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Monday, 26 November 2012

Lotus Sunbeam and Talbot Sunbeam lightweight roll cage

Ultra light 45mm and 32mm T45  weld-in roll cage for Talbot and Lotus Sunbeam, developed by Lotusbits, as fitted to the successful Lotusbits Sunbeam rally car. Prospective customers are welcome to visit Lotusbits and view the fitted item in the Lotusbits Sunbeam which has completed 19 events to date.
MSA certificate, £1500 + V.A.T. (4 weeks lead time). 

(Click image to view larger size)

Monday, 15 October 2012

2nd Overall - Help for Heroes Weeton Stages Rally 2012

After competing at the Pendragon Stages the Previous Sunday, there was a lot of work to do on the car including removing the engine and inspecting the bottom end as the DTA X-dash was indicating erratic oil pressure. The differential also came out to inspect the mounting points. The sumpguard had taken a lot of abuse on the rough section on the Pendragon Rally and took a lot of flattening – note to self if we do the  Pendragon Stages next year, we must fit the longer springs and raise the ride height…
After previous alternator and power steering pump issues we decided to fit a smaller 3 groove pulley to the crank which was CNC machined from billet. This new pulley reduced the speed of the water pump, power steering pump and alternator by 20% to aid durability at continuous high RPM.

The front lower suspension arm was also bent and needed replacing – not a drama as it is a standard Lotus Excel item. What should have been a straightforward swap became a major panic as the new polyurethane bushes for the inner bush from SJ Sportscars only arrived on the Friday morning despite being ordered weeks ago. When we tried to assemble them, we found they did not fit! We had to rush down to FivePen Engineering to have the bushes machined to the correct size. Even more frustrating – We could not even vent our anger at Steve from SJ’s as he was on honeymoon…

Ben spent Thursday and Friday putting the car back together and by 6pm on the Friday everything was completed and the car road tested! It was nice not to have a late night, before the rally, working on the car. We even had time to load all the kit into the van on Friday. This gave us a relaxed start on Saturday to head off up the M6 to Lancashire. We arrived at the venue, just after Howard Potter in the Red Lotusbits Sunbeam, in time to leave the car in the service area overnight.

At 6am on the Sunday morning we were back at Weeton unloading the car in the dark and rain as our scrutineering time was 6-30am – we went straight through noise and scrutineering with no issues. It was time for a bacon butty and a cup of tea and think about tyre choice. We plumbed for Dunlop X22 slicks as it was wet without too much standing water. After a chat with Slick Tyres we followed their advice and went for cut X22 wets for Special Stage 1.

It was Cathy’s first time back in the co-drivers seat after having our second son Alex 10 weeks ago, so she was a little nervous (and very busy as she is still breastfeeding Alex)!

Ben could not join the crew this weekend due to family commitments, so Sams friend Tom came along with Ally and Dave, Ally on Babysitting duties and Dave to get some good photos if time permitted.
The car performed well in the treacherous wet conditions of SS1 until we went over the jump. We started getting erratic oil pressure readings as we previously had on the Pendragon Stages. We immediately slowed down and the readings normalised. Then after the next bend we had zero oil pressure indicated on the X-Dash but the oil pressure light had not even flickered on. We decided to continue on cautiously listening carefully for a change in engine note which would not take long with zero oil pressure!  We made it to the end of the stage and decided to swap the fuel pressure transducer with the oil pressure transducer as the engine sounded OK. Unfortunately we only had 11 mins in service between SS1 and SS2, so we could only check the levels and go back out as we were. On SS2 we pushed a little harder with the engine still sounding OK but we overshot through the gate at the bottom of the venue and stalled when reversing -  losing at least 10 seconds.
After  SS2 we found we were 8th overall and Howard was in 11th in car 14, the Red Lotusbits Sunbeam. Our Fellow Wallasey MC crew of Keith Douthwaite and Tony King were ahead of us by 4 seconds despite being seeded 15th. On SS3 the oil pressure transducer failed completely and we started to get reported fuel pressure errors  – I guess the VDO transducers don’t like hard landings….

