Lotus Elan

A plea to the makers of Elan parts

PostPost by: Elanman99 » Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:37 pm

Over the years I have bought many Lotus spares and replacement parts from all the usual and specialist suppliers. In the main these parts do the job they are supposed to do but I have been disappointed with the poor fit and attention to detail. With a little more care (and at no extra cost) the quality of the good could be improved considerably. Below are some examples of what I am referring to.

Bottom radiator hose (2 seater only?)
In the past when we were able to buy the genuine Lotus part the two ends of this hose lined up beautifully with the engine and radiator stubs. Current offerings are just an approximation of the original shape and apart from requiring shortening just to fit in the available space they end up having to be installed with inbuilt stress.

Petrol Tanks (2 seater)
I fitted an aluminium tank to my car but struggled to fit the filler hose as the tank inlet pipe was welded on at the wrong angle. Really there is no excuse for this. A simple cardboard template is all that would be needed to ensure the pipe points to the filler cap. The picture here is of a stainless tank that another member fitted.

Hoods.
The forum text editor has some sort of visibility limit so I will continue in a second post.

Ian Phillips
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PostPost by: Elanman99 » Sun Dec 04, 2011 9:08 pm

With reference to the petrol tank fit. The hose shown in the picture is not the original reinforced rubber type but looks like something more flexible. I am sure there is no way that the original hose would fit!

Hoods (S4 in my experience)
Having my car from new I know what the original was like (and how it was fitted). Erecting and folding the hood was easy in comparison to modern replacements because the window shapes and positions are not correct. Originally the two (2" wide) canvas vertical bars that separated the three windows were positioned so that they put the fold line where Lotus intended it. If I fold the hood I have now on the window separators I end up with a lump of hood material that overlaps the sloping body attachment edge.

I see lots of rebuilt Elans where the hood has been fitted with all detachable studs whereas originally the hood was permanently fastened at the rearmost edge below the main window. I now know why people have opted to make them removable although I'm sure its not an improvement on the original.

I'm sure there are many more examples of parts 'nearly' fitting, in another life we would be complaining about 'merchantable goods', 'not fit for purpose' etc but the low volume specialist manufacturers and suppliers seem to be immune. (See also recent posts on CV shafts not coping with full suspension movement)

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PostPost by: Orsom Weels » Sun Dec 04, 2011 9:29 pm

Oh Ian,
Don?t get me started on this one, oh bugger, too late!! :evil:
As I?ve mentioned before, I also play around in the world of classic motorcycles, predominantly Norton, & it never ceases to amaze me, the poor quality of replacement parts. When you think about it, the part you require, what ever it may be, did not exist ! So ,someone came up with a design idea, they then put it down on paper to create a drawing, then one or two would be made up for evaluation, any tweaks/modifications would be incorporated & drawings altered etc until the said part was considered fit for purpose, that?s the hard bit, then a manufacturer would be selected to produce said part, that?s the easy bit. Then, some years later, usually with the original manufacturer no longer around, but with several of the original parts to use as patterns & possibly even the original drawings too, it seems impossible to copy something to a good enough standard that you can actually use it, even with so called ?modern technology?! Is it that it can?t be done ? Or is it that manufacturers don?t care ? Some of the parts I?ve been supplied for my bikes have been down right dangerous, such as brake levers that are cast incorrectly such that there is no support & when you have to brake hard, they snap off!! Fortunately, I found this one out while still on the bench, but could have been nasty. I?ve also had piston rings that weren?t round, gaskets with holes stamped half a hole out, exhausts that wont fit without fouling suspension movement, pipes or cables that were just that bit too long or short so as not to fit correctly & countless other problems. How hard can it be for gawds sake ?
Is it really too much to ask that parts & service match those available in the past ? Don?t let the world of Lotus go the same way, Please..

There, that?s better, got that off me chest

All the best, Tim

PS, More discussion on this subject here, elan-f15/modern-rubber-really-rubbish-t24143.html
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Sun Dec 04, 2011 9:50 pm

I think that some of the problem is that parts seem to be available from a number of sources. Some are OK, some not.

On the specific parts mentioned I bought a ali petrol tank from CN ( :!: :shock: ) and I have to say it was a good fit and I'm happy with it.

