Lotus Elan

Blasted handbrake mechanism!

PostPost by: JonB » Sun Apr 12, 2020 8:50 am

Hi all

I have been having fun and games with my handbrake mechanism. I ordered a new set of pads from MEV and they arrived promptly. Then I took the nearside assembly apart and fitted them, only to find that instead of pivoting on the pin they jammed up. So I had to take them out for a fettle, during which time one of the pads became unstuck from the metal bit. Unimpressive quality. And it was a bastard to get out. I ended up reusing the old pad as it wasn’t worn on that side.

IMG_6513.jpg and
Pad fell off while removing it from the caliper.


I also discovered the caliper wasn’t centred on the disk, so I shimmed it out with a pair of washers.

IMG_6510.jpg and
Off centre


IMG_6512.jpg and
Shimmed between caliper and mounting lugs


IMG_6511.jpg and
Better..!


Inner piston appeared to be stuck (despite being stainless). I worked it back and forth a few times and shoved some brake grease under the dust cover. Also, reset the handbrake “springs” (bent bits of metal that hold them away from the disk when not in use). I seem to have lost the clip that stops the funny cone shaped adjuster nut from coming loose (maybe it wasn’t there to start with, I don’t recall it falling out).

All this and the handbrake still does not work. What a crap design. I tried to take up the slack in the cable by winding the tensioning adjuster out at the front of the car. All that did was reduce the handbrake travel. I will probably have to tighten up the caliper adjusters too, but I am beginning to suspect that there is something wrong with the rods. Maybe stretched?
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Sun Apr 12, 2020 9:17 am

Hi Jon,
a few days ago i adjusted the Handbrake Pads on my Sprint.
I don't thick i would shim out the Caliper from the Chatman Strut, it's been without shims for 47 years.
My method is undo the ratchet nut.
Remove the metal strips/ hold offs for Pads and give them a tweak to hold Pads back fully.
Put a .004" (4 thou) Feeler each side of Disk to stop Pads touching Disk.
Do up the Ratchet Nut untill both Feelers slide nicely but NOT tight.
If the Clip for the Ratchet Nut is missing fit a Half Lock Nut.
AFTER doing BOTH sides try Hand Brake and it should be about 2 Clicks
Alan
ps the sticky Caliper Piston on one side is nothing to do with Hand Brake but it can warp the Disk :shock:
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Sun Apr 12, 2020 10:10 am

alan.barker wrote:Hi Jon,
a few days ago i adjusted the Handbrake Pads on my Sprint.
I don't thick i would shim out the Caliper from the Chatman Strut, it's been without shims for 47 years.
My method is undo the ratchet nut.
Remove the metal strips/ hold offs for Pads and give them a tweak to hold Pads back fully.
Put a .004" (4 thou) Feeler each side of Disk to stop Pads touching Disk.
Do up the Ratchet Nut untill both Feelers slide nicely but NOT tight.
If the Clip for the Ratchet Nut is missing fit a Half Lock Nut.
AFTER doing BOTH sides try Hand Brake and it should be about 2 Clicks
Alan
ps the sticky Caliper Piston on one side is nothing to do with Hand Brake but it can warp the Disk :shock:


Sound advice.

I use adjustable rods which makes life easier and I do use shims (I get them off the E-type place next door) on the rear calipers.

The handbrake pads were also used on different cars, which Lee at Classicar Automotive tell me has caused the problem, because the pivots weren't all the same size.

Earlier Elan's Lotus used part of an Anglia handbrake mechanism, which means a shorter cable is required, they are NLA so you have to make one.

If all the parts of the handbrake are functional and adjusted correctly, it actually works quite well...unlike the Mk 14 Elite which I don't think could ever work.
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PostPost by: JonB » Sun Apr 12, 2020 11:08 am

And.. I did wonder if because my suspension is at full droop it would affect the operation of the rods.

Regarding the pads - yes, the pivots do seem way too tight, plus there's a sort of raised rectangle in the top of the hook which might be catching on the caliper body. The current pads do not have this. I ground it off and it's a bit better.

I did consider disk warp but I can't see any appreciable run off. Haven't checked with the dial gauge yet (TBH I'm a bit scared to try it, who knows what horrors will be uncovered??) but there is no juddering from the rear.

I'm going to try again with the old 4 thou trick. Nice one!
Last edited by JonB on Sun Apr 12, 2020 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Sun Apr 12, 2020 11:11 am

I've never had the clips that stops the adjuster nuts from moving. I've screwed a couple of 1/2' lengths of clear tubing onto the screws to act as locknuts. They've been there 30+ yrs and they're working fine.
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Sun Apr 12, 2020 11:21 am

I have clips on the adjusters, they seem to work well.

