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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

New Product | Lotus HC Oil Pump

Lotusbits Latest!
High capacity oil pump, suitable for Lotus 907, 910, 911 and 912 series engines. Developed, in extreme conditions, on Lotusbits rally cars!
Available now!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Jack Neal Memorial Rally 2016 | Blyton Park

During the winter months, Lotusbits entered both Lotus Sunbeams, supported by DTA in the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship.
The new series, in association with MSVR, has launched with an exciting eight round provisional calendar for its inaugural season.
Here's a few shots from the recent 2016 Jack Neal Memorial Rally, in which Mike and co-driver Louise Gilks finished 2nd in Class and 8th overall.
Cathy and co-driver Colin Stephens finished 4th in class and 21st overall - from an entry list of 66 competitors.

DTA designs and manufactures engine management systems for spark ignition engines intended for use in competition vehicles. All their systems are designed to be fitted to almost any engine and are easily mapped. They're very competitively priced too!
Engine management systems

Friday, 25 March 2016

A Jensen Gets the Excel Touch...

The Jensen GT was, alongside the Jensen Coupe, the last model that Jensen Motors built before the West Bromwich factory closed down in 1976.  The GT was a “shooting brake” version of the Jensen-Healey, carrying over the Lotus 907 engine, the Getrag 235/5 gearbox from the BMW2002tii, suspension / live axle from the Vauxhall Magnum, and the love-it-or-hate-it styling of the Healey, but with a more upmarket Interceptor-type interior.  511 GTs were made, of which over half went to the States, before Jensen went bust, leaving many unfulfilled customer orders.  Only 12 are left on the road in the UK today (Q1 2015 figure).
I bought my GT in May 2014.  It had just come to the end of a 20-year two-owner restoration.  Bodily it was in very good shape, and it seemed mechanically sound.  In the six months after buying the car, I sorted out some residual electrical issues and got everything working, changed all the weather seals, and replaced some worn suspension parts.  The car was fun to drive on winding roads, but very tiring on dual carriageways, because the 1:1 5th gear of the Getrag gearbox meant high revs at cruising speeds and a very noisy engine and exhaust.  I unsuccessfully investigated various options to drop the revs, including standalone overdrive units and finding a similar dogleg pattern gearbox with a proper overdrive 5th gear (the ZF S5-18 is the only one).

I had read Mike’s “Improving your Lotus” presentation on the website, and Lotusbits’ work had been recommended by a fellow GT owner.  After my son told me that my GT “made a lot of noise when I put my foot down but didn’t actually go any faster”, I called Mike to ask him to price up an engine upgrade to Lotus spec 5.  Mike suggested it would be better to go for a fuller upgrade to spec 10, and also suggested I get the Toyota W58 gearbox installed.  I agreed to the spec 10 upgrade and the Lotusbits large bore exhaust system, but reserved judgement on the gearbox swap.  The mandate was fairly straightforward – more power, less noise, and keep the car looking as original as possible.

In early February 2015, I drove the GT up the Fosse Way to Lotusbits.  The pre-upgrade dyno run confirmed that my GT was down on power – 119bhp peak (and 116 lb-ft of torque) compared to 140bhp (130 lb-ft) for a Jensen spec 907 engine in good condition.  Mike also found that the clutch had not been properly installed, and that the gearbox input shaft had been damaged as a result.  Given the lack of Getrag specialists in the UK and the likely cost of repair, I agreed with Mike that the Toyota gearbox upgrade was the way to go.  Mike also noted the car’s lean to the driver’s side, which he thought might be a bent chassis.  At this stage, my heart was really sinking.
Engine Bay Before and After – The Lotus Excel Airbox Setup which Unleashes the Horses
There then followed what seemed like an interminable wait for the engine to come back from Mike’s engine builder.  Actually, the hold-up was partly my fault – I had insisted on keeping the original cam carriers and cam covers (the ones that leak oil) and it took ages for the cam covers to come back from the powder coaters.  We also found that the car had been fitted with three 9.5:1 CR pistons, and one 8.0:1 CR piston.  Potentially an expensive disaster waiting to happen.  Towards the end of April, the engine finally came back to Lotusbits, and Mike told me progress would speed up.  Neither of us had, however, counted upon the time and effort to resolve a previous poor repair of one of the chassis rail suspension mountings, or to fettle the gear lever to fit the transmission tunnel.  It’s always the smaller jobs that take the longest.
Retaining the Original Jensen Look – The Lotusbits Large Bore Exhaust System is on the right
Finally, at the end of July 2015, with the GT MOT’d and works nearly completed, it went back to Northampton Motorsport for its post upgrade dyno run.  Mike called me at work, rather sheepishly, to tell me that peak power was now 155bhp, or 174bhp without any airbox and filter.  This was pretty disappointing, as both of us had been expecting somewhere north of 180bhp.  Mike suggested fitting the airbox setup from the earlier Lotus Excel.  I agreed, on the basis that something similar had been fitted to the last GTs (actually the Elite / Eclat airbox went into the last Stromberg carb T75 Jensen GTs).

