Lotus Elan

Job well done, and a question

PostPost by: adigra » Fri May 28, 2010 1:55 am

Greetings,

I had a couple of really good days working on the Elan this week. Having removed the old carpets and felt I scraped and cleaned the remnants of the original felt, which was rotten and disintegrating. I cut the new stuff I got from Matty in a roll and glued it in. Turned out fantastic, if I may say so myself. I proceeded to assemble the new dash, fit the glovebox door hinges, lock and handle, as well as drill larger holes to fit the shallower and much bigger replacement window switches. I also cleaned and fixed the heater motor and assembled the freshly powdercoated heater box (what a pain to put it back together!). I feel rather accomplished! :D

My question is about fitting an ammeter on the new dash. I was thinking of enlarging the cigarette lighter hole and fitting it there, but I'd also like to keep the lighter as well and don't know where to move it to. Another option would be to ditch the radio and fit the ammeter as well as an oil temp gauge there. Any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated. I haven't checked yet about the clearances behind the dash once it's in. I'm assuming that the cigarette lighter placement would work because it's parallel with the fuel gauge on the other side?

Regards,
Adi
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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Fri May 28, 2010 3:31 am

After decades of Elan ownership the need for ammeter and oil temperature gauges escapes me. Why are you planning to install them?
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PostPost by: adigra » Fri May 28, 2010 4:37 am

Eric,

My car came with an oil temp gauge already fitted (on a bracket mounted to the bottom of the dash, pretty ugly) and I was planning to remove it, however, with the ammeter in the radio spot idea I thought it would make sense to fill the space. As for the ammeter, to be honest I think it's a reasonable idea to know what is going on with the charging... certainly more useful than either the radio, the ashtray, or the lighter.

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PostPost by: Lincoln62 » Fri May 28, 2010 6:12 am

Problem with an ammeter is that for it to work correctly the current for eveything on the whole car has to go through it. If the ammeter has a problem, everything on the car has a problem. You need nice strong wires.

You could always mount it inside the glovebox and drive with the lid open. There's not much choice unless you want to butcher the dash.

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PostPost by: 512BB » Fri May 28, 2010 9:41 am

Adi,

Could not agree more with what Eric says. Your car looks beautiful, why on earth do you now want to butcher the dash, a new one at that, with dials that are a waste of time. If you are happy with the electrics, then dont mess about with them. If not, then sort out the problem if you have one.

After nearly 30 years of Elan ownership, I have never felt the need to fit additional anything, I like the cars as they came out of the factory, save for improving the panel fit here and there, but thats just me.

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PostPost by: rgh0 » Fri May 28, 2010 10:42 am

I fitted a volt meter rather than ammeter to the left of the radio opening and symmetrical with the fuel gauge. I personally think the dash looks nicer with this addition. I prefer a voltmeter as I think it gives you more information than a ammeter and you dont need to send a high current wire to it as well so less chance of a problem.

cheers
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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Fri May 28, 2010 2:11 pm

Adi,

I drilled a new hole on the other side of the radio and moved the fuel gauge there. Then I installed a Smiths ammeter where the fuel gauge used to be. Now if I could only find the time to have the dash board refinished...

The Elan came from the factory equipped with a 22 amp generator. During the years of Elan prodution, nearly every other car manufacturer switched to alternators if they hadn't done so already. During the second half of Elan production, even Lotus was equipping Europas with alternators, but not the Elan.

I dont believe that anybody who claims the Elan is fine just the way it is, is depending on the Elan as a their daily driver. If anyone on this list is the exception, please speak up.
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PostPost by: avhation » Fri May 28, 2010 5:30 pm

I made a panel to fit in the place of the ashtray for a small 20 amp ammeter and a couple of extra toggle switches. Totally reversible to original, if I could lay my hands on the ashtray! I found the ammeter invaluable when using the car for the daily commute; not only to check that the dynamo was keeping up but also to note that the cut-out and voltage regulator were working reasonably well. Because the ammeter needle is un-damped it tends to go from stop to stop quite a lot at lowish revs which is interesting. Despite the low ampere capacity it has not failed in 130,000 miles.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Fri May 28, 2010 5:43 pm

Pete makes a very good point in that everything has to go through an ammeter. They are a very good way to get a fire going, especially in a space as inaccessable as the back of the Elan dash.

