Lotus Elan

Wiring redesign - a good idea?

PostPost by: Andy8421 » Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:09 am

I am planning to renew the wiring in my Sprint, which is in a bad way.

I have had a look at the S4 wiring diagram in the manual, and the wiring design is poor. Most notably, it has a number of unfused circuits (the lighting in particular). This was common practice in cars of the period, but most cars of that period weren't built out of a flamable material, and I would rather have a safer installation that worked reliably.

Having decided to redesign the circuitry and build my own loom, I also want to get rid of the dreadfull bullet connectors, and replace with modern waterproof connectors.

I have the background to be able to do this to a good standard, but in 15 years time when I sell the car as I will be too old to get in it, will I have seriously harmed the resale value as it won't be 'orginal'?
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PostPost by: GrUmPyBoDgEr » Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:56 am

I'd say go for it.
I think that any future owner would be truly grateful to know that the car has safe, modern & corrosion proof electrics.
It's been done to my S4, so the only things that can let me down are old components like dash & binnacle switches.
However I don't have much of an "originality fan" reputation :oops:

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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:39 am

I think that of more importance is the future maintainability of the car?s wiring by somebody who didn?t do the work.

A car electrics whiz could figure out anything, but a ?normal? owner like me has to refer to a wiring diagram and a bit of trial and error. Your car wouldn?t come with such thing. Faced with additional fuse blocks and relays, I would give up, and either replace the lot with a standard loom or hand it over to someone to fix. In other words, if I was coming to buy a car that had modifications, albeit enhancements, in this area, I would be very nervous.

The trouble is, looking at a car that has a non-standard loom, the buyer / new owner doesn?t know how well it?s been done. It could have been completed by an enthusiastic amateur and have inherent problems, or a professional auto-electrician and (maybe) be far better than the original.

The fact is, your car has lasted 40 years with the original loom?way past its sell-by date! There is obviously little wrong with the original loom if you keep the car standard. If you?re going to put in lots of additional goodies that increases the load on the circuits then you have no choice but to upgrade. Otherwise, I?d put in a standard loom from AutoSparks and look forward to another 40 years of Elan fun!

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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:57 am

Why not a half way house? The new looms available are pretty good quality wise. Fuse the circuits you want to.Take out the bullet con's and solder the joints. A good quality plug and socket to the dash wiring and a good earth bus / ring and it will be fine. That's (more or less) what I did. :wink:

As Mark's Invaluable advice above states. Its already lasted well.

Its your car though. Do it how you like.

All the best with it.

Alex B.... 8)
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PostPost by: GrUmPyBoDgEr » Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:43 am

Sound advice indeed from my learned friends.
I forgot to mention that my tame "sparks" did stick basically to the original wiring diagram but used modern thinner gauge wires where possible ("one size fits all" was not his way of thinking, as opposed to the original loom design), used modern, standardised wiring colour coding also modern fuses & relays
I have an Excel sheet for the colour coding, fuses & relays for future reference.
The modern connectors are usually crimped onto the wires & are waterproof.
A good "wireman" can ensure that the crimping is perfect & that those joints won't let you down.
Struggling with a corroded bullet connector is something I can now call bad memories.

"And that's all I have to say" with apologies to Forest Gump :)
Cheers
John
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Sun Apr 17, 2011 11:33 am

Andy

Go for it! my headlights were only receiving about 10 volts before the rewire,high current uses like main and dip beams and windows are better fed through relays....make up a wiring diagram to keep future owners happy...

John :wink:
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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Sun Apr 17, 2011 11:42 am

Elanintheforest wrote:a ?normal? owner like me has to refer to a wiring diagram and a bit of trial and error.


