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ice blue eclat excel


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I went to have a look at the eclat excel I have agreed to buy (paid a £100 deposit). When I viewed it, it was entombed in a narrow garage by 10 years worth of ivy locking the doors, so I entered by a side door. The car had been regularly started, had a brand new stainless steel exhaust and a timing belt in the not too distant past. It had a flat tyre and it hadn't been moved for almost 10 years. 84 K and looked to be a honest car. Vendor told me that to the best of his knowledge the clutch and brake master cylinder seemed fine (he had just replaced the master cylinder on another excel he owned to prepare it for sale).

Plan is to go round on Saturday morning, with a view to preparing it for its test, change the tyres using a local tyre shop for 4 matching tyres from my stores, then give it a pre mot check, and if it seems ok, have a look at the brakes, then book it in for MOT.

The vendor was tied up, so his brother met me and we went round the back. First problem was the wheen nuts, which are a different size to my eclat V8. 19mm on the eclat S2, 22mm on the excel. The deep reach I keep on my power bar doesn't fit, so I go to my brand new Facom socket set (a present) only to find it doesnt have a suitable socket. I attach the compressor on the jump pack to see if the tyre will accept air, and to my surprise, it rises.

The car starts and I press the clutch - it feels odd.... I'm used to cable clutches on Lotus 2+2's and this one is hydraulic, only it wont go into gear. Engine off and it goes into gear. Depress clutch and touch starter - the car lurches. Clutch is stuck.

I decide to jack up the back and see if I can free it using the brakes. I get it started, but with the clutch and brakes down together, I'm getting nothing but squishyness - both systems need bleeding.

A quick return home, bleed pipe, brake fluid, nescafe glass jar, spanners, WD40, more sockets, and screwdrivers, and a big G clamp.

I return to the garage and remove the wheels - I don't want it getting traction if it falls off the jacks and stands while it is in gear. To achieve this I have to turn the trolley jacks east-west and push the rear of the car away from the garage wall. (Exit from the garage is a sharp 90 degree turn. It'll need a three point turn, which itself needs a clutch and brakes....).

I bleed the clutch. The hydraulics have pressure, the pedal feels less squishy, but it doesn't seem to have lengthened the throw of the slave cylinder. I remove the caliper slide bolts and wiggle the brakes and use the persuader, remove the pads and spray penetrating oil into the jammed slide belows and wiggle them until they are freely sliding. G clamp shows the piston moves freely on both sides. There is no bleed nipple visible on the rear passenger caliper. Which is a surprise. Inspection of the rear drivers side shows where it was before it sheared off 10+ years ago. Drivers side one appears to be 8mm, and it is not moving. I dont have vice grips or a spare nipple and the other side is missing completely. I also find the material seperates from the new looking brake pad when I lever it out.


Upshot, I have a stuck clutch, and the brakes aren't good enough to try to shock it free. It ideally needs new rear calipers and pads rather than dicking around trying to drill out a sheared nipple. Even when the brakes are functional, there is no guarentee that I can get the clutch to release using this metheod, and I cant use the other "drive it down the road trick" as I cant move it.


I've cut a bit of plastic pipe and used it to hold the pedal down while I am away. Longshot.


So, I have a quandry. Seller is a good guy, and I don't want to dick him about, but when I agreed to buy it, he said the clutch was fine. I'm only in for a hundred quid at the moment....


Should I perseve and trust my ability to fix it, should I re-negotiate, or should I walk and discard £100. I don't like even contemplating defaulting on an agreement, but given I can't move the car from where it is, I can't contemplate splitting the bellhousing to free up the clutch.



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Hi Dunc.


The clutch slave cylinder should have an assist spring, to keep the arm pressing onto the bearing, if that is missing the arm may not be ready to engage, that could be the issue with the clutch not disengaging. It could also simply be a case of pulling the pushrod as far out as it will go, so as to start the travel at the right place. I know it's fairly likely that the flywheel will have rusted to the friction material, but if there's enough movement you may just be able to get it to break free.


Rear brakes are a pain, chances are you'd shear off the short length of pipe when attempting to remove the calliper, ditto you'd find the female union stuck to the flexi as you try and remove the other end of that fixed pipe. I've had to go back to the T union on the frame, in front of the rear wheel arch to do one of the cars. That's a pig of a job.



How about so go-jacks or other "skate" system?

If you put those under the rear wheels you then don't have to fee off the clutch, the rear of the car will move sideways as well as fore/aft, so you may be able to get the car out of the garage without a 3 point turn, but would then need a recovery truck to get it somewhere to work on.

