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About BrianK

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  • Birthday September 26

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    2005 Elise, 1974 Elite
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    Los Angeles, CA

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  1. Just a heads up for anyone who gets the idea to rebuild their rack this summer: double-check your shipping options prior to purchasing. Looks like my kit has been shipped by Lotus Marques, but won't arrive for another month due to shipping delays related to COVID-19.
  2. Thanks for the tip, Pete. I had been looking for a rebuild kit for ages, but was never able to find one. I had, instead, used a rebuild service for the race car's rack (also an Elite), which is an hour's drive (each way), and is $200 more than the rebuild kit. For anyone else who comes across this thread, the rebuild kit is the "Steering Rack Overhaul Kit" on this page: It's for an Esprit, but the guys at Lotus Marques say that it is compatible with the Elite rack. According to Lotus Marques, they put together this kit - it's not an off-the-shelf solution. It appears to be an upgrade, as well - the rack bush is copper (stock is plastic? I'm not sure - mine is missing, completely) and it includes a better set of bearings. At today's exchange rate, the rebuild kit was just over $150 (US) shipped. Thanks! I feel your pain... (get out your violin - here comes my sob story) Here's a pic of my garage from a few years ago. I have to roll the Elite out a few feet before doing any work so I can get to the workbench. Because the garage butts up to the sidewalk, I have no driveway; and because it's built into a hillside, I can't expand in any direction. #firstworldproblems
  3. After everything was complete, I went through some basic tests - checked power at various places, made sure the pink/white high-resistance wire on the coil had the correct resistance, checked that lights worked... then I tried starting. Happily, it cranked, but it wouldn't catch. I checked that fuel was making it to the carbs, and double-checked ballast bypass. All seemed ok. Then I checked spark at the coil and found none... but there was voltage at the coil. After reviewing reference pictures I'd taken before, I found that the picture I had used for re-connecting the coil was misleading. When Looking at a different picture taken from a different angle, I saw that I had reversed the coil wires. I flipped them back, tried starting again, but got the same result. My car has a Lumenition Optronic ignition. While troubleshooting my problem, I read, in the manual for the Optronic, that "under no circumstances should the Brown wire be connected to full positive feed" - which I had just done. Assuming I fried the power module, I ordered a new one, and a new coil while I was at it. Side note: I ordered the power module and matching coil from Merlin Motorsports in the UK (I couldn't find any Lumenition products in the US). I ordered it on a Monday night and it was here, in Los Angeles, by that Friday. I paid $10 extra for the rush. Kudos to them. With the new parts installed, I confidently turned the key and got... the same result. While working through the problem, I went back down the fire pyramid only to find that I hadn't properly reconnected the HT lead between the coil and distributor after the very first test -- Everything was probably working as soon as I corrected the coil connections. Oh well, the old power module was pretty old, and its wires and connectors had visible heat damage, so replacing it was the better idea anyway. So after reconnecting the coil, I tried starting. This is that first startup (excuse the video being in portrait mode - my phone doesn't sit horizontally in that tool tray ) A quick test showed everything was working, so I put it all back together and went for a quick spin. After pulling out of the driveway, I did a quick gauge check to see the volt meter in the high 14's. As I got some speed, it pegged at 15, so back I went. Being that I wasn't able to use the new alternator due to space constraints, the only new part that would make a difference to voltage would be the new regulator. I swapped the old one back in, and got a nice, consistent 14v charge - even at low RPM. So that's a wrap on wiring. The car starts on the button, runs great, and everything seems to work. Time will tell if solves all my woes. Next up: steering and suspension. All new bushings, tie-rod ends, trunions, diff mounts, new shocks, steering rack rebuild, and I'll be rust-treating everything as it comes off. All of which would be alot easier if my garage were bigger than a closet. Ahhh.. to dream.
