Lotus Elan

Packed out lower steering column mount

PostPost by: JonB » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:53 am

Last night I was tinkering with the steering column, trying to fix the self cancelling operation of the indicator stalk. One side would cancel, but not the other and I soon determined that the clip on the column with the raised notch that triggers the cancellation action was ~120 degrees out of position. I tried to turn it but it seems to be very tight on the shaft. No bother though, I realised could turn the upper shaft relative to the lower shaft by the same amount by loosening the impact clamp in the footwell. So, removing the badly cracked trim and with inspection lamp in hand, down I went.

What I found was a bunch of washers packing the lower steering mount so that it is nearly an inch away from the bulkhead. This has the unfortunate side effect of forcing the top part of the column hard against the dashboard cutout (where it has damaged the veneer), but what about the other end? I can only think it may compensate for a worn rack mount rubber (more about that later). Before I take the washers out, I'd like to try and understand why they are there. It can't be for the sole purpose of raising the steering wheel by half an inch / altering the angle of the wheel relative to the driver.

On the other hand, with a flexible joint at both ends of the steering shaft, perhaps there is enough leeway to allow for this modification. The car certainly steers OK.

I'm very interested in your views!
Late 1972 Elan Plus 2S 130/5 - UK - Unit 50/1115L
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PostPost by: ericbushby » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:32 am

JonB
The clip is unlikely to be in the wrong position on the shaft.
It has a pip on the inside which locates in a hole in the side of the steering column tube.
If it wasn`t located properly then it would be held out away from the tube and you would have spotted that.
The shaft has to be disconnected at the steering rack end, rotated until the clip is central in its self cancelling operation and then fitted back into the bottom universal joint with the front wheels straight.
Then put the steering wheel back on straight.
I do not understand these spacers yet, but check that the steering rack is central in its clamps.
Hope this helps
Eric in Burnley
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Edit
I have just noticed that your car is a Plus 2, but this may still apply.
Edit 2
I do not understand how you can rotate the impact joint as it should clamp on a `flat` on the inner shaft.
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PostPost by: JonB » Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:40 am

I forgot to say, I managed to break the horn pencil while pulling it out with the wrong sort of pliers. Out wiht the soldering iron..

ericbushby wrote:The clip is unlikely to be in the wrong position on the shaft.
..
The shaft has to be disconnected at the steering rack end, rotated until the clip is central in its self cancelling operation and then fitted back into the bottom universal joint with the front wheels straight.
..
I do not understand these spacers yet, but check that the steering rack is central in its clamps.
..
I do not understand how you can rotate the impact joint as it should clamp on a `flat` on the inner shaft.


OK, good news about the clip, thanks. The impact joint rotates easily if you take the clamp completely off. I need to look at the lower inner column closely as I had assumed it to be triangular in cross section; hence a 1/3 turn in the right direction would orient the clip correctly and allow me to replace the clamp. If it isn't, things will be harder (think, "adjust track rod ends" which I prefer not to attempt right now).

[Edit: I see you are saying I should release the shaft at the steering rack. I assume it's a splined shaft with a mating clamp. That'd work, too, as long as the wheels are straight. Access looks a bit tricky!]
Last edited by JonB on Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: Robbie693 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:48 am

bracket_1.jpg and


Do you mean like this? They are there to align the column, presumably to take up variances in the body moulding, but in your case it seems something is amiss as the column shouldn't touch the dash obviously. It could be the wrong amount of washers or it could be the dash is mis-aligned.

As Eric mentioned, you shouldn't be able to rotate the inner column as the clamp (brass bracket in the pic) bears on the flat portion of the column and is there to allow the column to collapse in a crash.

If you need to rotate the column to get the self cancelling clip in the right position then the whole column should be turned by removing it from the splines in the UJ at the rack end

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PostPost by: JonB » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:01 am

Hi Robbie

Yes those are the spacers, only on mine there are more.

hard-up-against-dash.jpg and
Steering column outer is hard up against the dashboard cutout. Note the radial cracks in the varnish.


lower-mounting-spacers.jpg and
Looks like a few too many washers here..