A few days later, and another dyno run gave the figures we were both expecting – 184bhp peak and 167 lb-ft, a 50% increase over the pre-upgrade figures.  A week later, Mike dropped off the car and I drove it for the first time in 6 months.  It was transformed – much quieter at lower revs, but when I put my foot down it pulled like a train and gave off a pleasingly throaty 4-cylinder rasp.  It now cruises comfortably at 70mph and 2,900 rpm as well.  
Dyno Run Comparison – Before Upgrade in Black, After Upgrade in Red
A few days after getting the car back, I took it to the UK’s resident Jensen GT expert, and he confirmed what I already knew – I now have the nicest driving GT around.  Perhaps, if Jensen had managed to stay solvent, the GT would have benefited from Lotus’ development of the 907 engine through to 912 HC spec, and it would have ended up like mine.  We’ll never know.  I just like to think that my GT is now the “baby Interceptor” that Jensen always meant it to be, courtesy of Mike and the Lotusbits team.
© Kindly written by: Nigel Kieser - proud owner of NUY 903P 

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Crash structure ply panels | Lotus Elite, Eclat and Excel

Front end crash structure ply panels for Lotus Elite, Lotus Eclat and Lotus Excel- £25 each - by popular demand!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Fussys owner comments...

The worst day of my Excel ownership - 26th July 2014.
Weather; sunny and very hot -
Location; huge queue on A43 awaiting entry to classic Silverstone Problem; an exhaust valve sticks shattering the cam follower with such force that the debris punched a hole in the cam carrier
Solution; recovery to Lotusbits.

After much discussion with Mike, and some with my wife, it was decided not to rebuild the engine to standard specification, but to give the car the engine it has been demanding for the last twenty four years - an upgraded Lotusbits 2.5 litre build with all the internal good things but retaining standard cams and carbs, creating a car that will be ideal for road use and still look standard under the bonnet.

The wait began and I suffered severe withdrawal symptoms - then the call I was waiting for.

Fussy was coming home on 3rd December 2014.

Mike unloaded the car at 21.30hrs and after a brief chat went on to deliver an engine.

I could not resist taking her for a short rather cautious drive, I had been warned that she could light up the tyres in almost any gear given the slightly damp road.  I went to bed praying for reasonable weather the next day - prayers answered the next day was dry, cold and sunny.

I decided to take the car to the man who looks after the cars when the jobs are above my pay grade.

He's a race mechanic who travels to events with his client's cars.

He was very impressed after a drive and said "That is how the car should have left the factory, the engine makes the 3.7 diff you fitted ideal, relaxed cruising and plenty of acceleration even in fifth".

I can wholeheartedly agree with everything  he said and would recommend the upgrade to anyone who wants the Excel that Lotus should have built...

The view most people will see:

Lotus Excel zinc passivated hub kit *NEW*

By popular demand!
Lotus Excel zinc passivated front hub kit - £80 + VAT.

Power Steering hose kits

Lotus Excel LHD power steering hose kits
SE - push fit

Non SE - screw fit

Compomotive wheel hub | Drive Flange - Esprit

Retro fit Compomotive wheels - 4 stud drive flange/wheel hub for Compomotive split-rims.

Esprit (dry sump) or Essex Esprit.

Big Brake Conversions | Update!

We've updated our big brake conversions!

A lot of our aftermarket/remanufactured product is developed using our Lotus Sunbeam rally cars, our Lotus Esprit Turbo and Lotus Excel, the latter is a fast road car used daily...

Brakes get a tremendous punishing during rallies, in terms of temperature and heavy, repeated braking.

The 6 pot conversion is fitted to both Lotus Sunbeam rally cars.

Download the Lotus Big Brake conversion .pdf here

Monday, 22 December 2014

Lotusbits Rallying | Review 2014

The 2014 REIS MSA National Asphalt Championship was, from day one, a baptism of fire for the Lotusbits Rally Team.

With considerable help from Kingsway Insurance it was decided Lotusbits would run two rally prepared Lotus Sunbeams in 2014.

Both cars were painted white displaying the Kingsway Insurance and Lotusbits logos.

"RTA 43X" driven by Mike Taylor, Lotusbits MD, with Peter Grant alongside as co-driver and "TON 301S" driven by Cathy Sewart, Mikes partner. (Bright pink wheel arches adorn Cathys car).

