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My very brown 74 Elite project


BrianK

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15 hours ago, petecov said:

I dig the body color! Can't wait to see more updates.

Thanks! I'm having a hell of a time with the steering rack.  The rebuild kit had parts that don't fit - forcing me to manufacture them myself. Luckily, I have a lathe at work... unfortunately, the dimensions I was given were wrong (my own fault for not verifying), so when I got the newly made bronze bush back home, it didn't fit. I'm going back tomorrow to make a second replacement bush, and can hopefully finish the rack this weekend.  After that, the only thing stopping me from putting the whole thing back together is the front wheel bearings - still need to press the races out & have no idea how to do that yet (brass drift didn't do the job and I haven't yet done the research for other solutions).

... oh, and rust abatement on the front of the chassis (already took care of the rear when I did the rear suspension)

...and I discovered that I really need to replace the fuel line that runs down the chassis - it's still original & seems pretty brittle.

...and then, of course, there's the transmission with bad 2nd and 3rd gear synchros.

...and the AC system that has never worked

...and the release cable for the rear hatch

...and the choke cable.

...and the speedometer

...and the clock

Oh, the fun I'm going to have. 🙄  ;) 

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On 08/06/2020 at 21:57, BrianK said:


Brian, 

Check the workshop manual, for the additional bracing added to the later models.

This is fitted between the two bolts that locate the lower links

Neil

 

49979312321_4e265b6792_z.jpg

 

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 15/07/2020 at 14:04, Neil D. said:

Check the workshop manual, for the additional bracing added to the later models.

This is fitted between the two bolts that locate the lower links

Neil, I may be blind, but I didn't see anything in my workshop manual about additional bracing.  Can you provide any more info, or ideas on where I can find it in the manual? 

  

On to today's update: 

Rewind back to my first post-purchase inspection of the car... One of the biggest issues I saw was a loose steering rack: 

 

The steering rack, then, became one of the "must have" fixes before getting back on the road. I called around to the usual suspects in the US to find a rack, but none were available. Shipping from the UK was cost-prohibitive, so rebuilding was the only choice.

To backtrack a bit: As has been mentioned previously in this thread, I've been endurance racing a different Elite for almost a decade. Many of its original Lotus parts weren't up to the rigors of endurance racing, so quite a lot of the suspension and steering systems - in the race car - have been replaced with non-Lotus and/or custom stuff (I should mention that I can't take credit for any of the custom suspension work on the race car - that was handled by a teammate). 

The race car's manual steering rack, however, has served us well, and, in fact, was rebuilt earlier this year by a semi-local shop.  I mention this because I'd planned on bringing my car's manual rack to the same shop, which is, however, about an hour's drive (each way) from my house; and charges $350 for the service. 

Earlier in the thread, it was pointed out that Lotus Marques in Australia makes a rebuild kit. The kit is actually for an early Esprit, but Steve at Lotus Marques said that it would work for both cars.  The kit was about $160 US, shipped - almost $200 cheaper than the local rebuild service, and would be shipped to my door, saving 2 hours of driving. 

With that, I ordered the kit. It was shipped the next day but wouldn't arrive for another month due to COVID shipping delays, during which time I reconditioned the rear suspension.   

When the kit finally arrived, I noticed it didn't have track rod ends (I don't know why I thought it did - it clearly doesn't from the website), so I ordered new ones. Turns out they are bit on the rare side these days, so I paid dearly for them - $120 for the pair. Keeping tally, that makes the cost of this rebuild $280, but I still haven't had to drive, and I'm still saving $70, so... fair.

When I finally started pulling apart the steering rack, I found what was causing the rack to be so loose in the tube: I originally thought that the rack was missing the end bushing that locates the rack in the rack tube, but it appears that it just disintegrated: 

spacer.png spacer.png

 

With not much bushing and a ripped bellows, dirt was able to get into the rack:

spacer.png spacer.png

Other than a little dirt, the rack looked to be in fine shape, so I stripped and painted the external stuff:

spacer.png

Of note: I used a paint color called "Ford Blue" - which I assumed was the original color. After seeing it, I believe it should have been "Ford Equipment Blue" which is much darker. Oh well, the difference was not worth another trip to the store, so Ford Blue it is. ;) 

With everything cleaned and prepped, I started the rebuild. The very first step involves replacing that end bushing I mentioned earlier. The new bushing (bearing?) is made of bronze rather than plastic (as is stock) and is meant to be press-fit into the end of the rack. 

It didn't press-fit.  It dropped right in, bottomed out, and fell right back out. I emailed Lotus Marques, which started a back and forth where we verified all dimensions.  The kit was built to spec, but my rack was not.

My options were to make careful measurements of my rack, send them to Steve, have him make a new bushing, then wait for it to ship back; or I could have the part made locally.

