The Lotus Elise is full of Lessons, just like the Lister 6/1

I’m a Skeptic, but I’ll never grow wise enough to be skeptical of every design I see. If I were to write to capture your interest, I’d have written this in reverse order, but I write it like the mystery I saw it to be.

It really is hard to believe, but it is so typical to hear someone say “I wanted a Lotus Elise, but I waited till I could find an unmolested one.” I guess there is a case where that attitude pays dividends, but I think it should be reserved for the none too curious, perhaps even the mechanically challenged? I mean what would you expect a DIYer to do with a Lotus?

Like so many other things, a stock Lotus is just an ‘Annie In’ like some do when they play poker. From there you can spend more than the original cost of the car on sorting it out, and upgrades. But after all that work is done, the collector might say.. “too bad you molested that car”.  If I said all I wanted in this post, it would be 300 pages long, so I’ll do my best to stay focused, But this is an example of many things in life.

It’s all about continuous learning, it never stops for the DIYer. I tie a lot of things back to the Lister 6/1. One is the funny wear in the top bushing on the crank pin. Nothing runs cooler than a lister 6/1, that massive piece of cast iron takes a long time to heat, and the water jacket might as well sit across the galaxy from the oil sump, it doesn’t really heat the oil like it should. With modern oils, 275 degrees is not too much, and hotter oil is a better lubricator. In the case of the 6/1, we’re talking a 1930s design, and it is my thought it is a legendary one.

Heating the oil up runs the water out, and that water in the oil doesn’t improve it’s lubricating properties.  We also know that water holds acids, and acids can and do etch cranks and more. Running it hot enough and often enough keeps trouble away.

But the mention of the Lotus Elise you ask? The first year we Americans could own one street approved was 2005, the car was equipped with two oil coolers up front that year. It came stock with a Mocal sandwich plate that bolts to the block and then the oil filter screws into the sandwich plate.  From the plate, a hose delivers oil to the oil coolers, and the hose returns to the same plate, a thermostat in the plate is supposed to help with maintaining temperature. This is a very common part sold to racers around the world, so it has to be a good one……right?

The engine in the Elise is a high winder, the 2ZZ designed by Yamaha, and some of the enthusiasts I attempt to follow claim there are a lot things similar in this engine to those developed or adopted by Cosworth, and of course many of us know that Cosworth was spawned by Lotus Engineers. My engine’s redline is 8600 rpms, at that speed, you need good and proper amounts of oil in all the right places, but I think there’s a lot of people that don’t have that!

The engine is said to suffer from cam failures, at least those who experienced a cam failure think so, and many think the cool oil temps could have something to do with it. Reading about it is like reading a good mystery novel, it’s just hard to believe this Mocal sandwich plate works the way it does, and so few seem to understand how it works or doesn’t work? Well it does work at cooling, but it doesn’t work to help the oil come up to temp or to maintain the oil temperature in a way that I could support. How many of us wait for temps to come up before we stand on the engine? In this case, you see the coolant temp is up, but your parts are still be bathed in cool oil!

One Lotus owner writes, “I took out the 160F thermostat, and put in a 200F thermostat, and it did nothing to improve (increase) the temperature.

Lotus makes wonderful cars, at least according to crazy canyon drivers, and people who enjoy track days, but that  doesn’t mean Lotus doesn’t screw up. In fact there are people who think Chapman has done near everything wrong.  I however took my first lesson from him when I watched the Lotus Cortinas with there 1.6 litre engines put on such a show in the 1960s.  Low mass is magic around the corners, and the less you have, the less engine you need, and the smaller engine is less mass 🙂

Lotus deployed too much oil cooling in the 2005 Elise, it’s a fact because in later years they deployed half the cooling, and the car still had more than it needed. But I’m sure there are some people who are proud to have such great cooling capacity, even if they couldn’t make use of it at WOT in Death valley. In this case it’s not just too much capacity, it’s not enough control over oil temperature.

I think even the Lotus Engineers assumed the Mocal Sandwich Plate worked entirely different than it does,  If they knew, we’d have reason to scold them I think.  Watch this video.

GT86 Dude is a guy who likes a good mystery, like a dog with a bone, you’re not going to distract him, and he stays on task till he understands how it really works.

There is a forum called Lotus talk, if you’re interested, there’s some great threads on there about  ‘Wiped Cams’, and they’re a good read. I think this too cool oil contributes to premature engine wear, same as too cool coolant does. On the Lotus Talk forum, you can study comment made by very informed people, and others who don’t yet seem to understand how the Mocal Sandwich Plate works.

If I lived in Death Valley, I’d have a different plan, but here in washington I could run this car flat out for an hour and not over heat the oil. Step one to to assure the oil runs warmer because I just replaced a cam, and I need do what I can to assure the replacement lives. I’ll do my modification KISS style, but we know we better add an oil temperature gauge so we can have confidence we’re up to temp before we stand on the throttle.


