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1981 Turbo Esprit Dry sump Restoration - The Lotus Forums Jump to content
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About this blog

The sun was shining, and the Lotus was, as so many are, looking tired and a dejected on the driveway. I decided enough was enough and give it a bloody good going over.

It's been stood for a couple of years now, as it had a gearbox whining issue, and the last time I started it up there was a fuel leak, not to mention that it is streaming oil all over my driveway. The paintwork is very tired and chipped with the interior leather faded and worn. Along with all these issues there was always the worry that one of the old water/ oil lines would eventually give out while I was in the middle of nowhere. So I've taken the plunge into the murky depths of restoration, or at least semi-restoration..... 

Entries in this blog

 

Engine Clean and Machine

It's been a while since I've revisited the Esprit, I've been trying to get some additional finances together to pay for the engine rebuild. When the sun comes out it seems to motivate me to do things, so I striped the engine down to constituent parts and tried to catalog everything by taking pictures, although my iphone seems to lose pictures all the time, what is with that! Anyhow all the castings were sent off to get vapour blasted and have returned shiny like new, a thing of beauty I can tell you. The Main casting has been sent to the machine shop to get Hone bored to take the +0.015"/-0.02" engine bearings which were the only ones available. Unfortunately this block was one of the 100 to 1 blocks that was rebored to +0.015", and subsequently a right pain in the **** to get bearings for! The crank also needs to be reground from -0.01" to -0.02" and then be balanced, with the flywheel, its fixings, the cam belt pulley wheel and washer. At the same time I've given the machine shop the new series 4 ball bearing for the spigot shaft on the transmission to put in the crank shaft. I've also given the pistons to the machine shop to clean up for me, along with the Cylinder head, which I asked to be bolted onto the block whilst it was machined, it gives the block added rigidity that can only help. Now just awaiting the return of this so I can get on with the rebuild. Update to follow, hopefully shortly..... So now I have the block back and the pistons, crank and flywheel plus all the periphery that went along with it, I can crack on with the assembly. Yay! I don't know if any of you have had this problem but it is a right b*gger to get the dry sump off the main block. It's tightened down with 10 x M12 nuts and about 10 x M6 nuts, and once released will come off with a beating from a dead blow hammer......usually! But not this time. I gave up after about an hour and decided to put the little grey cells to use rather than my rather aching muscles. I've now come up with a spreader which I have manufactured using the ends of the casting and 4 M10 bolts to pries them apart. Pictures will be coming shortly.....if it works. And it does....sort of! So after being partially defeated by the main casting I thought I would put together the pistons, how hard can this be! I seem to be thwarted at every turn at the moment. In the manual it clearly states that the gudgeon pin is a finger push fit, well I defy anyone who can push these gudgeons in with their fingers! They came out of the pistons, albeit with a bit of persuasion . I measured the internal diameter of the piston 24.1mm and the outside of the gudgeon at 24.5mm so I suspect that the internal diameter of the piston has bulged a bit. Will be taking it back to the machine shop to get a little bit of material removed and I'll get them to check and assemble them too. All in all a fairly unsuccessful foray into engine building! Will try harder next time!  Some small successes this weekend, the spreader tool worked to a degree, I managed to separate it to a point then tried to pull it apart with my hands. That thing was trapped, can pull it up 5mm one end then go to the other a pull that up 5mm too, only to have the first end drop by 10mm. Got a bit frustrating I can tell you. In the end I resorted to getting two car jacks at both ends and separated it that way! on another note, had the machine shop clean the engine block after machining but there's still swarf and grit in there so I'm going to have to clean the whole block myself, hate that job with a passion ?. Still at least I'll be able to trial out my new parts washer!

davetoff

davetoff

 

