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new guy on the block

PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2009 11:42 pm
by richard sprint
I bought an elan sprint 3 years ago and have just started a nut and bolt resto.

The car is a dhc in yellow and white and I live in Hertfordshire. It is now completely dismantled with all parts labelled and photographed and now I'm wondering whether to keep to the yellow or change to red, pistachio or orange?

I will have countless questions and a need for countless parts - so far front wishbones, headlamp vacuum actuators, air filter housing, 1 no front caliper.

Also wonder what the wisdom is in having the shell soda blasted in preparation of new paint?

Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 1:58 am
by robcall
Hi Richard,
Colour is a very personal subject-only you can answer that!
As you asked for opinions-here goes-
I think Yellow/White suits the Elan very well.
Its also bright enough to be seen from a safety point of view.
If its the original colour it keeps your car that little bit more authentic.

Gold leaf(Red/White) is popular and sells well-used to be every 2nd Elan was red in the '80,s :P

Most of the parts you have listed are easily obtainable new from the main old Lotus suppliers.

I've recently stripped a FHC by hand sanding.Its not hard work but slow (120 hours+) and laborious -this is the second car I've stripped-and swore never again after the first :roll:
If you can find a soda blaster with glassfibre experience I'd probably go that route.
There was someone advertising there services in the UK on this forum recently.

All the best

Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:33 am
by nebogipfel

You can do no better than the lovely Susan Miller for parts, advice and enthusiasm ....

Whichever method you ultimately choose to strip the shell (I did mine by hand) I strongly recommend that you take detailed photographs and/or sketches of cracked, crazed and problem areas because once the shell is stripped it's difficult to remember where they all were and they are very difficult to spot in the gel coat.

As Rob says colour is a very personal thing and Elans look pretty in just about any colour. I like yellow/white and if originality bothers you then clearly that is the choice, but, do it Colorado Orange or Pistachio and your car will stand out in a crowd because you don't see those colours very often do have to ask yourself why of course?

Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 9:28 am
by bcmc33
My first Elan in the late 60's was an S2 in yellow - I hated it and had it painted Medici Blue.
My friend has a Sprint in yellow/white and I think it looks brilliant - how tastes change.

For soda stripping, this is the link for the recent ad:


Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 10:11 am
by Elanintheforest
Hi Richard and welcome. I would absolutely keep it as yellow over white. It really suits the Sprint (as does Pistachio and Orange) but it also keeps it original...and there's something appealing about that to many folks.

Definitely get the shell soda blasted. The finish is fantastic, with no costly mistakes of digging into the gel coat with a sharp chisel or orbital sander. It normally takes somewhere around 100 - 150 hours to strip the car by hand how much do you value your time? Even at ?20 an hour, that's ?2000 - ?3000 !! You can get it soda blasted for ?500 - ?800, and in less than a day. Have it done at their premises's very noisy and very messy....about 60 kgs of bicarbonate of soda mixed with your old paint!


Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 3:57 pm
by prezoom
I had mixed results with soda blasting. I had another, not to be named, fiberglass car soda blasted last year. From the results, I will say the end result from the blasting is directly related to the amount of gel coat initially applied during the molding process. In my case, the layer of gel coat was brushed on and was paper thin. Where the coating was thicker, the results were very satisfactory. Where thin, the soda etched through the gel coat and attacked the glass. In this case, what happened was, it exposed thousand, and I mean thousands, of pin holes where trapped air was not rolled out during the layup. This meant more hours than I can count filling the pin holes to prevent future blistering. It was both a blessing and a curse. If I had sanded the overly thick finish coat off down to the gel coat, I may have not uncovered the pin holes and would have more than upset, if after spending a ton of money getting the car painted, only to have the paint go bad later.

The outfit that did the soda blasting, primarially does fiber glass boat hulls at the docks, but also has a location where they do smaller projects. They have done a couple of 50's vintage Corvettes as well as metal bodied cars, and from the pictures they looked real good. The cost was $700 and I would do it again, even knowing I might be faced with many hundreds of hours of followup work. You never know what is behind the curtain.


Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:49 pm
by alexblack13
Welcom to the forum. I have just finished an Elan Sprint dhc. I also did a complete strip down, with loads of digi pics etc. You can follow the story on 'New car arriving' posts on this forum. I had to repair the steel trellis work built into the cills of the car before anything else. I was mystified how a fibreglass car could blow the cills apart with rust. I found out! the metalwork came out like a Cadbury's Flake. Check this carefully.