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PostPost by: adigra » Fri May 28, 2010 6:31 pm

Hi everyone,

Thanks very much for the responses. Well, that makes up my mind then, I won't fit the ammeter and I will remove the oil temp gauge (as there is nowhere for it to go if I want to keep the dash looking standard). It is also much easier not to do it so I'm not at all upset about it at all.

Thanks!
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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Fri May 28, 2010 6:55 pm

Lincoln62 wrote:Problem with an ammeter is that for it to work correctly the current for eveything on the whole car has to go through it.
Actually, it's almost everything. The starter does not go through the ammeter. As far as safety is concerned, if ammeters had a propensity for setting cars on fire, I doubt any manufacturer would expose themselves to potential liability by manufacturing them in the first place. As an example, in standard form, everything (including the starter motor) goes through the starter solenoid. That doesn't mean the starter solenoid is a fire hazard.
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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Fri May 28, 2010 7:56 pm

I think I also agree with the consensus of opinion and your decision not to bother fitting the extra instruments Adi. Your car really does not require them.

Keep it simple Adi..

Good decision..


Alex..... 8)
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PostPost by: msd1107 » Fri May 28, 2010 9:19 pm

Interesting diversity of opinions.

In theory, gauges are not necessary, only warning lights.

At the other end of the spectrum, a reasonably complete set of gauges might include:

Speedometer/odometer
Tachometer

Volt meter
Ammeter - both are needed in order to monitor the health of the electric system

Oil pressure
Oil temperature - both are needed to monitor the health of the engine together with

Water temperature

Fuel level

and possibly a vacuum gauge or AFR gauge.

With the exception of the AFR, all these are available in period correct Smiths styles, sometimes NOS. Many places will refurbish a less desirable one. It might take awhile to accumulate all of them. And getting them with the right ranges might take awhile also. It took me forever to find a 270 deg sweep 0-50 psi oil gauge.

Not needing a radio and/or ash tray makes the layout of the dash easier. Any of the people who furnish dashes for Elans will probably manufacture the dash for your instrument layout. Or you can source the veneer and do it yourself.

Or, just leave the dash alone. A well maintained Elan does not need a lot of instruments.

David
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PostPost by: robertverhey » Fri May 28, 2010 10:56 pm

I think overheating problems are caused when you run an alternator level output through an ammeter designed for the original generator. That's certainly caused the insulation on my ammeter connectors to go very soft.

Solution might be to get a 60 Amp ammeter (which shouldn't get as hot), or bridge the ammeter terminals and leave it there for show only.

Personally, I prefer a voltmeter. Much more info about impact of switching on of fans, lights etc.

Easy come by, eg http://cgi.ebay.com.au/cortina-lotus-es ... 19bca6c20e

Or

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/SMITHS-V ... ccessories
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PostPost by: billwill » Sat May 29, 2010 12:44 am

rgh0 wrote:I fitted a volt meter rather than ammeter to the left of the radio opening and symmetrical with the fuel gauge. I personally think the dash looks nicer with this addition. I prefer a voltmeter as I think it gives you more information than a ammeter and you dont need to send a high current wire to it as well so less chance of a problem.

cheers
Rohan



Yay!

The usual place for an added ammeter is where Rohan says, left of the radio opening and symmetrical with the fuel gauge. Thats where mine is.

You connect it in the main brown lead from the starter solenoid to the fuse box. That way it shows all the current going to/from the battery, except the huge starter motor current.
Bill Williams

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