Lotus Elan

Half way across Canada in a Lotus Plus 2

PostPost by: stugilmour » Sat May 03, 2008 3:51 am

Day Zero Wednesday April 30th

The big adventure starts! Stu wakes up early on Wednesday April 30th to get a cab to the airport. He has carefully ordered the cab the evening before. Minor stress as the cabby arrives late, but we successfully meet Fred at the airport for the big flight to Toronto, the centre of the known universe. Bit of a tizzy on check in, when they clear the security area due to a positive test for explosives on a fellow traveler?s laptop. We duck though security and on to the flight clutching our contraband Tim Horton?s coffee (no fluids please).

During the flight the thought comes up as to how we will recognize Ken Mason and his crew who have promised to pick us up at the airport.

On queue, we are met at Pearson Airport by Scott holding a cardboard sign with my name. Scott is a fifty year old fully qualified snowboard instructor and British car wrench. A pleasant trip North to Orangeville in Ken Mason?s V12 Jaguar follows.

We pull into Ken?s Caledon Creek Farm?s driveway, and there she is, the bright white 1971 Lotus Plus 2 that I have purchased about six month?s previous. The car makes an immediate favorable impression, pretty much everything is there and ready to go. We express minor amusement that the spare does not appear to include a tire, but we get clear directions to the local Canadian Tire to rectify the situation.

Had a pleasant few hours with Ken looking over his extensive collection of cars, ranging from ?project opportunities? to properly revitalized classics. The range was staggering, including an immacualte1930 Austin Seven and a E type that was progressing nicely. Among the Loti, the Plus 2 shone through the seventies vintage Elites and Eclats that wait for suitable patrons.

We rapidly loaded up the car, said our good-byes, and headed north through the Ontario countryside. After about an hour of driving we developed a bit of a miss under load that would clear itself up. Putting on the bifocals I could see the problem; the ammeter reads to the right when it is discharging, not charging as we had assumed! In fact we had lost all charging current from the alternator, and were running only on battery. We made it back to the front door of the Alliston Canadian Tire store. A quick charge and a trunkload of supplies, and off to a room for the night. Put the battery on charge overnight with the new battery charger.

Total Progress 0 miles
Stu
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Sat May 03, 2008 4:00 am

Day One Thursday May 1

The overnight charge held up and we were back at Ken?s bright and early. Problem was rapidly diagnosed to a faulty and possibly bodged alternator conversion job. After a quick parts run and pleasant wait on a replacement alternator Vince was able to expertly fix up the entire charging system. The voltage regulator and a few excess wires evidently added by the previous owner were removed and a new Chevy alternator with integral regulation installed. Vince did a stellar job of getting us going, carefully installing correct coloured wiring from a box of old harnesses he has.

We set out again at about 7:00 pm. No problems with the charging system, and night driving with the Halogens on was great.

We only made it to Parry Sound due to the late hour. The car ran very well at sixty to eighty mph. Getting more familiar with the controls and steering; terrific fun. Able to run all electrical devises with abandon now! Getting used to the rotaflex driveline lash, but not really ready for the twisty bits yet.

Crashed into the sack and looking forward to tomorrow.

Total Progress 130 miles
Stu
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Sat May 03, 2008 4:03 am

Day Two Friday May 2nd

Up late after a great sleep. Car started easily in the brisk Ontario morning. Light rain and grey skies. Inserted a shop towel under the rear view mirror to prevent a flood.

Headed north towards Sudbury holding the speed down. Scenery getting more rugged up the eastern shore of Georgian Bay.

Arrived Sudbury without incident. Very disappointed as we could not find the giant nickel for the classic photo op, but decided to press on. The route follows Lake Huron through mining country. Achieving about 25 miles per imperial gallon, which we figure is OK considering all the stuff in the boot.


Scooted through Sault Ste. Marie after a quick stop for a tail light bulb. Tapped on the tail light assembly and it lit up, so just a small electrical gremlin; that?s why Colin Chapman put two on the car.

Fred took over pilot duties for the first time. Gave the car a good review, deciding it has the feel of a race car for the street. Found a comfortable pace at about seventy miles an hour. We would get passed by the odd semi on the downhill sections.

We had decided to check out the low fuel lamp by pressing on without a fuel stop. Worked out perfectly, with low fuel coming on right in front of the only open station in Wawa (population ~3000) with premium fuel. Clearly we have avoided the vacation rush.
Decided we had a great day under the belt. Car had run very well and nothing had broken. After a pleasant supper, a short but intense rain shower revealed another flood problem at the rear window. We hadn?t noticed anything while underway, but with the rain collecting against the top of the gasket we had quite a bit of water on the rear seat area. I just knew the car cover in the boot would come in handy!

Total progress for the day 460 miles
Total progress so far 590 miles
Stu
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PostPost by: RotoFlexible » Sat May 03, 2008 11:12 am

This is fun. I hope you are taking photos!