My hoses came from the lovely Susan as did my hood and they are also perfectly good parts. Of course in the case of hood the fit is mainly down to the person fitting it :)

The problem is, and I am agreeing with the point of this thread, that if parts bought in good faith are fit for purpose, is largely down to luck.

The answer? ........I have no idea. I suppose small volume parts suppliers could argue that if they didn't at least make the attempt, we would often have no parts to fit to our ageing vehicles. All we can do is buy our parts from one of the reputable suppliers in the knowledge that they at least strive to supply serviceable parts and will usually stand by them. I would certainly advise against buying anonymous parts from such sources as Ebay.

It's certainly a case for caveat emptor
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PostPost by: Elanman99 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:01 pm

[quote="nebogipfel"]I think that some of the problem is that parts seem to be available from a number of sources. Some are OK, some not.

On the specific parts mentioned I bought a ali petrol tank from CN ( :!: :shock: ) and I have to say it was a good fit and I'm happy with it.

My hoses came from the lovely Susan as did my hood and they are also perfectly good parts. Of course in the case of hood the fit is mainly down to the person fitting it :)

The problem is, and I am agreeing with the point of this thread, that if parts bought in good faith are fit for purpose, is largely down to luck.

The answer? ........I have no idea. I suppose small volume parts suppliers could argue that if they didn't at least make the attempt, we would often have no parts to fit to our ageing vehicles. All we can do is buy our parts from one of the reputable suppliers in the knowledge that they at least strive to supply serviceable parts and will usually stand by them. I would certainly advise against buying anonymous parts from such sources as Ebay.

It's certainly a case for [i]caveat emptor[/i][/quote]

John

My comments on the items I mentioned are only one my own findings and I accept that some of the stuff thats is available is excellent quality. The problem is the the quality seems to vary from batch to batch so its become a matter of luck.

Whilst I have not bought any hoses from Susan Miller, Mick did supply my S4 hood. I was not totally happy with it when it first arrived and I ended with stud holes in the wrong places. I naively thought that if I folded it along the centreline I would be able to find the middle point. How wrong I was! It is not very symmetrical. I did ring and speak to Mick but he did not really think that the hood should be supplied with fitting instructions.

One CN part I hold in low regard is their camcover gasket. The cork is not not properly bonded to the aluminium foil so it very quickly becomes two thin useless gaskets.

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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:29 pm

Elanman99 wrote:The problem is the the quality seems to vary from batch to batch so its become a matter of luck.



I agree totally Ian and as I said I certainly don't have the answer. My hood came from Susan, some time after Mick's death so may well have been sourced elsewhere and as I said I'm happy with it. That said, mine lives in the boot so folding is not an issue.

I think that all we can do is go on the recommendations of others on this forum and from other reliable sources, try to use suppliers who at least do their best to supply quality parts and hope for the best.

Sadly I suspect that as time goes on the situation will worsen as supplies of factory and NOS parts are used up.

On the subject of CN I bought my tank with my fingers firmly crossed :shock:
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PostPost by: elanman999 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:53 pm

I agree with all of the above and I have had my share of bad parts from suppliers. Now I always complain to the suppliers about bad parts and send them back. Some times they replace the part (with more junk) and other times they tell me to get lost, if thats the case I NEVER use them again.
All of the Elan steering parts are ex-Triumph and so it's these suppliers that are getting them made too cheaply to suit their own market.
If you do not complain you are part of the problem. If these suppliers bought in 100 parts and then got 99 sent back as junk they would soon get the picture.
Ian what did you do about the petrol tank? It looks as if it's still in the car?
Just my 2p's worth.
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PostPost by: Elanman99 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:11 pm

[quote="elanman999"]
Ian what did you do about the petrol tank? It looks as if it's still in the car?
Just my 2p's worth.
John[/quote]

The picture is not mine. It was posted by David in connection with the CV droop topic, and I think it of Stainless steel from a USA manufacturer.

My tank is aluminium and the filler pipe angle is nowhere near as bad as the picture, I was able to use the original canvas/rubber hose although its not a neat as I would like.

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PostPost by: elanman999 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:05 pm

Ian,
Sorry, I did not mean to be hard on you.
But I am getting to the age of grumpy old man and as I said in my first post we need to complain more about the junk we are being sold.
Cheers
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:23 pm

elanman999 wrote:Ian,

But I am getting to the age of grumpy old man and as I said in my first post we need to complain more about the junk we are being sold.
Cheers
John


I agree, but to our regular suppliers the complaint should be polite and keeping in mind that generally they too are trying to source parts for us in an increasingly difficult market.

