Lotus Elan

Alternative handbrake

PostPost by: RogerFrench » Fri Feb 12, 2016 4:23 pm

Like many people I've been frustrated by the handbrake system of the Elan, and furthermore my wife could not reach the umbrella handle under the dash, no matter what - she's not very tall!
So I resolved to make it work and to install a lever by the side of the driver's seat. I looked at the MG Midget / Sprite arrangement but thought that might be too complex to fit, and in any case I thought a slim handle and mechanism could fit between seat and transmission tunnel. A quick root around in a junk yard found a suitable handle on a 1990's Honda Accord. As made it had "feet" to bolt it to the floor, but I cut them off and drilled holes so I could bolt to the tunnel. Actually, I couldn't bolt directly to the tunnel as one of the holes lined up with one of the tunnel's lightening holes, so I used 3 perforated mild steel strips, one inside the tunnel with nuts brazed to it, another on the outside of the tunnel but inside the insulation,and a third outside the tunnel insulation. I brazed washers to the strips so that when bolted up they didn't try to crush the upturn on the lightening hole nor the insulation.
Turning to the actuating mechanism, I noted that, as others have, the holes in the arms of the compensator tree were elongated. Instead of drilling them out I brazed washers to each side and reamed them to size. I also fitted a helical return spring. I fitted a short length of bundy tube through the rear bulkhead, behind the driver seat and in the corner by the tunnel, and use a length of 1/4" dia. rod with clevis rod ends to operate the tree. I also used 3/16" dia. threaded rod, with similar rod ends, from the tree to the callipers. The callipers were treated to new pads, cleaning and inspection. The clicky-nuts are long gone, so a couple of new Nylocs were fitted instead, with a couple of spacers to make the nuts more accessible..

Inside the car, the connection of the handbrake to the actuating rod is made by a swinging link. The handbrake has enormous mechanical advantage, hence very little travel and the link reduces one and increases the other very effectively.

An aluminium panel covered in vinyl covers the mechanism and keeps all looking neat. The new handbrake is easy to use, doesn't get in the way, and works. I can easily lock the rear wheels on dry concrete at up to 20 mph; I haven't tried higher speeds.

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words so I hope these'll help explain it all. Was it worth the time and effort? I think so, but then I like doing this sort of thing anyway. There's nothing complicated about it, and I deliberately used things I either had on hand or could get from my neighbourhood hardware store.

20160116_122223.jpg and
Reinforced tree

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Tree in position, nut removed for clarity

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Actuating Rod

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Off position. Sorry it's blurred. License plate covers hole in fibreglass.

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On Position

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1967 Elan S3
1972 Europa Twin Cam
2005 Elise
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PostPost by: 1963 S1 » Fri Feb 12, 2016 5:01 pm

Nicely done! I like your 'resourceful mind'; plenty of recyclables around to deploy.
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PostPost by: stevebroad » Fri Feb 12, 2016 7:09 pm

So, why didn't Lotus do that? Everything else on the car is simple but the handbrake system is a complicated, inefficent mess.
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PostPost by: dgym » Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:19 pm

very nice!
and now you can kick ass at motorkhana! 8)
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PostPost by: stevebroad » Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:41 pm

Alternatively, simply fit a hydraulic handbrake using the existing brake pipe system. If your car is pre Jan 1 1968 simply remove old system. If after this date retain it for MOT and legal purposes :-)

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PostPost by: terryp » Sat Feb 13, 2016 8:21 am

I have a set of these in the boot!
image.jpeg and
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PostPost by: jimj » Sat Feb 13, 2016 2:34 pm

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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Sat Feb 13, 2016 6:26 pm

I've had this for years

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PostPost by: pereirac » Sun Feb 14, 2016 5:36 pm

When I asked something similar, it was suggested I change TOH!! :D . I drive on hills and TOH drives on flat roads... suits us!! :D
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PostPost by: nomad » Mon Feb 15, 2016 5:51 am

Roger, can I ask what you used for the helical spring?? Seems that would help the retraction of the shoes.

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PostPost by: RogerFrench » Mon Feb 15, 2016 2:20 pm

nomad wrote:Roger, can I ask what you used for the helical spring?? Seems that would help the retraction of the shoes.

Kurt.


Kurt, I'm not 100% sure where it came from, it was in my box of springs. I think it might have been to close a door of a clothes drier? I had to cut and bend a bit, but the coil was the right size.
If you Google torsion spring you'll see many of them.
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PostPost by: gino1 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 3:14 pm

Great Job..and and lot less fuss routing the cable.
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PostPost by: patrics » Tue Feb 16, 2016 8:00 pm

Hi,
Looks good Roger, have seen similar using what I thought was an MG Midget lever.
Here is a photo of what I use on my car - just a line lock but works a treat. Sorry photo is a bit dark

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PostPost by: Quart Meg Miles » Tue Feb 16, 2016 9:48 pm

stevebroad wrote:So, why didn't Lotus do that? Everything else on the car is simple but the handbrake system is a complicated, inefficent mess.

On the early cars there wasn't room beside the seat, I have trouble getting the seat belt webbing through on both sides. Also the LH drive model would need a different tree to be on the other side of the car, no big deal, and some cosmetic fiddling though, I suppose, it could all be left on the RH side to give the passenger some confidence.....
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PostPost by: RogerFrench » Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:32 am

Meg, LHD MX5s and, I think, MGs leave the handbrake in the original position so I think you're right, it would be fine.
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