I then sent my car's body to a company Nr Birmingham for restoration and painting (See pics on the New car posts). This is the company
(Option 1) that did the bodywork for Gerry (Thurlston?) of Classics Monthly Mag, and restoration gang on TV. Gerry had his +2 bodywork soda blasted and raved about it. When I spoke to the boss of option 1 (Frank) It became very apparent that he did not. He said the bodywork was very badly damaged by the soda blasting, even though it did not look it. This was nick of time stuff as I had arranged to have mine done also. Frank said that had I went ahead he would have doubled my quote !!!!!!!!!! This is from one of the recognised experts on Lotus body resto' and painting. My job turned out near perfect. Expensive yes, but fab'.

I give you this for what its worth. I would not soda blast my car. Also.. DO NOT USE ANY TYPE OF CHEMICAL STRIPPER. EVER.

Option 1 will be at Donington.

I have no con' with option 1 other than being a very happy client. Why not phone Frank and ask his advice.

Alex B....

Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 10:11 pm
by Elanintheforest
I think that you have to put the Classic Car Plus 2 restoration into context, as the above is very misleading. If you read the series of articles, they tried to hand strip the shell first, with chisels, orbital sanders and hand sanding. The result was a complete mess, not helped by the fact that the shell was in very poor condition and had been poorly repaired. The soda blasting helped them not make even more of a mess that they already had, and they were delighted with the results.

Then they took it to Option 1?a mess of a shell, but not due to soda blasting. Remember that this process is used for cleaning Grade 1 listed buildings?bricks and stonework that are very delicate, beams that are 700 years old. It can be used very delicately if required, but for fibreglass shells it really isn?t required. I have experimented on different settings with my plant, and at the gentlest setting, it just polishes the paint. At the most abrasive setting, you would have to hold the nozzle close up and in the same place for more than 30 seconds for it to begin to touch the gelcoat, assuming you have a good gelcoat! It won?t touch glass, no matter what you try, and it just polishes chrome.

Remember that Option 1, as good as they are, make money out of preparing and painting your car. The lads get paid probably something like ?8 / hour for paint sanding and basic prep work, and as discussed above, there are many, many hours required. I don?t know their hourly rate, but I would assume it?s around ?30 - ?40 hour. If you take a shell in that is already stripped of paint, without damage, that?s a lot of profit out the window. Probably somewhere close to 80% of the work is done before they get to do their bit.

I don?t blame them for protecting their work, but if they really are claiming that soda blasting made a mess of that that Plus 2, then they should be very careful that the guy who did that work doesn?t sue them for misrepresentation.

And it wasn?t me! I don?t do other peoples cars, so have no vested interest in writing this up other than trying to set the record straight.

Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 10:43 pm
by alexblack13

Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:41 am
by Elanintheforest
So you think it makes no difference to price if the car has paint on or off, eh??

I've had a quote from Option 1 to re-paint my Elite, after they inspected it, for ?2700. That is to prepare and paint the car and re-fit the main panels. It is a bare shell, needs only a couple of fibreglass repairs, but of course being Option 1, includes re-tissuing the complete body shell and bolt-on panels. It is completely stripped of paint (properly), but with the headlining to paint on, and the dash, and a silver roof, a bit more complex than an Elan to do. So based on that, your Elan must have been something less than ?2000 to do properly...with the paint on of course.

So they do paint cars that have been stripped by someone else (if it's done properly), and I think that if you compare what you paid to what they have quoted me, it does make a difference....a large difference. It's very obvious why, as with my shell, they could see exactly what they were taking on, and could price it accordingly. And they didn't have many, many hours of paint removal to get to that point.

Their price to re-paint a bare (but still painted) shell is anything between ?5000 and ?10,000, depending on what they find UNDER the paint. It's an unknown quantity until that paint is removed. If anybody quotes a fixed price for this, then they are pricing in a high rate of rectification assumed to be required...if it's not, then they will make more on the job. It takes less than 20 hours to re-tissue the shell and panels, once the shell has been repaired, so that doesn't account for the high cost of work. In fact, it's cheaper to do that than to repair the gel coat cracks individually in most cases on our 30 to 50 year old cars.

Come on Alex, get real....Stripping and preparing a shell, especially a fibreglass one, is 80% - 90% of the work required. This is not news, it's been this way forever. If the shell is in very poor condition, as was that Plus 2 in the magazine, then of course the percentage of work to remove the paint drops, and the rectification and prep work rises. As the guys said in the article, they really should have found another shell as the one they did was way beyond economic repair...but it made good reading!

