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Steering Rack Replacement

by

Duncan Grimmond

A Tale Of Knuckle Rash And Foul Language

When I built the Silver Surfer I wasn’t so much green as cabbage looking!

The donor vehicle performed very well on the way back from purchase and I was so pleased with my bargaining skills and devious use of swapped identities that I bowled along thinking all was well with the feel. The fact that the car didn’t die on the way home added to my general complacency.

I duly fettled all the relevant parts of brakes, suspension king-pins and track-rods but didn’t consider the steering rack. 28,000 miles on the clock since the SVA in 2008 seemed like lots of fun with no problems.

All went well until I had the third MoT test in 2013 when the car won an advisory notice for play in the steering rack. I drove it for a further year which gave me the chance to compare four wheels with three, and when the test expired I took it off the road.

In building the Silver Surfer II a rebuilt rack came up on eBay and I bought it with a view to fitting.

Fitting a steering rack on the naked chassis is a breeze. There is nothing in the way and the worst problem I came across was that the chassis side members were a little close together, easily sorted by jamming in a piece of 2"*1" cut a fraction longer than the gap to ensure the location pins went home correctly.

Dismantled car

Taking the rack out of the finished car is a storm-force gale in comparison to installation! Everything is in the way and it all has to be removed. Engine, gearbox, with flex mount, drive-shafts, track-rods, suspension arms, steering column; the whole shebang has to go.

Then the difficult bit looms. I jammed in my trusty 2"*1" to spread the members lifted the rack out of its seating and found that it cannot be rotated enough to allow for sideways extraction because the hole in the floor interferes with the end of the splined pinion shaft. The only solution was to cut the hole larger and this would just permit the shoogling required to remove the rack.

At the end of last year I obtained and rebuilt a steering rack (using parts from der Franzose) which was surprisingly easy. The only part which showed signs of wear is the annular bearing component which is riveted onto the rack. I cut the old one off the rack with a slitting disc and great care. Replacements are available in oversizes together with a new rivet. Ken Hanna recommends a spot of weld to give the braces to the belt of the rivet. Re-assemble with gallons of grease and a new cover plate from Ken which has a nut welded on to take a grease nipple. Drill and tap for another nipple on the pinion housing.

All is fairly well explained in the Haynes manual.

The refitting is pretty much a reversal of the extraction but I’ve had to tidy up the hole in the floor with a larger panel.

Writing this I realise I have omitted the foul language. In the interest of preserving your sensibilities I’ll refrain from including, verbatim, the stream of invective I emitted during a 2 hour session of trying to refit the screw in the steering column/pinion clamp!

Any builder who has not rebuilt the steering rack prior to installation should do so before fitting the forward bulkhead.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!


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