Lotus Elan

Rookie question on tools for long trip...

PostPost by: stugilmour » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:00 am

Well, our arrangements are in place! My friend Fred and I are flying down to Ontario to pick the 1971 Plus 2 on April 30th. We will be driving back to Calgary Alberta over the following week, a distance of approximately 2200 miles.

I am wondering if all the fasteners on the car would be SAE standard as opposed to metric.

Any thoughts on things to take with us or items to purchase prior to starting our journey appreciated. I have the following items in mind already, along with a basic hand tool kit:
    Gas can
    Quart or two of oil with a paper funnel
    Premixed coolant
    Brake fluid
    Some wire, electrical tape
    Multi meter / tester
    Duct tape
    Break down kit with jumper cables, paper towel, gloves, flashlight, etc.
    All important Auto Club card with premium towing package! :D
    Cell phone to call above

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PostPost by: crannyr » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:33 am

All the fastners are SAE ranging from 1/4 to 3/4".
The engine, if sound, will run almost indefinitly not always on 4 cyls. so long as it gets spark. I always carry spare coil, cap, rotor, points, plugs and condensor (if it has not already been converted to Lumintion or Ignitor).
Enjoy the trip...
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PostPost by: crannyr » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:41 am

P.S. get a shop manual....
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:10 am

If it was a Elan that I knew I would take the trip without hesitation. Being a Elan that you don't know much about I would get a trailor and tow it home. 99 percent of the time there wont be problems but I would rather know that the car I bought had a DPO when it was at home and not 2000 miles from home. If it has Webers they are metric the rest should be SAE unless the DPO syndrome has hit and swapped a few.

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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:28 am

It sounds like an adventure worth tackling to me and your list looks great.
If it does totally break down make sure the tow driver knows how to load it to take it wherever you're going to have it repaired. Lord knows how many Elan noses and wheel wells have been cracked by lack of communication.
Take a decent jack or two. Are you using a chase vehicle?
Do you have a laptop so you can contact us along the journey?
Good Luck. If it goes right (or wrong?) you'll be telling your grandchildren the story for years.
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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:32 am

....just re-read your list, good luck on getting the stuff on the airplane. I think your adventure may start at home!
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PostPost by: memini55 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:40 am

Gary makes a good point and if you are making the trip one small item that breaks often would be a generator bracket and or belt. I normally travel with a battery boost box. As for points and plugs get a set of NGK plugs as they seem to work best. Good Luck on the journey.
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PostPost by: peterako » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:16 am

Hi All,

I nearly always (nearly = forgot that I'd taken something out of the boot to do something else :) ) carry the following in addition to stugilmour:

- Full socket set and ratckets with extensions!
- Spare spark plugs
- Spare bulbs (headlight and brake/rear lights)
- Umbrella :)
- Vice grip assortment
- Small adjustable wrench
- Long screwdriver, flat head
- Screwdriver multi-tool (torx, philips etc attachments)
- Fan belt

If your car has Hex nut spinners I highly recommend a long levered spanner for them. Got one off ebay (Thank you twincamengine!) and they are SO much better than the short spanner that is standard. Even with a hammer they were a female dog to use effectively, more than once a I nearly lost a rear wheel :shock:

I have only had one breakdown that I have not been able to drive back from thus far....when my steering column sheared....and for a little while after that I carried a spare steering column :D

Better to be prepared and nothing bad happen!

Chances are that everything will be fine though!

I drove my car back from the UK and the only problem was the the glass misting up while waiting to drive onto the ferry in a torrential downpour!

400 miles at close to 40mph and not a hic-cup :mrgreen:

Best of luck!! Oh, you might want to keep the revs down till you're happy!!

I is an Inginear....please excuse my speeling!
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PostPost by: zeteclotus » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:20 pm

More than one set of NGK plugs.

Even a very good elan engine has an amazing ability to carbonize the spark plug ceramic causing partial or complete spark plug failure.

beaware of debris in the tank... its amazing what a few thousand miles will churn up...

Good luck and have fun
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PostPost by: Bruce Crowthorne » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:45 pm

Being pessimistic..... learn how to attach a tow rope (or the cable to have it pulled onto a trailer)!
It's not that obvious on an Elan, they just don't have a nice convenient loop for the rope.
On mine (it has an early Spider chassis) I think I would tie a loop in the nd of a SOFT rope about 3 feet long, loop it round the front crossmember and pass the soft bit of the rope along the underside of the nose.

Good luck
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PostPost by: RotoFlexible » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:53 pm

One possible joker in this deck is the water pump. Somewhere on the Web - maybe even on this site - is the tale of an Elan driven from the Pacific Northwest to the midwest. It didn't make it; the water pump started to weep, the drips turned into a flood, and the car finished the trip on a trailer (or was repaired in mid-trip, I don't recall). If undertaking a 2K mile trip in a new (to me) Elan, I'd want to know the recent history of the water pump and inspect it (to the extent possible) before starting out.
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PostPost by: Allison » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:45 pm


I guess you're driving a car you don't really know but you'll be on really good roads.

