Lotus Elan

Elan Sprint Handbrake

PostPost by: David6 » Fri Sep 25, 2020 5:50 pm

Hello to all,
I just purchased a 1970 lotus Elan S[print and although in good condition with an excellent chassis I need to sort a few issues not least of which is the handbrake which I believe is a known problem.

Some poor bodging has been done on the swivel mechanism behind the diff with flimsy bolts fitted at the diff end of the brake rods causing excessive play. How do I get at it and put some proper pins and split pins in ?

If I can raise the body about an inch I can get the bolt out and get the swivel assy out.

I've undone all the body mounting bolts apart from those right at the front from the chassis plus the seat belt mountings and the seat runner bolts.

I can't get the body lifted more than 1/4" which is not enough to get the bolt out. I don't want to try too hard in case something cracks.

Am a missing something obvious to lift the body or another way to get at the swivel mechanism ?

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PostPost by: oldelanman » Sat Sep 26, 2020 5:59 am

A couple of things you may have overlooked ... the exhaust is attached to the boot floor, you need to undo the mounts at front and rear of the silencer. Also the fuel pipe passes through the front of the boot into the chassis .. might not prevent you lifting the body a small amount but may get kinked in the process.
Some folks have cut a hole and fitted a waterproof marine bulkhead access panel in the front of the boot to make it easier to top up the diff and service the handbrake tree ... discussed many times on here, a search should find it.
Here's one example ....
20200522_171035-1.jpg (121.51 KiB) Viewed 445 times

From a post in this thread...
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Sat Sep 26, 2020 6:40 am

Hi David,

You shouldn't have to move the body to get at the handbrake swivel tree, although as with most jobs on the Elan, access is never easy !

Although your car is later than mine, it might be worth checking you do have the later handbrake tree fitted, my earlier one has 2 bolts going in either end of the lower tube - see pics

swiveltree.jpg and

and the early one....

Original Tree.jpg
Original Tree.jpg (74.15 KiB) Viewed 442 times

To make access easier a lot of folks cut out a section of the boot floor in the vertical wall just in front of the diff. This makes it much easier to check/fill the diff oil levels and anything to do with the handbrake tree.

Yours might already be modified, if so there will be a cut out in front of the spare wheel. Might be worth checking to see before you lift off the body ! :)

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PostPost by: MarkDa » Sat Sep 26, 2020 7:45 am

You say you've removed all but the very front mounting bolts - including those at the dashboard?

Here's a diagram
elanchassis.jpg and
Elan chassis fixing

As others have said the fuel pipe might act as a constraint if it's not flexible.

You do need to take all the slack out of the mechanism at the rear so that the limited movement available is used at the caliper to operate the brake.

Whilst you can work on the tree from underneath access is horrible so a hole in the boot is useful.
However to get the tree out you do need to lift the body.
Something Brian Buckland laments in his rebuild book!
When I rebuilt mine my son suggested putting the tree in early and I gaily said that we'd do it afterwards :D :D
In the end rather than lift the body we put the fixing bolt in the other way round - it was a pig to do as was fixing the left hand rod - especially the cotter pin!
Despite taking out the slack I still had to shorten the rods to get a decent handbrake.
I did this by cutting back the clevis and redrilling the holes.
It's also exacerbated by hand brake cables being too long and there not being enough adjustment at the front.
I think Sue Miller has her cables made a bit shorter?
Have fun :D
Last edited by MarkDa on Sat Sep 26, 2020 9:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: sprintsoft » Sat Sep 26, 2020 8:52 am

Hi David,

Lotus started selling the Sorint from January 1971, is yours maybe an S4?

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74 S130/5 - 1931L
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PostPost by: lotusfan » Sat Sep 26, 2020 11:38 am

Hi David

I strongly recommend the use of 'R' clips instead of split pins to retain the clevis pins - so much easier in that restricted space.
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PostPost by: MarkDa » Sat Sep 26, 2020 6:12 pm

I agree - that's what I used actually.
Still not easy to get in but at least more straightforward than the split pins that I alluded to.
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PostPost by: David6 » Sat Sep 26, 2020 6:59 pm

Thanks to all for the advice. I just wish it had my MGB braking system, easy to adjust/maintain and holds on any slope.Ah well I'm sure I'll get there somehow with a shorter cable and adjustable rods which I might make up from bowden cable with appropriate end fittings brazed on. Cutting a handhole seems favourite for access and future greasing etc. Thanks again . David
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Sat Sep 26, 2020 7:38 pm


I share your concerns. I have fitted an inspection hatch as shown above and use R clips. I also made the rods adjustable with a left and right hand clevis on each end. None of this is easy, but if you have to raise the body for access, do a thorough job as you won’t want to do this again.

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