  4. I still haven't taken good photos of the redone interior. This is not for lack of trying, but simply because I'd rather take photos outside of my very cramped garage - which is where the car has been since coming back from the upholstery shop, and will continue to be until the suspension is replaced. Knowing me, that will be another month or two. Until then, here's a quick shot from my phone where you can see the seats and door cards: Now, for the meat of this post... Wiring. Word of caution: wiring is new to me, so I'm going to write a very lot about a very little. I had been planning on replacing the wiring harness(es) since I got the car, but all the recent electrical woes drove home the fact that I needed to do it sooner than later, so that's been the focus for the last month. When I purchased the car, a good friend recommended for replacement harnesses. To oversimplify, is the US version of In fact, harnesses ordered from British Wiring appear to be made by Autosparks; so for those in the States, skip the middleman and order harnesses directly from Autosparks (you'll save 20% or so in the process). British Wiring is great (and fast) for everything else - connectors, tools, relays, expertise, etc - but there's not much benefit in getting the actual harnesses from them. In fact, when mine had an issue, they had to "ask the manufacturer," so there was literally no benefit in buying *the harness* through them (I'm a big fan, otherwise). Before starting this project, my wiring expertise was pretty limited - basic stripping/crimping, and a basic understanding of multimeters, but that's about it. I'd never even seen a Lucas-style bullet connector, I didn't know anything about 6v vs 12v ignition systems, or how read a relay. That was all about to change... I started the project by trying to understand the harness. All I knew was that it was a "main harness" and that I could find where all the connections went by looking at a wiring diagram. As a newbie, I was hoping for instructions... there were none - no instructions, no labels, no hints or tips - just a bag of wrapped wires. To start, then, I traced every wire in the harness on the wiring diagram, then labelled both ends of every wire: New engine bay wiring harness now fully labeled. by Brian Knudson, on Flickr ...this helped me not only understand how the harness sat in the car, but also a little more about the electrical system, in general. I started actual replacement at the end of the harness - the headlights. To backtrack a bit, the previous owner mentioned that they had gone through quite a bit of trouble getting the headlight vacuum system working. While in the right pod, I found their work - one vacuum switch now controls both lights (the left side vacuum switch is non-op). Both are connected to the same vacuum tank via "T" fitting in the line after the switch. While I'm trying to keep the car original, I didn't want to switch the *working* vacuum system back to original, so I kept it, as-is. I did, however, re-make a couple of the vacuum lines (using fuel hose, as the previous owner had done) so that I could properly mount the switch (it was just dangling prior to this). I also integrated a vacuum switch relay into the harness by carefully clipping the correct wire in of the middle of the harness to add some [color-correct] extensions to fit the relay in-line, then re-taping the harness so it looks somewhat intentional (the previous owner added the relay, as per Lotus TSB, but left the new wires dangling, and the harness wires cut and ignored). Rerouted headlight vacuum lines by Brian Knudson, on Flickr Replacing the wiring in the pods necessitated the replacement of 6 snap connectors that service 26 bulleted wire ends. All the wires already had bullets, but the kit did not come with the correct snap connectors. For those following along: I needed two 3-way, isolated connectors; and 4 double, common connectors for the headlights. Moving on, I decided to replace the alternator and voltage regulator while working on the electrical system. I ordered both from Autozone, but, in the end, used neither - the alternator came with a double-pulley that would interfere with the air intake hose (and is not replaceable with tools I own), and the regulator didn't work (more on that later). Part of the reason for replacing the regulator was this mess: Engine bay rewire by Brian Knudson, on Flickr ... that I thought was melted internals of a fried regulator. It required a good bit of effort to clean up the nearly solid and very sticky goo, but I managed to get it with heat, a plastic scraper, Simple Green, and a towel (that is now garbage). Goo mostly removed by Brian Knudson, on Flickr (I would eventually get all of it). Speaking of the voltage regulator, the harness does not come with a replacement voltage regulator