Lotus Elan

+2 on tour

PostPost by: JJDraper » Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:37 pm

After sterling efforts from Frank at Options to get the accident damage sorted, and Neil?s repair of a fuel leak we set off at 4am in the +2 to take the tunnel to Calais and then a European tour. At 4.05am I stopped in a lay-by to slacken off the handbrake which I had set too tight the day before!

After a quick adjustment, we were back on our way to catch the 7.20am crossing and on to Cologne, our first stop. The car felt taught and with all the luggage, the drone of the exhaust was damped out a little, so we kept up a good pace. Getting to the Tunnel was an easy 150 miles, with light traffic on an early Sunday morning. The journey to Cologne or Koln was pretty uneventful although traffic around the Brussels ring round was surprisingly busy. A stop off in Koln for a trip to the cathedral and a walk up the tower (heart attack stuff, with no lifts), but the views were spectacular. The car started to get hot in the city traffic, but the fan kicked in and kept it all OK. Onwards to our first stop in a small town around 40miles south of Koln.

Next day, beautiful weather and a hearty breakfast in the Gasthof. Drove along the Rheine for a while and took in the view of the remains of the bridge at Remagen. A significant WW2 location. Next stop, Koblenz and the meeting point of the Mosel and the Rhine ? called the ?Deutsches Eck? and a dark, brooding statue of Kaiser Willie. On to the Nurburgring, car running really well and I was hoping for a run around the track, but it was not to be as the track was closed for maintenance ? probably a lucky escape as the heavens opened and rain poured down. A few drips on our ankles reminded us that more work is needed to eliminate the leaks. On to Trier, a town with a rich Roman history and many spectacularly well preserved Roman buildings. The weather was getting warmer, and a stroll in the evening heat followed by meal and local wine was most welcome. Next day, we head south for Austria ? a long drive on fast autobahns. The car was running well, but the high speed handling was twitchy, so Mrs D let me do the driving. The car has a 3.55 diff, and four speed box, making around 4,000 rpm at 80, which was a comfortable cruising speed, however, the long drive meant the speed kept creeping up to eat into the miles. On the unrestricted sections, I had to run at around 90mph to keep up with the traffic in the two lane sections, and devilment caused a few runs past the ton. Above 5,000 rpm in top, the car develops a real roar, which I presume is the intake. Water temp was rock solid, with the fan required on slower stretches in traffic, but fine at speed. The novelty of the Oil temp gauge kept me amused for a while, but on the on the long autobahns, it tended to go to the top (140/50degC) and stay there. Anticipating this I had changed the oil for some Millers 20/60 semi synthetic that Mattys were flogging. I suspect this also helped keep the oil pressure rock solid. Stopped for a late lunch in Lindau on Lake Constance, our last stop before Austria. The weather took turn for the worse with some heavy showers before we got to our B&B in St Gallenkirch, Austria. The scenery in the alps was spectacular and our B&B was up a very steep road, off the main road ? cue the handbrake issue. I had slackened it off a little too much and it would not hold the car on the steep road while I juggled with the throttle and brakes to get up the driveway. The high 1st gear and asthmatic tickover only made things worse. I eventually got in by taking a bit of a run. I realised that the altitude was affecting the tickover, which was one of the reasons I was having problems, so after unloading and having a shower, I reset the tickover to give around 1,000rpm. Excellent supper in a local hostelry, with a beer and a bottle of wine helped ease the tense muscles after the long run. Next morning was a rest day for the car as we went for a walk up one of the local mountains ? just walk in any direction! We went for the easy option of a cable car half way up, then a 600m ascent up the mountain to the top and a cable car back down ? cheating, but made for a great day. Austria in the summer is a brilliant place to visit; the prices are off season, as their main income is in winter. The accommodation was 49Euro for a superb room with en suite, and an excellent breakfast. Local restaurants were equally good value. The roads are great and the scenery is picture book ? as long as the weather holds!

