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Elan Front Suspension

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 12:27 pm
by david.g.chapman
When I bought my +2 a few years ago, there were grease nipples fitted to the front steering pivots (trunnions) for the stub axles. The elan workshop manual says to use EP90 gear oil for lubrication, but I stuck with grease.

Then, when reading an article in Practical Classics this month, there was a comment about not using grease on a Triumph Herald steering pivot, or the pivot could sieze up in use! This is the same as on the Elan - so I think it is time to change to using oil.

The problem is - how to you get the oil into the pivot? What do you do out there in Elanland?

PS - Thanks for the E-mail response on the steel wheels - I am following up on some of them.

Dave Chapman.

Re: Elan Front Suspension

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 4:44 pm
by simon.mitchell

I had a Triumph Vitesse a few years back and used to use a grease gun filled with EP90 - a bit messy but it did the job.


Re: Elan Front Suspension

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 5:45 pm
by richboyd
I gave the oil vs grease thing a lot of thought. Probably both work fine, but ... I chose gear oil because it was clear that oil WILL flow around all the threads - I wasn't sure about grease redistributing so easily. I hate doing something one way just because some authority (the manual) says so. In this case, logic lead me to oil, not tradition.

But, as noted, gear oil is harder to handle. But, you make the "right" choice, then figure out how to impliment - not the "wrong" choice just because it is easier (is this too moral an approach for a simple decision?). So, I fitted grease fitting to the trunnions and went looking for a way to pump gear oil through them.

I used this "how to pump oil through a grease fitting" solution, taken from a Triumph web site ( It is a hand held, high pressure pump that feed from a screw-on tube by suction, with grease fitting on the end of a flexible tube.
I found this pump is sold at Mercury Marine dealers in the US. I bought one over the web from
Their parts number is 710-91-37299Q 2
Quicksilver Pistol Grip Gun $ 14.32
Shipping & Handling $ 5.86

The gear oil I used was Valvoline Extreme Pressure Outboard Gear Oil, part number 555. Yes, gear oil for an outboard motor's gear case. Why? Because the tube it come in fits the above pump perfectly. And, it is a GL4 oil, not GL5. The extra EP additives of GL5 may be corrosive to the bronze trunions, so GL4 is good. This gear oil is SAE 90W, which is the "correct" viscosity.

This set-up works great. It is very easy to pump oil into the trunions, through the grease fittings, without making a mess (aside from the excess flowing out past the dust boots). One minor issue: the grease fitting tend to weep gear oil a little at first. They just don't seal-in oil as well as grease. Not a big issue, but not totally sanitary.

Re: Elan Front Suspension

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 3:53 am
by type36lotus
I sceond that. I also bought the same pump and oil from my local marine supplies outfitter. Works great, easy to do. So easy that whenever I am under the car I give the trunions a shot.

Mike Geiger

Re: Elan Front Suspension

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 6:51 am
by rgh0

There has been a lot of discussion of this on the Yahoo group LotusElan site so have a look at those archives.

The conclusions seem to be that either works well enough and each has its pros a cons.

I and others have have stuck with grease for 30 years plus and I know of no reports of siezure in a properly grease lubricated trunnion. I use grease because it is designed for this sort of lubrication despite what the manual says and it is easier to use and less likely to leak out or be contaminated by water getting in. However others seems to be happy using oil per the manual.

I have never seen any measurable wear in my Elan trunnions after 28 years of greasing. When I first bought the car when it was only 7 years old the trunnions were stuffed and required immediate replacement whether this was from lack of any lubrication or use of oil which was in them at the time I dont know.


Re: Elan Front Suspension

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 11:30 am
by steveww
I use grease for the trunions on my S4 and so far so good :)
The general opinion appears to be that either will do the job. The main issue is to remember to oil/grease regularly and use a good quality oil/grease.

Re: Elan Front Suspension

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 12:09 pm
by david.g.chapman

Thanks everyone - such sensible and helpful replies!

There is no significant wear in the trunnions after 34 years and probably 125,000 miles (the speedo shows 25,000 and I know I'm not that lucky). I will stick with the grease.

Dave Chapman.

Re: Elan Front Suspension

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 6:16 pm
by types26/36
As Rohan said this has been discussed many times on both Lotus & Triumph lists, I believe the reason behind the recommendation to use oil was that the grease of the day (30 years ago) would solidify while oil would not, the modern greases are far superior and with REGULAR lubrication grease is arguable a better choice but it boils down to what make you comfortable. I normally fill with oil if disassembled and thereafter grease in service with no wear after 20 years. :D

Re: Elan Front Suspension

PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 2:50 pm
by tdafforn
The triumph spitfire list that I was part of for some time, discussed this many many times.
The agreement was for the 2 camps to disagree, but I think the take home message was to renew the lubricant regularly..
Hey, some people even started using a mixture of oil and grease!