connector. Instead, it comes with three wires with snap connectors - you're meant to use the old regulator connector. This means you need to cut it and add bullets, so, for those following along, you'll need three 18 gauge bullets and a bullet crimper. NOTE: The cheap, $30 bullet crimper is garbage - Spend the required $100 to get the proper, ratching, hexagonal crimper - it's well worth the extra money... either that, or use solderable bullets. After a bit more fiddling, I managed to get the old harness fully removed. It's not that big, considering the amount of effort required to replace it. Old harness removed by Brian Knudson, on Flickr Closer shot of the old harness showing one of the problem areas: Part of the old harness by Brian Knudson, on Flickr's a little difficult to see in the picture, but several of those wires are burnt and/or melted, and many of them have new, non color-coded extensions. The next tribulation came from the harness. For reasons still unknown (I have not yet heard back from British Wiring or Autosparks about this), two of the wires going to the fusebox (for relatively minor circuits) were shorter than the rest - both exactly 6.5" shorter. Because they are consistent, you might think they're intentionally short... which may, very well, be true; but I haven't heard back as to why. Without an answer, I stole some correctly-colored wire from the old harness and made extensions. For those following along, that means 2 snap connectors and eight 18 gauge bullet connectors (I added the extension in the middle of the wire so I could keep the correct-for-the-fuse-box terminals - hence the need for so many bullets). Two wires were made too short by Brian Knudson, on Flickr I recently switched to a high-torque starter that seems to have a slightly shorter main post than the Lucas unit. If you're familiar with the early cars, you know that the starter's main post is used as a power distribution point. It holds: the battery main, brown (alternator), brown/red (ignition switch?), brown/blue (headlights), brown/white (power to interior?); and, on mine, a generic yellow for the headlight vacuum switch relay... That's 6 wires/connectors on the one post. So many, in fact, that even without a lock washer, I could only get one thread of the retaining nut engaged; so I opted to move some connections to a distribution block. You can see the block in the picture below - it's the bit of translucent plastic in the center of the frame - with the large red wire attached to it. I stole some more color-correct wire from the old harness to make extensions, then ran the brown/blue, brown/red, and generic yellow (for the relay) to the distribution block. I'm not convinced this was the *best* solution, but I think it's better than the cramming everything onto the starter's main post. Wiring harness installed by Brian Knudson, on Flickr Beyond that, the only other required change was the voltage regulator connector on the alternator. The harness was supplied with a spade connector, but the alternator wire wanted a bullet. For those following along, that's one additional 18 gauge bullet. So, to replace the main harness (that's the under-hood harness, not the dashboard, windows, stereo, or tail-light harnesses), I needed: harness two x 3-way, isolated snap connectors four x double, common snap connectors two x single snap connectors twelve x 18 gauge bullets ... to be continued ...
  5. I'm not an electrical expert, so don't know the proper names for the connectors I'm about to mention... With that: After a bit more research, I believe that the OE setup had an eyelet terminal with a tab (that is a male spade) on the main starter post. The brown/blue and brown/red wire were attached to the tab via single female spade connector. I would guess it was done this way so that both wires get power with only the one eyelet on the already overcrowded starter post.
  6. I'm re-wiring my '74 Elite 502. I'm working on the main harness in the engine bay. The headlight's brown/blue wire has a terminal near the starter. My old harness has been repaired in the past - I'm not sure if it is in the same configuration as when it left the factory. In that harness, the brown/blue wire was connected to the main starter post via eyelet terminal. In the new harness, the brown/blue wire has a spade connector near the starter. If that's correct, I'm not sure where it goes. (worth noting: I'm using the more modern high-torque starter) With that, what should the brown/blue wire near the starter be connected to? Did the new harness come with the wrong type of connector (spade instead of eyelet)?
  7. After a little more obsessing over this... The terminal labels for the interior fan relay on my car match that of a Lucas SRB111. If it's called a "6RA" and the labels match, can I assume they are the same?
