Lotus Elan

S4 Elan (Federal) Wiring Issues

PostPost by: hubrick » Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:43 pm

Hello All,
Well, it's been 4 months since I first contacted you trying to sort out an ignition wiring problem back in March. I got my Elan in February, a 70 S4 (Federal) convertible, Car# 7002040030K, previous owner disclosed some electrical problems - headlights didn't work, lights mechanicalaly held down, horm, wipers, turn signals, all inop - he suspected a faulty ground. I drove it around a few times, then it quit and left me stranded. No power to the coil. Ran a jumper from the fuse block to the coil and it starts and runs (although it won't start until I release the key from the spring loaded start position), and I've been driving it around that way about once a week since.

Now that I've finished two other cars I've been working on, this week I'm diving back into the Lotus. Many electrical questions. I have the workshop manual, the workshop Series 4 wiring diagram, and I've been reading through many previous posts to try to resolve questions. I'm trying to get the lights and the turn signals working so I can drive it, then I'll work on the windshield wipers, horn, windows, emergency flashers later as I get to them.

The wiring on this car is a real mess - many dangling wires, many wrong color wires, many electrical taped splices, several in line fuses. My first impression is I need a new wiring harness. What do y'all think, is that much more trouble than it's worth?

Here are some individual system issues that I've discovered so far.

1. Headlights - it's very hard to tell what my system is supposed to look like and how it works. What is right and wrong on the diagram for my car? I don't see the headlamp micro-switch that's on the diagram anywhere in the car. From what I've read, that switch has moved from the front of the car on the light buckets to the vacuum switch behind the dash for the Federal car. Only there's no wiring to my switch, just a white jumper wire from one terminal to another. The vacuum nozzles on the switch are broken off, the vacuum tubing is there.

The wiring diagram shows the smallFailsafe Headlamps box in the upper right hand corner, but there is precious little information there. Can someone explain what that little box is trying to tell me. The wiring diagram shows the Headlamp Flasher Relay, Unit, and Micro-Switch. I haven't found any of those things on my car - are they on my Federal car, and if so, where are they? Also, if so, I've never heard of a headlamp flasher in any of my other little British cars, so how does it work, what is it's purpose? I can't see that it does anything from the diagram.

The Workshop Manual, Section M, page 106, in a special paragraph for Failsafe Headlamp cars, states "headlamp illumination can only ever be obtained with the ignition on". So why is it that the wiring diagram shows a path to power the headlights, and with the ignition switch off and the Lamp rocker switch on, I get power all the way to the Main and Dip headlamp relays. The only thing keeping those relays from powering the headlights is there's no ground through the black with red stripe wire to the micro switch. Seems like if I just grounded that wire, the lights would work. The Manual also says the parking lights work without the headlights on apparently depending on the position of the vacuum switch and micro switch. My parking lights work with the Lamp rocher switch turned on. There's no indication of the microswitch unless that's it in the Failsafe Headlamps box at the upper right hand corner.

2. Horns - that's an easy one. They're not working because they're missing.

3. Turn signals. Well, they didn't work before, but once I started poking around and checking for power through the system, they started working. Sounds like the flasher is only clicking once, and the lights are blinking very rapidly like there's a bulb out somewhere, but no, all the bulbs are working. I'm thinking the flasher is bad. Yes? The indicator warning light bliinks very dimly in the Speedo when the turn signals are flashing. However, the indicator warning light stays on bright with the Lamp switch on (ignition off). Not supposed to be any power to that light from the headlamp system. Must be a crossed wire or a bad ground somewhere.

4. Ignition. I'll save that long discussion for another post.

Any help with these things would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Cheers,
Rick
70 Elan
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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Sat Aug 01, 2020 7:25 am

IMO, one of the best things you can do to improve reliability on the Elan is replace the wiring harness. Just have a scan through this forum for the number of electrical problems owners have. This is particularly the case if the existing loom has been 'improved' by a previous owner.
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PostPost by: sprintsoft » Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:10 am

Hi Rick,

I agree with Andy, I think that the large scale of disfunction you are faced with and corrections to unknown wiring mods that you will have to spend time working on means that fitting a new wiring harness will actually be LESS work.

