Lotus Elan

Steering

PostPost by: Terry Posma » Sun Feb 11, 2018 3:49 pm

Just looking for general observations on the weight of steering on an Elan S3.

I have not driven an Elan for a while (the last was a plus 2 about 10 years ago) and have just driven mine around the block, which has been under rebuild for 25 years. The steering feels very light. Also the self centering is limited. Are these a normal traits? I drive a 5 year old BMW day to day and I may just have got used to very heavy steering.

There is no kick back or strange hunting so I think I have the setup reasonably correct before the car goes to have the alignment etc done.

I note that later cars had only a small amount of caster which would dictate not a lot of self centering. What sort of caster are owners running these days knowing there is little scope for adjustment?

Cheers.
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:26 pm

You are correct, there is not a lot of caster and no adjustment on a stock suspension. Check your rack for binding. Raise the front of the car, remove the front wheels. You should be able to turn the steering rack through its travel from the brake rotor. If you cannot, look for binding.
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PostPost by: Quart Meg Miles » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:25 pm

Terry Posma wrote:Just looking for general observations on the weight of steering on an Elan S3.

I note that later cars had only a small amount of caster which would dictate not a lot of self centering. What sort of caster are owners running these days knowing there is little scope for adjustment?

Cheers.

The early cars were specified with cross-ply tyres but as everyone was switching to radial ply, with finer slip angles, the caster angle was reduced to match them, I believe. It doesn't seem to be a problem with radial plys and larger castor but I remember the +2 being just as light to handle even with the wider tyres.

Any stiffness in the ball joints in the steering system, upright or the rack will kill the road feedback so follow StressCraxx's advice.
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PostPost by: JonB » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:35 pm

I'm watching this thread, have similar problems. All my steering joints are new, no binding, but near zero caster. Car feels vague in a straight line. Look at my other thread for the exact measurements from the alignment rig. The manual says castor should be 3 degrees +/- 30 minutes.

Spyder say fit a spacer to the top ball joint (forward facing side) and a washer on the rear wishbone to pull it back. Don't know how thick they should be.

Anyone care to do the math?
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PostPost by: Terry Posma » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:54 am

There is no binding. I spent a fair amount of time with the body less chassis, with lots of weight on the chassis, designed to replicate the body weight, trying to set up the steering and suspension before the body went on

The problem, if it is a problem, is the steering feels light and lacks self centring when turning in. I would expect a bit of loading up. I have only driven the car at a maximum of 20klmh. It may well be that at higher speed the steering loads up in corners but I would like some observations.

The plus 2 I owned had far heavier steering and I do remember it loaded up in turns and I can't remember what was the case with the Elan I owned previous to that.
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:55 am

Glad to know there is no binding. Yes, steering should load up slightly as speed increases. Camber and toe will also affect steering return to some extent. I have mine set up for autocross with a 1/2 deg neg camber and 1/16" toe out for quick turn-in response. There is a little higher effort and less return to center force. YMMV.

Suggest setting it up according to the book specs and go from there.

To me, the steering lightness and feel is what sets the Elan apart from every other car I have ever driven.
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PostPost by: nigelrbfurness » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:17 am

Having driven many Elans but not many +2s, my observation is that tyre type and tyre pressures affect the weight of the steering dramatically. Modern cars run with much higher tyre pressures and usually power steering and thus feel completely different. I suggest you check the front tyre dates - old tyres can be significantly stiffer than new ones and create the feeling of lighter steering. You should probably be running with front tyre pressures of 18-20lbs/sq in, anything higher will make the steering feel light. I agree with the comments about self-centring, Elans are in my experience do not self-centre much.
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PostPost by: bill308 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:51 pm

Hi JonB,

If you are going to adjust front caster using a spacer in front of the ball joint, the corresponding washer thickness should be the same as the spacer. This assumes, there is no damage to any of the components. The reasoning is that you are effectively moving the top rear wishbone back, without changing its horizontal angle. Therefore, you are not cocking the bushing.

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PostPost by: JonB » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:19 am

Agreed, and I had the same concern about doing this - that it would put extra lateral stress on the kingpins. So I will fit the new bushes first and see what improvement they yield.
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