Lotus Europa S1 460363
No work done since October.
Finished lightening the Europa and because it was such a beautiful weekend, decided that I would lower it back down to the ground, put the wheels on and go for a spin in the mountains. Had a incredible day, just fantastic, no problems, the car handled like a dream. Registered 1.4G in the downhill hairpins, never used the escape roads once. Amazing. No oil leaks. No cooling problems. Can't wait till I get a frame and an engine. Made me feel 30 again. (for a few minutes)
Future.... height: 41" ground clearance: 4.0" front, 5.5" rear
wheels: 6" x 13" tires: 195/60 x 13"
weight: 1250 lbs 47% front, 53% rear
Sept. 15, 2002
Grabbed the paint stripper and removed the paint from the plenum chamber.
Black onto top of BRG on top of primer on top of the gelcoat.
This the infamous crashpad on top of the dashboard.
A thousand cracks. Under the vinyl was glue, black, BRG, primer, gelcoat.
The fibreglass is actually black pigmented. Why?
I think I'll just fix the cracks and paint it black.
The plenum will be painted the same colour as the car eventually.
One sad looking Europa.
More grinding and filing. And lightening the Europa by scraping and handsanding off more paint. The engine cover is going to need some reconstructive surgery. It's quite flexible where it was cracked, so I'll have to glass in some splints to reinforce the perimeter by the openings.
Grinding and filing out the cracks and fractures prior to being repaired.
I decided to strip the paint off the engine and trunk lids. Look what I found !
No, this is not my craftsmanship.
This is the DPO.
Actually, it may not be that bad.
Seems the PO cracked the deck at some time.
I tied the doors on to remind me,
what it's supposed to look like.
Scraped and scraped all the old solidified oil, leaves, more hay, and loose rust off the Europa's floor area. Filled a bucket with the stuff, must be 20 pounds of gunk. Removed loose paint from the inside of the wheelwells, and cleaned up the bottom of the underbelly panel. How come there's no real paint on the bottom of the car? Removed engine mounts (one's broken) and radius arms mounts from the frame. Counted four separate cracks and a couple of re-done welds at the front of the frame. Body work time now. Lots of cracks and fractures to fix. Still have to remove some more paint.
The frame is out!
I finally did it. Cut the fibreglass at the footwell area. Undid the four bolts at the rear, drilled and popped out the rivets underneath and at the front. Crawled to the rear and cut the fibreglass at the rear hoop. Then stood up and yanked the rear of the frame. Nope. It didn't budge. What's wrong? The T-section at the front was still trapped in the top corners. Cut more fibreglass. Back to the rear, yup, it moved. I should have been a dentist ! Pulled it up and back slowly, watching the front and keeping an eye on the axle stands.
At this point, the front of the frame was sitting where the rear bulkhead used to be, and the Y of the frame was angled out the rear pointing at the sky. And it stuck there. I couldn't squeeze the front T section past the rear wheelwells. Hmmm. So, I climbed inside the engine area and stood beside the frame and slowly turned it on it's edge, so it was sort of perpendicular to the car. Finally picked it up and levered it out the back. What a trip. Did a little dance listening to Santana, then sat down to give my nerves a rest. Yup, the frame is trash. As I expected. Now what?
Larger pictures 200-300k are here....Frame
The engine is out!
I managed to remove the halfshafts, trailing arms and lower links (bent !). Then pulled off the starter. Next I split the bellhousing from the engine and lifted out the gearbox. Stood there looking at the engine block and decided to enlarge the broken fibreglass undertray. Undid the engine mounts and dropped the block to the floor. Wham, Bam, Presto! It's gone.
Crawled underneath and drilled out the rivets, holding the fibreglass undertray to the frame. Then then realized my Dremel was history, and wondered what I could use to cut the fibreglass at the footwheels. Tried two electric drills with cutting discs, nope. Looked at the sawzall, nope. Looked at the grinder, nope. I need a Dremel or a small die grinder. Guess what I'm buying tomorrow.
One or two more days, and this frame is gone. Four bolts and couple of small cuts and it's out !
Finished removing the front suspension. Had to cut holes in the fibreglass to make room for the bearing puller to pull the lower front a-arm off the rusted shaft. (By the way, the previous owner had a thing for cutting square holes. I prefer round holes. I believe they are easier to repair, especially if you keep the disk.) Also extracted the steering rack. Removed the wiring labyrinth from the frame and found a free gift in the crackerjack box. Seems the previous owner was looking at something deep in the front of the frame, and left a flashlight behind. See the picture below. Now, if the flashlight looks this, what does the inside of the frame look like ?
Also pulled out the gearshift linkage and tubes. Now I know why I couldn't find any gears. There was so much play in the system and the transfer linkage in front of the engine is missing a vital part of the original hardware, IE: washers and nuts. Also trashed the rusted brake lines and disconnected the handbrake cables at the rear drums.
Moved the stands off from underneath the rear hubs. The rear of the Europa is now supported at the body just in front of the engine. I'm getting closer to pulling the engine and frame out. Began to remove the rear suspension. I undid the radius arms from the frame and for a minute, I thought I had an adjustable wheelbase eccentric bolt on the right side. Then I realized it was bent. Another @#$% surprise. This car is full of them. Anyway, I got it out. Then undid the coilovers and lower arms which are also bent ! Next, drive out the pins holding the universals to the gearbox splines. Now, that ought to be hilarious. I can hardly wait. Someone tell me I'm not completely craaazy.