We started to up the pace on SS3 confident that the engine was OK, but spun over a wet slippy concrete base in front of the service area – at least it entertained the service crew! Fortunately we missed all the kerbs and barrels so there was no damage. On SS4 we started to get a loud clunk every time we went on and off the power. We assumed it was coming from the differential, so we got the car up in the air and went over the back end with a fine tooth comb but could not find the cause.

After SS4 I went over and had a chat with Keith Douthwaite who was praying for the rain due at midday. Sure enough at lunchtime his prayers were answered and the heavens opened! This was good for us as the wet tyres were starting to overheat. We were considering X22 slicks for SS5, but remained on wets. The heavy landing over the “bump” before the ramp on SS3 and SS4 had taken its toll on the sump guard, ripping off two of the mounting bolts.

On  SS5 the concrete bases of the Army Barracks were much slippier due to the rain. The tight hairpin before the merge became a mudbath with everyone cutting it.  On the first loop we spun on the concrete base entering the merge. On the Second loop we caught Car 8 the yellow Millington engined Mk2 Escort of Tom Morris and Colin Harkness. Car 8 did not see us and closed the door when we tried to pass under braking. On the next bend we were right behind him when he starting braking way before we expected and had to take evasive action to avoid hitting him. (See the video). We had to follow car 8 for the next series of bends to the back straight where we tried to go up the inside but could not match the acceleration of the Millington engined Escort on the straight, so then had to follow all the way to the split where we went left to the finish – very frustrating. It probably cost us 10 seconds. We had a quiet word in service with Car 8 who had not seen us. After this we caught car 8 several times and every time they moved out of our way immediately even to the point where it cost them time – what a gentleman!

Unfortunately for Howard in the red Lotusbits Sunbeam, he misjudged how slippery a corner was and slid backwards into a big kerb, shattering his rear wheel and breaking a rear hub carrier. As neither of us brought a spare Lotus Excel rear hub assembly with us, it was the end of his rally.

After SS6 we had moved up to 4th overall and were taking significant time out of two of the cars in front – Car 4 the Group A Escort Cosworth of Ian Joel and Car 6 the Yellow Mk 2 of  Trevor Smith. The wet weather was working for us !! On SS7 and SS8 the rain got heavier and the standing water on the concrete  got deeper, making any change of direction rather difficult, so we had to adapt our driving style accordingly and do all of the braking and turning on the tarmac.

On SS9 the rain got heavier again making conditions worse and we had a near miss catching car 8 again on a concrete base deep in water. With our bow wave and the spray from car 8 we could not see the gate way we had to slot right through – guessing was not nice!
We were about to go out to MTC10 for SS10 when all drivers were told to report to Rally HQ to be told the remaining 3 stages were cancelled due to dangerous conditions – a wise decision considering the amount and depth of the standing water. People even struggled to exit the venue as the road was flooded.

A good push on SS9 kept us ahead of cars 4 and 6 and moved us up to 2nd overall – our best ever result!
The conditions clearly suited the car, but I am not sure about the service crew – Sam, Dave and Tom looked like drowned rats at the end of the day.
Watch the (very wet) video here.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Lotus Esprit S1 rear silencers - stainless steel

Just in - Lotus Esprit S1 rear silencers, stainless steel £100 - be quick!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

JRT Enville Stages - Anglesey - 8th July 2012

After 2 retirements, (3 Sisters with a differential failure whilst sitting 4th overall and Weeton where we bent a lower front suspension arm which we were unable to change during the allotted service time), we were determined to get a good result this weekend in the Lotusbits Sunbeam Lotus.

Willie Poole Motorsport spent several hours straightening the front of the little Sunbeam on his chassis jig after our excursion over the kerbs at Weeton and then Ben was able to replace all the bent suspension parts.
As last year the Enville Stages did not use any of the rough infield, we had Demon Tweeks make an exceptionally expensive pair of custom front springs to allow us to lower the car by 25mm. We had no idea how this would affect the cars handling, so Stage 1 would be an entertaining foray into the unknown.

