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Recommissioning an Excel

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Damper failed

Well, since restoring this car I've not used it much. That's not much for a car that I planned to be my daily driver. I used the red one quite a bit until I finally traced the misfire issues and so had confidence in being able to get to the destinations and return under the car's own power. I used the Berlingo when the weather was cold as it has a heather that is effective in less than 10 mins of engine running. I've now purchased a Signum as I'm ferrying my elderly parents around a lot and they cannot fit in the Excel and my Mother had difficulty getting in the rear seats of the Berlingo, and the Signum is more reassuring to drive than the Berlingo so there's less of a fear issue driving the Signum.

The last few times I drove the gold Excel I noticed a knocking noise on uneven road surfaces. I tried the exhaust, driveshafts,. I tried spacing the damper further from the A arm so that they couldn't possibly make contact.
With the car on the ramps (supported by its wheels) I discovered that the knock was replicated if I merely applied a small amount of upward force to the subframe. I managed to eliminate the body/subframe mounting form the list of options and so remove the damper. On inspection I have discovered that the damper has a knock in it giving circa 5mm of longitudinal movement without dampening, almost as though low on oil I suspect something inside has come apart. As the dampers are probably more than 2 years old despite the low mileage I doubt I'll the the manufacturer to honour the warranty, and without finding purchase info I doubt they'll even agree to assist in the funding of the repair, so I'm going top purchase just one damper (which is something I'd normally not do) on the basis the other damper (driver's side) is very new and has had very little use so it should be a reasonable match to the new one.





Ever since taking the car out of the garage (spring time) I had a misfire, slight at tick-over, fine at full throttle but very pronounced under acceleration, although it went away sometimes. I'd tried carb adjustment, ignition system and finally noticed a correlation between issue and fuel level in the tank (I'd initially though it was fresh fuel made it go the first time).
In the knowledge the issue only became really noticable at 1/2 full tank and got worse until at 1/4 full it was a real PITA, I ordered a new fuel pump. Today I fitted it (Facet type) and despite the car being nearly at 1/4 tank it seems to idle without a misfire, although it may become more smooth once I've re-adjusted the mixture (it must have been slightly over-rich compared to optimum to counter the pump issue).

Now, to get on with other things and possibly go shopping and take the car for a test run.




Still misfiring

I have found that having enriched no 2 (that's the cylinder than showed little change when the plug was pulled during idle at misfire (so assumed that's the one), the idle misfire goes. I have since found that the misfire had pretty much gone at acceleration also, and gone at constant throttle. It did, however, give a misfire under prolonged idle and acceleration following prolonged idle, as though the plug is becoming flooded.
I think it may be spark related, either strength or timing. Although you'd expect both to be the same across all cylinders, a bit of corrosion on the reluctor could do it. As a result, I'm getting a dissy to swap it out with. I'll also try an new coil.

I cannot try much out on the car as a couple of days ago it sprung a PAS leak which I mistaken thought was the rack (two puddles each approx 6 inches in from the wheels) but having been under the car, dried it off and then been under the car with engine running and steering wheel wiggled I've found it's a poor repair on the PAS supply pipe to the rack. As it's push in connectors and a non-standard pipe to the older style pump, I've ordered new pipes from Lotusbits.

I also traced the exhaust leak, thought it was the flexi, as the car grounds out on some speed bumps but also the pat as I drive into and out of my driveway each day. It seems it was just a nut having come loose that secures the down pipe to the manifold, probably worked loose due to the repeated jarring.

While under the car I also noticed a slight leak of hydraulic fluid on the clutch slave cylinder, so new one ordered, will need to fit before that slight bleeding turns to a leak that's enough to let pressure fail.




Grrrrr Misfiring, again

It's been misfiring in certain situations for pretty much as long as I've been running it. The other night (why did it coincide with the night I was due to go to a car meet?) it went form partial misfire under acceleration to full missing on one cylinder under any condition.

Spark is good, compression seems good, I've checked for blocked jets and fiddled with the mixture. It's still not right, but that may now be due to a soaked plug while checking out how much the engine speed dips when disconnecting that plug lead.

One possibility is the reluctor in the dissy, the four spikes of that can each give a different signal, so a rusty one / bent one could mean a spark at the incorrect time.

