Praying To The Lotus Gods
‘OOPS, IT HAPPENED AGAIN’. ‘One thing led to another.’ ‘I got a bit carried away.’ ‘Things just went from there.’
Who wants to play a game of PPC Feature Introduction Roulette? Me, obviously, once Kev passes the spinning wheel of words back that he’s been hogging for so many years. Anyway, in this case, I’m going to go for ‘It was daft not to…’
Having bought this modestly rear-ended S1 Elise for a steal, last month I went through the fun task of stripping down the damage and removing the old broken glassfibre bodywork. The car needed a new steel rear subframe, and luckily a decent used one came up for sale on eBay at just the right time and price.
But before I popped the rear of the car on stands to remove the running gear, I wanted to get the front clamshell body off to repair the light damage, something that would have been tricky when parked up in the corner.
The light damage it had received could almost have been repaired without removal, but it was, well, daft not to as it would give the chance to check everything over, make access to the back of the glassfibre much less frustrating for repairs, and probably work out more time-effective. That’s because I wouldn’t end up losing days of workshop time from a bad back after constantly stooping over the knee-high front end.
The front clam came off surprisingly quickly thanks to fasteners that had been clearly removed recently, by the looks of it to fit a new all-alloy radiator and silicone hoses upfront. This is quite convenient, as it helps alleviate a common weak point of the standard Elise rad
with its plastic end caps. With the clam upturned though, I could see that the headlight brackets bonded to the back of the headlight pods were on the verge of rotting away to nothing, so it made sense to replace these while I could access them with more than a hand’s-width of room. They’re not usually available separately, but thankfully Eliseparts.com sell replacements ready to bond on. It was daft not to do them.
At the rear, I needed to slice through the bent exhaust downpipe and find a replacement, but it wasn’t long before the subframe was off, along with all the suspension, driveshafts, brakes and hubs. The new subframe was in good condition as were the wishbones, but it really was daft not to give them some sort of extra protection to make good for another 18 years of use without having to take it all apart again. The ultimate choice of protective component paint these days seems to be the POR15 range from Frost.co.uk. This is an ultra-tough paint designed to be resistant to everything from petrol and road salt to battery acid, and it can be brushed on like any other garden gate gloss (although as you might expect, you don’t want to get it on your hands).
I expected the chassis mounting faces to have light pitting from galvanic corrosion where the steel frame bolts up to the alloy, so had equipped myself with some POR Patch to act as a fine filler after filing away the corrosion but thankfully it was completely untouched. Again, while I was painting bits it made sense to strip down the innards of the ‘front compartment,’ so I soon had all manner of extra parts to tidy up, the main one being the heater box.
This is more like a GCSE Design Technology project than a real car part, with nasty pressed steel parts screwed together with self tappers, then sandwiched against a small matrix with some floppy, brittle vacuum formed plastic. It is topped off with what look like resistors from a 1950s telephone exchange, and being a Lotus it all has to be disassembled/assembled inside the front compartment as it won’t come out as a whole unit.
After etching all the parts thoroughly with the POR15 Metal Prep fluid, it wasn’t long before I had two things. One: a subframe and collection of Elise chassis components, mounts and brackets finished in a lovely glossy and ultra-hard finish. And two: a barrage of jokes from Will asking about when my first concours competition was taking place. It certainly would have been daft not to put up with that for the sake of a chassis I don’t have to worry about for two decades.
(Thanks to James and Practical Performance Car Magazine for this Article.)
What you need:
- POR15 Cleaner Degreaser (aka Marine Clean)
- POR15 Metal Prep (aka Metal Ready or Prep & Ready)
- POR15 POR-Patch (thicker version of the POR-15 rust paint to use for filling seams or holes).