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    1983 Excel
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  1. Hi Roland, very 'out of the box' thinking - nice. How smoothly does the inner run through the convoluted tubing? Is the tubing ribbed on the inside? I did something similar but using appropriate sized plastic tubing sold for pneumatic piping. I was worried the inner would wear away the plastic, but it seems OK so far - although to be fair its on a different car that doesnt see much rain. Richard
  2. Hi Graham, Did you get any more information on these bushes? Im also interested in the answer. Thanks Richard
  3. That looks superb! Is that the Getrag gearbox? If so do you have any pictures of the gear lever ball joint, and more interestingly did you have to replace any of the bushes in the base of the gear level? It looks very similar to a Getrag 265 I have in a different car, and im trying to find a source for the gear level bushes. Thanks
  4. Thanks for the comments Steve. a very interesting car you have there, and some great views of Goodwood! On my test drives Ive noticed that the aerial on the car roof has gone floppy - it was lying on the roof and would not sit any higher. I decided to investigate and thought the most likely was the the bolt or whatever forms the hinge had worked loose. On the assumption it was a bolt I decided to try to drill it out - since there seemed no way to undo it. I attacked what I hoped was a cover plate with a left handed drill - it turned out this was actually the bolt head, but the left handed bits had the desired effect and after a while the bolt came undone. The construction is that the two parts of the aerial have serrated bevels, and the bolt has a spring that keeps the two parts pressed together, but allows enough movement to lift the aerial. Neither the bolt or the nut have any way to use a spanner on them, although it looks like someone has cut a screwdriver slot into my nut. Having taken the aerial apart I decided to replace the bolt with a stainless cap head bolt, but reuse the original spring and nut. Once all together I also decided to put a new nyloc on the end of the bolt rather than just cut it off. This is probably oveerkill, and once painted black if it stands out too much I will probably remove it.
  5. Ive been rather quiet here recently, mostly because there was a bit of a hiatus in Lotus fettling. In April I attended a Club Lotus track day at Goodwood. I thought preparations were going well, I had changed the brake pads for Mintex 1144, which made a huge difference to the unknown pads that were on the car - it actually felt as though it would stop. I also changed the oil for fresh VR1. On the day itself the journey down was great fun in the early morning, the briefing was good and although a complete novice I was made to feel very welcome. The noise test was a challenge, and the car actually failed - however the marshals explained that there were sound meters on the track and they would be keeping a close eye on them as I went past - too noisy and I would be black flagged. That made me a little nervous. The first session was fun, but daunting as I ended up in a group of Elises - however they soon disappeared into the distance ahead of me leaving me the whole track for quite a few laps before they reappeared behind me. The second session was with a friend of mine driving. About half way through the session we both heard a quiet knocking, which got louder over the next few laps. By the end of the session it was pretty obvious something serious was wrong. We couldn’t figure out what the actual problem was, but there was no way we were driving home. The Goodwood staff were great, they had phone numbers of local recovery firms, and were also happy if we wanted to leave the car there for a week or so. In the end a local firm could come out - we asked them to pick us up after lunch, since it has a great reputation and we had both paid for it. Lunch was superb, and just as we finished desert a recovery truck appeared over the track. Once back home I realised there was nothing for it but to take the engine out and give it to someone who knew what they were doing. I decided to take it back to the same person who did the original rebuild. Im getting fairly good at taking it out now. Several month later I went back to pick up the engine after its second rebuild. The verdict was that the oil was contaminated somehow - possibly from the old oil cooler. The end result was heavy scoring of the oil pump, #3 big end bearing was toast, and #3 big end itself was ovalised. All the con rods went off to an engineering shop to be milled round again, the crank was ground for oversize big end bearings, and the oil pump reconditioned again. On collection it looked exactly as it did when I dropped it off - at least the inside should be in better shape. The engine went back into the car without much hassle, although I had some help this time as I had hurt my back a few weeks before so I was moving carefully. Previously every time I started the car there was a metallic thump. I realised that the gearbox was hitting the chassis, so on refitting the engine I added a 4mm spacer under the passenger side engine mount - looking in the parts list this is listed as standard, so who knows what happened to the one on my car. Whilst the engine was away I also collected a few extra parts. I bought a new exhaust system from SJ Sports cars, since I think the holes in the old one were the cause of my noise failure at Goodwood. I also bought a new distributor from SE Lotus. The one in the car had points, which I had assumed was original for an early car, but I was advised that it much have come from a different car all together as all Excels had electronic ignition - that would explain why there is the mounting plate for the ignition amplifier, but nothing on it. The new distributor doesn’t need an external amplifier so there is still nothing on the plate, but at least I wont need to change points and condenser. I also bought a new oil cooler and hoses - I don’t trust the old one any longer! Ive had the car back on the road about 2 weeks now, and the exhaust and distributor do seem to make a difference to its acceleration. The only down side is that there is a very slight weep from the high pressure hose as it enters the steering rack - very frustrating as I also changed the o-rings again. I may try some snake oil / seal swell additive.
