Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby lotusflasherman » Thu 09.02.2017, 02:21

dapinky wrote: ....it appears that the outer balljoint is held in place with a screwed on collar - maybe it'll tighten up a bit, or can be easily replaced if worn - if it can't be shimmed out.

I would expect it to be accessible without removal of the rack, but don't know how much space there will be to get a spanner on the flats whilst it's in situ.


Yup. Correct as usual.. You can turn the steering to get it sticking out of the rack to work on but MUST grip the rack with 'soft jaws' (I use bits of lead flashing that came off a roof) and unscrew against that, and make sure no load is put on the pinion teeth because it can bugger them up. It's locked with an indent into a slot in the rack so easier to undo if that is first knocked out, or drilled out if you're fitting new.

I got an MOT advisory about a bit of slack so pulled apart a rack inner ball joint to remove shims, only to find there weren't any... as Simon mentioned. (Most UK cars with rack & pinion in 60's & 70's were supplied by Cam Gears of Hitchin who used shims to tighten the inner ball joint, so I was used to finding them on Mini, Elan, Elan+2, Europa etc). Can't remember if rack was on Eclat or my first M100 SE, which is annoying me, but was first I'd found without shims and when I then looked in the manual for how tight it should be I found it said they weren't serviceable. Should probably have guessed as cup was locked by indent in a groove rather than tightened against shims but I'd 'un-indented' it with a bradle I keep for that purpose so cleaned it up, inspected it, re-greased it and put it back together. When I tightened it, it went just past the indent so I could indent with new metal and rod moved OK without slack so reckoned I'd 'serviced' some thing supposedly 'not serviceable' :lol: ...

That rack had a sprung loaded seat under the ball so it had quite a bit of tolerance before it would be too tight. Can remember doing it at a house we moved from in '93 so if it was M100, I did another 40,000 miles in it and if Eclat - it's still in my garage! Now need somebody to post a picture of the Elan inner ball unscrewed from the rack to put my mind at rest ... :smt064
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby chris.t » Thu 09.02.2017, 10:21

Wow thanks for your replies guys, I'm feeling a lot more confident about this now.

eta/ do the clips on the boot come off easily without damaging the boot or the clip?
Could the 'Hokey-Cokey' actually be what it's all about?
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby lotusflasherman » Thu 09.02.2017, 16:24

chris.t wrote:Wow thanks for your replies guys, I'm feeling a lot more confident about this now.

eta/ do the clips on the boot come off easily without damaging the boot or the clip?


Depends what tools you've got ... I've got a pair of long side cutters that were for crimping up 'use once' gas hose clips and, turned 90°, cutting them off. Those will cut through the OE boot clips quite easily and obstinate jubilee clips.

These aren't the same as mine but similar ...Neilsen-CV-Joint-Boot-Clamp-Ear-Type-Pliers

Not sure if those will cut them off but at that price I'd buy two and sharpen the jaws of one on a grindstone so it did.

Just been comparing the rack on the Elan to the Eclat and from the space inside the wheel arch I reckon it was more probably the Eclat inner ball joint I 'serviced' a few decades ago. Also looked at Elan Service Notes (Section HC Page 11) and says new track rod joints should be tightened onto the rack to 54 lbf.ft so expect them to be tight, grip the rack and don't let it load the pinion or you'll soon be changing the whole rack... a power steering pinion has a lot of delicate valves and sleeves and is easily damaged.

Anybody who wants to know in detail how rack & pinion power steering works may like to read the 1971 Patent application that I've just found - very interesting ...power assisted rack & pinion steering I'm amazed that I used to know a couple of engineers who worked for Cam Gears in Hitchin in the early 70's and they told me most UK cars used their racks but they never told me they'd got the worldwide patent....
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby chris.t » Sat 11.02.2017, 11:39

Thanks LFM, I won't be doing work, but I will be printing this thread off and giving it to the chap who is.
Could the 'Hokey-Cokey' actually be what it's all about?
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby kevinrooney » Wed 10.05.2017, 09:27

I had the same problem with mine and purchased a SH rack my local power steering company gave it a once over replaced teh boots and tightened up the inner track rod ends for €50.
the universal joints at the end of the steering column can lead to play and should be replaced when the rack is out
The UJ at the bottom of the steering column is identical to that fitted to Land Rover Defenders, Disco's etc.

