1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

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Mike C Sailor
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1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by Mike C Sailor »

UFO stands for Un Finished Object, a term used by quilters for things that get left in the cupboard.
I called my Elite this as, no matter how much I do, it always seems to need more.
My Elite has been neglected for a few years now (getting on for 10 I think); it started when the clutch started to slip and one cylinder lost compression; I lost interest and have been busy on many other good projects.

Well I have got some motivation somehow and have now started work. OK, it is perhaps not a full restoration project, but there will be quite a lot of work to get it sorted, so I hope it's OK to post about it here.

One thing to do very soon is to find the reason for the loss of compression. I will do a compression test and see if oil into the cylinder has any effect. I tend to suspect broken rings as that can happen when an engine gets neglected, and I overhauled the cylinder head a few years ago so I expect it to be OK, but let's see what I find.
If it's a valve problem I will have a go myself, but if it's bottom end I'll get this done by an expert as well as the clutch.
I may consider having new pistons and liners but that doesn't look like a DIY task for me, even though I'm an engineer and experienced in car mechanics. I think that work would be expensive! Several thousands.

I won't spend savings on this project. But the fund for it is very healthy. I'd like to get a respray as well as the clutch and engine work, so costs are going to add up, a lot.

I've started some smaller jobs and it's going OK, though slowly.
Several things responded to freeing up and lubricating; one door lock, bonnet latches, window winders (one switch had dirty contacts). Fuel pipes under the bonnet replaced, fuel filter in the boot replaced. Facet fuel pump not working, removed, cleaned, no good so I now have another one (3 to 4.5 psi which seems recommended for Dellortos), connectors fitted, just needs installing.
I found a slight weep of fuel at the pipe connecting the filler pipe to tank. I tightened the clips and poured a drop more fuel in, still had the problem so I now have new pipes to install; the filler pipe is out, cleaned and the exposed parts painted with black Hammerite. Yes, the pipe on the tank is securely blanked off while this is done.

Most electrics worked OK, but flashers on one side didn't and the front sidelight came on, evidently an earth problem. To investigate I removed the front bumper to get at the lamp; in fact this wasn't needed, the lamp was OK, problem must be with the wiring. I'll find it (I design and build valve hifi so I know my way around circuits ... but Lotus wiring is harder!).
In fact it 's good that I removed the bumper as I'll sort it so it will come off easily in future. 2 bolts came out, one broke off, and one underneath needed the head grinding off. I've tapped a plate and glassed it in replacing the broken one, and the bracket with the problem came off OK and I managed to drill out the remains of the bolt with little damage to the thread so it's useable.

I have a new battery ready to go in (to enable the compression test), but I want the fuel system complete, and the boot well ventilated, before I fit it; I anticipate a few days work here as I have many commitments.

More news as it happens, and I'll be asking for advice .....

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MetBlue
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Model: Elite 74 & Excel 92 (SEish))
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by MetBlue »

Great to see updates on another restoration project. Like the title - Very apt for many of us.
Keep the updates coming. Good way to ensure progress doesn't stall.
Tony
What goes together.... Must come apart.

Pete Boole
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by Pete Boole »

Great progress! Sounds like you'd be plenty competent to tack a full engine build - it's really pretty straightforward - and plenty of help at hand on here. You just need a few bits of measuring gear to make sure stuff is within spec. At least if you do it yourself you know it will be done properly!

Pete

Mike C Sailor
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by Mike C Sailor »

Thanks Pete;
I am so amazed and thoroughly impressed at your work! I'm not going to undertake anything like that.

I did a student apprenticeship with Ford involving a lot of practical work, as part of my sandwich course degree. Since then I've done a lot on cars; I rebuilt several engines (1600 B series in an early TVR, Minis including building a tuned 998 which went very well), top end of Lancia Beta twin cam, bloody lovely engine. But all that was many years ago and I'm now less inclined to do this kind of work. I note your comment and I'm definitely considering it, but getting the engine out may be a problem.
When I looked up details of liner replacement it frightened me a bit .... but as you say, I can get help here.
Time is also an issue, my mornings are taken up with housework while Jan (wife) has sciatica problems, and I take her to chiropractor twice a week which takes up two afternoons, hence the slow rate of progress; also it's not a 'job', I do as much as I enjoy.

