Lotus Elan

Recommended upgrades when restoring an Elan

PostPost by: FritzPasadena » Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:45 pm

So, I've nearly tracked down the handful of missing parts required for the restoration of my 1965 S2 and am now thinking about what upgrades are necessary/sensible/recommended. I'd like to keep the car cosmetically as close to as original as possible and this goes for the engine bay as well as the exterior and interior. However, the car will have to be reliable and able to handle some slow traffic conditions in hot weather and I obviously don't want it overheating if possible. By all accounts, the engine seems to be producing around 125bhp so I don't need much extra poke.

All things considered, what would you more experienced Elan owners consider are the essential and desirable upgrades for all aspects of the car and where can I source them?

The car will be for fast road use and does not need to comply with current racing regulations.

Thanks in advance. :D
User avatar
FritzPasadena
Second Gear
Second Gear
 
Posts: 58
Joined: 12 Dec 2007

PostPost by: RotoFlexible » Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:13 pm

A Gustafson (or similar) pre-engaged starter is out of sight and eliminates many headaches.

A mini-alternator is not out of sight but assures that there is a fully charged battery to run the starter. (The alternator and starter require you to switch to negative ground if you aren't already there.)

A cartridge water pump (Bean or Burton) looks identical to the original at a casual glance and provides the peace of mind of knowing you won't be stuck half way to nowhere with a head-off job.

CV jointed output shafts get around the unreliable Rotoflex problem and are not easily seen. (I have the ones that include new, high-strength diff output shafts.)

The forums contain endless debates on these and other items. I have all of them. They're all reversible should you or the next owner decide to go back to original.

Probably the most important "upgrade" is to make sure your electrical system is completely up to snuff - connectors, fuse box, wires, and especially grounds.
Andrew Bodge
'66 Elan S2 26/4869
I love the sound of a torque wrench in the morning. Sounds like... progress.
User avatar
RotoFlexible
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 681
Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Location: Eastern Massachusetts

PostPost by: bengalcharlie » Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:23 pm

I agree with all comments made by Andrew . My plus two has all of the above and it makes the car "modern" and easy going. I can only add electronic ignition to the list ( luminition or ignitor) and these units are easy to install and also reversable. the big advantage is that you do not have to change points and on the lotus it is a pain in the neck to get access.
other items you could consider but not a first priority are a stainless exhaust and making the headlights going up and down electric instead of the vacium system.
cheers Robin
bengalcharlie
Third Gear
Third Gear
 
Posts: 305
Joined: 25 Nov 2003
Location: New Zealand

PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:31 pm

Greetings, I too, echo Andrew's ideas, and Robin's too. I've done the new starter and alternator, I got them both from RD Enterprises in Pennsylvania an am very satisfied with the results.
I'm still a rotoflex guy though. I took solid axles off my +2 and put stock rotos back on which eliminated an annoying vibration, but maybe my u-joints weren't right.
I've not had much trouble over the years with my vacuum systems and any extra wiring in a fiberglass car can be a (minor) concern.
As Andrew said, all mods suggested can be retro fitted to stock, so nothing lost, somethings gained.
Have Fun, Eric
1964 S1
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1496
Joined: 15 Sep 2003
Location: Hamilton County, Ohio

PostPost by: twincamman » Tue Jun 09, 2009 1:47 am

electric fuel pump for sure - instant start up every time -ed
dont close your eyes --you will miss the crash
User avatar
twincamman
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 2953
Joined: 02 Oct 2003
Location: Niagara falls [slowly I turned]

PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Tue Jun 09, 2009 3:20 am

Hope this isn't a can of worms for you and your listing Fritz but I've never had an electric fuel pump on any Elan I've owned and they've all started everytime I wanted to go somewhere. I bought by first Elan in 1972 and have owned seven over the years. I consider electric fuel pumps a fire hazard in an old Elan. I guess if they're installed properly I'm overeacting.
Helmet on, goggles on, fireproof suit on, Ed.
Eric
1964 S1
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1496
Joined: 15 Sep 2003
Location: Hamilton County, Ohio

PostPost by: memnon » Tue Jun 09, 2009 7:04 am

Does anyone not run a tubular exhaust manifold? I am not the expert on what was original, but I thought they were cast iron as standard. If it still cast and i am not talking rubbish, get a tubular exhaust manifold! Less mass and a few more HP

I have gone for adjustable suspension all round with narrow diameter springs. This gives me a bit more freedom with wheels.

