Lotus Elan

Substandard counterfeit-copy parts?

PostPost by: hatman » Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:09 am

A while ago, in pursuit of my never-ending quest to save money, I bought some genuine (according to the seller) Braun electric toothbrush heads that, despite perfect authentic packaging and appearance turned out to be the most appallingly shoddy rubbish imaginable, failing (drive to the brush head ceased) after about three uses. I am now beginning to suspect that certain 'genuine' Lotus-approved-supplier parts may be from the same provincial Chinese 'trading estate' and also manufactured with the same fine disregard for quality.

At the start of the summer my Elan started having clutch disengagement problems that proved to be caused by fairly dramatic loss of fluid from knackered seals in an equally knackered master cylinder. Rather than go the short-term re-seal route I bough new Girling (apparently) master and slave cylinders from one of the major Elan parts suppliers. Rather than faff about doing the job myself I handed it over to a long-term (39 years), Lotus-trained (Bell and Colvill) garage owner to do. Despite bleeding the system (including a session on a power-bleeding rig) a squillion times, operation of the pedal still suggested air-retention, of which there was clearly none. He eventually surmised that the return-hole sealing end of the piston was not immediately moving back if the pedal was pressed gently, allowing half of the fluid in the cylinder to seep back into the reservoir rather than being pushed into the pipe to the slave. A replacement master was obtained from the same source, with a similar outcome. He fitted the new cylinder with new, replacement seals. Same result. As it seemed to work normally if the pedal is booted in the normal way, the clutch seemed to work fine (it's a new clutch and all the gubbins, less than 1000 miles ago) and after weeks of trying unsuccessfully to fathom and resolve the problem I took the car out for a drive.

Everything worked OK at town-driving speeds. Then I went for a 'spirited' overtake (booted it hard in third, revs round towards 6K, then drop into fourth). No drive (eek!). Engine revving freely but no drive. Foot on clutch and immediately off a couple of times and drive restored (hallelujah!) I then found that I could repeat this scenario at will, my conclusion being that, for whatever reason, re-engagement of the clutch, rather than being instant, is now a gradual affair which, of course, ain't a lot of use.

Went back to report my findings to Gary (the Lotus man) who, coincidentally had just finished fitting a replacement slave cylinder ('Girling' again from the same source) to a Plus2 and was having unexplained problems in 'getting the pedal right'.

Apologies for the extreme length of this post but I felt that a full explanation might be helpful in stirring up the collective wisdom. Also, anyone else had reason to question the quality/authenticity of reputably-supplied parts?
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Sat Sep 18, 2010 11:07 am

I've not had any "mission critical" dodgy parts like your hydraulic bits but there was a time in the late 90's where I got a succession of short lived gear lever gaiters from a reputable Bromsgrove based supplier. The rubber would tear on the folds after a month or two. Something must have been sorted out as the current one is fine after quite a few years.

There are lots of posts about substandard rotoflex rubber and I'm keeping a close eye on mine as I have two recent production ones on the drivers side and two NOS on the near side. So far - 18 months and about 5000 miles - so good.
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PostPost by: AussieJohn » Sat Sep 18, 2010 11:54 am

Lots of dodgy brake caliper seal kits with seals that are slightly larger than spec. You end up with huge amounts of piston pullback and I spent a lot of time chasing non-existant air in the system.
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PostPost by: paddy » Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:33 pm

I just replaced a pair of track rod ends which were completely knackered after about 2000 miles. I think I got them off a "specialist" on ebay.

I also had a really odd problem just today with brakes locking on, which sounds very similar to the problems reported above. The problem can only be with the master cylinder which, coincidentally was replaced a few weeks ago. It is supposed to be a genuine Girling part from a well known and respected UK supplier.

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PostPost by: 512BB » Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:14 am

If you look at the castings of old Girling master and slave cylinders, by that I mean ones at least 20 years old, you will see that the name GIRLING is well defined. Also look at the cast in part no on the slave, same well defined no. Then compare them to the equivalent modern parts available today. The numbers are all blurred and indistinct and look as though they have been knocked up in a shed. They are obviously castings taken from a casting, and crap at that. And thats why they dont work as they should.

