From Elise FAQ
The Lotus Elise exteral bodywork comprises of a set of glassfibre mouldings, front clam, rear clam, doors, sills, engine cover and front services cover. None of these parts are structural.
The Front Clam comes in several different formats. The original (earlier) clam, the later 111s clam (which has deeper headlamp bezels in order to fit the headlamp covers more flushly), and an Exige/Motorsport front clam which is interchangeable with the Elise item.
Earlier cars had a pressed aluminium engine cover, later cars (and all VVC engined cars) had this replaced with a higher moulded item.
Both the front and rear covers are released by cable operated latches, both of these cables, especially the engine cover cable can corrode inside their liners, resulting in 'problems' opening the covers.
For infomation about footwell corrosion, see http://hazelnet.org/corrosion/index.htm
See the Paint article for more information.
Removing the front clam
See Yvos website for instructions.
This is a common problem, due to it's design which means that water runs down the door surround and into the mechanism, and rusts the boot release cable to it's sheath (on earlier cars).
In circa 1999 Lotus "fixed" this by supplying parts that didn't rust, and my current boot release cable has survived 3 years as opposed to between -1 week (broke on the PDI!) and 6 months for the earlier versions.
If the boot cable snaps, the easiest way of opening the boot is to stick your hand inside the drivers side rear wheel arch liner and pull the cable sheath from there.
Bofore trying the wheel arch method of opening the lid (as described above), try getting someone to pull the lever as you gently push down and massage the lid from side to side. There is a knack to this and it will often work.
When your patience runs out, try a glancing blow - sometimes you'll frighten it into popping open!
As a last resort, remove the numberplate and make a small access hole into the boot so that you can reach the cable.
Replacing the cable
Once the boot is open remove the boot lining, on mine there are 5-6 clips on the back to turn and some velcro over the latch. Then just pull the boot liner off the lip and lift out.
A 7mm spanner can them be used to remove the stopper on the end of the cable under the latch.
If you can get all the old inner cable out then just feed the inner from the new cable into the old outer with it still in place in the car and refit the stopper unter the latch, this makes the job a lot easier !!! If not then you'll need to remove the top seat-belt bolt from the roll-bar (17mm spanner/socket) and remove the speaker. On my S1 this meant pulling off the grill of the spears and removing 3 phillips head screws.
Get some string and securley tape it to the end of the outer cable, that way when you pull the old cable outer out it'll be easier to pull the new one back through.
Now reach in through the speaker hole down into the sill and you should find a 14mm nut holding the cable into the door-frame. Undo this nut AND KEEP HOLD OF IT whilst pulling out the old cable outer through the door sill. An assistant helps here to ensure that the string does not get caught on its way through.
Reassemble by pulling the new cable through with the string (not forgetting to thread the nut and washer back on inside the door-frame) and resecure everything.
I took the inner of the new cable out and greased it up thoroughly top stop the rust returning.
Theres a lot here and I hope it make sense :-) It shouldn't take you any more than 2 hours.
The front grille is a wire mesh on the early S1, and a cheese-grater plastic version on the 111s variant. This note deals with the early S1 mesh:
It is held in place by plastic screws and grommets into the top of the clam, and has a couple of designed-in legs at the bottom which stick into small holes in the floor of the clam. This makes it very easy to remove.
The grille has a tendency to rust, but a coating of Black Hammerite (or even whatever colour you like) will bring it back to it's prime. This coating would be well advised on the towing eye as well (but this latter piece of DIY is probably only advisable when the clam is off to avoid overspray).
There are 2 variants to the grille - ones with designed in driving light holes, and ones without.
Please be aware that this part is relatively expensive from Lotus.
The rear grilles are mounted to the bodywork in a similar manner to the front grille, however the uppermost fixings are by steel screw and rawlnut. This means that they corrode tightly together when not removed regularly. This can be remedied by exchanging the screw for a stainless steel version.
