LOTUS ELAN SE

REPLACEMENT FRAME

 

During my hunt for the Elans I had come across many owners with stashes of parts.  One of them had a spare frame and fuel tank that I snapped up.  The frame was solid, but had a few issues.  the frame was originally replaced with a Spyder chassis which I am still up in the air in buying.  But with a project, the fun is in the hunt and the restoration of used parts.  Outside of the typical cracks, there was no major rust nor rust through, except for the diff cross brace which was the worst of it.

 

 

Appears that some water sat on the diff cross brace which slowly thinned out the metal.  Strangely enough, this was the only rust through on the frame.

 

 

I measured and drew up some CAD files to make a replacement panel in 14ga.  Fired up the laser and cut and folded the panel.  All I need to do now is to cut the frame to insert the replacement part, weld and grind flush for a seamless repair. 

 

 

  The remaining repairs will require simple welding, a crack here, a lost nut there, but all pretty normal and common problem areas for the Lotus Chassis.  Will be fabricating the reinforcement parts al la 26R and TTR upgrades.  But again, depends if I choose to go with the Spyder Chassis or not.  In either case, I will finish restoring the frame and have it powder coated.  If I go with the Spyder, I just might hang my restored frame in the living room as an object de art lol. 

   After repairing the usually cracks on the cross member I looked at some other owners who had reinforced the brace with wings that were welded on both sides.  I thought this was a good idea and decided to do the same thing.  I made cardboard cut outs to ensure that I did not interfere with the frame that it would bolt on to and have a template to cut the sheet metal parts.

  Hard to see with the POR15 painted on the part, but hopefully the wings will prevent it from flexing so much to make it crack again.  I also welded a contoured "L" shaped tab under the bend to give it a bit more thickness to the metal.  This was were it was cracking badly.  

UPDATE: June/July/2013

Back for the summer and time to get back on the frame.  First order of business was to repair all the minor problems with the donor frame.  Typical issues with cracks and tweaks as identified on my last trip home.  

 

After welding up and grinding down all the cracks on the frame, it was time to sandblast the frame to remove all the surface rust.

 

 

With the frame nicely clean and sandblasted, I started to take measurements and re-align the frame so every panel was flat, square, and back to specs.  The panels just needed a bit of massaging to flatten out and used a porta power to tweak bent or twisted sections back in line.  It was fairly straight and the bits that I did tweak fell into position very easily.  So easily that I started to question if the frame would not tweak again after a few pot holes.  The metal was not fatigued so it was the basic design, very fragile much like a Formula Ford Frame.  So at this juncture, it was apparent that doing the 26R modifications was necessary.

 

 

As I was cutting all the parts out of 14 gauge sheet metal, I was getting a bit concerned with all the weight I was adding to the frame.  So I decided to cut lightening holes in most of the parts to lighten the reinforcements.  This brought the overall weight of this mod down to about 8 pounds not including the welds. 

 

 

With all the mods welded in, I coated the frame in POR15.  It took a full quart to cover the frame inside and out.  Then a coat of Smoke Grey for a glossy finish that would clean easily.