On the Friday before the rally I had a panicked email from my co-driver Sam saying that most of Wales seems to be flooded and was the rally still running –  I assured her that the sheep could swim, suggested she  pack her wellies and all would be OK…

We were rather surprised to see the seeded entry list where there were 4 full blown WRC cars and a few serious Group A cars not forgetting the gaggle of very tidy Millington engined Ford Escorts. We were even more surprised to see we were seeded 22nd!  There were lots of people complaining about their poor seeding but we thought we would say nothing and see where we were after stage 1 – let our results talk rather than hot air.

It was good to see all the Wallasey Motor Club entries on the entry list – 6 out of 55!

We expected scrutineering to be a formality as we had already done 9 events in the Lotusbits Lotus Sunbeam this year with no issues, but our learned colleagues from the island managed to send us back to service to put some duck tape over the positive terminal of our dry cell battery and loosen the pull cord on the fire extinguisher so he could feel it move. Frustrating after over 2 hours in the queue getting sun and wind burnt…

Back to the hotel to meet up with Andrew and his Dad who have travelled down from North of Bradford to marshal on the rally. We had some food and beverages with Stuart and his father who were competing in the RWD Micra seeded ahead of us at car 17, followed by an early night.

In the morning we arrived early, set up the service area and contemplated tyre choice – Stuart went straight for hard X02s but we chose medium X10s for Stage 1 after walking the course.
Off the line at Stage 1 the car felt good and handled nicely round the left into the merge and stormed round the first open 180 degree right on the circuit, onto the back straight into the 4th gear right hander where I lifted off but the car kept on pulling hard – throttle stuck open! So had to take the corner rather quicker than planned. This made braking for the chicane interesting – thank goodness for the dog box so I could go down through the gears with the throttle open. We carried on round the stage with the brakes taking a hammering having to stop the car as well as fight the engine. The last two hair pins were very entertaining with the stuck throttle… It was a relief to kill the engine and the stop line and watch all the smoke escape from the brakes.

In service Ben quickly discovered a wire harness connector jammed in the throttle linkage and cable tied it out of the way. We were very surprised to find we had taken 7 seconds out of Stuart in the RWD Micra after SS1.

The X10 tyres were starting to chunk slightly on the front, so we changed to the X02 compound all round for SS2.

On SS2 we had a clean run and took 7 seconds out of our SS1 time – When some results were finally posted we found we were sitting 7th overall – not bad from a seeding of 22nd...

John Stone in the Skoda Fabia WRC had an issue on SS1 and was still behind us after SS2 despite setting the fastest time on SS2.

Keith Dowthwaite and Tony King were out in a shiny new Escort that they were starting to get to grips with after a good first stage, but they suffered with fuel issues on SS2 losing time.

By SS3 we were getting into the swing of the venue and started to take a second a stage out of the car in front of us Mark Welch in Car 12 (Escort Cosworth ), on SS3 and SS5 matching him on SS4.

On SS6 we were blocked by Car 27 for almost half a lap till we forced our way through. This cost us at least 5 seconds which dropped us back from catching Car 12. The driver of Car 27 was very apologetic when we had a chat in service – said he did not see us – we need brighter lights and a louder horn!

We had now dropped to 8th overall as John Stone had set several fastest times and moved up to the front in his World Rally Car.

We caught a truck tyre on the entry to the rough bits with the rear wheel on SS6 which flicked us up onto 2 wheels for a few moments. Ben and Sam had a good look at the rear suspension but could not find any damage in service. The front tyres were starting to go off, so we swapped the fronts to the rear for SS7 as we had nothing harder.

As we were going out to SS9 it started to rain and we were stuck on X02s, which worked OK initially as they were still warm from SS8, but soon cooled down with the rain and by the end of the stage were sliding around nicely. Towards the end of the stage the intercom became intermittent.

For SS10 we swapped to uncut supersoft X22 tyres. In service we changed the intercom headset in the driver’s helmet which initially seemed to cure the problem, but then the intercom died altogether.

The rain came on even heavier giving a thoroughly wet SS10 with no intercom, but the soft tyres really worked allowing us to easily catch car 30 within the stage and then overtake car 20 (3 series BMW), who started 30 secs in front of us!