To remove a corroded screw/rawlnut, get some needle-nose pliars and grip the rubber lip of the rawlnut, whilst unscrewing the screw with a good screwdriver. Alternatively, use a Dremel and cut off the heads. (don't bother trying to look for the rawlnut if it goes into the clamshell - they are 99p each and the old one will probably find it's way out somewhere!).
The only item of note for the FAQ about the hardtop is to try not to undo the leading edge bolts all the way when fitting / removing the hardtop as they have been reported to break off the captive nuts.
Stainless Fasteners - Good or Bad
Should I use stainless steel bolts, etc on the aluminium chassis ?
Well, there's been a lot written about this topic and these notes aren't going to tell what to do, but they will explain the pros and cons of stainless fittings in contact with aluminium, so you will be in a better position to make a judgment.
The Elise originally came with plated carbon steel screws and bolts for the undertray, etc, and as many folks found out, these rust and often become difficult to remove. So the obvious answer is to move to replace them with something more corrosion resistant - stainless steel is the common engineering alternative.
Which then started the question of possible corrosion between the aluminium and stainless steel, which is a valid concern. Mostly this stems from the relationship between stainless steel and aluminium in the galvanic series. Look at corrosion for a brief summary if you haven't seen one before. The basic message is that if you connect two materials from opposite ends together in an electrolyte then a corrosion current will form, the magnitude proportional to the surface areas and spacing between the materials in the series.
Ok ? So it seems obvious, doesn't it ? The most likely grade of stainless steel you'll use is 304 or possibly 316. It will be in it's passive state (active state means the protective oxide is removed and it's corroding, which isn't normal) and hence quite a way from aluminium in the series. Carbon steel on the other hand is reassuringly close to aluminium, so there shouldn't be any real corrosion potentials.
Indisputable facts. Case proven, so don't use stainless coupled to aluminium ?
But how come it's used in marine applications, and many others ? Ahh well, that's magic. The trick is to either electrically insulate the components, which is quite difficult really when you think of a screw thread with mechanical loading, or alternatively to remove the electrolyte which allows the corrosion cell to form.
Keeping out the electrolyte - (salty) water in this case - is a difficult but more practical solution and what I've personally attempted on my car. The first time I removed the undertray after about 12 months, there were signs of corrosion underneath the washers on most of the bolts. To be honest, it doesn't matter if you've got stainless washers there or not, if you have a crevice (the washer to undertray joint) which gets salty water inside, then you'll get an effect called crevice corrosion. How fast this develops will to some extent depend on the metals in the joint, but it's a fairly common occurrence. You'd still have it to some extent with plain carbon steel washers.
And don't say "oh, I'll just tighten it up a bit more" because it's going to take more force than you'll generate with those small bolts to completely seal the washers against water ingress.
Personally I replaced as many of these things as I could with stainless but assembled everything with heavy coatings of grease - even down the threads and both sides of the trays where possible. After tightening everything up and re-coating, you couldn't see the bolt heads. The idea is to keep out the electrolyte, and 3 annual services on it still seems to be working - the original corrosion hasn't gotten any worse.
Works for me - will it work for you ? Just attention to detail, not rocket science.
Lotus specify the use of an isolating compound called Duralac when interfacing dissimilar metals, stainless undertray fastener's are one example, the wishbone balljoint plinth/front upright is another. Duralac appears to set like a jointing compound so perhaps best kept off threads but is probably ideal for preventing corrosion between the undertray washers and the undertray itself. One benefit of the setting beaviour I have found is the undertray washers get bonded to the undertray and make it easier to refit ;-)
You can online order Duralac from http://www.seamarknunn.co.uk.
You can also order Duralac from http://www.lightaero.co.uk
Arch Protectors (S2)
Carbon Fibre Vinyl is available from http://www.carbon-vinyl.com/buy-carbon-vinyl.htm or http://www.carbonmods.co.uk/Departments/carbon-fibre-vinyl.aspx , & is hardwearing and effective.