Saturday, July 26, 2014

Steering Rack Gaiters

When I got the last MOT certificate back, although it passed there was an advisory that both steering rack gaiters were in poor condition. So while the car was up on stands anyway with all the drivetain overhaul work, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to replace the gaiters and tick this job off the 'to-do' list.

Looking at them, I have to agree they had seen better days.

As this seemed a fairly straightforward job, I didn't refer to the "Haynes Book Of Lies" preferring just to get stuck in and see what happened. I did however ask the bloke at Mini Spares when I bought the gaiters what the situation is with the track rod ends and getting them back exactly where they were. His advice was to count the number of turns takes to remove them and write it down.

In addition to that I drew a line down the track rod end over the locking nut and onto the shaft with a permanent marker so I could make sure everything lined up again afterwards

So armed with that good advice and a set of spanners, the first job was to get the locking nut loose so the track rod end could be taken off. Sometimes these nuts get seized and can be a bit of a pig, but today I was in luck as both sides came free without much fuss. Also both sides took 12 turns to get the track rod end off the steering shaft.

The old gaiter was pretty straight forward to remove, clipping the zip tags with a pair of wire clippers left it free to be pulled away, down the shaft and off the car.

Slipping the new gaiter on, I stumbled across my first problem that needed to be addressed. How to get the far end into place. The gap was very tight and it is very difficult to get my fingers in to push the end of the gaiter on to where it needed to be.

I experimented by taking the gaiter off and rolling the end back on itself like so.

Sliding it back into place I was able to get my finger under the fold and with a bit of fiddling I just about managed to work my finger around and unfold it into place.

Phew, it was a great relief to get it in place because if that hadn't worked I would've been a bit stumped. Despite the tight space, fitting the zip tie was fairly easy as it could be threaded around the back and pulled into place. I used a pair of pliers on the end of the zip tie to get it really tight then clipped off the excess.

Once the outer zip tie was on, the locking nut and track rod end were wound back into place with their 12 turns. Realigning my pen marks, I locked the nut up against the track rod end as hard as I could with spanners to complete the job.

To be honest, this was a small job that I was dreading. I wasn't sure how to get the gaiter in place and I knew that the track rod ends could be a problem to remove. Luckily both these problems turned out to be fine and it turned out to be a fairly routine bit of maintenance.

Hopefully the new gaiters should last a long while, but come the day when they need replacing again I'll know exactly what to do.

<Next Post> - 'Replaced The Handbrake Gaiters... Again!'
<This Post> - 'Steering Rack Gaiters'
<Previous Post> - 'Calamitous Caliper Capers'

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