Next day, the weather broke and rain set in for our next stop, St Moritz, Switzerland and the end of our pre-booked accommodation.. We had to retrace our steps and drive through Lichtenstein to get to Switzerland and avoided motorways, preferring the excellent small roads and mountain passes. One thing we discovered is that if it is raining in the valleys, it snows at the top.. As we approached the top of the Fluella pass, at 2,400m (nearly 8,000ft) above sea level the engine was gasping, the weather closed in with a blizzard and slush built up on the winding roads ?time for some caution! The weather didn?t get any better and St Moritz was a washout. Mrs D made an executive decision and we pressed on and downwards to Italy. More spectacular passes later, the weather lifted and it started to get warmer. The change to Italian roads and drivers was a shock to the system. Roads seemed to have less to prevent you falling to a squishy end. Italian drivers are refreshing, in the same way as a sticking your finger in an electric socket. You are kept very alert after the first near death experience. A cruise round Lake Como and a decision to press on further meant we headed past Milan and towards Genoa at some haste to sort out some accommodation for the night. Picking a town almost at random meant a nervous hour looking for a hotel, ending in a Lovely old style Hotel in Casale Monferrato. The buildings all had the feel of heat and age, something the +2 also felt!

The next day we pressed on past Genoa and the Ligurian coast road. We stopped off and paddled in the med. The heat was building up and for the first time, the car was becoming uncomfortable. Passing temperature indicators on the overhead gantries slowly went up towards 40degC (104f). The conversation turned to the possibility of fitting A/C while I tried to concentrate on the high speed coast road with endless going in and out of tunnels, avoiding lorries, and getting out of the way of Audis being driven ridiculously fast.. I felt I was pushing the car as the oil temp hit the top of the gauge and stayed there. I also noted that this was the first time that the oil pressure dropped a little at tickover ? a very rare occurrence as the pump is an uprated item fitted by a PO. Water temp was OK as the fan cut in and out, so I reasoned that the engine was probably also OK as well. To keep up the flow of traffic, I was running between 80 & 90mph for what seemed like hour after hour ? hang on, it was! We considered dropping down into Monaco, but the heat and traffic put us off. Also we had a lot of miles to cover ? this was the longest stint of the tour. Pushing on past Nice and Marseille, we found an Auberge outside Montpellier with clean rooms and a restaurant in walking distance. We had been on the road for nearly ten hours, with few stops apart from petrol and a paddle in the med.

Next day saw us refreshed, but with a slight hangover from the local red wine. A good breakfast cleared that up and we plotted our route to the Millau viaduct ? my first visit to this iconic structure. We went for Motorways for most of the trip, as we were to meet up with some friends at a Gite near Cahor. The scenery was again stunning, but bleak. It was another very hot day and we left the motorway at the junction before the bridge. After speaking to others who had visited the bridge, we decided not to cross, as the view is almost entirely Armco, more so in a low car. Instead we opted to approach from the old road and appreciated the view of the bridge as it got closer. The visitor centre was busy, as people rushed out of their cars and into the air conditioned exhibition hall. Too hot to stay in the sun and look at the bridge.. I risked the sunstroke and marvelled at the bridge. It is spectacular.

The cross country trip to meet up with our friends was entirely on single carriage way roads with pretty good surfaces and as the day wore on, the car seemed to go faster and faster, even without breaking the speed limit of 90k. The endless sweeping bends and views drew us on. I checked with Mrs D that I was not letting my enthusiasm upset her, but she replied that it was fun, as long as she held on to the centre tunnel section on the bends. It was another long hot day and we got to the Gite at 6pm, still fired up with the adrenaline of the roads. Mrs D however, was hot and bothered, unlike the +2 and demanded time in the swimming pool.

Mileage count to this stage was around 1,900miles and lots of petrol. We stayed put for the next week, enjoying the local area and gastronomy. An area well worth visiting, but a long drag from the UK.

After a week of sun & barbecues its time to load up the +2 and head North. An overnight stop outside Paris, then the Peage back to Calais and the tunnel back to the UK. As we make good time and its raining, we decide to take an early shuttle. Back in Blighty, the tiredness sets in and the long drag back home seems to take ages, but its been worth every minute! Final distance 2,600 miles at an average of just over 25mp (imperial)g. No oil or water top ups were required, but the front wheels were looking pretty black. Problems with the car ? one windscreen wiper fell off, the other was vandalised in Italy.