Blasted Engine - Dry sump

In the beginning there was light and all was good....... Well up until the point when I removed the cam belt to change it for a nice shiny new one. The crankshaft went clunk, dunk, thug, thought that was a little strange, pretty sure it shouldn't be making that noise )-: My heart sank as I suddenly saw money oozing from the galleries and seals of the engine. When I had stopped crying I decided that action would really need to be taken and find out what needs to be done. I checked the endfloat and it was about 4mm, when it should be 0.08-0.2mm..... so err slightly off. I Knew that the thrust washers had come off, but thought that even with them out this was a little excessive. Initial plan would be to see what was lurking under the dry sump and make a decision from there. So I started stripping off all the ancillaries that I had so lovingly put on just days before. Well at least it was all nice and clean and the bolts weren't rusty and seized, so didn't take too long to remove the plenum and carbs. Even with only those off I felt like I was making immediate progress. Noticed that even though the carbs were cleaned and polished the aluminum had already started to have white corrosion marks on, not good, I'll have to address that when I reinstall. As it was getting cold and late I thought I'd call it a day and attack the engine in the morning. Over night I had been thinking more about it, and realising there and then that this wasn't going to be a quick job, decided to take the engine indoors to my workshop where I can work on it in relative warmth and most importantly the dry, over the winter. This was no mean feat as I had to juggle about a lot of stuff in order to make enough working room around the engine. Why is it that there's never enough storage space? Engine now in the dry I could attack it with zeal, external oil pump was first to go, with about 8 x M6 nuts holding it on, no problem at all, I suppose that all that oil had kept all the nuts nicely protected and lubricated. Very elaborate seal underneath though, it'll have to be an original seal to replace it as I don't fancy cutting that out of the gasket paper. On later internal inspection I found that the annulus and rotor were all good, this was a major plus as these parts are really really rare to get hold of. Whipped the engine over and WD-40'd all fixings that I could see, then went for a cuppa tea. Refreshed and bolts readily soaked, started removing the lower ones on the sump, working my way from the centre outwards, some where extremely tough to get going....a bigger lever was needed. Then removed the smaller nuts around the edge of the casting, these were a b*gger because the casting itself wraps around the nut so tightly that you can only just get a socket on only half the top of the nut. There wasn't a hope in hell of getting any spanner on it either. Felt like this could have been the turning point for me, if I'd struggled too much and either stripped the threads or the outer edges, I'd probably had thrown my tools down in a strop and paid someone to finish the job for me. End seals were then removed, well partly, the cam belt end wasn't going to come off without a special tool that I'd have to make up, so I let it dangle there in the mean time and proceeded onwards. Narrowly escaping the major strop and excessive output of cashflow paying someone to do this engine rebuild for me, I got all the nuts off. Now for teasing the aluminum casting off the long studs, which all in all took about 1 hour. Rubber mallet and casting now severely beaten into submission and with the lower half of the crank casing on the work bench, I inspected the innards like a surgeon and he's poorly patient. As suspected the thrust washers had indeed come out, but were whole, thought they may have been mushed into a billion pieces, good sign. But then there was this additional ring that had been broken, pretty sure that that wasn't supposed to be there. Later investigation on the LF and eyeing it up against the crank in the daylight showed that is was part of the casting of the crankshaft, which had cracked in a perfect circle around the main bearing. Cause was that the number 5 main bearing wasn't getting enough oil from the reworked chamfer on the crank case casting. The PO didn't line up the Vee with the Chamfer so it was starved of all oil, not good for something that was rotating that quickly against another metal object. Took the parts and engine up to Lotusbits for an expert assessment and advice. Although I knew the crank was toast, I thought that the rest would be ok to put back, considering the pistons were new and beautifully forged. However there was a large amount of float on the pins in the piston, so a new set of Mahle forged pistons were purchased along with seal set and rings. looks like this is turning into a full rebuild /-: Have to keep reminding myself that this is a preservation project to keep our heritage on the road. It turns out that the dry sump that I have is the 1 in 100 that was bored out to 0.015", which generally means that because the main bearings are as rare as hens teeth that the sump is now a lovely oily door stop. Only two options available to me:  1. Buy a wet sump engine. or 2. Skim the top off the original lower crank casing and line bore back to standard with a 2nd hand upper casting already at standard size. I wasn't liking any of these options, first one would not only take a vast amount of money out of my pocket it would also depreciate the dry sump engine car.  So like most OCD Lotus Esprit drivers I started trawling the internet adamant that I could get the holy grail of bearings to fit my car. By hook or by crook I will find some til my dying day!!!!!!!!!   Update to this.... Amazing I found some bearings +0.015" ....yay!!!! I got a mate to send them to me ....yay!!!! Haven't received them yet and this is 3 days after being posted 1st class .....boo!!!!! I'm now quietly crying in the corner of my house while I write this ? Fingers are still crossed that they turn up, could be the Black Friday post is a little slow this week.... Update to the Update Bearings have now turned up, they were sat safe and sound in the post office waiting for collection, only problem was that they didn't tell me they were there!! Good old PO, anyway I nearly keeled over when I opened the box and saw the gleaming bearings glinting in the sunshine. My daughter thought I'd gone a little loopy when I started doing a little jig on the pavement. However she benefited from my unusually generous behaviour by receiving a big chocolate bar from the newsagents. My happiness was alas short lived though, when one of the really really rare bearings, as opposed to the really rare bearings, was scuffed.....oh man, from ecstasy to misery in a few short minutes. I'm not sure I can take this sort of feeling, my constitution isn't used to these roller coaster emotions. Phoning back Phil, who I'd originally bought the bearings from bared no fruit, apart from a sharp discussion about not wanting to return the money to me for supplying a faulty bearing. Eventually all was sorted and my task for looking for another one started out in earnest. Thanks to this forum and in particular JerryS for pointing me in the right direction it turns out these bearings weren't as rare as I was led to believe, apparently they were still available at source, so I got them to send another one through. It just goes to show that when someone gives you advice on something, it's sometimes worth doing the donkey work to find out for yourself!  Next installment will be the building of the engine which I will start a new blog for....... One last note, a friend of mine keeps reminding me that so many people generally give up on their restoration, for the very same reason, too much stress and emotional turmoil that it's difficult to take on a constant basis. I think everything had gone so well for me up to this point I'd fooled myself into thinking it would continue on this vein, and when it went a little south, I began to wobble slightly. I feel I'm now over a hurdle and stronger for it.....bring it on!  

