Back up at the lake, chassis assembly was moving along. Front uprights and shocks went on without a hitch, but the front sway bar was a chore. The front bar is mounted to the bottom of the front shocks with rubber isolator bushings. However, the bar normally sits flat when the car is sitting flat on the ground. Up on the stand with the front suspension in full droop, the mounting points of the two shocks are actually too close together. So I had to get a tie down from one of the wave runners and cinch the ends of the bar together, actually deforming the bar enough to mount it. Once I had it all bolted up I released the tie down and everything went boink! But it all stayed where it was supposed to and so it was on to the next task.
I spent a good afternoon figuring out how the rear hubs mount to the big trailing arms. The pictures in the book are deceiving and they actually mount backwards from the way I interpret the drawings. This particular Europa has the very rare Rich Cwik rear disc brake option. Actually Honda Prelude brakes because that is what Paul Quiniff had put on his tube frame Europa. Rich’s special brackets had 8 different possible ways of being mounted, but only one way was correct. Of course I seem to try all the wrong ways first…. Finally I just decided to go back to a stock drum brake set up. I just didn’t like the disc brake set up. I don’t think it would have lasted very long. Rich said he would go through his supplies out in Princeton and get me a set of original drums.
I put the steering rack back together all cleaned up and full of new grease. It went back onto the chassis with relative ease. I just had to figure out how to get my big hands inside the chassis to fish the bolts through. It’s one of those deals where sometime later you notice you are dripping blood all over your nice clean frame and you wonder how that happened….
Front suspension went on real easy. Rich had installed new parts including Triumph TR6 brakes which are a bit bigger than stock. Just needed a little cleaning here and there. I took the D/A sander to the discs to take the surface rust off. Cleaned and repacked the wheel bearings and torqued everything down. No problemo!
I had to spend a hunch of time looking at drawings in the shop and parts manuals to try and figure out what cables go where. Some are supposed to go through the tunnel; some get routed on the outside. The brake lines were the first thing I had to figure out. The T/C Europa normally comes with a pair of brake boosters in the rear of the car. Since the master cylinder is in the front, this necessitates running brake lines from the front to the rear and back to the front again. Many, negative phrases have been written and much cursing has taken place over the years relating to bleeding the brakes and/or keeping the brake boosters boosting properly. Rich had removed the boosters in this car so I decided to just run the lines I needed and not try to find and restore brake boosters of questionable return for my frustrations. I had bought a rebuilt master cylinder on ebay, one that had a smaller bore so the pedal pressure required to apply the brakes would be reasonable. If you just remove the boosters and don’t change the master cylinder to a smaller bore size, you need King Kong legs to stop the car. Not a problem for me but I intend to sell the car and the prospective buyer may have English sized calves instead of super sized tree trunks like mine.
After cleaning up and installing the brake lines I removed the master cylinder and put it away as eventually when it’s time to plop the body back on, the master cylinder is in the way and has to be off the car. Same thing goes for the steering column shaft. I made sure the knuckle fit over the splines of the steering rack input shaft but then removed it for installation after the application of the body.
I started bugging Bill Truesdale at APEX about my engine bits and in a couple weeks he had it all ready. The head had needed a bit of work; all new valves, valve glides and a valve job. Valve seats were fine. He sent out the head to a shop that specialized in removing broken studs as this head had two busted studs to remove (I didn’t do it!). The shop does sort of a reverse welding called EMD (?). It discharges the unwanted metal without harming the soft aluminum head – cool or actually, I imagine it was quite HOT! Block and crank were fine. Polished up the crank and did a dingle ball hone on the block after a nice hot tank to remove the usual rust in the water jackets. Main bearings, rod bearings and rings were all standard! Rebuilt the connecting rods both big and small end. Shot peened the pistons so they looked like new. Took a surface cut to the head and block to make sure they were perfect. Water pump was so rotted that he had to replace all the guts plus the inner ring. New freeze plugs and jackshaft bearings finished up what I needed. $1,000 bucks ain’t bad
for all of that.
I took all the goodies up to the lake for assembly there. First step was to re-clean everything with brake clean and paint the block and oil pan. Found some New Ford Gray that looks like a stock Lotus color. Taped everything up and now my old tree stump out back now has a gray outline of an engine block and oil pan on it. Fresh paint always gives you a nice sense of accomplishment. I’m referring to fresh paint on the block & pan, not the tree stump.
I’ve got a special engine stand mount that bolts onto the side of the block where the motor mount goes. Makes for an easy assembly as you can install everything including the flywheel and clutch with ease. I guess I could also mount up the trans when I’m ready but I don’t know if I would trust just those 4 measly little bolts to hold everything, especially since it would be in shear tension. Maybe I’ll support everything with the cherry picker. I’ll think about it later.
On an Elan restoration, I wait till I’ve got absolutely everything else done before I build the engine. You don’t want the engine sitting there together staring at you and saying “start me, start me”. Once you get the car started, you are more motivated to drive the car than you are to finish up all the little details like interior bits. But with this Europa project, I wanted to have the rolling chassis with engine and trans in it all ready when I plopped the body back on. So I put the engine back together. It went real easy. Actually quite satisfying as all the pieces went back together all neat and clean. I had sandblasted the valve cover and now its got a good coat of black paint. I then sanded off the top layer where the fins stick up so it looks real cool. As I was checking things out I noticed there was no input shaft bushing in the crank. Strange I thought. Don’t remember pulling it out. Bill must have done that I thought. So I couldn’t put on the flywheel, clutch and pressure plate until that was done. Kind of killed the weekend as I had to wait till Monday to call Ray at RD Enterprises
to order up a new bearing. “You want the kind that mounts in the flywheel – right?” he asked. Uh…. I guess I didn’t know that’s where it goes. So I had to wait till the next weekend to go back up North and find out that yes, I did already have an input bearing in the flywheel. Unfortunately I also found out it was shot and had to wait again till Monday to then order that one from Ray.