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The 1960 Lotus 'Queerbox'


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#1 PeterTRoss

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 18:42

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As many of you already know, the Historic Lotus Register magazine “Historic Lotus” is running a series of articles describing the various versions of the Lotus Queerbox which was originally raced by Lotus from 1957 to 1960.

We have been able to obtain excellent cutaway drawings by Vic Berris and James Allington of the versions fitted to the Lotus Twelve and Sixteen, plus the one-off Sports gearbox fitted to a Lotus Fifteen, but we have not been able to find any such images or descriptions of the final version as fitted to the Lotus Eighteen F1 and F2 single seater and the Nineteen sports racing car.

I would be most grateful if anyone reading this who knows of any such images/descriptions could let me know where to look.

Many cars were fitted with Colotti gearboxes in lieu of the Lotus one, and here again I would be grateful for reference to any descriptive material.

We hope later to be describing how owners who race these cars in historic races have modified their gearboxes to improve reliability, and I have very little information on this aspect.

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#2 David Beard

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 16:54

Peter, I think the problem in finding a nice cutaway of the 18 or 19 box was that the novelty was in the new rear engine layout, so perhaps what we are going to find is cutaways of the whole car, rather than just the queerbox? But I'm sure if it's out there, someone on TNF will tell us...

#3 Tony Matthews

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 01:05

I worked with James Allington from 1960 to 1970 and I can only remember seeing one gearbox cutaway of note, a (Hewland?) transaxle mated to a 2 1/2 litre Climax. Certainly his Lotus 19 drawing did not show gearbox internals. I can remember seeing a general arangement drawing at Hethal of a queerbox, the longitudinal section showing all the locking balls...

#4 David Beard

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 09:58

Originally posted by Tony Matthews
II can remember seeing a general arangement drawing at Hethal of a queerbox, the longitudinal section showing all the locking balls...


That would be the "son of queerbox" designed for the 79, wouldn't it Tony, it rather than the 18 or 19 version?

#5 Tony Matthews

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 21:39

Yes, David, but I must admit I don't know how long Colin Chapman persued the 'queer-box' dream, I get the impression that it never really worked, mainly due to its fragility.

#6 PeterTRoss

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 09:16

To Tony,

I worked with James Allington from 1960 to 1970 and I can only remember seeing one gearbox cutaway of note, a (Hewland?) transaxle mated to a 2 1/2 litre Climax.



Thank you for your reply.

Do you know how I could obtain a list of the drawings done by James Allington, and (perhaps more important) from whom I could order copies?

The Queerbox with balls (if you will pardon the pun)

This was a much later (1976) attempt by Chapman to resurrect the idea using balls to engage the gears instead of a spline. It was made and tested but never raced. Doug Nye describes what happened in his book "Single Seat LOTUS Formula 1 & Indy".

We will cover this in the series of articles in "Historic Lotus" and are in touch with Brian Spooner who did much of the development work.

The lack of success of the original queerbox was due to the gears being too narrow to allow the splines a reasonable chance of locking into position; something Duckworth recognised at once and gave up in disgust when Chapman refused to listen.