Having the wheels in the air shouldn't make any difference.
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PostPost by: billwill » Sun Apr 12, 2020 11:26 am

The handbrake pads swing freely on their pivots so the space between pad & disk should be self adjusting.

It is a good idea to put a light-ish compression spring on the adjusting rod to push the pads apart.

The pad lifters, (item 17 on diagram below) those funny little bits of bent metal are deliberately (?) not made of spring steel; they are, I believe, intended to provide some spring action, but as the pads wear down the lifters develop a permanent set inwards. Hence they are self adjusting, but it means that when fresh pads are fitted the lifters have to be bent by hand back to their original position, which is with the tip sloping about 5 degrees AWAY from the disk.

Image

https://lotuselan.net/wiki/JC_-_Brakes_-_Rear
Last edited by billwill on Sun Apr 12, 2020 11:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPost by: baileyman » Sun Apr 12, 2020 11:29 am

My new brakeset came with a spring that fits around the adjuster bolt and acts to spread the parking calipers. Someone posted a pic here:

viewtopic.php?f=42&t=35933&start=

I think I recall from the Dave Bean catalog that this is an old solution to an old problem. A decent spring could probably had at any hardware store.

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PostPost by: JonB » Sun Apr 12, 2020 11:31 am

Thanks Mazzini. It's likely because I've not wound the adjusters in far enough.

Meanwhile I found the adjuster clip on SJS's web site for £10 delivered (4.95 delivery +VAT). So it's about a fiver to replace.
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PostPost by: vincereynard » Sun Apr 12, 2020 1:06 pm

If it is any help my handbrake works OK. (I.E. it can work!) Holds the car on an incline anyway so thats good enough.

However I did have to centre the caliper, it was quite a way out. (Maybe most of them are?)
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Sun Apr 12, 2020 2:58 pm

Hi Jon

When I changed my handbrake pad I found one side was very hard to get out. The PO had hammered the pad into place because the reduced diameter part of the pin that the pad slides and pivots on was not central as the pin had not been pushed in enough - so the pad was on the shoulder of the pin, causing it to jam. Caliper off to reposition the pin... sigh...
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PostPost by: JonB » Sun Apr 12, 2020 3:21 pm

OK. So I found that by opening up the hook with a grinder and taking the rectangular protrusion off the top, I was able to get it to fit and swing freely. Score one for the bodgers!

I had a look at the tree and discovered the main arm catching on the chassis. Bent it up, and now it is returning properly , allowing me to wind the adjusters in properly. Now it is working, I think. I ended up just using two new pads and keeping the other two old ones, because they've got lots of life in them yet. They got ground down because the "springs" hadn't been set correctly when they were fitted by the PO. Now, they are holding the pads off the disk when the handbrake's not engaged.

I still think it's a piss poor design which looks like it was added as an afterthought. Don't modern rear calipers have a lever sticking out that actuates the pads (without having a second set of pads)? But, hey ho, if it works...
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Sun Apr 12, 2020 4:09 pm

If it's any consolation, the design is similar to the Jag IRS one I believe, and very similar to the Elites so Girling should have had plenty of time to sort it out :D

Doesn't stop it being a bit of a lash up mind.

And I've just checked mine as I havn't used it since my somewhat traumatic pad changing episode - and its not bl***dy working - I just tweaked up the adjusters lying under the car and it made no difference! Oh well thats my job for tomorrow, not got anything else to do!
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PostPost by: wobblyweb » Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:17 pm

A few years ago I set my handbrake up for the MOT. New pads and freed everything up.
It worked better than it had ever done then I realised I had forgotten to replace the spring things.
I refitted them and just could not get the handbrake to work as before. Took them out and it worked perfectly again.
The handbrake has worked ever since just needing a bit of adjustment and maybe freeing up each year.
The pads have not worn.
I understand the reason for the springs but in my experience leaving them out works better.
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:47 pm

JonB wrote:
I still think it's a piss poor design which looks like it was added as an afterthought. Don't modern rear calipers have a lever sticking out that actuates the pads (without having a second set of pads)? But, hey ho, if it works...


[quote="Matt Elan']

If it's any consolation, the design is similar to the Jag IRS one I believe, and very similar to the Elites so Girling should have had plenty of time to sort it out[/quote]

I never thought I'd defend the Elan handbrake, but it's getting onto a sixty year old design, it comes from an age when rear disc brakes were cutting edge technology. I think it's unfair to judge them with twenty-first century hindsight...now the Elite handbrake, that should never have made it off the design board or more likely cocktail napkin.
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