Lotus Elan

My Voigt 5-speed conversion

PostPost by: TBG » Mon Jul 27, 2020 3:57 pm

"I'm moving my 4 speed Elan to electronic Smiths w/GPS"

Tim - where can you get one that looks like the original? Thanks.

PS - 5 speed converters - it seems a lot of hassle! Try a 3:1 CWP like wot I done............ 8) 8)
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Mon Jul 27, 2020 5:58 pm

Next you'll be telling people to paint their bumpers black :D
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PostPost by: TBG » Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:19 am

Oh you naughty person you Mazzer! I seem to remember that yours are black also........... :mrgreen:

PS - anyone know about GPS speedos that look like the original?
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Tue Jul 28, 2020 10:21 am

PS - 5 speed converters - it seems a lot of hassle! Try a 3:1 CWP like wot I done............ 8)

That may be good for motorway work , but " normal " road driving , start/stop , hill starts , slow moving traffic ?

John ;-)
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PostPost by: TBG » Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:33 am

It is actually fantastic. Very steep hill starts no problem and it pulls like a train in 1/2/3 and is pretty good in top with a relaxed cruise. At he same revs I used for French autoroutes to give 80mph it now does 94 at the same rpm!! Brilliant! 8) 8)

PS john clegg - it happily tootles along in top at under 30mph...............
Last edited by TBG on Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: Davidb » Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:23 pm

Would somebody please try the 3:1 cwp with the close ratio box and let us know how it behaves? ;)
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PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:20 pm

Back after finally installing the 5-speed Voigt box. Took a bit longer than it should have but a "bonehead" mistake on my part required backtracking and taking the engine out again. Unlike Steve, this was my fault, not Voigts.

I won't go into details but since the concentric cylinder is located within the bell housing be sure that the hydraulic line connections are done properly or you will have to tear everything down to correct things.

As a reminder my T9 Voigt conversion deviated from standard issue as follows:

1. BGH close ratio gear set (2.66, 1.75, 1.26, 1.0, 0.75) . The 5th gear ratio was a bit of surprise as Voigt had indicated a 0.82 would be delivered.
2. Higher spec pressure plate (165-170 lb-ft torque) as the Voigt supplied cover was standard at a 120 lb-ft torque rating
3. Higher spec friction disc to accompany the higher spec pressure plate
4. Quaife short-shift T9 conversion
5. Metal (as opposed to plastic) T9 interior shift saddle
6. Better fitting bleed line/bell housing grommet (from BMW)

First 24 hours impressions/observations:

1. The shift action on the T9 I think is actually better than my 4 speed box (which was recently refurbished). Whether this is a function of the new BGH gears, or the short shifter, I don't know. But, the shifts are quite smooth and precise. And downshifts are markedly better ( this may also be helped by the close ratios). But, the experience of going up and down through the gears is decidedly better.

2. The 5th gear @ 0.75 really transforms the car on the freeway. Revs are at 3100 at 70mph as opposed to 4100 with the 4-speed. 90 mph can be achieved just below 4000 rpm. I should note that the car accelerates cleanly from 3000 with plenty of torque. No need to shift down into 4th. (Note: I have a 3.77 diff and low profile (185/60) tires for an effective 3.94). I should note that my car actually ends up with a slightly taller final drive (2.955) than TBG's 3:1 CWP.

3. The Quaife short shifter provides precise, short travel gear changes. I also have the metal (instead of plastic) interior shift saddle, BTW with no rattle/noise that I can hear. I have fitted two different gearshift knobs to see which one I like best. A black ball with the 5 speed shift pattern provides a very short stick. While another with transition collar and my wooden Lotus knob provides a taller overall lever with longer throws (but still comparable to the 4-speed). The stubby black one is interesting as it just requires a short flick of the wrist while the taller one is more similar to the original 4-speed lever. It's easy to switch back and forth between these two options. Too early to say which one I like better, but the stubby one is intriguing. But, I also like the original looking Lotus knob, disguising the 5-speed.
IMG_5825.jpeg and
IMG_5828.jpeg and


4. The CR gearset looks like it was a good decision but not enough experience yet. The ease of downshifts without double clutching is welcome.

4. I have noticed the car popping out of 1st gear when descending a hill. Not the end of the world, as this is a slow speed maneuver, but still shouldn't happen.

5. The throwout bearing on the concentric slave, at the moment is quite noisy. Hoping this may diminish with some running in. It may already be lessening. Perhaps a lack of lubrication after sitting for awhile? Hopefully, this is not a defective bearing requiring replacement but we shall see. The height of the pressure plate thrust pad was checked carefully during installation and was spot-on according to the Voigt instructions.

