Body & Paint
Within a few days I received my plenum gaskets and clutch slave cylinder line. I started working to put on the plenum and the clutch line after work. My friend Barnes dropped by to witness the potential start event and he and Colin got to play Up / Down with me. Of course I sucked air into the master cylinder again (Colin needs more training on how to read fluid levels when he's allowed out of his room again). After bleeding again, I had a hard pedal.
When it came time to start the
car, I turned the key and the fuel rails energized then I turned to the
start position and..... nothing.
Shortly, I realized that the engine was idling too high. Then I got an Check Engine light and pulled the codes (engine idle speed too high - go figure). I was worried with all the fire damage but eventually root caused the problem to the Idle Air Control Valve. It was getting stuck in the open position - it probably got some debris from the left turbo intake hose stuck in it from the fire. So despite cleaning it and re-attaching the plenum the problem persisted so I bought a new one from germanparts.com for $119. I installed it when it arrived and the engine then idled fine.
have to fix the burned body and a ton of other little things.
Fixing the body included repairing the fire damage to left rear quarter panel, fuel flap, rear spoiler, wing, rear light panel, and the left rear wheel well. The bumper and the left rear lights also needed to be replaced. First I had to get all of the raised / burned material off the surfaces via sand blasting and grinding. I removed the rear panel and lights (pretty flimsy construction I might add).
I then took the grinder to all of the damage in the wheel well. The damage was only on the surface - nothing was burned through. When the surface of the car burns, it causes the gel coat to burst in small circular divots. These may either raise and pop off or partially crack. Some are close to popping but have not. Each one of these divots has to be found and painstakingly ground out and filled. Otherwise, the pocket underneath will cause the repaired surface to crack later.
The Dremel Tool is your friend for this task. It took three evenings to get them all (and then you still are not done!). The divots are then filled with body filler. The panel side lip that meets the bumper on the left was significantly damaged and had to be re-constructed.
The back also had the same attention.
The filler is sanded and re-applied and sanded and re-applied. Eventually achieving a surface that does not really appear ready for filler/primer ... but it is.
The primer must be sanded and re-primed several times as the divots stand out immediately on the first pass (screaming "sand me!"). Eventually, the surface becomes smooth. The light panel needed the same treatment.
The wheel well was the most damaged but it was surface damage. Since it would not be visible, I chose to simply grind to remove the burned top layer and then re-applied a layer of gel coat.
Then wheel well was then painted black and undercoating was applied. Next, I re-primed with light yellow primer as base for the yellow base coat.
I then moved to repair the engine hatch so that I could re-attach it to cover the engine during painting.
The lip spoiler beneath the front valance was damaged when the car was transported previously and needed repair.
Time for paint! I went to the local dealer to buy paint (B36 New Lotus Yellow - Spice) and found that Dupont did not provide a formulation, PPG only supplied that in their premium line (only available from a PPG Only dealer), and Debeer had a formulation that was not right (no metaliic or pearl). After taking a break from the car going to Asia for 16 days on business, I came back to the painting task -found that the Debeer formulation was corrected to include a pearl coat. So I bought the paint, spent a lot of time preparing,
I knew that yellow was transparent but after discussions with the paint place I somehow came to believe it would cover. The bottom of the rear spoiler above had a rub through in the sanding to black. If this was blue paint, it would cover but not with yellow. I went back to the paint dealer and after discussions the gal there, Mellissa, felt bad and GAVE me a quart of white to use as a base. This made the process four stages - White, Yellow, Pearl, Clear. Making things worse... you have to get the right color of yellow, with the right amount of pearl to match the rest of the car. This is done by using white paint cards with a different number of coats of each stage on it until you find what you feel matches. I would find that the decision to use a white base rather than a white catalyzed primer would haunt me as it did not occur to me that a mistake in the later coats or yellow and pearl may cause you to have to go all the way back to the white - I learned this the hard way.
I had trouble getting the white to coat. It seems the Debeer paint is very sensitive to contamination (I won't chose it again).
I ended up wiping off a lot of white paint and starting over without luck. I even tried just the fuel flap and had the same problem. I went back to the paint dealer and Melissa suggested that the prepsol needed to bleed off longer but this did not do it. After much experiment, I finally found that increasing the pressure and reducing the paint allowed it to go on and flash effectively eliminating the problem. This allowed me to paint the car in a marathon session on a Sunday ending around 2am. This is when the fourth coat of clear finally was completed.
I did not paint the wing at this time because I decided that it needed more prep work. I also painted and screwed up the fuel flap about 5 times. Small black bugs in my garage, kept committing suicide in my wet paint. I also found that I failed to clean one of my spray guns (conventional) properly and it spit black specs out at the precise worse time.
Lastly, the paint does not match the rest of the car. It's darker, no wait, it's lighter. It depends on the light. There is not enough pearl in it also. So... there will be a repaint in the future but I will go with this for now.
I then finished by painting the fuel flap and wing the next weekend.
Special tool GT-03 was used to solve the fuel flap painting problem.
I then started re-assembly. I replaced the heat shield above the the muffler prior to installing the bumper. Again Reflect-a-Cool is an awesome product!!!
I then installed the bumper from Johan's car, which was also painted.
The vents and vent holes in the hatch had burned but not the hatch outer surface. The new vents are black plastic out of their bags and looked great on the yellow so I decided to sand and paint the vents and vent holes in trim black.
I needed a new left rear tire and the wheel paint got scorched. When I took it to the wheel shop, it seemed that the paint on all the wheels had issues (word is BMW has a lot of paid repaints of the same color). As such, I had all the wheels painted and the outer lip polished - not painted. This will make fixing future scuffs easier.
I also needed to replace the water drain hose because it burned. Where can I get another piece of that hose?
The '89 car donated one of it's heater hoses ☺
The car still needs work but it is intact enough for the West Coast Lotus Meet (5/20/04).
The stainless steel panel below the bumper had to be cleaned and buffed and the wheel guy (Skip of Skip's Wheel Werks - 503 641-8001) used wheel cleaner to get all the black soot off the muffler for me.
It looks a lot better than before.
So I now have a 25th Anniversary Edition (#52) 2002 Lotus Esprit V8 with 1100 miles on it for about half the going price. Of course... I had a lot of extra parts on hand (like a turbo and a bumper) that made it cost effective for me and a lot of friends that helped out in many ways like Larry Marsala, Johan Hybinette, and Tony Grasso.
I have to get the emissions tested to get tags in Oregon so I have to wait for the non-continuous monitors to become ready. I took the car out to the post office late at night a few nights ago to help push the emissions along and promptly slammed and broke the front lip spoiler again while going up the post office driveway (must go very slow up even small inclines). So I fixed it and painted again over the next two nights.
After the West Coast Lotus Meet trip (this weekend), it will be back to taking care of the house a bit and then on to complete the '97 car.
End of Report - May 19, 2004
After seven years and only about 5K additional miles, I sold this car in the fall of 2011 to an Intel colleague.