As luck would have it, I work at a company that has a fabrication shop and I have lunch with the lead fabricator almost every day (well... before COVID). As a favor, he stayed late one night to make the new bushing for me - I just had to supply materials. We measured my rack tube and took the inside diameter measurement from Lotus Marques and made a custom bushing for my car:

50118172092_5d60d46157.jpg

6" of 932 bearing bronze is about $30, shipped. That brings the total up to $310, and I've now had to come in to work to have the bearing made (I've been lucky enough to be able to work from home since March), so now I've done almost an hour on the road. Not the best bargain anymore, but it's been interesting. We're not done yet, however...

Getting home with the new bushing, I tested that it fit perfectly into the rack tube.... but the rack, itself, would not fit in the bushing. I had assumed that my rack tube was the only thing out of spec, but it appears the actual rack is as well. There was no way to correct this problem other than to make a new bushing. One more trip to work and one more late evening for my workmate, and I had a lovely bronze rack bushing/bearing:

50117381508_28193000bc.jpg

 

6" of 932 bearing bronze is about $30, shipped. That brings the total up to $310, and I've now had to come in to work - twice - to have the bearing made, so now I've done 1.5 hours on the road. Not the best bargain anymore, but it's been interesting. We're not done yet, however...

The next step for reassembly is to adjust preload on the pinion shaft (that eventually connects to the steering wheel). Preload is set by tightening an end plate down on a cylindrical spacer that contacts the bearing's outer race. If there's too much preload, the bearing won't turn; too little, and it will be sloppy. The amount of preload is determined by shims that sit between the end plate and rack housing - more shims means less pressure on the bearing spacer, and therefore less preload.

As [un]luck would have it, the races of the new bearings are larger than the stock bearings - so I needed another 25 thousandths or so worth of shims. Shims for this rack are not readily available - I was never able to find them. I eventually had to have some made... by my friend from work... after hours... again. Only this time, he had to use a CNC mill which he has at his personal shop... which is about 1 mile from the shop that I could have had rebuild my rack in the first place. He agreed to make the shims, I just needed to supply the material. 

Shim stock comes in rolls, and the smallest suitable roll was $40. My friend did the CNC work for free, but I had to drive to go pick up the new shims. So now I've spent $350, 3.5 hours on the road, and it's been nearly 3 months since I ordered the rebuild kit. :: sigh :: I really should have paid the pros to do it in a weekend.

Pressing on, after getting back home, I excitedly got back to the rebuild when I found...

...I'd had him make the wrong shims.

In my haste, I gave him the dimensions of the rack preload shim, not the pinion preload shim.

I swore a lot.

Then I tossed the new bearings, cleaned the old ones as well as I could, repacked, then reused them. This should have meant that everything went right back together, but, I had ripped one of the very thin (0.002", I believe?) plastic shims while disassembling, so the pinion was still too tight when the end plate was properly torqued. 

Without any better ideas, I decided to make the spacer shorter. Using an old trick for flattening heads, I got a piece of flat glass, taped some 400-grit wet sandpaper to it, and sanded the spacer down to the required dimensions (trying to be careful to rotate periodically to keep it as flat as possible).

50265407378_35ec9e087a.jpg 

Amazingly, this worked, and I was able to continue.  Only one more preload adjustment to go - what could go wrong?

As you might have guessed, the last preload adjustment went wrong. It appears that the rebuild kit's new nylon spacer that adjusts rack preload is thicker than stock.  So rather than the 15-ish thousandths worth of shims needed for the stock spacer, I now needed about 50 thousandths.

If you'll recall, I had my friend make the wrong shim for pinion preload... Well, the wrong shim for the pinion is the right shim for rack preload, so I had the correct shims after all. Score! To make the news that much sweeter, my friend was having trouble making 0.010" shims with clean edges, so he made one, additional 0.050" shim. The thick shim was exactly perfect. It's so pretty, I took a picture of the CNC'd shim sitting in place:

50256334597_107397a02a.jpg

 

In the end, from the rebuild kit, I only used the bellows, pinion seal, and three nylon spacers... the rest was either refurbished or made from raw material. While Lotus Marques was great to work with, I really don't think I got my money's worth out of the rebuild kit - especially considering that I already had 2 spare sets of bellows.

With that, the rack is complete.  Here it is with teaser for the next entry: front suspension:

50221797088_f5078a8e46.jpg

 

 

Edited by BrianK
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  • 2 months later...

Brilliant Brian!  It's looking great under there!  Such a shame none of it gets seen again 😉.  Did you look really closely at the trunnion ends of the lower arms - they are often cracked on the early arms?

Glad it drives well.  Can't wait to get mine to that stage!  Keep up the good work.

Pete

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5 minutes ago, EXCEL V8 said:

 Did you look really closely at the trunnion ends of the lower arms - they are often cracked on the early arms?

Nope!  Didn't know that was a thing.  😰

I did spend quite a lot of time cleaning/painting, but I wasn't looking for anything specific. Where do they crack - I'm guessing along one of the 90 degree bends? (I ask as I frantically look through all my disassembly pictures)

Finger's crossed that they are OK - there's no way to see cracks now that they're coated.