Overall, quite pleased with the conversion, assuming the throwout bearing cures itself. There was definitely more fettling than I expected. I didn't mention this before, in addition to all the other posts, but had to enlargen the console gearshift hole in order to get the third bolt in on the shifter. Doesn't show, covered up by the console cover.
IMG_5812.jpeg and
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:45 pm

What's the feel on the clutch pedal like relative to a heavy duty pressure plate with the
standard slave? Where's the engage/disengage point in the travel?
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PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:52 pm

gjz30075 wrote:What's the feel on the clutch pedal like relative to a heavy duty pressure plate with the
standard slave? Where's the engage/disengage point in the travel?

Clutch is not heavy at all. Engagement point maybe at 30% depression, but I'll try to be more precise after next time I drive it.

The clutch feels about the same as before with standard slave. I don't perceive a marked difference.
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:25 am

1owner69Elan wrote:5. The throwout bearing on the concentric slave, at the moment is quite noisy. [/attachment]


thank you for your detailed feedback and operation follow up (an idea of total cost and build time would be of interest as well, as a reference to whomever would consider that route).

ps: I would be worried about that throwout bearing noise, not the kind of thing I would expect to solve itself... any chance that it can be observed in operation (via a camera ...) ? if it is only too far at resting position to make symetrical light contact that would not be dramatic, but in most cases significant noise only anticipates an engine out I'm afraid...
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PostPost by: TBG » Sat Aug 08, 2020 9:13 am

TBG here! I have now done over 500 miles with 3:1 cwp and am thrilled to bits. Wonderfully relaxed top and goes like the proverbial in 2nd and third. As a comparison of costs with the 5 speed here are my costs. CWP £430, fitting and parts for diff overhaul including labour £200. No postage! So £630 all in. Not bad but I think you need a torquey motor to pull it.

I look forward to the costs and time to fit "one owners" Voight 5 speed. I did none of the work on mine as I no longer have a lift.
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PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Sat Aug 08, 2020 8:09 pm

nmauduit wrote:thank you for your detailed feedback and operation follow up (an idea of total cost and build time would be of interest as well, as a reference to whomever would consider that route).


The total cost was around 4100 pounds broken down as:

Basic kit: 2500 pounds
BGH Close Ratio gearset: 1000
Shipping (UK to California): 150
Insurance: 50
Sub-total: 3700 pounds

Note on gear sets: While you most likely at least want to change out the standard T9 overly low first gear (plus 200 pounds), I would also note that the Voigt T9 conversion kit is based upon reconditioned T9 units. I didn't relish the idea of using a gearset that had already seen perhaps 100K miles or more in a knackered Ford Sierra or such. But I have not heard anyone complain about this before. Previous comments on the Voigt box were that perhaps the shift action was not quite as good as the 4-speed. My (limited) experience so far is that the shift action, smoothness, noise, are actually noticeably better with the 5 speed (as equipped with a brand new BGH gearset, and Quaife short shift). My 4 speed had recently been rebuilt professionally so should be a valid comparison.

I spent another 400 pounds or so for items largely particular to my car, that might not be needed by others:

1. Uprated T9 clutch friction plate (replacing the supplied Voigt one)
2. Uprated clutch pressure plate, used existing one on my car (0 incremental cost). Replacing the lower rated one supplied by Voigt
3.Uprated TTR gearbox bracket
4.Uprated bronze shift saddle clip
5. Quaife short shifter
6. Bell Housing grommet
7. 2 quarts Redline MT90

Costs for me were helped by the weak UK pound/Dollar exchange rate.

In terms of time expended on the conversion, the most time was in researching and adapting things that deviated from the standard kit because of my particular configuration (uprated engine, TTR large bore race exhaust), things that I wanted to change (shift lever), as well as some quirks in what was supplied as enumerated below. If your Elan is pretty standard you can avoid a lot of the time spent on these items (details in earlier posts):