Mocal Sandwich Plate, disassembled thermostat.


Of interest to me are the threads, many people STILL think the plug that caps off the Thermostat is British Standard, it’s not! I found it to be 1/2″ SAE with 10 threads per inch. I had a local vendor who does almost nothing but fittings verify same.

I’ve decided I don’t need the thermostat, it does way more harm than good, but I’ll keep the parts so some collector can return it to stock some day 🙂

Here’s my first mod.

Machined 1/2-10 plug, 1/8 NPT added  for temp sensor.










The thermostat removed, and this hole is prime place to read oil temp! My sender will go here. But let me say that some fit an oil temp gauge by adding a ‘TEE’ fitting where the oil pressure once sat, and then screwing in both. Call me anal, but I think this is like checking the water temperature in a shallow eddy on the inside of a river bend.

The wrong way?

The wrong way?












It may be that the modified Mocal Sandwich plate is a great place to put an oil temp sensor, as all the oil goes right by the head of the sensor. If our turbocharger were to quickly elevate our oil temp, we are more likely to see it in real time, placing two identical sensors and observing how temperatures rise under WOT would give us veritable proof.

blocking Mocal Port

Blocking Mocal Port to oil cooler loop cost me a penny.









That piece closest to the threads was borrowed from the thermostat, the O ring from the junk draw, the sanded penny the seal. Of course you could machine an aluminum rod with an O ring slot in the center, and I’d do that if I were offering a kit to make this mod. If you had the right wrenches and or sockets this would be a mod you could make in the car in 10 minutes once you were on your back, looking up at the oil filter.

Now reassemble everything, hook up the hoses, and it all works just like there were no coolers, but you don’t have hoses tied up, and things getting dirty. the collector will be happier, the enthusiast can go on to prove he never needed the coolers. With modern synthetic oils you likely don’t and the new Corvettes make a lot of heat on the track,  and racers say 270F for the oil is not too much. I’ll watch the gauge, and be surprised if it ever gets to 200F.

I want to close by sharing a snippet off Mocal’s website. If you read this would you ever question how their product worked?

“Prolonged use of a car engine in conditions where the oil cannot reach its correct working temperature will cause sludge formation and crankcase oil dilution, leading to excessive wear especially in the cylinder bores. Optimum engine power will only be delivered at correct temperatures. The elimination of drag in engines caused by cold oil is a most important consideration, especially with a racing engine, revving the engine without a load will not put much heat into the oil and devices for preheating the oil may not be available. It is therefore desirable to control of the oil flow through the cooler by a thermostatic device, we call an oil stat, set to divert oil to the cooler at 80ºC (although a wide range of settings is available for special applications). This is the minimum temperature required to evaporate and dispel contaminating substances.”

Hat’s off to GT86 Dude, he’s a DIYer for sure, and perhaps an engineer to boot? when you watch his video, consider hitting the like button.

I’ll leave you with an idea as to how far a true DIYer might go to modify his Elise?

All the best,

George B.



Posted in Critical Thinking, Engines, Inspirational People, Strange Stuff, Thermostat | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

It’s a brand new day, but almost exactly like days of the past.

Will this activity create a new business for you?

Oh the shock, oh the Horror of it all! I’ve actually heard people say they’d leave the country. Personally, I’m beginning to think that Washington DC is making every effort to take business away from Hollywood, I mean who needs a movie to watch when the daily and nightly news is so entertaining?

Here in the Seattle area, we have something very interesting going on, it’s our Sound Transit Authority who was given far more authority via the ballot box. It’s all about rails, and building a train, a  system I’ll never use because I won’t live long enough to see it, but of course I’ll pay the full measure of taxes.

Here south of Seattle, my property taxes are far more than the monthly payments including home owners insurance were, and I’m glad I did pay off my Mortgage as it would be difficult to tender it all today as a retired guy, but it’s even higher now with ST3 passing.

Let me zoom in on what counties in and around Puget Sound are up too.  The Voters granted Authority to our Sound Transit to levy a tax on car tabs, but to the surprise of many, they have had a different way of valuing cars, and that is to claim they’re worth far more than what you paid for them in many cases. I think the worst case might be seen in three-year old luxury cars, the original owners dump them at three years, because it’s just not cool to have that old of car. Those who buy them get all that luxury at a modest price because the supply of these cars during good times is quite high.