Mark,
I rewired my +2 in the earlier stage of my ownership in the late 70s. I drew my own schematic so that I had something to build to. That schematic will of course go with the +2 when the time comes. Certainly with a +2 I have no problem at all with modern connectors and over-current protection. The +2 has inherently low historical value this type of modification should not affect the value negatively. My Elite is a different story. I will rewire the Elite and maintain originality as much as possible, bullet connectors and all. I will likely go to two fuse boxes for a total of four fuses as that would have been a sensible period modification. Perhaps also one of the Racemettle alternators hidden inside what appears to be a Lucas C40 dynamo complete with mechanical tach drive. My thinking here is that these conversions are much lighter that the original dynamo and should make cracking of the FWE cylinder head at the rear dynamo mounting point much less likely.
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PostPost by: Galwaylotus » Sun Apr 17, 2011 6:38 pm

My philosophy is change for reliability as long as the original characteristis of the car aren't compromised, e.g. alternator instead of dynamo, modern headlamps fed by relays, multi-fuse panel with blade fuses, perhaps even a 5-speed gearbox, none of which should make the car feel any different on a tight road and only the last will make it different (for the better) on a motorway. Just my humble opinion . . . :wink:
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PostPost by: billwill » Sun Apr 17, 2011 7:19 pm

Go for it.

Put in the modern connectors & a revised circuit, but also draw up the new circuit in fine detail with all the wiring colours etc. Make several printouts and then LAMINATE them. You will need them for your own future use, but also put a copy under the top cover of the centre tunnel and perhaps one in one of the doors.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Sun Apr 17, 2011 7:54 pm

"I have the background to be able to do this to a good standard, but in 15 years time when I sell the car as I will be too old to get in it, will I have seriously harmed the resale value as it won't be 'orginal'?"

Andy

Seems to me that you have already decided to do these mods. In 15 years time there will have been other mods you will have made. Since your car is original only once, I would not be too concerned about value.

You are clearly not restoring your Sprint to original spec and therefore any buyer particular enough to want to purchase an original car will be looking elsewhere. On the other hand, someone looking for a good running car will be just as interested in your Sprint; furthermore, supply of good Sprints has begun to dwindle as they tend now to find homes with enthusiastic and committed owners, thus fewer are coming onto the market.

So in answer to your question: no!

Tim
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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:48 am

The main problem with the bullet connectors is the fact that dielectric grease wasn't available when the cars were manufactured. If you carefully take apart and clean the connectors, they will give you no problems if you apply dielectric grease to them.

Russ. If you are thinking of going to 4 fuses, there is another alternative that you may have not though about. Later cars, including my '74 Europa came from the factory with a Lucas 4 fuse box.
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PostPost by: billwill » Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:36 pm

Four are not really enough though.

My car has a 4-fuse box, but there are also two more fuses in in-line capsules behind the dashboard & it is a real pain if I blow one of those.
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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:07 pm

Frank Howard wrote:Russ. If you are thinking of going to 4 fuses, there is another alternative that you may have not though about. Later cars, including my '74 Europa came from the factory with a Lucas 4 fuse box.


Frank,
True, my 1971 +2S has four of the four-fuse Lucas fuse boxes as standard fitment. For the Elite I would prefer to stick with something that was in the Lucas catalog in 1961.
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PostPost by: Higs » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:04 pm

For what it is worth, I decided that if I was going to spend significant money of restoring my Plus 2, then I would not want to lose it as a result of an electrical fire! Plenty of Elans have finished this way. So I have gone for broke and fitted fuses to most circuits, relays to headlights, windows etc..

In this way, individual failures of one circuit (whether this is because of wiring, component, switch or connector failure) will not effect the rest of the car and old, hard to get things like switches are protected by using relays to reduce the current through them.

To make me feel better, I unwrapped all the old looms and saw the condition of the old wiring (!).

All my fuses and relays are behind a panel in the glovebox (the usable volume of the glovebox is therefore reduced) so are easy to get at / change.

All of this is written up in various spreadsheets and documents for future owners.

One thing I also did was to replace the wire from the solenoid to the dashboard / alternator. This was woefully underspecced and I replace it with a wire capable of taking 70 amps+.

In summary, my view is that a burnt out elan has very little future value so do the sensible thing and protect it.

Hope this helps.

Richard.
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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:48 pm

CBUEB1771 wrote:my 1971 +2S has four of the four-fuse Lucas fuse boxes as standard fitment.

Russ, this is certainly news to me. So at the same time Lotus was producing Elans with 2 fuses, they were producing +2s with 16 fuses? Do other +2 owners have 4 of the four-fuse Lucas fuse boxes as standard fitment as well?
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