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Yes - they crack on the bends below the trunnion at the end of the arm.  I've got several sets of early arms and they are all cracked - even the later galvanised ones before they doubled up the thickness of the metal on the last ones.  I have to admit the cracks are hard to see when they first start.  I think so long as you know about the cracks you can check them at regular intervals and you'll be fine.

Pete

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19 minutes ago, EXCEL V8 said:

Yes - they crack on the bends below the trunnion at the end of the arm.  I've got several sets of early arms and they are all cracked - even the later galvanised ones before they doubled up the thickness of the metal on the last ones.  I have to admit the cracks are hard to see when they first start.  I think so long as you know about the cracks you can check them at regular intervals and you'll be fine.

Welp... this is the only evidence I have, and I don't see any cracks, so I'm going to call them good and pretend this conversation never happened.  ;)

(Good tip on checking them regularly - I'll put that on the list.  Thanks!)

arms1.thumb.png.e5f4df120b288e8dfa45df9431682166.pngarms2.png.5a03a1069eb6a2ed74e0dd36f63d619b.png

 

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  • 2 months later...

Absolutely wonderful. She looks gorgeous! Thank you so much for taking the time to post your experience with all the pictures. You are an inspiration to us all. Now I hope you can do plenty of driving on those great roads and show the locals true style, competence and efficiency!

Cheers and wishing you a very happy and successful 2021

Richard

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  • 2 weeks later...

Prepare for another entry in which I drone on at length about a subject with which I recently became familiar - carburetors, specifically Dellorto DHLA carburetors.  The TL;DR (too long; didn't read) version is: After researching Dellorto carburetor calibrations until my eyes dried up, in trying to properly tune my completely-out-of-tune DHLA45's, I second guessed my findings and abilities to the point that I took the car to a specialist who, without my intervening, charged well over $1000 to do *exactly* what I had planned to do, had I done the work myself (though, let's be honest... they probably did a better job).  Such is life.  Here's the story:

 

Prior to the big drive in my last post, I'd only driven around the block (several times).  It never really ran right, but I hadn't yet touched the carbs, so I figured they needed some attention and just accepted the sputters and pops until it was time to address them.  Poor running was never really an issue then, but when I started to navigate traffic, the lack of low-end stability was becoming a problem.

Some background:  "Federal" cars (those destined for the US, Canada, and Japan, if I'm not mistaken) ran Stromberg carburetors. My understanding is that engines running Strombergs had lower emissions than those running Dellortos (lower emissions being required to pass then-new pollution laws in the US). It is also my understanding that the Stromberg equipped cars ran 10-20hp less than the Dellorto equipped cars. At some point in my car's history, the previous owner opted to install Dellorto carburetors (and a Lumenition ignition - which will play into this post later).

Back to my car: Prior to re-jetting, my car had a real problem getting off the line - especially under higher loads (like pulling away from a stop on a hill) where it would sputter and nearly die until I dipped the clutch and got the revs back up.  It sounded like there was an occasional misfire at low rpm (idle and just off idle) and the exhaust didn't smell right - it didn't smell like unburnt fuel or burnt oil, so much as it just smelled a little "hot," for lack of a better term (I assumed it was overly lean). However, above about 3000 rpm, it ran great, pulled hard, sounded great, and never missed a beat.

With that, it was time to start digging into the carbs. I have limited experience with carburetors... not zero, but my experience is very narrow.  By "narrow", I mean that I've done a good bit of work with Holley carburetors on small block Chevy V8s, but that's the extent of it.

With a couple ounces of Holley confidence, I started getting into the Dellortos - initially by picking up a copy of Des Hammill's "How to Build and Power Tune Weber & Dellorto ... Carburetors" and a 4-pot manometer. The book is interesting, but not exactly what I was after.  It's a book you really need to take as a whole - reading one chapter by itself won't solve any problems or make anything run better, but having the whole thing sat in your brain serves as good reference when you're trying to decide on a path to take.

By itself, the book wasn't enough, so I did a *ton* of research online.  Lots of good info from this and the Jensen Healey forums; and I kept coming across Tim Engel's fantastic posts.  One thing I learned from Tim's writings was to pay attention to the Lotus carb "spec" (specification), or, more importantly, the Dellorto "calibration." 

Ahhh, carb specs... what a deep hole that turned out to be.  For the uninitiated, Dellorto worked with many OEMs as a carburetor supplier.  Every Dellorto carb has an ID tag, and that ID tag can be used to determine for which car the carburetor was made. Not only does the ID tag tell you the car, but it tells you the exact calibration: chokes, jets, holders, emulsion tubes, etc that are in use.  The exact calibration is necessary for our cars, as Lotus changed the spec several times during the course of a model run, and sometimes changed the calibration within a specification (for example, there are 2 different calibrations for "spec 9" and 3 different calibrations for "spec 10", depending on the model of car - Esprit, Elite, Excel, etc).