1. Aluminum rail plug was missing on my gearbox. Took weeks for Voigt to supply these (only need one) only to find that the supplied one(s) were too small. Fashioned my own from bar stock
2. The supplied gearbox bracket fouled the gearbox casting. If you have a standard exhaust, simply notch it (like Steve) and move on. I spent extra time fashioning a flange (like the old Voigt ones) only to find that it interfered with my exhaust. In the end I didn't use the Voigt bracket at all but used the standard Elan bracket design (rotated 180 degrees) with aluminum spacers.
3. Spent a long time fitting the new driveshaft yoke to my uprated TTR propshaft. Couldn't get the U-joint to fit with the existing snap rings. Spent a lot of time on this. But, glad that I replaced the TTR u-joint with a more robust OEM Spicer unit (better roller bearings), as well as a sealed unit with no grease nipple - would not be able to access this to service this anyway.
4. Spent a long time figuring out what pressure plate had been supplied by Voigt (turns out to be 120 ft-lbs) as he would only say it was "standard". Created a test rig. Used my existing uprated pressure plate in the end.
5.Spent a long time figuring out what portion of the tunnel frame needed to be cut. Because I was not using the speedo angle unit (using GPS instead) I figured that the metal removal specified by Voigt was excessive. In the end much less material was removed. In fact, it is not clear to me that the Voigt supplied template needs to have as much material removed as indicated even if using the angle speedo drive. The actual time to make the cut was small. Spent time with an endoscope to ensure that clearance was good with gearbox in place.
6. Spent extra time with a Dremel to remove material for clearance of the rear of the gearbox mount. Also removal of fiberglass from the tunnel to be able to insert the third gearshift bolt from above. Neither issue is noted in the Voigt instructions.
7. Spent extra time verifying that the gear ratios delivered were as ordered. Found out that fifth was 0.75 instead of 0.82 as specified. OK with that as it is no problem with the torque of my engine. Gives an even more relaxed cruising rpm.
8.Spent extra time measuring engine/gearbox - propshaft - diff angles. In the end, I made no adjustments. The U-joint operating angles were within a good range, as is. The diff angle was not as it should be according to theory (parallel with engine/gearbox) but after consulting with Dave Vegher I left it alone and didn't try to adjust it. With the current setup there are no vibrations or noises (tested from 0 to 90 mph - so far). None of this is discussed in the Voigt instructions - probably just proceed without this extra effort (witness Steve).
9. Spent extra time mounting the bleed nipple to the firewall. The TTR exhaust manifold is too large for the Voigt recommended mounting to a rear exhaust stud.
10. Spent extra time measuring the throw angles and travel of the gear shift for a.) the 4 speed, b.)the Voigt T9 with the supplied lever, and c.) the Quaife short shifter. Contacted Quaife to get dimensioned drawings. In the end, opted for the Quaife short shifter (not Caterham which is even shorter).
11. Spent extra time turning down the Quaife short shifter to fit into the Voigt tailpiece opening.
12. Spent extra time making an adapter for the standard Elan shift knob to mate to the larger metric thread on the Quaife short shifter.
13. Spent a lot of time understanding/researching the shift rod saddle. My Voigt box came with a plastic one that was already worn/deformed. I then proceeded to obtain new plastic ones (the first one did not fit) as well as a bronze one (supplied by a Forum member). Much discussion about the tab on these T9 saddles which didn't fit into the Voigt box. After rumination, ground the tab off the bronze one and used it. Result is a very precise and smooth gear change - and no rattling or buzzing.

Again, if you follow the more linear path (like Steve), and don't go down the rabbit holes I did, the conversion build time is not that bad. The most tedious part is just the usual engine/gearbox in and out.

I just spent a lot of extra time making sure I understood what was being done as well as to satisfy my own curiosity. After all, I did have plenty of time given the Covid sequestration. Originally I wasn't going to tackle this until late in the year when the weather turned.
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PostPost by: Foxie » Sat Aug 08, 2020 10:12 pm

1owner69Elan wrote:
7. Spent extra time verifying that the gear ratios delivered were as ordered. Found out that fifth was 0.75 instead of 0.82 as specified. OK with that as it is no problem with the torque of my engine. Gives an even more relaxed cruising rpm.


Must check my 5th gear tomorrow. 0.75 would be a nice bonus !

:)
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PostPost by: TBG » Sat Aug 08, 2020 10:40 pm

"The total cost was around 4100 pounds broken down as"

: Gosh - that seems a huge amount of time money and hassle. I am in wonderment that you have achieved so much and got around so many problems. I am a simple soul and happy to have got to almost the same solution without the hassle. Well done you. :)
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PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Sat Aug 08, 2020 11:19 pm

TBG wrote:"The total cost was around 4100 pounds broken down as"

: Gosh - that seems a huge amount of time money and hassle. I am in wonderment that you have achieved so much and got around so many problems. I am a simple soul and happy to have got to almost the same solution without the hassle. Well done you. :)


Yes, in hindsight does perhaps look rather excessive. But, most of what I have done to my car has not been particularly rational and probably does not make financial sense. But, I have taken a "no-compromise" approach to pretty much everything I have done to the car. (I won't even go into my paint job - way, way over the top.)

I actually enjoy some of the "hassle" - finding solutions to engineering problems, and learning along the way.
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