Lotus Elan

Hand Break Mod Suggestions?

PostPost by: neilcritter » Thu Apr 21, 2022 9:18 pm

Our 1967 S3 DHC project lacks the hand break which isn’t so bad since I’ve read it was one of the Achilles’ heels of the Elan. Nonetheless, breaks are important in an emergency and I’d like to put a hand break in even if it’s not original.

Do any of you have a recommendation for a hand brake modification that works well in an Elan?

I found a few threads on the topic and was curious if there was any follow up about how well they worked and where they got the parts from:

“Hydraulic handbrake” Melodyk made a small lever on the driver’s side wall of the chassis that you hold the foot break down and then pull up a hand break lever. Stevebroad had more of a modern one on the center of the chassis and had to fit an electric actuator and button
viewtopic.php?f=31&t=40100&start=15

Are there any other cars that had the same hand break system that I may be able to source parts from?

“My modified early Spyder chassis” thread Netec99 had a picture of a lever hand beak on the top of the rolling chassis, but not a lot of detail found on it.
viewtopic.php?f=31&t=24494&start=15

I have found some parts from https://paulmattysportscars.co.uk/?s=El ... pe=product and plan to see what Dave Bean Engineering has. I’m located in the US.

Thanks a bunch,
Neil

1967 S3
I don’t know Jack
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=50881
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PostPost by: mbell » Thu Apr 21, 2022 9:34 pm

Why not just re-fit an original setup? What bits are you missing?

The performance issues of the handbrake on elans/+2 is more down to the mechanism on the brake calipers rather than the lever setup. The standard setup can be made to work reasonably well if in good condition and correctly setup but generally requires regular adjustment.

If you want to improve performance then your looking more at modification to the caliper side and other items. Which isn't trivial.

For a road car I'd stay away from the hydraulic setups, as there significant risk they will fail at the same time as the main brakes. The purpose of the handbrake is to give full independent brake encase of brake failure on the main brakes.

Personally I'd re-fit the standard setup and spend my time/effort and make sure it is in good condition and correctly setup. Maybe a few minor mods like extra helper springs and improved rods.
'73 +2 130/5 RHD, now on the road and very slowly rolling though a "restoration"
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PostPost by: neilcritter » Thu Apr 21, 2022 9:41 pm

Thank you mbell! Wonderful reply!

I still welcome any other suggestions but that is a wonderful endorsement of the standard unit.

I see you are in Austin, TX. I'm in OKC. Hope to meet you at a meet up someday.

Best wishes,
Neil
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PostPost by: Craven » Thu Apr 21, 2022 10:00 pm

If improved safety regards brakes in an emergency you could look at the dual brake system fitted on later models. Hopefully then the marginal performance of the standard hand brake will not be tested.
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PostPost by: mbell » Thu Apr 21, 2022 11:28 pm

neilcritter wrote:Hope to meet you at a meet up someday.


That works be cool. Will bare it in mind if I am up in that part of the world but not plans to be...
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PostPost by: gherlt » Fri Apr 22, 2022 5:21 am

mbell wrote: .... The purpose of the handbrake is to give full independent brake encase of brake failure on the main brakes.

Sadly, in an Elan, even in good working order, the handbrake does not give good deceleration
and as said before, it needs regular adjustment.

So if you car is modded and you want to have confidence in the braking capabilities of your car, Craven is right, you change to dual circuit and you do not have not rely on the original handbrake limited emergency retardation capabilities. Finding an original dual circuit master cylinder is not easy, but there are solutions with separate tanks. Then keeping the original handbrake setup is fine, unless you park at steep hills regularly (for which I carry a wodden wheel wedge).
1964 S1 (engine ready, awainting body paint)
1967 S3 DHC
1969 S4 FHC (worn engine)

https://theelanman.com for details on Brian Bucklands book.
https://shop.lotus-books.com for more Lotus related books.
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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Fri Apr 22, 2022 5:38 am

It may be different in the US, but in the UK the handbrake has to be a fully independent system. An entirely separate hydraulic system would probably meet the requirement, but a handbrake that shares some of the main braking system's hydraulics probably wouldn't be satisfactory.

Edit:

I should have added that the original mechanical system can be made to work quite well. It has a variety of pins, bushes and pivots, all of which wear. I don't like the design, but if you make sure all the bits are a decent fit, then you are in with a chance. If all the holes are oval, the pins all worn and everything flops about, you will never get it to work well.