Good job getting the alternator sorted before you were too far into the trip.
Andrew Bodge
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I love the sound of a torque wrench in the morning. Sounds like... progress.
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PostPost by: robcall » Sat May 03, 2008 11:39 am

Hi Stu,
Would this be your car awaiting you?

Google Earth

43o56'02.57"N
80o01'58.73"W
Nigel Robertson
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PostPost by: oldokie » Sat May 03, 2008 8:17 pm

If anyone's interested:

43.9340 N
80.0329 W
Gets you to the same location in Virtual Earth.
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PostPost by: robcall » Sat May 03, 2008 10:57 pm

Gene-those coordinates take you to the correct spot on Google earth too!

And yet,when I place the cursor on the map I get my figures :roll:
Am I missing something?
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PostPost by: oldokie » Sun May 04, 2008 4:16 pm

Metric vs Whitworth, maybe, at any rate it's a good thing we're not navigating for Stu, he'd be half way to Fairbanks or Atlanta by now!
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Sun May 04, 2008 4:41 pm

One is in degrees , minutes, seconds, hundredth of seconds. The other is degrees and percent of degrees both the same just a different terminology.

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PostPost by: elancoupe » Sun May 04, 2008 5:23 pm

stugilmour wrote:Day Two Friday May 2nd
. Worked out perfectly, with low fuel coming on right in front of the only open station in Wawa (population ~3000) with premium fuel. Clearly we have avoided the vacation rush.


You did take some photos of the giant goose in Wawa? :D

The trip from Soo to Wawa is quite beautiful along Lake Superior, always wished I could have traveled it in an Elan.
Mike
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Tue May 06, 2008 3:35 pm

43o 56' 05.00" N
80o 02' 03.74" W

I think this revised co-ordinate above may actually be the car! Note the various bodies in the bone yard surrounding the buildings and the trees to the left.

Here is the link to Ken's web site. The building directly north of the car is the traditionally shaped barn in the web site photo.

http://kmrestorations.com/index.html

Cheers!
Stu
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Tue May 06, 2008 6:10 pm

Day Three Saturday May 3rd
Wawa, Ontario to Kenora, Ontario

Got up early in the morning in Wawa. The motel owner served an excellent pot of coffee and carrot cake muffins fresh out of the oven.

Took the photo opportunity of the Big Goose, which resulted in our first contact with the local constabulary. They pulled over and asked if the car was registered. I said we had a transit permit. They said all was good, and mentioned they assumed we were pulled over to get a photo of the goose. Noted that the Lotus is low enough to get the goose and the car in the same frame.

On the road again. We experienced notchiness in the throttle. Re-routing the cable above the brake servo hoses solved the problem.

As we gained elevation above the north shore of Lake Superior, we ran into light snow. Snow wasn?t sticking to the road, but had concern about possible freezing rain.

We noted light steering and tramlining on rippled pavement at speed, wondering if the car will need alignment when we arrive in Calgary. Discussed this over, and decided handling might be affected by the eighty pounds of tools, spares battery charges, etc. we have loaded in the boot. Figure repacking in Kenora will be advisable.

More relaxed with the car now. Start concentrating on the sound of the delightful twin cam, but the song seams a little loud. Inspection reveals we are missing at least one bolt from the lower exhaust manifold to down pipe flange connection. Manifold and pipe are too hot to feel if we are missing any other bolts. Make note of this and decide if the opportunity is available in Kenora we will get it attended to.

The road is a delight. All two lane with multiple passing lanes that are very well marked. Road is in way better condition than we expected; perhaps the frost has not come out of the ground yet as there are very few pot holes or heaving. Car has the feel of a bike, and we are starting to get used to the high rpm character of the drive-train. Pulls very well up the hills, and we are starting to master the rotaflex driveline lash. Still not ready to control the car with the throttle in the corners. Man, this is living!

Pull into Thunder Bay pretty bagged. Have a great lunch of deli sandwiches and coffee at the Safeway grocery store.

Allow the car to cool off over lunch so we can peak under the bonnet. Break out the pre-mixed coolant we have brought along and top up the rad. Note that the cap has a tendency to loosen, and that we have lost about a pint. Thankfully no leakage from the water pump. Figure we have removed a bubble from the heater core, as heat / defrost performance improves, or we have figured out the controls correctly.

Pull into Kenora. WalMart does not have belt dressing, but I stock up on electric terminal cleaner and other potions. We start hunting through town for a motel, and end up on a rough side street. Unfortunately I contact the exhaust pipe, and Fred swears we have another exhaust leak. The muffler shop fix is looking like a more urgent item now!

We are seasoned Lotus travellers now, and know exactly what we need in a motel. Downhill parking for push starting, a bar and a restaurant with an open kitchen top the list; bonus marks if they offer AAA discount. Find just what we are looking for.