The championship comprised 8 qualifying events of which 5 best scores would count. As a full assault was planned, each event would be attended with both cars.

Round 1 - Tour of Epynt - Wales
Round 2 - Manx National Rally - Isle of Man
Round 3 - Jim Clark National Rally - Scotland
Round 4 - ALMC Stages - Ireland
Round 5 - Tyneside Stages - England
Round 6 - Mewla Rally - Wales
Round 7 - Wexford Stages Rally - Ireland
Round 8 - Cheviot Keith Knox Stages - England

As a pre-championship test at the end of 2013, Mike entered the Cheviot Stages in Cathys car, (unfortunately his car (RTA) had suffered damage on the previous rally). Cathy co-drive for Stuart Gilks in his Duratec engined Sunbeam.

The autumn event was held on the notorious roads across Otterburn Military Ranges, (at 242 square kilometres, it's the largest firing range in the UK) - the roads in the complex are tight and twisty, peppered with off camber blind crests with zero run-off.

Mike started cautiously - this was his first closed road event - and was overtaken by the car behind on the long second stage as it was very foggy and the intercom was not working. He then followed this Subaru until it span in front of him forcing him to Tbone it or take avoiding action.  Twelve minutes was subsequently lost when Mike got stuck in the boggy mud. Mike finished the event successfully despite the early incident and the appalling weather later in the day.

Stuart and Cathy were out after Special Stage 6 when their car suffered a driveshaft failure.

Round 1 - Tour of Epynt - Wales
The event at Epynt was held within the Army ranges between Llandovery and Builth Wells, another military complex with narrow roads, sudden gradient changes and no margin for error.

Mike started cautiously placed 84th after SS1. As the day progressed Mike moved rapidly up the field, lying 45th overall after SS5.

 He subsequently retired with head gasket failure caused by detonation damage to his engine on SS6.

Cathy and co-driver Mike Jones finished 63rd overall (from a seeded #91), which was a good result considering the environment!

Round 2 - Manx National Rally - Isle of Man
A long way from home and only the second closed road event for the Lotusbits team, everyone was grateful for the support from P.A.C.E Motorsport, who offered Lotusbits a recce car for the rally and on event support.

The Druidale stage of the Manx was a real challenge. The closed public roads were completely unforgiving, incredibly narrow at only 6'6" with huge drops either side.

As the team had only run the cars on single-venue events previously, it was discovered the fuel tanks in both cars were physically too small for the distances required  - and the rules stated "no-topping" up in between stages. Both cars returned to service on fumes only!

It was also noted the weather on the Isle of Man varied considerably from one side of the island to the other! The stage start was dry, with "no rain" forecast. Cathy went out on intermediate tyres but Mike chose slicks. The following three stages were driven in pouring rain - slick tyres were not the best choice! As remote servicing was banned( for most cars!) he battled on.  Acclimatising to the complete lack of grip he overtook a couple of cars, mid-stage, also running slicks - so his times were good by comparison. Learning point - you need to choose a safe tyre for the whole loop of stages not the best for the first one! Mike then stuck to wets for the second day thinking it might rain but it stayed dry all day! The fuel rail worked loose over the big jumps on Knocksharry - stage 8 and the car  lost all of its fuel. Fortunately Mike fixed the problem with the fuel rail at the end of the stage and Peter managed to scrounge some fuel from a farmers horsebox generator to get through the next stage and back to service.

Mike finished 52 overall in the amalgamated event.

Cathy managed to finish although she hit a tree with the rear of her car - no-one could accuse her of not trying! Cathy finished 59th overall in the amalgamated event

Round 3 - Jim Clark National Rally - Scotland
Considerable work was carried out to both cars, (including some miraculous panel beating to Cathys car by Keith) prior to the Scottish event.

The Jim Clark Rally is the only "closed public road" event in mainland Britain.

The first stage was held in Duns town centre, a similar environment to the single venue stage rallies Mike's used to, consequently he set a really good time finishing 28th o/a half a second behind class rival Keith Robathon but ahead of Dave Tinn in the Millington Proton.

During SS2, Abbey St Bathans - Mike and Peter had some issues with the notes and were caught by the Puma behind and then both overtook the car in front to the consternation of the Nova...

Unfortunately a brake hose on Mikes car rubbed through, during the second stage. The following stages, SS3 and SS4, were completed without brakes!

Cathy restarted Day 2 at 73rd overall but was unfortunate to hit a bank heavily on the first stage and retired.

Mike restarted 90th (under the regulations) and enjoyed lots of overtaking, finishing 41st overall - quite a result considering the brake and grip issues...

Please note - the 2014 event was cancelled early due to cars leaving the road and colliding with spectators, sincere condolences to families and friends of those involved.

