Lotus Elan

Front suspension bushing replacement - Plus 2

PostPost by: stugilmour » Sat Nov 27, 2021 6:14 pm

Trying to scope out the difficulties replacing various front bushings and getting a better setup.

The alignment shop recently highlighted some of them require attention. I have not crawled under to see the current condition, but I assume one replaces all the bushings at the same time anyway? I do recall seeing some of the bushings bulging out somewhat, and not sure if I didn’t assemble things correctly; should there be large washers to retain the bushings?

Basically the car steers very well when loaded up in corners and under braking, but there is annoying on centre wandering and tramlining happening when travelling straight or particularly in relaxed high speed bends. Do I just need to take it back and ask for a bit more toe in first?

Background is I have a Spyder spaceframe with Spyder wishbones and Spyder supplied springs and shocks. Rear wishbones are adjustable. I installed everything with the body off, and just can’t recall details. Going from memory only, I thought my front springs and shocks (with ride height adjustment) came as a compressed strut assembly and I therefore won’t need a spring compressor? I think they are similar to the picture below from the Spyder site. I have a local shop lined up to press the bushings into place for me, so hopefully I can remove & reinstall the wishbones myself.

B78C6653-64F6-4861-84BF-88C632702B4E.jpeg and
Plus 2 Alignment sheet November 24 2021


Basically what is involved taking things apart? Do I need spring compressors to get access to the bushings? If so, how is the access / clearance at the front? Trying to decide if it is better for me to get the job done or whether I can do a portion of the job myself over the long winter.

I have attached the alignment sheet as well. The before numbers are out considerably as the front ride height was significantly adjusted since the original alignment, which was actually working quite well. I was hoping they would put 0.3 degrees of toe at each corner as per John Clegg’s recommendation for our Plus 2’s. Not sure why they used 0.22 as a target, except they may have toe values in their Hunter machine that might be more suitable for the two seaters. Other item is the rather large difference between side to side rear camber; is that indicating a potential bushing issue in the rear as well?

So my present plan is to renew the front bushings and see how things feel, and then follow up with an alignment as required. Or should I get the toe in adjusted first?

Thanks in advance

Stu
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C5C2E9D8-B45A-4F74-BF7B-3CB50DD9BC3E.jpeg and
From the Spyder site, I think this is similar to what I have at the front.
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PostPost by: mbell » Sat Nov 27, 2021 8:04 pm

The arms bolt on and off. The springs are coil over style, so the springs are held in place by the shocker body and you don't have to do anything with them.

There should be washers between the arm and nut, this is for safety to prevent the arm coming off if the bushing fails. The nuts should be 3/4 height nuts and tightened at normal ride height not full droop.

Personally I would renew all the bushings before an alignment if your planning on doing both. As no point doing the alignment and then possibly messing it up by changing the bushings.

A lot of the alignment is set by the chassis so not much you can do to adjust it and I wouldn't expect to be able to always get it aligned to all specs like yours expect on a modern car.

You also need to consider the front wheel bearings, you should have some end float for the bearing to allow for expansion. Unless the alignment place is a long drive from home, they probably won't expand enough and to take up the end float, which may cause problems getting an accurate and reliable alignment done. So you might want to consider removing the end float on the bearings when having the alignment done.
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PostPost by: Bigbaldybloke » Sat Nov 27, 2021 8:20 pm

You don’t need spring compressors to take off all the front wishbones, its a relatively straightforward job once you have the car up on axle stands. If you have someone lined up to press out the old bushes and press in the new ones the difficult bit is being done by them. When reassembling, remember not to fully tighten the nuts onto the bushes until the suspension has weight on it and the arms are approximately in the position they would be with the car on the road. If you tighten them with the suspension in full droop you put the rubber in the bushes under a lot of shear at full bump.
It’s not worth doing the tracking till you have the new bushes in place as things are bound to move with the new bushes compared to old worn bushes. Probably worth checking out the condition of the trunnions while it’s all apart and also replacing the antiroll bar bushes on the bottom of the shocks while you are at it. Check the top upright ball joint and the track rod one while you are at it, but if you haven’t noticed a problem they are probably ok.
The rear is in some respects simpler as you only have the bottom wishbone to change the bushes in, so half the work!
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Sat Nov 27, 2021 9:20 pm

