Featured Post


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Steering Rack Disassembly

For my regular readers (both of them), you know that I have a logistical problem that I have complained about for a while. Specifically, my lack of garage space. In a probably futile effort to more efficiently use the space that I do have, I was able to move some more parts up in the attic and open up some shelf and floor space. This enabled me to put "real" legs on my previously sawhorse mounted workbench (this guy) and move it against the garage wall instead of in the middle of the floor behind the car.

New work bench location. Yes, I have three snow shovels. Last year was bad, okay?
Doing this gave me about 4 feet behind the car so I pushed her back a bit and now have good room in front and behind. The sides are still an issue, but I'm pretty much screwed there. Little steps, I guess.

Behind the car. At least I can get around it better than when the workbench was there.
NOTE: If you decide to do this, I cannot stress enough to keep your parts segregated by group (e.g., driver's side inner tie rod), bagged and labeled. There are items that are easily lost and several stacks of shims that make up required measurements, all of which I'm sure are not easily replaced.

So, to the topic at hand, last night and tonight I worked on taking apart the steering rack from the '64. In keeping with my transmission rebuild, I've decided to include a picture of the steering rack from Canley Classics (and which is also a copy of the one from the parts manual) and will use the part numbers listed to help the discussion.

Should be able to read most of the part numbers on here, hopefully.
I had previously tried to take this thing apart a while ago but got my butt kicked by the locknut (42) and I didn't want to break anything. This time, however, I put the whole rack in the vice, put a large adjustable on the locknut and knocked it with a 4 lb. sledge. It worked, though not in the order intended.

Weapons of choice.
Doing it this way loosened up the inner tie rod (or ball pin (37)) but this was just fine with me. 

(Bottom to top) Ball Housing (36), ball pin (37), and the ball socket (38).
I put the rack in the vice again to remove the rest of the nuts. Because I kind of removed it backwards, the (lock) tab washer (39) came off before the locknut and adaptor sleeve (40) and spring (41).

(R to L) Spring (41), tab washer, adaptor sleeve, locknut and end of steering rack.
Blurry...sorry. The locknut backed off using the weapons of choice.
I did the opposite side of the rack the same way. The order came apart differently this time, but in essence the end result was the same.

Next was to take apart the pinion housing (21) to get the pinion itself out which would allow removal of the steering rack (22). The grease nipple cap (35) and screwed cap (34) came off without issue, but the cap required the weapons. I had some issues with getting the plunger (31) out but it was just because it's in there under tight tolerances and it needs to come out very straight. Painful but easy.

Next was to remove the pinion (25) itself. This proved more difficult. The rack and pinion body is made of aluminum. However, everything in it seems to be steel. Dissimilar metals sets up an opportunity for corrosion...galvanic specifically. While its chances are not great between iron and aluminum, after 50+ years...it's going to happen. So, I used a combination of an overnight soak with WD-40 and some propane heat today to break it up. I did have to use some more weapons of choice (different choice this time) but was successful while being very careful not to damage the splines on the pinion where the steering joint (15) connects.

Using a small pry bar and hammer to pop out the pinion.
The pinion, post clean-up.
The pinion comes out with a sandwich full of stuff. Of note, there is a little pin (not shown) that locks the thing rotationally. Almost lost that about four times before I finally got it in a Ziploc.

The recess for the pin is in the very top.
Also in that sandwich is a rubber o-ring that helps seal in the grease. For me, it was obvious that it was no longer in serviceable shape (squared off on the inside and stiff).

Thrust washer and its o-ring.

Trying to show the recess of the thrust washer where the o-ring sits.
Once the pinion and its sandwich was removed, the rack could be removed. Unfortunately, the rack tube had some corrosion in it because it was a real pain to get the rack itself out. Fortunately, I was able to pry it out with a screwdriver using the rack teeth until I cleared the problem area.

Flat blade screwdriver in a tooth recess, prying "up" in this picture, against the rack tube body.
Future me problem to figure out how to properly clean the inside of the rack tube to remove the corrosion. I'm sure I can use vinegar to break it up, but how to get the tube nice and clean and smooth..?

Other than that, I am soaking the rack and pinion body itself in some Purple Power to get the nasty old grease out of there. I am also soaking the rack mounting hardware (53 through 56) in vinegar to break up the rust for future cleaning and painting.

Vinegar soak. Used vinegar, hence the cloudiness.


  1. David, welcome to the exclusive club! Thanks for reading and commenting. Now that the weather is getting better (except for the snow we are getting today, of course) hopefully my posts will be more frequent

  2. Nice job Chris. Luckily my steering rack was in good shape and just needed some cleanup, lube and paint. Keep up the good work!

  3. Thanks, Chris. It's only steering, so what's the worst that could happen? Brakes, here I come...:)

  4. Make that four readers. Great Blog Chris. Very inspirational and informative. I purchased my project Spitty a couple of weeks ago and, after spending a couple of days reading through your blog, decided to start documenting my own saga here: http://spittymk2resto.blogspot.com.au/
    Not sure it will be as detailed as yours but we'll see how it goes!