Engine Repair
(March 2004)

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Getting the car shipped to me proved quite a problem. It seems no trucker wanted to work over Christmas and New Years. Then in the new year, it seems that no trucker wanted to take an exotic Lotus, with a 4-5" ground clearance and that did not run / drive, to the Pacific Northwest from Pennsylvania in the winter. After waiting about a month for the shipper to get a driver signed up to take it (with no luck) I suggested that it might be easier to get it to Denver instead and they agreed. I contacted Johan Hybinette and he agreed to take delivery for me in Denver. The shipper was able to get a trucker signed up for that and the car arrived at Johan's on Monday the 26th of January. It is about 20 hours driving each way from Portland to Denver. After asking about 6 or more of my closest friends and then the slave boy (mom nixed that one), I found myself heading out in the late afternoon of Friday the 30th of January to Denver - alone in the Expedition with an empty trailer, a lot of Mountain Dew, Doritos, and a stern warning from the wife not to "wreck her car!!!". Sheesh, like that could happen. The trip was a bit treacherous. I caught a few hours sleep in the car before the hypothermia set in and then continued on toward Denver around 5-6am Saturday morning. In Wyoming, I crested a hill to find the state boys in the median and slammed on the brakes. The detector did NOT go off but... they did not like me slowing down like I did (looks suspicious) so after proving to them that I DID NOT have any marijuana that I was trafficking east, I continued on my way towards Denver. I saw a number of bad accidents on the icy roads including an SUV that I could not identify and the jaws of life at work. I had checked the weather and there was supposed to be "snow showers" but not "snow". Johan and I got our signals mixed up that day. I had called him in the morning and had not heard back. He went skiing without my cell number and I was without his. I arrived at his home in the midst of a snow storm around 3:30p (pacific time) to find no one there. But there was a Lotus there that was mine and it was unlocked but there was no key so it was not steerable. After pondering what to do for a short while, whilst the snow accumulated, I decided to try and get the car on the trailer alone. Johan had left a floor jack and the bumper we were swapping outside. After two hours of back breaking work trying to align the car to be pulled onto the trailer in the snow and ice and then moving it into the right position on the trailer (sideways) and tying it down, I was ready to leave. Johan had been delayed returning from skiing by the storm. I have still never met him face-to-face. I reattached the trailer to the Expedition (did I mention it had to be unhitched to line it up with the car?), put the Expedition in low 4x4 and managed to pull the trailer out of Johan's driveway and out of his neighborhood. About 2-3 inches of snow fell in those 2 hours. Soaked and exhausted I headed north back towards the cops in Wyoming. Johan called about an hour and a half after I left and we lamented the situation but I kept driving. I spent the night at "Little America" where is was zero degrees Fahrenheit and admired the incredible snow dirt ball creations that had appeared on the trailer. I arrived home Sunday evening just after the Super Bowl completed. Although I was exhausted, I got the car off the trailer and took out the trunk floor to see what I had purchased.


The car was burned differently than I expected but after going over it I was satisfied that I had not bought a basket case. The engine had damage under the plenum, which I did not expect and several nylon lines had burned in their trails causing damage along the way.  During the week I received a care package from all-around-nice-guy Johan containing the keys and various other parts he thought I might need including a Stereo to replace the one that was "removed" hastily. The next Saturday I washed the grime off the car and had a closer inspection.


The sunlight gives a better picture of the damage.

A lot to fix

The next few pics try to give an idea of the extent of the damage.



A Mess

While the damage looks bad,  it is all superficial. The Sport 350 burned to the ground. That car and even the residual pieces of it absolutely wreak of the sweet smell of burned fiberglass resin. This car has no burned smell to it at all. Johan and I both feel that this fire was caused by sprayed fuel from either a failed fuel line or connection. The fuel burned on the surface of things and the most heat sensitive parts took it hard. Even the worst of the body damage is the top layer only (mostly ☺).

At this point, I would like to warn anyone who is used to working on an Esprit with its hatch removed for over 2 years that there are pointy things on the bottom side of the hatch that will cause you head to bleed and bruise if you whack it into them (twice).

I cleaned all of the burned debris from the frame, engine and transmission. I removed the plenum and then started cleaning up the top of the engine and the engine bay.

Cleaning up the mess (left side cleaned)

I inspected the left turbo, as the intake line was burned through, and found it to be seized. I cleaned it out and got it spinning but I could tell that there was blade damage - so it had to come off. Luckily, the Sport 350 had burned to the ground after the engine was shut off so I set upon removing the left turbo from that engine.

Broke the Wrench

I guess Johan was right about it being tough to get his nuts off. Chinese wrench. I broke a Chinese socket also. 6 point impact sockets and a Craftsman wrench (with a pipe) did the trick.