So let’s say you bought a car that listed new at $110.000 and you paid $42,000 for it. Our transit authority was granted authority to assess value with their own formula, and that in some cases has been to use the new list price. So our value shopper goes to buy new tabs for his present car, and is ordered to pay an additional 1.1 percent of >their< valuation. In the case of our well equipped but out of style AMG Mercedes V12, that might be an additional $1500.00 or more. For those on a fixed income, there’s an additional surprise, as your property tax is now higher as well. And if you have a vacant lot that is classified as unsuitable  for building , don’t expect that they spared you the tax even though it doesn’t add to a traffic problem.

But why do I share this? Because all we need do is turn to the past to see how the public responded to a similar event where they choose to punish you more if you are the Ant, and where they plan on giving you a free ride if you are the grasshopper. And of course, if you are an illegal grasshopper, Seattle will even invite you in and allow you to pitch a tent!

So back to making money? Well maybe we touch on the British Window Tax first. Their Lords and learned men decided that a man who could afford large windows in his home need pay a far higher tax.  Soon, there were jobs, and plenty of them for those who specialized in removing big windows, and fitting small ones. As as you could imagine, their were craftsmen busy making new doors full of glass.

Seattle isn’t a creative city, almost nothing the Government does here is new, so we know the new opportunity here is NOT unique. Remember the Toyota Tacoma? It was a popular small pickup, it sold quite well here, now we need a Chevy Seattle!

The Chevy Seattle is sold as a stripper, it’s even radio delete! It’s the perfect hot rod for some, as it’s the lightest car you can buy and it saves you hours of work tossing out the heater, radio, AC, insulation, window crank motors, trim, and more. Of course it’s rear wheel drive, and a bit like the original Datsun 510.

Now don’t worry, every amenity you could dream of is at your dealer, and since there will be a decent demand for used parts, you’ll shop on ebay. So you’re thinking, how do I get a part of this action? I think there will be a segment of the population here that WILL buy pre ruined cars, cars with branded titles will cost far less to register each year, and if you take a ball peen hammer to every inch of that Mercedes, it’ll retain all of the luxury, but likely be classified as a rolling total. Tod Bjorkman is perhaps one of the better researchers I know, when I mentioned dimpling a car, Tod quickly researched the idea, and found someone who took the golf ball idea and applied it to a car claimed notable better mileage!

Now… there’s that rolling total in Rapid City, everything works fine, but there’s a gash from the front head light to the rear bumper, could you buy it and put it in the paper? allow a family headed to Seattle on vacation a small fee to drive it there? will there be a new car  lot called rolling totals? Another one called drive a dent?

all I’m suggesting is the Puget Sound Basin is going to become the home of JUNKER cars. Now don’t worry about emissions, as the car only needs pass ODB2 scan, and I’d also imagine that Seattle will become the dumping ground for cars with these problems if they can be valuated CHEAPER.

Our law makers in Olympia recently throttled back some of the insane valuations ST3 has made, but it’s still high, and Washington State itself wants a pound of your flesh when you buy a new car as well, sales tax here is nearly 10 percent, and they insist you pay the high blue book price unless you have the proper documentation.

So to close, if you are to sell cars in Seattle, I’d advise you to advertise the lower price your customer will pay for his license tabs EVERY year.  You got the idea, what will stop a used car lot from selling a car minus a lot of easily removed parts? Who needs a back seat to go to work? And does the law require you have a trunk lid and hood?

George B.



Posted in In The News, Strange Stuff, Survival Skills | Tagged | 7 Comments

Developing Instructions to use a Toaster

Ava-her Cat

Grand Daughter Ava and her Cat

One of the more brilliant technical works I have ever read was authored by Forrest Mims, but I’m not sure if there’s even a hand full of people that really know why they are such great works. My summary of his work? It’s like pouring knowledge out of a can. It’s rather dumb founding how clearly written his explanations are.

Forrest wrote a whole series of Electronic books for Radio Shack and many of us learned from him.  Fact is, I keep a number of his books on my shelf as a quick reference. One book that really shows off Forrest’s talent to communicate clearly is a book called Understanding Digital Computers, Forrest designs a nibbler processor to teach the inter workings of a computer, and you walk away with a deeper understanding than most people will ever have.

But now I’ll tell you the secret, and if you are a developer of anything that needs instructions, it can put you light years ahead of others including your competition. Forrest was learning as he wrote! This allowed him to explain what he was doing in terms that a person just learning could understand, because he was just one step ahead of his audience.

I write this because the last few days, I have been pouring over the worst of the worst technical manual I have ever read. The instruction was written by a man that has done the work so many times, there’s no way he can really relate to the person who is doing it the first time. I found an account given by two geeks, (both engineers) who took a week to complete the same work, the Author calls it a 10 hour job, but I didn’t do any better than the two geeks.

The biggest mistake you’ll make is giving the job to document the assembly or the use of a product to the man who knows it best. If you want clear and concise instruction, you find someone who knows absolutely nothing about it.