Now, I'm no expert on this topic, so take it with a grain of salt, but from what I gathered, for the 907, Lotus used 3 different specifications called spec 1, 3, and 5.  For the 2.2, they used "spec 9", then for the 2.2 HC, they used "spec 10".  I'm sure there are more specs beyond that, but that's as far as my research went.  According to Tim (and others), Spec 5 is the sweet spot for the 907 - spec 1 was too rich and spec 3 too lean.

With that, I had a reasonable target, but what I didn't know was the starting point - What calibration did I have?  The Elite/Eclat workshop manual has a carb spec table (page 13 in the technical data section at the front), but it only goes to spec 9, and it doesn't associate a spec with a tag number, so no way to see which spec I had. Lots and lots of searching for my ID tags was coming up empty - I even found a pdf of all Dellorto calibrations, but my tag numbers were nowhere to be found.  I was pretty convinced I had an off-the-shelf carb, or one calibrated for a different OEM. Several days into my search, I decided to look at an Esprit S3/Turbo workshop manual (one I stumbled across online). In that manual, the carb table not only had all the tag numbers, but it had Spec 10 carbs as well. Looking closely at that table ::insert angels singing:: I finally found my id tags!

For the uber curious, I made a Google Sheets version of the various Lotus calibrations from that Esprit workshop manual. Maybe someone will find it useful: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1393V4_TwG5b2bUYojQNO2vCmL_K_kFAUCTQ94qWSQvs/edit?usp=sharing

The big discovery: my carbs originally came on an Excel with the 2.2, high compression engine - Spec 10. My Lumenition ignition is also from an Excel.   If I'm not mistaken (again, I'm no expert here - just someone with moderately capable Google Fu), we never got the 2.2 HC engine in the US, and we certainly never got the Excel. It appears, then, that the previous owner, in attempt to get more power, imported parts from the UK some time prior to 2003 (when the car was last registered).  Kudos to them - that couldn't have been cheap or easy.

Now that I know the start and end, it should just be a matter of sourcing parts and swapping everything out to convert my spec 10s to spec 5.  At least, that was the plan, but there was one major difference between the Spec 10 and everything prior: Spec 10 is a DHLA 45D - which comes with a power jet (as opposed to the DHLA 45E which, at least according to the table, does not have a tunable power jet)

As with many problems I've tried to solve with this car, the power jet turned out to be a nothing-burger when it came to my tune.  I could have, and should have, just ignored it.  After all, the power jet (if I understand correctly) only comes into play at wide open throttle above 3K rpm when there's very little vacuum... an area where I never had a problem.  However, because I am one to overthink things, I convinced myself, falsely, that the power jet was making up for the leaner main jets of the spec 10 vs spec 5, and that by going with spec 5 mains, I'd be entirely too rich in the top end.

I made myself crazy trying to work out how to determine the correct size of the power jets in relation to the main jets.  I figured the only route to solution was experimentation - which would have been easy enough if I had a library of chokes, jets, holders, tubes, etc. to play with, but I didn't.  This meant that every iteration would require a new set of parts.  Not only is that expensive, but I found it difficult to source Lotus-specific jet sizes in the US... which meant shipping from the UK for each iteration of tune.  With 6 or 7 tunable parts per throttle bore and a few others per carburetor, that becomes an expensive and time consuming process.

So after all that research and planning, on the day I intended to go buy an ultrasonic cleaner to help with a full rebuild, I decided, instead, to call a local classic Lotus specialist to see if they had a tuning "library" and time to have a look at my car. The answer to both questions was yes, so I bit the bullet and handed the keys over to a pro to do the work.  (For the curious, the shop was "Lotus Prepared by Claudius" - which seems to have a "love it or hate it" relationship with the Lotus community, but, in the end, they did great work and were very open to sharing their methods and capabilities of their shop)

It cost me dearly to do so, but the outcome was absolutely perfect.  It has the same or better power in the top end, but, most importantly, is silky smooth at lower rpms.  I can drive the Elite like any other street car - which makes driving so much more enjoyable, especially relative to the sputtery limping off the line prior to the tune.

So what was the magic recipe?  Spec 5. Ignore the power jet & just go with spec 5 - just as I had planned. Of course, along with spec 5 parts, the carbs got a full rebuild - which, I'm sure, played a roll in improving overall performance, too.

IMG_2497.thumb.jpg.964d9dc9fe06a0e567cfade8ba75a394.jpg

 

So now having the ability to drive reasonable distances, I've taken the car on a few shakedown runs in the canyons.  The most recent was one of the better drives I've had - about 50 miles of mostly beautiful, twisty roads, only encountering one other car on the road (I even managed to get a quick video I'll share in the future). That trip, however, was not without its troubles - only a mile or so from home (on the way back), something I mentioned in a previous post as "I might kick myself for that later" has failed and caused big problems. The Elite is now sidelined for, I'm guessing, another month while I determine what's wrong and source new parts (I suspect a catastrophic rear wheel bearing and hub carrier failure).  This was just last weekend, so I'll save the entry until after I can do a proper post-mortem (still waiting on tools for that).