Lesson learnt;
? The concept of a safe breaking distance doesn?t exist on the continent.
? The locals can always drive faster than you in any vehicle.
? Italians regard white lines as advisory at best.
? Always carry a can of fuel, those motorway service stations seem a long way apart.
? Always carry a spare set of windscreen wipers.
? Use oil you can trust at extremes.
? The only cheap petrol in Europe is in Luxembourg and the UK.

Sorry to be self indulgent, but it was a great holiday and the car made it that way.

Jeremy
Attachments
The Rhein.JPG and
Nurburgring.JPG and
St Gallenkirch 2.JPG and
Fluellapass CH 2400m.JPG and
Lake Como.JPG and
heading south - alps in background.JPG and
The Riviera.JPG and
heat of the day in Provence.JPG and
Millau Viaduct Visitor Centre.jpg and
Time for a rest.jpg and
Last edited by JJDraper on Sat Aug 28, 2010 10:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:15 am

Hi Jeremy,

Sound like a wonderful trip. Your write up has set off my 'Alpineitis' & I am as of now officially planning a trip for next year, and I just can't wait. Decision for me will be whether to take the Sprint (If I still have it!) or use the aircon'd car. :lol:

Just a thought but, and I know its a tour, but did you consider using the Autorail/ Autozug system at all? I love to drive down OK and often via the Rhine. Bacharach/ St Goar/ Rudisheim etc...Wonderful to visit, etc but the way back I find a bit of a bind and so far have used the Autozug Austria back to N Germany twice. Gives a day of so more in the Italian lakes for E.G. Those Italians are fun are they not? But.. They can be a dangerous bunch. Here's a wee story...

I had a client from Shetland over having a demo on a woodworking machine. I had told him a few stories of my previous near misses at the hands of Italians various, and I am not sure he believed me. He does now! This particular event saw us hurtling along the A4 heading towards MIlan Bergamo Airport for a hotel stopover that night. Doing the best part of 200K / Hr and about 10' from the car in front, his phone rings. He answers it and starts a 15 min conversation resulting in the most frightening drive of my life. It got worse. He starts writing stuff down!! Mbl in one hand pen in the other and steering with his knees!!! I kid you not!
It got worse again! His other mbl rang which he also answered. Two phones on the go, writing notes and steering with his knees. My client went a funny colour and I had had enough. I then asked him if he would like me to drive as he was causing us concern. The reply was typical Italian and not repeatable This carried on for quite some time until he rocketed past a police photographic unit and he dropped everything and pulled back from his tailgating activities. He got done for speeding , phone and the tailgating.
He also got a good reprimand following my letter to his boss! He was risking our lives. Very scary!! He was one dangerous Hombre.

I am astonished to hear of the Vandalism of the wiper though, this is most unusual as they do love their cars.

Congrat's on the car by the way it looks just fabulous.. Doing the same next year at all?

Regards to all.

Alex B.... 8)
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PostPost by: RichardS » Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:29 am

alexblack13 wrote:Decision for me will be whether to take the Sprint (If I still have it!)


Alex

A Sprint is for life!

Richard
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PostPost by: david.g.chapman » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:25 pm

My wife and I went to the Alps this year in my +2 (also with a 4 speed box). The destination was Annecy, and the plan was to get there over 3 days, stopping at B & B's on the way, or at a Hotel for an overnight stop.

I drove for 2 hours in the morning, after the buffet breakfast (burp!) and we had 4 hours or so in the middle of the day for sightseeing and a light lunch. Then it was back on the road for another 2 hours and the evening session.

On the drives I kept up an average of 90-100kph, hitting 130 on the autoroutes to get this average.

So it was Calais on a Friday eve, then Laon lunchtime - Troyes Sat eve - Dijon Sunday lunchtime - A chateau near Tournus Sunday eve - Belleguard Monday lunchtime, then Annecy Monday eve. We stayed at Annecy for 5 nights, then did something similar on the way back.

As we don't mind traisping around looking at cathedrals and museums we had enough to do going and coming back, although that could be a problem for younger souls. Pre-planning and the internet is the way around that.

Issues with the car?

The drivers door remote got disconnected at Calais - whipped the trim off and fished around for the retention clip in the door bottom - reconnected OK.

The voltage reference line broke away from the alternator connection in Tournus - fitted a new spade connector - OK.