Round 4 - ALMC Stages - Ireland
Mike had a very short rally after sliding under braking into a bank on SS2 - he attempted to limp the car to the end of the stage, but the steering locked whilst trying to negotiate a chicane.

Being pushed into a pub car park was a bonus, although the £70 bill for the driver and co-drivers Guiness consumption stung a bit...
Cathy flew to a strong finish, 41st overall (seeded #81).

Round 5 - Tyneside Stages - England
Both Mike and Cathy were beginning to understand the dangers of Otterburn and a slightly cautious approach reaped benefits for both little Lotus Sunbeams.

Mike finished 33rd from an original seeding of #52, Cathy had another excellent result completing the event, to finish in 54th place, seeded #86.

Round 6 - Mewla Rally - Wales
Another round of the Championship at Epynt - Mike finished this event, just... 

The Lotus Sunbeam cracking a diff nose bracket before half way and the service times were too short to change it. Instead the service crew hammered shaped blocks of wood into the chassis to hold the diff in place. The bracket failed completely 3 stages from the end of the event - the Lotusbits team (mantra "It's not over 'til it's over") sprang into action. More blocks of wood were hammered in to stop the diff banging and crashing and the crew limped home to finish a credible 32nd (seeded 46th).

Cathy finished 39th despite spinning after the German village and reshaping the front and rear of her car...

Round 7 - Wexford Stages Rally - Ireland
This was, perhaps, the most challenging two days the Team had faced to date.

The rally covered 150 competitive miles, on two 12 1/2mile stages, each running 3 times on
Saturday and 3 stages each running 3 times on Sunday.

Mike and Peter were off to a good start returning faster times than expected, but on SS5 during the second loop the front anti-roll bar snapped under heavy braking. This was a modified item, altered to increase castor and camber - more development required!

Mike limped the car slowly to service and discovered the spare anti-roll bar was missing from the van!
(Cue the Lotusbits mantra "It's not over 'til it's over")...

Pambos, (a member of the Lotusbits service crew and welder extraordinaire), managed to weld up the anti-roll bar, and somewhere he managed to scrounge a bolt to replace the snapped off bit that fell off. The front suspension (damaged by the lack of ant-roll bar) was rebuilt along with the bent steering arms and rack. Mike re-started under Super Rally rules and the crew were competing again, but a steering arm snapped which Mike managed to change at the side of the road...

Although Mike and Peter finished last, they collected their best Championship points on the event!

Cathys day wasn't any better, a bent shock absorber followed by a re-charging issue caused her to retire on the second day.

No, only bananas should look like that...

3 Sisters
The Team entered a non-Championship single venue event at 3 sisters to celebrate Mikes nephews - Andrew Brown -  14th birthday - he co-drove - definitely a star of the future!

A misfire occurred on Mikes car, caused by a loose fuel tank crushing a fuel line (leftovers from the Irish event). The car was also oversteering violently on fast corners, not what's needed at 100mph... another leftover from Ireland - both dampers were completely ruined. He later retired with a broken valve spring after SS9.

Cathy retired after SS3, with a spin through stage furniture and could not restart the car..

Round 8 - Cheviot Keith Knox Stages - England
This rally was at Otterburn ranges, a venue both Cathy and Mike are beginning to enjoy.

Cathy had an unfortunate start, she landed badly after the legendary Cowstone jump, slightly offline and landed on the grass - all was well until she hit a concrete drain cover which caused terminal suspension damage to the front and rear.

Mike had fuelling issues, diagnosed as a faulty fuel pump. this was replaced but the car was dogged by fuel pressure issues throughout the rally.

On SS5, he outbraked himself on gravel and went quickly off the road near Cathys incident, Cathy and her co-driver came and pushed but the car was too far downhill, (he shot through a fence which left barbed wire marks on the roof)! The car was finally extracted after 4 minutes.

Mike finished 25th overall despite parking in the ditch.

Rallying's expensive, immensely frustrating, utterly addictive and a fantastic platform for Lotusbits product development to carry over to road cars.

Without the support from Kingsway Insurance and the fantastic team of Lotusbits spanner monkeys this year would not have happened, a huge thank you for your involvement during 2014 and a bigger thank you for the increasing commitment from Kingsway Insurance (who also specialise in Motorsport Insurance) for 2015.

A final test session is booked late in December to round the year off, to test and set up new dampers (fitted to both cars) and a recently installed gearbox (Mikes car).

As a New Year shakedown the Lotusbits Rally Team are off to the Isle of Man again, for the IMGold Chris Kelly Memorial Rally which takes place on Saturday 31st January 2015.
All that remains is:

For massive stocks of new and used Lotus spares "CLICK HERE" to visit
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