Lotus Elan

Mine's a hot one - or is it?

PostPost by: EEED » Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:05 pm

Hi,

This is my first post, although I've been visiting the site for over three years. I have a '66 S3 purchased in June '08 which has the original radiator set up and belt-driven fan. The car seems to run hot - but is it?

I've searched the threads on cooling, radiators and related topics, and I've followed most of the relevant postings for the last year or so. I've also read the articles in the Club Lotus News on cooling issues, but I'm still confused!

I should say that for a while I was unaware of any problem but after the water temp gauge packed up returning from the Goodwood Festival of speed two years ago, I became sensitive to the under-bonnet temperature, which seemed high.

When I replaced the gauge last year I noticed that queuing for the Goodwood Revival the temperature rose to the mid 90s. I turned on the heater and demister blower and the rate of increase in temperature slowed. It was with some relief that I parked up shortly after.

Since then I watch the temperature closely. It rises quickly to 85 degrees where it stabilises, so the thermostat is OK. If I have to queue it rises quite quickly but returns to 85 shortly after the car gets moving again. But if I queue for more that a couple of minutes the temperature starts to rise quickly and the fan seems unable to bring it down or stabilise it. I've fitted the foam strip under the bonnet, the blanking plate below the rad, filled the remaining voids with foam though not absolutely perfectly and removed the air filter to improve flow . I'm about to drill two c35mm holes in the nearside inner wing but I suspect that won't help much. The water pump seems OK: no leaks and very little play at the ends of the fan blades.

The question is: is there really a problem?

There seems to be two schools of thought:

That's what they all do - and it's OK so long as it doesn't actually boil. (I recall a thread in the 'Free Parking' section recently.)
That's what they all do and it's not OK.

Following from which:

Re-core that radiator
Install the Ford Fiesta or similar filler/thermostat housing
Fit at least one electric fan
Fit an alloy radiator, or

Some combination of the above.

If I fit an electric fan will I need an alternator? The car still has its dynamo and it's still +ve earth.

Another alternative which is very rarely suggested, is fitting an oil cooler, which as I recall my MG Midget and MGB had as standard.

Any advice would be welcome. I want to avoid a warped head but only do what's needed, if anything, once.

Paul
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PostPost by: Galwaylotus » Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:19 pm

My S3 came with an electric fan in front of the radiator and operated by a manual switch strapped to the steering column. The charging systen was the standard Lucas 22A dynamo. I never had an issue electrically that was caused by the fan. I found I only needed it in traffic and got into the habit of switching it on when I reached the city after driving about 20 miles on open roads from work to home. The car never overheated using that method. 90?C is fine I think. I'd seldom see that when I was using the technique above. Of course the west of Ireland isn't noted for it's Sahara-like weather!! :lol:
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PostPost by: Old English White » Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:45 pm

Paul,
If you still Want to use your Elan without having to guess about the trafic , you ll have to make some mods, I m afraid ...
The Elan air opening is by far too small and you are barely able to see the radiator... Hot air from engine and specially the manifold doesn't help the situation when stuck in trafic.
The two holes solution is on any late Lotus Elan Workshop Manual...
So, not many solutions, the racing/technological but often visible, ally rad, swirlpot or expansion bottle & Spal's with the nippon alternator conversion or, if authenticy command you can choose the replica lookalike of each of the previous compoments.
Whatever the solution the most important is to keep your Elan on the road.
It's not going to be cheap too
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:35 pm

Hi there,

I'm not sure you have a major problem, it could well be a case of TADTS, my S3 runs at around 85C on the dial as well.

Shortly after getting the car I removed the engine driven fan for a kenlowe unit which has a thermostatic switch plus manual override. I don't know what the modern units are like but with this you can alter the cut-in point of the fan and I've got mine set so that it cuts in between 85C & 90C. So if I ever get stuck in a queue the fan cuts in virtually as soon as the temperature moves but it keeps things stable. I can't recall it getting above 90C once the fan's running.

On mine the original fan was a 2-blade affair and didn't seem that impressive. It's a personal thing but I reckon an electric fan is the way to go. even if only for the odd occasion when you get caught in a serious traffic jam.

Brian

edit to add; mine has the original full-width rad with all blanking pieces in place. I think it was re-cored at one point but I honestly can't remember without searching the file it was so long ago. No oil cooler, 82deg (?) stat in original thermostat housing, the heater is always in the circuit so there's slight additional capacity there.
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PostPost by: gordont » Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:21 pm

Christian - sorry I don't have a late series manual, what is the 2 hole method?
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Fri Jul 29, 2011 5:04 am

I think he's referring to this thread about wheel arch holes to reduce engine bay temperatures, apparently it was quite common with Sprints to have engine bay "heat loss" holes. Whenever I've seen them they've been two holes covered by mesh, not sure how efficient they are although there was a comment in this thread about low pressure areas in the arches, so it might work better when moving along.

elan-f15/wheel-arch-holes-for-improved-cooling-t18914.html

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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:17 am

EEED - from your description I'd say you don't have much of a problem. Have you flushed your radiator at all - you might be surprised how much gunk there is in there - I'd also be tempted to try 'Water Wetter' in the cooling system before any more serious and costly 'solutions'.
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:25 am

I would give Radflush a go first- the two-part concoction available from Halfords, etc. This stuff really dissolves limescale and crud and makes a big difference. Don't forget to leave the heater on when you do it, so that matrix gets cleaned too.
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PostPost by: SADLOTUS » Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:06 am

Before I bought a TTR rad (expensive), and electric fans (cheap Triumph m/c units), I used a multi blade fan (even cheaper) possibly off an Escort.
This seemed to do the trick for a few years until the rad really did fall to pieces.
There might be questions about strain on the water pump - I can't comment - I had an AKS water pump that was fine for the first twenty years :wink: but compared to the two blade fan, I'm sure the multiblade fan helped.
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PostPost by: hatman » Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:25 am

For what they are worth, my own experiences in the matter (S4, big valve head, Lotus electric fan). The car has always run hot, ie the needle somewhere between 90 and 100 and, not infrequently, going above the 100 mark.