That may be a bitter-sweet ending to this entry, but it's all part of the process. No one said it was going to be easy.  ;)  The bright part is this: it now runs, runs very well, and is an absolute joy to drive!

Edited by BrianK
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Well done Brian!  Costly exercise but worth it.  And you now have lots of knowledge about Dellortos 😀.  The rear wheel bearings aren't hard to deal with so long as the lower stud comes out of the casting - often a lot of heat is required!  Let us know how you get on.

Pete

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Welp...  :( 
 

C489F2AA-03A7-4CE7-9CF3-D590CB814DA8.thumb.jpeg.84ab063662938990b82bafef476bb043.jpeg

 

When I pulled the hub off, I found that the circlip that retains the bearing was just floating between the carrier and hub. I’m not sure if the bearing failed and caused the circlip to weaken and pop out; or if the circlip wasn’t seated properly, which then caused the bearing to fail. Regardless, the bearing pushed through the hub carrier until the half shaft was grinding on the hub carrier - seems that was the only thing that prevented it from pushing all the way through. I suppose because of the difference in materials, I heard no noise and noticed no grinding as the half shaft removed material from the carrier. In fact, I thought I just had a sticky brake until I got out of the car to notice smoke (from burnt bearing grease) coming from the rear wheel.

My hope, now, is that we kept the rear hub carriers from the race car when we swapped in its jag XJS unit (for those not following along, I race an Elite with a V8 that now runs a complete Jag XJS IRS). My teammate is rummaging through our spares today looking for it (Thanks Steve!). If not, those eBay links above will come in handy. 
 

Also worthy of note: those bearings are pricey!

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Ouch!!  Yes - the circlip is the only thing retaining the bearing in the hub carrier.  The bearings are ridiculously expensive just because they are rare now.  I'm going to have a chat (if they ever let us out again!) with the foundry I'm using for another project to talk to them about re-casting the hub carriers to allow the fitting of bigger, stronger bearings.

Is your damaged hub an early or late type?  

Pete

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7 minutes ago, EXCEL V8 said:

Ouch!!  Yes - the circlip is the only thing retaining the bearing in the hub carrier.  The bearings are ridiculously expensive just because they are rare now.  I'm going to have a chat (if they ever let us out again!) with the foundry I'm using for another project to talk to them about re-casting the hub carriers to allow the fitting of bigger, stronger bearings.

Is your damaged hub an early or late type?  

Pete

Hub carriers for different bearings would be amazing! I’ve fallen in love with the cartridge type - where the bearing comes in a housing, so the whole housing gets replaced instead of just the bearing... 4 bolts and you’re done. I figure, while I’m tossing coins into the wishing well that I’d make that suggestion. ;)

 

I believe the hub is an early type simply because it’s a ‘74 elite. I read, on SJ, that the earlier models have a different “dirt flinger” but I don’t know what that is to determine which mine is. 

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Cartridge-type bearing is top of the list, followed by beefier double-row like the Esprit used, or properly spaced/shimmed tapered roller bearings like your Jag hub carriers use.  Bearing availability/dimensions will probably dictate choice in the end if original driveshafts are to be retained.

The two hub carriers can be told apart by the machining on the "nose" - the early ones were not machined and had a larger diameter "dirt flinger", and vice versa for the later ones.  I'll have a look to see if I have a spare early one in the lock-up (may take a few days).

Pete

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Steve found the spares. New bearings are on the way. All is well in the world.  :) 
 

66B5325E-A1CF-4CB8-BC08-096CB2084AA3.thumb.jpeg.7d12ebe7e8ee06f14c2327269a866475.jpeg

 

During this process, I removed the brake drums to find that one side of the diff is leaking so bad that it’s made that brake useless. 
 

7B33020B-726E-409C-ACE2-11F90D1C66A0.thumb.jpeg.586b09a44103a22b9a763ea74943b27c.jpeg
 

It might be a little hard to see in the pic, but those shoes are soaked in oil.


I think I’ll pull the diff and have it rebuilt - or at least re-sealed - while I’m back here (rebuilding the diff on my own is above my pay grade)

 

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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 month later...

This year, the Elite has suffered greatly from while-you're-in-there-itus. What started as a single rear wheel bearing and hub carrier replacement has turned into bearings on both sides, hub carriers on both sides, rebuilt half-shafts, replaced trailing arm bushings and various suspension hardware, rebuilt diff, rebuilt propshaft, and replaced fuel line with more modern (read: thicker) hose.

While it's still a work in progress, I just finished the fuel line; and, holy cow, that was a job. It would have been dead simple had the transmission and exhaust been removed, but with both in place, access to important bits was incredibly limited. Add to that the fact that I can't get the car very high off the ground and you've got a recipe for frustratingly difficult jobs that would otherwise be simple. The job took close to 3 days, so today's entry will be exclusively about that 17-18' of rubber hose routed through the chassis.

