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My very brown 74 Elite project


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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 a

While not that exciting, it's worth mentioning that tires for this car are difficult to find. To make a long, not-so-interesting story less long: I found that prioritytire.com (in the US) carries a lo

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 lig

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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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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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