How to rebuild a steering rack | Project Elva sports racer

Our Elva sports racer was assembled with pieces and parts from a variety of cars, with the steering rack seemingly pulled from a Morris Minor. Other Elva Mk VIs that we have looked at have the same rack, so we are confident the Morris rack is original.

Assuming the steering rack is not bent or damaged in any way, rebuilding is very straightforward: clean, lube and reassemble. Follow along as we show you pictures of this process.

Disassembling a steering rack is straightforward. There are shims on either side of this pinion gear that will most likely be stuck in old grease. Carefully remove the shims and confirm which way they are positioned. 

To get the rack out of its case, you will have to remove at least one end. Without special tools, this can be accomplished by placing the assembly in a strong vise. Once the retaining ring is loosened, you can get the rack apart with a pipe wrench.

Once cleaned and prepped, we painted all the parts with Eastwood’s Chassis Black paint. We find this paint to cover well and also offer a durable finish.

Once again assuming nothing is badly worn or bent, you can begin reassembly. If you were careful during disassembly, you can use a blunted chisel to tap the retaining ring back into its groove.

Don’t forget to clean and lubricate the tensioner that most–if not all–steering racks have. This spring-loaded, soft metal piece keeps a bit of tension on the rack while driving.

An old British steering rack like this one should not be filled with grease. While 140 weight is recommended, this multi-weight Lucas Gear oil should work fine.

Our finished steering rack with new tie rods ends from Moss Motors. Amazingly, after we ran the boots through the ultrasonic cleaner and applied some rubber dressing, they showed to be still supple and looked like new, so we retained them.

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