Given up at the moment, so have fitted the driver's door check spring. What a pain of a job with the door one the beam. Couple of hours, but the £1 worth of metal is now in place and the door stays open when required.




Window switch- all day

Not strictly true that the window switch took all day. Once I had the door trim off it seemed sensible to investigate the central locking. First thing, no fuse, not blown, just not one in the slot. Fiddled with the driver's door module, no avail. I took it off and apart and found a few issues and eventually got it to respond to the power but that involved pulling the motor apart, cleaning the armature of rust and a few other things.
I pulled the passenger door one off, found lots of water but still couldn't get the system to work. Lots of effort and I resorted to a meter to check that power was getting where it should when it should and that lead to the discover that one of the wires inside the door actuator had rotted through and left a gap of approx 4 mm between it and the copper plate it was supposed to be joined to. Replaced that wire, soldered it all up and things started working better. Put it all back on the car, all working fine. Put the trim back on the driver's door, and it stopped. I readjusted both actuators and it worked.
The thing I've found is that mine (Lotus fitment) has a master on the driver's door but only a slave on the passenger's door. That means I can lock and unlock via the driver's door internally and externally, either will operate both doors. Try and do the same on the passenger's door and it simply cycles and returns to the position it was in, with the driver's door following suit.

Radio was simple, just unplug two wires and transpose them, window switch was simply a case of rotating it.

Slowly getting the little things done. if I'm to run this car as the daily driver for a while then I want things tro work and it to drive well, which leads me to another job, the rear bushes.
It pulls to the right when accelerating hard. I will check the alignment but suspect it's bushes failed allowing the lower wishbone to move out of alignment, although it could be as simple as different tread patterns on the tyres- I must swap wheels with the other car to check this out.




Oh for pities sake- another faulty switch.

Having put the car partially back together I discovered that although the wipers then correctly parked when switched off (the original fault) the intermittent wipe feature was no longer, intermittent. It caused the wipers to be on low speed constantly.
Having resigned myself to the need for a new switch, time being the awkward bit about it, not the £9 expense, I realised late last night that I had one more switch not in use and easily accessible. Now, having raided the switch from the silver car, I have working wipers and a new switch on order for the silver car.




Electrical glitches

It went to Stratton Motor Company last week for the ARB mounting bracket recall work. It was misfiring on the way there and the way back, so bad that they didn't take it for a test run for the work, which was fair enough.
The misfire was partially due to the MOT in the winter, to get it to pass the emissions I had to wind the mixture in so much that it ran weak, that was due to a failing (I didn't know that until after I left) AB14. The AB14 failed on the way home form the MOT.

So, last weekend it was time to check the timing, it was approx 1 degree out, which wasn't bad as part of the symptoms of the failing AB14 was the firing to become erratic when warm, so getting to to 11 degrees was chance. Once the timing was corrected, I corrected float heights by approx 1mm, set the mixture to basic and sorted the air bleed so that all venturi were even. It not runs smoothly.

That left me with, fuel gauge not functioning, wipers only parking correctly when on intermittent and the radio having the switched and permanent supplies transposed.
The fuel gauge turned out to be a poor connection from the loom to the gauge, that was despite me getting +12v at the sender unit from the gauge.
After much disassembly and swapping of parts I found the wiper issue to be the park switch, what through me and made me not suspect it was that the wipers parked on intermittent. At least I got to clean the motor out and grease the wiper mechanism.

Now to try and put it all back together, then work on the radio supplies and window switch (one is upside down).




Response from dealer

A few weeks ago I mailed the local dealer (Stratton Motor Company, Longstratton, Norfolk) asking if there was any chance of a recall activity being done FOC. I had by now assumed they'd either not received the mail or were not getting any info from Lotus Cars. Yesterday I received an email from Ian (Service Manager) confirming the work hadn't been done and so was outstanding and that he would now order the parts.

What's noteworthy about this is not what they are doing but how long it is after the recall was issued but they are still happy to do it. There's no requirement for a manufacturer to undertake recall work on an unlimited time-scale they can easily argue the customer has taken many years longer than normal to respond, the car has no issues despite being 25+ years old so really doesn't need the work, but they are doing it with no hesitation.

