Lotus Elan

After waiting only 35 years - Restoration has started

PostPost by: Funtime » Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:02 am

Hi to you all in this vibrant community, I have been a dormant member for some time, just waiting for the right time to emerge from my shell.

I have had a an Elan S3 SE (NWE 973D) since I was 22 years old, I am now 60, much of its life with me has unfortunately been under a tarpaulin, for this I feel very guilty. My apology follows:-.

I bought the car for ?600.00 in 1977 from a college friend and had a wonderful year tinkering and driving it on road rallies, autotests and the like. Unfortunately the engine was not as strong as my right foot and expired with considerable might. I dropped a valve, the meeting of it and no. 1 piston was not a happy one, I was very upset at the time as the 240Z won.

These things happen so next day I set to stripping the engine, the mess was considerable. I Sent the block off to be bored and sleeved, I ported the head and did a significant amount of work on the engine prior to re-assembly, the car was a deep passion at the time. I dread to think how much money I spent on that engine but it was a princely sum.

Meanwhile I started looking closely at the chassis and suspension, they were not as perfect as the engine was going to be, there was no hesitation, I decided to do a nut and bolt restoration. This took me two years of late nights and in 1979 she was on the road once more. I ran the engine in over a couple of days, the smile on my face was indelible, the engine mods were just magnificent, she was punching out about 130 BHP and was still quite tractable.

Back to club road rallies with Vickers Motor Club, I was winning many events and the car just kept on giving.

It lasted about 12 months and on a beautiful sunny day in July the unique twink induction roar, the orchestral exhaust symphony and the smell of burnt oil stopped. An old bird in a Morris Minor ran a red light and "T Boned" her. All that time and money, the sublime handling and all the other privileges of being a custodian - gone - I don't mind admitting, I sobbed. The Moggie didn't really have a mark on her other than that bloody snow plough of a bumper. My car was trashed the drivers footwell was now about 8" wide, front suspension trashed, chassis badly distorted, windscreen, dashboard (I made it myself an lacquered it to match the Lotus sheen & popped in a couple of extra instruments, Bovril's ready gauge, pop up toaster et al), steering wheel (another part that I restored, leather trimmed and cross stitched) were a shed end. My physical injuries were remarkably superficial but the mental scars took a deal longer to repair.

Bought another Elan shell and cut out the only good bit which fortunately was the part of the jigsaw I needed, grafted it in, got married, moved house, had three children, got them through university, restored an 8 bedroom Georgian House, started a business in construction project management, hell the time has gone by and the "Black Plastic Rat" (the name was given to the car by the friends at the time) has just gone by the wayside. Many people have asked to buy the car over the years, my response has been "no - it would be like selling my youth", I have always harboured the intention of restoring her for a second time".

Just finished building a very large garage/workshop in my garden, that wasn't a walk in the park, I live in a listed building and the planners wanted a stone clad chateau. It was finished last autumn and the car is now in it's component form, all bagged up and ready to go. The garage cost more that the car will be worth but it is a needs to an end and the passion for the car has returned with gusto. I am blessed with a wealth of enthusiasm and a dearth of cash, the motorhome is evil it therefore must go!

It is my intention to restore the little monkey over the next 12 months, the car is mine and will never belong to anyone else during my lifetime so I do not intend to pander to purism, likewise I will not be changing bits just for the sake of it, I have decided to do some upgrades based on the safety case, improving handling and performance. I will keep all the original parts.

So - new body, Spyder Chassis, 26R wheelarches, 26R Wheels, 140BHP symphony orchestra under the lid. Suspension upgrade, British Racing Green & Cream paint job, bin the Blaupunkt, I never listened to it anyway.

I can't tell you how excited I am, my wife thinks I have left her but thankfully she is involved very much in the project too, as are the children, they bought me Brian Buckland's book for Christmas.

Keep you posted with some more pics in due course.
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PostPost by: PaulRB » Thu May 07, 2015 7:16 am

I hope you have fun I am with the one I have just got. I too am building a garage so as to be able to walk all the way around it with the doors open and room for a lift. Paul
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Thu May 07, 2015 8:47 am

Hi Funtime

The garage looks great ( and expensive!!!) - and enough headroom and space for a nice hoist ! You can do better than 140 hp in a road tractable twink these days also :D

cheers
Rohan
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PostPost by: Funtime » Thu May 07, 2015 8:58 am

Hi Paul

Your +2 looks to be very tidy under the engine bay, I used to tarmac rally my Baby S2 many years ago, had great fun and won quite a few trophies.

You do really need a good garage, unfortunately my garage cost a bit more than anticipated but it was worth it. It is like a dream to be able to walk around the car. Problem is that I have spent all the restoration money on the garage, so it seems that the order of the day will be hard work, sell the motorhome and do as much as I can myself to save cash. My next purchases will be good compressor and tools, 12t press, shotblast cabinet, mig welder.

All the while I am dreaming of a trip to the South of France when she is finished, that's my motivation.

Enjoy your restoration and if you need any help with the garage PM me, I am a Construction Project Manager.