Part number is : NRC7704
previous advice on the forum regarding outer track rod ends
The track rod ends are fitted to BMW 300 (E21) series, Fiat 131 Mirafiori, Porsche 924 & 944, VW Golf MkI, Jetta Mk I, Scirocco Mk I & II, Caddy pick up, Transporter Type 2 and Volvo 340s. They are non handed and commonly available from motor factors

I think this is really a rack out job. I would be inclined to take the rack out, get it pressure tested by power steering company adjust the track rod end Be advised that the power steering pipe can seize and shear off so be prepared - most cost effective route is to find a local pipe guy that can make up a new set. there are both low and high pressure o rings for these connections which are available from SJS (i think).
Not in my opinion a DIY job as it involves dropping sub frame exhaust etc to remove rack unless you have a hoist . My local garage regretted taking it on!

I have a spare rack ( my original) which I could arrange to have overhauled .
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby newtonlad » Tue 12.06.2018, 19:50

Hi guys,
So my car has passed the "new" MOT but with an advisory, "play on inner track rod ball joints" o/s and n/s. Having read the thread I am a little confused, is the outcome of the discussion saying that there is adjustment on the ball joints if you are able to access them with the rack in situ ? Has anybody actually done this job with success ? As Dapinky suggests, am I likely to have an oil/grease shower when removing the gaiter ? Any info gladly accepted, thanks, Newton lad.1991 SE with 122k on the clock.
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby lotusflasherman » Wed 13.06.2018, 23:26

Yes, I have but long time ago and not sure if it was on a Calypso M100 or red Eclat. Principle is same but Eclat has more room as no driveshaft in there.
First thing I'd say is 'it''s only advisory and not a fail' and power steering racks can have more play when the engine is off and no fluid pressure in the system.
Investigate what play there is engine off and check again with engine running and see if you've got a problem. Then drop the track rod ball joint out of the hub and check if there is play in the inner ball. If I remember correctly the seat is spring loaded. There should not be P/S fluid or oil in the bellows or it would burst when you went from lock to lock quickly. If there is then a seal in the rack has failed. The ball cup is staked into a groove so you need to prise it out and then turn the cup enough to remove the slack but not seize the track rod and restake it into the groove - probably only needs 1/8 of a turn.
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby newtonlad » Thu 14.06.2018, 21:49

Hi Phil,
Thank you very much for the reply and valuable info. I have checked the play with engine off, wheel raised, but track rod still connected, and there is definitely some play in both inner joints, so I will try to remove the excess play as you suggested. Fingers crossed. Newton Lad
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby Simon_P » Wed 29.05.2019, 21:49

I have the rack out and the track rod off the inner ball joint cup is swaged around the ball. I can confirm that the service Manual is correct HC4 P10 " The track rods are integral with the inner ball joints, which are not adjustable or serviceable in any way"

Has anyone found a replacement track rod? or which car it is also used on, they seem to be pretty standard.
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby nigelpen » Mon 10.06.2019, 10:15

Simon_P wrote:I have the rack out and the track rod off the inner ball joint cup is swaged around the ball. I can confirm that the service Manual is correct HC4 P10 " The track rods are integral with the inner ball joints, which are not adjustable or serviceable in any way"

Has anyone found a replacement track rod? or which car it is also used on, they seem to be pretty standard.


If you are looking for track rod ends, I bought some new ones last week. I found a website M100.com (Parts cross reference) and they are listed as Golf Mk 1 as also mentioned on a post here. Various prices on Ebay.
I myself am looking for a power steering pump. Cant find a lot of information about that, maybe I am looking in the wrong places! Any info/help would be appreciated.
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby NewLogik » Sun 16.06.2019, 03:06

You can order cross reference part for the track rod end : DELPHI TA770
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby lotusflasherman » Sun 16.06.2019, 12:18

Track rod ends are easy. It's slack at the inner ball joint of the track rod on the rack which is the problem.

As Simon says "the inner ball joint cup is swaged around the ball. I can confirm that the service Manual is correct HC4 P10 " The track rods are integral with the inner ball joints, which are not adjustable or serviceable in any way" "..

With the right tools you can 'unswage' it, take up the slack and re-swage it with the rack in situ. The ball seat is spring loaded so when there is slack the spring is doing nothing so the cup usually tightens enough to provide a new bit for swaging. Pull it apart and clean off the grease, regrease with new stuff, tighten the cup till the track rod is just slightly stiff to move and reswage the cup. It's only what is usually done to a reconditioned rack, though they might fit new cups.

