Western Australia Quokka Talk for September, 2017

Get up to date with all the action going on in the Western Australian Lotus community, thanks to Eddie Lankhorst’s September edition of Quokka Talk.

This month’s newsletter includes a wrap-up of the Targa West Tarmac Rally by Vicky Rowe and Richard Cooper’s story ‘Lotas Hell’ as well as plenty of great photos.

Read on, and enjoy, with thanks to Eddie, Richard and Vicky.

Quokka Talk, September 2017

By Eddie Lankhorst

Wow, what a month it has been! I hit a birthday milestone, we had our usual Boab meet and EMR, we competed in a hill climb, and enjoyed the Targa West rally.

Andrew Graham, in his S2 Elise, did us proud at the TSOA hill climb at Jack’s Hill, winning outright against a diverse field including Lotus, Triumphs and some very fast Porsches. A great drive. We’ll be back there again at the end of August for the CAMS club challenge.

Four Lotus were involved in Targa West during August. Everything went without a hitch, although on the final stage Steve Metlitzky’s S1 Elise failed to get off the line. He and navigator, Mandy Lister, pushed the Elise down Riverside Drive, across the finish line and back to regroup to finish the rally under human power. Well done guys.

Following us on the Targa Tour on the Sunday was an electric i3 BMW. Surprisingly it kept pace with us around the tight circuits, up until the batteries heated up and the power output dropped to 80%.

This little car attracted a lot of attention, however it didn’t participate on the country stages the day before as it would have run out of power about a third of the way around. They failed to mention that point during any of the coverage.

Our next month’s events are:

  • September
    • Mon 11th BOAB Meet n Eat 6pm
    • Sun 17.st EMR 8am from Guildford
  • October
    • Mon 9th BOAB Meet n Eat 6pm
    • Sun 15th EMR 8am from Guildford

Lotas Hell

By Richard Cooper, Photos thanks to Richard Cooper

The A in the title is well placed, replacing “usually” with “always” in Lots of Trouble Usually Serious.

Eddie suggested I share my story. You see, I’ve been having hassles with my Elise (S2 with BOE supercharger). So here it is, with full-blown emotion!

Firstly, my background: I am happy with a wrench in my hand and an idea in my head. I am a Lotus nut and have been since I was 22, owning many over the years.

I have always been jealous of the guys over east, attending regular events such as LOTD, so I was really looking forward to our first here in WA a few months back, with 30 Lotus expected to be on the Barbagallo circuit.

Along with the other enthusiasts I lined up to start my first run, taking off slowly to warm the engine. I got about 200 meters and the car misfired a bit, so I gave it a little throttle, but the misfire worsened and there was a huge pall of blue smoke following me. I limped it back to the pits wondering what the heck was going on. I was so disappointed in missing driving with all the others. Well, a flatbed home and my day was over before it even started.

I took off the cylinder head and found the above. The magical Nikasil lining had failed and it had cost me one piston, one block and one conrod, as well as bearings etc.

I contacted BOE and Phil said he had seen it a couple of times only and after less than 10 miles. Mine was over 10,000 km. He did try to help me with the situation and supplied pistons and other stuff at his cost, but I had to import a new block and do a full rebuild. That was a bit over $3k. I am so glad that I am not a Ferrari lover.

After rebuilding the motor and fitting a new clutch plate I went about bedding in the rings with some heavy throttle applications. This was all good, but I did find that the motor would not rev past about 6200 rpm. It was sort of like it was hitting a very hard rev limiter. At full throttle it was so violent that it sheared my front engine mount. I found this later while under the car.

Well, I couldn’t figure this out so I asked around for advice. That varied a lot from floating valves to all sorts of other theories. But I had only disassembled the head to clean the valves and decoke with the same hardware???

I had it on the dyno for four hours with no joy. Then I went to another friend and his dyno was out of action, but he was able to scope the crank trigger wire and said it was a very clean signal with very little noise. And so it should have been. A couple of years earlier I had built the cable myself to make the twisted pair of wires earth, shielded all the way back to the ECU.

Anyway, I thought I’d keep changing things until I isolated the problem, but I changed all the following with absolutely no success: alternator, rear wiring loom. coil packs, spark plugs, crank sensor, cam sensor and even the ECU (SSC PIP). All this made no difference and I was getting so desperate that I thought I might have to get an old Celica motor, fit it and get rid of the car. But wait, it gets worse!

The car was still driveable if I kept it below 6k rpm. It has been my daily for years as I just love driving a Lotus, but by now I was depressed, as I am sure Steve and Eddie will attest. So, a few days before Targa West I was over at Steve’s place helping him get his S1 ready. I had parked my Elise on the roadside. A while later we both heard the sickening crunch of fiberglass being modified by another cars bumper. Yes, Steve’s neighbour from across the road had reversed into my car. Well, how much more depressed could I have been?

This is all true believe it or not, who could make up this sh1t.

Now, the silver lining to my dark cloud. The car was not badly damaged and when I took it to my repairer, who is the Lotus man over here, I told him my tale and he suggested I talk to a mechanic he had known since he was 15.

I got his details and gave him a call and discussed what I had been through. When I told him it would not rev and the tacho and speedo went crazy he immediately felt it was a crank sensor over voltage and that I should contact the ECU manufacturer and get a different voltage threshold and filtering in the tune.

