Lotus Elan

Steel 4.5 Knock-on wheels

PostPost by: Andy8421 » Fri Jun 17, 2011 4:58 pm

On old question that has come up many times on the forum before (I have searched), but much of the advice is now outdated.

I have decided on new tyres for the Sprint with the help of input from forum members (Michelin 155HR13 XAS FF), but in the process of searching for tyres, I came across a number of posts about problems with the original rivited 4.5J steel knock-ons. I did a quick check of my wheels, and I have run-out of 5 to 10mm on at least two, and elongated peg holes in another.

I want to keep the car looking original, so ideally I wold like some new steel wheels. I checked the forum and the two recommended sources were Sue Miller and the Elan Factory. I spoke with Sue, and she has no wheels left. The firm that built the wheels for her has been bought out, and she is unsure whether the tooling still exists, or whether the new company would have any interest in producing more. I have searched the Elan Factory's website and catalogues and I can find no mention of steel knock-ons.

So, anyone with any pointers to a supplier of new steel wheels?

Failing that, a firm that can refurbish my old wheels (I guess blast/strip, straighten, crack test, powder coat)?

Thanks for any help.

Andy.
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PostPost by: Allison » Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:13 pm

Andy,

yes this is a problem - and sorry to tell you we were able to obtain Susan Miller's last rim just last week! The problem was the (mis)use we give the car has bent the rims and the tyre shop said they could not prevent the wheel wobble with such bent rims.
If you do locate a refurbisher please let us all know - otherwise I guess someone has to order a minimum make quantity of say 200 and sell them off to the likes of you and me!
Regards
Peter
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:14 pm

Perhaps if we all clubbed together? I'd buy ten. Somebody should organise this, I'm sure the demand will be there.
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PostPost by: ftsoft » Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:42 pm

Here is a question. I have a set of these wheels sitting in a Garage in LA. I'm trying to decide if it's worth shipping them to Ohio. These were my race wheels and have very few miles on them. the wheels that I am currently running are original and don't seem to have any problems, but you never know. What are they worth at this point?

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PostPost by: RedS4 » Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:35 am

I purchased a set of 4.5" wheels from the Elan Factory in March. At that point they still had about 2 1/2 sets left. It might be worth contacting them...
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PostPost by: reb53 » Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:28 am

"The firm that built the wheels for her has been bought out, and she is unsure whether the tooling still exists"

Andy, as you are in the right part of the world, have you followed this up ?

I only ask 'cos you always hear the horror stories of the new owners of a business having bit of a cleanout, and virtually irreplaceable jigs and press tools going off the scrap man for a few quid.

Cheers
Ralph.
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PostPost by: Andy8421 » Sun Jun 19, 2011 9:21 am

Thank you all for the feedback and the PMs. I have only been a member here for a couple of months, but the advice I have received has proved invaluable.

I have been progressing the wheel issue on a number of fronts. Firstly new wheels.

1. I have sent the Elan Factory an email - lets see what they come back with.

2. I have spoken with a steel fabricator who used to build wheels. Apparently 13 inch steel 4.5 'J' section rims are freely available and cheap. The problem is the centre. In the Elan's day it would have been a three stage process. I. Stamp out a centre from flat steel with all the vent holes and cutouts, II. Form the centre in a press to the required dish shape, III. Align the centre in the rim, drill the rivet holes and fix. Specific die and form tooling was required for the stamping process and to form the shape, also a jig was needed to align the centre for riveting.

These days, for a low volume run, the centre could be CNC laser cut, however a die would still be needed to press the dish shape and form the spinner hole rebate, and some method of aligning the centre while it was gas shield / arc welded to the rim. I have sent Sue an email to see whether she would either act as the middlewoman for a small volume run, or pass on the name of the firm who built the last run for me to speak with directly - hopefully enough of the tooling may still exist.

For this to work, we will need to build a sufficient order to make it worth someone's while, though I would guess Sue and others in the Elan bits biz might be prepared to have some for stock. I have let my membership of the LDC lapse, but if there is anyone reading this from one of the clubs who would be interested in either running with this whole thing or at least helping to build an order, please PM me. I have no idea of minimum orders, but I would guess it would be north of 100.

3. I have received some offers of old wheels to be refurbished (thanks to all), which I will follow up on as a backstop. I may also have located a firm willing to refurbish and straighten old steel wheels. There are any number of alloy wheel repair shops on the web, but they won't touch steel wheels. Out of my 5 wheels and a few more bought second hand, I may be able to get 5 decent wheels that are straight enough without cracks to be refurbished.

I will report back.

Andy.
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PostPost by: richardcox_lotus » Sun Jun 19, 2011 12:14 pm

Hi Andy
I am in a similar boat - my Tyres need replacing so is an appropriate time to get the wheels checked - I have no idea as to their current run-out values but car generally tracks ok.

I guess it depends on cost - minilites are the other alternatives so has to be a comparable cost.

Another thing worth noting is that the ?lan factory wheels have the peg holes offset to the general "style" holes to avoid stress riser cracks. If we arrange a new production run then I would suggest a similar pattern.

Regards
Richard
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Sun Jun 19, 2011 1:12 pm

Hi Andy,

I just got an email back from Steve at the Elan factory saying that he had small batches of wheels made up when the demand was great enough, so he must have the tooling available.

I guess its all a matter of how much it would cost to ship them to the UK and how much would Her Majesties Customs and Revenues department want for them?

Cheers

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PostPost by: RedS4 » Fri Jun 24, 2011 3:40 am

A couple of interesting points about the Elan Factory wheels:
They are made from slightly heavier guage stell than the originals - slightly heavier but obviously stronger
The peg holes have been realigned to line up with the spokes of the wheel rather than the gaps, so the chance of cracking is reduced.

Just thought you would like to know... 8)
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PostPost by: Frizer » Fri Aug 12, 2011 6:08 pm

While having a new tyre fitted I discovered I will have to change my 4.5x13 steel wheels soon. It was depressing calling around in search of the standard steel wheels!

So it seems the only options are minilites or 26R style alloys in 5x13.

Does anyone know of anything else out there (UK)?
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PostPost by: roadterror » Sat Aug 13, 2011 6:19 pm

Just received a set of 4 steel K/O wheels from Steve - Elan Factory. No regrets.

I believe he still has limited stock available.

Cheers,
Brian
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PostPost by: Frizer » Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:48 pm

Thanks, I have sent them an email. I'm not sure it will work out financially to import them from Oz but no harm in asking.

Re the minilites/5'' 26Rs - are there any issues moving to a 5'' wide rim or is it a straight swap?
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PostPost by: upnorthelan » Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:26 pm

Hi everyone,
I hope I'm not highjacking this post, but had a similar question... I have 3 4.5 knock-on steel wheels that have developed faint stress cracks from some of the peg drive holes. Being that these wheels are becoming so hard to find, is it at all common to fix these or are they now lawn art?

Thanks,
Mike
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PostPost by: Frizer » Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:17 pm

Elan Factory are out of stock at the moment. They said there might be a new batch if there is enough interest.
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