Excellent. I can definitely take this on then prior to another shot at alignment. I have a really nice little floor lift that leaves all the wheels free. If I am taking this on over the winter I could even take things apart before ordering parts from Spyder. Will check the other bushings out carefully; I know the sway bar ones are definitely past their best.

The rear is in some respects simpler as you only have the bottom wishbone to change the bushes in, so half the work!


Trying to recall the details on the rear. I think I can get the single wishbone (yes, I have the stock single bone setup, just with the Spyder adjustable type) removed without a ton of hassle by leaving the top bolt alone and let the hub assembly hang freely when the wishbone is removed. If I take on the rear bushings, will I need to compress the spring to be able to unbolt the wishbone though? I seem to recall the rear of the car being too light to adequately compress things by just taking the weight of the car on the hub assembly? To be fair, I may initially leave the rear alone so I don’t fall in to the dreaded “while you are at it” black hole! :D

Thanks for the reminder on letting things settle prior to tightening things. I am thinking once everything is re-assembled I could easily lower the car on to its wheels on some chocked blocks I have. This would allow tons of access to tighten the wishbone bolts after settling and properly weighting the car.

More I think about this it shouldn’t be too bad. Thanks for the help. Might just order all the bushings right away so I have everything to hand before I start, which has been pretty rare around here! :D

Any other thoughts appreciated.

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PostPost by: mbell » Sat Nov 27, 2021 9:47 pm

Rear arms can be removed on there own as long as the car stays in the air. You don't need to compress springs or anything to fit them. To refit you can bolt them to chassis then swing them up and align with hub and insert bolts.

It's good the clock the outer bolt half height bolt heads to give best clearance to the wheel, especially if you have alloy wheels fitted.
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PostPost by: Bigbaldybloke » Sat Nov 27, 2021 10:00 pm

Mbell has it about covered, I’d just check the conditions of the Lotocones at the top of the struts as they are usually under compression and they don’t usually have the weight of the strut hanging on them and if they are in poor condition could fail. On one of mine the rubber had become unbonded from the metal part. Just one more job and again not too difficult once the rear parcel shelf is out to give access, but you will need spring compressors for this. Once you have done all this you shouldn’t need to worry about any of the suspension rubber parts for many years.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Sun Nov 28, 2021 12:49 am

I have found the Plus 2 to be more susceptible to vagueness in straight ahead cruising than the Elan due to its longer suspension arms. Stiffer poly bushes rather than the original rubber ones help

cheers
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PostPost by: h20hamelan » Sun Nov 28, 2021 6:47 am

I would go for all moving bits, before alignment, unless they are relatively new. No point in needing to do it again in a couple years.

Your comment “ on centre wandering and tramlining”, leads me to believe you have a worn steering rack. The centre is the most used gears, mesh area, like 2nd gear in a manual transmission. Or, your almost always driving straight ahead.

Brake force, can also change alignment (though i dont know your area) Hunter makes a road force (tyre balance under load test) and brake biasing alignment (this is mainly for independent 4 wheel suspension- Kelowna is the only one I know of outside of Vancouver). Anyone ever tried putting a foot on the front or back of a front tyre, and pushing with ones foot, hard? I can change the alignment SIGNIFICANTLY. And my chassis is fine. There is enough play in steering tie rods, that unless you use road force (some opposing cornering forces) alignments are very crude. Gets directional, and more accurate in my books. Also consider the road surfaces your driving on, straight flat highway vs crowned “B” lanes?