Not one I have gone for, but failsafe headlamp system could be useful if you are going to use the car lots at night.

I have gone for a full ECU system, but even if you aren't doing this, then an electronic ignition module that fits in the distributor is worthwile and almost invisiable to the eye.
memnon
Second Gear
Second Gear
 
Posts: 164
Joined: 27 Mar 2006

PostPost by: FritzPasadena » Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:01 am

Wow, thanks for so many replies!

So far it seems the following are all sensible upgrades when properly installed:

1: pre-engaged starter
2: mini-alternator
3: cartridge water pump
4: CV jointed output shafts
5: new electrical system/wiring
6: electronic ignition

Anything I have missed form the list of essential upgrades?

What are some recommended exhaust systems with a fruity note and less restriction? I will be fitting a complete new system from the manifolds back.

Additionally, my headlights are now supposed to work by hand operation (not that I can get it to work right now). I'd ideally like to go back to the vacuum format for originality's sake - is this a difficult or expensive job?

Lastly, electric fuel pumps. Are there any issues I should be aware of? I'm afraid I'm a chequebook mechanic and have to rely on advice from more knowledgeable enthusiasts. I'd rather listen to unbiased opinions here on LotusElan.net than to someone who's trying to sell me parts!

Just to add some additional detail, the majority of work will be done by Paul Matty with bodywork by Option 1 and the magnesium wheels by Dymag.

Thanks again!
User avatar
FritzPasadena
Second Gear
Second Gear
 
Posts: 58
Joined: 12 Dec 2007

PostPost by: Jolly Jumper » Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:08 am

FritzPasadena wrote: and the magnesium wheels by Dymag.


Mag wheels by Dymag? :shock: Sounds interesting. Any details? Is this a new product? :P
User avatar
Jolly Jumper
Second Gear
Second Gear
 
Posts: 134
Joined: 22 Sep 2003
Location: Hamburg

PostPost by: FritzPasadena » Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:15 am

Not quite :D

The wheels are JA Pearce magnesium wheels (JAP Magna) as fitted for the 1966 racing season. I still have the original set so they're going to be crack-tested and refurbished by Dymag who have a very good reputation for working with magnesium. They did the wheels on my single seater and I was very impressed.
User avatar
FritzPasadena
Second Gear
Second Gear
 
Posts: 58
Joined: 12 Dec 2007

PostPost by: paddy » Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:33 am

Of course, you don't *need* to do any of it :) How far you go depends on how much you value originality versus "optimisation". Reliability and suitability for the conditions of today's roads are also considerations.

Of the changes you've listed, however, I would think that a significant majority of people here have a CV joint conversion and have switched to -ve earth and alternator. Possibly also a majority have lumenition or Aldon electronic ignition.

Of the other things, I think they are recommended by some people but I'm not sure you'll find a majority saying they are essential upgrades. For the starter and water pump, for example, I believe the standard parts are reliable, compared to anything else that might go wrong. If my standard starter failed, for example, I might consider a pre-engaged one as replacement but I'm not sure I would remove a working starter to replace it with a pre-engaged one. Just my opinion of course, and before you all start I've heard all of the other opinions as well :)

On the electric fuel pump, I happen to have one because the PO fitted it. On the other hand, there have been a couple of threads recently explaining how a bulb primer pump in combination with the standard pump is just as good for everyday use.

On the vacuum lights, you may have a problem getting hold of an airtight dash vacuum switch. I wasn't, so I put a solenoid valve in instead to activate the lights. Apart from that, getting the vacuum lights to work again, shouldn't be a problem, although if you need a new set of vacuum pods these might be a bit pricey.

Paddy
1963 Elan S1
User avatar
paddy
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1190
Joined: 27 Oct 2008
Location: Woking, Surrey

PostPost by: archigator » Tue Jun 09, 2009 1:18 pm

I would add the following:

1. Replace the original gas tank with a new fresh one. I'd even suggest a fuel cell for full safety's sake, although there are some issues (I have been told) having it work with your fuel gauge.

