Lotus Elan SE
DOOR DISASSEMBLY AND RESTORATION
One of the first things to come off the car was the doors. Again I was struggling with years of rust and deterioration. Every bolt and nut fought to the bitter end. Any slot or Phillips screw head disintegrated at the slightest turn, hex heads rounded in a heart beat. Heat and PB Blaster was my friend, not to mention a drill.
Slowly, but surely, everything came apart. The inside door handles were toast but I found a brand new set on ebay for the Lotus, but without the 3 holes drilled in for mounting, easy fix. This door handle is identical to the ones on the MGB except that the MGB has additional flanges on either end for mounting. Good things these things were still available as restoring the ones I had was next to impossible.
The Striker plates were also severely rotted out, after hours of coaxing them off the car, the striker itself was still in good shape, but the outside plate needed replacement. After examining the plate, it seemed a simple part to replicate outside of the counter sunk holes. So I CAD'ed up the part, fired up the laser and cut out exact replicas in 16 ga. The next challenge was to figure out a way to re create the counter sinks. I knew these were originally stamped in, but that is 1940's technology and I didn't have a 50 ton stamping machine. So I decided to use of the the counter sunk screws and a vise to press in the shape. The hardest thing to do was to keep the screw centered as you cranked down on the vise. Using a socket on one side and the screw on the other tended to allow the screw to wander giving you an un-centered countersink. What I eventually did was to machine a steel block with hole that perfectly fitted the 3/8th or 5/16th nuts ( I forget which) that was threaded on the countersunk screw and milled out an 82 degree counter sink on the block as well. This way the screw centered itself when compressing in the vise, and the counter sink on the block formed the counter sink on the part perfectly. Unfortunately after the 20th part, the vise broke. Should had used the press, but it was a simple fix. Now all I have to do is to chrome all these parts.
The window frame was in great shape outside of some surface rust. They have repair kits for the lower span, but mine were in good enough to restore as is. I assumed the power window motors were goners as I had mentioned, it seems that the car was in a flood at one time, and these motors sat low in the door. The oxidation on the head looked like it had obviously effected the units integrity. But after opening the motor up and cleaning the parts, it was not as bad as I thought, thanks to the tons of grease that was caked inside. But the magnet was crumbling inside the motor housing and the armature was frozen to the inside bearing inevitably resulting in damage once removed. The motors were originally sourced from wiper motors from a Ford Cortina, but those are difficult to find now a days as well. But the motor casing had a Ford logo so knowing Ford, they made millions of these that had to be across a number of years and models. So I spent hours on ebay looking for pictures of Ford wiper and power window motors in the late 60's and early 70's and found a possible match. A 1969 -71 Ford Mustang wiper motor. Dropped by the local parts store and picked up a rebuilt unit for $60 and immediately started to disassemble the motor to see what parts were simular. The first thing I noticed was that the motor casing was about 1/2" longer as was the armature itself. The head was different, you could make it work, but not without some major modifications. But the good news was, outside of the slightly longer body, the motor was a direct replacement and fitted on the Lotus/Cortina head perfectly. The critical part was the top of the armature with had the identical screw and length from were the brushes contact the armature to the top of the screw. So it slipped in like it was designed for it, which most likely it was. Tested the motor and it winds perfectly up and down. Cheap fix if you are in a bind. The extra length of the motor just fits inside the existing door opening, but you can just trim some fiberglass should it hit. The passenger door motor worked when I took it out, so I just disassembled it, cleaned it, and re greased the motor. Sometimes you get lucky.