  6. After a long time putting it off I have finally got around to re-trimming the rear seat. As previous posts show I have fitted RX8 front seats, and the rest of the trim panels were a second hand leather set, however the rear seat was still the original ripped fabric. With all the rest of the interior done it was really letting the car down, so I decided it was time to fix it. I don’t seem to have taken any pictures of the seat in the car before I started. The Seat back cover is fairly simple being made from 5 panels and the headrests. It is also relatively flat, so I decided to have a go sewing up a replacement myself. I used the same colour vinyl I had used for some of the other small bits of trimming. I started by carefully removing the old cover so I could use it as a pattern. It is held on by staples through webbing sewn into each of the seams, so I removed the staples to take the cover off. I then carefully un-picked each of the seams to give me the old material from each panel separately. I used these to mark out the back of the new vinyl the right shape, and added 1cm all around for the seams. I checked the left and right hand sides were symmetrical - which they were not due to the old material having stretched. Next I cut out the new vinyl to give me a set of new panels that needed sewing together. Then was the tricky bit - sewing the panels together. Ive not done much sewing before so after a while learning how to thread the machine I made up some test pieces. I actually started my making the head rests as I figured I have enough material to start again if I got them really wrong. As a result I now have a spare cover. The hardest part of sewing the 5 panels of the seat back was the very tight turns at the top of each back panel. I missed the sewing line a little on these, so the end result is a little uneven, but its really hard to notice. I also sewed some new webbing onto the seams (after sewing the panels together) so I could use these to attach the cover to the back. That was actually harder than sewing the cover together, as it was difficult to get the stapler into the gap between the foam and pull the cover tight to stop any wrinkles. I did end up with a couple of wrinkles, but hopefully they don’t notice too much. All in the cover didn’t cost very much at all, but it did take me far too much time.
  7. One of the other problems I found after the MOT was that the radiator had a slight leak. It was not bad, but just enough to be annoying. Looking at prices I saw that an exchange radiator from the usual lotus places was more than a new aluminium one from China. After a bit of reading around of the mixed opinions of the 'Winner' aluminium radiators from eBay I decided to give one a try. The new radiator arrived about 10 days after placing my order. It was very well packed with lots of foam protection. Whilst I had the coolant drained out I decided to fit it. The radiator itself looks well made, but is slightly different from my original. The mounting studs are M10 instead of the original M6 It is 50mm deep instead of the original 35mm It is about 5mm wider than the original These differences made it quite a pain to fit. In my 1983 Excel the radiator is mounted to the upper duct at the top, and on to the undertray at the bottom. I believe later cars have a steel beam, but this isnt on my early car. A trial fit showed that the extra width was an issue as the radiator didn’t fit into the duct. To resolve this I took the duct out and trimmed away some of the body shell next to the wooden crash panels. This allowed the ducting to flex outwards more, and accommodate the wider radiator. While the duct was out I also wanted to enlarge the holes for the studs. This was the second painful area. The holes are in the right place for a 35mm deep radiator. The extra depth of the new one meant that it fouled the reinforcing strip in the duct, and so didn’t sit tight against the duct. To resolve that I re-drilled the holes far enough back to allow the radiator to clear the duct indentation. I made the holes large enough to accept rubber grommets to 'soft' mount the radiator (at first I tried Defender mounts, but they were too deep, in the end I used generic 'top hat' grommets from ebay). In the picture you can see the grommets and also the reinforcing rib in the duct I loosely fitted the duct back to the car using the mounting bolts at the top, but leaving the sides free to flex. I fitted the fans to the radiator - captive nuts are already welded in the right places. Then I lifted the radiator into the duct and fitted the top mounting bolts. I wedged packers down both sides of the radiator to push the duct out wide, and then re-drilled the mounting bolt holes and fitted them. This meant the duct was now wide enough not to rub on the radiator. Finally I had to fit the lower undertray. Again I found that the original mounting holes held the radiator against a strengthening rib in the panel. However if I moved the holes backwards then the fans hit the oil cooler hoses. Instead I moved the holes forward far enough to put the radiator in front of the rib instead of behind it. Again I made the holes big enough to use rubber grommets to mount the radiator. The picture shows the original holes (red) and the new ones (green). I am hoping that all this work means the radiator lasts a long time. Some peoples experience shows these radiators failing after a few years, but they have also put that down to the tight fit and therefore flexing of the radiator in use. I hope that the rubber mounts and clearance work I have done prevents that flex. In the mean time im keeping my old radiator, if this one does fail I will get the old one re-cored.