Sam struggled without the intercom shouting several bends at a time when we were off the power and during braking when it was a little quieter and added hand signals for the splits.

We were 15 secs quicker than our SS9 time and set the fastest time on SS10 at 5 mins 30!

We were disappointed to notice when we got home that our time had been queried and we had been given another 10 seconds! This did not change our overall position but implied we were second to John Stone at 5 mins 34!

Overall we had a good day at a great venue with good organization and came away with a respectable result thanks to good all round teamwork with no major issues.

Mike Taylor
Samantha Bartlett
Spanner Monkeys:
Ben Smith
Sam O' Keeffe
Team Lotusbits

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Horiba D'Isis Stages Rally, April 2012

In preparation for the 2012 Horiba D'Isis Stage Rally at Mira we fitted the Lotusbits Lotus Sunbeam with a taller 4.778 differential to give a 120mph top speed and joined Simon Mauger on a test afternoon in Hemel Hemstead to try to set up the suspension. The test day was useful but unfortunately the alternator failed (short circuit) and killed the electrics which took most of the available 4 hours to fix.

Having had oil temperature issues on the past few events we redesigned the cooling pack at the front of the car fitting a huge oil cooler in front  of the radiator, positioning the air filter to the left where the oil cooler was previously located. We also made a cold air box around the air filter and put some holes in the bumper to increase airflow.

We scrutineered Friday night to have a more relaxing start on Saturday with no issues. Our co-driver for the event Jacqueline Jones travelled down from North Wales and joined us with her parents at scrutineering so we could sign on. We were getting a little worried when we had to travel through hailstones and snow getting to scrutineering.
We had Andrew and Ina make the trip from Baildon to Marshall and they were assigned junction 44.
On the Saturday morning we headed to service early and grabbed a nice big space for 4 cars, ourselves, fellow Wallasey MC Crew Dowthwaite and King, Howard in the Red Lotusbits Sunbeam and Nigel and Sam in the 205.

No issues in service and straight out to stage 1 on X12s tyres. Having heard all the hype about car 13 the 3Litre V6 450bhp Darrian of Fraser/Carter we carefully adjusted our mirror so we could get out of his way when he caught us. On stage it was difficult to hear Jacq on the intercom, probably down to the number of adapters required to connect a Stilo helmet to Terratrip.

On the long straights we were sat on the limiter in 5th for what seemed like forever – even with the taller diff. The car felt floaty at the back at these speeds so we backed off the bump on the rear shocks to counteract  this during service.

The Darrian did not pass us and we found out why when he was dragged back to service with a very sorry looking back end…

Stage 2 was much better and 20 secs quicker. The shocks change stabilized the car at speed but reduced the low speed turn in so we softened the front dampers as well for SS3 as well as going to X08S tyres as the X12s were cooked.

On SS3 we caught and overtook the Stampers in their GC8 Subaru Impreza and kept an Aston Martin DB9 well behind us taking time out of him. Ian and Andrew were cursing us on Junction 44 as we kept wiping out the cones on the hairpin as the car was struggling to turn in.

 After SS3 we were surprised to find we were 9th overall and ahead of one of the Metro 6R4s – Car 6 – going well!

On SS4 we had the bit between our teeth and  we were pressing on around the handling circuit and left the braking a little late for the level crossing and had a bit of a moment…

Later in the stage we managed to propel a bale across the stage with the rear wheel arch (got to keep the service crew busy to refit the wheel arch and mudflap)! A general spanner check did not find anything except a scratched sump guard.

Just prior to SS6 the heavens opened and soaked the circuit. We were caught on slicks so the stage was slippery and interesting to say the least. We had a long excursion over the grass half way round the first open 18 right which fortunately caused no damage and encouraged us to be a little more cautious.

After  SS6 we were joint 7th with car 23, the Mark 2 Escort of Colin Chiles.

On SS7 the tarmac was drying but as the concrete roads were lethal in the wet we went out on worn X22 wet tyres – a wrong decision as the track was dry by the time we got out – this cost us 10 seconds – but we still took 3 seconds out of car 23 to secure 7th place.

