Lotus Elan

Protocol For Engine

PostPost by: Greg Foster » Fri Dec 09, 2005 3:08 am

I am acquiring an elan which has been sitting for about 20 years in a garage. Not stored properly. What is the recommended way to get oil into all the bearing areas without an engine teardown. I am sure I will have to remove the cams and followers to lubricate the valve stems. Suggestions as what to use? What to do?
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PostPost by: type26owner » Fri Dec 09, 2005 3:38 am

Before you do anything else open up the throttles and look to see which intake valve is open. The one open intake and exhaust cylinders are most likely to be corroded and have stuck rings. Those valve springs will be relaxed after sitting loaded all those years. Next inspect the oil. If it's really dirty then it's likely the acid has corroded the iron bits. Roll the car in gear and see if the engine turns over. If it does then you should cobble together an oil accumulator and pressurize the main oil gallery though the oil pressure fitting to force oil everywhere. After that you can tow it or crank it over for oil pressure.

I've left out all the obvious stuff to do.
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PostPost by: curly type 26 » Fri Dec 09, 2005 7:21 pm

Dont waste your time just strip it and rebuild will be a lot cheaper in the long run if there is any rust in engine all you will do is spread abraisive oily mixture round engine not to mention dropping a valve good luck Colin. :D
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PostPost by: alaric » Fri Dec 09, 2005 8:27 pm

Checking the oil and blowing out galleries sounds like good advice.

When you're ready to turn it over I would crank it on the starter motor with the spark plugs out. To make sure that the oil pump is pumping oil I'd take off the oil filter initially, just until oil comes out - no point cranking the engine if the pumps not delivering anything. Then pop it back on and hold your breath...

I actually agree with the previous post though - just strip it.

Good luck.
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Fri Dec 09, 2005 8:43 pm

You might want to take a look at this thread.
http://www.lotuselan.net/forums/viewtop ... sc&start=0
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PostPost by: carrierdave » Sun Dec 11, 2005 11:48 pm

Hi Greg,
My car sat in a garage from 1975 through to April last year when I won her on Ebay.
She was sitting less than an inch off of the ground as all the tyres were rotten.
The problems I had with the engine was exactly what Keith mentioned; as there were at least 2 valves open to number 1 and 2 cylinders; damp had got in and corroded the rings not only to the cylinders but also to the piston groves.
This meant that there was no way you could turn over the engine. Another corrosion issue was the spark plugs in the head; the first two snapped off and were eventually removed by a specialist engine/machine shop.

The other problems you will face are no brake fluid and no clutch fluid as these have long since evaporated from the master cylinders; rusted brake discs which need the pads removed before you can turn the wheels.

There will be many little items each with their own unique challenge!!

Good Luck

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PostPost by: type26owner » Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:32 pm

Hey Greg,
I completely forgot about the topend being dry. If the engine will turn over then remove each cambearing one at a time and squirt some oil in it. Squirt some on the tops of the buckets and the lobes too. NOW it's safe to go for oil pressure.
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PostPost by: bengalcharlie » Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:19 pm

You have nothing to loose by getting the engine running as long you follow some locig steps discribed above.
change all fluids, plugs etc... and just drop the sump, it gives you a good indication about the condition of the engine.
if it looks ok, clean and fill her up with new engine oil 20/w50 and tow the car around the block so there is oil throughout the engine.
remove the spark plugs whilst doing this.
I fired up a twincam that sat around for 20 years and it runs beautifully with excellent oil pressure.
too many people rebuild engines just for the sake of it but at the end of the day you have to decide with what you feel more comfortable with, rebuild or run it and then decide what to do.
good luck,


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PostPost by: M100 » Mon Dec 12, 2005 10:29 pm

curly type 26 wrote:Dont waste your time just strip it and rebuild will be a lot cheaper in the long run

I tend to agree. An engine stored incorrectly can be damaged extremely quickly, 20 years is way too long to expect *anything* at all to function correctly at startup (or not to fail shortly afterwards) The potential for a serious failure costing many hundreds of quid to rectify for the sake of 50 quids worth of gaskets/sealant and a weekend's worth of work to get the engine out and strip it makes it a no brainer for me! The rebuild after a quick start to "see if it works" could take months.

It's no good saying just drop the sump either, as unless it's a +2 (or you have a spyder chassis/modified the crossmember) - by the time the sump is off then you could have got the whole engine out and be 50% through the stripdown.

Just a few failure areas:
shell bearings eaten by oil acids
stuck piston rings
stuck valves
no oil on cam to follower interface
stuck oil pressure relief valve
stuck clutch
tired oil seals
rust on valve springs
oil seals stuck to crank
rust in oil seal areas
fuel pump non return valve stuck
waterpump grease turned to clay
waterpump carbon seal stuck
carbs silted up
fuel pipes ready to burst
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PostPost by: type26owner » Tue Dec 13, 2005 3:30 am

Hey Martin,
You or I would not hesitate to tear that engine down and put it back to 100%. Put there are many folks here on the list who have no clue what the inside of a twinkcam looks like. They need the collective guidance of this forum. If that engine has not corroded solid it might just fire up and run okay. It might make fiscal sense for Greg to risk it. He may have gotten it for a song. I've seen an old engine come back alive before and run just fine.

The weak valve springs will make it layover in power at high revs but otherwise run okay. Chances are the reason it got garaged originally was the waterpump was leaking.
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PostPost by: type26owner » Tue Dec 13, 2005 3:56 pm

The classic waterpump failure on the twinkcam is the Achilles' Heel of this engine. Since it's obviously a corrosion problem where the inner bearing seal rubs on a rusty shaft, it's preventable with the application of an anti-rust coating. There is no reason that waterpump bearing can't last as long as the mains and conrods. :D
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Wed Dec 14, 2005 10:03 am


The Elan Factory here in Australia does pump rebuilds using a ceramic button on the impellor for the seal face to bear on. This was based on his experience where he would rebuild a pump and it may not get into a running engine for a year or 3 and by that time corrosion on the seal face resulted in a leaking pump on startup.

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PostPost by: type26owner » Wed Dec 14, 2005 2:54 pm

I found the sole world-wide source for the waterpump rebuild kits a couple of years ago. It's a small speciality bearing company in Japan IIRC. The ceramic plate for the carbon wiper on the impellor seal to contact is standard fare. Everything is top quality except for the slinger.

That kit comes with a wimpy plastic slinger. That breaks apart after a short period from the stress of being forced onto the pump shaft. That's bad since if the leakrate is high enough then water can make direct contact with the grease at the bearings' sealing surface and dilute it. Once the grease is compromised then the normal fretting lifetime process of the seal is accelerated.

This rusting problem of the waterpump shaft is common to almost every type of waterpump. Most bearings have the shaft intergal to the bearing, this means the bearing grooves are directly in the shaft. The shaft has to be high carbon steel which is full hard at about Rc63. Most waterpumps fail at 50-80k mile intervals. Just that most engine designers understand this and don't design it so the entire engine must be dismantled to replace the waterpump. :x That deserves another award for bright ideas!

So the keys to waterpump bliss are: replace the slinger with one which will not break and spray TC-11 occasionally up into the weephole cavity from when the engine is just rebuilt.
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