Lotus Elan

Non-std steering rack on Plus 2?

PostPost by: autopia » Wed Nov 16, 2016 8:57 pm

HI all,

I've got my engine out and thought I'd try resolve a little bit of play in the rack, however trying to get to the shims is proving a challenge, it doesn't look like the rack depicted in pictures on the forum, e.g. it looks like there should be a hex nut shaped plug whereas my rack just has a bronze threaded plug with no visible means of removal, I've drilled out the peens, tried tapping it out with a drift and even resorted to grinding flats onto two sides to try get a spanner on it but it's not for moving, there may be a steel dowel in the side but drilling in that location so far it hasn't released it.

My question is, has anyone seen this type of threaded plug? Can anyone advise how it's fitted and how it should be removed?

Cheers

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PostPost by: Elanman99 » Thu Nov 17, 2016 8:06 am

Its certainly not the original rack and I dont know what make it is or what vehicle it came from. I would try an replace it with a standard rack if you can.

Not clear from the pictures but I assume the OD of the brass plug has a thread? I can only think that it was installed using a tool that was a close fit on the OD and that had a key that fitted the semi-circular notch in the face. Without completely removing the steel pins in your picture the plug will never unscrew (LH or RH thread?)

In principle there is nothing wrong in using a non standard rack but its essential that the overall length of the rack bar (the distance between its two ball joints) is exactly the same as standard. If it longer or shorter it will introduce bump steer.

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PostPost by: autopia » Thu Nov 17, 2016 10:25 pm

Thx Elanman, the plug is threaded, I assumed it was a right hand thread but could try the other way.

The pins you mention, I think are peens, and I've drilled them out so I think I'm clear there, if there is a pin, it's in the wall that theplug screws into, will re-look at that this weekend.

Changing the rack is an easy option in theory, the problem is they're usually exchange items and if mine is non-standard, they'll likely hit me for the exchange deposit, unless you know a source of recon'd racks for outright purchase at a reasonable price, I have thought of picking up a herald rack and transferring my track rod ends and introducing stops for the turning circle but there's a risk of buying something with it's own problems.

I might need to live with it, it just makes sense to try do something with it while the engine bay is empty.

Cheers again
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PostPost by: Elanman99 » Fri Nov 18, 2016 7:26 am

As some of the thread on the plug is exposed it should be possible to check the LH/RH aspect visibly.

In the pictures, the circular features look more like pins than peening. Drilling and pinning longitudinally through the tread pitches is certainly a secure way of stopping something unscrewing but its usually a 'once only' operation and certainly not very serviceable. If the semicircular cut out and what looks like a threaded hole in the housing was meant to take a screw with an enlarged head, that would be a reasonable method of locking the plug (which would then most likely be RH thread)

I think I would be trying to find a second hand rack if it were my car.

What was the reason for wanting to dismantle the rack anyway?

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PostPost by: autopia » Fri Nov 18, 2016 10:48 pm

I've been looking at some of the other posts on the forum and note some recommendations for Triumph Spitfire racks from Moss or Rimmers, I also note that spydercars do new Leyland racks but it's unclear if they are bare, i.e without track rod ends, gaiters, etc. so I've emailed them.

But re: the spitfire racks, both suppliers have the quick racks (2.5 turns instead of the original 3.5 turns) which are interesting. So my question is, would the Spitfire rack straight in, which are the longer track rod ends I would need and what's the internal mod to presumably reduce lock?

Cheers again
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PostPost by: gus » Sun Nov 20, 2016 2:03 pm

It would seem unlikely that some random rack would fit into place, especially since we can see the proper clamp stop in the pic. It seems to be a regular rack with some DPO 'improvement'

I believe the +2 rack is the standard Triumph piece with a collar on one end to limit travel and tie rod extensions on both ends.

Lack of lubrication wears the offside bush and probably the rack itself, meaning replacing the bush will do little good because the end of the rack is now bigger than the diameter the bush should be. At least mine was. I did gain a few thousandths and a bit less obvious movement, but it aint quite right.

What I am getting at is I question rebuilt racks for this reason.

If you push and pull on your offside wheel and see and feel little or no movement in the rack, or if you take it apart and the worn section is only a few thousandths smaller than the part protected by the lock spacer, you rack might be better than the rebuilt one, once you get it de bodged, which I think you will figure out, maybe once it is out of the car.
In my case a junk rack gave me enough shims to re shim the inner tie rods[major source of play]
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PostPost by: Elanman99 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 3:27 pm

I dont have any recent knowledge of new racks available as replacements for the Triumph type rack used in Elans but about 5 years ago I bought one that was for a Triumph Spitfire. The only visible difference to my original Elan rack was that the tie rods were too short (but see below). This did not bother me as I was going to transfer the tie rods from my old rack.