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I'm exhausted just reading all that. personally I woudl take the car away if he gets it out of the garage and into a position where it could go on a low loader. if he can't then walk away. at least you would be able to get it to a decent workshop with all the tools you need.

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hmmm, the rear lane is heavily rutted with tramlines and a grass hump. Skates won't work. A squad of blokes could perhaps bump it?


I cant bring it home either as it is another "black ops " scanario to be kept in a friends garage.


I'll try to get the nipple out the drivers side using vice grips. then bleed it as well as I can. If I can bleed three of them, it would only be the rear passenger circuit undone. Now that the caliper slides and pistons are free, this could be enough.


Out of interest, has anyone successfully shocked a lotus clutch free using the brakes on a jack? I've heard of people trying and failing, then resorting to driving it down the road.

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Sack the deal off, there'll be another car somewhere else I'm sure, £100 ain't worth worrying about, I've spent more than that veiving cars (petrol, fairs, lunch) until I found the one I currently have. However I do know what it's like when you find a car you like you start saying to yourself 'yeah, I can repair that, do this or that' to convince yourself it's a good car only to see an advert come up a couple of months later with a better car at a better price!

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Hi Dunc,


I would say at least renegotiate the price, the seller is probably glad he has a buyer that has turned up and put that much effort into (trying to) collect it, and if he is a decent guy he will acknowledge that it is not how he described it.


Or tell him you will buy it if he can get it out and deliver it to you.


If all that fails, I agree with Charlie, just write off the £100


Cheers, Mat.

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if the clutch isn`t

as he said surely the deposit is refundable if you walk away.Sounds like you have done more than a £100 of work on the car for him already

hindsight: the science that is never wrong

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How much do you want the car?


I bet few others will put this much effort into shifting what is, to most buyers, a fairly unattractive car. The seller should know this and should adjust his price to allow for your inconvenience. REmind him how long it will stay there waiting for the next Lotus nutcase enthusiast

In the garage no-one can hear you scream 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Dunc, I get the stuck clutch quite often with my also ice blue excel and it works every time for me try it and you could be lucky


1 get apiece of wood long enough to depress the clutch pedal and wedge it on the seat bolster to keep it down [put protection on bolster ]

2 hand brake off , put in to third gear

3 push/jog the car backwards a few times and then forward the same , keep repeating until you hear a squeak and a clang ,when the car starts to free wheel you know the jobs done

as regards the brake nipple and hoses  I used a nut splitter for hoses cheap and well worth it

for the nipples I used a small gas pencil torch heated the casting around the nipple as much as possible put vice grips / easyout in place squirted some lighter gas down the bleed hole to shrink nipple a bit then tapped grips one in two out until loosened


hope this is of some help   Ian

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Thanks Ian - it is helpful.


I was lucky enough to pick up a reconditioned caliper for 25 quid, so I may just swap the caliper our if I can get it off the pipe - helpful tip with the lighter refill as coolant - I wouldn't have thought of that. In truth there is literally nothing left where the nipple snapped off - I had to look at the other caliper to determine where the nipple position is on the caliper, and it is pretty much flush, so I would probably need to chase it out with a drill. Might try that trick on extracting the nipple on the other side. A consignment of 10 spare brake nipples arrived from ebay yesterday, and I already have the new rear pads.


Will try the clutch pushing forward and back trick - someone else suggested it and I was dubious on its chances of success, but if it works for others on Lotuses I'll give it a go.


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Use it to renegotiate the price bud. If he told you the clutch is fine and it's not then the description was incorrect.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today I rebuilt its rear brakes using the new pads, and made sure everything was free to slide. I then tried to bleed the rear brakes, but midway through the bleeding operation, a horrible graunching noise came from the front of the car. I now have no pedal firmness, so it would appear that the master cylinder has given up the ghost.

On the plus side, the newly rebuilt brakes bit well enough using the handbrake to break the clutch free. I eventually got it to go using second gear and a bit of pipe to hold the clutch down. Took a few goes however - I tried reverse, first and second. Second was the one that broke the clutch free.

So, definite progress, and the major doubt about whether or not this car is viable has been removed. Master cylinder is a girling item rather than Toyota. Is it the same as the one on the elite and éclat, or is it a different one?

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No, I didn't take any. I kind of forgot and I needed all my time for spannering. In truth, it wouldn't be much of a picture anyway given it still hasn't come out of the garage yet. I will order a couple of replacement master cylinder kits, as if it is the same one as the eclat, I will probably have use of another at some point.


