Restoration Impossible: Dismantling the Chassis

May 2, 2017 update to the Lotus Elan project car

A big part of restoring a car is managing the parts needed and timing the various phases of the restoration so that you are never caught without being able to find what you need.

On the other hand, you don’t want to take anything apart until you need to. We try to keep things together as long as we can because the further you separate systems in your car, the more room they take to store.You’re also more likely to lose parts or forget how they go back together.

Armed with this conflicting logic, we decided that with the drivetrain done and the fiberglass work nearly finished, it was time to dismantle the chassis and the four corners of the suspension. This is when we could find out exactly what parts we needed. It was also the perfect time for us to get the chassis free and clear of components so we could figure out how to repair the mangled original chassis.

Dismantling was surprisingly straightforward, with only typical bushing sleeve rust in the A-arms. A bit of heat coaxed these assemblies apart, and the calipers and other suspension components came apart with surprisingly little fuss.

The only chassis pieces we were missing were the springs that help retain the parking brake pads in the rear calipers.

From there we made a parts list, and dipped all of our chassis parts in Evapo-Rust for a day or two. We could then bead blast and paint or plate them as needed.

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Reader comments:

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
May 2, 2017 5:41 p.m.

Difficult question- are there any points on the chassis where the rust is just barely enough that you question the structural integrity?

Or any welds of the same thing?

Not obvious holes, or anything like that, but where the metal is thinner to the point that you are concerned.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
May 3, 2017 9:39 p.m.

alfadriver, rust is always a concern, and you need to be careful on a chassis, but in this case, there was just very little rust to worry about. My biggest concern was to make sure I arrested the rust, so I used some Eastwood rust emulsifier.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
May 4, 2017 6:31 a.m.

Tim The reason I asked was Chapmans' reputation of using as little as possible. So wondered if any of the rusty areas made you look twice.

Good to know it's in that good of shape. It spent most of it's life over dirt, right? I saw a car here in SE MI that was stored in an unheated garage- and the concrete wasn't nice to the steel.

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