Thank you Lotus Cars
Thank you Stratton Motor Comany.

Now to book the car in.




MOT test done- and it passed

It went for its second MOT test (since I've owned it) and it passed, one failure point was the RHS rear fog lamp not working but I fiddled with the lamp at the station so he re-tested it and passed it.
The car was an absolute PITA that day, started well, drove OK for most of the journey but become troublesome once it got hot, almost stalling as I arrived at the testing station.
During the test it refused to run well and refused to start well. I left with the certificate, and it stalled approx 100m down the road, then another 20m on, then 1/2 mile later it stalled on a roundabout and refused to start. Thankfully it was a roundabout with more than one lane but despite coasting as tight to the kerb and putting hazards on I still had three drivers pull right behind my car and blow their horn for me to move.
Greenflag arrived within 45 mins and helped push it off the roundabout, having checked it out decided it was ignition, which tied in with my diagnosis and so had it recovered as he thought there was a good chance it would break down again despite it having decided it would start again (seemed like something breaking down when hot).

I spent the day on the car, from 8am today, and having replaced various bit I found that replacing the rotor arm and dissy cap didn't fully sort it but replacing the AB14 seemed to remove the misfire.

I was getting exhausted (lunch would have been a nice thing) and so made a few schoolboy errors such as setting the timing light to 0 degrees advance then knocking the knob and setting it to 60 degrees without realising and then wondering why the timing seemed so far off despite having set it to 10 degrees static. I also managed to rotate the plug leads when swapping over to the new cap, I'm sure i held them the same way round.

Anyway, it runs and runs a lot more evenly than it had since being recommissioned so I suspect the AB14 was causing me issues all the while and this was the first real run that it got hot.

Tomorrow I need to replace the rubbers on the upper ball joints, the passed as they don#'t allow dirt in but they have a split so will be replaced to keep grease in.




It was June, it's now December....What have I been doing?

Well, I had progressed with the car quite well, needing to finish the leather and that would be about it, or so I thought.
I spent a fair bit of my free time doing bits about the garden etc, so with the good weather over I realised I needed the garage as a working space, tidying that has been (and continues to be) hard work. It's fairly tidy now but the plan is to not do much more on the gold one for a while, I do need to dry it out (not happy) and fit new door seals (Hopefully that's the cause of the wet carpets as the windscreen is newly fitted, the rear screen is secure and the water is not visible on the headlining).

Once that's done the plan is to move it to the rented garage and let it dry out a bit more. The silver Excel that's in that garage at present then becomes the winter project. I've been and removed the rear brake discs and now nee to remove the fronts/ free them off so that it can be moved onto the truck/trailer easily.

So, hopefully starting the next restoration thread very soon.




Painting leather

Well, I had a go with the Glyptone stuff and whilst I have no reason to doubt it's better than the current Furniture Clinic approach (G= one coat, FC = colour and top coat)) it doesn't set very firm nor does it adhere very well. i think it's going to have rubbed off very soon.

For the green Excel (long since gone to Mike's) I had planned to re-colour the leather to a lighter colour than it was. That never happened (car went) but I had purchased the FC solvent based (cellulose) paint and still have it. In terms of colour, the Glyptone stuff which I had matched to the original colour of the leather (piece sent was cut from inside the door trim) was a lot more vivid than the parts of the leather exposed to the sun for the last 25 years. The FC stuff I already had is a little bit more vivid than that FC stuff. Based on that I've decided to re-colour using the existing FC stuff.

I've so far done the driver's door trim & handle, centre tunnel storage box, gear stick gaiter, handbrake gaiter and the trim between those two gaiters. It looks rather vivid, but I suspect the original colour would have looked rather vivid against the faded (almost cream) old leather colour.

So, all in all, a bit annoyed that the G stuff doesn't stick well and that I paid circa 3100 for the kit and conditioner etc. A bit annoyed that I didn't think sooner about using the FC stuff I had, I could have achieved more of the re-colouring this week.




Stomach feeling delicate

Oh well, I forgot I'd not checked / set the tyre pressures after I had the tyres fitted. On the road it didn't feel as sure footed as the other Excel and when home, sure enough, 30-32 PSI in the tyres.