I don't believe that any of the big suppliers in the UK certainly Susan and PM would deliberately offer parts not fit for pupose. They are between the proverbial rock and hard place in many ways because if they kept saying no sorry every time we phoned they would soon get the rep' for being useless.

Certainly if Susan Miller knows parts are not 100% but as good as she can source she will tell you and give you the option.

To a large degree they and we are in the same rocky, leaky old boat.
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PostPost by: bast0n » Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:26 pm

Yes, the picture at the start of the thread is my stainless tank. Goodness knows where it came from but a chum of mine bought an S3 coupe for restoration, got fed up and sold it - but not before I had swapped all the bits I wanted! Tank is beautifully made and fits exactly, but as can be seen the filler neck is at an odd angle. A bit of hose from under the bonnet of a crashed Range Rover fitted spot on and a couple of stainless clips hold it all in place. I also got fed up with the petrol spitting back up that annoying little tube whilst refuelling so Gripfilled a galvanised nail into it! Now I am a happy refueller - apart from the price that is.

That nail will probably stop me winning the concours thingy now - but so would the rest of the car! Hey Ho! :roll:
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PostPost by: Elanman99 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:45 pm

[quote="bast0n"]Yes, the picture at the start of the thread is my stainless tank.

I also got fed up with the petrol spitting back up that annoying little tube whilst refuelling so Gripfilled a galvanised nail into it! Now I am a happy refueller - apart from the price that is.

That nail will probably stop me winning the concours thingy now - but so would the rest of the car! Hey Ho! :roll:[/quote]


Now I'm curious!

I have never experienced myself, or heard about it from anyone else, that fuel could spit out of the filler vent tube.

The vent tube is about 6mm bore and the lower open end of the tube is well above the top of the tank so it mystifies me how petrol gets blown upwards out of it.

Does anyone else have the same problem?

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PostPost by: bast0n » Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:29 pm

Ian

Does anyone else have the same problem?


Not no more I don't!!
I think that as the fuel bubbles about during refuelling it displaces air. The air travels happily up the filler neck but tends to pick up fuel in the pipe. The pipe is surely there to evacuate the tank during refuelling - but why? I think the pipe is too long and too close to the top surface of the fuel as you get close to full. Surely the filler neck is adequate? Well it is now!
Had the same problem with my first S3 in 1966 - SAR 370D - wonder what became of that?
Also have the same problem with my motor mower - Hayter 56 - but that is a bit boring.............. :roll:
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PostPost by: reb53 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:12 am

Elanman99 wrote:
bast0n wrote:Does anyone else have the same problem?

Ian


Used to until I bent up a piece of copper tubing into a U bend and stuck it into the pipe.
Anything that comes up now goes straight back down again !

Ralph.
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PostPost by: PaulW » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:43 am

I bought my S4 only last year ? not my first ? good to have one again. Slight coolant loss around the radiator cap had caused staining to the fitted full-width (S3) radiator. I replaced the cap with the correct recuperative type and all was well. However, I spotted an advert on E-Bay for a new ?S3? rad and as my radiator looked tired, I ordered one up. It came from a radiator company not yet mentioned on the 'radiator thread'.
It was well packed and looked fine ? that is until I tried to put a cap onto it. The flanges that pull the cap down were way too deep and also, the overflow pipe had not been soldered in. I rang the company and it is fair to say that they initially didn?t believe what they were being told. They did however offer to have it picked up and replaced. I decided that the work to the neck and the soldering did not justify their expense or the loss of my time, so I elected to keep the radiator and do the work myself. It is now in service.
I now have an S3 rad sitting in the new-radiator?s packaging which, if anyone is interested, can be had for a small sum ? let?s say for testing/repair/recore, although ?working when removed?, as they say.
I had much the same experience with some ignition components ? cap and rotor arm ? from a well-known source. Whether the replacements I was sent are any better I?ve not had time to check; the car wouldn?t run at all with the first lot of ?new? parts! I?ve since obtained an electronic ignition system so any future problems with unchecked spares will be absorbed by the customer ? me!
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