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BrianK

My very brown 74 Elite project

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Hey BK,

Nice find. Looks like a twin to my car, that is, when I purchased it in 1982. Same color but mine had the federal black, rubber bumpers and all which I took off and bought the better looking Euro styled ones along with the front air dam.

Mine is slightly modified in areas for more performance and a bit of cosmetics too with many hours into it but these cars as you know can really be a lot of fun to drive fast and were made to corner from the get go.

Look forward to what you do with it. 

I have some pictures in my album folder if you care to see them with my upgrades.

cheers,

Richard

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I do love a brown car and it suits the Elite. Wonderful.

I had a Mini 1275GT in Brazilian Bronze metallic, a unique colour on a Mini as it was a retirement present from BL (in 1975 for a long-serving employee). Matching brown trim. Boy it looked good.

I also had a very light brown coloured Merc 190 (80s thing). Unfortunately, I realised after a trip to Germany, it was the same colour as a Deutch taxi. A rare site in the UK but not so in Bonn. It was really cream not brown but the trim was brown and the chrome surrounds to the screens were metallic brown, a nice touch. 2.6 manual, rare but drank the juice.

Justin

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Interesting story and car, Brian. The brown is so period - in those days, everyone wore brown or beige, it was cool!!

I look forward to reading of your progress. If you hit any problems, there are plenty of people here who can help find answers.

Also don't be fooled by Elite 4.9's claim that his car is 'slightly modified!' It's a very professional (and one of the original) V8 conversions!

Richard

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Not many brown cars survived the 90s, when the colour was out of favour - what a survivor! 👍

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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.

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Shipping was relatively straight-forward and reasonably priced.  For those in the US, I used montway.com - 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):

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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).

49318487407_697ed9cd06_k.thumb.jpg.a9fbd30704ea6858dd6d9a77fc82325c.jpg

 

...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...

Edited by BrianK
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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.  :) 

49435085997_29897a14e9_k.thumb.jpg.f224249c7bfa845c18ce347b2bb39005.jpg

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I have a workshop manual from Dr. Christopher Jacobs an electrical engineer from back a few years. The name of the book is call "optimizing your ignition" and he tells all the secrets of his trade to maximize what you have, for most power and efficiency. He said 90% of all electrical problems on cars are bad grounds which you found. Great job!

My Elite, when I purchased it, had a good number of melted wires, mostly under the dash. Not the optimum of electrical design with only 28 k on the OD and less than 10 years old. I, like you, just ran new wires. 

What kind of new upholstery are you going with? These cars came with a cloth originally and then leather was an option some time later which is the way I went. But there is a lot of interior in this car so it probably won't be cheap to do. Are you keeping the same color exterior and what did you pick for your interior color?

Not too many of these cars are in the US and running so this is going to be somewhat of a rare one. In my Lotus club we only have 2.

atb,

Richard

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4 hours ago, Elite 4.9 said:

My Elite, when I purchased it, had a good number of melted wires, mostly under the dash. Not the optimum of electrical design with only 28 k on the OD and less than 10 years old. I, like you, just ran new wires. 

What kind of new upholstery are you going with? These cars came with a cloth originally and then leather was an option some time later which is the way I went. But there is a lot of interior in this car so it probably won't be cheap to do. Are you keeping the same color exterior and what did you pick for your interior color?

New wires all around... In fact, I ordered a full new main harness from BritishWiring.com 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.

IMG_8753.thumb.jpg.179d5a1753bb04d52a9decffc5db4ba4.jpg

 

Edited by BrianK
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I cannot wait to see the completed interior.

Do you have any Excel in the US? I love the Elite and Eclat but went the easier route of Excel, which was pretty well sorted from the get-go. 

Justin 

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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: :) 

EliteProvenance.PNG.4c20687fadff7282d400d655628f41d2.PNG

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: https://www.lotuscars.com/en-GB/en-GB/certificate-provenance/

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).

Edited by BrianK
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Nope. You just get Andy!

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Regular restorer. Rather less reliable forum poster!

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Gotta to love Andy Graham. Always helpful. He can also sort NO2 info on Elise to ensure your car can (perhaps) go to cities with low emission zones. S1 Elise is below emission level but TFL website lists it as not. Cert from Andy will get this sorted. 340R also. 

Justin 

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10 hours ago, jep said:

Gotta to love Andy Graham. Always helpful. He can also sort NO2 info on Elise to ensure your car can (perhaps) go to cities with low emission zones. S1 Elise is below emission level but TFL website lists it as not. Cert from Andy will get this sorted. 340R also. 

Justin 

TFL is Transport for London by the way, which regulates which cars have to pay charges to enter London, which from April means quite a large area out to Dulwich, Putney etc... this will be coming to a town near you soon (Europe at least).

Sorry for the thread drift. 

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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:
49615060823_2c89483a6b_z.jpg

 

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 BritishWiring.com for replacement harnesses. To oversimplify, BritishWiring.com is the US version of AutoSparks.co.uk.  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:

49722333758_739cf0f85d_z.jpg
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).

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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:

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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).

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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.

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Old harness removed by Brian Knudson, on Flickr

Closer shot of the old harness showing one of the problem areas:

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Part of the old harness by Brian Knudson, on Flickr

...it'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).

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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.

49856698291_1a40b4a924_z.jpg
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 ...

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Great work on the wiring Brian!  I can recommend the steering rack rebuild kit from Lotus Marques in Australia.  I recently did mine - it comes with everything you need, and help via email if you need any.

Pete

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On 05/05/2020 at 01:46, BrianK said:

..... All of which would be alot easier if my garage were bigger than a closet.  Ahhh.. to dream. :) 

Try working in a standard-size 8' x 16' English garage.  I miss the 20' x 20' US garages.

Great write up on the wiring.  Keep up the fight!


S4 Elan, Elan +2S, Federal-spec, World Championship Edition S2 Esprit #42, S1 Elise, Excel SE

 

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On 05/05/2020 at 05:47, EXCEL V8 said:

Great work on the wiring Brian!  I can recommend the steering rack rebuild kit from Lotus Marques in Australia.  I recently did mine - it comes with everything you need, and help via email if you need any.

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: https://lotusmarques.com/parts/catalogue/lotus/46-esprit-parts/305-esprit-steering-rack-parts.  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.

 

28 minutes ago, USAndretti42 said:

Try working in a standard-size 8' x 16' English garage.  I miss the 20' x 20' US garages.

Great write up on the wiring.  Keep up the fight!

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 😛 

7491911294_054d458868_z.jpg

 

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What an amazing colour combo.

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On 06/05/2020 at 16:22, BrianK said:

For anyone else who comes across this thread, the rebuild kit is the "Steering Rack Overhaul Kit" on this page: https://lotusmarques.com/parts/catalogue/lotus/46-esprit-parts/305-esprit-steering-rack-parts.  

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. 

Edited by BrianK

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If you want postal service to operate quickly in these COVID times, best use UPS or courier with their own planes. Royal Mail is hopeless at the moment. I sent a Lotus handbook to San Jose via RM tracked...20 days later, still no sign. And I had to go to PO to drop it off. 

I have used UPS via Transglobal Express and the stuff arrives almost as normal. They collect and tracking works. 

Justin 

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