I contacted Adaptronic, but they said that they could only send a tune with the crank trigger set to digital, even though it was an analog sensor. “It might work“ he said, but I didn’t hold much hope. I thought that if the crank trigger was getting too much voltage then I might try and move it out from the trigger wheel a little bit. So I fabricated and fitted a little shim 0.9mm thick and refitted the crank sensor. I took it for a drive and now the rev limit was worse (4K ) and the dash went crazy.  Finally I did something that made a difference, even though it was worse. At least I could see light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

I then removed the front timing cover, not a joy-filled job with the engine still in the car. I pulled off the crank trigger and dummy placed it concentric with the crank oil seal, holding it in place with a nut, bolt and some large washers. This was to measure the air gap to the crank sensor that bolts through the timing cover. It was about 2-3 mm. This is very wide, which explains why when I shimmed it 0.9 mm further out it made it all worse. I also noted that if I pushed the sensor in a bit, then seated it with the bolt, as I had done in the rebuild as access is difficult, it just bent and did not seat properly.

With renewed hope I modified one of my crank sensors by bending the mounting tab flat with the help of my hot air gun and proceeded to whittle the tab about 1.5mm with my Dremmel. All this to close the air gap. I then assembled it on the bench after greasing the O ring to fully seat the sensor. Now the air gap was 0.5 mm.

So, I reassembled the front of the engine and took it for a test drive. FINALLY, after several frustrating months, my Elise drove like it should, pulling away like a train and revving past 8k with no hesitation. Who would have thought that 2mm could make such a difference.

If you have read this whole article then you deserve a medal. I just hope that it all works as I am entered in the CAMS challenge with Steve, Eddie and five others at the end of August. Wish me luck.

I forgot to mention that I recently fixed my Evora’s door switch for $12, as an alternative for replacing the door lock for over $300. So, if anyone has any Lotus hassles feel free to give me a call as it has probably already happened to me!

Targa West Tarmac Rally

Targa West Tarmac Rally

By Vicky Rowe

Like many I’ve sat on the sidelines, either volunteering or spectating, wondering what it would be like to have a go in a tarmac rally. With a new Lotus dealership here in Perth looking for exposure and strong interest from the rally organisers for a Lotus presence I felt that 2017 was the year to ‘dip the toe’.

Based on discussions with Ross Tapper from Targa West, the plan was to have an inaugural Lotus Tour group driving ahead of the competitors on all stages. Despite plenty of early interest we didn’t get enough participants to have our own Tour group, however Lotus was still well represented with:

  • Autostrada’s Cup 220 competing in the Targa 2Day Rallye competition, driven by young gun Nick Mitic, with Geoff Duckworth navigating
  • The former Targa-winning S1 Elise of Steve Metlitzky. This car also competed in the Targa 2Day Rallye competition, with Steve driving and experienced navigator Mandy Lister earning her ride
  • I led the small Targa Tour field in my Exige S with Eddie as rookie navigator
  • Also on the Tour was the saffron yellow S2 Elise of Gavin Schutte with his friend Michael navigating

A Targa Tour is a great way to get a taste of a rally. You get to travel on closed roads, driving all the same stages as the competitors, but without the pressure of the clock and the additional vehicle requirements. Every car carried RallySafe, which means that they could track exactly where we were at any time (using global satellite navigation system) and what speed we were doing, including if we exceeded our 130km speed limit. If you break down or crash the system knows and you can indicate that you’re okay, that there’s a course obstruction, or alert emergency services.

In Tour we weren’t allowed to use ‘pace’ notes, but it didn’t take long to work out that the instructions in the supplied road books were against distance points (from the stage start) indicated by RallySafe. Whilst the books were pretty basic it was pretty helpful to be able to anticipate the blind crest followed by a sharp left hand bend requiring “Extreme Caution!!!” because of standing water across the road and other such hazards.

The intent of the Tour is to travel in a group, with a lead car setting the pace. We ended up with a Maximum Motorsport (Suburu) Tour group ahead of us, led by rallying icon Dean Herridge. I’m guessing the pace was fast at the front of the group, but towards the back it was a bit slow. Leading our Tour group I kept catching the Suburus and had to insist on a gap of over a minute to avoid catching them on Saturday’s country road stages around Toodyay, Chittering and Bullsbrook.

It rained on and off all day, making conditions tricky. The Exige though, with new AD080R’s, felt great and ate up the roads with aplomb. Whether it was a free flowing stage or a tight and twisty stage with curbs and roundabouts there’s no doubt in my mind that Lotus are ideal for rallying.

Sunday was similar conditions, but the industrial estate for the morning stages was surprisingly grippy. After missing a few calls the day before Ed was concerned about how he could keep up with the calls on this challenge (there were more than 40 turns on this 9.7km stage). It doesn’t help that Ed often gets his lefts and rights mixed up; a by-product of teaching aerobics for many years. Looking back over the in-car footage you can see my hands waving about and the car weaving left to right as I try to clarify the next turn with Eddie.

In the afternoon we travelled to the city of Perth for the final stages, set up around the city shoreline of the Swan River. The very tight course traversed the car park a couple of times through narrow entry and exit gates. Then out and around to Riverside drive and a long straight run to the finish. This was definitely a challenge for me as some turns were so tight they wreaked havoc with my frozen shoulder. The biggest challenge though was controlling speed down that lovely long straight. With the crowd cheering us on and a lot of adrenaline pumping it was really deflating to have to back off at 130km.

Despite the weather, the occasional miscommunication and the battles with officials for space the Targa Tour rally was a blast. We even managed some great times. How do I know? Well, that clever RallySafe system gave us times too. But we weren’t there to compete. We were there to enjoy the driving and learn about the world of rallying….and I like it A LOT!

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