From what you report you will have to remove the dashboard anyway to fix these issues, then you get the chance to check the switches and instruments at the same time.

I would be worried to drive the car with only the lights and indicators fixed as you proposed, there would be too many problems remaining, and you really don’t want to risk any sort of fire in there, that would be a whole lot worse to deal with.

Iain
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PostPost by: hubrick » Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:06 am

Yes, thanks. Pretty much the same way I'm thinking. Lots of peace of mind with a new harness.

Anybody have any ideas on the corrections to the workshop manual's Series 4 wiring diagram compared to what my car actually has, particularly the headlights. It will be pretty tough to put in a new wiring harness without a correct wiring diagram.

Cheers,
Rick
70 Elan S4 Convertible
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:22 pm

Rick,

I am sorry to agree with the others, but when I first started work on my Elan (1968 S4) the wiring horrified me, dangling wires, wires with burnt insulation, an additional clock that someone had fitted very roughly. I decided I needed a new dash and a re-wire, but then mission creep set in and I started to “improve” things, more fuses (23) and relays (10), the amount of work just kept expanding. Whilst I still think this will be an improvement I would advise caution before setting out to improve things, perhaps standard with just new wire is more sensible.

Hope this helps,

Richard Hawkins
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PostPost by: Jentwistle3 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:05 pm

I’ve been working through some similar issues on my S2 as my electric headlamp pod project has exposed numerous “improvements” to the original wiring. IMO the wiring on the Elam, on the S2 at least, was substandard from the get go - incorrect use of wiring colors per the British standard at the time, many unfused components, convoluted ground circuits, etc. Even though everything works on my car I am still tempted to replace the harness.

Fixing wiring issues one at a time is not fun. Starting from scratch with a clean harness looks like a lot of work but will likely save you time in the long run. The only other alternative would be to make your own harness from scratch following the correct wiring codes and ensuring that everything is properly fused. This will be a ton of work but you will know in the end that the car is electrically safe and sound.
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PostPost by: hubrick » Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:17 pm

Thanks for another couple of replies, all votes in favor of a new wiring harness. I'm not inclined to make improvements or to build my own, so I'll be happy with buying, removing, and installing a new standard harness. I'm even thinking I'll rebuild the mechanical fuel pump and eliminate the electric pump that's currently wired into the ignition switch and running the car.

Still no replies from anybody about getting a correct wiring diagram for my Failsafe Headlamp Series 4 (Federal) car. Can anybody at least tell me what's different from the Series 4 diagram that's in the workshop manual?

Thanks,

Rick
70 Elan S4 Convertible
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PostPost by: pharriso » Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:34 pm

hubrick wrote:Still no replies from anybody about getting a correct wiring diagram for my Failsafe Headlamp Series 4 (Federal) car. Can anybody at least tell me what's different from the Series 4 diagram that's in the workshop manual?

Thanks,

Rick
70 Elan S4 Convertible


Rick, see viewtopic.php?f=38&t=30133

Get used to the search function on the site or google search (e.g. site:lotuselan.net/forums federal headlight), there’s a lot of info on this site already.

WRT to a new wiring harness the only ones available are for non-federal cars. What rear lights does your car have? US red only or uk red/orange?
Phil Harrison
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PostPost by: pharriso » Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:36 pm

hubrick wrote:I'm even thinking I'll rebuild the mechanical fuel pump and eliminate the electric pump that's currently wired into the ignition switch and running the car
Thanks,

Rick
70 Elan S4 Convertible


Definitely disagree on that as an electric pump decreases cranking time & helps with hot fuel handling, I just put one in!
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PostPost by: sprintsoft » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:39 pm

Phil,

not to hijack Ricks thread but I would be very interested to hear your experience with hot starting and if the new pump fixed it or how much it improved, maybe worth a new topic? it’s a perennial issue for many, including me!

Iain
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