Lotus Elan

Spyder chassis & possible five speed?

PostPost by: stugilmour » Sat Aug 16, 2008 5:41 pm

I have had my car inspected, and, kinda as expected, the frame will need immediate replacement . Cannot be licensed until repaired is the current opinion, but I am trying some other options just to be able to drive a bit this fall.

I have read a bunch of the archive comments on Spyder vs. Lotus replacement chassis, and now trying to decide what to get.

I am pretty relaxed on the originality front, so the Spyder chassis option looks pretty compelling. My goal is a nice reliable driver for occasional use, and I am OK with sensible upgrades; improved wiring, better starter, alternator conversion, electric headlight lifts, cassette water pump, current radio, etc. come to mind. Will probably get the body/paint done while the chassis swap is underway this winter, and a color change from stock will be happening. i want a good looking car, but not overly fussed on all original.

My big outstanding question is whether the Spyder chassis would make it easier to fit a non-stock replacement five speed down the road. This really interests me, as not that comfortable with the high rpm's when driving the "wide open plains" around Calgary. Five speed would be great for the 100 miles to the mountain roads :D

I also read in some (rather dated) archive posts that Spyder was putting together a five speed conversion kit, I assume for the TC. Does anyone know if this happened? I read over quite a few posts regarding five speed conversions and admit to being a little lost in the technical details. Just really wondering if the Spyder opens up some possibilities that would be more difficult or impossible with the OEM chassis. I am going to get in touch with Spyder next week; insight/background on this appreciated.

Keep in mind it is not particularly easy here to source some of the transmissions used in GB cars of the past; we just didn't see them here in quantity at all. Therefore for this to be a reasonable option for me in Western Canada, it almost has to be a complete kit c/w rebuilt five speed or a very common NA spec donor vehicle.

The five speed deal is not an immediate plan, more a future consideration. Could effect my chassis selection.

Thanks
Stu
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PostPost by: MintSprint » Sat Aug 16, 2008 8:52 pm

My understanding is that the current Spyder chassis is a 'universal' item, that works with all the options they offer, including wishbone rear suspension and the Zetec/5-speed conversion.

Of course, that means that a Twin Cam/5-speed conversion should be equally straightforward.

But why not simply ask Spyder direct?

I fitted a Spyder chassis to my last Elan and whilst they arguably de-value the car slightly because of originality, it's definitely and improvement in engineering, strength and accessibility over the pressed steel Lotus item. The only criticism I had with mine was that the stove enamel finish chipped if you so much as looked at it sharply... if it hasn't improved (mine was several years ago), you might want to consider getting it blasted off and a decent powder coated finish applied, as your first step when the chassis arrives.
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PostPost by: leedsj » Sun Aug 17, 2008 9:01 am

I love my original +2S (with 5 speed ;) - love it - BUT it let me down again yesterday and I missed my friend's wedding (well, got going again and there for the speeches!) was DREAMING of spyder converting!

I am (I think?) an exception in that I use my car pretty much everyday though
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PostPost by: gav » Sun Aug 17, 2008 12:08 pm

Hi Stu

I am running a Spyder zetec chassis in my Sprint and am using the original Lotus twincam mated to an MT75 (Sierra box) and Sierra diff. I could fit a zetec but I decided not to.
In my experience you need to plan ahead - Spyder do two versions - a direct replacement and a spaceframe and the space for the gearbox varies between the two.
I believe that the main difference is that the direct replacement is based around bent sheet whereas the spaceframe is made up of box section and tube. The spaceframe is much stiffer than the original.
I am currently building up a modsports set up which will use a BDG mated to a ZF box. This was originally a roadgoing spaceframe chassis - I gave Andy at Spyders my ZF box and he adjusted the tubing to ensure it fitted.

If you are thinking along these lines, I suggest you source your preferred box first and see which combination it will fit.

Try calling or mailing Andy at Spyders.

Good luck.

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PostPost by: rocket » Sun Aug 17, 2008 1:49 pm

I have a 5speed with 13os and since having gearbox rebuilt and a few other items sorted it has been reliable..i think you need to keep on top of potential problems,service regularily and they work fine...

Ian.
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PostPost by: MintSprint » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:35 am

gav wrote:...Spyder do two versions - a direct replacement and a spaceframe and the space for the gearbox varies between the two.
I believe that the main difference is that the direct replacement is based around bent sheet whereas the spaceframe is made up of box section and tube. The spaceframe is much stiffer than the original.


Spyder used to do two versions of the spaceframe, one for standard running gear, one for the Zetec/MT75 conversion (they also do a 'refurbished' pressed steel chassis, but that's a different thing altogether), but I think they've rationalised down to a single 'universal' version of the spaceframe, these days.
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PostPost by: kcrossle » Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:12 pm

Adding to the posts above, contacting Spyder directly is the best path. I've dealt mostly with Sean but with Andy on occasion. I find them knowledgeable, experienced and *very* willing to work with their customers in all possible ways. Definitely one of the best customer experiences I've ever had.

Keith
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:07 pm

Thanks for all the replies.

As advised, I have been in email contact with Spyder, and they have been very helpful. We are presently preparing/refining a comprehensive parts list so that all required items can be shipped by sea to Vancouver BC and hence to Calgary. Shipping cost being refined by Spyder.

They build a crate for the frame, and can place all incidental parts within the crate. This will be a big benefit for me, because sourcing parts in Western Canada is relatively difficult due to shipping charges, customs charges, and availability.

Current thinking/plan is to replace essentially to a full Spyder rolling chassis complete with MT75 five speed, brakes, suspension components, wiring loom, etc. Will be retaining the twin cam and final drive.

Question:

Help on any special tools I may require for the project? More concerned with stuff I will have difficulty sourcing locally that would hold up progress. Less concerned with breaking out parts on the old rolling chassis that will not be required for the final car configuration. Real concern I would have to hold up replacing the body back on the chassis for lack of a missing part or special tool. I will still have to go through a final inspection by qualified mechanic after full assembly in order to certify for road worthiness, so some things may be able to be done by the mechanic at this stage.

Here is my list so far:
- Have made note of spring compressors; should be able to get locally.
- Understand I need special tool for rear hub removal.
- Anything required for the final drive bearings or shaft removal?
- Is a run out gauge procedure required for the brake rotors and/or hubs if I am replacing bearings and rotors with new parts? Perhaps this is picked up on final inspection after full assembly and not a big concern?

Cheers!
Stu
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PostPost by: kcrossle » Sat Aug 23, 2008 12:55 pm

Stu - I'm supposed to be packing up to go to my daughter's wedding* so I'll just post a brief note. My recent and ongoing experience with my Spyder / Plus 2 should be helpful. I'll post a proper response later, as I recover.

You're right to get stuff shipped in the crate; shipping costs are hair raising. Some notes (to be extended and amplified) are on my web site in my sig.

Keith

* Which has severely cramped the Lotus budget.
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