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Thread: 240z Steering Play

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    Default 240z Steering Play

    After about 3 months, I finally tossed the wheels back on the Z (1971 240z).

    I am in the process of getting the vehicle ready to pass an out of province inspection. When I initially brought it in, they said I needed a new steering rack. Clearly not very easy to come across(New).

    I've since, dissembled the rack, tightened the bushings (large screw thing in the middle of the lock nut). Replaced rack bushings, new steering coupler, and tie rod ends.

    Today was the first time I was able to give the steering a turn. There is noticeable amount of play within the rack that I never noticed before. Perhaps its the more stiff poly bushings which make it more pronounced. But despite my effort, I have a feeling they won't let this pass.

    Is it possible to get rid of this play? I've searched for rack replacements, but it doesn't look like much is available.

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    First thing... When you say you put on new tie rod ends, are you talking about outers, inners, or both? Because if you didn't replace the inners, I would look at them first. If you already did that and there truly is play inside the rack itself, I don't believe there are any easy fixes. There are only two moving parts inside the rack, and that's the rack gear and the pinon gear (and it's bearings). So what could be the problem?

    Rack gear worn.
    Pinion gear worn.
    Worn bronze bushings on the ends of the rack housing.
    Rack rod itself worn where it rides through those bronze bushings.

    I'm hoping it's inner tie rod ends and not with the rack "proper" at all.

    Lots of pics and info in this thread:
    http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/s...ly-refurb.html

    I'm sure there are subtle differences between the 240 and 280 rack assy's but I suspect their similar enough that there might be useful info there even though it was for a 280.

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    Are you positive that the rack is the problem, is there any play in the u-joint at the rack end of your lower steering rod? Even a small amount of play in that u-joint can add significant play in your steering. I replaced my lower steering rod c/w u-joint with good used parts and it made a huge difference.

    Mike
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    I replaced the outer tie rods. I had the understanding the inners were no longer available? I'll take a closer look and see if I can get a better understanding of what is moving. This would be a lot easier with two people.


    I never thought about the U-Joints. The only thing that makes me think it is in the rack portion itself is you can definitely feel it when you grab the tire at 9 and 3, and give it a shake. It has a little play/clunking noise before any movement happens. I don't think the U joint would do this, but I will certainly check it out anyhow. Thanks for the tips. I should also say, the play is felt in the steering wheel as well.
    Last edited by HuD 91gt; 09-09-2014 at 09:48 AM.

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    The only thing I can come up with is from this forum, where people used RHT 280zx Inners, with I suppose 2 RHT outers?
    240Z Inner Tie Rod / Rack end - Sourcing?
    Last edited by HuD 91gt; 09-09-2014 at 09:49 AM.

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    I believe that I might have already posted this info in Captain's link above, but for completeness I'll add it again here.

    The inners are available and I have used them. Made quite a big difference in my rack rebuild. A company call Rare Parts sells them. You can fin a link to the inners here:

    http://shop.rareparts.com/smtp/shopd...=0049|STEERING, GEAR, PUMP & COMPONENTS

    They are clearly aftermarket as the design is a little different than OEM, but I can say from my own use that they work great. The only thing to remember is that they only make a right hand thread version and so you need to get 2 right hand thread outers (unlike the OEM configuration).

    Also, I would check to make sure that you have the rack adjustment pretty tight. I believe the Captain has a reference to that in his write up as well.

    Hope this helps.

    Mike.

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    Thanks. I've read that thread a couple times over. So much good information I still missed some good stuff. I'm going to get under the car shortly and see if I can feel where the play is coming from.

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    Well, upon closer inspection I don't think it is coming from the rack at all. There is a little bit of play, which I believe is coming from the upper U joint on the steering column. This is causing the little amount of play at the steering wheel.

    There is also something else loose when I rock the tires back and forth while holding them in the 3 and 9 o'clock positions. It is worse on the drivers side. I don't think it is the balljoint as it only happens in the 9 and 3 positions. Could the front wheel bearings be worn out? Although very minimal, there is a noise which comes with the movement and it does sound like it is coming from the hub area.

    Either way, it is fairly minimal and I am going for my provincial inspection tomorrow. I knocked everything off their "to-do" list, so hopefully they might let it slide. Wish me luck!
    Last edited by HuD 91gt; 09-09-2014 at 07:28 PM.