I’ve been studying this process for 40 years or more, and I just think it must be counter intuitive for managers to grasp that they need the untrained to write the manual so the untrained can learn it best. Sure thing, they’ll struggle, but they will discover the majority of the potential misunderstandings in the first draft.

Next thing I’ll write about is a product that Marketing said needs no lubrication ever, but the lack of lubrication takes out the poorly designed controller that then takes out the motor. How could they get it so wrong? Well.. it happens after warranty so no big deal…. (for them).

All the best,

George B.

Posted in Critical Thinking, Inspirational People | 3 Comments

David Edgington R.I.P.

David's Alfa

How is it you learn of the Men who have the Answers? If you ask enough questions, if you are tenacious in your pursuit, you’ll likely find Men like David Edgington.

David has passed away this May 22, 2016; we had spoke of health issues, and David mentioned he was having good days, and others not so good. David was not a man to sit idle. when at home, he was gardening, or providing answers to those researching iron.

David started Stationary Engine Magazine, a most wonderful creation put together with a full measure of love. The Quality of the photos, and stories of Stationary Power that had been ‘on line’ for a lifetime or more in some occasions were items I read over and over. How could a curious person who is inclined to study mechanicals not study Stationary Engines?

It is the past that gives us insight into the Future, to understand what made a prime mover of the past viable helps us make assessments of today’s power plants. Among the most basic requirements is the cost of maintenance, can you afford to maintain the power plant and still make a profit?

We find legendary masterpieces at Internal Fire, they were built for a ethical purpose, and at the top of the list of design priorities was to provide value to those who invested in them.

David Edgington Authored a number of well researched books, and over here in North America, we found many questions about the differences of manufacture of the CS models. It’s rather amazing how many times a person would finally resort to pulling David’s book from the shelf and finding the answer, it left the rest of us wondering… “why didn’t I do that?”

This is in no way a proper tribute to David, he really was so unselfish with his time, and I will never forget the times people would write me from some ‘far off’ place, and tell me how excited they were to get an email back from David!  It was more than just an answer, as David was always interest in your find, and left so many who wrote him feeling as if they had found a friend.

David, you were a rare man, and I am so glad our paths crossed. My Condolences to your Friends and Family, and there’s no doubt there’s a place for you in Heaven ….. amongst the Iron so many of us love.  For those who find Tributes, please consider sharing a link or information by using the comments tool.  And M.M, sorry for your loss, I think of you often, we are friends always.

George B.

Links you might explore:



Posted in Announcements, Engines, In The News, Inspirational People, Slow Speed Engines, UtterPower Articles | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

I don’t get why they don’t get it!

As I watched Bernie, the other night, I listened to the applause when he mentioned healthcare was a right for all people. I wondered, why not food, as you have no health without it? But why not shelter, as you have no health without that either?
And of course, since it’s a right, none of us need do a thing to get it, we’ll all just sit around on our ass.

For those who are upset about what it says on our Money, will they ever understand how wise our predecessors were?




I always wonder about Atheists, I wonder if they’d be foolish enough to surrender their ‘God Given Rights’, and place their lives in the hands of men?



Posted in Critical Thinking | Tagged | 16 Comments

An Important Question: Will western people learn anything from South Africa?

An important read:

After you read this article, consider asking your friends if they know what’s going on in South Africa?

What will we learn? I think the answer is nothing.

One party unchecked… could it happen here? Maybe it already has….

George B.

Posted in In The News | 1 Comment

The Home Power Producer’s Guide to Electrical Reality is now on line at Amazon.

See my Page on Books, or follow this link to the Amazon page.

I’ll refrain from copying over the reviews to this page, I insisted the price of the online copy be what it is, I think Bill Rogers did a masterful job of presenting information in a way the hands on DIYer man can understand, and it’s worth every penny.

All the best,


Posted in Bill Rodgers Book | 5 Comments

A new ruling worth a note?


Seattle Washington is ripe with Liberal thought, it is the tail that wags the whole dog here. A new ruling is worth a note? See the link below.  Now answer the question. If a Judge EVER accepts their argument, should he also accept that it trumps every right he has to rule on it?

Follow the Logic

Have a great Monday!

George B.

Posted in In The News | Tagged | Comments Off on A new ruling worth a note?

Today’s Challenge. Make sense out of this post.

Is there a more  honest environment to compare equipment and to access it’s value than an off grid site? I think the only challenge is the making of a complete inventory of your efforts and materials so you can know the true costs. The DIYer has a rather huge advantage, he can buy good used equipment when others upgrade, he can do all the labor himself.

I have to admit, I can’t make any sense out of the following  post, how exactly does his concerns spill into the off grid market? I only suggest I don’t understand, do you?

Is it something in the water?

Have a great day…


Posted in In The News | Tagged | 9 Comments