Lotus Elan

Elan Parking Brakes, can they be made to work?

PostPost by: gearbox » Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:01 pm

I have a S4 with less than functional parking brakes. You pull the umbrella handle and you get a slight grip, but a 10 degree grade easily over comes that. I have spoken to several knowledgable Dyed in the wool Lotus owners who all tell me it is a useless endeavour and have all deleted the component from their cars. Leaving the car in gear while parked is not a good solution for me (personal choice) I would like to repair or mod the brake system to work correctly. Any ideas? Thanks Allan
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PostPost by: worzel » Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:14 pm

Hi

Can work very well- what's your budget?

Apparently a 1970's Rolls Corniche used similar rear calipers but the pad area was huge in comparison with the std elan system. The guy who converted his sprint had the luck to work for Girlings so I guess he had "cheap access" to the parts. Gave me a demo- locked the rears at 30 mph!

Or- trawl thru the archives- fit springs to hold the pads off the discs, do the usual lubrication to the swivels, make sure the cable is pulling the swivel from the correct point ie the swivel isn't already past the point where the leverage/travel is greatest, get some ultra soft linings bonded to the pad plates. On the rollers my car easily exceeds the statutory minimum (by a long way according to the tester).

John
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:27 pm

They can be absolutely made to work. it just take time to get everthing working smoothly and properly adjusted as the systems are worn, siezed and badly adjusted on most cars. The key item aprt from making sure everythings is present and working is the small levers that act as hold off springs. If these are not adjust properly (by bending them!!) then one or both pads drag on the disk and rapidly wear meaning the hand brake always needs adjustment to work for just a short while and people finally give up and say they dont work.

In my plus 2 the standard setup works powerfully ( .3 g stop on handbrake alone) and need adjusting about every 20000 km.

cheers
Rohan
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:38 pm

Allan

I was never happy with the parking brake,setting the gaps,hold-off arms etc.etc but I found the best improvement was to fit the late tree with longer arms,trawl through the lotuselan.net searching for brake tree...there should be some pictures and measurements.

John :wink:

EDIT
here's a start..

elan-f15/handbrake-clicks-t21063.html

EDIT 2
with piccies

elan-plus-f13/hand-brake-tree-t20972.html?hilit=%20tree
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:24 pm

rgh0 wrote:If these are not adjust properly (by bending them!!) then one or both pads drag on the disk and rapidly wear meaning the hand brake always needs adjustment to work for just a short while and people finally give up and say they dont work.
Rohan


The best solution to this is to fit compression springs over the rods so that the pads spring away from the disks when you release the lever.
John

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PostPost by: stugilmour » Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:31 pm

rgh0 wrote:They can be absolutely made to work. it just take time to get everything working smoothly and properly adjusted as the systems are worn, seized and badly adjusted on most cars. The key item apart from making sure everything is present and working is the small levers that act as hold off springs. If these are not adjust properly (by bending them!!) then one or both pads drag on the disk and rapidly wear meaning the hand brake always needs adjustment to work for just a short while and people finally give up and say they don't work.

In my plus 2 the standard setup works powerfully ( .3 g stop on handbrake alone) and need adjusting about every 20000 km.

cheers
Rohan



Encouraging, as I have exactly this problem with mine. So frustrating, as I have thought I have it working every time! Rohan, I gather you are referring to bending the following P/N? Can you describe a bit how I finesse this adjustment?

36 J 6047, Strap, Centralizing, (2 only per caliper)

Quick edit: John, having trouble understanding the suggested compression springs and where they go. Do they go on the actuating rods somehow?

My pads are so worn now I think I will have to replace them before attempting to get it all to work.

My replacement cable is WAY too long as well, perhaps about 1/2" to 1". I understand this is common issue with the currently available replacements. I think Alex provided corrected cable lengths to Susan Miller, so worth an ask if you need to replace.

Alex posted some info a while ago regarding adjustable actuating rods that can apparently help. I also note my Plus 2 Workshop Manual shows a running change/superseding part number (at VIN 50/0750) to the actuating rod lengths (shortened by ~1/2" each rod); not sure if something similar happened for the Elan?

Does anyone make a tool that makes adjustment of the knurled bolts easier? Seems to me a special socket would fit? Maybe not an issue if I only have to adjust every 20,000 km, but I'm not there yet. :)

A few (sort of obvious) tips. I found you need to raise the rear of the car by the wishbones to allow the wheels to spin while not upsetting the suspension ride height, which seems to upset the actuating rods. If you are removing the cable, tie a string to it so you can insert the replacement through the tunnel.