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    Yeah, searching out where play like that is 1000 times easier with someone else inside the car rocking the steering wheel back and forth. It also helps to keep the tires on the ground so they don't move as much. I found that if the tires are locked in place by friction with the floor, it helps isolate the issue. You gotta be able to beg or borrow someone for fifteen minutes to sit in your driver's seat and rock the wheel.

    I'm still hoping for something not inside the rack itself. Inner tie rod ends or steering coupler would be easier to find than a whole rack. U-joints from what I've heard would be no treat to find though... Let's hope that's not it either.

    Here's a pic of one of Mike's new inner tie rod ends from that other thread:
    Attachment 69927

    Looks very different than stock, but it's under the bootie, so who cares?

    Good luck!!

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    "I'm still hoping for something not inside the rack itself. Inner tie rod ends or steering coupler would be easier to find than a whole rack. U-joints from what I've heard would be no treat to find though... Let's hope that's not it either."

    Actually, the U-joints are not too difficult to source. Google: Motor Master & ATV700 & Kawasaki & Universal Joint

    Shop around as the price varies significantly

    George
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    Cool! I thought I remembered people having a hard time sourcing the U-joints. Glad to hear there's a source available!

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    I almost hate to bring up another source of steering play but here goes.

    The column itself has a splined connection internally that allows for the column crush action in a crash. There can be play there between the splines after all these years as well. A good friend while tracking down his steering play found that if you change the engagement point of the splines, ie telescope the lower end that sticks out of the column in the engine bay up about a 1/4", the play went away since you have changed to spline mesh contact points. The way to move the shaft deeper/uphill into the end of the column is to add a spacer next to the rubber/poly isolator puck inside the coupler. This also means four longer bolts and the creation of a spacer with holes. Anybody know a trick to tightening a spline fit? A bit of hammer "work" to deform then slightly???

    I know what you're thinking, there are two splined joints on the steering shaft, one at the rack, and one just below the rubber coupler, why not just slide them each apart 1/8" and re-tighten that lock bolt? Well, that lock bolt fits through a very tight fitting cross groove in the splines so you don't have any up or down movement or you can't put the bolt back in. Well you could "enlarge" that groove on the side toward the firewall I guess, but not so easy to do.

    I'm waiting for a set of those ATV ujoints to come as well. Every one of the spare steering shafts I have has some play in those u-joints. You have to clamp one side of the yoke in a vice, then slap a vice grip on the shaft on the other side and wiggle it to actually feel the paly, but there is play in both the upper and lower ujoint in every one I have.


    And now for my amusing observation of the day. I believe the person who designed the steering isolator rubber thing was Canadian. How do I know? Well I found an official NHL hockey puck in the last parts car. I had heard that some people had used a puck to make an isolator so I couldn't resist comparing the stock donut to an official puck that I just happen to have in my hand. Well, I could not believe how PRECISE the thickness of the puck matches the stock donut. Within a couple of thou!!! The OD of the puck is a bit larger, but there is no way the near perfect thickness match is just a co-incidence. There the designer is therefore Canadian since we invented the game. Obvious, eh?
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    Well, I don't believe the splined section is my issues, unless it is the splined end near the rack. The upper section was completed rusted together and had no movement at all upon disassembly. I had to disconnect the isolator, to get some room to disconnect the shaft from the rack. I think a lot of the play comes from the universal joints.

    But I dropped the car off this morning. Such a joy to drive. I was also amazed to see the automatic transmission was actually shifting this time around! Must have had something to do with all the vacuum lines I changed out. Or i'm just imagining things, as I have no idea how the tranny works. Ha. Wish me luck! Hope to have it back on the road today for the first time in about 15 years.

    I also noticed the hockey puck thing. It must have just been a Canadian influence, as if it were Canadian, they would have done some rust proofing!
    Last edited by HuD 91gt; 09-10-2014 at 08:48 AM.

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    This is what comes up when you search Motor Master & ATV700 & Kawasaki & Universal Joint. Doesn't look like what's on my steering shaft??

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    Quote Originally Posted by HuD 91gt View Post
    Well, I don't believe the splined section is my issues, unless it is the splined end near the rack. The upper section was completed rusted together and had no movement at all upon disassembly. I had to disconnect the isolator, to get some room to disconnect the shaft from the rack. I think a lot of the play comes from the universal joints!

