Lotus Elan

S4 Elan in California

PostPost by: summerinmaine » Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:58 am

Frank Howard wrote:
summerinmaine wrote:The top of the windscreen frame has an aluminum plate pop-riveted across. On my S2, the slot of the leading edge of the hood is molded into the fiberglass. I'm no S4 expert, but this looks odd to me, almost like it was converted from a coupe.
Jim,

The aluminum plate is standard for an S3 DHC or an S4 DHC as all of them were converted from coupes. Some conversions were performed at the factory as they were being built and some were done later on by owners.



Hmmm . . . as I said, I'm not very familiar with S4s (or S3s for that matter) but it looked pretty sketchy to me.
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:51 am

Aluminum plate across the top of the windscreen is correct for an S4. It's the only way for the top (hood) to fit to the windscreen.

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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:58 pm

Frank Howard wrote: .............. as all of them were converted from coupes. Some conversions were performed at the factory as they were being built and some were done later on by owners.



This is a popular myth but is not correct. The top part of the body mould was different depending on which shell was being "layed up" at the time.

They didn't make a FHC and then cut the roof off. It would not have been a very sensible way of working and would have wasted a lot of resin and mat which is something "The Old Man" would have disapproved of in very strong terms.

The aluminium strip as others have said was standard with the introduction on the Type 45 (S3/4 DHC) and serves to form a channel at the leading edge into which a strip on the front of the hood locates.

When an existing FHC shell is converted to DHC the top of the screen frame has to be removed and the correct moulding glassed into position and modification/extension is also required to form the hood attachment flange on the rear deck forward of the boot
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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Wed Nov 03, 2010 2:55 pm

John,

I understand that the factory didn't lay up a complete roof and then cut it off. What they did was lay up a couple of inches of glass for the rear and it was much thicker than it would have been had they laid it up for a FHC. I have seen pictures of this. If the top part of the body moulding was different at the rear, it would not have included the indentation for the rear glass as is evident on every S3/S4 DHC. For the rear, the top part of the mould was that same top part that was used for the DHCs. After it cured, they cut off the excess leaving maybe an inch to attach the Tenax fasteners to.

I'm not exactly sure how they laid up the windscreen part. I do know they used a special mould for the top of it. That special mould has been used to produce aftermarket windscreen tops allowing owners to convert their FHCs to DHCs.

My point is that for all practical purposes, they used 90% or the FHC mould to build DHCs and they did it to save production costs.
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:37 pm

Hello Frank, You did say they "were converted from coupes" :D but I probably misunderstood your point.

I have seen Elan shells being laid up and bare moulds back in the good old days and if they were making a DHC a different top section (screen top mould) was bolted in place and I'm pretty sure I remember a deck extension mould for the rear too. I'll admit it's quite a few years ago but I am pretty certain.

I know what you mean about the rear indentations but that was because the lower mould is used for both.

I wanted too clarify the situation because I have heard so many times that Lotus cut FHC roofs off to make DHC's and that aint so :wink:
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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:54 pm

John,

I am very interested in this subject and I'm glad I have run across someone who has actually seen Elan shells being laid up. Here is what puzzles me. If the lower mould was used for both the DHC and the FHC (which I believe it was) and all of the DHCs have the indentation for the rear window, then why would a deck extension mould be required for the rear at all? Couldn't this be achieved by laying up additional layers of glass at the rear of the bottom of the top mould?

Further, if there was a special deck extension mould, why would it incorporate the indentations for a rear window that the DHC would never receive?

I know I've seen pictures of the moulding process before. You didn't bring your camera with you by chance did you John? Does anyone have some to share?
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:00 pm

Hi Frank,

Sorry it was many years ago (more than 30 :shock: ) and I didn't have a camera with me at the time.

I think the indentations which would accomodate the rear screen are there because that was the way the guys who created the original body moulds chose to do it. They could have lost the indentations but would have to have made a bigger replacement section with a modified shape for the DHC and that would have added flash lines which they probably wanted to avoid?.

The only difference between the FHC shell and the DHC at that point is that the flange is made a bit taller (on the FHC shell the lower lip is very short) and perhaps a little bit thicker to allow space for the hood fasteners.

As I say the front section was a different top mould to form the correct shape for the aluminium strip and hood front corner fastenings. but I am hazy on how the rear was achieved, they may have just allowed the glass to overlap a bit more and then trimmed it to size?

Perhaps someone else has seen it done?

I had to convert my own (Type 45) back to DHC because the PO had decided he wanted a FHC so I'm pretty clear how it's done as a conversion. I extended and thickened the rear flange on my own shell but it would have been far easier with an extension mould to shape and support it!

Fitting the (correctly moulded) screen top frame to the shell, making it strong and getting the windscreen aperture correct was a bugger of a job but would have been simple to do in the mould.

If I ever get to see a body mould again I'll pay more attention :wink:
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PostPost by: cabc26b » Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:34 pm

Gents,

FYI a picture , circa 66/67 is my understanding and would that would make sense as the type 46 shell in the background would be for 67 model unless it was a super early one.

