Lotus Elan

Tie rod end replacement gone bad

PostPost by: collins_dan » Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:38 pm

It was a rainy weekend, so I decided it was finally time to put the new tie rod ends and steering gaiters on. After some struggling to get the old ones off, I finally was able and got the new ones on straight away. The test revealed that all was not right, particularly when turning. Everything felt loose and lumpy. I took them off, put them back on, lowered the car, then tightened everything up, still lumpy. I compared the old tie rod ends to the new ones and noticed that the new are a couple of mm's shorter. I had assumed they were the same length, so just followed the workshop manual directions and turned each 25 times, which came right up to the lock nut. I'm guessing that I need to back them off a bit, but how much? Is there a standard measurement from tie-rod end to tie-rod end that I should aim for? Thanks, Dan '70 S4 SE Federal
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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:00 am

Hello, can you still see the "clean" threads where the old tie rod ends were located? If yes I'd measure the differences between old and new parts, then install the new parts with the proper added length on "clean" threads exposed... Hope that makes sense.
. . . . otherwise, I'd go to a race shop for an alignment.
Good Luck, Eric
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PostPost by: collins_dan » Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:44 am

Just checked the shop manual. There's some measurements in there. Seems it should be 42 11/16 inches from center of tie rod end bolt to center of tie rod end bolt. Mine seems to be a bit short of that, so I'll back each off a couple of turns, then drive it and see if its improved. If there is anything else I should be trying, please let me know. Thanks. Dan
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PostPost by: 1964 S1 » Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:55 am

Sounds like you're onto it. After adjusting for that width, see if your front wheels are pointing straight ahead when the steering wheel is at dead center.
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PostPost by: collins_dan » Sun Nov 08, 2009 4:31 pm

Just to close this out, I measured the new tied rod ends at 2 11/16" as compared to 2 15/16" for the old, so 1/4" shorter. Installed both out 1/4" from the old lock nut position, or 19 turns as compared to the 25 called for in the manual. Measured the distance from tie rod end bolt to tie rod end bolt and it was 42 11/16", which is what the manual calls for. I also held 2 boards up across each front wheel and measured in front and behind. It measured 55" both in front and behind, so no toe-in. From another post, it sounds like it should come in about 1/16". I checked the rear using the same method of 2 boards, and they measure 56 1/4" both in front and behind, so also no toe-in. I'll drive it a bit, see how it feels and remeasure. Dan
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PostPost by: prezoom » Sun Nov 08, 2009 5:43 pm

A quick and easy toe gauge can be made from two pieces of wood. They should be square and the width and height of the tires overall diameter. Lay the two boards on top of each other and cut slots about 2 inches deep a couple of inches above the lower left and right corners of the boards. The slots should be parallel with the bottom of the boards. The slots should be as high as you can get them, but not so high that when the boards are placed square against, say the left and right front the sides of the tires you cannot see the slots when looking through them from one side to the other. Threre should no obsturctions between the two slots. Then use two tape measures, placed in the slots, one in front and one behind tires going from one side to the other. Looking down on the tapes, you can determine the differences in distance between the front and rear of the tires. Half the measured difference is total toe in or out. Adjust as necessary. The boards should be of sufficient thickness, that they should not warp. Particle board with smooth surfaces on each side, like what is used in cabinet making works well.

Manufactured toe plates are available from various race suply shops here in the US, usually made from aluminum plate, but for occasional use, wood works just fine. This setup is a bunch cheaper than say Dunlop optical toe gauges and can be easily stored. With these, you can check your toe settings, both front and rear, in a couple of minutes.

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Rob Walker
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1964 Sabra GT
1964 Elva Mk4T Coupe (awaiting restoration)
1965 Ford Falcon Ranchero, 302,AOD,9",rack and pinion,disc,etc,etc,etc
1954 Nash Healey LeMans Coupe

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