Cheers!
Stu
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PostPost by: oldelanman » Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:25 pm

stugilmour wrote:Does anyone make a tool that makes adjustment of the knurled bolts easier?


I use a 9/16" box spanner and as long as the adjuster is kept greased you can just turn it with your fingertips and do the adjustment with the car on the ground.
Attachments
Handbrake adjustment 003.jpg and
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:59 pm

Yes Allan, like the other guys say, it's possible to get it working but it takes time and patience to check over. I made my own central tree & rods on a similar pattern to the later one shown in the pictures. The whole system is much more rigid (and heavier) but it's exactly the same in principle and does lock the wheels from 10-15mph. (my pre-MoT check)

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PostPost by: 69S4 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:23 pm

Even if everything is worn out and in need of a complete overhaul (my handbrake mechanism!) you can still get it to work well enough to lock the wheels and stay in adjustment for a few thousand miles. The first thing to do is to check the runout on your rear discs. If you've got more than about four thou you'll have problems. The pads need to run close to the disc (book says three thou gap) so with more disc runout the pads will wear as you drive. If you've got more runout you'll have to set the pads further back and a lot of the handbrake pull will be used up just moving them back to the start point.

As others have said the little metal prongs (can't remember their proper name) are key. They are the return springs to pull the pads away from the discs and they need bending to adjust them. If they're not set correctly the pads will wear quickly. A compression spring on the adjusting rod between the two halves is belt and braces but not really necessary if you've set up the prongs correctly. I've fitted them on the basis that it can't hurt but it took me three or four goes to find springs of the right combination of length, spring rate and tightness of winding before they did much.

I got round the overlength cable issue by making an extension for the handle end of the handbrake where it enters the footwell. It moves the end of the outer cable forward about two inches and you can fine tune it at the other end of the outer with the threaded adjuster. I did all of this about five years ago and so far it's all been good. The handbrake works well and it'll go a couple of thousand miles between slight adjustments.
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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:34 pm

stugilmour wrote:Quick edit: John, having trouble understanding the suggested compression springs and where they go. Do they go on the actuating rods somehow?


Yes, slipped on the rod so that it basically sits between the actuating levers (pads) and exerts an outward pressure on the pads so that they can be adjusted fairly closely without continuously rubbing.

The spring needs to be strong enough and have reasonably open coils so that it doesn't bind when the brake is applied.
John

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PostPost by: elanner » Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:46 pm

The handbrakes on the Elans I had back in the 70s/80s definitely worked OK, if not spectacularly. I don't remember ever spending much time on them.

When I purchased my current Elan last year the handbrake was barely functional, so I have had a few mano-a-mano episodes with it over the months. It's not done, but it's getting there. (Bearing in mind piss-ant's advice that it's a 43 year old car so there's no point in trying to make the handbrake work like a modern car.)

On looking closely at the handbrake setup on my car I decided that Brian Buckland's advice to fit adjustable rods looked like the way to go. So I purchased a pair from Susan Miller. Fitting them was delightful because the cotter pins on the tree refused to let go and, of course, access is almost impossible. After a couple of aborted attempts I decided to wait until I fitted my CV joints. Once the driveshafts are out access is greatly improved. Then the Dremel came to the rescue.

Now that I can adjust the rods the next episode will be to shorten them and adjust the cable to improve the throw of the T. When I was fitting the CV joints I only had time to do this roughly, but it looks very promising.

Another task was to fit new pads, after cleaning everything up. Following advice in this forum, I bent the centralizing strips by eye. Just a small bend, enough to keep the pads off the disks. This seems to work fine. I also tried adding compression springs to the adjusting rod, they certainly kept the pads off the disks too. But in the end I decided that the centralizing strips were doing OK by themselves, so went without the springs. They're easy enough to refit if I change my mind.

Heck, I've even reinstalled the handbrake warning light, switch and wiring, all of which had disappeared over the years.

Right now the handbrake will hold on a gentle slope but I'm confident that proper adjustment of the adjustable rods will allow me to win the battle.

Nick
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PostPost by: elansprint71 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:56 pm

oldelanman wrote:
stugilmour wrote:Does anyone make a tool that makes adjustment of the knurled bolts easier?