Back onto slick tyres for SS8 , the final stage -  we were under pressure to keep 7th from Colin with the chance to steal 6th from the 306 Maxi Kit Car of Guy Wigley. When we compared times at the end  of the stage Car 23 took 2 secs  out of us which left us in 7th overall by 1 second!

Not a bad result with 3 Metro 6R4s, a Darrian and a 306 Maxi Kit car ahead of us….

Many to thanks to Kev Jones for his sound advice on suspension settings and tyre choice, and Jacqueline for guiding Lotusbits MD Mike Taylor around all day without any issues – although the service crew were a little worried after SS5 that they may have to fit a sick bag…

Monday, 2 April 2012

SMC Stages - Weeton Army Camp

SMC Stages, nr Blackpool -25th March 2012 
Mike Taylor and Samantha Bartlett
After a poor result at Anglesey on the Lee Holland stages due to the handling issues and a stage maximum, we were going over the Lotusbits Lotus Sunbeam to prepare it for the next rally at MIRA.

We received a phone call from the SMC stages entry secretary asking if would we like a late entry for Weeton on Sunday. It is not like us to enter an event at the last minute – we normally set the schedule at the beginning of the year… 
It sounded a good idea but the rally was only 3 days away – we needed a co-driver and service crew at very short notice. Service crew Sam was up for it as his car was not ready for Santa Pod “run what you brung” and Ben got a pass out from Carly. Sam (Samantha) was up for co-driving as she wanted more ANWCC championship points to stay ahead of Heather Stamper.  Game on!

We , thankfully, had an uneventful trip up the M6 arriving early.  We unloaded and were the 3rd car in the queue for scrutineering – we needed to get through early as the Weeton Army Camp gates were closing at 4.30pm and we needed to leave the car and trailer there. Unfortunately the noise test official was late and the noise test was left until Sunday morning,  but the little Sunbeam passed scrutineering without a hitch.
We had an opportunity on arrival at Weeton to walk the course (with the permission of the chief marshal).  This allowed Sam to prepare her maps early to reduce the rush on Sunday morning , we headed off to the hotel for a few beers!

As we put a late entry in, we were running car #35. The organizers decided to drop us in between 3 and 4.
Various wheel arches on the Sunbeam had been “modified” by the scenery and driver during previous events, a regular occurrence. The service crew decided to run a wheelarch sweepstake,  each crew member naming an arch which they thought would be hit first!

Before the start we took the scrutineers advice and triple locked the harnesses around the roll cage bar. Off to the start only to be told off by the scrutineer as we had not removed the pin from the fire extinguishers!  
Stage 1 was very slippery and many of the bends were covered in gravel.  We caught and overtook car #3 on the first loop and car #10 on the second loop. We wandered over to the live results screen to find we were 5th overall after stage 1 – it could have been worse especially as there were 2 World Rally Cars ahead, this was more like it, the Lotusbits Sunbeam beginning to work as it should.

The video camera recorded SS1, unfortunately without sound, so Ben limbered up and threaded himself into the back to rectify a duff connection from the intercom.

Car #3 retired on Stage 1 and unfortunately Car #1, an Escort WRC retired on SS2, it would have been nice to compare times with a modern 4 wheel drive World Rally Car, our Sunbeam now running the Lotusbits development traction control system.

At the end of SS3 the flying finish was immediately after a 90 left which we took a little too enthusiastically and ended up having to reverse to the time control, much to the amusement of the crew of Car #5 – LHD Escort Cosworth.

After SS3 the front tyres started to overheat so we went onto a pair of 8s and headed out for SS4 – perhaps something to do with the driver locking up and flat-spotting them, more enjoyable enthusiasm!
After SS4 we had moved up to 3rd overall.  Following SS5 and a really bumpy stage, the crew checked over the suspension and found a split and bent front lower arm that needed changing.  Only 8 minutes between SS5 & SS6, not enough time, even for Ben and Sam. This was left until completion of SS6. As soon as we came in Ben and Sam set about the front corner, stripping out and replacing the bent arm – all done in 30 mins – a fantastic job by the Lotusbits spanner monkeys!  Note: more heat sleeves required as both Ben and Sam were branded by the glowing brake discs, that’s a determined service crew for you!

