Lotus Elan

Odd Quote - maybe a touch of truth?

PostPost by: Matt Elan » Sun Apr 05, 2020 2:24 pm

In these locked down days I've been skimming through the Club Lotus Elan and Plus 2 buyers guide written by Graham Arnold and published back in 1981.

In the 'On the ramp' guide to what to look for he says:
'....On Elans after 1963 S.1. type check that a vacuum tank has not been fitted due to t failure or front cross member vacuum tank rust penetration.'

This implies that the S1 had a separate vacuum tank for the headlights. I read somewhere else that the Ford Anglia/Cortina windscreen wiper vacuum reservoir tank had been used in prototype Elans but I thought that it didn't make it into production and I can't see any reference in the parts manual. Does any one know if the S1 always used the chassis or does Mr Arnold know something we don't?
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Sun Apr 05, 2020 2:29 pm

I don't believe that a separate vacuum tank was ever fitted.

I believe what Mr. Arnold meant was, if the front cross member, which acts as the vacuum tank had rusted through, a new tank was added - perhaps in the nose of the car? I must say I've never seen this done.
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Sun Apr 05, 2020 3:14 pm

I've never seen it either - but the way he Arnold it he implied that S1s had a seperate tank and didn't use the cross member.
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PostPost by: awatkins » Sun Apr 05, 2020 4:21 pm

Arnold’s sentence is oddly structured. He is saying that the car never had a separate tank from the factory. Therefore, if a car has one, that means the crossmember was either rusted through or damaged,
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Sun Apr 05, 2020 5:32 pm

awatkins wrote:Arnold’s sentence is oddly structured. He is saying that the car never had a separate tank from the factory. Therefore, if a car has one, that means the crossmember was either rusted through or damaged,
.


Yes! That's what I understood it to mean.
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PostPost by: Slowtus » Sun Apr 05, 2020 5:35 pm

Mazzini wrote:
awatkins wrote:Arnold’s sentence is oddly structured. He is saying that the car never had a separate tank from the factory. Therefore, if a car has one, that means the crossmember was either rusted through or damaged,
.


Yes! That's what I understood it to mean.

Ditto.
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PostPost by: Barney » Sun Apr 05, 2020 6:30 pm

Before chassis change my car had an Anglia vacuum tank fitted. This was due to a garage (tyre fitter maybe) jacking on the front X-beam and cracking a weld.
Tank was about 12"/300mm long and 5"/125mm diameter and shaped like a lozenge
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PostPost by: powellsmail » Sun Apr 05, 2020 6:37 pm

When I first got my elan it also had a separate tank like the one described, made of black plastic. Shortly after i got the car I replaced the chassis as the tinworm had been munching in many places! Remote tank not needed any more.
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PostPost by: Elan45 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 2:30 am

My library is 900 miles away presently, but I think one of the early road tests of S1 Elan had a cross section drawing included and that drawing showed a small tank in the nose that I decided must have been a pre-production vacuum tank.

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PostPost by: vstibbard » Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:24 am

I recollect a cutaway drawing of an S1 Elan that showed a tank.
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Mon Apr 06, 2020 5:55 am

I also remember something about a separate tank and went looking through my collection of assorted junk. There's something in the first Motor sketch and also another one that looks like it's a separate tank. Different scales though, I suppose that's artistic license !

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ElanS1 cutaway.jpg and


Elan Cut-away drawing07a.jpg and
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PostPost by: S3FHC » Mon Apr 06, 2020 10:54 am

I would imagine that Mr Arnold's comment was more intended to inform potential buyers that a S1 with a separate tank would be a good indication that it had a rotten cross-member and less the suggestion that it should have a separate tank?
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PostPost by: trw99 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:40 pm

Matt, I am fairly certain it was only the development cars that had the separate Ford Anglia vacuum tank.

Below is a photograph of what I believe to be the engine compartment of 3208 NK, development car A (which was fitted with Bourne Body No 001). In addition to the red gloss cam cover of the 62 Motor Show cars, the Anglia bomb shaped vacuum tank can be seen near the air intake, as well as the central pipe that would have run to the headlight vacuum cylinders.

We know that 3208 UK was used by Tony Lofthouse of Motor magazine (as well, it would appear, by Gordon Bruce for Sports Car Graphic) to draw up the cutaway image that shows the tank, as well as the other pained images produced for brochures and promotion. Another indicator that this photo is that same car is the open paper element air filter mounted directly onto the carburettors, as reflected in the brochure overhead drawing of the engine compartment.

In addition, the launch Elan 1500 brochure has a page devoted to the headlamp system which mentions the vacuum tank. I also found reference to it in the Feb 1963 Sporting Motorist magazine article on the inside story of the design of the Elan, in which it states: "Development work still proceeds and among the more recent improvements has been the reduction of the time necessary for the headlights to rise, from two seconds to 0.9". Another modification that is underway is the elimination of the vacuum tank - the front chassis member will be sealed off and used for this purpose."

I would assume the article was researched and written in late 1962, perhaps very early Jan 63, when development work was ongoing, even though the first production cars did not start getting delivered until mid February. There are some well known John Bolster photos of 766 BOO, which he tested unofficially for Autocar. It was Unit No 003 and invoiced in mid Feb 63. It is clear from the photos of the engine compartment that it did not have the separate vacuum tank. Since only two cars had been invoiced before then I feel it safe to conclude that Elans with separate vacuum tanks were restricted to the development cars and to later Elans where they may have been fitted by owners once the car had left the factory, either for remediable purposes or for some other reason best known to themselves.

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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:54 pm

Thanks Tim and all the other contributors - hopefully thats put it to rest!
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PostPost by: tvacc » Mon Apr 06, 2020 4:15 pm

Now lets just wait a minute. My friends car had a tank fitted. Looks an awful lot like the drawing. It was an early S2, maybe a late S1. It is now owned by someone on this list. My friend, who passed in 1994, was the second owner. His father inherited the car and i bought it from his father. I wrote about it in ReMarque. The first owner was insistent (many years later when I saw him at a car show) that he never put a tank in the car.

Not that this is conclusive, but it does make me wonder.
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