Lotus Elan

Ride height is too low

PostPost by: worzel » Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:56 am

IMG_0708.JPG and
Hi

Without going into a longwinded story has anyone any ideas on this?

A few months ago I "crunched" the front wheelarch lip when turning into my drive (at a walking pace incidentally). The tyre had obviously contacted the return lip on the arch producing a 3 inch long crack.
I've owned this car 37 plus years and this is the first time this has happened.

Assuming the obvious to be the cause I changed the front springs for the std 85lb units (to replace the 20 year old std 85lb ones on the car). Result- no difference in the ride height or clearance.

Some info about the car-

Std fhc sprint- no body mods.
Std suspension
Std size tyres - 155/80/13
Original engine so no weight changes

To be honest I've never really paid any attention to the wheelarch clearance before although thinking back I seem to recall casually thinking that the car seemed to low ride but unfortunately I've no old pictures showing the clearance back then for comparison.

I did notice when I bought the car in 1978 that there were cracks in both front arches but put this down to carelessness by the first owner when removing the wheels but maybe he'd had a similar problem.

The body sits correctly on the chassis so I've ruled that out (the chassis is not recent so can be discounted and it's properly bolted on).

Any ideas- the only thing I can think of is a mis-shapen body but looking at other sprints I can't see any noticeable differences.

I've attached a picture I took today for illustration- I reckon the lip should be around an inch higher.
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PostPost by: Certified Lotus » Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:14 am

Do you have the proper spacers between the chassis and the body? My Elan had spacers on the front and the rear of the chassis.

DSC05547.jpg and
Rear chassis spacers


DSC05551.jpg and
Front chassis spacers
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:36 am

You normally only need spacers where body not straight and does not sit right on all the chassis points. They were not a normal factory fitting.

The front arches will normally hit in the situation you describe - just need be careful going into drives ( or full opposite look on the track :)))

cheers
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PostPost by: Certified Lotus » Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:23 pm

I stand corrected. Was wondering why the spacers where there. Thought it was for body height adjustment.
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PostPost by: elancoupe » Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:44 pm

Certified Lotus wrote:I stand corrected. Was wondering why the spacers where there. Thought it was for body height adjustment.



On my car, when fitting the TTR chassis, I did use spacers for body height adjustment. The whole chassis was assembled, complete with drivetrain. Then the body was lowered onto the chassis, and spacers were used in the front to obtain proper bonnet clearance. Transfer punches were then used to mark the chassis for drilling.
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PostPost by: AHM » Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:23 pm

What is the measured ground clearance?

Many elans look higher as they have adjustable dampers which move the bottom spring platform up and/or the later spec springs which are longer. Thereby increasing the ride height.

You are in the lucky position, that to increase the ride height you just add a spacer under the spring - Most people are trying to reduce the height at the front!

Regarding shim washers - The manual does list them, but they are as required when you have a gap between the body and the chassis so that you don't bend things.
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PostPost by: worzel » Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:26 pm

Hi

Thanks for all of your responses.

spacers- hmmm- when I changed the frame a few years ago I'm pretty sure there weren't any on the car. The front fitted snugly against the tops of the front towers and ahead of the steering rack so I assumed that it was correct. I do remember however that at the back I needed a spacer just behind the bottom of the axle.

If in fact it is a problem of omitted spacers it's obviously a bit late to start thinking of retro fitting any because the tapped holes won't be in the right places in the front towers so it looks like it might be a case of modifying the springing to raise the front.

Any idea if there are any off the shelf springs that might do the trick- I'd prefer to retain the koni dampers rather than use adjustable platforms although I realise I might be forced to modify.

Regards

John
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PostPost by: worzel » Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:30 pm

Hi - again

In reply to AHM-your posting came up after I sent my last response so didn't take account of that.

Ride height- I've not checked- yet but will do so.

You mention shims to fit under the spring- would I be correct in thinking they fit at the bottom around the damper body since this presents a flat plane and- are these available or is it a case of having some made?

Regards and thanks

John
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PostPost by: CBUEB1771 » Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:53 pm

Have you checked the condition of the thick rubber bushings fitted on top of the spring damper units? If they fail you could have the front ride height fall quite a bit.
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PostPost by: collins_dan » Sat Jun 13, 2015 3:11 pm

If you measure the ride height under the body when it is flat just in front of the rear tires and in back of the front tires, on both sides, that would be helpful in determining how much it needs to raised. My s4 has adjustable front and back, but you could use shims with the standard. My ride height is 6" at all 4 spots, and I have no issues despite a particularly bad driveway with a hill and a tight turn. Dan
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PostPost by: AHM » Sat Jun 13, 2015 3:53 pm

John,

It is a case of having them made - you need a friend with a lathe.

Read up on here about ride height being too high, for the different spring lengths and the ratio between spring length/ride height.

But as other have said check everything first. You probably have the only car that is the correct height.
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PostPost by: cusword » Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:14 pm

How long have those wheels been fitted? Is the off-set too great? This may bring the tyre too close to the wheel arch. A photo of the whole side of the car may be helpful plus one from the front to look at the track.

dwc
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PostPost by: worzel » Mon Jun 15, 2015 8:14 am

Hi- Cusword

Re your comments about the minilites- I fitted them about 6 years ago. They are fitted with the std 155/80/13 tyres. Since the rims are 5 inch crows section effectively the tyres are slightly lower profile as they are stretched more across the greater width so clearance is actually slighter greater. As for the offset I guarantee it is correct.

I think I'll first try the suggestion about the top mounting rubbers (simple and low cost) as I can see how soggy rubbers would "drop" the body relative to the tyres.

I'll let you know as it must surely be a common problem.

Regards

John
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