It was only after removing the gaiters that I discovered that the inner tie rod ball joints of the new rack were integral with the rack bar (swaged in place with no threads involved!) so it was not possible to dismantle them. It may be that current 'pattern' racks are more amenable to being adapted but without taking the gaiters off there is no way of knowing.

I'm not certain whether the tie rods were too long or too short, but even if too long it would not be easy or sensible to chop a bit off and use a die to cut more thread. Too short might not be a problem for the Plus 2 as they have to be extended anyway.

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PostPost by: joe7 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 4:16 pm

My rack was way over worn out. Since I have a right hand drive, I purchased a rebuilt Spitfire rack from the UK as here in the US only left hand racks are available. Not too expensive and was in tip top shape. You will need to take out the "steering lock stops" from your rack and put them in the replacement rack and everything should be fine. Since the tie rod end threads are "rolled threads" I would not die cut new threads as this will result in stress risers which is not ideal on your steering.
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PostPost by: stugilmour » Sun Nov 20, 2016 4:25 pm

autopia wrote:

....I also note that spydercars do new Leyland racks but it's unclear if they are bare, i.e without track rod ends, gaiters, etc. so I've emailed them......



The Spyder rack I received was complete with gators and ready to go. No core return was required. I had to transfer the two Plus 2 tie rod adapter / extension pieces and lock nuts from my old rack to the new one. Not sure if your setup uses these? I was using a new Spyder frame, but assume the new rack would be fine on any frame. Can't recall the turns lock to lock, but the steering is excellent, lock stop position works and nothing rubs with stock tires.

Not sure, but believe the Spyder racks are sourced from the Mini parts bin? Understand the call-up is different from the Mini; the LHD Lotus uses a flipped over RHD Mini rack. Maybe confirm with Sean at Spyder to make sure he includes everything needed to fasten the new rack, as I recall it was a bit different setup than the stock attachment; may have been because I was using a Spyder frame rather than a difference in the steering rack.

Just curious, does the body need to be lifted to remove and replace the rack?

HTH

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PostPost by: gus » Sun Nov 20, 2016 5:49 pm

Should slide out sideways, might have to rotate to get the steering shaft by, I cannot remember
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PostPost by: autopia » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:41 am

Thanks for all the replies, in answer to Elanman's question about why I want to dismantle it, there's a bit of play on the pinion, I don't think it would be an MOT failure but it would just get worse and whilst the engine is out, it makes sense to sort the rack as it's more easily accessible.

OK, so my update; John Clegg kindly offered me an original rack, it will need an overhaul and replacement tie-rod, it also needs the extenders and restrictors as it's a 3.5turn rack.

So...... I pulled my rack out of the car to do some comparisons and the rack I've got is interesting, it's not standard although it uses the standard mounts but seems to be a little more substantial than the original, e.g. :

1 - the rack's teeth are angled
2 . the pinion drive housing is different (there is a stamp on it - 4 1 90, I wonder if that's the date of manufacture?)
3 - the rack itself is a 2.5turn but I can't see any restrictors
4 - it has a different setup for the extenders, the tie rod's seem to be the same length as the elan rack but there's one short extender on the left hand side, none on the right and the components that the tie rod ball fits into is a bigger unit, I wonder if that is a combined extender and restrictor?

My non-standard rack seems to be decent quality and if it didn't have the play at the pinion, I'd have left it it, the angled rack teeth gives it a nice smooth turning action.

I could try replace the bronze bush around the pinion, but it's the same as the one I posted about original, it seems to be pinned (I think Elanman's correct on that) but drilling them out will just wreck the housing, it would be a shame to do that.

I could throw it back in and live with it
overhaul the rack I got from John
buy a recon unit with John's as the exchange, buy a new Spyder rack (Leyland?)
or buy a high ratio RHD Herald rack from Rimmers and buy the extenders from Kelsport

I'm pausing because I wonder if the rack I've taken off my car has some interesting history, that angled teeth rack and the extender/restrictor setup is really interesting, so my question is; does anyone know about any steering rack upgrades in the 1990's (assuming the stamp is the clue) that I should be aware of before I sideline it and go back to standard?

I've attached some photos of the racks on my bench for comparison, any feedback, ideas gratefully received?

Cheers

Darren
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PostPost by: autopia » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:48 am

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PostPost by: autopia » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:49 am

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PostPost by: autopia » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:53 am

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PostPost by: Elanman99 » Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:28 pm

I don't recognise the rack but as you say it looks decently engineered.

I think the critical thing is not the tie rod lengths or the rack travel, but is the distance between the rack ball joints. Any deviation from standard will result in bump steer which no amount of rack shimming will remove.

I'm wary of reconditioned standard racks (unless things have changed in the last few years) as pinions were just not available so reconditioned racks might have had new bushes and the balljoints reset but the rack to pinion fit had to be a compromise between stiffness and play.

I would go with the JC offer if it was my car.

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