  8. Once the smell of petrol had gone and I was happy I wouldn’t suffocate in the garage I bit the bullet and got on with the next 'small job'. In fact this was three jobs. The heater fans didn’t work any more, the fuel and temperature gauges over read, and the windscreen wipers no longer auto parked. I was pretty confident that the fuel and temperature gauges were due to a faulty voltage stabiliser. I must have thought that a while ago as I had a new stabiliser sitting on the shelf. Once the instrument panel was out it was easy to swap over the old regulator for the new one, and with that both gauges started working properly. With the instrument pod out I then carried on and removed the full dashboard. Having only put it back after recovering it a few months before this was fairly easy, if frustrating. With the dashboard out the heater box could then come out. All this in order to get to the two heater fan motors that live inside the heater box. I really shouldn’t have tried to save time and money last time around - I knew it was a risk not reconditioning the motors last time, but I didn’t spend the time to do it properly, so ended up back here again. The heater fan motors are from an Opel Manta B, or Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1. There are a couple of facebook groups for the mk1 Cavalier as well as a buy and sell group for the Manta. From those groups I was able to buy two old fan motors, and I actually rebuilt those before pulling my dash out. To rebuild the motors I removed the squirrel cage fan then removed the circlip from the end of the shaft and bent open the metal tabs holding the rear part of the case on, to open up the motor itself. Be careful with the tabs, they are very easy to break! This allowed me to remove the armature. Then the circuit board holding the brushes needs to be removed from the rear part of the case. Depending on the state of the bearings I either just cleaned them up with an 8mm drill bit, or pressed them out for replacement. Finding new bearings for these motors is not easy. I tried a few different varieties from different places, none of them are ideal. The original bearings are spherical oilite bushes, they are retained in the case with star type washers. I found getting hold of these washers equally difficult, as the ones I found hold the bearings much tighter than the originals. In the end I bought new oilite spherical bushes that were too large, but had the correct circumference and too small a bore diameter from ali-express. I then turned these down on the lathe to the correct bore and width. My advice is that cleaning up the original bushes is preferable. The armature needs to be cleaned up - this is where most of the corrosion is, on the axle where it passes through the bearings. I put mine in a drill and cleaned them up with emery paper, including the commutator. It is then a case of putting the motors back together again. If any of the tabs holding the case together broke then a small bolt can be used to hold the case together. Keep checking that the motor spins freely, and if not figure out where they are rubbing. With the motors renovated I put the heater box back together and set about reinstalling everything into the car. Heater box, dashboard and everything associated with it. That left just the wiper parking to fix. This ended up being harder to track down than I thought. Firstly I thought it may be the wiper stalk, so I pulled that apart to clean up. Then I thought it would be the park switch in the motor itself - but that didn’t help. Finally in desperation I bypassed the wiper control module by plugging the stalk straight into the loom - and the park function returned. Luckily there was a NOS 6DA wiper control module on eBay, so that was quickly bought and when replaced full park function worked again. With the car back together I then moved on to the next job - while all the coolant was drained.