davetoff

davetoff

 

Status report

Progress report.... Interior trim has come back from the upholsterers and looks fantastic, decided to go for black carpets as all the dirt showed on the old cream ones. And a black binnacle, hated being blinded by the sun on journeys, and considering that most of the journeys I will do in this will be when the sun is shining I thought it a prudent decision. Engine has been stripped of all ancillaries and has been cleaned and painted silver using high temp paint, looks the dogs cahooners at present, along with all the ancillaries which have either been painted, replaced or repaired and are also slowly being put back on. I've also completely rebuilt the carbs and put in new seals, fixings and internal float chamber valve, after cleaning in the sonic carb cleaner tank. This is the second time I've done this in a few years so it was fairly fresh in my memory! I did find an issue with the throttle arm, it wouldn't go all the way down because it was interfering with the body of the carb, so grinded a little off the arm and now goes all the way down. The stop screw is still there to make sure that this is still adjustable, it's just not relying on the inaccurate body of the carb to stop over throttling. An issue I had with the new alternator I'm trying to replace, the pulley wheel wouldn't come off initially, but a bit of head scratching and a pair of sensitively placed mull grips soon released the little beggar. This I then tried to put on the new alternator I'd purchased, only to find that the shaft was a different size, I'll have to get a collar machined up to try and rectify this error. All pipework has also been checked and replaced or repainted with high temp heat paint and now looks great, can't wait to assemble all onto the car. My misses wasn't happy about using the Aga to cure all the high temp heat paint on the parts, made the house smell bad, and getting the engine into that small oven was a squeeze  Got a load of silicone pipes through the post so will start cutting these to the correct lengths soon, along with the angled pieces, although I've seen a slight problem on the horizon, there is a "s" shaped piece coming directly out of the engine and I'm pretty sure with the bends that I have I won't be able to replicate this, so will need to get this made up especially....more additional expense, wallet is feeling the pinch  Transmission is my next big task, bought a new uprated circlip from our friend overseas and hopefully this will sort out the whining problem I was getting. Finances are quite tight at present, so wanted to trial this fix first before committing to a refurbished transaxle. Anyone have any experience in doing this, if so a few pointers would be very helpful? Found a paint guy who is recommended, has painted fibreglass, and is reasonably priced so once the engine is back in, and the dash too I'll get it trailored over to him.... Definitely can see the light at the end of the tunnel.    

davetoff

davetoff

 

The Engine's in the detail

Engine was looking very shabby with paint flaking off it and corroded aluminium spots all over so I thought that it would be nice to give it a clean and possibly paint the seen bits...... oh how wrong can I be, I've now virtually stripped it down and am now in the process of cleaning and shot blasting everything on it, then on to spraying the bits in wrinkle black and silver and only then to add them all back in )-: Here's a before picture.  And the after shot....  

davetoff

davetoff

 