Chipped Blade

With only 1K miles on the car I was fortunate that the turbo nuts had not yet seized. It was not easy getting the turbo out though. I had to cut different lengths of pipe to slide over the wrench for leverage but eventually I got the nuts loose and the turbo off. PB Blaster is your friend. With the turbo out, the damage was clear.

Chipped and bent blades

Turbo goes here

Next you will see what the cleaned underside of the engine looks like where the Sport 350 turbo will go.

Turbo goes here too - all clean

Slave boy Colin and his sister Hilary drop by to inspect the progress every so often.

Hilary and Colin (under the car)

Next I installed the ...

Kathe(over the intercom) : "Guy!!!!"
Guy: "Yes dear?"
Kathe: "Those kids better not be getting their feet in that nasty crap from that silly burned car that you are obsessed with so that they can track it on the clean carpet up here!!"
Guy: "Of course not dear."

Guy: "Kids... take off your shoes. I have to clean them. Where's the Gojo?. Colin,  Do not put you head on the carpet upstairs O.K?"

Next I installed the Sport 350 turbo (after cleaning and clear coating everything of course).

Turbo all better

The fire burned under the plenum also.

Crispy Plenum

The nylon lines to the EGR valve were toast.

Lines are toast

Lotus changed these lines sometime between '97 and 2002 and not both at once. In fact, neither were in the parts manual and so we sent the task off to Lotus in the U.K. I turned my attention back to cleaning and repairing the top of the engine.

Shaping Up

I could not find paint to match the Plenum and before I got the correct tip (VHT Chrysler Industrial Red it seems) so I decided to adopt a different (unique) color scheme. I then set to getting the plenum in shape.

Much Better

There were a few electrical lines that needed repair including lines to the oxygen sensors on the cats, the line to the map sensor, and the line to the left secondary injector.

Not bad?

Trust me it was bad

I bought a new pigtail for the injector (PICO) and a new pair of injectors off of Ebay for cheap.

Injector Fixed

Now I had been working various sources for the parts I needed and stupidly overlooked Larry Marsala. I had talked to him before I got the car about some parts but did not follow up despite weekly trips to San Jose (Larry's home). Larry had converted one of his girls to a race car and as such he (and Johan) removed a lot from his car - parts I needed. I visited Larry and scored big time. He even let me pay him with a credit card so I received frequent flyer miles

Larry was either kind or crazy that day (I prefer to think of it as empathetic) but he let me, get this, cut the portions I needed off of a perfectly good V8 engine wiring harness!!! What a guy! What a guy!  I also got an engine cover, the left engine side bay wall, and number of other parts including one of the mysterious unnumbered parts from him. SCORE!!!

Scalpel Please Nurse

All Better (can you spot the buldge?)

Let's check the time. I see it has been about two weeks that I have been waiting for the part numbers from Lotus. Of course one of the parts I no longer needed (thanks to the Larinator). There was another part we finally found the number for and the price for that was around $165 (cough cough) for a nylon fuel line. So time's up and the cost is too high. We need to get this baby started. I'll repair what I have. Nylon fuel line repair kit: $15 ($13.88 with the Intel discount ca-ching!).

The Old and the New

Using a heat gun, I rolled the line, heating all sides and then bent it until it matched the original. I then spliced it using a metal connection provided in the kit and fitted a brass expansion into the end (keeps it in the connecting rubber hose).

Completed Repair

This hose goes from the EGR valve under the plenum to a valve forward of the engine on the bulkhead (part number unknown). I had enough of the nylon line left to do the next repair but it was a little more tricky.

Saved myself $165

The right side of this line (valve to charcoal canister) was fabricated. The connector ends were huge compared to the line but I stretched it by heating a metal mandrel and spinning the line on it with a lot of WD-40. I then used really hot water to soften the line and a lot of elbow grease to slide the line on the connectors. I then used the heat gun again to tighten things up. Both lines are vacuum tight.

I continued work on the engine bay but ... I could not attach the plenum because I had to wait for the plenum gaskets to arrive.

New Engine bay side wall

This is much easier than fixing the top one. I fixed the map sensor connector (Thank you again Larry). I removed the turbos' aluminum vents, coolant, and oil lines and cleaned them. I replaced various lines (including the 1/8" vacuum line from above the left gas tank to the radiator - slave boy helped), hoses, and the coolant tank (Larry again), and cleaned and painted or clear coated all the nuts and bolts. And all of that got me to here:

Engine is Looking Good

Oh boy, I am close now all I need is the plenum gaskets and I can put the plenum on tonight when I get back from San Jose. Let me check the web... yes! the package was delivered to my home. Off the shuttle and to the store on the way home for some more anti-freeze. At home, I find the FedEx box and rip it open to find my desperately needed gaskets....

Not Plenum Gaskets

Um ... these are a little small. It's the correct part number though - just mislabeled. Sigh.

Click here to see the next chapter in the saga.