the rear window.

post-6978-0-59179200-1308598542_thumb.jp

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Yes, Robert...that's the thing in question! I bought a kit from Canley a few months back, so they're available sometimes!! Matt...thanks for the photo and report...I've had a PM from Bob and things are a bit clearer now. Still waiting to hear exactly what the problems are...

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