I use a 9/16" box spanner and as long as the adjuster is kept greased you can just turn it with your fingertips and do the adjustment with the car on the ground.


Absolutely vital to do it with the wheels on the ground (or the suspension raised into that position).... if you do the adjustment with the car jacked up and suspension dangling, the brakes will bind when you let it down.
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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:09 pm

Been here before so it would be worth doing a search. There is much information..

Two or three things make a big difference.

The cable length (hopefully sorted but maybe not) I did give SM the amount to shorten by but don't know if she has acted on it.. St'd cables are about 80mm too long and one ends up screwing the adjuster all the way out and then some. This is all on a previous explanation but here goes.

The system will work well if it's in fair condition. I bored out the wear and made new stainless pins held in with small 'R' clips and fitted the said compression springs onto the adjuster rods. That does work but you also do need the small pad pull off levers right too.

Once all is in good nick and the adjusters are free, the next things worth having are the adjustable rods from the tree to the caliper levers.

Set up .... New pads please!! :shock: :shock:

Make sure 1st of all that the Caliper levers are sitting on their stops and the pads are adjusted until just about touching your discs. Then set the 'Tree' until lever is almost resting against the chassis down tube. I. E. all the way back (and make sure its the latest tree with the s shaped longer lever). Screw in the handbrake Cable adjuster all the way in and check where the nipple is in relation to the tree lever. Most times it will be way past where it needs to be. Now comes the tricky bit. What do you do about the too long cable? Folks have their methods but here's what I did. I made a new nipple from stainless, which is secured / grips the cable with grub-screws. Now I know you are all going to say OH my god how unsafe is that but I have a test piece of cable with a nipple attached and I tried like a bear to pull the cable out of it without success, so it will do me... So.. With the caliper levers on their stops and the tree lever fully back and just about touching the chassis with the cable in place, adjustment full in, you now need those adjustable rods. Set them until they can be fitted by sliding in a clevis at the tree end and adjust until you can do the same at the caliper levers without moving the levers off the stops. Now a final adjustment of the pads (with the car on it's feet!!) should.. SHOULD!! see you with a working handbrake. I can honestly tell you that I have not re adjusted mine since I set it up and it has passed three mot's now and will lock up the wheels with a good tug on the lever. :wink:

Anyone at Silverstone can come along and try pushing the car and see how they get on.. A beer to anyone who moves it. (By hand that is.. NO cheating!!) :lol: :lol:

It will work if set up right...

I can't get under my car right now because the weather is stopping me moving wife's porky from under my ramp, but I will (when I get the chance) take some pic's for you..

Happy days..

See you at Silverstone (weather permitting!!!)

Alex.. 8)
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:29 pm

nebogipfel wrote:
stugilmour wrote:Quick edit: John, having trouble understanding the suggested compression springs and where they go. Do they go on the actuating rods somehow?


Yes, slipped on the rod so that it basically sits between the actuating levers (pads) and exerts an outward pressure on the pads so that they can be adjusted fairly closely without continuously rubbing.

The spring needs to be strong enough and have reasonably open coils so that it doesn't bind when the brake is applied.



Thanks John & others. I think I get it now. The rod you are talking about is the one the knurled adjuster screws to (36 J 6039 - Rod, tie). Makes sense. Will try to get to work by 'adjusting' the centralizing straps first, and install springs only if required. My bad; somehow I thought you meant the two rods from the tree. :?

My run-out needs checking as well. I have a bit of pulsing in the brakes, so this could be the real issue.

Will take a look at 'fixing' the cable length issue based on all your suggestions; hadn't thought of addressing it inside the car at the handle like Stuart suggests.

Alex, thanks again for posting your explanation. I didn't get it fully the first time.

Excellent thread. Thanks for all the suggestions.
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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:46 pm

I (Personally) am talking of the two rods from the tree. They are often not correct length and pull the Caliper levers slightly off their stops, or put the tree lever well out of required position.. (Check Brian B's book!!!). Adjustable ones are available from Sue Miller. These are the major secret of success. Do the spring on the pad adjuster rod too though.

One of the main benefits I have found of having a clamped on cable 'Nipple' (pic's to follow) is one can adjust it easily to required (dead on!!) length. So so simple, and a doddle to fit & any decent machine shop will make you one. Once you have the exact length you need have the nipple crimped on if you want. I was going to do this but have found it unnecessary.


Have fun...

Al' .... 8)
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