  8. I'm rewiring the engine bay & thought I'd refresh relays while I'm at it. I'm having a heck of a time finding replacements - primarily because I'm not sure what to look for. (the image here is also in the workshop manual) shows three "6RA" relays, but with different part numbers and one with only 3 terminals. According to the descriptions on that page and in the workshop manual, the relay for the radiator fans is the odd-ball with only 3 terminals. The parts-interchange spreadsheet gives a little more information - it includes "33232" (radiator fan / rear window) and "33221" (interior fan). According to this page (and others), 33232 is the 3 pin (used for cooling fans), so can I assume that the spreadsheet has the rear window defroster relay labelled wrong? Googling "6RA Relay" brings up lots of matches... It seems that they now go by "SRBXXX" model numbers rather than" 33XXX." I've found some sites saying that 33232 is the same as SRB501, but then others say SRB143 or SRB146; and I'm not having much luck finding 33221 at all. With that, I've thoroughly confused myself. Any advice on replacement relays? Specifically what to search for and/or where to find them?
  9. Jep: We didn't officially get the Excel, though I think I've read that 2 or 3 were sold here new, and there are a handful more floating around. This morning, I received an email from Andy Graham with this little gem: The accompanying letter also mentioned "Your car is the 91st out of 438 cars" (speaking about S1 Elites sold in the US) - with a few disclaimers about that 438 number (Along with lots of other interesting tidbits). I imagine everyone knows this "Certificate of Provenance" is available, but in case not: For the S1 Elite, they are £44. Andy explained that there isn't much information available for the Elite (beyond what's above), so the certificate is less expensive than it is for other Lotus models. Side note: I love that when you contact Lotus about this sort of thing, you get Andy.... Not a department, not a random selection of interns... Just Andy. Every time. (Granted, I say that after contacting Lotus exactly twice in seven years, so maybe I just got lucky).
  10. New wires all around... In fact, I ordered a full new main harness from back in December. It should be here in the next week or two, but I'm running short on time, so that may be a summer project. My car came with cloth seats, with a ribbed fabric that I'd call corduroy (not sure what Lotus called it?) in the center panels and standard cloth on the bolsters. (I think this is pretty common, as the 3 I've seen in the US had the same seats). I wanted to keep it original, and I like the 70s-corduroy look, so after a lot of searching by both myself and the upholstery shop, the shop found a suitable replacement with slightly contrasting colors between the two materials. As for the carpets: the originals had mostly deteriorated. Vertical surfaces were acceptable, but the horizontal panels had been worn through. I was planning on ordering a set from Coverdale in the UK - I even bought samples from them. While talking about seats with the upholstery shop, I found that they also do carpets. Their price, installed, was about $100 more than the carpets, alone, from Coverdale, so I had them do the carpets as well. ...and then up-sold myself on higher quality wool carpet and sound deadening material as I was walking out of the shop. This is what it looked like when I dropped it off. I should note that the passenger's seat would not move or recline when I took this pic, and there was a bit of seat frame poking through the vinyl on the back of the driver's seat. The upholstery shop has fixed all of those issues... They've been great, I'll post their info when I show their work.
  11. Almost forgot: I discovered that plastic is a sub-standard material for fuses. These are replacements and were replaced again with bakelite fuses that have, since, *not* melted.