 Back out for SS7 the little Lotusbits Sunbeam remained 3rd overall.

On SS7 the handling was not quite right and we went straight on at a junction collecting a cone and some tape – fortunately no damage. When we got back to service we found a couple of washers missing from the lower arm bush allowing the arm to push out the bushes letting the wheel flap around. Panic stations – we needed to get the inner mount off and replace the bushes properly – it sounds simple but not in 20 minutes.  2 minutes before we were due in to the time control we struggled to push the polybush back in. We ended up 6 mins late at the time control despite Sam and Bens best efforts. Fortunately there were no road penalties applied for this. The downside was starting right down the field behind several 1000cc Micras. On SS9 we overtook 3 cars on the stage including the Micra who began 30 secs in front – who kindly and  promptly let us through, although we lost a lot of time on the narrow nadgery bits where we could not overtake safely.
Car #14 retired on SS9 with a broken diff, after smashing a rim on SS8 which left us in 2nd position overall.
 On SS10 we started behind Steve Johnson in the White F1000 Micra who, when we caught him indicated  for us to come through, which we lost no time in accepting only to overshoot the next junction going straight over the kerbs onto the grass! This allowed Steve back through in the process, we caught him again just before the flying finish… 
It felt like the tyres were going off so we put 2s on the front for SS11, but on the stage we had front grip but no rear grip. We had a spin in front of the heavily bandaged Manta losing 20 secs and dropping us down to 3rd overall. When we checked the rear tyres in service we found that they had no tread left and had lost a layer of canvas as well! So a new pair of 2s on the rear and we took 25 secs out of our SS11 time.

We finished 3rd overall – our best result yet!

Roll on Mira – The Lotusbits Sunbeam is currently with Willie Poole Motorsport Services on his jig, the front sump guard mounts need a tweak after the kerb adjusted  them slightly!

Above images courtesy Pro-Rally Photography

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Lee Holland Memorial Stages, Anglesey

Lotusbits Talbot Sunbeam Lotus – Car 2 - Mike Taylor and Giles Dykes
Anglesey Circuit 18th March 2012

The previous weekend we were competing at Three Sisters in Wigan, which gave us a few issues to resolve. We had a strange misfire that appeared when we left service and disappeared when we went on stage, then fine when we came off, but re-appeared when we left service for the stage. Back in the workshop we removed the plugs and found one black one and 3 normal ones so suspected injectors. We had the injectors tested and found a 25% spread injector to injector – we obviously had a bad batch of PICO injectors – probably Chinese sh1t. We sourced a new set and took the car back to Northampton Motorsport and had it re-mapped – gained 10BHP! 

Northampton Motorsport  were very helpful fitting us in the next day after a panicked phone call.
We also lost the Video camera at Three Sisters and changing the fuse did not help, so we investigated to find that the fuse descriptions were incorrect – new list made, laminated and fixed to the car.
All ready to load the car on the trailer and depart when half of the service crew (Bogbrush Ben) decides to disappear for an emergency hair cut without telling anyone delaying us for an hour.

Eventually on the road an hour late we are in convoy up the M6 when we smell rubber burning and pulled into the services – the auxiliary belt tensioner on the Transit tow van had seized. Luckily with the service crew and all our tools we were able to strip off the tensioner bearing and open it up to find it had lost half its balls, but with a bit of grease and TLC it was made to turn freely and refitted. When the tensioner was back on, we tried to put the belt on, but could not remember the correct routing- there are so many permutations it was unreal – thanks to Sam with his I Phone – Google provided the belt routing. Onwards to Wales...

We arrived at scrutineering two and a half hours later than planned, but were relieved to find there was still a queue of cars waiting. We found our co-driver Giles who was meeting us there and joined the queue.
Fortunately there were no issues with the car in scrutineering except some advice to re-route the harness rear belts around the roll cage to give a triple lock.

After scrutineering we checked into the hotel and headed to the bar and played the video footage from Three Sisters. We had noticed that the car under-steered badly on the Lunar bend on the event, but looking over the footage it was clear that the under-steer was more prevalent.

