Lotus Elan

Sprint Wheel Refurbishment

PostPost by: Roland » Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:30 am

My sprint is running on the original knock on steel wheels, they have only done 34,000 miles and are in good condition with no cracks and run true. I am intending to fit Michelin XAS FF tyres at some stage and want to get the wheels powder coated before I do this, however I have the following questions:

1. I know the centre section of these wheels is riveted to the outer rim and the rivets can become loose. Is there any way I can strengthen these wheels to prevent failure in the future. I am considering running some weld to attach the centre section to the outer rim after they have been blasted. Is this a good idea or do I risk making the weld locations a future stress raiser/crack initiator.

2. My wheels were powder coated at some stage and the powder coating goes under the 3 eared spinner. Is this recommended or should I ask the powder coaters not to coat the area where the spinner bears. I think even the new remanufactured knock wheels seem to powder coat/paint under the spinner?

Rgds

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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Wed Sep 30, 2020 9:35 am

Roland wrote:My sprint is running on the original knock on steel wheels, they have only done 34,000 miles and are in good condition with no cracks and run true. I am intending to fit Michelin XAS FF tyres at some stage and want to get the wheels powder coated before I do this, however I have the following questions:

1. I know the centre section of these wheels is riveted to the outer rim and the rivets can become loose. Is there any way I can strengthen these wheels to prevent failure in the future. I am considering running some weld to attach the centre section to the outer rim after they have been blasted. Is this a good idea or do I risk making the weld locations a future stress raiser/crack initiator.

2. My wheels were powder coated at some stage and the powder coating goes under the 3 eared spinner. Is this recommended or should I ask the powder coaters not to coat the area where the spinner bears. I think even the new remanufactured knock wheels seem to powder coat/paint under the spinner?

Rgds

Roland

Roland,

The original riveted wheels were made by Rubery Owen, and stamped RO. Others may disagree, but they were generally not considered up to the job, and many have cracked, bent, or had the rivets loosen and not hold air. I have to admit, I thought by the time the Sprint had come along in the 70s, that Lotus had moved to welded wheels.

The XAS FF needs a tube, so I guess that from that perspective a leaky rim isn't the end of the world, but I don't know how the tube will cope with resting against the rivet head. Might be worth speaking to Longstone Tyres to check before you spend any money on getting the wheels refurbished. I gave up on my old wheels and bought a new set from Sue Miller.

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PostPost by: Roland » Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:52 am

Andy,

My car was manufactured August 1972, I have just checked the spare and I can't see any stampings apart from a size marking. The attached picture shows the rivets, I can't see any sign of the centres being welded?

I have old Bridgestone tyres on these wheels which have no tubes fitted, amazingly I don't get any leaks. The Bridgestones have to go soon and only remain usable because the car has been in storage in recent years and out of sunlight. I suspect my wheels are as good as you get but putting expensive XAS FF's on them as they are seems shortsighted.

I have this morning started to get quotes for properly powder coating these wheels and it is at least £150 a wheel and will likely end at £200 a wheel (silly prices near me in Aberdeen?). It's looking like new wheels are just a little more expensive but a better solution. An alternative is fitting modern/cheaper tyres but I have just fitted TTR fast road suspension and I want to get it on the Michelin's.

It looks like these old riveted wheels are to be kept in a glass case then, they can join the old brittle Magnesiums already there I suppose.

Rgds

Roland
Attachments
Sprint Wheel.jpeg and
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:08 pm

All the original Elan wheels DON'T have the safety Rib so need Tubes.
This seems to be an endless saga.
Alan
Last edited by alan.barker on Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: ElanDNA » Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:59 pm

[/quote]The original riveted wheels were made by Rubery Owen, and stamped RO. Others may disagree, but they were generally not considered up to the job, and many have cracked, bent, or had the rivets loosen and not hold air. I have to admit, I thought by the time the Sprint had come along in the 70s, that Lotus had moved to welded wheels.