2. Replace all fuel lines. I've replaced the line from the gas tank to the mechanical fuel pump with a NOS line, and replaced the line from the fuel pump to the carbs with aeroquip fuel hose with an aeroquip t-fitting over the distributer.

3. Add a lightweight flywheel. Apart from the initial cost, it adds extra horsepower/torque to the wheels without burning additional gas... and you can't tell that it's there from the outside. I have an aluminum Fidanza flywheel.

4. Upgrade Timing Chain. Dave Bean has three grades of chains (one stock and two aftermarket.) With 75,000 miles on my car, I now enjoy the piece of mind that a fresh chain provides. I chose the one that Dave has custom-made by a local speed shop (mid-grade, but I didn't want the expense of a full race chain.)

5. Run a heavy gage black grounding wire through the car from the engine compartment to the grounding point in the trunk. Tap into it for an optional grounding point for dash and interior electrical applications.

6. Install stainless steel pistons in the brake calipers... expensive, but don't corrode. rd enterprises sells them. Add stainless steel brake hoses.

7. New Gustafsen high torque starter. He supplies starters to rd enterprises and others. When I contacted him to complain that my new Gustafsen starter was short-lived and sometimes made a grinding noise, he had me send it to him. He custom-ground several different mounting-plate configurations and sent them back to me FOR FREE! Nice guy! It now starts every time, doesn't grind, and I couldn't recommend anything else.

I find that making my Elan a dependable machine gives me the confidence to take it out on long Club rides and really enjoy the day. What a fun machine!

Gary
'71 Elan Sprint FHC
Miami, Florida
User avatar
archigator
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
 
Posts: 549
Joined: 15 Sep 2003
Location: Miami (down where the old gators play), Florida

PostPost by: alan71 » Tue Jun 09, 2009 4:57 pm

The modifications you do usually reflect the problems you?ve had with your car. I have always had the problem of petrol evaporating from the float chambers after it has stood for a few days so I fitted an electric fuel pump (and inertia cut off switch). The vacuum head lamps have never let me down so I have kept them. In fact I think of them as part of the character of the car, some people probably feel the same way about donuts but I changed to CV joints.
The only ?modern? thing I miss driving the Elan is intermittent wipe. I?ll get round to it one day, I?ve only had the car 21 years, don?t want to rush into anything.

Alan.
alan71
Second Gear
Second Gear
 
Posts: 222
Joined: 15 Jul 2007
Location: UK

PostPost by: FritzPasadena » Tue Jun 09, 2009 5:14 pm

Thanks very much to all of you that have replied, I really do value all of your opinions.

The list has grown to:

1: pre-engaged high torque starter
2: mini-alternator
3: cartridge water pump
4: CV jointed output shafts
5: new electrical system/wiring
6: electronic ignition
7: electric fuel pump
8: new fuel tank & lines
9: lightened flywheel
10: upgraded timing chain
11: exhaust system
12: battery cut-off switch
13: heavy-gauge grounding wire through the car

What about cooling?

The car will be running without a windscreen (just a small aero screen as fitted in period) so no intermittant wash/wipe to worry about! I hope despite these upgrades the car will still look just as it did when it crossed the finish line for the final race of 1966. At the same time, I'd like to be able to take the car to Europe hopefully safe in the knowledge everything has been done to make it as reliable as possible - my foreign language skills are about on a par with my mechanical aptitude!

Thanks again :D
User avatar
FritzPasadena
Second Gear
Second Gear
 
Posts: 58
Joined: 12 Dec 2007

PostPost by: Galwaylotus » Tue Jun 09, 2009 6:01 pm

FritzPasadena wrote:At the same time, I'd like to be able to take the car to Europe hopefully safe in the knowledge everything has been done to make it as reliable as possible - my foreign language skills are about on a par with my mechanical aptitude!

Thanks again :D


Europe is not southern California. With no windscreen you had better bring a good helmet with faceshield or goggles for all the rain!! :wink:
Mechanical Engineer, happily retired!

'67 S3 SE FHC

See Facebook page: W J Barry Photography

Put your money where your mouse is, click on "Support LotusElan.net" below.
User avatar
Galwaylotus
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
 
Posts: 1357
Joined: 01 May 2006
Location: Galway, Ireland
Next

Total Online:

Users browsing this forum: marklowe, tvr78 and 15 guests