Be assured, my cage isn't rattled. I will be using Option 1 for painting 3 Lotii over the next couple of years as I respect the work they do. But those 3 will cost the same as one would cost if I presented it to them still painted, because they will have been stripped properly. That's assuming that the other two are as good as the Elite once stripped of course!

My main point however is that the comments allegedly made by Option 1 and passed on by you Alex are completely out of context and are wrong...the soda blasting did not cause the damage to the shell that they received. It says in the magazine article that THEY (the magazine guys doing the restoration) messed up what was a lousy shell to start with, and the soda blasting actually saved the day by cleaning up the mess that they had created, and revealed the true condition of the original shell, without botch repairs?.then it was delivered to Option 1 in this very sorry state.

The guy who did that soda blasting also runs a business, and has a very good reputation, which he will want to maintain. I don't know the guy, but the kit he uses is exactly the same as the one I use, as I bought mine from his main competitor when he was closing I know what it can and can't do. It can't ruin a good shell, but it can reveal a lousy one.

Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:09 am
by alexblack13


Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 10:10 am
by Elanintheforest
I can fully understand why he doesn't like the owner stripping their own's so easy to make a hash of it, which they will have to fix up. I've done many in the past 30 years or so playing Elans and, as the guys say above, after a hundred hours or so...many elapsed weeks for most of us..anybody would be totally fed up. During the hand stripping process, it's very easy to rub off that 'swage line' on the Elan that goes through the centre of the headlamp pod and up / over the wing. It's very easy to rip through the gel coat with a sander, or dig in with a chisel, and over such a period, an amature can end up with a complete mess...which is what they did on the magazine Plus 2.

I guess it's all my experience of bloomin hard work AND getting it wrong that makes me so enthusiastic about the soda blasting's nigh on impossible to get it wrong, and it takes 4 or 5 hours for a car. And the bottom line for me is that it's the best quality result that can be achieved and will not damage the shell at all, whereas doing it by hand certainly will.

Option 1 do have an excellent reputation for quality, and as you know, the best way to assure that quality is to keep the work all in house. It would be very easy for a customer to bring along his stripped shell, claiming he had not used any chemical stripper, when he really has. Then 6 months after the paint job is finished, a reaction sets in, and Option 1 are blamed for getting it wrong and have to rectify at their cost. I guess that the other reason for keeping it in house, perhaps being a little cynical, is that the least skilled / lowest paid guys get the job of paint removal. The customer still gets charged the standard hourly rate, so that part of the process is the most profitable. The guys who get the final shape right, who gap the doors, laminate in the headlamp bobbins, do the tricky stuff that perhaps you or I would struggle with, are the ones I prefer to pay.

My quote from them is less than half what you paid, and arguably, for a more complex job....doesn't that tell you something!!??

Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:06 pm
by alexblack13
Mark, Are you going to Donington? I would like to meet and discuss this with the man there. C what he says. I doubt you can change his mind though. I am sure he will still be telling clients the same. I.E. Dont do it. You need to find out why.

C U there????

Alex B... 8) welding goggles on...

Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 1:34 pm
by Elanintheforest
Welding goggles???!!

I'm not going to spend any time trying to persuade him, Alex. He has his reasons, as do the flat-earthers and those who believe electricity is the devil's work! And those who prefer scooters to a proper motorcycle :D

I suspect he was just being blunt, saying that he didn't want any more partially completed rubbish from customers ,,,and I don't blame him. It's his business, and he can run it to the standards he wants. Miles Wilkins took the same view 25 years ago...he would do work on the car on his terms...take it or leave it. He also took the view at one stage that if there were more than a certain number of gel coat cracks to repair, he would throw the shell away and get a new one from the factory! It made a couple of customers gasp as he handed them the bill for ?25k when they only came in for a re-spray! Well, OK, he had fitted a new chassis, rebuilt the suspension, steering, brakes and has to be right!

Miles could get away with it as he has many strings to his business bow. A body shop that specialises in fibreglass repair and refinishing may have to accept that there may just be a more efficient way of doing things...especially when the recession starts to bite, and folks decide that their discretionary spend on their old Elan / TVR re-spray can be put off another year or two. I don't think I'll be driving my bald Elite around without some colour though!


Re: new guy on the block

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:23 pm
by alexblack13