Lotus Elan

Spyder +2 steering problems

PostPost by: julianaston » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:43 pm

Hi
I bought a +2 with Spyder chassis and suspension some time ago. I was aware there were a few problems, most of which I have sorted but I can't get the steering right.
In short, the steering is very heavy, does not-self centre and sometimes even has a relucatnce to centre (can be fun).

The car has new rack, joints and so on and, if the wheels are off the ground, the steering feels normal and not heavy. I have checked everything I can think of: tyre pressures, alignment, castor, all joints again but cannot find anything amiss.

Can anyone help me here - should a +2 have heavy steering? Should it self-centre? Any ideas?

Many thanks
Julian
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PostPost by: peterako » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:47 pm

Hi Julian,

Have you check the toe-in/out?

'Sounds' like it may be toed-out too much.

Could be many other things....but toe-in is relatively easy to check.

Also, how are the tyre pressures? (Too low will give heavy steering)
What size tiyres are you using? (Bigger will give heavy steering)

Peter
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PostPost by: julianaston » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:13 pm

Hi Peter
Thanks, I have checked the alignment (using the B&Q laser method). I will do this again and eventually will get it done at a garage. The thing that worries me is the heaviness of the steering and lack of self centre. I would like to get that resolved before paying for further alignment.

Tyres are 185/60.

How is your +2? Does it centre?

Cheers
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PostPost by: EPA » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:29 pm

Julian
My +2 has a Spyder chassis - the steering is heavy manouvering at low speed - parking etc but is fine otherwise. This is to be expected with no power assistance and a 13 inch steering wheel.
My guess would be wheel alignment as the elan is quite sensitive to this - I remember mine felt quite strange when the alignment was slightly out.
Your tyres are larger and lower profile(mine are 165/80) which will make the steering heavier but I would have expected it to self centre ok if nothing is worn or damaged and the geometry is setup correctly.

good luck
Ed
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PostPost by: julianaston » Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:55 pm

Thanks Ed. No harm in further investigation. I will continue to dig into it and share any findings (in the spirit of advancing mankind).
J
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PostPost by: kstrutt11 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:57 pm

I.m not familar with the spyder set up, is it possible to miss assemble the arms and screw up the castor? this will affect the self centreing.
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:25 pm

What happens if you drive it in reverse with hands off? Try it in straight-ahead and then setting off on full-lock from each side. I'm not pretending to have an answer but someone else might.
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PostPost by: julianaston » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:06 pm

Both valid suggestions.

The Castor seems to be set. There is a spacer whcih sets the castor angle but hard to get it wrong.

I like the idea of reverse driving - this could show if there is something amiss with the castor.

Thanks both.
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PostPost by: bcmc33 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:41 pm

Julian,

To eliminate the gear and steering column from the equation - what is the steering like when the front wheels are jacked off the ground? The steering wheel should turn without any real effort.
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PostPost by: rdssdi » Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:54 am

The +2 uses a modified Triumph rack. If my memory is correct Lotus added tubes that slid over the rack to limit the travel. In addition there was a threaded extension that attached to the rack inner tie rod on one end and the outer tie rod on the other end. See photo.

Also the shims supplied by Spyder are to position the rack with proper bump steer.

Check your rack to be certain it is as pictured and a non modified Triumph rack was substituted.

Bob
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:16 am

Julian, have you checked the front ride height? Mine is Spyder supplied frame, wishbones, adjustable shocks & steering rack. I had front ride height too low, and steering was 'not right', with poor self centering. For visual inspection, the lower wishbones should be horizontal (parallel with the ground) to slightly lower at the outboard end; mine were higher on the outboard end and this caused all sorts of mayhem.

HTH
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PostPost by: julianaston » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:24 am

Good morning all,

A few answers to your kind responses:

Brian, I have tried it with the wheels off the ground and it it quite free and easy. So I have therefore ruled out stiff joints etc.

Bob, the rack was replaced by Spyder and I was told the steering would be stiff to start but ease off with use.
However it has not done so. It has all the shims and tie rods in place. The shims I was referring to above are those in the top
wishbone joint which will change the castor (shown circled in the attached picture). The shims should be placed in the front part of the wishbone joint to set the castor - is that right.

By the way, anyone got an exploded diagram of the Spyder front suspension to make sure I do have the right construction?


Stu, the ride height is correct as it was set by Spyder. However I can check the wishbone position as you suggest.

I am going to check the castor angle again as it seems the most likely cause. I can't see any damage but it could be incorrect spannering in the past.

Thanks again
Julian
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PostPost by: Tonyw » Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:51 am

Julian,

Caster gives you directional stability your car should self center on a flat road if you take your hand of the steering wheel that is if you have positive caster, if you have 0 caster or negative caster you will get the symptoms you describe. You need to have an alignment done and know what the readings are, caster can be very critical and we are only talking about a small amount 3 degrees positive caster from memory.

As you are aware caster is not adjustable so if you have negative or zero caster you need to be looking for a structural problem.

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PostPost by: julianaston » Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:11 pm

Thanks Tony
There is definely positive castor at around 3 degrees.

Tried reversing to see if there was centering in reverse but it is the same (i.e. car does not centre forward or backwards).
The other thing it does is "skip" when hitting a bump. So there is resistance to straightening the steering wheel out of a corber for instance, but if I hit a bump, the steering wheel jumps and aligns.
The only thing I now have is toe in/ out so looks like will have to spend out.

Cheers
Julian
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PostPost by: oldelanman » Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:58 pm

Hi Julian,
Could it be your trunnions worn or lacking lubrication ? You wouldn't necessarily feel any binding there when you had the car jacked up as they would be unloaded - as they would also when you hit a bump.
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