Lotus Elan

Stock frame or upgrade

PostPost by: jimfixit » Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:19 pm

I am finally considering a frame off restoration of my S3 FHC with red interior. I've owned it since 1985 and known the car since 1977. Completely untouched and about 98% stock. Only mods have been for road reliability like electronic ignition and cv joints. Unfortunately its been 15 years and the wiring is shot and the frame twisted. I am contemplating a frame replacement to handle the rough roads up in NorCal but am torn on whether to keep completely stock, minor frame mods up to a spyder replacement. Looking to get some opinions. thanks


Jim
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PostPost by: trw99 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:34 pm

Hi Jim and welcome.

With that much of the car original I would vote for a Lotus replacement chassis and keeping it as stock as possible. I know that there will be plenty of other differing opinions, but hey, I got in first!

Good luck and do keep us informed.

Tim
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PostPost by: Tahoe » Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:06 pm

I agree if the car is that original and stock don't even think of a Spyder chassis.
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PostPost by: crannyr » Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:34 pm

I have done both and would agree that the best choice is to replace with an original Lotus frame. I would only do this after strengtening the frame as discribed in several of the recommendations found on the forum and application of proper chassis paint or powder coat for rust and wear protection. (see AVO Frame Modifications and Recommendations)
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PostPost by: bilcoh » Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:34 pm

Hey Jim:

I'm newer here, and not at all a purist regarding Elan modifications or modernization. But if you've got a very original car, and like that about it, then stay away from the Spyder frame. I've got a 66 S2, and just completed reinforcement mods inspired by these posts:

AVO Frame Mods - Ted Rogers/Ken Claiborne
http://www.lotuselan.net/publish/avo_fr ... ions.shtml

Frame Mods with lots of great photos - Jerry
post97201.html - Part 1
elan-racing-f12/frame-modifications-t18159.html - Part 2

I tried to keep the tradition of helping alive by being thorough in my photography and descriptions, and offer the following posts, hoping they're helpful:

My restoration thread, look at the 2nd & 3rd posts regarding the frame:
elan-f15/restore-blog-elan-4378-t23756.html

My process for applying POR-15 to the frame after completing the mods:
elan-f15/por-experience-painting-frame-t23636.html

Guys, is this considered shameless self-promotion? :oops:

Good luck with the decision. I bet everyone would second me if I suggested that you post lots of pictures so we can see the state of your current project. Mongo like pictures. :D

Cheers,

Dave
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PostPost by: robertverhey » Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:59 pm

'I'll be fitting a new spyder chassis but I'll be keeping the original factory fitted chassis as a memento, call me weird but it seems important that it stays with the car on its journey.

Robert
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Wed Oct 05, 2011 6:08 am

I have fitted a new orginal lotus frame to my elan and a spyder frame to my plus 2. The spyder frame is a much better item and is stronger, stiffer and also makes maintenance access easier.

You can modify a Lotus frame to approach the Spyder one but in the end the Spyder one is still better

I am not an orginality freak and would have done the same Spyder mod on my Elan if doing it for road use, however our racing regulations do not allow them for the historic racing I use the Elan fo,r plus when i did my Elan so long ago the Spyder frames were not available

Having said all that the standard Lotus frame with no mods has survived 40000 miles of racing over 30 plus years remarkably well in the Elan


regards
Rohan

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Rohan
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:18 am

The Elan Pre-airflow Coupe is a rare car. Many a FHC has been ruined by cutting the top off to do some posing. Not many around and it makes a difference as to what I recommend as a chassis replacement. My normal response is "if you want an Elan to drive and enjoy, buy a Spyder. If you want to resell it, stick with the stock NON galvanized chassis." This is not your average S4 DHC so I would recommend the Lotus Replacement in steel and paint it.

I would like to see what a chassis out of Nor Cal looks like that it needs to be replaced before any more recommendations spew from my fingertips.

Please post photos

Gary
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PostPost by: AHM » Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:25 pm

I was going to do the frame mods on mine during the rebuild.

Then I got thinking and realised that strengthening one area is just transfering the force to another area. Looking at the overall design, allowing a bit of flex probably isn't a bad thing on a road car.

So I kept the suspension and chassis stock.

Why not just get your frame straightened and give it a coat of paint - Save yourself a load of money and a load of work.

Simon
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PostPost by: ardee_selby » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:25 am

AHM wrote:I was going to do the frame mods on mine during the rebuild.

Then I got thinking and realised that strengthening one area is just transfering the force to another area. Looking at the overall design, allowing a bit of flex probably isn't a bad thing on a road car.

So I kept the suspension and chassis stock.

Why not just get your frame straightened and give it a coat of paint - Save yourself a load of money and a load of work.

Simon


Simon,

You're referring to a galvanised frame? Correct?

The engine mount, and torque rod fixing, areas have been identified for a looooong time as failure points...but was originally seen on pre-galvanised frames.

Q. Does the galvanising, and thus reduced corrosion, also reduce potential for fatigue cracking in these areas?

WRT to somewhere being the weakest link, so to speak, the "gusseted" gearbox mounting bracket has been discussed on here recently...

elan-mods-f31/worthwhile-mod-t23286.html

In extremis, if that is stiffened, such that loads are transferred to a (rusty) frame, cracking may also result there...

One mans "solution" can be seen here:

download/file.php?id=15118 :roll: :roll: :(
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:46 pm

Jim,

If you have a very original car with a verifiable history I also lean towards the Lotus replacement rather than Spyder but that said It only really becomes an issue if you intend to sell the car and it would have a detrimental effect on the value.

I cannot see much evidence that Spyder framed cars are worth less than Lotus framed cars and remember it is also not a permanent change. You or any new purist owner in the future can always change the frame again.

If however you intend to fit a Lotus replacement chassis and do all the much discussed frame mod's detailed on this forum then IMO originality is lost and you may as well fit the stronger Spyder frame from the outset.
John

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PostPost by: AHM » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:00 pm

Yes - Galvanised chassis - strengthened engine mounts and welded in torque rod mountings. The previous owner changed the chassis as it had too much tin worm.

Sure an old chassis is going to need some repairs, but for what it is and what it does, as standard it stands up very well.

Agreed the gearbox mount is a weak point - the engine offset and the diff offset create quite a moment and the mount takes a hammering. Redesigning the mount would help, but strengthening it will transfer the load to the diff mountings - No thanks! Gearbox mountings are cheap and easy to change.

The damage that my chassis does have is mostly form careless jacking up. I looked at possible mods and thought is it worth it?... probabbly not - be less careless!

Simon
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PostPost by: jimfixit » Tue Oct 11, 2011 4:24 pm

Thanks for your replies. Here is the car as it sits in my garage.
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lotus.jpg and
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:06 pm

Jim,
If you have owned the car since 1985 and are happy with how the frame has performed in the past then I can't see any good reason to change to a Spyder spaceframe unless you now want to introduce more power or like the idea of uprating the rear suspension to the twin wishbone system.
There is another little known alternative in that Spyder still make their version of the Lotus stressed folded metal frame on request. You get better access to the sump and a few other little upgrades but the frame looks stock. Email [email protected] and tell him I sent you, you may have to wait a day or two for a reply as they seem to be pretty busy at the moment.

I know of another S3 pre airflow coupe that's in the same town as me, the owner has been slowly restoring it for years, I'm hoping my imminent new arrival will give him some incentive to get it finished.

Regards
Kindest regards

Alan Thomas
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:54 pm

Tony Thompson has the answer.
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