Recently, in an extended traffic jam caused by roadworks traffic lights at Oxshott, the gauge topped 110 and made its way towards the oil pressure gauge readout and there it sat, hard up against the stop. Growing ever more anxious, I watched the gauge with increasing paranoia, expecting there to be a bang and a cloud of steam at any second, all the while urging the lights to go green long enough for me to escape to a bit of a cool-air restoring run along the A3.

Eventually, of course, I did get through the lights but the traffic continued to move at a snail's pace, with some sort of unseen hold up about six or seven vehicles ahead of me, and horror of horrors, this cortege continued up the slip road and on to the A3 itself.

It then transpired that locally-based 'travellers' had decided that it would be a good idea to hold a trotting race along the A3, with two sulkies running side-by-side and all the following traffic, including yours truly, held back by a rolling road block of horse boxes and white vans occupying the full width of the road plus hard shoulder so there was no getting past. And so we proceeded at c10 mph until the inevitable happened, and one of the horses, spooked by the cacophony of horns (not mine, I might add) reared up, fell on its side, still attached to the sulky and there it lay in distress, kicking its legs wildly about. This, of course, brought the carnival to an end and we were at last able to go on our way at normal speed, allowing the poor old Elan to get some much needed cooling air flow through its radiator.)

The temperature gauge by now had been jammed right up against the stop mark for at least ten minutes and my wife was wondering why I seemed so tense and irritable, swearing wildly at pikies, gippoes and wastes of skin in general (I'd already decided that, to involve her in my mental torment would serve no useful purpose as the Elan is very much my domain and to have both of us sweating on top line (literally) about an imminent breakdown would not have been 'a trouble shared is a trouble halved' but a trouble shared is a damn good reason to stop messing about with rubbish old vehicles and, henceforth, stick with modern, reliable cars.)

The resumption of normal driving conditions did gradually bring the gauge back towards more normal operating territory and the only symptom of its hot-and-botheredness was a tendency to misfire and generally run lumpily when pausing at lights, road junctions etc, which I put down to possible fuel evaporation as a result of the sky-high temperatures under the bonnet. After being allowed to cool down completely (I left it parked up at Brooklands, where we had gone to take part in the 'Drive-it Day' celebrations) it started on the button and ran with no indications of any lasting effects of its visit to the seven circles of hell and, indeed, when I got back home and checked, there wasn't even an indication that the filler cap valve had needed to pop to allow excess coolant to escape into the bottle.

Post Script: subsequent deeper investigation showed that the electric fan didn't (fan, that is) so, after an abortive attempt to resuscitate it by cleaning the brushes etc, I've replaced it with a modern eBay cheapie for about twenty five quid and also fitted an autoride switch which glows red whenever the fan operates, either automatically or manually. I've also replaced the 88 deg thermostat (41 years old, as far as I'm aware) with an 82 deg jobbie.

So, OP, my advice, for what it may be worth (very little, if you subscribe to my wife's view of things) is:- continue to keep an eye on it, but don't worry[b][/b] :D
Last edited by hatman on Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPost by: Frizer » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:55 am

I have a '66 S3 also, albeit -ve earth and with an alternator. Mine has a small manually operated fan in front of the standard rad and the two holes in the nearside inner-fender courtesy of a PO.

I never see above 90C normally, I only use the fan when in traffic and at 85C+ (most of the time living in central London!).
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:15 pm

I am in Hatman's camp here and would say all is well. Not sure how accurate these old gauges are but mine is soon creeping up towards 100 degrees on hot days in traffic :shock:

I wish mine ran as cool as yours .....I really must get my wide rad re-cored and fitted.....
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PostPost by: Galwaylotus » Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:41 pm

hatman wrote: I've also replaced the 88 deg thermostat (41 years old, as far as I'm aware) with an 82 deg jobbie.

Changing the thermostat won't reduce the top temperature. It just means the radiator comes into the circuit at a lower temperature. I'm sure your 88?C was wide open by the time you saw over 100?C! :wink:
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PostPost by: EEED » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:16 am

Hi,

Thanks for all your responses.

Given it's best to try the simple things first, I'll try de-scaling the system. But in the longer term and for peace of mind I'll have to go for a better fan/additional cooling. I would like to use the car for longer trips without worrying about overheating.

Thanks again,

Paul
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PostPost by: Bruce Crowthorne » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:36 am

Yet another one that runs hot!
Mine is an early S4 and has the "wide" S3 radiator with the two blade engine mounted fan and I have fitted an electric fan and switch - it seems to keep things under control.
However, in traffic it does get hot (funnily enough, my worst episode was queuing for a Goodwood breakfast meeting) and when it is hot it does get lumpy and mis fires - but it clears within a couple of minutes once you get moving.
Mine has the dynamo as well - no problem. Almost by definition when it gets hot, it is out for a run and the battery gets charged up before there is any problem.
It has never boiled up - yet ......
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