Lotus Elan

Distributor conversion - electronic Ignition

PostPost by: ez9 » Wed Jun 29, 2022 1:52 pm

Hi I'm new in this forum I'm an Italian owner of Lotus.
I've an Elan S3 '67 and an Elise 111S S1.

I'm trying to improve the performance of mine Elan and it's been a while I'm reading on your pages to find a lot of interesting discussion.
I would like to convert the points to electronic Ignition.
I have Dellorto carburetor.
I've see some kits online but I'm not sure if my distributor is a Lucas 23D or 46D. IS there a way to easily recognize without removing it from the engine?

Which kit would you recommend for this conversion?
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PostPost by: elans3 » Wed Jun 29, 2022 8:50 pm

If it's an original 1967 distributor, (and everything is original), it'll be a 23D, should be number 41189 stamped into the body. Use a mirror to check this whilst in situ.
Original carbs would have been Weber 40 DCOE 31's , but these do get changed quite often.
I use an Aldon Ignitor, relatively inexpensive, and easy to fit.
They are fit & forget. Mine has been faultless for 20 years.
Note ! You'll have to tell them whether your car is positive earth (original with dynamo), or
Negative earth (converted later, with alternator.
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Wed Jun 29, 2022 9:22 pm

Over the last 10 years I've had Aldon units fitted to my S2 and S3, they all failed after about 18 months, maybe I was unlucky. I went to Distributor Doctor, but had condenser and advance curve issues, which Martin charged me to solve. I have two 123ignition distributor units which would be superb, were the manufacture be bothered to fit sprung steel cap clips.
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PostPost by: Davidb » Thu Jun 30, 2022 3:49 am

Likewise for me--two Aldon/Pertronix ignitors failed in a few thousand miles-I am back to points and condenser and the car runs perfectly.
'65 S2 4844
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PostPost by: h20hamelan » Thu Jun 30, 2022 5:39 am

Mazzini wrote:. I went to Distributor Doctor, but had condenser and advance curve issues, which Martin charged me to solve. I have two 123ignition distributor units which would be superb, were the manufacture be bothered to fit sprung steel cap clips.


Could you please describe the issues, were you not able to make something work. Or simply the lack of “sprung steel cap clips” has rendered the 123 useless?

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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Thu Jun 30, 2022 6:00 am

elans3 wrote:If it's an original 1967 distributor, (and everything is original), it'll be a 23D, should be number 41189 stamped into the body. Use a mirror to check this whilst in situ.
Original carbs would have been Weber 40 DCOE 31's , but these do get changed quite often.
I use an Aldon Ignitor, relatively inexpensive, and easy to fit.
They are fit & forget. Mine has been faultless for 20 years.
Note ! You'll have to tell them whether your car is positive earth (original with dynamo), or
Negative earth (converted later, with alternator.

Like everything else in the engine, distributors wear out. The bottom and top spindle bearings wear, and the main shaft can wobble about leading to timing scatter - on average the timing is right, but individual sparks are all over the place. Depending on whether the 'two drops of oil' rule was followed, the bob weight support and points cam assembly can seize up in the main shaft, or wear badly. The bob weights can also seize and depending on how it has been messed with over the years, the advance curve may have no relation to the required curve for the twincam. All this can be diagnosed with a cheap timing light, a dab of white paint and a willing assistant in the driver's seat.
I would recommend you do a little investigation before moving to electronic ignition, while you have got the distributor out there may be more things that need attention.
Quite often distributors and carbs get cleaned up, polished and put back on the car during a restoration, with little investigation into how worn they are. Rough running, lumpy tickover, hesitation and misfire can be the result.
A word of warning - there are a lots of dodgy spare parts on the market, I have suffered with distributor caps and rotor arms failing because of poor quality material. I would recommend that you only use a reliable supplier - The Distributor Doctor is well regarded for the quality of his parts. In particular, red rotor arms stamped 'DD' are worth chasing down.
Good luck.
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PostPost by: HCA » Thu Jun 30, 2022 6:05 am