Fan stopped working at Arras on the way back - bypassed wiring to get it running continuously. Later found it was a corroded in-line torpedo fuse in its holder that went open circuit. Moral - don't use them for high current applications in an engine bay.

And that was it. I can certainly live with that :) .

So I will be doing it again in the near future - Loire valley here we come!

Dave.
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Wed Aug 25, 2010 6:37 pm

Jeremy,

that looked like a fun trip, thanks for sharing the photo's. How did your car cope with the Chunnel speed humps and getting on and off Le Shuttle? I ask as I had to do a quick dash to Holland earlier this year in my BMW Mini for a family funeral unfortunately and those bumps looked scary especially if they called you into the customs check area? The drive to Holland was really easy and made me think of taking my +2 next time to see the family on pleasure rather than duty, but the tunnel sort of put me off that as I am scared of losing my exhaust. Did you have any problems with the automatic barrier check in at the tunnel, it seemed to rely on number plate recognition and I would have thought that would have been difficult with the numbers in the grill thing.

Regards
Kindest regards

Alan Thomas
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PostPost by: JJDraper » Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:40 pm

We had no trouble with speed humps on or off the chunnel. The worst bumps are the customs bumps on the French side when coming back to the UK, and sometimes those vicious plastic bumps.

My car does have pretty good ground clearance, sitting on quite tall tyres for the 14" rims, and using the adjustable suspension to lift the car. The car has the transverse exhaust which tucks up into the body, well out of the way. If anything catches, its usually the towing eye on the front of the (Spyder) chassis. The exhaust 'Y' piece sometimes catches, but that's about it. I have noticed that if something does catch its usually on the rebound - after the first hit.

After the rebuild I spent a lot of time adjusting the car's ride height to avoid the startled look that some +2s end up with - low profile tyres accentuate this, but I haven't gone for these. I haven't measured the ground clearance - any ideas for reference points?

I did take bumps with care as we were loaded up with luggage & I am no lightweight and the bodyshell is quite heavy!

Jeremy
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:58 am

Thanks Jeremy,
That's reassuring, I also have a Spyder chassis (zetec in my case) adjustable spring platforms and 14" wheels & tyres, the main problem I get with grounding is the exhaust manifold which is a good bit larger diameter than standard, there are lots of speed humps where I live in Tunbridge Wells and like you I have got to a sort of compromise between ride height to cope with these and the overall slightly jacked up look. As you say, if you are fully loaded for touring then you have to take more care, in my case I will probably get the C spanner out and raise her by 25mm before going to Europe.

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Kindest regards

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PostPost by: Bob » Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:27 am

Jeremy,
Trip sounds great hope the kidney keba's were up to scratch, its a good job that Italian drivers only drive Audis and not Maestros
Bob
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PostPost by: jono » Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:40 am

....lovely looking Plus 2 BTW - those 14" Minilites really set it off
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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:39 am

And whats wrong with a Maestro? At least the buggers could steer them easier with their Knees!!

:lol: :lol: :lol: ...

Alex...... 8)
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PostPost by: Bob » Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:56 pm

Alex,
You will have to consult Jeremy on that point.
Bob
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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:03 pm

Aye.... Keep em guessing! :lol: :lol: :lol:

Alex...
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PostPost by: JJDraper » Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:47 pm

I was going to post on the +2 area, but this is another Oh Dear! or I don't believe it... A young lad in a Maestro reversed out of a parking space into the rear of my freshly repaired +2 on Wednesday.. Frank's response (at Options 1) was unrepeatable. The owner is even with the same insurance company as last time..

Surprising amount of damage to the Maestro, but the main impact was on my rear wheel and tyre, scuffing the alloy rim.

Jeremy
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PostPost by: alexblack13 » Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:11 pm

God almighty Jeremy... What rotten luck! Unbelievable. So sorry to hear of this latest incident. What a careless sod that driver is.

Claim for whiplash this time.

Hope its fixed quick. It will be right thats for sure. I wish I had been there when Frank seen it. Air was blue was it?

Good luck. Its time you had some!

Alex....
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PostPost by: 512BB » Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:45 am

That truely is UNBELIEVABLE Jeremy. You werent at the England Germany game in the summer were you?

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