Lotus Elan

S4 FHC Window Frame Shape?

PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Tue Jun 04, 2024 6:14 pm

I am currently working on the window frames prior to chrome plating. I have bought and replaced the glass, the mechanism appears to work smoothly even with the old damaged silent channels. I have noticed that the window frames are not flat. The glass moves up and down despite this distortion.

Has anyone else noticed that their frames are not flat? Should the frames be flat? Does anyone know if it was common practice to bend the frame to fit the opening in the car?

These questions may seem daft, but I don’t want to straighten the frames and find they then don’t fit, or even worse have them chromed and find they don’t fit.

In the 1960’s my dad had several Fords, and I remember going with him to a body repair shop to have a door adjusted as it didn’t fit very well. The panel beater put on gloves opened the door and made a good attempt to lift the car up by the door, after which the door fitted quite well. I was so impressed I have never forgotten.

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PostPost by: 512BB » Tue Jun 04, 2024 10:21 pm

'Has anyone else noticed that their frames are not flat?' YES

'Should the frames be flat?' NO

'Does anyone know if it was common practice to bend the frame to fit the opening in the car?' YES

If the frames were flat, there would be a 3" gap at the top of the frame to the body, and very often large thick washers were used as spacers at the mounting points on the lower part of the frame to adjust the fit, as well as some judicious bending of the frame. Obviously all bending should be done before chroming.

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PostPost by: nmauduit » Wed Jun 05, 2024 8:46 am

RichardHawkins wrote:...
I have noticed that the window frames are not flat. The glass moves up and down despite this distortion.

Has anyone else noticed that their frames are not flat?
...
Richard Hawkins


If by flat you mean that the U shaped profile guiding the glass being straight, the ones I've seen are "flat" (within some tolerances I suppose, less than a mm by eyeball, though I could measure more carefully a NOS one if of interest after it's dug from the stash) : by how much would (both?) your frames be not flat ?

What I would do in any case is carefully trial fitting the door with the frame prior to rechroming or painting, it can take quite some fettling to make sure that the best possible compromise is acceptable for a restoration and knowing how to achieve it will help in minimizing reassembly work with the finished parts.
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Fri Jun 07, 2024 6:58 pm

Leslie & nmauduit,

Thanks for the replies, I am away from home at the moment, and have not taken a measurement of how far from flat my window frames are. The drivers frame looks to be about 50mm bent in at the top whilst the passenger door is about 10mm bent out.

I will measure when I get home and report. I didn’t reply for a couple of days in the hope that more owners had something to add.

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PostPost by: Elanman99 » Fri Jun 07, 2024 7:27 pm

512BB wrote:'Has anyone else noticed that their frames are not flat?' YES

'Should the frames be flat?' NO

'Does anyone know if it was common practice to bend the frame to fit the opening in the car?' YES

If the frames were flat, there would be a 3" gap at the top of the frame to the body, and very often large thick washers were used as spacers at the mounting points on the lower part of the frame to adjust the fit, as well as some judicious bending of the frame. Obviously all bending should be done before chroming.

Leslie


3" Gap!
Whilst I have not put the doors from my S4 on a surface plate, I am sure they are substantially flat. The window glass is flat so I fail to see how it could work in a curved channel even with an allowance for the silent channel.

Using washers used to adjust the frame alignment was the normal procedure at the factory, also the factory would not have bent or curved the frame on assembly whether it was chromed or not.

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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Sun Jun 09, 2024 6:56 pm

Gentlemen,

I am back home and made some measurements with steel rule.

First error both frames are bent inwards towards the centre of the door at the top.

Second error the bend is nothing like 50mm.

I have a surface table, but do not think I need to go to the extent of using it, instead I have left the plywood cover on the surface table as I think this is good enough for a window frame measurement.

Right frame leans in, 5mm at rear, 8mm at front.

Left frame leans in, 8mm at rear, 8mm at front.

Both frames seem to have been bent at the position where the frame meets the top of the door.

Apologies for the initial errors, I seem to get everything wrong recently.

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PostPost by: Elanman99 » Sun Jun 09, 2024 8:57 pm

Unless you know the full history of your car my suspicion is that someone not familiar with Lotus cars has bent the frames to improve their fit.

Spacers between the four points (bobbins with 1/4" clearance holes) where the frame fastens to the door shell will easily take out the 5mm misalignment. I have no idea what the maximum washer stack thickness that Lotus would have used but my car (owned from new) certainly had spacers of about 6mm in the lower positions.

I have not had the doors apart for about 20 years (a window Bowden will snap tomorrow now I've said that!) and cannot remember what spacers are currently fitted.

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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Mon Jun 10, 2024 7:25 pm

Ian,

I bought my car as a non running basket case and certainly have no idea of its history. The car has had some rough owners, for example, the cylinder head bolts were stretched, I mean obviously stretched, measurement not necessary! The cam cover nuts were over tightened to the extent that the cam cover was cracked. When I drained the differential, no oil came out, when I dismantled the differential I found bits of broken drive shafts, the crown wheel and pinion were worn to a sharp edge.

The body shop (SMS) told me they thought the car had sustained front end damage at some time in its life.

Bad treatment of the window frames would not surprise me,

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PostPost by: 512BB » Fri Jun 14, 2024 10:37 am

I will just clarify a few points here. I did not suggest that the upper channel is bent a right angles to achieve a good fit, but having owned over 30 Elans in various conditions, I have personally had to tweak a window frame on occasion, at the horizontal chromed bar part, to get a better fit at the top of the frame, having exhausted all other methods of adjustment, including thick washers, and pieces of hardboard stuck to the frame in various places. All methods that were used at factory.

Further, I am in no doubt that the factory did the same, and unless you worked at the factory in period, you cannot possibly say that that practice did not take place. We have all seen cars with doors that stick out a good inch, YES, an inch, on the lower rear corner, and getting a window frame and lock etc. to fit correctly with such a poorly fitting door is near impossible without sometimes taking drastic steps, ie. bending the frame.

As far as the glass sliding in an off strait, bent, call it what you want, frame goes, so long as the frame is not bent excessively, it will still slide, provided the correct thickness flocked material is used in the channel.

Lastly, when I have found it necessary to bend a window frame, the chrome was not affected. At least, not that I noticed.

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PostPost by: ericbushby » Fri Jun 14, 2024 12:09 pm

Hi All,
Just a comment about ill fitting doors in the 60s. It wasn`t just Lotus that made the doors fit after assembly.
Around that time I was doing a lot of work at the Vauxhall Ellesmere Port factory.
I watched a man on the body assembly line whose job it was to make the doors fit neatly. He had a piece of hardwood about 3" by 2" tapered in places and rounded in others. He positioned the wood in various places near the hinges and used the door as a lever to bend the mounting points in or out on the hinge pillar.
It was fascinating to watch his skill and experience to produce a perfect fit in a few seconds.
I expect the pressed parts are a bit more accurate now.
Eric in Burnley
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Fri Jun 14, 2024 12:27 pm

Eric and Leslie,

Thanks for your additional comments. This morning I reached the point of fitting the motors to the windows, with new glass and old silent channels. To my delight the glass goes up and down silently and smoothly despite the bend in the frame. If I was younger and able to dance, I would.

Next job is to put the frames back in the doors and see if I need to alter the shape so that I get a decent fit in the body.

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