Another good advert for EDIS :D
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PostPost by: ez9 » Thu Jun 30, 2022 7:51 am

Thanks You all for the good advert.
The Engine is not original the previous owner has made some mods and I'm now trying to figure out what has been done.
The Carbs has been just rebuild from a good expert and looks very good, I'm quite sure the issues are not with them now.
I have some misfire at mid range, at minimum and High RPM the engine it's running good.
That's why I was thinking to upgrade to electronic ignition.
Anyway on the following days I'll try to pass to a good mechanic and check the timing and curve.
See below photo of mine distributor, I think it's a 43D correct?
what about this blue rotor is it good? what's the difference between blue or red?
It looks new so I was wondering it will works fine, but as Andy8421 said there's a lot of poor quality spare parts in the market
Attachments
IMG_20220629_204717.jpg and
IMG_20220629_204812.jpg and
IMG_20220629_205148.jpg and
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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Thu Jun 30, 2022 8:43 am

In the spirit of 'every ignition problem is due to carburation', at first sight your symptoms sound like carburation.

It is at high rpm that the ignition system is stressed the most, and where weaknesses are likely to show up. That doesn't mean that you don't have an ignition problem, it could be any number of things, but I would look at carburation first.
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Thu Jun 30, 2022 10:00 am

and looking at picture 1 I'd check your Thackery washers for clearance...

John ;-)
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PostPost by: 2cams70 » Thu Jun 30, 2022 10:15 am

The standard distributor in good original condition with points is perfectly good.
95% of f***ups on these cars and poor running is due to people mucking around with them not knowing what they are doing or aftermarket parts of far inferior quality to the original. If you’ve got a problem conversion to electronic ignition is using a hammer to try and fix your problem when just a feather would have done the trick. The cars ran perfectly well with original distributor and points when they were new so logic suggests that if you properly return them to the way they were originally they will run perfectly well again.
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PostPost by: elans3 » Thu Jun 30, 2022 10:42 am

john.p.clegg wrote:and looking at picture 1 I'd check your Thackery washers for clearance...

John ;-)

As per John's comment above. except you have the Cosworth type cups and rubber bobbins securing the carbs.
I can see from the pic that (at least the one in the pic), is tightened down wayyyy too much. Check each one. There should be at least 15 thou of the rubber bobbin showing between the edges of the two metal cups. This allows the rubber bobbin to act as a damper to the carb / inlet face.
If these are too tight, the harmonic vibrations (at certain revs), froth the fuel and you'll get a misfire.
Seen it lots of time. A few weeks ago, a good friend fitted 40 DCOE's to his Spitfire. He'd used thackeray washers, and tightened them right up. I undid them so that there was 15 though between each coil of the washers, and hey presto, ran perfectly.
Make this your first job.
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Elan S3 DHC S/E 1966
Elan S3 FHC Pre-Airflow 1966
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PostPost by: fotsyr » Thu Jun 30, 2022 11:35 am

viewtopic.php?f=40&t=40037

Read Tim's disertation lower down the page.
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PostPost by: ez9 » Thu Jun 30, 2022 12:20 pm

nice comment and useful links!
I'll have a look at Thackery washers clearance, I was not aware of it.
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Thu Jun 30, 2022 12:58 pm

Mazzini wrote:Over the last 10 years I've had Aldon units fitted to my S2 and S3, they all failed after about 18 months, maybe I was unlucky. I went to Distributor Doctor, but had condenser and advance curve issues, which Martin charged me to solve. I have two 123ignition distributor units which would be superb, were the manufacture be bothered to fit sprung steel cap clips.


Martin (DD) rebuilt the distributors, but the condensers he fitted failed.

I have two 123Ignition distributors, the first is many years old, it was one of the first Bluetooth models. I believe the cap is machined to fit the Bosch body that they use, which means that the spring clips are a one off. On this distributor I have to manually tension the clips by bending them...it's only come adrift once, but that was once too often. The other unit has stronger clips, but they are still nowhere near as good as one would hope for. I did go back to 123Ignition, they ignored my emails and then said that 'nobody else has ever complained'.
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