Adjusting the 'centralising strips' that are supposed to hold the pads away from the disc is a pain, and some replacement handbrake cables are the wrong length, but if you persevere, you can get there. Adding a spring on the adjuster bolt helps and is a common mod. I would add that even in good shape I doubt it would slow the car down very well, but for holding a parked car stationary it is up to the task. In the spirit of full disclosure, I back the adjustment off to keep the handbrake pads well clear of the disc and park the car in gear.

2nd edit:

I should also have added that the mechanism rattles like a bag of old spanners when you go over a bump - which really irritates me.
68 Elan S3 HSCC Roadsports spec
71 Elan Sprint (to be restored)
32 Standard 12
Various modern stuff
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PostPost by: gav » Mon Apr 25, 2022 7:45 am

My original handbrake was completely refurbished and set up properly and it was still rubbish.
I ended up going a different route by using a Spyder rear double wishbone set up which allowed me to change callipers to Sierra.
This put me on another journey because the front callipers then needed upgrading and to get there, I needed some brackets welding to the back of the chassis around the diff to hold the cables and keep them out of the way but at least the handbrake works properly now - I can park on a very steep hill and manage proper hill starts - hurrah.
One day I'll actually finish - completely - one day....
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PostPost by: David1953 » Mon Apr 25, 2022 8:40 pm

Back in the 70's I understood the handbrake was only for MOTs and should be slacked off at all other times.
But now I have rebuilt the car and the hand brake works fine, it holds on hills, I can do hill starts with it, and it has not needed any adjustment in 5,000 miles.
I am not sure how rapidly it would slow the car from speed, but then most makes of car I have tried can drive with the hand brake on.
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Tue Apr 26, 2022 6:09 am

The " handbrake tree " was altered on later models to improve performance , maybe that is a direction for consideration...

John ;-)

Edit

viewtopic.php?t=20972&p=123304

and adjustable tie-rods...
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PostPost by: TomR » Tue Apr 26, 2022 2:17 pm

Similar to those you mentioned in the original post, I use a hydraulic cylinder in line with the rear brakes actuated by a lever attached to the central frame beside the driver's seat. My brakes use two MCs with a balance bar, and the lever acts only on the rear brake circuit. The reason for the mod is that I'm using Girling AR/NR brake calipers.

There is a pinch brake arrangement available for the NR caliper but I wanted a brake strong enough to lock the rear tires in case I enter her into a stage rally!

Woohoo, Tom
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PostPost by: mbell » Tue Apr 26, 2022 5:13 pm

john.p.clegg wrote:and adjustable tie-rods...


I agree, I think the key thing is to remove as much slop as possible in the system.So adjustable rods, making sure the holes in the tree are round and correctly sized and the spacer/bushing are in the rod connection on the calipers.

When I had the rear end of my car in pieces there was wear in the handbrake cable connection of the tree, so I welded it up and added extra layer of metal to give larger surface area and hopefully avoid future issues.

For my adjustable rods I used ball joint on the inner ends. The rods pivot with the suspension so move in multiple axis's, the original clevis style connection only allow movement in one axis. I was able to buy the hardware from McMaster to make the rods for about $20/rod.
'73 +2 130/5 RHD, now on the road and very slowly rolling though a "restoration"
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Wed Apr 27, 2022 5:26 am

I also agree on the "remove all slop" in the mechanism, even when mine was freshly assembled 12 months later (MoT time) I'd find it needed doing again. I thought I'd posted this before but couldn't find the thread so....

I ended up making a new one from scratch. Firstly I went against the core principle of "adding lightness" by using 6mm plate and rods. Even worse I replaced the simple pin/hole arrangement with m6 bolts and rose joints. I also incorporated the bent arm of later versions. (don't worry, the suspension does cope with the extra weight :wink: )

The result is something that I haven't touched for ages and definitely works with a very solid feel - as it should do with all that metal there. The pads still wear of course but with better springs and I suspect more clearance due to the extra travel, it doesn't seem as bad as previously.

Brian

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PostPost by: elan66 » Fri May 13, 2022 9:25 pm

Hi,
I was fitting some hi-spec rear calipers a few years ago, even had brackets made,Dave Hughes has the information on them I think,
But if you speak to Alex at Hi-Spec in Dartford they should have details of the brackets I got made on their computer, kind regards Paul
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PostPost by: c.garde » Sat May 14, 2022 8:03 am

'morning gents and nerds .

During this discussion a spring added to the adjuster bolt is referred to as a " mod".
In fact this is hardly a mod ( however worthwhile ) .
Lotus manual no. 26T327 page K2 is clearly showing this spring but is not allocating a partsnumber.

Best regards
Claus Garde
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