Now the stomach bit. I had a coffee and biscuits before setting out, on the ride they were threatening to leave me again. My Turbo Esprit had softer suspension when it was on the wrong springs and so sitting at full extension. I think from that I need to adjust the fronts to be a little softer and the backs a bit more than that.
I know the individual wheels / components move so it's not frozen joints but the back is pretty solid and not surprising, when I put my foot down a little it felt as though the back end broke free a little bit. I couldn't drive it in anger (even on a main road) as it was raining slightly.

On the positive side, the engine does seem to be full of life, picks up nicely and sounds smooth, and the brakes (fronts) seem a bit more confidence-inspiring than the normal ones.




Other spat

The second rear spat is not on the car, all four wheel arches have been re-finished in black under body sealant (Shutz type) so it has nice firm edges between the gold of the body and black of the wheel arch areas.
The NS windscreen finisher is now back on, I've adjusted its shape by partially filling the void between the two skins with GRP and clamping it while it cured. It's now re-fitted.

I think, other than a few areas of paint that need cutting, it's now done on the outside. I still need to sort out the front headlining panel and either have it and the old sun visors trimmed professionally or re-shape (GRP) the headlining for the visors I plan to use and then have it re-trimmed professionally.

The leather colourant is on order (two colours, one cream one black).

This could end up a nice tidy car, then I'll have to not get in it with greasy clothes on, having been working on cars for fear of making it need lots more work. Who knows, I may even clean the interior occasionally.




Headlight in, out, in, no out again, no in..

I have had the front and rear bumpers sprayed along with the spats, bumpers and one spat fitted (need to move car to fit other) and I now got round to checking the lights work.
All going well, little bit of twisting of lamps (bulbs go in the ground to grow into flowers) and the oxidation on the contacts cleared enough for the lamps to illuminate. Got to the front and the front fog lights are not working, take headlights off again, check connections, all seems OK, refit headlight. Still no light output, eventually, having removed end refitted the headlight a few times (once to replace the reflector unit with a much better one) I establish the problem. The switch inside the car isn't working so obviously they were not working before I removed the bumper.

I put a replacement switch in and hey presto, OS one comes on, so refit headlight again and refit fog light lens, NS still not working. Headlight out again, this time fiddle with the connectors again, no joy, I can get 6v at the lamp but not 12v so it must be a poor connection and must be on the short run of wire as the OS gets its +12v from the same terminal block in the headlight well as the NS.

Oh well, time to pull the headlight pod again and try and get this to work.

Oh yes, as the NS windscreen trim doesn't clear the new screen I need to shape it differently, so it was resting in position, I forgot this, opened the door and closed the door causing it to fall to the floor and chip some of the paint.




General things

Things have been a bit hectic of late so progress has slowed.
Anyway, since last entry:
Front bumper has been taken off, damage repaired, flatted, primed with u-pol aerosol primer, existing paint reacted with primer, re flatted with more paint removed, reacted with another layer. Ah, give up on this.
Bumperettes have been repaired (one of the securing bolts had sheared off) and painted with bumper paint.
B pillar trims have been painted with same bumper paint, found acetone dissolves the vacuum formed plastic, so didn't really need to re-paint once I'd scotched them the wiped with acetone but did anyway.
Ditto mirror bases.
Repainted rubber mirror covers, using vinyl paint and a scotch pad, to give it texture and not become a flat shiny surface.
Spax front dampers fitted care of Fitz.
Front spoiler repaired and now awaiting stone-chip paint.

Pretty much now finding who I want to do the paint for the bumpers and spats, time to obtain some leather re-colourant and give that a go then start using it.




Ignition etc

Last time I was working on the car all seemed sort of OK and it was starting except, one final time and when I pulled the lugs I found the spark was awful, even straight out of the coil.

With some help (remotely) from Matt I've reviewed, cleaned replaced bits and now the spark at the plugs seems better. Today, the car started almost as soon as the starter moved. Hopefully that's the last pulling the dissy etc for a while. I hope this also solves the problem of difficulty getting HC and CO parts of the exhaust emissions both down.

Door lock (glued back together) is back on the car but the little blue piece of plastic fell when it was in the door and I cannot see it, so will have to obtain a new one. So, door trim back on as well.

