Lotus Elan

ORJ's Rear Brakes

PostPost by: Matt Elan » Tue May 05, 2020 2:07 pm

Back on the job and on with the saga - SJ had not got the seal kits in stock, but Steve assures me I'll get them this week. I was planning to do one side at a time but if I can't get the seals I'll get both sides done and ready for the final rebuild. So I've whipped off the right hand side caliper to refurb it and the handbrake mechanism as well. Its not very nice - but I had taken it off when I replaced the handbrake pads so I knew that...

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The handbrake mechanism pins came out the usual way, screw in the little bolt that usually hold the centralising strips, put its end in the vice and gently tap the caplier:

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The handbrake mechanism was pretty corroded and not very nice. Clevis pins were seized in place. And a PO had put a washer under the head of one of the clevis pins which made it very awkward to press the old pin out in the vice - why? if you are going to use a washer then put it under the pin where it will do some good.

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They came apart eventually...

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With all the parts seperated my newly aquired wire brushes were used to clean them up, and it was out into the garden for a coat of Silver Smoothite - again trying to avoid painting the dog

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Then back to the caliper. I used the air line on it and one piston came out instantly. Good oh I thought - and look its in pretty good condition. Checked it with a magnet and its stainless. Blimey I thought a PO has done something right. That was until I checked the one still stuck in the caliper - it was magnetic so mild steel. So a PO had changed one piston in the caliper. Good grief.

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The other one is moving slightly, so the caliper is marinading in some penetrating oil and WD40 - should get it out later.

S7IMG_0394.jpg and

Onwards!
Matthew Vale - Classic Motoring Author
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1969 Plus 2S - Currently undergoing nut and bolt restoration
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Wed May 06, 2020 11:28 am

So after an overnight soak the piston still didn't want to come out - and that included WD and oil in the caliper as well around the outside of the piston. The good news was it was rocking slightly so it was probably seized onto the seal - and the WD40 may have swollen the seal of course. Nuclear option - drill a hole in the side of the piston and use that get a grip on it with a rod and twist the piston around to free it off.


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Then pop the good stainless one in, stop it getting all the way out out with a couple of spanners (it's alright they are metric ones) and pop the recalcitrant piston out with air pressure from the airline.

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And with a Hisssss Pop (wow sound effects too - whoo hoo) - and out it comes. Its in a bit of a state so I won't be reusing it....

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And now its clean up and paint the caliper while its still sunny!
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1969 Plus 2S - Currently undergoing nut and bolt restoration
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PostPost by: Bigbaldybloke » Wed May 06, 2020 12:49 pm

Nicely done, are the bores in the caliper ok? Main bit is around the seal groove, the rest is not so critical
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine!
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PostPost by: JJ66 » Wed May 06, 2020 2:19 pm

Good job Matt, pistons can be difficult to extract. The spanner trick is good, and keep in mind a G-clamp is useful to hold the piston you don;t want to move. If the rogue piston is really stuck then a master cylinder, pedal box and bespoke length of pipe is the next step! Applies much more pressure than the air line. BBB is correct, carefully check around the seal groove and edge of the groove for any pitting.Those rear calipers are going to look superb when you're done! Cheers, Jonathan
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Wed May 06, 2020 2:40 pm

The bores on both calipers look ok to me - no grooves or scratches so we'll see when I put them all together. I dug out an old Norton Commando brake master cylinder when I started the job, which can be fitted onto the caliper but of course thats been standing for a while so the cylinder had seized - and the allen key missing from my set was one I needed to dismantle the thing. Luckily the air got them out eventually. I'd forgotten about the 'g' clamp trick and my g clamps are clamped to the shelve above the vice in plain view :D

sIMG_0404.jpg and


Calliper is now silver and hanging off the bird feeder in the garden to dry off in the sun. Dog is still liver and white with no silver highlights.
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PostPost by: JJ66 » Wed May 06, 2020 2:52 pm

Haha! Perfect, hiding in plain site is a killer, happens a lot! You can get that Norton master cylinder restored next, it'll be worth a bob or two! The finish on the housings looks really good, did you say it was smoothrite? I haven't used that in a long time, I generally use silver exhaust manifold paint for the discs (non-rubbing surface only!) and then a light gold/zinc coloured regular paint for the caliper housings to replicate the yellow zinc coating they had which seems to last quite well, might try the smoothrite again though. Glad the dog is keeping up interest, we've just got a Cocker Spaniel and I will be looking to make a cage for the back seat of the +2, but that's for another thread and another time!
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Wed May 06, 2020 3:33 pm

Hi JJH66 - Yep Smoothite - its still a good paint with quick coverage and resilient with minimal preparation, The dog is very interested in everything - she's 18 months old and a Springer so mad as a box of frogs!
These calipers had the remains of an enamal pint finish on them - looked to be same colour as the engine block paint. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the original finish as the car was 'fully restored' in 1980 - but then I supose that was 40 years ago!
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Fri May 08, 2020 3:45 pm