Scratch the surface

Why is it that as soon as you remove one thing you notice another job needs doing underneath ? Once I had removed the fuel tanks I noticed something leaking under the oil tank. Since it was looking a little forlorn anyway I thought I'd remove the tank and spruce it up a bit. It was a bit of a b*rstard getting  it out but finally decided to remove the bracket that it sits on, as I thought this would make it easier, but it was still stuck. Thinking I would have to remove the inaccessible hose at the bottom of tank to release the immovable object, I suddenly realised that the plug sticking into the wheel arch was stopping the tank coming out. Sheepishly I removed the plug and low and behold it came out no problem. Underneath the tank was 30 years of slow leaking oil, any amount of flies, insects, and detritus that had found their way into the crevice. Rubber-gloved up I cleaned and scrapped until all was good once more. Oil tank had a bit of surface rust on, and oil on the bottom, but generally it was in pretty good shape. Once I sanded the surface rust away with wire brush on an angle grinder, and treated it, primed it and painted it gloss black. Opening up the bottom to reveal a broken tea strainer, the top cover had come away which had made it pretty much useless. so got some oil resistant glue and bonded it back, after blowing compressed air through the mesh to clean it thoroughly. I then washed the casting with petrol and cut a new gasket and added some gasket sealer. I thought I'd also replace the hoses for new high pressure ones at great expense, I think the man must have seen me coming. Once I'd picked myself off the ground and after he'd cleaned my wallet out, I installed the shiny hoses back on the tank. Then just as I was putting it back noticed that the bracket had snapped that holds the tank in place. I welded it back together, sanded it all down and gave to two coats of primer and satin black to finish it off. I also noticed that the electrical lines under the tank weren't very neat so thought they could do with a clean and tidy up too. Re wrapping the electrical cable with insulating tape and cleaning the battery cables, then refixing with cable straps back to the body. Bolted tank back in place, and after slicing my finger open on the jubilee clips (didn't realise they were so sharp) sat back and admired my handywork, pretty pleased with the result as this is now the turning point when I start bolting everything back in ???    

davetoff

davetoff

 

Seat runners

Seats went up for leathering a few weeks back, but the runners were in a bad state. I decided to get them powder coated but needed to dismantle them in order to do so. I had to grind down the little bumps on the top hat section parts in order to remove the rollers and plastic carriers. Then I drilled out a 3.5mm hole in those parts so that i can add an m3 nut and bolt to hold the runners in place when reassembling. Unfortunately i had to grind off the pin too so that i could remove the pivot arm, this I shall replace with a nut and bolt, if there's room. It felt a bit of a shame removing the pin as it was an original neat solution. But it had to be done to get a good result, i'll try and source a company that can redo this but I'm not holding out much hope in finding one. ? Old seat runners shown below before they were sent to the Powder coaters   Mmmmm new runners from the powder coaters........alright not new, but they look good don't they? I have also washed the plastic inserts that the bearings where in and treated myself to a full set of new bearings, which cost a pretty penny, this car is emptying my wallet very quickly )-: Anyway now I've got to remember how these went together, although I'm going to leave it til the winter (it's an indoor's job), got plenty of other outdoor jobs to be getting on before the weather turns too cold! Onwards and upwards....

davetoff

davetoff

 

Fuel tanks removed

Hip hip hooray, I've managed to pull the fuel tanks from the car, what an ordeal. I was cursing the designer of these tanks all the way through. How could anyone think that they were a good idea I don't know! Anyway they are out. I wanted to inspect them for corrosion and replace the horrible foam with some closed cell stuff. The up side is they are in pretty good condition, I'll sand down the surface rust and respray with satin black shortly. One problem I did find however was that when I removed the nearside tank there was a metal funnel rattling around in the bottom. I removed it but have a feeling that it's something to do with the inner workings of the tank ? If this is the case (i've posted a query on the forum hoping to get some identification for the object) then I'll need to get it looked at by a specialist ? Hoping it's just fallen into the tank from the filler. Anyway here's what they look like out of the car with the old foams. This is the last thing I need to strip out of the car, so from now on it's just a case of refurbing the parts and putting them back in....yay!   Well after using a lot of elbow grease sanding and cleaning the fuel tank, then treating all rust spots, priming and painting I finally managed to end up with a newly painted fuel tank....Only one more to do!!!   So both tanks done, fitted back into the car and all brackets, boards, fixings, vacuum thingy-ma-gigs and electrical connectors added to their rightful positions. I can have a little rest now knowing I've only got the engine detailing, transaxle fixing, to replace all pipes, refit interior, prep for paint and then reattach all bright work and bodywork!!!! ?  

davetoff

davetoff

 