We had an eventful evening in the centre of Llangefni after Wales won the Grandslam and the town celebrated till the early hours until the fighting started and the police arrived to break it up.

We headed for the first stage in the morning with no further issues apart from a delayed start due to an accident on the A55 delaying all the marshals – more time for breakfast.

On SS1 it was immediately clear that we had a major issue with under-steer and the only way to get round the corners was very slow in. We only had 10 mins between SS1 &2 so no time to change anything. There were no results available till SS3 so we had to chat to the crews around us to find out where we were sitting We were a second behind car 3 and 2 seconds in front of car 4 so not so bad.

  On the longer break we changed the top arms on the front suspension to give 3 degrees negative camber instead of 2 degrees. This gave a minor improvement on SS3 but it still washed out leading to a spin over the top. The front dampers were fully soft on bump so we hardened the rear bump for SS4 – no gain. On SS5 we went to new tyres on the front – again no improvement.

On SS6 we put new tyres on the rear but part way into the stage we got a nasty vibration on cornering that progressed into a loss of power and constant vibration, so we decided to cut a loop and come in early as we thought the engine had let go. When we investigated in service we found a plug lead had come off as the leads had been cable tied together too tightly. On hind sight we should have stayed out and not taken a stage max which cost us 3 mins 40 secs dropping us down to 28th overall.

As we were now out of contention for class and overall awards we decided to test different settings to cure the under-steer. We decided to harden the front shocks to where we ran the Micra last year which defied logic.

As we cut a loop we finished SS6 in front of Car 1 which meant we were first car on the road for SS7 & 8 – a new experience.

On SS7 the under-steer all but disappeared and we posted a 5th overall time only 6 secs off car 1, and on SS8 took a further second off our time. We ended up 17th overall, but gratifyingly for us, if the event was decided on the last 2 stages we would have been 4th overall

Time for a burger or 2...

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Inlet manifold for large port heads - Lotus Sunbeam and modified Lotus 900 series engines

This is the latest incarnation of our short inlet, CNC machined from solid, developed on our Lotusbits Lotus Sunbeam rally car, suitable for big port heads, throttle bodies or carbs. P.O.A.

Lotus Excel twin lid alloy expansion tanks

All alloy twin lid expansion tanks, exclusive to Lotusbits; £200, almost a work of art...

Friday, 23 March 2012

Lotus Excel Fuel injection swirlpots

Developed by Lotusbits for use with our fuel injection conversions

Lotus Esprit SE Turbo alloy header and charge cooler tanks

Lotus Esprit SE Turbo alloy header and charge cooler tanks - £220

Lightweight T45 Lotus Sunbeam roll cage

Lotusbits Lotus Sunbeam MSA homologated T45 rollcage - total weight 39kg. P.O.A. 4 week turnaround.
Stronger, safer and lighter than a bolt in cage, suitable for rallying, circuit racing and speed events.

45mm x1.6 mandatory
38 x 1.2 non-mandatory
Double cross door bars
Cross in main loop
Dash bar and front leg triangulation
Rear diagonal
Harness bar
Triangulated to front suspension
Rear legs to rear suspension
Supplied, or supplied and fitted

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Website updates

Our new and remanufactured range of Lotus spares has expanded substantially over the last couple of years.
For ease of navigation the menu on the Lotusbits website for the new parts are now similarly laid out to the range of used Lotus spares. The new layout includes:
Elite Body New Parts
Elite Chassis New Parts
Elite Doors New Parts
Elite Electrical New Parts
Elite Engine New Parts
Elite Wheels New Parts
Esprit Body New Parts
Esprit Chassis New Parts
Esprit Doors New Parts
Esprit Electrical New Parts
Esprit Engine New Parts
Esprit Wheels New Parts
Excel Body New Parts
Excel Chassis New Parts
Excel Doors New Parts
Excel Electrical New Parts
Excel Engine New Parts
Excel Wheels New Parts
Jensen New Parts
Sunbeam New Parts
Keep an eye out, we're always adding to our range of remanufactured Lotus parts and obsolete Lotus spares

