8.29.14 And then there were
two: The Lotus Club held their annual track day at PIR
today. Took #010 in for a visit but didn't run any laps.
Happened to bump into a lovely Europa JPS that had been worked
on and was lapping very rapidly. The owners are interested in
getting a JPS Esprit to have a matching set. Mario generated
lots of interest and ran smoother than ever on the 180 mile
round trip. It gets better with every drive.
7.23.14 Mastering the Brakes: Another job completed on
#010 and big improvement on the road. I had noticed the brake
pedal would slowly go to the floor with light pressure on it.
Suspected the seals were allowing fluid to pass so out with
the master and in with a new seal kit.
First one I got
from Dave Bean was missing the seals for the reservoir and
clips to hold it on. Found a NOS Girling one in the UK and had
it sent out. Not too impressed when Dave tried to charge me a
restocking fee for their defective kit, I'll certainly think
twice before I purchase anything from them again.
a spare master cylinder that came with the car so I'll have
that sleeved and rebuild it as a backup. Powertrack Brakes in
the UK had the Girling SP7651 seal kit for a reasonable £18 so
I'll use those to rebuild the sleeved master.
some time richening up the mixture on the carbs. I had been
getting hesitation around 2500RPM and also the idle was
hunting around and dropping down erratically. Four turns out
on the mixture screws seems to have done the trick with a
smooth constant idle the result and the engine pulling cleanly
right through the rev range.
A quick 180 mile round
trip to Cars and Coffee tested the work out nicely and "Mario"
is running better than ever.
3.15.14 Spring outing: The seasons have changed for the
better and Spring is in the air with dry roads and glorious
sunshine. What better day to give "Mario" his first outing
this year. It was up early and on the road for a 180 mile
roundtrip to the cars and coffee get together in Portland.
First time I had done any distance on the new original
shocks and boy does the car ride nicely. Tyres were set to 25
front and 33 rear, the result was a smooth ride and nice light
steering. It also seemed to remove the last of the vibration I
had all but eliminated last year. I'd also replaced the rear
radius arm mounts as they were on their last legs. The left
rear driveshaft was checked for any defects as the right one
had failed late in 2013.
The Seafoam fuel additive I
put in the tanks at the end of Autumn worked a treat
staibilising the 10% Ethanol blended gas and there
was no hesitation or rough running during the trip. All the
work done over the winter was fruitful and 136S ran
effortlessly. A brief stop at the Ferrari/Maserati dealer on
the way home finished off the trip nicely.
Wow..wow..wow: I really didn't think changing back to the
original shock absorbers would make much difference. I had
read how good the original handling was on the setup the
Esprit was designed with but had never experienced it
firsthand. Spax had a good reputation so I just accepted the
slight ride harshness and dive under braking as normal. By
dialing up the stiffness and increasing tyre pressures I
dialed out most of it.
I figured the old Armstrongs,
being so soft when I extended them on the bench, would result
in a rolling/diving car. How wrong was I! The handling is a
revelation, supple yet so smooth and no dive or roll. Well
done to the chaps in white coats at Lotus who designed and
setup this car....you earned a pint down at the Rack and
Sitting pretty: No 010 now sits comfortably on a set of
NOS original shocks. Removing and replacing the Spax
adjustables was very straightforward and problem free. It was
also a good chance to clean up all the bolts and replace the
radius arm mounts that were a bit long in the tooth. Now its
done the squeaks have gone and the suspension is more supple.
The UJs were checked and looked almost new, they've got
just on 2000 miles on them since they were replaced by the
previous owner. I also disassembled and checked the right rear
drive shaft as the left side had failed a few months ago after
being machined down (by persons unknown) to fit loosely in the
hub bearing. That's the complete drivetrain checked and
serviced so there shouldn't be any more surprises.
was Christmas Mario got a shiny new high torque mini starter
from Dave at British Starters as a present. Fitting was very
easy and it now spins the engine over like a racecar. I
also took the opportunity to relocate the coil to the original
position behind the engine, redo the wiring & connectors and
change out the water reservoir with a nice new powdercoated one.