Regards
Frank
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PostPost by: Funtime » Thu May 07, 2015 9:01 am

Hi Rohan

Interested in your comment on my projected 140 BHP, clearly I wrongly thought any more means a very cammy engine, any advice on this would be gratefully received.

Regards
Frank
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Thu May 07, 2015 10:08 am

A standard bottom end with a 6500 rpm limit and 1600 cc 83.5 mm bore can achieve 150 + HP in a road tractable engine the days with the modern short duration high lift cams available

You need:

1. Good head porting and 1.625 inch inlet / 1.4 inch ex valves ( the McCoy conversion heads or the new heads with the larger inlet ports give the best results)
2. A high lift short duration cam and suitable spring pack and valve length to allow the higher lift in the 0.420 to 0.460 range and duration around 390 degrees seat to seat or less.
- eg QED 420 or similar from Dave Bean , John McCoy etc
3. A top quality exhaust - eg TTR big bore road exhaust
4. Lift the compression ratio to around 10.5 to 11:1 with a small piston intruder - many heads these days have had enough shaving to achieve this anyhow with standard flat top pistons. Modern premium unleaded and the cam above work with this sort of compression ratio.
5. 34 or 36 mm chokes and a dyno session to set them and distributor curve to suit the local fuel

A few other little more subtle build details items also help

* synthetic oil for lower frictional losses in both engine and gear box and diff
* deeper air-box to avoid starving No. 4 cylinder
* match the combustion chamber volumes and make sure the valves are set at right height and not shrouded by the head shape.
* make sure the carbs and exhaust match the head ports
* a good engine balance and lighter flywheel make it more responsive for the same horsepower


The same specs but with a 8000 rpm rev limit with a steel bottom end will give around 165 HP but the cost step up is significant for the steel crank and top quality racing rods and new main caps and line boring if you have the older round main caps.

If your going to use that HP then you also need to do something about things like wheels, diff output shafts and sump baffling but thats another whole area !!!

cheers
Rohan
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PostPost by: dougal9887 » Thu May 07, 2015 7:39 pm

Rohan,
I'm interested to note your recommendation on compression ratio above of 10.5:1 - 11:1. Previous posts seemed to recommend a max of 10.5:1. I will be determining the compression ratio this weekend as the bottom end build gets underway. I'm hoping to maximise torque.
The head is ready to go: Standard big valves, mildly ported head with 3 angle narrow seat on inlet and standard seat on exhaust, matched ports with step on exhaust side, matched chambers (actually a variance of .4 cc largest to smallest, hopefully good enough), 420 cams and Q55 springs etc shimmed for fitted length and spring load and the head's first 4thou skim.
Tall block conversion bored 40thou with QED pistons giving 1700cc. Now fully balanced.
Cam timing will be set to the recommendation you gave for max torque.
Dellortos rebuilt with 34mm chokes and QED recommended jets. TTR big bore exhaust system. Final tuning and ignition settings will be on rolling road.
I suspect that the compression ratio will work out nearer 11:1. Is this now considered satisfactory? Or should I be getting closer to 10.5 using a thicker gasket? Sorry if I'm high jacking the thread.
Dougal.
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PostPost by: elan66 » Fri May 08, 2015 8:56 am

Hi welcome Funtime,
having a decent workshop will make life a lot easier,and a lot of tools can be picked up at bargain prices(gumtree is great)eg i have just picked up a parts washer and 15ltrs of washer fluid for ?30.Loads of great guys on here will help with parts too.
Hi Dougal
If you are hijacking the thread i am glad as i am just about to start a rebuild with same spec in mind :) ,i suspect a few more will be interested in any answers
regards
Paul
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Fri May 08, 2015 9:00 am

I guess I have been thinking about the upper limit recently based on the following:

You can certainly use 10.5:1 with modern premium unleaded as i have built and run those engines with no problem using sprint cams. I have not myself built a road going twink with higher compression ratio but some recent calculation work I did on the dynamic compression ratio with cams like the QED 420 with around 380 to 390 degrees seat to seat compared to the 272 seat to seat duration of a sprint cam suggested 11 :1 was doable.

I also have a friend who has recently built a Renault cross flow engine for his Europa with around 11:1 and a similar cam. The Renault has a very similar chamber shape as the twin cam so I believe it is transferable to a twin cam.

I also recently drove an Elan with a 11:1 compression ratio and a slightly longer duration 300 degree cam and it ran fine on road fuel. I did not build the engine but it had great toque and top end power and no sign of knock with full throttle at medium to low revs

Given the above I now feel you could go up to 11:1. None of the above engines had programmable ignition and if you had that with the ability to fine tune the advance curve you could be even more confident of running OK at 11:1 on road fuel.

cheers
Rohan
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PostPost by: dougal9887 » Fri May 08, 2015 7:41 pm

Thanks for the update Rohan.
I'll get the pistons in and calculate the compression ratio. If it comes out between 10.5 & 11, that's what I'll go with. If not, I'll have to make a decision!
Dougal.

PS I'll get off this thread now and start a new one as the build progresses.
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