Lotus Elan

Its a New Car

PostPost by: Matt7c » Fri Dec 30, 2005 6:59 pm

The great thing about restoring an ancient is that you can really notice when things get fixed. I noticed an unusual wear pattern on the front tyres a few months ago, but only today got around to sorting out the tracking (got it done at QuickFit under close supervision). Well, I was embarrassed to reveal that one wheel was 6 degrees toe in and the other 4 degrees toe in. :shock:

The drive home was a revelation - she actually went in a straight line!! I now realise that what I thought was remarkably responsive steering with great feedback and lots of input, was in fact skittishness and a desire to go in any direction other than straight ahead. Now the difference is quite incredible! Cornering is also somewhat more predictable.

Quite how I managed not to notice this issue astounds me - but I guess thats what comes from never having driven any other Elan than my own!
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PostPost by: berni29 » Fri Dec 30, 2005 8:58 pm

Hi

I quite like the look of those trackrite devices and would not trust Kwik Fit with anything other than a branded tyre. Having said that they balanced one of my +2 wheels the other day for nothing. Has anyone used them? The trackrite that is! I think that they cost ?45 or so. What did Kwik Fit charge?

All the best

Berni
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Fri Dec 30, 2005 9:35 pm

And what did they set your tracking at?
John :wink:
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PostPost by: worzel » Sat Dec 31, 2005 2:16 pm

Hi all

Don't laugh- here's how I set my own tracking.

You need an adjustable clothes prop (the type that extends and is then locked via a thumbscrew device). On the end of each half attach a metal pointer such that under the car it is possible to position each pointer exactly half way up the wheel rim (I'll let readers figure out how by reference to their own cars). I fibreglassed the pointers onto the prop.

The rest is easy- expose the same amount of thread each side on the steering arms and start adjusting- figure on 1-1.5 mm toe-in or whatever you prefer. All you do is adjust the dimensions at the front middle of the wheel rims so that overall the distance there is less by the requisite amount than the distance between the rear middles. If you start off with equal thread settings and adjust both sides by the same amount it's a simple process.

Just out of curiousity I know a friendly local tyre specialist and asked him to check my efforts- result was 100% accurate.

Cost- about an hour to make/attach the pointers (the prop was scrap anyway).

I pass this on not as an endorsement of the method but as a cost saving idea for those who don't have complete confidence in the garage trade.

On a related note- I had my other car checked using the same device and found that 4 way tracking done recently was considerably out- so much that I was constantly tracking into the kerb. I reset it using this method and had it re-checked by the same friend who pronounced that it was set at zero toe-in (which was what I actually wanted). Result was no more pulling leftwards.

John
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PostPost by: miked » Sat Dec 31, 2005 5:29 pm

Matt,

A question.

How can you have a wheel toeing in and another towing out. I am confused. I thought that they either toe in or out or were parallel. Is this by reference to some mid point position with the track control arm set at exact threads and locked steering wheel. I know that I had trouble with the young guy (at a garage)and he tried to make all the adjustments on one arm and left a massive difference and a worry about insufficient thread in one side. I moved this acrross turn by turn to equalise and took it to another place for final tweak.

John (worzel)

Could you please tell me a bit more, I am interested. With your props, do you just stand them vertical and do you measure between with a tape? Sounds awkward. I would like to have ago! Can you elaborate?

Had a thought! Light came on! Do you mean by keeping the prop together and extending it with the pointers on either end to take the two readings horizontally between. Then measure and set the differece!

Mike
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Sat Dec 31, 2005 6:49 pm

John (Worzel)

The device you describe does the job just fine. Back in the good old days (70's) we used a similar device (bought for the purpose) on all customers cars.

All these laser this and laser that are just expensive toys :lol:
John

No longer active on here, I value my privacy.
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PostPost by: worzel » Sun Jan 01, 2006 1:20 pm

Hi Mike

To clarify- you need to measure the difference between the distance across the "middle fronts" of the wheel rims and that of the "middle rears" of the rims. If you maintain the same amount of thread each side on the steering arms as you make any adjustments then measuring the gap at the rears on either side will give you the toe-in. Two people make it easier- one holding the other measuring but I did it quite easily by myself with the front of the car raised.

On a related note perhaps somebody more knowledgeable than I could answer this- I also run a 89 Excel wich has adjustable toe-in on the rear wheels. Would I be correct in assuming that if for any reason the rear was incorrectly set then if a garage used 4 wheel alignment gear that this would then affect the accuracy of the front settings? When I asked this I was told by a tyre specialist that it wouldn't matter because 4 wheel alignment centralises the overall "push" of the car (whatever that is!).

Sounds suspect to me.

John
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PostPost by: Matt7c » Sun Jan 01, 2006 2:26 pm

miked wrote: How can you have a wheel toeing in and another towing out. I am confused.


Me, too. :? They were both toe in. The tracking was set to zero (straight ahead). I have to say that I forgot to check before I set off to KwikFit what the proper setting is, but zero usually works as a default. I have no doubt that if its worng somebody will soon correct me... But I'll let the tyres wear straight ahead for a while!

I like the other methods suggested, but I was just being lazy going to KwikFit: it took the chap less than 10 minutes and I stood right next to him to watch. Notwithstanding the adverse comments about KwikFit above, the one I use is a great place, has had largely the same helpful and competent staff for years and I trust them. Wouldn't buy a tyre there, though; too pricey. For the tracking, KwikFit charged about ?25 - a standard fee unconnected to the ease with which the job was done in this case. It balances out, though - when I took my Landy there last year, it took the manager an hour to do the job because the nuts were seized. He even injured his shoulder and went home after the job!
1965 Elan S2
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PostPost by: miked » Sun Jan 01, 2006 8:11 pm

John (W)

I have the idea. Had a gander underneath and can see that the front of the wheel measurement looks pretty easy. Am I right in saying that the pointers on the rod ends have to be dog legged or cranked to get in at the rear of the the wheels.