Quick backstory: My previous entry mentioned how a home renovation was getting in the way of car work, and that I had a car show coming up at the end of last month.  That car show was delayed until August (due to COVID), and I had a bit of a medical issue that sidelined me for 3 weeks, so neither the house nor the car is done, but at least I didn't miss the show.

Back to fuel line... The original (OE) line was clear (well, brown now) polyurethane (I think?).  46+ year old plastic that is now soaking in some non-zero amount of ethanol. Considering I had the diff out of the car, and the propshaft simply slides out, I was never going to be closer to the fuel line through the backbone, so I thought now was the time.  I ordered 20' of new Earl's Performance 5/16" ID fuel line (I believe the OE line is metric, but 5/16" was very much close enough), a new filter, and fuel-line hose clamps. The lot was surprisingly expensive - well over $100. I probably paid more for the name than those hose, but, oh well, such is life.  The previous owner replaced the fuel pump, which is only a few years old, so no  need to replace it.

Original fuel line and filter (both of which may have been fitted at the factory):

Old fuel line

 

The OE fuel line has an OD of around 3/8", but the new line has an OD of 9/16". This poses a problem as the line is routed through the backbone - going through two bulkheads (for lack of a better term), two reinforcement plates, the rear suspension upper crossmember, and the body under the fuel lank. All of those holes needed to be widened and grommeted. The line also passes through three loop-clamps and two spring clamps - all of which were too small for the new hose. Finally, the OE line is connected to the tank via compression fitting (like what you'd find in a water line that goes to your fridge), the sleeve for which was too small for the new line.

OE compression fitting under the tank:

Original fuel line with compression fitting

 

Old compression fitting on original fuel hose

 

Having cataloged what I was up against, I started by removing and draining the tank.  As has been the case through most of this resto, I am very lucky with the condition of the equipment.  No rust to speak of, and everything came out easily.  The tank is held in by two 17mm bolts in the trunk area, the nuts for which live just above the suspension towers - accessible through the wheel well.  If you've got long arms, it's a one-person job to get a wrench on one side and a socket on the other.

After disconnecting the tank from its mount, getting the filler pipes off posed a bit of a challenge. Man-handling them got the job done. I don't think there's a subtle way of doing it... just lots of pulling a swearing.

With the filler caps off, I siphoned most of the fuel out of the tank through one of the filler openings.  Lucky for the me, the tank had about 6 gallons of fuel, because I only had a 5 gallon container.  With a gallon or so of fuel left in the tank, I was able to turn it on its back to access the underside without spilling anything. Top tip: cover the filler openings, lest you suffocate on fumes.

Fuel tank Underside of fuel tank

 

With access to the underside of the tank, I came to the first obstacle - the compression fitting. As with many things, I made this more complicated than it needed to be. What I didn't realize is that the compression sleeve is a male-end thread that threads into the banjo assembly.  To change it to a barbed fitting (that would accept the new fuel line) simply involved screwing a barbed fitting into the banjo assembly. Easy-peasy.  To make matters better, we had a spare barb sitting idle in one of the parts cars for the race car, so I brought it home, and after a little cleanup, had a suitable fuel pickup:

NPT barb to replace compression fitting Banjo assembly for fuel tank Banjo assembly back on tank

 

After a smattering of Permatex Aviation Form-a-Gasket, it was ready to go.

Next up was enlarging and adding new grommets to the chassis pass-throughs.  I initially ordered a grommet kit from Amazon - 125 grommets of various sizes for about $10. Of course, when I got them, none of them were the correct size, and, after seeing them, I wondered about their ability to survive in a hot, oily environment.  I then went to our trusty McMaster Carr where I found every type and size of grommet known to man.  I ordered grommets in three thicknesses - one set for the front/rear tunnel bulkheads which are around 1/8" thick, one set for the upper rear crossmember which is about 1/16" thick, and one set for the body which is about 1/4" thick. I got 5 of each, and each set of 5 was around $10.  Go figure.

Enlarging the holes caused much pain.  I figured a stepped drill bit was the right tool, but how do you get it between the chassis and transmission? Well... there exists "quick-change" drill bits that have a hexagonal shank... nuts are also hexagonal. That means that you can put a quick-change drill bit in  a socket at the end of a socket extension; so with a socket adaptor for a drill, you've got a bit that can sit any distance away from the drill.  It's sloppy, but it works. In the end, going long wasn't as good as making a 90 degree turn, but there's a solution for that as well.  It looks like this:

Drill setup for tight spaces

 

Those front and rear tunnel bulkheads are fiarly thick, so it took quite a while to get through them with this setup, but after some patience, we had a newer, larger pass-through for the new line (the new hole is below center-right):

 

Enlarged holes & grommets for new fuel line

 

Same setup was used for the rear bulkhead (above center-left):

Enlarged holes & grommets for new fuel line

 

... and again for the remaining two holes.