And the next episode - I was gouing to wait for the new pistons and seals to arrive before I reassembled the brakes but was bored today so assembled the handbrake mechanisms as I had all the parts to hand. All went smoothly apart from one of the new pads wouldn't seat properly in the cali[per. So I took out the pivot pin and found this:

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The 'u' in the pad was too tight and needed a touch of filing to make it slip smoothly over the pin - all sorted in a few minutes but all the other pads were OK so why just this one? Poor quality control I suspect. Easy to fix on the bench, would have been a bit annoying if it was on the car.

smallIMG_0407.jpg and


Anyway - so a couple of shots of the pair of refurbished calipers - I've just had an eamil from SJS saying the pistons will be despatched on Monday so I'll get them Tuesday - then I can fit them and get the car back into one piece!

smallIMG_0408.jpg and

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PostPost by: Bigbaldybloke » Fri May 08, 2020 4:02 pm

Over the years when changing handbrake pads, it’s not been unusual to find they need easing with a file to ensure they move freely in the caliper.
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine!
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Fri May 08, 2020 4:25 pm

Hi Matt,
at this rate you might be one of the very few Elan owners with a Handbrake that works :lol: :lol:
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Fri May 08, 2020 5:49 pm

Thanks for the encouragement BBB and Alan - and here's hoping re the handbrake! The handbrake pads can be a tight fit if the pivot pins are not properly positioned - as I found with mine originally when one old pad had been hammered over the shoulder of the pin to make it fit. At least it would never wear out as it wouldn't get anywhere near the disk :D
I also fitted the little bushes in the handbrake operating arm which the brake rod clevis pins fit into - another part that was missing when I took the calipers off....
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PostPost by: JJ66 » Mon May 11, 2020 10:46 am

Good job Matt, you will indeed have a good handbrake after this. The bushes on the pivot pins are important as is the fit of the pad onto the pins, if you take time 'fitting' them by filing and careful assembly as BBB has said, then it will reward you with good operation. I have worked on these calipers on and off for many years and if you keep on top of the adjustment and the pins are greased and free, then the park brake will work really quite well. I confidently park mine on inclines (not too steep!!) and the rolling road figures (MOT brake tester) are decent. E-Type jags used the same system (slightly bigger arms and so a bit more leverage) and they don't have quite the same reputation - Being mounted inboard helps with corrosion though.

On my first +2 (23 years ago) I put stronger return springs on the 'crocodile jaws' which ensured the pads always retracted from the discs, and so reduced wear, and also gave the umbrella a bit more feel.

Hope you get the pistons and seals in all OK. Jonathan
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Wed May 13, 2020 3:49 pm

Quick heads up - the pistons and seals arrived today, and to my surprise the pistons are stainless. Excellent!
I'll finish proofing the Elan book tomorrow hopefully then get them fitted when I'l post some more pictures.
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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Fri May 15, 2020 3:55 pm

Pad Pins and new handbrake clevis pins arrived from Sue Millar today and I finished my proof read of the new Elan booka and sent it off to Veloce yesterday so taday it was finish the refurb day. Once I'd worked out how to fit he new oistons, seals in first then the bellows as you can't get them into the caliper grooves with the pistons already in as I found out... doh, then slip the pistons making sure you get the top of the bellows over them then push (or rather PUUUUSSSHHHHH them in. All came out right in the end, with some red rubber grease on the inside of the bellows which will hopefully keep corrosion at bay for a year or so!
And then onto the car. Couple of glitches - the handbrake clevis pins were too tight on the new bushes so I eased the bushes by running a drill through them. Then the left hand side caliper went on OK - I used new big thick washers on the bolts, Locktited them, fitted a new brake pipe as I had one to hand and the only problem was fitting the handbrake clevis pin - which is a bit of a job as the pull rod fits behind the caliper and is very hard to see. Lucky I'd checked the clevis pins in the bush so they did fit, it wasn't so clever to drop the 'R' pin which of course fell into the mechanism where it refused to come out, until I'd almost taken the caliper off completely whereupon it fall out of its own accord. Thats my garage fairies acting up again. So the finished article:

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Which makes the rest of that side look a bit shabby but hey ho....
So with it bolted back on and everything connected I decided to call it a day So tomorrow its the other side and teaching my daughter to bleed brakes - watch this space!
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PostPost by: JJ66 » Fri May 15, 2020 4:37 pm

Hi Matt, Well done, looking good. I should have mentioned, use a little brake fluid on the seals when you assemble the pistons as they slip home a lot easier, otherwise it is a PUUSSHHH as you say!!! Perhaps you did use red grease or fluid? They can feel quite stiff even then. Regarding boot fitment, that's the way to learn :D . You'll be itching to drive it and get it all bedded in! Hope it goes well. Jonathan
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