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Engine Rebuild
Tired Engine! Too many miles! Time to Rebuild

After suffering low oil pressure for sometime and experiencing some crankcase pressure we had our oil analysed by Lotus. The first analyses wasn't good, with high contents of metals and water found, confirming some contamination which led Lotus to believe our engine was suffering from excessive wear. Our oil pump was rebuilt, but didn't help with the low pressue. Our second oil sample still shows high levels of Lead, Copper, Silicon and Sodium. The levels are actually increasing indicating wear is still taking place, Lotus really expected the oil contaminates to have stabilised to normal. On a good note, fuel, water, and glycol contaminants were back to normal so there is a big improvement over previous results, Lotus were previously concerned about headgasket failure.

Further investigating would require the engine to be stripped, which is obviously expensive just to see what the problem is. So before it decided to let us know, we had SWLC strip and rebuild our engine to Sport 300 spec.

On stripping our engine SLWC found a few issues. Our engine lost oil pressure over time due to general wear, although it's not possible to be entirely sure. This caused wear to the bearings and two burnt out valves which could have been caused due to the tappet adjustment not being adjusted regularly enough. On a plus note the pistons were in pretty good condition, with the liner showing wear of a 50,000 car, which ours is.

While it was there, we also had a few more bits done, including our fuel tanks, oil coolers, radiator and all the little extra bits along with the engine rebuild, like water, fuel and oil pumps, new turbo, leads, belts and a polished and ported head. Hearing SWLC had a brand new sport 300 gearbox with LSD (Sport 300 gearbox isn't a limted slip dif it's a torque-baising transmission), we couldn't let our baby leave without it. And a Sport 300 flywheel and clutch! So our SE leaves SWLC like a new car, with big jobs like engine rebuild, fuel tanks, radiators all done! Think our Esprit has a long life left on the roads of Britain!


This job will take a few hours. Engine removal 6 hrs, Engine Rebuild 42 hrs, Refitting Engine 6 hrs.

Below are the pictures SWLC took while carrying out the work. Now this guide isn't to show you how to rebuild an Esprit engine, it would be too long and to detailed, and you really need a specialist to get it done right, unless you have lots of experience yourself. This guide is just a reference to show what's done when rebuilding. We've added a few comments to the pictures below to give you a rough idea of the process, but this isn't design to be used to help you rebuilt yourself.

 Engine Out!


Six hours of hard-graft to get out the Esprit engine. The boot needs removing along with all the cables and hoses. 2 engine mounts and 2 gearbox mounts also need to be released.


With the engine out, it's the perfect time to get the fuel tanks out and check for rust. Ours weren't too bad, but were showing signs of wears. They were stripped down and recoated, so should be good for another 15 years. The last picture shows some heat damage from the turbo on the chassis. This was repaired.

 Engine Strip!


With the engine out it's time to strip it down so work can begin.


 Engine Block Clean Up!


 Engine rebuild!


Once the block is cleaned up, it's painted. Should look good!


Sealent is added to the liners


Liners pushed in with a 'rubber mallet'


Liners are clamped in.


Everything is cleaned before the bearings go in.


bearing coated with graphogen grease, which disolves once oil is in.


Crank assembled.


pistons are prepared.


The clamps stay on right until the end to make sure sealent isn't broken while the pistons are fitted.


A permabond is used for sealent to oil pump.


Last is the polished and ported head to goes on. Read more about that here.

 Engine Paint!


We decide to go for Sport 300 spec for the engine, so we had the Engine redone in Sport 300 colours. Stripping the Red paint off before repainting.


Everything's primed before the finished colour is sprayed on.


 Engine rebuild!


The Engine can now have all the ancellory bolted on.



The cams are inspected and reassembled, graphgeon used again.



Checking tappets with feeder gauage to get shims correct.


Measuring shim to get correct. Sometimes this needs doing 2 or 3 times to get right.


Manifold goes on, which has been cleaned up and painted again. Won't last long though! Especially after we get it glowing a few times.


The last cam housing goes on.


The inlet manifold next.


Then the engine mounts and back half of plenuem.


Setting belt tension.


Engine rebuild completed.


The Sport 300 flywheel fitted after removal from the engine stand, which is black in colour from treatment


Clutch is fitted with clutch aligning tool and Sport 300 gearbox mounted.

 Engine and Gearbox Goes Back In!

Another Six hours to get the new engine back in. 2 engine mounts and 2 gearbox mount. Sits on top and bolted in. Driveshaft fitted onto splines of gearbox while 4 inch above the mounts. New engine oil for running in and gearbox oil are added. For the radiator work see here and for fuel tanks see bottom of this guide here.


LEW's Verdict

We the works all done and the engine's run in (2,000 miles of careful driving) and the fresh oils been put in and we have a 'new' engine. We did look into buying a brand new S4 engine, buying a 2nd had Sport 300 engine, but chose to rebuild using our block and to our spec. It does get expensive, as you end up not with just a rebuilt engine, but extras that are best done while the engines out, like oil, fuel and water pumps, we had a new turbo, flywheel and clutch as well, then got tempted into a Sport 300 gearbox. The Fuel Tanks should always be examined if your engines out and ours had never been touch, so its a good time to get them recoated.

In the end it was an expensive exercise, but the options were limited. We could have done it much cheap, as SWLC could have done just the bear minimum to get the car healthy again, but we'd mostly likely pay more in the long run if we hadn't have sold it on. But as this is a long term project it pays in the long run.

SWLC did a great job on the car and kept us informed as the work progress. We've only done around 4,000 miles since the work, so we don't expect to see any issues, which is good, as our bank balance needs to recover!

SWLC can rebuild any Lotus Engine, includine all Esprit engines and even Lotus Carltons!

This rebuild was performed by SWLC on LEW's 1992 SE


If you have any comments, feel free to e-mail LEW at admin@lotusespritworld.com

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