We've just come back from 4,500 miles in southeast asia, ending in Hanoi in a 1967 Elan S3. I attach a list of all the parts and tools we took with us. 95% of them you won't need - 99% of them we didn't need - but if you're the other side of the world from home its good to know that whatever you need you've got it! The list draws on our experience of several long distance rallies.

On our journey the engine was ace - didn't need anything apart from 2 1/2 litres of oil. On all our rallies we've changed just one spark plug so I'm not fussed about them but a set of points and condenser is a must-have.

Our last rally (Himalayas) was reported in British Marques Car Club news in the June 2007 issue if you can get it. For Club Lotus readers it was in the july 2007 issue.

Enjoy your trip!
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PostPost by: stuartgb100 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:15 pm


Strewth ........ that much !!!!?

How big was the caravan ?

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PostPost by: archigator » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:50 am

Make sure you carry a good jack, know the proper jacking locations, and check to be sure you have proper air in the spare. (not to be confused with the heir and the spare.)

Sorry, couldn't resist...

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PostPost by: stugilmour » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:58 am

Wow. Thanks for the excellent replies, words of wisdom, and encouragement. I have really wanted to go across Canada by car for ever and have never done it, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

To allay my fears, I have had Ken Mason in Orangeville go completely through the car prior to pick-up. He is a very knowledgeable Lotus/Jaguar/Triumph/MG guy. Some of the items attended to include:
    Tank drained and flushed prior to start-up after ~ five years of storage. New fuel filter.
    Grounds all checked and cleaned. Window lifts working at full speed. Electrical fully checked.
    Electronic ignition installed and sorted. Tacho works correctly.
    Car already had alternator and electric fuel pump. Ken fixed up mechanical pump blanking plate as it was a bit lame.
    Asked about water pump, and he has carefully inspected but did not change out. I want to go with the Dave Bean replaceable pump configuration at some point, hopefully after successfully arriving in Calgary! Will add a can of Bars Leak to the list and cross the fingers.
    General tune-up, plugs, etc. Car converted to twin SU's, which Ken says are in tune.
    Has halogen headlamps with relays added. Ken checked over carefully and fully working.
    Full brake service including servo re-kit.
    Asked Ken to check cam chain adjuster to see condition; have to check back.
    One new wheel to replace out of true one. Getting spare, jack, etc. from previous owner. What size cheater bar would work on the short Nader nut wrench should I need one.
    Various bushings, etc. front and rear. Springs & shocks OK.
    New Rotaflex's.
    Vacuum system checked. Added a vacuum tank and works well. Hoping not indicative of cross bar corrosion; we shall see.
    Side rails inspected and no corrosion.
    Frame inspected carefully and no corrosion.

Was also having a bit of a laugh to myself imagining showing up with some of the listed stuff as carry on luggage. Planning to take some basic hand tools and hit the Canadian Tire / Auto Zone as soon as we pick the car up to get a collection of spares. Thanks for all the suggestions!

Checked out hauling the car out here, but was concerned as a lot of transports wanted minimum car ground clearance of 6". Looking at the Plus 2 brochures and materials, this was a bit tight, considering I have no idea of the installed tires or the sag in the springs, etc. With this, plus the cost and the desire for the great adventure, we decided to try the drive. We will not be using a chase vehicle, but we have checked out availability of a towing dolly from U-Haul along the way should disaster strike.

We hopefully will be taking a laptop. Hoping to have time to post an update on the Free Parking section from time to time.

Excellent advice on knowing the jacking points. I purchased an owners manual and it shows two points along rocker area. Does this fit a pin into a special hole along the rocker? If we use a regular platform or bottle jack, where are the appropriate spots to use on the frame or suspension mounting points? Will add a platform scissor jack or bottle jack to the shopping list if the one supplied with the car looks dodgy.

I have the Lotus repair manual and the green after-market manual. Will take them along.

What are the NKG plug numbers to use?

Any spares required with the breakerless ignition? I suppose a distributor cap is good insurance; I will see if Ken has an extra in stock.

Will definitely add a length of nylon rope to the list. Will review procedure with Ken before we leave.

Will ask Ken if he has a spare belt. I imagine if it is alternator equipped it may be a conversion; I guess you just match length if no longer stock? Any specification on size to buy appreciated.

I already have one of those portable battery / jumper deals, but I can't see taking it on the plane. I guess in a pinch we can push start the car.

Car is registered as a 1971. VIN 50/2181 Will have to change my signature I guess.
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