Service Manuals are usually written for use of Main Dealers when new parts are available. The BL Mini Workshop Manual has instructions for removing ball joint shims and adjusting steering racks but Main Dealers would fit new because of the mark-up they made on parts, and owners feel better when paying a lot more on parts than labour...and not having to rely on the skill and judgement of the mechanic.
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby Simon_P » Sun 16.06.2019, 12:50

Hi thanks, I'm trying to find a reference for the track rod and inner ball joint.

For the track rod end I have cross referenced back to a Lemforder part, mostly out of of interest to see what I get. The TA770 and the wiki information came after a long search and a lot of trial an error by members here, which is why it contains several references to parts that are incorrect. When I get a moment I'll add the information to that thread, if it still exists.
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby Simon_P » Sun 16.06.2019, 13:04

Phil, not sure if you have had the exact part to pieces. It's not like the old ones.

There is nothing to take apart and nothing to tighten up. The the socket is one solid piece, and when I said swaged I mean it is squashed around the ball to close the cup. The threaded part is just a means of attaching it to the rack tightening it does nothing more, and the flange is staked to the rack as a locking mechanism.
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby RonR » Sun 16.06.2019, 17:03

lotusflasherman wrote:With the right tools you can 'unswage' it, take up the slack and re-swage it with the rack in situ. The ball seat is spring loaded so when there is slack the spring is doing nothing so the cup usually tightens enough to provide a new bit for swaging. Pull it apart and clean off the grease, regrease with new stuff, tighten the cup till the track rod is just slightly stiff to move and reswage the cup. It's only what is usually done to a reconditioned rack, though they might fit new cups.

Simon_P wrote:There is nothing to take apart and nothing to tighten up.

Could this be due to a difference between SE/NA and S2 racks?
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby Brit-Car-Nut » Sun 16.06.2019, 17:29

No, the NA doesn't have Power Steering, the SE,S2 and FED all have Power Steering.

The S2 has a different turn ratio to the other Power Steering Racks.
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby lotusflasherman » Sun 16.06.2019, 18:12

Simon_P wrote:Phil, not sure if you have had the exact part to pieces. It's not like the old ones.

There is nothing to take apart and nothing to tighten up. The the socket is one solid piece, and when I said swaged I mean it is squashed around the ball to close the cup. The threaded part is just a means of attaching it to the rack tightening it does nothing more, and the flange is staked to the rack as a locking mechanism.


Are you on S2 or SE? Can anybody post photos of the track rod inner ball joint, I'm struggling to remember what I saw and did .. otherwise I'll have to remove a boot to check whether 'I'm leading you up the garden path'..

I can remember doing it on the drive of the house where I still live but was also running my Eclat when I first moved here. The Elan+2 has shims under the inner ball seat but I dealt with a spring loaded seat that may have been Eclat but nothing is shown in Service or Parts Manual so that's another considered 'not servicable'...

I had a J reg Calypso SE that I put 130k miles on with dealer servicing it for Lotus Service History but I did pad and disc changes and kept wheel bearings etc adjusted ... I had an MOT advisory on an inner ball joint on that car that wasn't on the next MOT so I must have done something to sort it.. I know I did not replace the rack. (Only major parts that car had apart from usual consumables were gearchange cables, cambelt at 60k & 120k and a rear silencer ... never let me down once in 6 years.)
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby RonR » Mon 17.06.2019, 00:06

Brit-Car-Nut wrote:No, the NA doesn't have Power Steering, the SE, S2 and FED all have Power Steering.
The S2 has a different turn ratio to the other Power Steering Racks.

Power steering was an option on the N/A, and I'm pretty sure the S1 and S2 racks are different. They certainly have different part numbers - F100H0004F vs G100H0004F (for RHD). The bellows also come in 2 sizes, 52mm for early and 46mm for later racks.
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby Simon_P » Mon 17.06.2019, 00:28

Phil, don't worry you're not leading me up the garden path. I've had it to pieces on the bench, looked, tried and put it back together again I even took photos. It's a single piece and doing it up tighter will have no effect on the ball joint.

S2, but it's just like the one in the photo already posted.
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Re: Steering Rack Track Rod Inner Ball Joints

Postby lotusflasherman » Mon 17.06.2019, 02:58

rack.jpg



Yeah, that's what I had. Get a narrow cold chisel and lift that bit out of the groove (where the arrow points). (There may be another groove and stake on the opposite face as well). Use the flats to rotate the cup a bit until the rod is tight but still moves and re-stake the cup shoulder into that groove. Banging it out is better than drilling or grinding as it doesn't produce an abrasive mess... but if you have to, seal the end of the rack to stop anything going in there..
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