I also replaced the blue NGK spark plug wires with a set of 8
mm Flame Thrower ones from Pertronix.
The engine breather pipe from the cam cover was missing
so it's been replaced with one sourced from Lotusbits in the
UK. The PO had used stainless braided fuel lines that didn't
look period correct. Some high pressure silicone Aeroquip hose
looks much better. A general tidy up and clean has the engine
bay looking much nicer.
While my JPS is laid up for the winter I'll finish
off the interior; the seats are ready to have the original
gold corduroy/black leather refitted and the gold trim
re-golded. There's not much left to do other than fitting a
new antenna and some replacement clips for the door locks.
2014 should be a great year for Esprit de corps!
Quite a shock: Original parts for a 35 year old Esprit are
not that easy to come by. Whether you're on the right or left
side of the Atlantic Lotus bits are getting harder to find. I
put in a call to SCW down in Texas a few months ago looking
for some original Armstrong shocks for my "JPS"; the Spax
adjustables are squeaking more than ever and I wanted to see
if the Lotus ones felt any different. I checked with Lotus
Bits while I was in the UK and they had none, I did pick up a
nice shiny alloy overflow tank and a few bits and bobs from
Imagine my surprise when I get back to the USA to
receive a message from Dave at SCW saying he had a set of New
Original Stock shocks on the shelf. Needless to say I ordered
them quicker than an Esprit changes direction and UPS had them
on my doorstep a week later. I'll fit the fronts first to see
if the squeak can be silenced and then the rear gets its turn.
A touch on the warm side: One of the things I have been
dreading is driving the JPS Esprit in near 100F temperatures.
Forums are littered with horror stories of the Esprits poor
hot weather performance and the inability of the standard
system to endure any temp warmer than English beer. We had a
roadtrip this past weekend out in the Oregon high country; the
forecast was temps near the century mark but I dodged them on
the first day by heading off early. A high of 86 was easily
dealt with and old number 010 ran like a train. The return
trip had me concerned as it was to be the hottest day of the
week so far.
It was well into the 80's when we set off
and the temp gauge had the needle pointing straight down and
steady in that position. The ambient steadily increased until
we were climbing a 5 mile long grade with the mercury inching
past 100. The water temp needle moved slightly to the right
but the car showed no signs of discomfort...other than to the
driver and passenger. On the downgrade the needle would move
back and drop below the 90 degree mark, it seemed the faster
we went the cooler it got. At no time did the electric fans
cut in, the ramjet effect was more than adequate.
doubt we would have had the same result with the stock
radiator system, fortunately the previous owner had fitted the
Lotus by Claudius uprated one. An inclined higher capacity
radiator from the Turbo Esprit and the associated ducting
combined with 3 large Spal electric fans to draw air through
the rad. Judging by the performance in near record
temperatures it is an effective and worthwhile upgrade for
any early Esprit. Many thanks to the PO for having the
foresight to fit it.
Things are looking up: The headliner in the cockpit has
failed on every Esprit I've looked at, it's made up of a foam
core sandwiched between 2 layers of cloth. While the cloth
will last indefinitely the foam, being oil based, wants to
return to its original state. Hence it turns to powder and the
headliner sags. Most modern headliner material has cloth on
only one side; as the Esprit has it bonded to the roof it
needs to be cloth on both sides so it sticks firmly. SJ
Sportscars in the UK have the original style material
available and sent out 2 meters to complete the job. My local
trimmer matched the straight stitching to the one I removed
from the car and covered the header and side panels. They were
careful to replicate the stitching around the clock housing
that fits neatly into a groove in the panel.
Fitting the roof section requires using spray adhesive to
ensure it has a uniform bond all over. DAP Weldwood High
Strength Spray Adhesive worked perfectly. Spray both the roof
and material, let it go tacky then start attaching from the
middle and work out, being careful not to stretch the material
too much. A roller to smooth it all out completes the process.