I expect the brakes will need attention. All was in good order when last used. Fluid needs changing and I half expect rear cylinders to need attention if only to get then free, but replacement may be a good idea if they are stuck.
If so, while it is stripped down, I might have a go at the auto adjusters. One side was erratic, would work fine for a while then stop. Other side, the lever broke and an attempt to fix it failed so I used to adjust manually which, I'm sure you can see, was a right pain. So if I could get all this sorted, the car would be more useable. I think I can make up ('knife and fork') an adjustment lever, will take a while but not hard work. I'll think about this.
I plan to replace front brake hoses, and possibly the master cylinder (checked and new seals fitted shortly before the car was laid up, but that's a few years ago). Pipes are cunifer so will be OK.
The list goes on, but I'm prepared to work slowly.

Given all this work to be done, I still feel inclined to get any major engine work done for me so I don't take on too much.
Thanks for encouragement! It's just what I need.

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AndrewWebber
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Model: Elite S1 503, Plus 2, Europa '
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Year: 1979
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by AndrewWebber »

Keep Elites alive !

Andy

Mike C Sailor
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by Mike C Sailor »

Steady but slow progress on minor things.
Front bumper has been fitted, needed some work on two of the fittings, somewhat tricky but on OK.
Bad earth connection (affected the indicator) sorted by a new wire to an existing earth point, soldered to the existing wire and sealed by heatshrink.
The petrol filler pipe refitted with new hose; new Facet pump fitted; previously I'd fitted a new filter and checked all joints. Boot seems to smell OK.
Windscreen wiper works! Found by accident when testing the indicators. It was very slow, but the old battery was not fully charged and the screen was dry. Should be OK in use, but I put oil over the exposed bit of shaft, lifted the wiper and ran it for a good while to get it free and lubricated.
Washer pump ran but didn't pump, blocked inlet pipe found and replaced, it pumps from a pot of water so just needs priming I think.
I cleared out the plenum chamber in front of the windscreen, lots of muck in there, also cleared the drain pipe.
In testing this by part filling the chamber I made a useful discovery; I found a small amount of water in each footwell inside. Now I've had intermittent small leaks over the years. Nothing for a few years now (as evidently the leaks got plugged by the muck!). Half hearted attempts to locate it in the past were not successful, as it was intermittent. I guess in the past, half filling the chamber showed no leaks as it flushed some muck into them.
Anyway, I think I now know the cause and can fix it. First I have to get the inside of the chamber fully clean and dry.
After removing the headlamp pods (made assembling the bumper easier), I decided to try to improve my heath robinson headlamp mechanism, which is worked by cords via pulleys to a winch made from a wiper motor. Hey, I'm a sailing man, which is why I went that way.
I'm trying out a new spring system, the existing ones seem too strong, I will try tension springs from the rear of the pods ... may not work! But less force may improve the system. Also I may reposition the winch to reduce the friction in the system.
Next week I may well fit the new battery, crank the engine and try to find the reason for loss of compression on one cylinder. Also I plan to get the rear jacked up high (on blocks) to start looking into the rear brakes.
Slow progress, as I have commitments and limited time, but no rush.
The restoration fund is healthy, well over half way to my guess of £5000 .....

Pete Boole
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Model: Elite
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by Pete Boole »

I'd love to see a photo of the rigging for the headlamps! Sounds like a good set-up.

Pete

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DavidOliver
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by DavidOliver »

Headlamp lifters. Lotusbits offer reconditioned motors at 90 P.S. each from Excels.
Not that I expect your rigging to fail, just a much faster lift if you want a quick flash Hmmm....
At least you have solved the Elite pneumatic system which constantly failed even when new.