With that, I was ready to send fuel line through. I decided to start at the front and work my way back, as going through the tunnel would be the most difficult part, so I wanted to start with that.  The line starts at a loop through the block right next to the bell housing, then along the chassis rail, through a loop clamp, and then the front bulkhead.  I lubed the hose with silicone lubricant (didn't want to use oil on rubber, though I suppose fuel line should be able to handle it) and sent it through.  When everything's slippery, there's not much too it.

Ignoring the spring clips for now, I went to pass through the two reinforcement plates near the back of the tunnel.  The OE line was clipped between the two plates and simply passed through the half-circles cut in those plates at the top of the tunnel.  The new line, however, was large enough that it was in constant contact with those plates, which are about 1/16" thick - thin enough to cause concern for cutting.  The recesses cut in the plates were not the right shape or size to accommodate a grommet, and there was no way of getting a drill to the front of the two plates to enlarge the hole for a grommet.

I thought that the biggest issue with running the line through those recesses was the possibility of the plates cutting their way through the rubber, so eliminating that possibility was top priority.  After a bit of head-scratching I came up with what I hope is a reasonable solution: I made two 1/16" plates look like one 3" tunnel with no sharp edges by cutting a piece of metal to shape, then flaring the ends to hold it in place:

Tunnel for fuel hose

 

Only one end is flared in the above pic, but the other would be flared in-situ. Because there's a large surface area between the chassis and hose, I believe that vibration wear will be minimal, and there's no longer a cutting edge against the line so.... job done.  (installed picture below). If this trips anyone's safety alarm, feel free to speak up.

New fuel line through chassis backbone

Running the rest of the line was a non-issue.  Through the crossmember, through the body, and the line is now run.... but wait, there's more!

The OE line was also held in place by 2 spring clips and 3 loop clamps. One of the spring clips was made unnecessary by the half-tunnel above, and the loop clamps were simply replaced by larger rubberized versions I also found at McMaster. The spring clamp in the center of the tunnel, however...  that one was a challenge.

Firstly, that clamp is darn near inaccessible.  I am not a small person - 6' 5" - with long arms.  I could *just* reach it with my finger tips by reaching down the tunnel from the rear - though not well enough to do much while in there.  There is, however, a 3"x6" access hole at the front of the tunnel on the underside - just above the exhaust pipe.  With an exhaust hanger removed, while pulling the exhaust to one side, I can *just* get my arm up there (with a scraped and scabbed-over arm to prove it), but again, not so much that I could do much with the clamp.  I tried various ways of getting the new line in the clamp, but was unsuccessful. On my last "all or nothing" try, I broke the clamp.

If there were small children around, I should apologize, as the streak of foul language that came audibly pouring from my mouth was ... well...   impressive.

I sat under the car staring through that little access hole for some time before coming up with a solution: the left-over clip-on nuts that I got for the front bumper project would clip onto the parking brake relief in the chassis, assuming I could drill a hole in the chassis for a bolt to pass through.  Enter drill bit extension #2!

Drill setup for new fuel line mount

 

... and after a bit of fiddling, a new clamp was in place, albeit 4-5" further forward than the old one:

New in-chassis fuel line clamp

(this will eventually get some paint to cover the bare metal scratches)

 

With that, the new hose is run.  What an absolute pain that could be incredibly easy under better conditions. It should be noted that I haven't tested this yet.  It's possible it may all have to come out again.  Time will tell.

Fuel tank back in place

 

... and now it's time for some housework.  We also have our first endurance race at the end of the month (also in an Elite), so I suspect it will be mid to late June before this Elite is back on the road.

Edited by BrianK
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  • 4 weeks later...

 

After the fuel line, getting back to working order just meant reassembly.  Considering so much had been removed, I had access to areas I wouldn't normally have access to, so I did some rust abatement while everything was torn apart. That meant cleaning and painting the chassis above and around the diff and a few places in the tunnel,  painting the actual diff, and painting various bits of the hubs and axles. I was a little careless when I ordered new paint, so some of the paint under the car is glossy, some is matte, and the rest is satin. At least it's consistent per component. 🤷‍♂️

For some reason, I neglected to replace the trailing arm bushings when I replaced all other suspension bushings, so I went ahead and took care of those as well.

New and old trailing arm bushings:

Trailing arm bushings

painted driveshaft:

51246258782_0538bd4857_b.jpg

 

painted diff:

Diff painted

 

51247734974_9bcc082f2e_b.jpg

 

Cleaned up hub / half shaft assemblies:

Rebuilt hubs and half shafts

 

All of the major threads in the rear suspension are 1/2-20 (fine thread), so I got myself a rethreading die.  Not only were some of the threads caked in grime (pictured), the quite large lower-link-to-hub-carrier-to-trailing-arm partially threaded rod gets hammered pretty good going through each of those components when they aren't perfectly inline. I was happy to have it:

51248029025_17a295b702_b.jpg

 

After a few hours of slogging, it was all back together:

Rebuilt rear

 

So what do we have here?