    Just wanted to clarify. The splines with possible play I'm talking about are inside the steering column between the steering wheel and the firewall. Tough to check, just a last resort to get that last bit of play out.

    I agree the splined connections in the engine bay are always very tight or rusted solid, no chance of play of there.


    BTW, Go Flames!
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    Ahh, interesting. Good to know. I had no idea there was a splined section in there. I'll have to investigate further.

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    "This is what comes up when you search Motor Master & ATV700 & Kawasaki & Universal Joint. Doesn't look like what's on my steering shaft??"

    Call, 'Joe' @ 520-8884-0217 He will answer your questions and address your concerns accordingly.

    George
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    Well the 240z passed the inspection, and they also gave me a "Nice work" on everything I had done. I'lll pass that on to you guys too

    After the alignment, the car drives straight, and any looseness in the wheel actually seems to be gone. I don't really know how/why. I haven't tried wiggling the wheel to see if I still feel it there.

    All in all i'm happy. Besides the fact I'm still having issues registering the vehicle. I dislike people who are incompetent with their jobs. 3 visits, and 3 different answers. Ugh.

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    Congrats on getting your inspection!

    Older splined style column complete assy:


    Exploded:


    And here's the internal splines discussed above:
    Last edited by Captain Obvious; 09-10-2014 at 06:52 PM.

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    i had a huge amount of play in my steering due to the steering rack bushings being old/soft - they let the rack move both laterally and vertically when the wheel was turned. you can see it by looking down into the engine bay while reaching in the window and moving the steering wheel back and forth. do it with the wheels on the ground to actually load the bushings and see if the rack moves.

    another interesting tidbit: i installed a custom "hockey puck" from mgood (see post 137 in the "pay it forward" thread) made from a rubber impregnated fabric material (fabreeka?) - it is much stiffer than the oem and made a very noticeable improvement in my steering, even after i thought it was tight. the oem rubber, while in good shape, was pretty soft and the "squishyness" of the part allowed for some play at the wheel. my wheel feels really connected to the road now - the car feels super tight and very sharp.

    he should make some more of those and offer them to the community - cool little mod...
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    I replaced the Rack bushings, and steering coupler already. Feels pretty good now since the alignment! Still movement in the wheels. Probably time to do the wheel bearding just because.

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    To add the overall usefulness of this thread, I can report on the installation and fitment of the Kawasaki/Motor Master ATV700 u-joints.

    I am happy to report they are a PERFECT fit compared to the stock u-joints. No slop, no problem with lock clips, just a perfect press fit and clip fitment. Un-detectibly different from the stockers, except for the rust of course. Some of the easiest u-joint replacements I've had the displeasure of doing.


    Paid $20.47 each via Amazon. Actually came from Powersport Superstore...

    Wait, one more thing to report. One this set that I just did, the small amount of "slope" in the old joints was due exclusively from a lack of lube in the roller pins in the caps. Just dry little pins flopping around in there.

    If I could have pumped some goop in there, it would have firmed right up. I say just drill a hole, in the center of the cross, use your pin tip your grease gun tip and pump 'em up! The centers of the cross are hollow and extend to each cup cavity. No room for a zerk of course. That's why they never had them to start with.
    Last edited by zKars; 09-14-2014 at 07:43 PM.
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    To add to my post about fitment of the ATV700 u-joint. There are at least two quite different styles of steering shaft u-joints. The kind with retaining "C" clips an those that are staked in place.
    I believe this has been discussed previously. It appears the early cars got the c clip retained ones, then they moved to the staked style.

    The staked style are easy to get apart. Well, not if you want to save the old u-joint, but you don't right? That's not the issue.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The problem is the staked ujoints have a 15mm cap, the C clip style caps are 16mm..
    The other dimensions appear the same. The ATV700 u-joints cannot work with those yokes. There is even no provision for the C-clip is you could get them in place.

    I pulled all my steering shafts and found that most are the staked later style, no surprise there. So back to the search for a u-joint that is the smaller size. Or get the yoke holes bored to 16mm...

    Cap difference on the left, staked u-joint picture on the right.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I also tried to drill through one of the u-joint yokes to get a grease injection port. Don't know what that stuff if made of, but none of my excellent quality drill bits would do more then scatch it..... Somehow a plazma torch didn't seem right....

