Steering Rack Problems

 

If there is a knocking noise from the left hand side of your front suspension and you have already changed the left trunnion, top ball joint and the track rod joint, you are going to be scratching your head about now, I was, so I replaced the complete steering rack for a reconditioned one bought off EBay (where else?).

 

Having done some research, there are three other things that I could have considered.

 

1.    How are the metal bushes in the left hand shock absorber lever arm?

2.    How good are the rubber bushes that mount the steering rack to the bulkhead?  Difficult to tell without removing the rack, but if theyíre perished youíll have to change them.  They are shared with Triumph Dolomite and Spitfire and so are readily available and you can buy up rated polyurethane versions.

3.    Thereís a nylon bush inside the left hand end of the rack that wears oval over time and sometimes breaks up inside its metal sleeve.  This allows the nearside end of the steering rack to rattle against the bush and because the rack tube is mounted to the bulkhead - it reverberates through the car.

 

In the last couple of years have spoken recently to a number of Marina and Ital owners who have complained about this problem and it comes up fairly regularly on the Marina forum.  Once you have eliminated the lever arm or rack mount bush; that just leaves the internal bush.

 

The traditional solution has been to buy an exchange rack or a source a rack from a scrapped car.  I have been able to track down the part number and have spoken to a number of steering rack reconditioners in the hope of buying the bush or a rebuild kit, but without success.  The BL garage workshop manual shows how to do the repair, but without a source of bushes, what can be done?  After a lot of searching of the internet, I found that an Australian company had created a polyurethane bush for Australian Marina owners many moons ago.  I sourced a bush and set out to fit it myself.

 

       

 

The Haynes manual doesnít tell you how do the job, but the BL garage workshop manual gives a good outline.  First remove the rubber bellows from each end and then dismantle the nearside end of the rack.  The most difficult part was to remove the peened metal from the slots on the rack inner and the end cap, a little perseverance with a fine cold chisel shifted it.  Once done, I dismantled the rack gearing, so that I could withdraw the rack inner.  Once the inner was removed, I took out the little screw which secures the bush I was trying to remove.

 

 

The next question was how to get the old bush out; what I did was to drop a long socket (11/16ths fitted perfectly) down the rack outer from the right hand end and then stand it on end and used the steering rack and a soft hammer to gently drift out the bush by tapping the back of the socket.  Now I had to fit the polyurethane bush, once again I used a socket, this time to gentle drive the new bush in from the left hand end; I secured it with the fine screw I had taken out earlier.  The picture below shows the BL bush on the left against the wider polyurethane bush on the right. The extra width of the polyurethane bush will help to support the rack.

 

 

The rest was really a reversal of the dismantling process, it just took longer getting the bearings and shims in place.  When re-installing the gear set bearings below, be careful not to lose the shims or your newly refurbished rack wonít last too long.  Also donít forget to refill with SAE 90 gear oil when finished, whatever you do donít use grease as it will clog up and stiffen up the steering.  When I had finished the rebuild, I fit a new pair of steering gaiters to finish the job properly.

 

     

 

Altogether, doing it for the first time took about two and a half hours.  If you want to do the same to your rack, I have imported some of the polyurethane bushes from Aus, via the USA to GB.  Email me on Chris@marinacoupe.co.uk or call me on 07967 480534 and Iíll send you the bush, cost £21 including postage.  I have provided links below to the Workshop Manual pages.

BL Workshop manual (1)            BL Workshop manual (2)            BL Workshop manual (3)