I also fitted one of the pair of new rear dampers, I am to do the other tomorrow. The old dampers were advised from the MOT test to be watched and with only 40 miles after the test it was obvious the light oil trace the tester had seen was coming fro the damper and wasn't the WD40 we both hoped / thought it was. I had wondered if the shock could be re-sealed but then I noticed why the seals had failed, the plating on the shaft had failed so it would have to be re-chrome shaft and then re-seal or what will actually happen- dump them.





I had to make my mind up about the seals change in place, seals change on the bench or LSD. LSD won.

I didn't start early on the job (read that as nearly midday) the exhaust and chassis strengthening bracket came off quite well. Most of the nuts were OK to undo, some a little bit tight. The only two that were pigs were the ones that secure from the top rear diff carrier to the subframe, they came off with the help of a power saw.

It was a bit of a shock when the diff came out with nothing underneath it to support it, I had tied a rope round it so it didn't drop straight to the floor. It swung towards me at an alarming rate. New diff was going in quite well until i couldn't find one of the bolts. I searched the floor where I knew I'd laid them I even looked at the side bolt holes of the diff to check I'd not put them in there. I carried on convinced the bolt would turn up and would be easy to fit as it was needed for one that is accessible even when fully fitted. I struggled to get one side of the carrier to line up, eventually I spotted the "missing" bolt in one of the holes that secure it to the diff carrier, I'd wound it ion to check the thread on the replacement diff was clear.

It's back in with the diff secured to the main carrier, the harmonic weight back in pace, the rear carrier secured to the subframe. I still need to put the bolts in that secure the front diff carrier to the subframe, I remember that can be a pain to achieve.

Then it's back on with the driveshafts, prop shaft and other bits.
Still waiting for the rear dampers I ordered on 23rd Feb.




A weekend of little progress

This weekend I spent the first half of Saturday helping Owen with his oil pipe, this time the correct one was supplied.
Sunday I helped Simon with his TE engine, it is back together (despite me forgetting to take a clutch alignment tool so had to do it by eye) and back in the car although it's just placed in there and everything that connects it to the car is not yet in place.

So, what did I do on the E906?
I pulled the ignition system apart and found a couple of issues that may have contributed to the poor emissions results. The vacuum capsule was only held to the steel pate by one of the three spot welds, and the dissy cap had a chunk missing, where the lower cap clip rests.

The former issue gave me some options, replace dissy (2nd hand), replace capsule (new from SJ would be approx the same cost as the whole dissy from Mike), weld the capsule or something else.
I went for something else and used epoxy adhesive to glue it back in place. Time will tell as to whether this is a suitable alternative.

The latter issue was simple, new cap care of Matt Debbage. Just timed it back up and it's running fine. I did notice some marks from arcing on two of the posts in the old cap (which was newish when I purchased the car), these may have been due toe the poor resting position and movement of the cap.

Still waiting for bolts for front ball joints, still waiting for rear dampers. Must get diff seals done / diff replaced.




engine back together

Yesterday I helped Owen change an oil cooler pipe on his GT3, not an absolute success (pipe was too short despite coming from a Lotus specialist).

Today I fitted the refurbished pump that I've got back having forgotten I'd left it with Terry, and after much wasted time I accepted I had to secure the PAS bracket to the pump before securing both to the car.

Anyway, back on, need to re-time the ignition and set belt tension but the rain meant I didn't want to take the dissy cap off and get more water in the electrics.




More done- one damper on, water pump off

I had to get my hair cut this morning so it delayed the start a bit, with breakfast it was effectively 10:00.

I started trying to remove the water pump with the bonnet on but very soon decided I'd need if off as it would save time overall. I gave up and removed the timing belt as well. I decided given the choice, struggle with two suborn bolts into cast ali that secure the steering pump bracket to the water pump or remove one bolt from the sump and do those two bolts using the bench vice, the one sump bolt was soon out.

I spent ages looking for,
1) refurbished water pump I lent Terry (I may have not collected it back from him)
2) water pump refurbishment kit. I know I have one somewhere.
3) Brand new water pump.

After a couple of hours I found no3. Great? No. I now recall it's the sort with no boss at the bottom for the pump etc. It's destined for the Turbo Esprit as I plan to move from mechanical pump to electric vac pump. Pump bearing pressed out and it's easy to see where the old coolant had crept past the seal.