  • New (to me) hub carriers
  • New castle nuts
  • New wheel bearings
  • New half-shaft UJs
  • Rebuilt diff (well... "refreshed" maybe. New bearings and seals, but original gears)
  • New propshaft UJs
  • New fuel line
  • New trailing arm bushings
  • New hardware where possible (nuts and bolts)

 

I learned a few things removing and reassembling the diff for the first time and the rear suspension a second time:

  • The hardest part of disassembly is removing the 3 long bolts/rods on either side (two at the hub carrier and one at the diff/lower link). One of the 3 is going to be an absolute pain, then the other two will be slightly easier because they can now be moved around to be under less stress.  I'm not sure which is best to do first, but I've been removing the lower link on the hub side first.  Hefty use of a pry bar and dead-blow hammer is required.
  • The diff isn't that difficult to remove when you know what you're doing:
    • remove half shafts and drums. This is easiest with a 9/16" socket on a long wobble extension. 
    • disconnect propshaft. (two 1/2" wrenches)
    • support diff with jack
    • remove rear fasteners (shared with lower link) and slightly loosen front fasteners. Be sure the lower links have already been removed from the hub side if possible.
    • lower diff slightly for access
    • disconnect parking brake by removing the pin on the drum side of the parking brake rod(s). Slide rods off brake lever
    • remove front diff fasteners 
    • lower diff a few inches - mind the brake hard-lines that go to the bleed valves (visible in the picture of the diff above). You'll probably need to shimmy the hard line on one side past the frame rail, then tilt the whole thing to lower that side an inch, then lower the whole thing, then shimmy the other side past the frame rail & level back out.
    • Now, with more access to brake lines, undo brake lines on both sides. IIRC, you'll need both 14 and 15mm wrenches for this.
    • cap brake hard lines 
  • Once the diff is out, the driveshaft just slides out. Don't forget to grease the end before re-inserting.
  • Order of operations for rear suspension reassembly is important! The first time I reassembled the rear suspension (last year), I installed one side of the suspension before the other. Because one side was attached and under stress, I had to use a bottle jack to spread the frame rails apart far enough to line up the diff with their rear attachment point for the other side. 
    • This time, I installed the two lower links on the diff before any other suspension components. This is the way to go. No bottle jack required - everything can be aligned by hand. To be clear, that means insert the long rod from the back, through chassis/bushings, then through lower link, then through the diff.  Don't forget the hardened washers on either side of the lower link, lest you'll have to start over (I had to start over ;)). That's step 1.
    • The trailing arms have very tight tolerances at their front mounting points, so you'll want to install those with zero tension, so they go on second.
    • Next, I did the trailing arm to hub carrier, but not the lower link yet. Instead, I sent the rod through just beyond the trailing arm. You won't be able to fit the lower link if the rod is all the way through.
    • Next, the bolt that holds the shock. Take care to use the correct number of washers/spacers here, especially if using aftermarket shocks. I needed an extra hardened washer that didn't' come with the shocks.
    • Finally, attach the lower link to the hub side.  I found it a little easier to jack up the suspension at this point - doing so put the components slightly more in line with each other.  Even at that, getting the rod through is a challenge. Again, a thread-chaser was nice to have for this.

After everything was back together, I bled the brakes with the help of a friend.  A good bit of muck came out of one of the bleeders. Between that and the fact that one of the drums is no longer soaking in oil, I'm hopeful that brake performance will be improved.

So it's all back together now, after 6 months off the road.  I still need to add fluids and go through the proper suspension torqueing procedure, but that's just an afternoon's work.

Of course now that the car's back on the road, we enter the hot months of the year here in LA.  Tomorrow, it's supposed to be 97 degrees (that's 36 degrees in "science units" ;)).  Perfect timing.  😛 :) 

 

Next project: transmission. Interestingly, I sent an email to Conversion Components back in 2019 asking about their conversion kit for the Toyota Supra (W58) gearbox to the Lotus 907. Rather than respond to my email in 2019, they decided to call me... yesterday.  "Hi, I'm calling you about your email" ... from 2019.  bizarre. 

I also have a friend about 5 hours drive away who builds roll cages for race cars and is a big British car fan.  He's offered to take a swing at rebuilding one of my 2 spare Lotus transmissions. Decisions, Decisions.  One thing I'm sure of: I only want to do the transmission once. 

hmmmmmm...... Any thoughts on which route to go - Toyota W58 conversion or Lotus 5-speed rebuild?  Before you recommend Getrag, the one for the job just isn't available in the 'States. IIRC, the specific model was only on the e30 M3 here; and between their value and the use of those transmissions in E-type jag conversions, e30 M3 transmissions just don't exist. 

 

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Looking at your assembled picture, I note you do not have the retro fit central link under the diff between the left and right lower link. 

Easy to make from a U section and provides much improved rigidity between  the left and right suspension. It is detailed in the Lotus service notes as a service retro fit. 

Tony 

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