Take care out there, all you buyers of modern repro rubbish.

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PostPost by: robertverhey » Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:07 pm

On a related matter, I've learnt to become wary of NOS brake parts. I bought some Cortina wheel cylinders a while ago (I'm satisfied they were genuine Girling). Put them into storage for that inevitable day (which came recently), only to find that one was still fine, the other, the dust seal had perished allowing air to get to the hydraulic seal, and "corroded" the rubber lip. Well worth checking!

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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:58 pm

512BB wrote:..............Take care out there, all you buyers of modern repro rubbish.

Leslie



Not that simple unfortunately, as time passes NOS parts however well stored will perish and deteriorate and repro parts may well be all that's available to keep old cars on the road.

Best advice is buy from the likes of Susan Miller who will always try to supply decent quality parts.
John

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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:09 pm

Hi men,

Yes I bought a master repair kit from EBay when I was doing the resto on my sprint. The seller had his advert up showing a Girling box and implied therefore the kit was Girling made. It was not. It was either Indian (I am sure) or Chinese. The clutch was never right and eventually I had to pull the cyl' from the car and fit a kit from Sue Miller. Needless to say that cured the issue.

I contacted the EBay seller and also EBay to complain. Made no difference as the same guy is still showing the Girling box on his for sale posts. I did (I think) post a warning on this forum...Some time ago though.

This is very worrying. Esp' if you have just done your brakes.

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PostPost by: hatman » Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:55 pm

hatman wrote: ...I bought new Girling (apparently) master and slave cylinders from one of the major Elan parts suppliers... :(
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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:46 am

Bad... I had noticed ''from elan supplier''.. Serious!!
But as John said, might be all we can get soon..

AB...
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PostPost by: kstrutt11 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:48 am

Seems to be the curse of the classic car industry now, you should see the quality of some of the Series Land rover parts available.

On your particular issue, it sounds like the M/Cyl piston is not fully retracting, this could be a sticky piston or not enough free play in the push rod when the pedal is fully up, Mine has done this and putting your foot under the pedal and pulling it up restores drive, It may well be the socket in the piston is not as deep as the original one, I shortened the rod to fix it.

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PostPost by: paddy » Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:53 am

kstrutt11 wrote:On your particular issue, it sounds like the M/Cyl piston is not fully retracting, this could be a sticky piston or not enough free play in the push rod when the pedal is fully up


In my particular case, this wasn't the reason. I had the boot off and could see that the end of the push rod was butting up against the washer and circlip, so it was fully retracted. The piston or something else must have been stuck internally.

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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:04 am

I found it was the quality of the shut off bucket seal. It was bypassing fluid back into the reservoir. Not handy. I needed 2 - 3 rapid pumps to obtain a clutch. Releasing then was ok, but the pedal felt very weird.

Sorted now though. I think a good idea now to have a spare seal set. But one should not require them. Remember to give the cyl a quick hone before thorough clean and rebuild.


Happy days..

AB..
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PostPost by: bcmc33 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:10 pm

I well remember in the early 80's when working with Girling when the then engineering director put two packs of disc pads in my hand and said - "which of these are the genuine Girling parts?"
The boxes were marked "A" & "B" and looked identical as did the pads - so I had to admit I couldn't tell the difference.
We took a small material sample from each pad and did a spectrograph analysis - the results were startling. The one set was close to the spectrograph master sample results, but the other was nowhere near and would have been dangerous fitted to a car.
Nobody at Girling would say from where they obtained the fake pads, only that they were made in Taiwan.
BTW, the fake box was so good that it contained a printing error exactly as the genuine Girling box.

So although caveat emptor is uppermost in our minds when we buy our classic parts, I guess we all know that we can only do our best to get what we believe is a good quality part.

My latest effort is to buy a new 0.7? clutch master cylinder ? searching the internet the prices ranged from ?20 to ?85. After some thought I chose a branded Girling one from Burton at ?50. Burton is a reputable seller, so this is probably the best I can hope for to assure myself that I?m buying the best quality available.
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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:58 pm

Good choice Brian.. If you are anything like me you will buy the best you can get..

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