Tuesday, July 11, 2017

MGB - Steering Rack Install

I realized that I didn't post about the install of the steering rack, so today I'm going to have a quick post about that. For reference, I removed, cleaned and re-assembled the rack in this post.

steering arm seated in clamp
Before you start putting the three-armed monster in (what's that? See MGB - Steering Rack), check that it's centered left-to-right by turning the steering arm. Next, check that the steering wheel is straight, the center spokes level with the bottom of the car. On the other side of the firewall, you should be able to spot the steering column butting out. There is a clamp on the end for the three-armed monster to fit in. The clamp has a bolt/nut combination which needs to be removed from the clamp before assembling the three-armed monster. That bolt needs to align with a cut-away on the three-armed monster steering arm. So, look at the two ends, and recognize that if the steering rack is centered within itself, but not centered once the cutout aligns, your steering wheel won't sit nicely level. Fixing this could be as easy as a minor adjustment during alignment, or more complex like removing and re-installing that clamp or doing something to the steering rack. In my case, I was putting the old rack back in, and the wheel was close to level before.

In She Goes
If you're doing this alone, like I was, getting the monster in can be a juggling act. The column arm fits around the right engine mount bracket. Get the unit in the right general location, and use a rubber tarp strap to hold it there. Believe me, holding the monster in the right general location while also trying to do the fine motor work of getting the arm into the clamp is simply impossible by yourself. Once successfully suspended, set the steering arm into the clamp. If the clamp is not amenable, it has a split down one side where you can coax it open with a wedge. Once you have it in the right alignment, slide under the front of the car and drive it into the clamp with a rubber mallet driving against the housing. It should slide in with only a few light strikes. Remember, that's a $250 part, so rap on it gingerly.

The rack is held to the frame with 4 bolts and 4 nuts with some washers. Get replacements. The bolts closest to the firewall drive into nuts which are part of the mount. They thread in pretty easily. Just do enough to get the threading started. The bolts closest to the front use a pair of nuts each. Yes, I said that right. The order of the fasteners from the top: bolt head - washer - steering rack - nut - frame bracket - washer - nut. The nut between the frame bracket and the steering rack is absolutely necessary to not bind the steering action. Yes, I tried it without the nut to see what would happen.

Tie-Rod Ends
I blasted The Roadster Factory for their return policy and continued sale of junk tie rod ends. Get the sealed OEM ones, and use a different vendor if you can. There are a few out there. Assuming your new ends are the same size as the ones you removed, you should be able to thread the new ends to the marks you made earlier. I determined during my "Rough Alignment" that my new ends had more housing to them, knocking my measurements off. Had I to do it again, I would measure from the edge of the steering rack housing to the outer edge of the tie rod end instead. Regardless, thread on the tie-rod ends and set the wheel-end into the arm on the swivel, and finger the washer and nut on. Don't tighten yet. There's rough alignment to do first.

Rough Alignment
There are a few ways to get the alignment roughed-in. By roughed-in I mean close enough to drive it to a shop to have someone with a machine do it. It's possible that you could do it as well with one of the methods, but I encourage having it verified. The easiest method is simply looking down the line of your car and matching the front wheels front/back along the body line. I did this first, once I discovered how toed-out my front wheels were.

Changing your alignment is pretty easy: pull the tie-rod end out of the steering knuckle and rotate it on the tie-rod clock- or counter-clock-wise to move the end in or out relative to it's prior position. There is an alignment lock-nut just to the inside of the tie-rod end that will need to be loosened before you play with the adjustment.

After the body-line rough-in, I would encourage the measuring tape method to rough-in your alignment. Measure the distance between the inner edges of your tires both behind and in front of the swivels. If they aren't the same, you may have adjusting to do. Ideally, the front is slightly narrower than the rear for better handling and stability. This measurement should happen with the wheels on the ground after wiggling the steering a little bit and then centering as best as you can. It will take a few tries to get it right. Once you think you have it, tighten the lock-nut and test it in your driveway. I still need to complete this on my MG, but the steering is close enough now for me to move the car around my driveway / garage.

Regardless of which rough-in you try (and there are probably others), don't assume it's right. The idea is simply getting it close enough to take to a shop. If you aren't confident with your rough-in, have it towed. If your car is anything like my bus, it's getting used to riding on a flatbed.

That's it for today's brief posting on getting the steering rack back in. More to come soon, and, as always, thanks for following along,

No comments: