|JBugs image of a tie rod|
The ends are nutted down with castle nuts which are held in-place with cotter pins. The cotter pins may have rusted into place on yours, requiring more coaxing than mine did. Even as original parts, I was able to bend the pins back and push them out. Then the nut comes off. Last, the end needs to be separated from the knuckle or swing lever. This usually requires a pickle fork and a hammer, which will destroy the rubber boot on the tie rod end, so be sure to plan accordingly. I was able to free the tie rods by hammering away on the pickle fork. The passenger side released from the swing lever with just a couple whacks. In contrast, the driver-side steering knuckle took many many more. I have read of some needing to apply heat with a torch to get these to separate, so be prepared. Once removed, I cleaned up the holes with some WD-40 and a rag. Then, I scrubbed them with some sandpaper to make sure there weren't any sharp edges left around the holes from my removal efforts.
|Nicked from Interweb,|
shows swing-lever end
and steering dampener
ShadeTree Front Alignment
With the steering dampener and tie rods refreshed, I was ready to get the alignment roughed in for a test drive. All cars are a little different, so the measurement below may not work on yours, but it worked on the bus. Measure the distance between the front-most part of your front tires (looking at the front left tire, at 9 o'clock). Now compare that to the distance between the rear-most part of your front tires. The measurement from the front should be between 0" and 1/4" smaller than the measurement from the rear. The varying length depends on your tire size; I'm running stock diameter, so this works. Ultimately, this effort should be sufficient to get you to the alignment shop. This is not an ideal permanent setting.
To resolve the remaining play at the wheel, I asked Boo to sit in the driver seat and turn the wheel left to right while I laid-hands on various parts of the steering system. I could see the steering coupler turn, and feel the arm move, but the drag link didn't move right away. It had a significant delay, and made a clunk noise when she changed direction from right to left (not left to right, which was weird). I rested my hands on the swing lever to see if it had any up/down movement. I couldn't feel any, so that lever and the pivot pin should be fine, unless my novice hands couldn't feel well. Other than the steering box, the swing lever was all that was left if replacing the drag link didn't fix the steering play. I resolved to replace the drag link, and bought one at Discount Import ($50US). If they had had a swing lever kit, I would have bought one since the 90 minute round trip can eat up a day if you need to do it more than once.
|old drag link,|
broken pickle fork
Similar to the tie-rod, you want the replacement to be the exact same length as the old one. In the PartsPlace.com image above, you can see an adjustment lock-nut on the right end. I placed my old and new side by side to get the length correct. Take care as you pass that rear "end" through the hole in the support so you don't damage or tear the rubber boot. I left the plastic shipping cover (visible in the picture) on the end during pass-thru so it wouldn't get damaged. To get the end to fit into the swing lever, I put a socket extension onto the bolt and used that extra torque to position the bolt to easily fit onto the hole. The front end slid right in without any extra fiddling, so I knew I had the length right. If you aren't so fortunate, repeat the measure and fit steps otherwise your steering will not align properly. Last, I threaded and torqued on the nuts, inserted the cotter pins and closed up the belly pan.
This final test drive was quite different. The steering is genuinely responsive, with less than an inch of steering wheel movement before the bus starts changing direction. When combined with the steering dampener, it drives like a completely different vehicle. I know I should take it to have the alignment done, but honestly, I probably won't. It handles so well, holds center during acceleration and braking. Since the caster and camber were within spec before I started replacing parts, and the parts I replaced have no bearing on those settings, I may let it ride as it is.
So, Hapy is fully operational again... just in time for winter. I have plans to address rust this winter, after I complete the interior of the MGB. And, of course, there's the 280ZX that neither C nor I have given much attention to. Clearly, I have lots of content waiting to be generated.
That's it for today. Thanks, as always, for following along-