The seasons have changed for the better and Spring is in the air with dry roads and glorious sunshine. What better day to give "Mario" his first outing this year. It was up early and on the road for a 180 mile round-trip to the cars and coffee get together in Portland. Every Saturday exotics/rare cars from around the area meet for an informal get together at a local coffee shop, it's become a regular fixture around the USA.
This was the first time I had done any distance on the new original shocks and boy does the car ride nicely. Tyres were set to 25 front and 33 rear, the result was a smooth ride and nice light steering. It also seemed to remove the last of the vibration I had all but eliminated last year. I'd also replaced the rear radius arm mounts as they were on their last legs. The left rear drive-shaft was checked for any defects as the right one had failed late in 2013.
The Seafoam fuel additive I put in the tanks at the end of Autumn worked a treat staibilising the 10% Ethanol blended gas and there was no hesitation or rough running during the trip. All the work done over the winter was fruitful and 136S ran effortlessly. A brief stop at the Ferrari/Maserati dealer on the way home finished off the trip nicely.
[b]12.31.13 Sitting pretty[/b]
No 010 now sits comfortably on a set of NOS original shocks. Removing and replacing the Spax adjustables was very straightforward and problem free. It was also a good chance to clean up all the bolts and replace the radius arm mounts that were a bit long in the tooth. Now its done the squeaks have gone and the suspension is more supple.
I really didn't think changing back to the original shock absorbers would make much difference. I had read how good the original handling was on the setup the Esprit was designed with but had never experienced it firsthand. Spax had a good reputation so I just accepted the slight ride harshness and dive under braking as normal. By dialing up the stiffness and increasing tyre pressures I dialed out most of it.
I figured the old Armstrongs, being so soft when I extended them on the bench, would result in a rolling/diving car. How wrong was I! The handling is a revelation, supple yet so smooth and no dive or roll. Well done to the chaps in white coats at Lotus who designed and setup this car....you earned a pint down at the Rack and Pinion pub.
The UJs were checked and looked almost new, they've got just on 2000 miles on them since they were replaced by the previous owner. I also disassembled and checked the right rear drive shaft as the left side had failed a few months ago after being machined down (by persons unknown) to fit loosely in the hub bearing. That's the complete drivetrain checked and serviced so there shouldn't be any more surprises.
As it was Christmas Mario got a shiny new high torque mini starter from Dave at British Starters as a present. Fitting was very easy and it now spins the engine over like a racecar. I also took the opportunity to relocate the coil to the original position behind the engine, redo the wiring & connectors and change out the water reservoir with a nice new powdercoated one. I also replaced the blue NGK spark plug wires with a set of 8 mm ones from Pertronix.
The engine breather pipe from the cam cover was missing so it's been replaced with one sourced from Lotusbits in the UK. The PO had used stainless braided fuel lines that didn't look period correct. Some high pressure silicone Aeroquip hose looks much better. A general tidy up and clean has the engine bay looking much nicer.
While my JPS is laid up for the winter I'll finish off the interior; the seats are ready to have the original gold corduroy/black leather refitted and the gold trim re-golded. There's not much left to do other than fitting a new antenna and some replacement clips for the door locks. 2014 should be a great year for Esprit de corps!
10.06.13 Quite a shock: [/b]Original parts for a 35 year old Esprit are not that easy to come by. Whether you're on the right or left side of the Atlantic Lotus bits are getting harder to find. I put in a call to SCW down in Texas a few months ago looking for some original Armstrong shocks for my "JPS"; the Spax adjustables are squeaking more than ever and I wanted to see if the Lotus ones felt any different. I checked with Lotus Bits while I was in the UK and they had none, I did pick up a nice shiny alloy overflow tank and a few bits and bobs from Mike.
Imagine my surprise when I get back to the USA to receive a message from Dave at SCW saying he had a set of New Original Stock shocks on the shelf. Needless to say I ordered them quicker than an Esprit changes direction and UPS had them on my doorstep a week later. I'll fit the fronts first to see if the squeak can be silenced and then the rear gets its turn.
[b]9.15.13 A touch on the warm side: [/b]One of the things I have been dreading is driving the JPS Esprit in near 100F temperatures. Forums are littered with horror stories of the Esprits poor hot weather performance and the inability of the standard system to endure any temp warmer than English beer. We had a roadtrip this past weekend out in the Oregon high country; the forecast was temps near the century mark but I dodged them on the first day by heading off early. A high of 86 was easily dealt with and old number 010 ran like a train. The return trip had me concerned as it was to be the hottest day of the week so far.
It was well into the 80's when we set off and the temp gauge had the needle pointing straight down and steady in that position. The ambient steadily increased until we were climbing a 5 mile long grade with the mercury inching past 100. The water temp needle moved slightly to the right but the car showed no signs of discomfort...other than to the driver and passenger. On the downgrade the needle would move back and drop below the 90 degree mark, it seemed the faster we went the cooler it got. At no time did the electric fans cut in, the ramjet effect was more than adequate.
I doubt we would have had the same result with the stock radiator system, fortunately the previous owner had fitted the Lotus by Claudius uprated one. An inclined higher capacity radiator from the Turbo Esprit and the associated ducting combined with 3 large Spal electric fans to draw air through the rad. Judging by the performance in near record temperatures it is an effective and worthwhile upgrade for any early Esprit. Many thanks to the PO for having the foresight to fit it.