So I cleaned the old ali water pump body and prepared to paint it in ali engine lacquer. Oh well, that tin of paint is empty and what little had been left was dried as the lid must have leaked slightly. I'll have to get some during the week.

Ah well, onto the dampers.

Old one off on the passenger side and it's easy to see why two things happen. 1) it bounces a bit on the front end, 2) it passed the MOT test as there was no oil leaking form it.
This was because the oil must have left many years ago and as the car had been standing unused by the previous owner the oil on the outside must have slowly drained off the metal.
2nd hand AVO now fitted to that side.

While I had that wheel off I removed the track rod end, freed off the locking nut (2 big hammers) and replaced the steering rack gaiter. The other side had been done before the MOT test but this was seen as a "nice to do" although once off I found a small hole in the old one. I also set the TRE in by half a turn to straighten up the steering wheel, I'll have to adjust the other one out half a turn to equal it out.

So, abit more progress but not all that I wanted to do was achieved mainly due to wasted time looking in that really untidy garage.




A bit further back

Last night (having picked the car up from the tyres being fitted to the refurbished wheels) it was missing on one cylinder, I initially thought it must be incorrect choke, pulled in after 1/2 mile and found no 4 plug lead not on fully, put it on and set off again. No difference but I thought the plug could be so soaked with fuel it will not spark, maybe the warmth of the engine will dry it out and it will start to fire correctly.
Nearly home and while decelerating for a roundabout I get a couple of exhaust pops and then the exhaust note gets very loud.
Today I tried to resolve the misfire but haven't as yet (see technical section for odd misfire symptoms) but found the exhaust issue.
The exhaust explosions had finished off the exhaust down pipe but not where I expected. Rather than the one remaining wall of the twin wall pipes it had blown the conical joint off the pipe where it enters the centre box. I had a down pipe but found it was too short so put a new flexible section on and extended the length so that's much better.

While under the car getting to the nuts of the lower front damper fixings I found water coming down the engine, water pump failed much as I expected it would once it was used again after 5 - 6 years of not running.




A bit further forward

I couldn't work out why the air horn wasn't working but assumed it was either poor electrical connection or trumpets corroded. After lots of searching I realised there was another cause I'd not considered. The air compressor wasn't fitted. I found anew one that I had and connected it up, still no sound so it appears the trumpets are also failed. It now just has a little diaphragm one until I can get round to fitting new trumpets and attaching the compressor.

Daylight Running Lights, I've fitted them but I'm not absolutely happy with the location and may adapt the bumper to alter that. That will be a longer term job.




Two steps forward one step back

Took it for a short run Sunday and was told I have no reversing lights, having reversed it back into the drive. Didn't go far in test run as was low on fuel.

Took it and filled up at Sainsbury's today, only took £35 to brim it (so that's circa 25l). Got in and the gauge was still reading empty- oh well one more job to sort. I did at least find the reversing light issue was simply corrosion on the lamp holders.




It's taxed

Waiting for tax disc to arrive so I can try it on the road.

Today I worked on the carbs, balanced them to get air pressures aligned and it does seem to run a little better on tick-over and rev up nicely but the real test will be when it's on the road.

I've replaced the otter valve (complete with ali tube) with one I ad in the store and the fans no longer come on as soon as the ignition does, they do however come on when it gets hot so that's a good sign. I've replaced the rusty header tank with one I'd repainted so that's a little tidier.

I'm now really keen to get it on the road and find out how it behaves while driving, hopefully that tax disc will arrive soon.




It failed

Not much to worry me.

Headlight aim- I didn't check as I hadn't moved it.

The issues identified late Saturday then Sunday morning, carb needle not stopping fuel from pump, well I think that's most of one of the issues. It failed on emissions, being too rich and I think excessive fuel height in the chamber would do that, I already had it planned in to do a re-build of the cars due to the issue I found Saturday.

Advisory on one top ball joint, both will be replaced as I have them just in case.
Advisory on road wheels having lots of corrosion where tyre bead sits, again, have a set of refurbed wheels , not just in case, they are to go on here but wanted to drive it somewhere and only have to carry 4 wheels.



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