Lotus Elan

The abridged saga of my Europa lunacy

PostPost by: Chuck Nukem » Fri Sep 24, 2021 6:26 pm

Greetings all,

As a recent acolyte to the Elan forum I felt It would be appropriate to share my near decade long journey acquiring, restoring, and modifying my tattered fleet of Europas. The Elan I recently purchased is the first running Lotus I have had the pleasure of owning. All the others seem to have a habit of having spent time at the bottom of the ocean, or as a home for wildlife. In total I currently care for 4 1/2 Europas ranging from 2 early S1A cars, an S2, and a Twin Cam.
Attachments
lotus 6.jpg and
lotus 8.jpg and
2013-11-03_18-47-28_541.jpg and
2013-12-01_15-43-08_444.jpg and
2013-12-20_21-07-48_886.jpg and
2014-02-28_16-18-11_72.jpg and
2014-03-10_17-55-02_216.jpg and
2014-03-12_19-32-32_210.jpg and
2014-03-14_12-36-13_154.jpg and
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Fri Sep 24, 2021 8:05 pm

I had a couple of Specials in the 80's, nice cars, but I guess my true love has always been the Elan. I do like type 46's though, if I were ever to own a Europe/a it would have to be one of them.

I know this is an Elan forum, but a lot of us have enjoyed following Henry's posts on his Cosworth Super 7 and I for one would enjoy reading about your Europas.
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PostPost by: TBG » Fri Sep 24, 2021 9:16 pm

So would I. D
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PostPost by: SENC » Fri Sep 24, 2021 9:51 pm

+1! Love reading about any work on Lotii of the era!
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PostPost by: The Veg » Sat Sep 25, 2021 2:10 pm

Likewise!
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PostPost by: Chuck Nukem » Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:43 pm

Thanks guys. Those pics are circa 2013/2014. The project was interrupted by a multi year house remodel and the acquisition of some very neglected CNC machines.

This second round of pics catch us up to 2020. It is difficult to convey the amount of sanding that was done...It felt like I was doing it the slowest way possible at the time. Maybe the next car will go faster :) The panel gaps on the Europa are just as strange as the famed RH door mold on the Elan. Making the Europa doors fit was a real challenge... If you are not familiar, the Europa door is a large pin which is held in position by two bobbins on the body. They door is then affixed to the pin by a threaded bushing which clamps the door between two washers. I will post more pics of this in the next round. The rear decklid has such a strange fit that I decided to make some improvements... After fixing all the body lines on it I realized that the decklid weighed over 20lbs and that drastic actions were needed to reverse the course of the weight gain.
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PostPost by: Chuck Nukem » Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:51 pm

Here is where some of the distractions start to manifest in this project. I decided to experiment with making my own molds of the panels so that I could remake them in the correct shape without the weight penalty of the filler... I promised some lunacy didn't I? I was inspired by many different sources. The guys who made the Britten motorcycle in NZ, Gordon Murray, and others. As such there was only one material to make the new panels from.
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Last edited by Chuck Nukem on Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: Chuck Nukem » Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:57 pm

The molds turned out to be quite a large job. I hope to put the knowledge to use on some other Lotus parts in the future. Carbon fiber is an order of magnitude more difficult to work with than fiberglass, but I am starting to get the hang of it as well. The new rear decklid came out just a shade under 5lbs which is less than half the weight of the original and is substantially stiffer!
Attachments
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20210816_140836 (2).jpg and
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PostPost by: Chuck Nukem » Sat Sep 25, 2021 10:58 pm

The mechanical side of this project has been multi faceted. I have been teaching myself machining in parallel with this project and sought out a lathe and mill in order to make the parts I have been designing for the car. Here are some photos of the machines I have. The mill is a 1991 Kitamura Mycenter 4 which was on the verge of being scrapped due to a tool changer problem. The issue turned out to be that a mouse had chewed a wire from the control. I gave it a cosmetic restoration, new lube lines and meters, and changed the y axis bearings due to some *deferred maintenance*. The original owner of this machine was Pratt and Whitney who used it to machine turbine blades. 30 years later it will make Lotus parts :D

The lathe is a more recent acquisition which I picked up from a former customer who closed down. It is a 1996 Fortune V-turn 36. I gave it a light cosmetic restoration and renamed it the "Fortune Cookie" Both machines have Fanuc control and so far have been pretty reliable.
Attachments
20181026_184807.jpg and
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PostPost by: Chuck Nukem » Sat Sep 25, 2021 11:12 pm

The machining projects started out to improve the rear brakes on the Europa. One unfortunate specification of the car was the drum brakes fitted to the rear. The racing spec type 47 had rear discs with girling fixed calipers and a dual master arrangement with a bias bar.

There are several conversions which fit cast iron sliding calipers to the rear, but I was after something more performance oriented. My solution is to integrate an aluminum fixed 4 piston caliper with an integral parking brake. I am using the wilwood powerlite caliper which has been fitted to Elans in the past. Unfortunately the clearance inside the 13" wheel and the restrictions of the trailing arm suspension geometry make this packaging quite challenging. I am also working on a bracket to fit this same style wilwood caliper with larger pistons to the front.

In addition to the calipers I am working on a rotor arrangement which uses the factory front rotor as a floating disc. I turn away the center of the cast rotor, and then mill pockets to accept AP floating hardware. For the fronts I am going to turn down some aluminum hubs which will accept the floating hardware directly. The anticipated weight savings of this arrangement is 10lbs saved per side on the front (all unsprung weight, half of it rotating mass) and 2 lbs saved in the rear over the drums.
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PostPost by: Chuck Nukem » Sat Sep 25, 2021 11:17 pm

This is some of the work on the floating rotor set up mentioned earlier. I am not sure if I can make floating rotors fit in the rear of the Europa due to space constraints. The fronts will be much easier to make this arrangement work. The rotors could easily be run as fixed two piece units both front and rear which is how the factory arrangement was (ie, fixed rotor & fixed caliper).
Attachments
20210902_225403.jpg and
20210903_185515.jpg and
20210903_205247.jpg and
20210904_192914.jpg and
20210904_192920.jpg and
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PostPost by: Mazzini » Sun Sep 26, 2021 6:25 am

Impressive!
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PostPost by: Chuck Nukem » Sun Sep 26, 2021 7:29 am

Mazzini wrote:Impressive!


Thanks!

Here is the most recent pic of the car which is a failed attempt at basecoat. I made the mistake of doing the molds in the paint booth and had wax contamination in the final coat of paint. I am preparing to redo the "booth" and spray the car in the coming weeks before the weather cools off. The car will be JPS as it was within the vin numbers of the original 200 cars and came as that color originally. The dash was missing so I do not have the little badge (if it was in fact a genuine car). I am getting a little wild with the stripes and plan to put them down after the first few coats of clear as real gold leaf instead of vinyl. I did some test panels and the gold came out good after a few tries. I think it will look sharp on the cleared carbon.
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20201017_193233.jpg and
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PostPost by: TBG » Sun Sep 26, 2021 8:08 am

GOSH is all I can muster! Amazing stuff that ordinary mortals can only dream of. D
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PostPost by: Chuck Nukem » Sun Sep 26, 2021 8:15 am

TBG wrote:GOSH is all I can muster! Amazing stuff that ordinary mortals can only dream of. D


Thank you!
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