Andy.[/quote]

+1

P091216_16.20.JPG and

P091216_16.20[01].JPG and


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PostPost by: Roland » Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:39 pm

Yes Ok the wheels don't have a safety rim and just looked properly at mine and they are running tubes thankfully, my mistake. I am sure the RO stamping will be there if I get a tyre removed, Lotus must have used riveted wheels to the end of the elan production run?

I have a sensible refurbishment cost now at £50-60 per wheel but I guess these wheels only have a use if you really were wanting to retain originality in a show/concours type situation, I have the same type of situation on other cars. So these can go on the unused wheel storage pile.

I called Sue Miller she is out of stock on new wheels but she is trying to sort out a short production run soon. I will add myself to her list and wait. Weather has packed up in Scotland now anyway so probably no more driving it for 5 months.

Tks

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PostPost by: pharriso » Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:56 pm

Roland wrote:Y... but I guess these wheels only have a use if you really were wanting to retain originality in a show/concours type situation.....


What makes you say that? They are perfectly functional.
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PostPost by: TBG » Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:59 pm

"What makes you say that? They are perfectly functional."

and better looking than any fancy replacements. I have done over 200k miles with not a problem. :roll:
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PostPost by: Roland » Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:34 pm

I think this a personal choice really, I would just feel more comfortable on some new wheels with higher strength especially if I want to track the car in the future on occasions.

Also I can't replace the original wheels so for me preserving them by reducing usage even if I never show the car appeals. So I will very likely get the original set refurbished and keep them.

I don't doubt that I could probably keep running the original wheels for many many miles if I can keep out of the potholes on the roads around me, however that depends very much on who is driving towards you.

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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:49 pm

Roland,

The rim of the wheel is not just riveted, it is also an interference fit. When I took a wheel apart to investigate refurbishment, I first removed the rivets, but could not separate the rim from the centre. As the rim was scrap I cut it off with an angle grinder, as I approached the centre, the rim eventually parted with one hell of a bang. I estimate the interference to be about 0.5mm on diameter. There was also some rust between the centre and the rim.

I suspect the rivets would be air tight, but best to be sure and use a tube. As for chafing of the tube on the rivets, I believe that people with wire wheels have a protective “rubber band” on top of the spoke ends.

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PostPost by: Roland » Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:17 am

Richard,

That’s interesting, did you manage to find a new rim and get it fitted. I am sure that is possible but probably not cost effective vs remanufactured wheels, and the centre would still be of original design and age.

I called Longstone tyres and they told me not to worry about the rivets on the tube, generally the rivets are smooth. They didn’t advise using a rim tape, I think potentially it may move on these wheels.

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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Thu Oct 01, 2020 7:38 pm

Roland,

Yes I did manage to find new steel rims, from a German company called MEFRO. Buying them was the easy bit. The Elan centres are a little too small for the MEFRO rims, so instead of cutting the old rims right off, I turned them down to a diameter to fit the new rims. I pressed the new rims onto the old centres and made sure they ran true, then had them welded into position. I have a lathe and a press but cannot weld. You have to make sure that the rim is in the correct place axially or the tyre will rub on the body or some part of the suspension or brakes. Use one of you existing wheels to get this dimension. This is a lot of work, at the time there were no replacement steel wheels available. I prefer the appearance of the car with steel wheels, so thought it was worth doing.

Hope this helps,

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PostPost by: My72Sprint » Thu Oct 01, 2020 11:28 pm

Noticed Knock-on Steel Wheels Avaliable @ KELVEDON today

https://kelvedonlotus.co.uk/product/ste ... -knock-on/
STEEL WHEEL – KNOCK ON
£250.00 ex VAT
SKU: X036G0001ZSW

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PostPost by: nmauduit » Fri Oct 02, 2020 7:03 am

My72Sprint wrote:Noticed Knock-on Steel Wheels Avaliable @ KELVEDON today


the long standing shortage has pushed for refabrication, but fwiw I believe the modern repros are heavier than the original ones (I'm not sure of the exact weight difference though), then supposedly stronger.
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PostPost by: TBG » Fri Oct 02, 2020 8:56 am

Looking at the Kelvedon wheel it looks to be a bit different from the original.Not quite the same profile from inside to out.........??
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