The sunvisors were recovered to match the rest of the trim
using black alcantara on the upper surface and gray on the
lower section that you see when they are folded up.
Esprit vibe: A common problem with S2 Esprits seems to be
a vibration through the steering wheel that begins in the 50
to 60 mph range. The forums are full of chat about the
problem; however, it seems to be an accepted complaint. My car
was no different; it shook the steering wheel, instrument
binnacle, rear view mirror and body all the way from 52 mph
upwards. Not only was it annoying but uncomfortable holding
the steering wheel for extended periods of time. Having sorted
out the chassis/brakes/suspension I was determined to get to
the root of the problem.
First up was aligning the
steering rack so the arms were parallel to the road and level
when the car was at the correct ride height. It was pretty
straightforward to undo the rack mounting bolts and use a
magnetic level on the arms to get them lined up. Next up was
securing the anti roll bar(ARB). Lotus, in their great wisdom,
used it as a forward link for the front suspension as well as
a ARB. Unfortunately they didn't secure it to prevent side to
side motion which was evident on mine by the wear marks in the
fresh paint. Some bar
were sourced from McMaster Carr in the correct 20 mm diameter
and fitted inboard of the ARB mounts and snugged up against
the rubber bushing. A quick road test and improvements were
already noticeable, I would say a 20% improvement.
I'd had the suspension apart a good alignment was due, it was
over 15 years since the last one according to service records
with the car. The tires/wheels were balanced and the chassis
aligned to factory specs. Again a further improvement with the
vibration occurring from 55 to 60 mph, lets call it a further
50% gain for 70% overall. A 500 mile round trip on mountain
roads that saw the suspension bottom out a few times was more
than enough to bed everything down after the winter's remedial
The new Federal tires were nicely worn in and
pressures increased to compensate for the soft sidewalls.
Lotus originally used Dunlop Sport in a V rating that had
quite stiff sidewalls, 18 front and 27 rear the preferred
pressures. I found this was too soft on the new H rated ones
and eventually ended up at 25 front and 33 rear. This took
some more vibration out and reduced the dive under braking.
When we balanced them up during the alignment we could see a
flat spot on each tire, we suspected this may be the source of
the latent vibration. Back to the tire shop to shave 2/32" off
each one to true them up. A rebalance to compensate for the
rubber removed and weight placed on both the inner and outer
edges of the rims foregoing aesthetics for performance.
The result was remarkable, smooth right through the speed
range with a very tiny vibration at 59 mph (the lower steering
UJ has a slight bit of give). Overall I reckon we are at 98%
improvement and JPS # 010 is a joy to drive. Steering feel is
much lighter, fatigue through the hands is non existant and
the car tracks much truer with very little kickback.
While I was working around the front end a tidy up of the
luggage compartment was in order. Brake fluid had spilt and
taken some of the floor paint off so it was out with anything
that could be unbolted and in with a new coat of trim black
paint. The bonnet hinges were looking a bit scabby so those
were powdercoated and the underside of the bonnet redone in
trim black. All the bolts got cad plated before reassembly. To
finish off things nicely I had a quilted cover made for the
underside of the bonnet, it cleans everything up and covers
the unsightly painted fiberglass. The original spare wheel was
still in place so a good scrubbing and treatment with
protectant had this looking like new. At sometime wires had
been fitted with the wrong connectors so I replaced all the
offending items with the correct Lucar ones, an added bonus
was the left side indicator started working again. Any more
tidying up can wait until the winter.
The trim shop
finally finished recovering the console and gear surround. A
quick coat of Gliptone black leather paint and they matched
perfectly with the surrounding trim. I had an old Blaupunkt
cassette radio that came out of one of my Astons, being period
correct it fit perfectly in the Esprit. It came with an amp
that fit neatly up under the dash to power four new speakers.