Likely, you could use your bench vice (& lube) to press all bushings in.

https://www.amazon.ca/OEMTOOLS-25553-Mc ... B07S966BNT

I have found for up and down, rubber is best. Side to side, poly.

Guessing you have fairly wide shoulder tyres, not early elan narrow tyres? What pressures do you keep at what temp. Do you run tyre pressure and heat monitors?
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Sun Nov 28, 2021 5:58 pm

Thanks again for all the great suggestions.

The tires are Plus 2 sized Nankang CX668 165/80R13 with rounded shoulders, which I prefer to lower profile rubber. Wheels are stock 5 1/2” width Minilites. My previous experience was with excellent Vredestein rubber, but sadly they are no longer available. Actually the CX668 (T rated all season) is also now out of stock as well. Anyway, for sure the jury is still out on the tire selection and installation, but I am more focused on burning them off prior to replacement.

I will need to get the balancing on at least one corner re-evaluated. Although the new CX668’s have improved a lot with scuffing in, the left front seems a bit out of balance. Not sure what balancing equipment the local tire shop has, but I will check.

Will check the bearing runout first though to see if vibration can be smoothed out. Good point that this could be a factor, as all my test runs are very short and cold, so perhaps the bearings aren’t fully heating on some of the shorter tests.

Lotocones are in good shape. So far only test mileage on my renewed rear shocks.

Given that the rear bushings are also pretty easy to do, I think I will also replace them over the winter. Top tip regarding clocking the thin bolt heads.

Interesting contrast between Elan and Plus 2 on centre feel. Thinking John’s recommendation for more Plus 2 toe in may help. The on centre feel was OK before I modified (raised) the front ride height, so thinking it could be transient forces due to worn bushings or insufficient toe in. The car handled well but was way too slammed at the front when initially assembled.

Pretty confident in the steering rack as it was replaced during my rebuild. Has been a while (about 11 years or so), but probably only 25K miles on the new rack. I think Spyder supplies a slightly different rack from a Mini, but it seems to be holding up.

In other news, I seem to have pretty much settled all my ignition, fuel supply, and Weber jetting issues now, at least until things warm up here and everything changes! 8) Recent test run ambient temperatures have been -10 to +10 degrees C, so hardly ideal and not how the car will be used. The John McCoy engine is now freaking awesome, easily pulling to over The Ton in fifth and (almost) leak free! :D The Keith Franck W idle jets and VP tubes have totally eliminated the dreaded flat spot, even with pretty weak mixtures at the present low ambient temperatures & high elevation.

Next spring I am hoping to get to warmer sea level and see how flexible the present jetting really is.

Thanks again for the help. Will update when I get things smoothed out.
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Sun Nov 28, 2021 8:42 pm

Stu, when you get the rear arms off, be sure to check them for straightness and they sit flat on a good
flat surface.
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Mon Nov 29, 2021 1:29 am

Excellent Greg. Will do.

Also forgot to mention present tire pressures are 24 psi front and 26 psi rear which I have found pretty balanced in the past.

Went out for another bogey today and if felt better. Perhaps the tires a bit warmer. Perhaps just hoping it will fix itself! :D
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PostPost by: andyelan » Wed Dec 01, 2021 7:26 pm

Hi Stu

Try upping the rear tyre pressure to increase the front to rear differential. I run 24 psi front and 30 psi rear and find it makes a significant improvement to straight line stability.

If you're still unhappy, then other things you could try are stiffening the rear dampers (assuming they're adjustable) and/or use a bump steer gauge to ensure the steering rack height is set so as to minimise this

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PostPost by: stugilmour » Thu Dec 02, 2021 3:19 pm

Thanks Andy. I will try out higher rear pressure. Snow here now, so will have to wait to test again. I had the car out yesterday and it felt way better. Perhaps a little more rear pressure and it will be OK. Will probably order up the bushings anyway, but may be able to leave the job ‘til spring.
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