  9. Once again I have let this thread get behind. After getting the MOT I set about the little jobs to make the car nice to drive, rather than just legal. One of the first things was investigating the strong smell of petrol every time I put the car back in the garage. Taking a look in the boot to work out why the fuel gauge suddenly stopped working (that’s a story for a later post) I realised that the fuel filter and flowlock valve were both slightly damp with petrol. It looked as though they were both fine while the engine was running, but weeping once the engine was shut off with the residual pressure. I originally had a glass see-though filter and on looking closely the glass had a crack in it - underneath where it was not visible. The flow lock I had to remove from the car before I found where it was leaking from - the fuel pipe union at one end was rotating on the main body, and the petrol seeping out from around the union. I decided to change the filter for one in a solid aluminium canister. I cant remember the make, but I bought it from a random online motorsports vendor. For the flowlock valve I didn’t fancy the £80 odd that a new one would cost, but I have heard of people using the fuel cut off valves sold for LPG conversions. I bought one from Amazon and though I would see how it worked out. I was a bit surprised how small it was when it arrived, and more importantly the bore of the pipe the petrol would flow through was pretty small. I measured it at 3.5mm. Looking at Car Builder Solutions page their 'normal' flow lock valve also has a bore of 3.5mm, an I think claimed to flow about 6 gallons per minute. Looking up the Lotus fuel pump that can only flow 1 gallon per minute - so that gave me confidence to fit it and try it. I used more AN-6 fittings and some short lengths of hose just to connect to the valve. If the valve fails in the future I can connect the AN-6 fittings together and by-pass the valve for a short term fix. After fitting the new flow lock and filter a road test showed no more leaks, and no fuel starvation issues after about 100 motorway miles.
  10. Ive just found this thread, and mentally linked it to a problem I have (1983 Excel). My temperature gauge is reading consistently high (~110, when the real temperature is around ~80-90), and my fuel gauge just stopped working all together - although after re-seating the connection at the back of the gauge it now works, but I suspect it is reading high (the tank is full, but the needle is off the dial) I have a new voltage regulator but have not fitted it yet. What should the output from the regulator be - is it 10v, or is it just a stable 12v?
  11. Ill take this as success. MOT passed. The initial failure was just the bleed nipple being a bit loose. I had the garage tune it up properly and adjust the caster angle too. Now I have to get it working nicely. The heated rear window only has 2 or 3 lines working on it so I need to take a look at that. I also have a feeling I may have to take the dashboard out again. The heater fan motors are back to squealing horribly. I think I may need to actually do the replacement I bottled out of last year. Given our motors are out of the Opel Manta has anyone signed up to read these, or even done the work (bearing replacement, or full replacement with VW Polo motors)? https://mantaclub.org/forums/topic/43816-heater-motor-bearing-replacement/ https://mantaclub.org/forums/topic/51275-manta-b-ventilation-fan/
  12. Hi Brian, Im afraid my boot carpet template was just the original carpet ripped out of the boot. Since making new carpets I have chucked the old ones away, and of course the new ones are now glued into the car. Regards Richard
  13. When putting my car back together I had to replace the engine earth strap - there wasnt one! I used the flat plate on the chassis behind the engine mount (red circle on the picture), and one of the engine mount bolts on the engine itself (yellow circle).
  14. My efforts to focus on getting the engine back running did not go so well. When I bought the carpet set I also bought an additional 3 meters off the roll. This was sitting around in the garage and getting in the way. I thought the best way to clear the space would be to fit it to the car. I had already used a corner of the 3 meters to cover the lower dash side panels on the prop tunnel, but the other pieces for the boot fitted easily on to the rest of the carpet. After a while with a can of spray glue the boot looks like this. I didnt have quite enough glue so at this point the tank cover panel was on the floor waiting for me to buy another can of glue. But this gives you the idea of what I have ended up with. After fixing the boot carpet I really had to get on with the final pieces for the MOT. I checked and adjusted the tracking using the string box method, checked the castor - which was way out, however after 2 attempts to adjust it made no difference I decided to get the garage to fix that. I also bought some LED stop/tail lights and front side light, as the bulbs were really dim even though they were new. Finally I had a go at bodging the peeling lacquer with some spray cans on paint/lacquer. There were several patches on the car where the lacquer was peeling badly. These got rubbed down, then painted with some not very well color matched paint, very lightly rubbed down again, then lacquered and again lightly rubbed down before cutting back with T-cut (since thats what I had), and then a light polish. This sounds quick, but it was going on between other jobs over a few weeks. That brings me up to date. The car is currently at a garage for a few final jobs, including the MOT and tuning the carbs properly. They put it through an MOT before touching anything else, and I was quite pleased to see that the only failure was a slight leak on one of the brake calipers - I expect that is just a union I had not done up tightly enough. Its always very nerve racking putting a 39 year old car through an MOT, especially one I had completely pulled apart and put back together.
  15. well after another days work I have put the interior back together properly. New 13cm pioneer speakers fitted from and rear, and the under dash panels re-trimmed and fitted. Then the seats re-fitted. The drivers side is really rather heavy! Time to move back onto getting the engine running properly and maybe getting an MOT.
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