  12. The car arrived in Los Angeles on April 20th, 2019 (I may have stood waiting by the window for quite some time that day ). I had it delivered to my office and took the time to introduce the new siblings. Shipping was relatively straight-forward and reasonably priced. For those in the US, I used - who are a broker (they don't own any trucks), but I've used them 4 times now, and with exception of a special-needs race car, have been happy with them. Being that my house was still a construction zone, I did very little work on the Elite. I did, however, give it a good overall inspection which found that most of the suspension bushings were perished... as in completely gone... as in you could see light and sometimes stick a finger between the two bits of metal that previously had bushing material between them. This car was last registered in 2003. I can't say how long before that it was last used, but I suppose very perished bushings was to be expected. That said, aside from a little dusting on the surface, the chassis was completely rust free and otherwise in very good shape for its age. House work took priority, so before starting real work on the Elite, I tried to keep it limber by driving it around the block on Fridays after work. It had been running surprisingly well until on one of those short drives, after being parked for a couple hours, it refused to start - not even ticking over, just dead. I got it back to the office, fiddled with it, but without finding a solution, I left the car cocooned until I had a chance to put some time into it. I've never been very good with electrics, but picked up a few things watching the other guys work on the electrics in the race car. Come December, with a head full of second-hand knowledge, I pulled out the workshop manual and started digging in to the electrical system. As you can see, time and heat had not been kind to the wiring in this car (these are all on the starter): I replaced the starter, made new terminals for all the wires, and moved most of the starter wires to a bus bar to de-clutter the main post on the starter (some wires have moved since this pic, and there is still tidying to be done, but I think this gets the point across). ...after all of this, I still had intermittent starting problems. While visiting an upholstery shop to talk about redoing the seats, an Alpha mechanic from the shop next door noticed I was having trouble starting and suggested I double-check the grounds. Sure enough, it wasn't getting good ground - because with a temporary additional ground, it started right up. Because I was at the upholstery shop, because we had agreed on a price, and because the car was running, I asked if they wanted to just take the car then. They did, and that's where it sits today... and will sit for another day or two when I get it back with an all new interior. Then I'll limp it back home and re-make all the ground points before moving on to the next big project: replacing most of the suspension. More to come...
  13. Not to get too bogged down with backstory: I've been on an endurance racing team that runs a heavily modified Elite for about 9 years now. The Elite has grown near and dear to my heart, so I've had an eye out for a half-way decent, road-going one for years. Last March, I had a work trip to the North Carolina/Virginia area (to drive a Radical SR3 at Virginia International Raceway, but that's another story ). I have two brothers, one of whom lives in that area, so rather than a quick out-and-back trip, as my coworkers did, I scheduled my trip a few days early to spend time with family. Not even 48 hours before I was to start the trip, I saw this post on Facebook: It just so happened that my *other* brother (I have 2) lives a couple towns over from the seller of the Elite; and that was about a 5 hour drive from my work meeting. When I landed a day or so later, rather than visiting brother #1 as planned, I pointed the rental car south for 5 hours and visited brother #2. A few hours later, I was the proud owner of one of the brownest cars you've ever seen. As luck would have it, brother #2 had room to store the car while I went back to work and arranged for it to be shipped to its new home in Los Angeles. Timing wasn't great, as I was in the middle of a DIY home renovation (one that took over a year, but that's yet another story), so the Elite has sat mostly on the back burner until recently. Now that the house is complete, the Elite is getting more attention, so I thought I'd start this thread as a place to store updates as they come and while they're fresh in my head. More to come...
  14. I had thought about scotch guard, but know I wouldn't remember to re-apply. In the end, we (I should say they) finally found something suitable. It's slightly smaller "wale" (fewer lines per inch), but I think it's as good as we're going to get. Looks pretty nice. I imagine it will be a bear to keep clean. Maybe should have gone plaid.
  15. I'm having a local shop restore/rebuild the seats in my Elite. The originals were corduroy and I'd *really* like to keep it original. The trim shop, however, is having a heck of a time finding corduroy. So far, they've managed to find just 2 rolls that are suitable for use in a car: one gray, the other gold. Neither look very good in my brown car with tan vinyl seat-backs (the gold almost does, but we can't find a matching fabric to cover the "bolsters" - the panels between the vinyl back and center corduroy section) Has anyone redone their seats with corduroy? Where did you find it, and did you use UV-resistant fabric? For the record, there's plenty of correct-width, correctly colored corduroy out there, but the trim shop says that it needs to be UV-resistant or it will fade in short order. The UV-resistant attribute is the hard-to-find bit.
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