Lotus Elan

Front And Rear Dampers / Shocks

PostPost by: Hegg » Mon Mar 28, 2005 2:53 am

Well, the time has come to replace all 4 shocks (dampers I think y'all call 'em overseas) on my 1970 Federal Elan +2. I've got 4 new Koni's ready to put in.

So then, I'm hoping everyone with their vast years of experience can provide me any tips, tricks, hints, and special ways of making this as painless for me as possible. I've heard that this can be quite a chore on the rear.

I don't have the body off the car and would rather not take it off if not necessary. I'd also like to avoid disassembling as much of the rear suspension as possible, mostly because of the nightmares I've heard/read about removing the rear hubs.

Any advice is much appreciated! I can't wait to get this thing back on the road with some nice, new shocks!

Hegg :lol:
1970 Lotus Elan +2, 1991 Lotus Elan, 2006 Lotus Elise, all for sale.
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Tue Mar 29, 2005 8:53 pm

Hegg,

The rears aren't so bad unless this is the first shock replacement in thirtysome years. Just have to disconnect the intermediate axle from the hub (ie, its outer most joint) and disconnect the strut/shock from where it connects at the top of the frame. Access is through a hole in the parcel shelf (thinking baby Elan here). Be sure the spring is tied tightly and compressed as most possible before all this begins. After disconnecting the top, push the shock rod down and swing the strut out. You should be able to unscrew the shock hold down and pull it out. Be sure to put some oil in the strut tube before inserting the Koni. Help keeps it cool. Good luck.

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PostPost by: Hegg » Wed Mar 30, 2005 2:42 am

Thanks for the reply -- that seems to make sense to me. Unfortunately, it is thirtysome years, so I'm anticipating a lot of brused knuckles doing this.

I'm sure I'll have specific questions as this progresses, but I appreciate your insight. Sounds like you've done it once or twice!
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PostPost by: Hamish Coutts » Wed Mar 30, 2005 12:08 pm

Hegg,

Are rubber doughnuts fitted to the driveshafts? If so once removed they are virtually impossible to refit. Try putting a large jubilee (hose) clip round the doughnut before removing. You may have a chance of refitting (assuming it is in good nick). Otherwise you will have to fit new ones.

Remove the whole McPherson strutt and get it on the bench. Then get the largest shifting wrench you can lay hands on - you'll need it to remove the retaining screw. Assuming you are fitting an insert use a good antifreeze to fill the gap between the strut tube and the insert itself. This will carry away any heat generated by damper movement.

While you're at it have a look at the rubber suspension bushes. When you have the suspension stripped down this far it's not too much effort (or expense) to remove the wishbones and fit new bushes. Then the car will really feel like new.

You can also check wheel bearings and brakes.

Best of luck,

Hamish.

:)
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PostPost by: Hamish Coutts » Wed Mar 30, 2005 12:12 pm

Hegg,

Forgot to add - get some suspension spring compressors. They make life a lot easire when you are refitting the road springs but watch, these damned things can go across the garage floor like a rocket if they manage to escape the clutches of the compressor. I've a nice big dent in my garage door to prove it.

Hamish.
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PostPost by: tdafforn » Wed Mar 30, 2005 7:18 pm

Hegg,
did the same job on my +2 (it too hadn't been touched in 30 years!)
I found that the top nut holding the strut onto the chassis tower had to be drilled out (VERY rusted) This necessated removing the rear screen. The nut holding the shock into the tube was also pretty hard to remove (you need a big wrench).
I also found that ALL the bolts holding the rotoflexs to the drive shafts were solid, which ment the the donuts were toast (replaced with sliding spline shafts).
Probably worth replacing everything you can (I even had a lotocone disintegrate)
Hope yours are easier than mine!
Cheers
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PostPost by: Madbury » Thu Mar 31, 2005 8:13 am

Yeah I'd go along with that. The fronts are ok as they're relatively simple.

But for the back I decided to replace as much as I could whilst the whole lot was off. List included

All suspension bushes replaced with polyprop ones (had to get someone with a press to get the old ones out, so be warned)

Solid driveshaft conversion from Tony Thompson

Koni Specials from Tony Thompson

Retained old springs on advice of Tony Thompson as these worn springs perform better in his experience, did however get them powder coated.

Diff mounts - (the existing ones were either badly warn or incorrectly installed) replaced the whole lot those on the tie rod and the top mounts. No more clonking noises Yay!)


And then the bad news, got the whole thing reasembled only to discover that the wheel bearings were shot. How we missed it taking it apart I will never know. Anyway it all had to come apart again and have the old bearings pressed out and replaced. Probably wise to do this too as they are relatively cheap, but a hassle to do.
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PostPost by: tdafforn » Thu Mar 31, 2005 12:07 pm

I second changing the rear wheel bearings, one side was toast (failed the MOT on it), got the second side done as a precaution..
Only problem was that the drive shafts were bent in the process :angry: !
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PostPost by: Hegg » Sun Apr 03, 2005 4:49 am

Thanks for everyone's advice. Haven't had any time to get started yet -- been working on my TR7 too much.

I decided I needed to redo all the shocks because one rear was completely shot (no resistance at all) and one front was relatively weak. Then I lost the other rear one a month or so ago, so I have NO rear shcoks at all. It's just like driving my 1968 Ford now! :)

Anyway, got things apart to look at what's going on and the castle nut on top of the shock was completely gone! I assume the cotter pin rusted out many years ago, then the castle nut just worked its way off.

I do have 2 new doughnuts (came with the car) that I'll probably put on the outer driveshafts during the replacement, but eventually I'd like to put on the solid rear shafts (albeit pricey).

Thanks again for everyone's replies. Hopefully I'll get started soon!

So one other question, do the rear shocks screw into the housing? I see threads on my new ones like they do screw in and I can't see any other way that they'd stay put, but my shop manuals don't mention anything of the sort.

Also, how do I "disconnect" the spring from the entire bearing housing assembly? I think I need a better shop manual (or need to read it more carefully).
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PostPost by: ngs » Mon Apr 04, 2005 11:50 am

Hi.

Have a look at these photos, I hope they'll be of some help.

<a href='http://www.fishinternet.com.au/~lotuselan/HiRes/hr28.jpg' target='_blank'>http://www.fishinternet.com.au/~lotuselan/.../HiRes/hr28.jpg</a>
<a href='http://www.fishinternet.com.au/~lotuselan/HiRes/hr35.jpg' target='_blank'>http://www.fishinternet.com.au/~lotuselan/.../HiRes/hr35.jpg</a>
<a href='http://www.fishinternet.com.au/~lotuselan/HiRes/hr24.jpg' target='_blank'>http://www.fishinternet.com.au/~lotuselan/.../HiRes/hr24.jpg</a>

There is a large screw-in collar that holds the main body of the rear damper in.

I found fitting the front dampers more problematic.
The front damper is a very tight fit inside the spring.
The claws on my spring compressor were too big to fit safely.
I got some threaded rod and made up a triangular gadget instead.

One other thing to watch out for. The new Monroe rear dampers I got had some weird thread at the top. I had to get 2 special nuts sent from the other side of world.

Cheers, Nigel
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