George

ps scarped from the Chris Harvey book and captioned per frank's understanding...
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:22 am

That looks like a freshly moulded untrimmed S3 DHC shell in the foreground.

It doesn't illustrate body moulds.

From memory, the body moulds were bolted together and supported by what I assumed at the time was a metal framework of flanges which also facilitated bolting them together. They didn't look like an Elan ......it was on the inside :lol:

The image you have posted shows an untrimmed DHC screen top frame and not the edge of a chopped off roof :wink:

Not sure what I can see around the rear deck area, the pic' isn't clear enough. It almost looks like something went a bit wrong ...Is that a rejects pile?

If Chris Harvey says they chopped FHC's to make DHC's he's wrong :roll:
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PostPost by: cabc26b » Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:55 am

john,

Thanks for that, i had no idea what that picture was about until your explanation. Do you think fitting the boot-lids to the rejects saves on trips to the dumpster ?
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:14 pm

cabc26b wrote:john,

Thanks for that, i had no idea what that picture was about until your explanation. Do you think fitting the boot-lids to the rejects saves on trips to the dumpster ?


My pleasure ......I think :shock:

I have no idea if the items in the picture are rejects but I think the shell looks odd in the area of the rear deck?

If you look again at the pic' I'm pretty sure whatever that is in the boot it's leaning up against the deck, I'm not sure it's even a boot lid.

It would certainly be a bit crazy to be fitting a boot lid to an untrimmed shell :!:

The picture in that area is not at all clear.

I don't claim to be an authority on this or anything else for that matter. The point of my post was merely to point out that Lotus did not chop fixed heads to make drop heads. Even in the relatively early days of Lotus it would have been awkward and time consuming and make no sense in a production environment. Colin Chapman was a master at making things as streamlined and economical as possible.

To return to the point of Jim's thread, the car in the pictures looks correct and the screen frame is as it should be. The easiest way to check if it's always been a DHC is to check the chassis number. if it starts with 45 it has and if 36 then it's a converted FHC.
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PostPost by: cabc26b » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:23 pm

John,

I don't have a horse in this race as i only buy type 26 elans. I did recall seeing the picture and the story about coupes/DHCs and the molds. IMO arguing any point about lotus SOP is risky. The picture is a case in point , the caption says fhc's were created by cutting off the tops..... it seems likely that one part serving multiple functions carried over to production - (BTW in the background there appears to be a second elan body also with vestigial b-pillars.)

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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:39 pm

As I said in one of my earlier posts, I'm not all that certain about how the factory moulded the top of the windscreens for the DHC, but I think it is obvious from looking at the photo that someone laid up a few inches of glass on a FHC mould for the bottom of the "B" pillars. If the excess is cut down to an inch, you wind up with what all S3/S4 DHCs look like in this area.

"The easiest way to check if it's always been a DHC is to check the chassis number. if it starts with 45 it has and if 36 then it's a converted FHC."

I thought this was the case until I looked at the serial number of one of our local club member's 1967 S3 FHC. It starts with 45 and just to make things more complicated, he purchased the DHC kit from Dave Bean and chopped off the roof :!: Is it possible that the Dave Bean kit could have included a new V.I.N. plate?
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Thu Nov 04, 2010 5:32 pm

Frank Howard wrote:"The easiest way to check if it's always been a DHC is to check the chassis number. if it starts with 45 it has and if 36 then it's a converted FHC."

I thought this was the case until I looked at the serial number of one of our local club member's 1967 S3 FHC. It starts with 45 and just to make things more complicated, he purchased the DHC kit from Dave Bean and chopped off the roof :!: Is it possible that the Dave Bean kit could have included a new V.I.N. plate?


That's a difficult one Frank but I suppose it is possible that the car began life as a Type 45 drophead and was converted to a fixed head? This is unusual but as I said earlier my own car was in the process of being converted when I bought it (the roof was laminated on) but it is a Type 45 and left the factory as a drophead.

It would not be legal to change the VIN information in the UK but I can't comment on that one with regard to the US and Dave Bean.

I suppose this is the forum to ask if anyone has an Elan which definitely came from the factory with the wrong Type number :)

The problem is, with Lotus just about anything is possible and as most of our cars are 40+ years old a lot can have happened to them in that time. A FHC becoming a DHC doesn't have to involve conversion of course, it could equally have been achieved with a used or new body shell at some point, perhaps during serious damage repairs or a restoration. :wink:

One thing is certain, owning a Lotus is never boring :D
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PostPost by: bluesbrother30 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:02 am

Great thread, thanks for all of the info guys.....my car is, at least the vin plate id's it as, 45/5706. I was told by a friend of the PO that he had personally cut the top off the car. When I got the car, and sad it was, it had the alum strip attached to the top of the windshield frame. At the time. 10 years ago and my first Lotus, I did not know that the top tucked in under the strip to secure it in place. One question I have is the shape of the top edge of the windshield frame and the angle that the alum strip is. Mine has sort of a "concave" shape to it, in other words, the strip does not lay flush to the frame. If anyone can post a pic of the shape that is under the alum strip that would save me a trip up to Dave Beans.

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