Visor Upgrade

Now these visors are a little bit tricky, because while I was pulling off the material the cardboard underneath tore and the whole structure came apart. I decided that the only thing to do was to make new substrates for them, and as I do CAD for work thought that a 3D print of them would be best. Unfortunately although I've done the modelling of the parts, the 3D printers can only just take the size required. The upshot is that I'm going to have to wait until there is a lull in workload at work before I can get my hands on them. . The metal parts, a frame and two chromed sliders where also corroded. In fact when I took them to the plater's they laughed at them. Once they had picked themselves up from the floor they said that they would "give it a go"! Amazingly enough when I received them back they had done a very good job, I believe that they (the platers) are using this as a test case for how bad things can get! I'll take that as a compliment  I'll send updated photos of the nice shiny parts once I've also received the 3D printed parts...hopefully soon!

davetoff

davetoff

 

Headlining Upgrade

Started to refurbish the headlining and visor today. Decided to recover with alcantara, it's automotive grade, gives an similar colour match to original, hard wearing, readily available and looks the bees knees. Most of the metal brackets on the cantrail trim had surface corrosion on, but there was plenty of meat to work with so I shot blasted them and then primered and repainted with satin black. Stripping off the old material on the cantrail substrate and gluing on the new material was an easy job and one that was quite satisfying. I'll do the same thing with the head rail, but will need to get my sewing machine out to incorporate the clock area.....Not good at sewing /-:

davetoff

davetoff

 

Interior Trim removal

So the moment I was dreading, as I'd heard all sorts of horror stories about removing the interior trim. Yes there were a few grazes, cuts and bruised knuckles, but generally it was ok. Removing the dash was a little bit of a head scratcher  but eventually found the screws underneath and removed them with relative ease. Some of the screws were welded with rust, and they were a bit of a b*gger, but I'll replace these with stainless steel screws when I put it all back in so that the next person won't have as much of an issue. Took the headliner out and found that the foam had disintegrated to dust, which then collected in my airways and eyes. After the temporary blindness and coughing had abated, I then started on the aftermarket  sunroof which had some screws on the outside and some on the inside, all of which were rusted and quite painful to remove. Tunnel and back panel, seats and door cards were relatively simple, needing no more than a screw driver and a bit of patience. Holy moly what a mess the car looks when everything is out... God help me what have I done  Sent the interior of to get re-leathered at a place in Birmingham, I went up there to see them and they were doing a nice job on the seats so thought I would give them the rest of the interior too, decided on a light cream interior as per the original, but black carpets and binnacle. Couldn't stand the reflection of the binnacle on the windscreen whilst driving in sunny weather. Decided to sort out the visors and headliner myself, but I'll make a separate blog for this...  

davetoff

davetoff

 

Rubber hose removal

Removed all the rubber hoses and took loads of photos, I only hope I can remember where they all go! Bought a silicone hose set from ebay, but they are for an S4, most of them will be ok, but the ones I’m missing I will get made up as I go along.... This is turning into an epic, I wanted to have all the water hoses in blue, oil hoses in black, fuel hoses Stainless steel braid and Vac hoses in another colour (haven't decided this just yet). Well it's ok for most of the water as there is plenty of choice around for Silicone hoses, the problem I stumble on is when there is a bend at the end of a very long hose. Most suppliers do 90 deg 135 deg and 180 deg bends but are limited in length. One of the hoses I have is 850mm long with a 135deg bend on the end and about 50mm long on the other side, it's a water hose and I'd quite like it in blue )-: think I might have to compromise on this one! Also found a few pin holes in the metal connectors, which I've now replaced with SJ Sportcar ones, so much for keeping the spend down, trials and tribulations of lotus restoration I suppose. Still I'm having fun, tinkering and spending!

davetoff

davetoff

 

Engine and Gearbox removal

I have now removed the engine and gearbox, this is with the intention of changing the cam belt, water pump and all rubber pipework with silicone hoses. Not only this but the gearbox whine needs to be looked at. I've come to the conclusion that a reconditioned gearbox is the best course of action, albeit an expensive one. No real problems here apart from the fact that my crane was only just high enough to get the engine and gearbox over the tail at the back of the car. Even with the load leveler, I had to lower the car on its jacks in order to get it over and then lift it manually as well. A few scratches and loads of expletives later I managed to haul it out….yay. Not too worried about the scratches for now as I am going for a respray anyway. However I think I will either hire an ‘A’ Frame to put it back in or separate the engine and gearbox and put them in individually, haven't decided which yet!

davetoff

davetoff

 

Dismantling

Since my original starting statement I have progressed considerably, so will try and break it down into bloggable chunks with photos. But before I tell you all about that maybe some photos to wet your appetite of how bad the car is.  A Lot of photos of the interior I'm afraid exterior ones where taken after I thought about making a blog....  

davetoff

davetoff


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