Lotus Elan

Steering column bushes - replacing?

PostPost by: mikealdren » Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:27 am

As part of my ongoing rebuild, I'm sorting out the collapsible steering column and the bushes between the inner and out columns are worn. They're cheap enough but I'm unsure about how easy they are to change.

Has anyone done it?
Do I drill and cut out the old bushes or push them out?
Do I need some sort of compressor/jig to get the new bushes in?
Do the bushes go in from the top or bottom or one of each?

thanks
Mike
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PostPost by: mbell » Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:58 pm

Recently done this. To remove I used a knife to cut off as much of tab as possible then used the column to force the bushes out. (Column has a wide part for the steering lock that won't pass through the bushes).

To fit the new bushes, I had to trim the tabs at a angle and greased with plumbers silicon grease inside and out. Then used a long socket and Hammer to insert the lower bush. Then inserted the column from the top, allowing it to drop most of the way through.

Then used a deep socket (with extension) to insert the upper bush. You can then just lift the column back through the upper bush.

I also " tweaked" the column in the vice to make sure the bushes were well held by the remaining tabs.

Made a very noticeable improvements to the steering!
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:36 am

Thanks, the column I am doing is the earlier collapsible model without the steering lock so the inner column comes out easily but it doesn't help me get the upper bush out., I may take out the lower bush and then put a washer or something similar on the inner column to push the top bush out from below.

Looks like a challenge but I'm sure it's worth doing.

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PostPost by: oldelanman » Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:32 am

Clamping the column in a vice makes the job a whole lot easier. You may want to make up a simple wooden clamp (per BB's book) to avoid crushing the tube which is pretty flimsy and easily damaged.
I didn't need to trim the new bushes to get them in, just greased the inside of the tube and the outside of the bush and used a small flat bladed screwdriver to "shoehorn" the lugs into the tube while pushing on the bush. Make sure you line the lugs up with the holes in the tube first, it's impossible to rotate the bush once pushed in, if you miss you'll need to pull it out and start again!

steering-column-clamp-003.jpg and
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 10:28 am

As Roger says be careful with the tube, damages very easy as I know to my detriment :roll:
I have put then in previously and ended up with almost as much play as the old ones, the last one I did as I recall I left the old top one in and just fitted a new bottom one.
I then made a top one on the lathe out of PTFE and fitted in the very top securing it with a grub screw.
It is now the best it has ever been with absolute no play :)
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bush-2.jpg and
bush-1.jpg and
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Wed Oct 17, 2018 10:36 am

Yet another reason why I need a lathe......
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PostPost by: RichardHawkins » Wed Oct 17, 2018 6:30 pm

Mike,

It's a while since I did this job. I don't remember any particular problems removing or fitting new bushes. As others have said the outer tube is delicate, so be careful. I also was very disappointed with the result, probably no better with new bushes than the old items. I considered making a solid bush to remove play, but thought those who designed this thing probably had good reasons for using rubber. I had the shaft hard chrome plated and ground to fit the bush. I don't know where you are, but I used Neville Roe in Sheffield, not the most friendly of companies, and in rough run down part of the city, but I have a good result.

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PostPost by: lotusS2guy » Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:09 am

About 50 years ago, one of the mechanical engineers in the Lotus/West car club decided to do the job correctly and fashioned a ball bearing race for the steering column on his Elan. I asked him to do one for me also. I never saw how he accomplished this, but here we are 50 years later, and there is still zero play. Do it right, or do it over. :lol:
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PostPost by: Bigbaldybloke » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:49 pm

I imagine he used a needle roller bearing and machined / polished the area on the column where it ran.
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PostPost by: AussieJohn » Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:21 pm

My +2s had new bushes but still had a bit of play, I was able to put an extra bush in the top which helped.
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:20 am

AussieJohn wrote:My +2s had new bushes but still had a bit of play, I was able to put an extra bush in the top which helped.

:) That's exactly what I did with my S3 as well, quite a few years ago now.

After fitting new ones I wasn't convinced it was any better and as every modern car has a steering wheel with zero vertical movement I didn't fancy arguing "it's ok" at MoT time.

So I cleaned up the shaft & pressed a second bush in at the top. Despite no location holes it's never moved but you can tell there's still some rubber damping there if you try hard enough.
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:05 am

Success, I fitted new bushes yesterday.

Like some above, I found 3 worn bushes which were not too hard to remove. I drilled through the locating tabs and tapped them out (firmly!). The lower bush came out first and then I pushed the other 2 out of the top using the inner shaft and tapping from below.

I used a long length of threaded stud and a 19mm socket through the column to pull the new bush into place, with a bit of rubber grease that proved really quite easy.

The bushes were not in good shape so well worth replacing and there is very little play in the new bushes.

What do people recommend for lubricating them?
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Fri Oct 19, 2018 4:01 pm

mikealdren wrote:What do people recommend for lubricating them?


You shouldn't need any lubrication, the inner white plastic is meant to run as it is.

I don't know what the material is, ideally it would be ptfe but it's probably nylon of some description, it feels hard enough. That's a commonly used bearing material which doesn't need lubrication.

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PostPost by: mikealdren » Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:39 am

Thanks, it feels like Nylon, certainly a hard plastic material. It's also a different design from the bushes that I took out, the inner layer has a longer bearing surface than the out part of the bearing.
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