Dave the cog.

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bash
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by bash »

Or you could look at some mr2 ones.
Bash
(Needs checking)
On a mission to find the airspeed velocity of a european swallow.

Mike C Sailor
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by Mike C Sailor »

Thanks for good suggestions.
As there is still a chance that I might part with the car, I don't want to spend too much if possible, so for now I'll stay with my system but try to improve it somewhat. If I keep the car, if my lashup system fails then I'll look into the Lotusbits or Mazda lifters.

Mike C Sailor
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by Mike C Sailor »

Slow progress last week, but the rear brake drums are off after a struggle with one side. Some very light rust inside the drums, cleaned up OK with sandpaper, some rust on shoes, cleaned and 2 coats hammerite; I did this as the shoes are unworn and I know they fit.

LH adjuster is worn which probably explains why results were erratic so I'm looking for a new one. I have adjuster levers on order.
To fit these will need access; I know you folks will suggest dropping the diff but I don't fancy this. Someone says it can be done in an hour with experience, but I've forgotten, I'm out of practice so it would take longer, my strength and stamina are limited so it would take even longer. But above all I remember it being a struggle to get it back, in the days when I was fully fit, so I don't fancy it. I'll make access holes to do the brake work.
I will inspect the existing cylinder bores and if in doubt will replace them; yes, I know about the difference in bore diameter so will keep the existing ones if possible.
Master cylinder; I plan to fit the Land Rover one. I checked the existing connectors by comparing them to my many taps and dies. One is 3/8inch 24TPI, but the other I could not match up. Matches 24TPI but not sure of diameter, seems between 7/16 and 1/2 so I guess 15/32 but this seems weird and I don't have anything that matches. I was thinking of adaptors but now I will most likely get a brake pipe flaring tool (£17) and fit the right bits for the new cylinder. Pipes are cunifer so should be workable, but I will check feedback about the brake flaring tool.
With my slow rate of progess I can see all this brake work taking most of this month but that's OK if I get a good result.

Pete Boole
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by Pete Boole »

These are the holes I cut to get access to the handbrake stuff - makes life sooo much easier:

Image

Image

Image

Pete

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Gray14
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by Gray14 »

Pete,

Does the hole in the central tunnel clear the chassis, and have you reinforced the holes. The pic shows metal behind the openings with screw fixings.

Pete Boole
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by Pete Boole »

Sorry Gray14 - not quite sure what you mean by "clear the chassis". You're correct about the metal behind the holes - there is a 5mm thick stainless "tapping plate" around the whole periphery of each cut-out.

Here's a close-up of the view through the central hole - it may show the detail you're asking about:

Image

Pete

Mike C Sailor
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Re: 1976 Elite 'The UFO' Restoration

Post by Mike C Sailor »

Thanks Pete, great pictures.
I've already made some progress, cut the RHS hole.
I may do the middle one to make checking and adjusting the handbrake much easier, but I'll have a good look first.
After looking at data on brake fittings, most likely the existing master cylinder fitting I'm not sure about is 7/16 24tpi but measures a bit small. But I think I'll put the right fittings on the pipes rather than use adaptors.

Though progress is slow and there's a fair bit to do, I'm getting there but more importantly, some of my general concerns about ownership and ongoing maintenance are being addressed, I'm getting more confidence.
The water leaks may have been sorted.
Having removeable access panels to the rear brakes makes these easier to work on.
No leaks of fluid or oil in the rear brakes.
Driveshafts, rear wheel bearings, diff output bearings all seem OK (fingers crossed).
Some things are easier to work on than expected due to, in the past, greasing threads on assembly and protecting exposed nuts with wax putty. The rear seat belt upper fixing, protected in this way, came apart easily yesterday to remove the seat.
So it just might be a keeper, and because of this I'm trying to do things well. No rush. And I'm more prepared to spend big on engine work and a respray. I think the Elite looks great in white, but fantastic in dark blue!

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