Thanks for help. I will be buying a prop when next out with the wife. Although my car runs pretty nice without any vibe I am a bit concerned about wheel run out when doing the track check. I do remember there being a little when spun. I suppose I could rotate the wheels and kind of take an average. I believe from memory the manual has some very very tight tolereance for run out that seemed tight for 35 year old steel wheels.

thanks Mike
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PostPost by: worzel » Mon Jan 02, 2006 4:07 pm

Hi Mike

You're right- to measure the rears of the rims the pointers need some kind of offset. In case you're intention is to make one yourself I used 2 wooden blocks with nails driven in at the appropriate points, drilled holes in the blocks to take the ends of the prop and then fibreglassed them in. Not a work of art but it works!

John
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PostPost by: miked » Mon Jan 02, 2006 7:44 pm

Thanks John,

I will have a bash.

Mike :)
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PostPost by: simonriley11 » Tue Jan 03, 2006 10:31 pm

I use a method taught to me by a friend who was an F1 race mechanic in the 1970's and apparently this is how all the cars were set up in those days. His comment was 'if it was good enough for Jackie Stewart then it's good enough for you'. It's a method which allows you to check the front and rear tracking and also their inter-relationship. It also allows (although I've never done it) you to check the front end bump steer.
It works on the principle of measuring each of the wheel rims at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions back to two parallel lines of thread (I use cotton, he used to use string) outside of the car, which are also parallel and equi-distant to the centreline of the car. The net result is that you have two 'datum lines' on either side of the car from which you can measure back to the wheel rims to determine your tracking and then adjust to suit. Before you give up reading this thinking it sounds like it's going to be complicated and long winded it's not, once I'd done it and the logic of the method became clear I can now do the whole job in about 30 minutes.
Here's how I do it. Measure the height of the centre of the wheel spinner to the ground preferably using a steel rule but a tape rule or other rule will do. Take 4 axle stands and make sure that their height is extended beyond that measurement. Place an axle stand beyond the front of the car by roughly 100mm and to one side of the car also by roughly 100mm, then do the same for the opposite side of the car at the front. Then do the same at the rear making sure the stands are beyond the rear of the car. The car is now 'boxed in' by 4 axle stands, the box being roughly 100 mm bigger all round than the extremities of the car. Now take some cotton and tie it between the front lh and rear lh axle stands, then seperately do the same for the rhs. Make the cotton tight by pulling the front stand forwards. Now at each wheel location measure the height of the cotton and slide the cotton up and down the front and rear stand legs to get it the same as the wheel centre measurement taken earlier. Each time you move one end, re-check the other end as it may have moved slightly. Now using the rule set the horizontal distance from the spinner (I use the little 'ridge' on the periphery of the centre of the spinner for all the wheels) to the cotton to say 50mm for the front wheels. You will need to move the front stands away from or nearer to the centre of the car to do this whilst still retaining the cotton tension. Then do the same at the rear, but you will need to make the horizontal dimension smaller to allow for the rear track being wider ( or at least it is on my Plus 2). Again, as above re-check the other end as it may have moved slightly. Take the difference in front to rear track from the manual of say 20 mm (I can't remember the exact figure), halve it (10mm) and take it off the 50 mm for the front to leave say 40mm. If you want to check that it is correct, get someone to help you with a measuring tape and measure across the lh and rh threads at the front and then the rear, they should measure the same. Now you have two parallel threads in both the plan and side view which are exactly the same distance apart and you have put a perfect 'box' around all 4 wheels. To check the tracking just measure from the cotton to each wheel rim at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock and the difference in the reading is the toe in/out of that rim, if the 3 o'clock reading is less than the 9 o'clock reading the the wheel is toeing in by that difference and vice versa for toe out. Remember you are only measuring 1 wheel so to get the total toe in/out you need to add together the value for both wheels. Because this method positions the wheels relative to the centreline of the car it also allows you to set the steering wheel dead straight at the same time.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Wed Jan 04, 2006 10:23 am

Simon

I also use your string method for setting up my Elans and setting bump steer when orignally mounting the racks.

I believe Lotus defined total toe in/ out as the difference between straight ahead zero toe track and actual track at the 3 oclock position at wheel rim diameter. You thus need to halve the measurements as you described them between the 3 and 9 oclock position on each side to the string and added, to get the Lotus specified toe in measurement. At least that is what I have done for a lot of years and its worked Ok for me.

The handling and maintenance notes for a 26R from Lotus describe the string method and measurements. You can find it on the GGLC web site at gglotus.org/ggtech/26rmanual.


regards
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PostPost by: steveww » Wed Jan 04, 2006 12:52 pm

The string box method you just described is how my Porsche 911 is set up on all four wheels. As you say it is how racing teams have been doing it for years. A length of string is a lot cheaper than some fancy laser gadget :wink: Just a little hint: using cotton or light weight cord is the way to go as it does not sag as much as heavier string. I had though about using a thin shock cord (elastic) as this will maintain the tension more easily.

I have just fitted a new steering rack to my S4 and will be playing with bits of string when it comes time to set the tracking. The rear suspension is in bits at the moment waiting for new springs and dampers.
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