Apart from the master cylinder, and a bleed/free up of the front calipers (which I have not even looked at yet) I think I am getting nearer to the MOT.


Condition of the car looks reasonable/fairly good. The only real downsides I have noted is some light scratches (which may polish out) a small crack in the paint on the front lower passenger side (I suspect it has had a replacement corner due to some visible rippling that looks like a fibreglass repair under the bonnet stay), a headlining that is still up, but not perfect, and signs of shrinkage in the blue dashtops that has pulled away from the bottom of the windscreen, beyond the padded insert section. There is a circular melt which looks like someone dropped the cigarette lighter onto the passenger seat velour (it has melted the furry bit rather than burnt through) and weirdly, a handbrake lever that is missing a few bits of plastic - almost like it has been chewed by a dog. Other than that - it looks pretty original. Not mint by any means - but a decent, useable 84K mile example.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I bought a new girling  master cylinder from Chris Neal which I think is an early saab 900 item. It seems that the correct girling master cylinder for the Lotus is getting harder to obtain. I was told that they could supply one that was the same but needed a different front seal for the reservoir, and that I should just use the one from my old master cylinder. Only problem was that the seal was totally different. I went to the motor factors and cobbled something together but although it works, its not entirely satisfactory. If others are going down this route, try and get a matching early saab 900 reservoir rather than trying to fit the one from your elite/eclat/excel - it is a PITA.


Anyway - master cylinder is now on, and I have brakes. I have bled the rear circuit, but an inspection of the front calipers shows the nipple has been snapped off 10+ years ago on the passenger side. Horrifically rusty nipple is present on the drivers side, but I left it alone as it seems they are 7mm nipples on the excel, and I had bought replacements in 8mm which are no good. I back bled them by winding the piston back in on the caliper to push fluid back up into the master cylinder.


I dismantled the front calipers, free'd up the slides and lubed them, removed, checked and re-fitted the pads, and all seems well. Discs look to be in surprisingly good condition. I think the pads will clean them up nicely in a few miles. Pedal is now hard and brakes appear functional. I realise that I still have ancient brake fluid in the front circuits, but it will have to do until I have replacement nipples available and the inclination to remove broken bleed nipples from passenger side front and rear.


I checked the clutch by moving it a couple of feet forward and back, all appears well. Passenger headlight motor isn't rising - wound it up manually and the headlight cowl is missing, so someone has been in there. Probably not just a relay after all.

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  • 1 month later...

I've been tinkering away, and it was booked in for an MOT at 2pm today, which led to it actually leaving its garage for the first time in 11 years. This was a bit of a feat, as getting it out took about 15 shunts, and I was on my own.


It looked quite nice out in the sunlight. Todays tinkering was replacing a missing exhaust rubber and wiring up the two new cooling fans I fitted a couple of weeks ago.




I got these from ebay. pack of two 9 inch - universal fit through the vanes of the rad £29.99. I've wired them into the normal fan wiring, and all is okay, however the fan thermoswitch (otterswitch) has failed - note special switch dangling in pic.


Anyway, I got the car out the garage eventually for the first time in 11 years.


It made it as far as the end of the lane, and I realised that it wouldn't be making its test today as the newly rebuilt brakes felt wrong with a softening pedal.


I parked it at the end of the lane, cancelled the MOT inspection, and took some photos:






so its now back in its garage - quick call to our freinds at SJ Sportscars, and I have two link pipes and a radiator thermo switch en-route.


I also checked that everything internally works, and it does - even the original lotus radio was sounding nice, and the heater and fan flooding the car with heat in a way my eclat could only dream of. I'm quite looking forward to this car now.



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There was a funny piece on Absolute radio the other morning about things people have bought and kept secret from their spouse, one guy bought a ferrari with his bonus, kept it at a friends garage and only drove it at weekends. One guy bought a plane for £250k and told his wife he was renting it!!! Another guy brought back a woman from Thailand and bought a flat to keep her in.....


So you're not alone Dunc!!!



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There are so many smileys that could be used to illustrate this scenario I gave up choosing.


Wincing at the thought of the consequences :X  :no:whistle::popo:


Admiration of your manly bravado :rofl::respect:   :clap::smoke:


The certainty it will be excused in the end :make other happy:


Another guy brought back a woman from Thailand and bought a flat to keep her in.....



^^^^This^^^^, use this as an example of other forms of deception and you should be OK.

  • Like 1

In the garage no-one can hear you scream 

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