[b]9.9.13 Things are looking up: [/b]The headliner in the cockpit has failed on every Esprit I've looked at, it's made up of a foam core sandwiched between 2 layers of cloth. While the cloth will last indefinitely the foam, being oil based, wants to return to its original state. Hence it turns to powder and the headliner sags. Most modern headliner material has cloth on only one side; as the Esprit has it bonded to the roof it needs to be cloth on both sides so it sticks firmly. SJ Sportscars in the UK have the original style material available and sent out 2 meters to complete the job. My local trimmer matched the straight stitching to the one I removed from the car and covered the header and side panels. They were careful to replicate the stitching around the clock housing that fits neatly into a groove in the panel.
Fitting the roof section requires using spray adhesive to ensure it has a uniform bond all over. DAP Weldwood High Strength Spray Adhesive worked perfectly. Spray both the roof and material, let it go tacky then start attaching from the middle and work out, being careful not to stretch the material too much. A roller to smooth it all out completes the process. The sunvisors were recovered to match the rest of the trim using black alcantara on the upper surface and gray on the lower section that you see when they are folded up.
[b]8.17.13 The Esprit vibe: [/b]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 [url="http://www.mcmaster.com/#6063k19/=o3ui6p"] [b]clamps[/b][/url] 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.
[b]7.29.13 500 miles in a Lotus...and no trouble: [/b]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.
[b]6.20.13 On the road again: [/b]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.
[b]4[/b][b].14.13 The other end: [/b]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.
[b]3.16.13 Disassembled: [/b]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. [img]http://www.v8vantage.com/jpsesprit/JPS%20Images/Gearbox.jpg[/img]
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.
1.06.13 Detangled: It seems every car I've bought has been fitted with an aftermarket stereo system and a tangled assortment of wires to power it. Inevitably the stereo has disappeared but the wires remain, much like an archeological remnant waiting for an intrepid restorer to unearth years later.
JPS 010 is no different, I discovered the mother lode behind the bulkhead trim leading into the recesses of the engine bay. After removing the carpet and floorboards it was all stuffed away, defunct in its purpose and ripe for picking. It all came out, power leads, speaker wires, amp connections...it's all gone.
What was also revealed was a jumble of vent and vacuum lines that had broken over the years laying disconnected from the vent system. 15 feet of fuelproof 3/16" vacuum line and the system is as good as new and all fuel smells have gone up in air! It also gave me a chance to re-glue trim that had come loose over the years.
With the hatch open myriad chips and scars on the edge of the hatch were revealed. Armed with a bottle of touch up paint and some Langka I set to work touching them up with a rubber glove. Forget carefully putting paint into scratches...just smear it on with your finger protected by the glove. Let dry then hit it with the Langka cream to get rid of the excess to leave a smooth repair ready to polish out.
A French JPS enthusiast contacted me and has JPS decal sets available for purchase. He reproduced them for a Luxembourg based JPS after sourcing the original material and has 2 sets left. Here's a link for his website: [url="http://www.e-stickers.fr/esticker/prestashop/product.php?id_product=28"]http://www.e-stickers.fr/esticker/prestashop/product.php?id_product=28[/url]
I'm a newbie so please be gentle. This is the first Lotus I have owned, having come from many years of Aston ownership. Funny thing is many of the parts on my Esprit are also used on period AMs.
Having never worked on a Lotus before this is a voyage of discovery. My aim is to keep my "JPS" as original as possible but refresh it so it's mechanically perfect and reliable. I have no plans to repaint the car as it still has its original black L15 and all the Commemorative decals. The paint has suffered from some thermal stress after being left outside under a tarp for a few years, luckily from a few feet you don't notice it. Even though the seats were retrimmed the PO kept the gold fabric and leather which I have refurbished and will soon fit back into the car. Carpets are original except for those under the seats that I used to patch the drivers sill and floor mat.
Mechanically it is now completely sorted and the underside is cleaner that the day it left the factory. Lots of details are in my blog at ww.jpsesprit.com but I'll also reproduce them here.
[b]12.29.12 My JPS: [/b]At 34 years of age the Lotus Esprit S2s are starting to show their age. My car, Federal #010, is no exception.
The materials used back in 1979, while amongst the best for their time, have begun to break down with extended use. The headliner in the cockpit has failed on every car I've looked at, it's made up of a foam core sandwiched between 2 layers of cloth. While the cloth will last indefinitely the foam, being oil based, wants to return to its original state. Hence it turns to powder and the headliner sags. It's easy enough to replace and is on the list of fixes scheduled over the winter.
Tires originally fitted were 205/60 14 on the front and 205/70 14 on the rear. Made by Dunlop, they were V rated for speeds up to 150 mph. As the Esprit was lucky to reach 130 mph downhill with a tailwind, H rated tires are more appropriate. It's ideal to fit a matched set from the same manufacturer but finding them is difficult. Federal Tires makes a H rated 205/60 14 for the front and a 215/65 14 for the rear in their SS657 series. The rears are only 0.30" less in diameter so wont upset the balance or speedo calibration. I've just fitted a set to my original Gold Speedline wheels.
Speaking of the wheels, there seems to be some confusion to the colour they were painted. After some extensive research I've found it was the same Gold used on the Esprit S2 of the period. The Lotus paint code is A04. It is an Acrylic metallic with a clear coat. The correct wheel centers are the black ones with gold logos.
Another area that's become a distraction for some owners is the Gold corduroy seat material. It's become rarer than rocking horse droppings and with the wear and tear of constant use a lot of cars need it replaced. Before that happens a good cleaning is in order. The best solution I've found for doing mine is a bottle of Windex window cleaner ( the one with ammonia) mixed with a teaspoon of Dawn dishwashing liquid. After vacuuming the seats, shake the cleaning solution vigourously and spray the fabric until wet. Use a soft brush to scrub the material. Let sit for 5 minutes then get it wet with clean water. Use a microfiber cloth to soak up the solution then vacuum up the residue with a wet/dry shop vac. Let it dry overnight.