The ones on the doors had black mesh which I repainted gold to
match the original look. We managed to rebuild the original
sill and drivers side carpets using the untouched carpet from
under the seats, which was replaced by some almost identical
black shag pile mats from Walmart of all places.
todo list is down to a few lines and I have one of the best
sorted Esprits around. I've done 1000 miles since putting it
back together and every drive gets better. The next few months
I'll give it a good thrashing but I doubt I will have to do
much to Mario other than add fuel. At least I know how much is
in the tanks after fitting a new fuel gauge sender unit. The
old one had stuck on empty and Ray at r.d. enterprises had a
nice NOS one in stock. When I opened up the tank the old one
had very little corrosion but was seized in the housing. Even
though I freed it up I still thought it prudent to fit a new
one to be on the safe side.
I'm looking forward to
getting the Esprit out on the track to see how it handles when
pushed. Each trip is an adventure and the JPS is warmly
welcomed by loads of admirers.
7.29.13 500 miles in
a Lotus...and no trouble: JPS #010 just completed a very
enjoyable 500 mile round trip jaunt this past weekend. After
sorting it out over the winter this was my first chance to get
to know the car. The first day my son and I did 230 miles up
through the Cascade Mountain passes on deserted back roads
that gave the suspension a through workout. Boy the thing
handles well and eats up corners!
We spent the
afternoon at the all British Field Meet in Bellevue before
heading south on the I-5 Freeway on Sunday. We had no trouble
cruising at an easy 75 mph for 250 miles with the Esprit never
missing a beat. A slight vibration from the tires is the only
thing needing attention. We did a alignment last week and the
tires were slightly out of round, a common problem with most
Asian built tires. We'll shave them and see if that solves the
problem, all the suspension
components have been rebuilt
and correctly set.
The fuel gauge lost interest
in registering so the fuel sender unit in the tank will need
replacing. We had a chance to catch up with the previous owner
of #010, he seemed genuinely happy the car is getting lots of
love and attention. It was a chance for him to see first hand
all the work we had done sorting it so we can drive it
regularly and know it will not let us down.
On the road again: 136S is back on the blacktop and
undergoing a good shakedown. The front end went back
together without any trouble. It's all looking like new under
the car and everything is nice and tight. With the new
headliner in place there's just a few interior trim jobs to
The EBC Yellowstuff brake pads
(DP4198R rear/DP4197R front) and the new slotted rotors from
Brake Performance are now bedded in and heat cycled. One more
bleeding of the system will make sure the pedal stays firm.
With Speedbleeder nipples on all the rebuilt brake calipers
it's easy to bleed the system in a few minutes. The rear
calipers used the SB7100 and the fronts SB51624L.
Jeff at JAE came up with NOS
Lotus bearings and seals for the front axles and also new
rubber boots for the steering rack. All it required was a good
cleaning and repaint before reassembly. Lots of white lithium
grease should keep it nicely lubricated for the next 35 years!
A few hours with the wire
brush had the chassis cleaned up and a coat of rust preventive
paint made it shine. I took particular care to secure all the
hoses and pipes so they can't bang around from road
vibrations. It was worth the effort as the car is as quiet as
a mouse on the road now. The wheel wells and inner spoiler
area came in for a coat of trim black. Any redundant holes
were sealed up with rubber plugs and all the
bolts/nuts/washers/clips cleaned up in the tumbler and
A set of NOS gold window trim
and cant rails were fitted all round. The rears were original
so took some effort to extract! Pond filters replaced the foam
in the b-post air vents so dust and insects can't find their
way into the car. I had a mate in the UK make a nice display
plate for the front of the car "79 JPS" looks great on the
euro spec bumper.
The first road test was
uneventful other than firming up the Spax shocks to prevent
some front end dive under braking. The new tires provide
plenty of grip and good ride comfort on the freeway.
