Lotus Elan

Rotated steering wheel

PostPost by: hansaxl » Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:04 am

Dear all,

I have an issue with the steering of my S4/Sprint that I cannot make sense of. Maybe someone has had a similar experience before:

The car is very well behaved, at least imho. The steering rack has been refurbished a few years ago, there is no play whatsoever in the steering and suspension, everything in the front seems firm and clean, also the chassis shows no sign of instability/cracks.

However, I have been on several track days recently, and each time I went back home afterwards the steering wheel was slightly rotated anticlockwise, some 30 degrees or so. The car always behaved the same as before. Checking everything the next day came out to nothing, so I re-centered the steering wheel (one arm in, the other out) and it drives fine. But after the next track day, the same thing happened again.. I attempted to fix it by replacing the column UJ, suspecting that is was a tiny bit loose. But with a tight, new one, the issue has reoccurred.

Something seems to be bent or dislocated under the heavy strain that only occurs on the track, but I cannot figure our what it is.

Any ideas? I will look into the matter more closely now and keep you informed.

Cheers, thanks, Hans
'70 S4/Sprint
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PostPost by: Billmack » Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:53 pm

I would strongly recommendvthat you disassemble parts til you find what it is. That is a dangerous problem! Could be bad splines in column, something wrong with rack or mounts or even the chassis itself. Loss of steerage is not to be trifled with.
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PostPost by: elans3 » Mon Jul 19, 2021 4:34 pm

Concur with the above. I'd start with the splines on the steering column and the steering wheel boss being worn. Do it as a matter of urgency, as it could be extremely dangerous if it fails completely.
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PostPost by: john.p.clegg » Mon Jul 19, 2021 4:46 pm

Billmack wrote:I would strongly recommend that you disassemble parts til you find what it is. That is a dangerous problem! Could be bad splines in column, something wrong with rack or mounts or even the chassis itself. Loss of steerage is not to be trifled with.



I can testify to that , having re-assembled the steering column and not placed the pinch-bolt in the recess but above it , was enjoying a nice country road and tugged on the steering wheel to adjust the seat position ... near-death experience..


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PostPost by: hansaxl » Mon Jul 19, 2021 5:54 pm

Yep, steering is nothing to play around with, you are certainly right.

Will start to take things apart tomorrow after work and keep you posted.

Cheers, H.
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PostPost by: billwill » Mon Jul 19, 2021 7:13 pm

Highly likely to be worn splines on the steering column. And the Pinch bolt has to be done up tight with the flat on the splines against the bolt.

Image

Equally could be the splines on the input shaft of the steering box. Or in the diagram above can you see the spring under number 10? If that spring is weak, the gear, on the bottom end of the steering column arrangement, might jump a few teeth on the steering rack.
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PostPost by: vstibbard » Tue Jul 20, 2021 4:15 am

Do you have standard steering rack clamps and rubbers or after market alloy ones? If latter then check that the clamps are orientated in way that stops movement of the steering rack left to right. The standard mounts rest against the end of alloy housing and the steel end plate on opposite sides.

I purchased an S3 that had aftermarket mounts and they used the standard holes which meant the rack was relying on clamping pressure of the alloy mounts to hold the rack in position.

It moved in manner to your description, but only as far as the alloy or steel faces which limited the sideways travel. Returned to standard and the issue went away!!!
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PostPost by: sprintsoft » Tue Jul 20, 2021 2:43 pm

Hello Hans,

are you sure your steering issue is not related to your cracked, presumably flexible, wheel?

https://lotuselan.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=49450

regards
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PostPost by: Quart Meg Miles » Tue Jul 20, 2021 10:47 pm

If the problem is spline jumping then you need to return your track rods to their previous positions to keep the lock equal in both directions.

On my previous sports car I carelessly fitted a clamp bolt one size too small. Some time later, after a fast twisty run along a cliff-edge road the steering shaft disconnected as I reverse parked the car!
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PostPost by: hansaxl » Wed Jul 21, 2021 8:04 am

Still haven't had time for the car, but thanks for all the comments.

No, the issue came up before the wheel started to show cracks.

Yes, I do have the alloy clamps, had also already checked the clamp nuts, no issue. But if there is movement there, I will hopefully be able to see that.

I had also fitted the aftermarket UJ between the input shaft and the steering column. It did its job for more than 50 k km (with hardly any track day, though), but these items are pretty poorly fabricated. They actually do not have any proper spline. So, when I swapped that UJ with the original rubber link, I was positive that the problem was solved. Well, I was wrong...

Will keep you posted.

Cheers, H
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PostPost by: hansaxl » Wed Jul 21, 2021 8:05 am

Quart Meg Miles wrote:If the problem is spline jumping then you need to return your track rods to their previous positions to keep the lock equal in both directions.

On my previous sports car I carelessly fitted a clamp bolt one size too small. Some time later, after a fast twisty run along a cliff-edge road the steering shaft disconnected as I reverse parked the car!


Ouch, that sure sounds scary. My friend had a broken lower front wishbone when parking the car after a top speed drive on the autobahn... Gives me the goosebumps..

H.
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PostPost by: Hawksfield » Wed Jul 21, 2021 9:31 am

Hi

After a rebuild of my rack I had problems with the tightness of the rack coupling, mine is the original type and requires it to be extremely tight to stop movement as this causes spine wear.
If you have had it move twice in the same direction I suggest it is slipping at the rack spline as this has a concentric groove for the bolt. The upper column spline has a flat for the bolt and I believe it would move only once.

Also check the steering wheel spline condition

It would have been easier to correct the offset by re positioning the steering wheel and indicators. But you must find the primary problem.
John

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PostPost by: Elanman68 » Wed Jul 21, 2021 11:31 am

Agree splines both in the column to rack coupling (UJ or original type rubber) and the steering wheel fixing need to be checked thoroughly as there should be no ability for these to move if fastened correctly.

I also suggest you check the impact clamp halfway down the steering column which holds the inner and outer column together, if installed incorrectly it could potentially allow the outer column which the steering wheel is attached to move independently of the inner column which is fastened to the steering rack.
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PostPost by: hansaxl » Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:04 pm

Got it!

The rack moved about under the alloy U-clamps. Although the nuts were certainly nicely tight. Too violent driving, I suppose.
I am glad it was not anything more scary, or requiring big repairs. Will probably revert to original and that's that.

As one German guy once said: "Things that Colin Chapman has created, should not be modified by man." :o)


Cheers, and many thanks for all your considerations and advice.

Hans
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PostPost by: wobblyweb » Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:22 pm

Hans , sorry late to the party as usual.
I had a similar experience with a competition Mini that i built. Wheels on the ground and stationary. every thing was tight and no problems. Driving it in anger over a crest the front would go light and the wheels not quite off the ground. In this position the rack was not tight enough and would move.
Might be worth taking the weight off the front and checking?
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