Brian joins in the parking lot to ask about the car. He is a tech at the local Canadian Tire. Gives us the bad news that all of the electric power will be disconnected Sunday morning at 6:30, and no shops will be operational. Suggests we take in the downtown pancake breakfast instead.

Off to bed after a great dinner and a few celebratory drinks. We are feeling very confident of our ride, even with the expected minor problems.


Total progress for the day 614 miles
Total progress so far 1,204 miles
Stu
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Tue May 06, 2008 6:11 pm

Day Four Saturday May 3rd
Kenora, Ontario to Regina, Saskatchewan

Up early again. I drag myself out of bed at 6:00 AM and make a pot of coffee prior to the power going off. We have hot water, but pretty dark in the shower.

We carefully re-pack the car for optimal weight distribution. This results in more limited rear vision, but what the heck. Fiddle with the window washer and get it to work.

We start to get fairly good snow fall east of Winnipeg, with restricted visibility. Glad we have serviced the window washer. We fire up all electrical systems with abandon.

Breakfast in Winnipeg. We get a paper to check the weather outlook, and note it is supposed to be sunny out; the snow storm has come further south than expected, but we look forward to clear weather to the west. We accumulate about a half inch of very light snow on the boot lid during breakfast.

We note jumpiness in the ammeter, but appear to be maintaining battery charge fine. Examination shows a dodgy connection on the ignition lamp wire to alternator which we fix. On the plus side, the various oil leaks have healed themselves with the steady running. We are learning that when the Lotus gives you warning signs of an issue you should deal with them.

We still seam to have movement on the ammeter. Further examination reveals the cause; another loose wire on the main charging wire from the alternator. Another visit to Canadian Tire and all is good; starting to think we could get sponsorship from them.

We pull over under an over pass in the light rain/snow. This is when we realize we have developed a starter problem. Car proves very light to push start, and fires up easily.

We pull into the east side of Regina pretty tired but in good spirits. We are close enough to home now that we know we will make it. The handling of the car is vastly improved from the weight distribution efforts. The engine is consuming very little oil if any, and we only have a minor puff of blue smoke on start-up. Very pleased with the car, and recognize all of the small problems are to be expected.

The Holiday Inn has the requisite amenities of restaurant, bar and push start parking. Fred suggests using the wheel nut hammer to encourage the starter, and it works great!

Total progress for the day 650 miles
Total progress so far 1,854 miles
Stu
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Tue May 06, 2008 6:20 pm

Day Five Monday May 4th
Regina, Saskatchewan to Calgary, Alberta

Up at a reasonable time. Sunny day and warmer. We press on to Moose Jaw for breakfast and a photo opportunity at the giant moose. Another small detour to get premium fuel. Tap in the starter motor and we are off.

Unfortunately we have to re-pack a bit as our luggage has cracked the armrest cover in the rear seat area. This is the biggest disappointment of the whole trip, but appears to be fixable.

Pretty uneventful run into Calgary. The flat straight highway provides an opportunity to check out the speedo error by comparison to the Garmin. The speedo is approximately 9 to 11 mph optimistic; no wonder the highway trucks appeared to be travelling at warp speed around Lake Superior.

In town driving in Calgary goes well. The clutch engages OK, but the pedal return feels slow and emits a sort of squishy sound. Just another minor item to check out.

We sit down to a well deserved beer at Fred?s. Congratulate ourselves on a great trip and a great car. Note that we have kept our humour and spirit, but are pretty tired. Fred notes there is another Plus 2 listed for sale in Calgary, and Geoff Minors is selling his in our area as well. Not sure he is ready to chuck the TR8 over the side for a Lotus, but he remains impressed.

A gentle push and I head off home. Car feels better with less weight of Fred?s luggage and personal mass. Can?t wait to ditch the other 130 pounds of junk!

Lynn arrives home from dog agility class and sees the car for the first time. She can?t stop laughing at the size of the car. Particularly amused by the rear seats. Manages to get in and out of the car without incident. Gets a real kick out of the frog eye lights. Wonders why I have not driven by her parents place to show the car off, so I have to admit to the rather unorthodox starting procedure and point out they have far too flat a driveway.

Lynn is very pleased with the condition of the body and paint. Agrees the dash is in serious need of work, and is glad I have already ordered carpets. Only other cosmetic issues are small rust spots on the rear bumper chrome, and a couple of severe tears in the headliner (is this fabric available?).

Very pleased with Ken, Vince, and Scott at KM Restorations. They did a good job of sorting the car out prior to pick-up. The charging system was our main problem, and the car really needed to be used continuously to recognize the problems. Vince went the extra mile and stayed late into the night to get us on the road; thanks again Vince! The rest of the car worked very well, particularly considering it is 37 years young. I can honestly tell Lynn that this should be a reliable ride when the small issues are sorted.

Total progress for the day 378 miles
Total progress so far 2,232 miles
Stu
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PostPost by: robcall » Wed May 07, 2008 5:51 am

Very impressive Stu :lol:
One eye on the road and one for the Moose?
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