Lotus Elan

alternative steering racks ?

PostPost by: UAB807F » Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:03 am

Hi folks,

I'm just checking over my steering rack (S3 Elan) and wondering about replacing the bushes & shims which have a bit of rust on them. Searching the archives for suppliers I noted some comments about mini steering racks, and looking them up on t'internet it seems silly but you can buy a complete rack for under £60, which isn't much more than for the parts to rebuild the old one (shims/washers/bushes/gaiters) and considering the rack & pinion have over 40yrs worth of wear already.

I realise this has probably been done to death but I have a few questions which I couldn't find with the search option.

Why a LHD mini rack mounted upside down ? I don't understand that, from looking at pictures on t'internet, why won't a standard RHD rack fit ?

I have a Spyder chassis with 2 lots of steering rack hole positions, presumably for RHD/LHD, or are these for mounting alternative racks ?

I must admit, at under £60 for a complete new rack with bellows & toe links, I'm very tempted. Anyone done this on a 2 seater elan ? Any pics ?

Brian
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:27 am

Hi Brian,
you could do worse than ringing Spyder and asking them, I'm sure Andy and Sean will know all the pros and cons.

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PostPost by: types26/36 » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:12 am

UAB807F wrote:Why a LHD mini rack mounted upside down ? I don't understand that, from looking at pictures on t'internet, why won't a standard RHD rack fit ? Brian


I think it has to do with the position of the rack in a Mini which is behind the centre line of the front wheels and the placement of the pinion above or below the rack.
If you fitted a normal Mini rack by turning the steering wheel left I think you would go right! it happened to a friend of mine who was building a Seven clone, he fitted a VW rack and it turned the opposite way to what it was supposed to.
S&J do a exchange rack for £54 according to their online parts list.
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Sun Jul 03, 2011 4:23 pm

ah, I didn't realise the mini has the rack mounted behind the wheel centre line, that makes sense now. It would be rather upsetting to turn left and head into oncoming traffic ! I realised there must be some logical explanation but for the life of me I couldn't figure it out.

I'm still tempted to get one as a longer term spare though if it is a reasonably straightforward swop despite the exchange price you've found. I'm always a bit wary of exchange units, I have this cynical idea that unless something is completely knackered it gets painted and put back. I don't know how they can do a complete re-con at £54, I'd got to over £30 in parts alone - bush, shims, lock washers/gaiters and I'd expect an hour's labour charge to do it all.

thanks again for the response.
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PostPost by: Tahoe » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:54 am

UAB807F wrote:ah, I didn't realise the mini has the rack mounted behind the wheel centre line, that makes sense now. It would be rather upsetting to turn left and head into oncoming traffic !


You mean turn right into oncoming traffic, correct!
Oops, my bad, wrong country!
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:29 am

Brian,
I don't think that the mini rack will fit standard elan(triumph) uprights without major modification, it's either too short or too long.

Spyder use the mini rack with their zetec conversions, this is due to the use of Ford Sierra uprights rather than the standard triumph uprights, the triumph rack won't fit this setup easily, but the mini almost bolts straight in. The downside with this conversion is a lack of steering lock. The first time I turned left at a tighter than usual junction caused the oncoming traffic to have a bit of a heart attack! Easy to get used to of course, but I was used to the old setup at the time.

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PostPost by: UAB807F » Mon Jul 04, 2011 4:37 pm

Thanks for that Alan, yet more info that I was unaware of. At the moment it's a bit of a curiosity with me; I've got my existing rack back in a reasonable shape (or at least I think it's better) and even in it's previous state it had just passed the MoT with no comment, so hopefully I've a few years left.

But given the prices of the mini racks, if one does fit then I'd buy one and put it on the shelf for the days when I can't get parts. I'm a bit of a hoarder and tend to have a garage full of spares so that I can just fix things rather than have a bust car and then hunt around for parts. I call it "planning", the missus calls it "owning an old lotus". :)
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PostPost by: Mark B » Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:07 pm

There's actually no real reason why you can't use the mini rack on a standard car, you should use spyders lengthened track rod ends though, as the standard elan ones don't offer enough safe thread engagement due to the rack being ever so slightly narrower (just a few mm). The other thing is that the exit hole in the bulkhead needs to be extended as it moves it slightly over.
I bought my rack from mini sport in burnley, I had a quick version instead of the standard ratio-

http://www.minisport.com/mini-spare-par ... QUICK.html
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