The other end: Now the back end is all sorted and
re-installed its time to tackle the front end. At some stage
Spax shock absorbers and galvanized lower wishbones have been
fitted so they don't need any attention other than some
cleaning. The original rotors were worn down to their minimums
so new ones are on order. I ordered some EBC UPR005 only to
discover they are putting Centric ones in the box. Shame EBC
don't tell you and charge double what they cost from Centric!
The calipers and associated bolts and brackets are being CAD
plated. The brake back plates and steering rack mounts are
being powder coated. Upon removing the steering rack the only
attention needed was a set of boot rubbers. Everything else
was to spec and functioning correctly after 42,000 miles and
35 years. While it's apart I'll clean the front end chassis
frame and re coat it in rust preventive paint. The wheelarches
will get a nice coat of trim black to freshen them up.
Disassembled: It only takes one nut to disassemble a
car...but loads of nuts to put it back together! Thankfully
after months of unbolting bits that littered my garage floor,
it's now time to put it all back where it came from.
Once the JPS was up on the 4
post lift I could find where the oil leaks were coming from
and attempt to breach the flow. The crankshaft rear main seal
was leaking into the bellhousing saturating the clutch. The
gearbox came out to get access, it also had a few leaks that
needed addressing. While it was out the driveshaft hubs went
off to Jerry at SM World to have the bearings checked and new
seals fitted. Jeff at JAE sorted the rear crank seal and the
tool to mount it correctly to prevent leaks. The rear casing
on the gearbox was also leaking so that was resealed with
Loctite 518 Anaerobic gasket maker. While everything was apart
I had all the nuts/bolts/housings/calipers Cadmium plated at
Precision Metal Finishing in Canby, OR.
The rear discs were down to
the minimum so Jeff relieved me of some cash for 2 new ones
that are also used on Lancia Gammas of all things. The
calipers were rebuilt with new seals after being CAD plated.
As the bottom of the car was easily accessible I cleaned off
every inch with lacquer thinners. Any brackets were unbolted
and powder coated in satin black while the rest of the chassis
was finished in rust preventative paint. The fiberglass was
cleaned back to the gel coat and areas above the gearbox and
in the wheelarches coated with SEM Trim Black.
The handbrake had been MIA
for a few years with a broken mounting and seized cable.
Getting the bracket involved drilling out the rivets on the
sill cover to reach up inside and remove the faulty part. The
cable was freed up, lubricated and fitted with a new
heatshield. After welding up the mounting lug/bracket I had it
powder coated before refitting it.
Leaks from the end of the
camshaft covers were sorted with new O rings. A tidy up of the
hoses/cables/wires in the engine bay revealed some incorrect
parts. New one way vacuum valves were sourced for the brake/AC
lines and the one to the charcoal fuel canisters plumbed back
Detangled: It seems every car I've bought has been fitted
with an aftermarket stereo system and a tangled assortment of
wires to power it. Inevitably the stereo has disappeared but
the wires remain, much like an archeological remnant waiting
for an intrepid restorer to unearth years later.
JPS 010 is no different, I
discovered the mother lode behind the bulkhead trim leading
into the recesses of the engine bay. After removing the carpet
and floorboards it was all stuffed away, defunct in its
purpose and ripe for picking. It all came out, power leads,
speaker wires, amp connections...it's all gone.
What was also revealed was a
jumble of vent and vacuum lines that had broken over the years
laying disconnected from the vent system. 15 feet of fuelproof
3/16" vacuum line and the system is as good as new and all
fuel smells have gone up in air! It also gave me a chance to
re-glue trim that had come loose over the years.
With the hatch open myriad
chips and scars on the edge of the hatch were revealed. Armed
with a bottle of touch up paint and some Langka I set to work
touching them up with a rubber glove. Forget carefully putting
paint into scratches...just smear it on with your finger
protected by the glove. Let dry then hit it with the Langka
cream to get rid of the excess to leave a smooth repair ready
to polish out.
A French JPS enthusiast
contacted me and has JPS decal sets available for purchase. He
reproduced them for a Luxembourg based JPS after sourcing the
original material and has 2 sets left.