You can also see the handbrake warning light cable has been caught under the washers. Flippin' bodgers! :evil:

The good news is that the splined shaft at the U/J end isn't too hard to access. Also, I discovered that the handbrake warning light sort of works - I think I need to screw the switch in a little or replace it. This is important in my Plus 2 as the handbrake rods catch the driver's side doughnut if I pull off with the handbrake engaged.
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PostPost by: MarkDa » Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:40 pm

Jon
In case you don't know already, the pinch bolts at the rack flexible joint have to be removed to allow separation.
I'm not convinced that you need a lower mounting bracket. The one you show is a standard upper bracket.
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PostPost by: billwill » Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:02 pm

In the wiki on this site:
http://www.lotuselan.net/wiki/HB_-_Stee ... olumn_%2B2

Image

The column is not triangular, in the relevant portion it is D shaped, it has a flat portion for the clamp and in a collision can slide the length of the D section.

The bottom end at the steering rack is both splined and D shaped (that would limit possible positions) or has a groove for the clamp bolt.
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PostPost by: MarkDa » Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:52 pm

Just to clarify the pinch bolt on the steering rack side of the joint goes into a groove so there are many positions available - I've never counted them but probably 20+
Looks like you'll be doing a full strip down and reassembly - something you'll soon get used to!
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PostPost by: JonB » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:04 pm

I saw the diagram, it is in the Brooklands book. On close inspection I agree it is D shaped. At the time I was thinking of the sliding Ford steering column as fitted to Sierras, they are triangular in cross section. I had lots of "fun" with one when building a Robin Hood kit car.

I think what I should do now is fit the impact joint just tight enough so it slides, but allows the steering wheel to turn the front wheels. Then centre the steering rack, remove spline from bottom joint (sliding the inner column up a little), readjust the steering wheel and refit the bottom joint. Then tighten up the impact joint. That should sort it.
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PostPost by: MarkDa » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:26 pm

That should do it
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PostPost by: RogerFrench » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:33 pm

That washered clamp looks remarkably like the top clamp from an Elan or Europa. The recess at the bottom is to take the wires for indicators, headlights and horn.
I know next to nothing about +2s, but wonder if that is the correct lower mount. If not, it may explain why it's packed out like that.
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PostPost by: JonB » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:41 pm

RogerFrench wrote:That washered clamp looks remarkably like the top clamp from an Elan or Europa. The recess at the bottom is to take the wires for indicators, headlights and horn.
I know next to nothing about +2s, but wonder if that is the correct lower mount. If not, it may explain why it's packed out like that.


Well, Robbie's is the same... maybe Lotus just put a second one in.
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PostPost by: JonB » Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:14 pm

Darn it, cannot get to the lower joint pinch bolt from above, will have to put it on the ramps and fumble about on the floor.
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:48 pm

JonB wrote:Darn it, cannot get to the lower joint pinch bolt from above, will have to put it on the ramps and fumble about on the floor.


it can be tight, even with the wheels up to set the bolt location just right... on my car I have to recourse to 2 different spanners to get at it, bent differently, and iirc I finish tightening at an angle or with a crowfoot.
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PostPost by: billwill » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:55 pm

MarkDa wrote:Just to clarify the pinch bolt on the steering rack side of the joint goes into a groove so there are many positions available - I've never counted them but probably 20+
Looks like you'll be doing a full strip down and reassembly - something you'll soon get used to!



Ah yes, I know I's seen a spline with an all around groove somewhere, so that picture of the bottom of the steering column with a flat, confused me a little. :D

The best adjustment of the rotated position of the steering column is the bottom end of the universal joint; i.e at the steering rack.

As JonB is discovering this is the most awkward one to get at. :? You might need to unbolt the radiator and lift it up if you have the wide radiator.
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