Lotus Excel gear knob - exclusive

Beautifully polished aluminium Lotus Excel gear knob and seat knobs to compliment.
Produced due to overwhelming customer demand.
Also, shiny seat knobs to match.
Gear knob £30 - Seat knobs (pair) £30 - Set £50.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Lotusbits Lotus Sunbeam, first outing, Longmoor Loco Rally 30th December 2011

We put the car on the trailer as planned at 5pm on Thursday night and headed down to a local pub in Hampshire  where we had booked rooms. Up at an ungodly 5.30am Friday morning and off to Longmoor!
The day did not start well as the car would not start - the battery was flat. We tried to push start the car on a gravelly surface but the wheels slid every time the clutch was engaged, on the occasions it caught the little Sunbeam refused to start.
A tow start from the Lotusbits van eventually worked . We trotted off to scrutineering where the new car passed with no issues, although the scrutineer had never seen a Cat 2 MSA logbook before!
The van went back to service as we tried to go off to the noise test, unfortunately the car would not start again.
 quick pull behind the van and the Sunbeam barked into life – the noise test was passed with a very satisfactory 96dB.

Time to head to service and find out why the car would not start and charge:
The service crew discovered a loose nut on the master switch which was subsequently tightened. We made up a charging lead from the Lotusbits service van  to charge the battery.

We decided to fill the tank at the start and run throughout the day without refueling until we detected any fuel surge issues.

As it was the first time at this venue in a new car we chose to start on worn wets – cut X22s. It was dry to start but still very, very  slippery.
As the Sunbeam left the start line on its first stage the service crew wandered to the burger van for their own personal re-fuelling  exercise.

Off the line we discovered  a total lack of traction, the car was sliding everywhere. We definitely needed to change the rear suspension settings when we got back to service.

When we got to the finish of the first stage we had two major issues – the oil temp was very, very high - 106 degrees and the alternator wasn’t charging – time for the service crew to work some magic.

They softened off the rear suspension to the minimum and ducted air into the oil cooler. With the alternator, we could not find any issues as it started charging again. The service crew found blue paint on one of the rear arches and suitably chastised the driver – it was time for Stage 2.

From the start line, it was a little better following the set-up change but still not much  traction.

We clouted the other (very expensive) works rear arch properly this time on a chicane – oops, this Sunbeam is a lot wider than the Lotus Micra!

 The oil temperature was even worse – 110 degrees at the finish and alternator had given up the ghost again.
During service we found the alternator had thrown a belt so we left it off and simply charged the battery from the Lotusbits van for the rest of the event. The crew fitted an Anderson plug to the car so we could plug  it into the van on arrival.  

Why was the oil too hot?  We had already wired the oil cooler fan to run continuously – no difference. We raised the rear of the bonnet, still no difference. Eventually it clicked – the air filter was in front of the oil cooler sucking hot air through the oil cooler.

We relocated the air filter with a roll of duct tape and the oil temp at the end of stage five dropped to a satisfactory 92 degrees – a 28 deg reduction!

On stage 4 there was some grip to be had as we were on X22 slicks and car 21, our class leader , a yellow Mk2 Escort came out behind us on the merge and we lost them! The little Lotusbits Sunbeam was starting to shine. The co-driver of car 21 came over to see us in service and was very surprised to see we had a standard H pattern gearbox and a home built engine – he went back to wind up his driver…

After lunch it rained, the surface became even slippier – so even less traction.

The only activity for the service crew in the afternoon was to hit the burger van and watch the event as we did not even change tyres or add fuel.

At the end of stage 7 we were sitting 2nd in class a second ahead of car 19 who was 3rd in class.
Off to the last stage – it now start to rain continuously and we were on slicks. The stage was comparatively uneventful despite car 21 spinning through a chicane in front of us.

Unfortunately we lost 5 seconds to car 19 and dropped to third in class. Time to put the car on the trailer and collect a trophy.

Not bad for a first test – hats off to the Lotusbits service crew, Ben, Brent, Sam and Dave, who built the car and kept it running all day! Apologies for the lack of event images, the venue is an active military establishment and photographers are shot!
A few more "pre paint" build images:

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