Removed the Europa off the dolly and sat it back on the axle stands. Continued pulling off suspension bits and realized I need a few more tools. A man can never have enough tools.
It's pointing the other way !!!
I finally built a giant dolly and turned the Europa around, so now the rear is facing the driveway. This is fun, sort of like a big turntable. I can spin the Europa in the width of the garage. I like it. Now I can get serious again. Good.
Removing front suspension. And confirming that the right front corner took a hit courtesy of a previous owner. There's some pretty strange bolts in there. Probably from his corner hardware store; Jumbo Discount Nuts. Also the upper A-Arms are slotted with a file. Horrible work. Why am I not surprised?
No regrets...yet. No pain, no gain? Repeat after me; Therapy, Therapy, Therapy. Yeah.
Curiousity got the best of me today and now that I've decided that I'm going to take the frame out the back, I found my Dremel and began cutting. By the way, the Dremel is not the best choice for cutting fibreglass as I found out near the end, when it self destructed and went down in flames. Spectacular! But, it was about 30 years old, so not surprised......Someday I'll mount it on the wall with an suitable epitaph.
Rust, rust, rust. Now a lot of it is only surface rust, but thick surface rust if you get my drift. I wonder how much weight ;-) the frame has lost due to rust? Anyway it's toast as far as I'm concerned. Looking at it today I would not want to trust it and I have not seen the front or the bottom yet. More straw , leaves, years of solidified oil and grease. What a mess.
If you want evidence that you should not drive a vehicle with out knowing what you've really got, take a look at the brakeline picture below. How long do you think that corroded line would last under pressure ?
Did some hand sanding on the Europa's body, removing some leftover paint. Spent most of the weekend doing research (Merci, Gerard) on removing the frame and examining the way the body is built. The frame is coming out the back, but then I realized that I don't have enough room behind the car, so soon I will have to turn the car around the other way. That means getting dollies made up so I can spin it around. Before we do that though, still have to pull out the engine and remove more suspension bits.
Rain, rain, but dry in the garage. Removed more paint. Now from the front. Found more cracks. Some I knew about, some I didn't. Almost finished stripping the horrible red paint.
Today it was finally warmer. The past two weeks have been miserably cold. But today removed more paint down to the primer on the door sills and the rear half of the car. Also began removing the front suspension. Great weekend. Need more of them. There's lots of different body filler on the body, it will have to be ground out and re-epoxied.
Re-hung the passenger door using the new pins. Then aligned it up in about 15 minutes. The door opens and closes with one finger. Very smooth. Next, I have to find some new decent washers. The brass bushings need flats machined on their flanges for a thinned spanner and more thread cut towards the flanges. The bobbins in the doors are not as thick as I expected. So I had to stack about 3/8" thick of washers because I ran out of thread when I tightened the nut down.
Removed paint from the doors. Making new door hinges from brass and stainless steel. Raised the car up on axle stands. Still got the engine in though. Sunny and warm outside today, wanna go Vrroom, Vrroom.
Modified with long screws and bushings underneath.
Too cheap to buy used from the Lancia guy,
considering that his are already broken anyway.
Removed paint on the inside of the buttresses and door openings. Hard work though. Lots of fractures at the right door sill, looks like a road map.
Changed to a different paint stripper. Removed paint from right side buttress, roof and engine deck lid opening. This stripper is able to take it down in two or three applications.
Bought some local generic non-toxic biodegradable paint stripper. Tried it out on the rear deck lid opening above the rear bumper. Sort of worked, but needs to be a stronger formula. With a lot of scraping, I got it down to the white gloss (fourth layer down out of eight total). Then cleaned up the mess and coated the roof with the same stripper. 3 hours later, tried to scrap off the red top layer. Nope. The previous owner sprayed the red so thick, I never got down to the primer under the red.
At least I got the windshield out today and in one piece too!
More sanding. I spent the morning vacuuming the garage, then in the afternoon I began sanding. What? Now I've got to vacuum again. Enough of this. I'm going shopping for one those non-toxic paint removers like Peel-away or Dophinite. Removing all this history of paint is insane.
Busy sanding down the paint at the rear of the car, also grinding down the fractures and chips elsewhere on the body. I count eight layers of paint on top of the fibreglass. Wonder how much the paint weighs. There seemed to be some filler for no reason above the rear bumper area. This will take a while. Have to get some more axle stands to get it up higher. I'm bending over too much at my age.
Hey, the engine turns, almost. I have one piston that's welded itself to the liner. Now I know why it seized. This may be fixable. Interesting.
Continued scraping paint off the body, examining the layers of time. This will take a lot of sanding. Also scraping the frame around the engine area checking for rust damage. It's not bad there, but I still have to deal with the crack at the front t-section.
It's been a while since I really touched the Europa, but finally got back into it today. Removed the cylinder head, intake-exhaust manifold, and carburetor from the engine and also a snake of wiring around the engine area. The pistons are seized in the block, but as this is not the original engine, I don't really value it for any historic importance. If I can get it working, fine. If no, its not a crisis. There are other alternatives around. We'll see what happens.
I always thought the original colour of the Europa was white under that red respray. Well, there is white, but it's not the original paint. Today I discovered that, under the red is brown, under the brown is orange, under the orange is white, under the white is green. Now I know why the paint is so thick and bubbled is some areas. So, if the original colour is not white as I thought earlier, then what colour should I finally paint it? British Racing Green? How about yellow? Or stay with simple white?