    Anyone have some early steering shaft assemblies they don't want?
    Last edited by zKars; 09-16-2014 at 08:03 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zKars View Post
    I also tried to drill through one of the u-joint yokes to get a grease injection port. Don't know what that stuff if made of, but none of my excellent quality drill bits would do more then scatch it
    Seeing as how the yoke is actually the inner race for the rollers, I'm sure it's hardened.

    You got any carbide drill bits?

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    Today I did a bit more hunting for u-joints that might fit the smaller staked style 15mm size. I'm afraid I have bad news.

    I looked at Motor Master's web site, as they seem to be a huge supplier of ujoints for all ATV-like machinery, and found the specs for the ATV700

    MotorMaster

    I then called them and asked if they had a catalogue with specs for all their u-joints that I could peruse at my leisure to find one that fits, but the nice lady said "tell me the specs and I'll tell you if we have it" so I said, "Same as the ATV700 but with a 15mm bearing OD instead of 16mm". She had a look and announced the ATV700 has the smallest bearing of all the u-joints they have......

    I did find a couple of useful things on their site though: This about staked ujoints and how to upgrade them to clip style.

    http://motormasterpowersports.com/Us..._Staked-In.pdf

    and one picture I found very interesting.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Who says you have to have the zerk in the cross? Hell, just drill a cap!! I think my bits can handle that..

    Maybe there's hope of reviving those little u-joints after all if we can't replace 'em!
    -----------------------------------------
    Jim
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    Quote Originally Posted by zKars View Post
    Hell, just drill a cap!! I think my bits can handle that.
    Don't want to pre-emptively bust your bubble, but seeing as how the cap is actually the outer race for the rollers, I'm sure it's hardened

    You got any carbide drill bits? Haha!

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    Great topic. Reading with interest.

    I am not sure how you would drill the cap without leaving destructive metal shavings.

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    No carbide bits in the house. I believe this is an excuse to go buy some however!


    Yes, schrapnel from the hole may be an issue, must drill "just' through.

    On the 16mm caps, I tend to agree on the likelyhood of the ends being hardened too, but the 15mm caps looks decidely less "robust". They are quite a different construction type. They almost appear to be a shell wrapped around a core (the actual race), so maybe the ends of the cap are soft. Could be me just being optomistic, but until I lay bit to cap, I'll reserve judgement.
    Last edited by zKars; 09-19-2014 at 07:14 AM.
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    I just did quick google search for "small u-joint" and found this at The U-Joint Store, it's a 15mm x 40mm steering u-joint for Dodge, Chevrolet , Jeep and Ford application:

    Steering ujoint for Dodge, Chevrolet , Jeep and Ford (15mmx40mm)

    I don't know if the size is referring to the cap OD but maybe we will be lucky.
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    Nice bind CanTech! Now who would have thought there would be a u-joint store? Surprised there isn't a smallujoints.com....

    Steering Ujoints

    oh oh... The part description shows both 15x40 AND 16x40.... Wonder which one is right....

    I see they stock the infamous ATV700 as well, though the price is NOT the best in town....
    Last edited by zKars; 09-19-2014 at 08:43 AM.
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    I think both are available, they show a separate part number for each.
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    '91 Suzuki Samurai - 2" Body Lift, Smittybilt Bumper, Warn 6000, Prelude Seats. - Sold
    '80 Suzuki LJ80 project - Sold

  32. #32
    Rust Free'ish zKars's Avatar
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    Brilliant! didn't catch that. Thanks!

    Only one way to find out if they fit. I have a pair ordered.
    CanTechZ likes this.
    -----------------------------------------
    Jim
    73 240Z HLS30 149331
    69 510 PL510 77603

    www.zKars.com
    www.calgaryzclub.ca
    Reference materials
    www.xenonS30.com

  33. #33
    Boat Anchor Repairman Captain Obvious's Avatar
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    If they wrapped a non-hardened shell around a hardened cylinder, then drilling it would be a breeze. But if these new ones pan out, of course that would be even easier.

    With the new ones, while they're off the car before you install, you might test the hardness with a file. If you're going to drill for a zerk, you could pull the caps off to clean out any chips. Of course, there's no guarantee that there's the same passageways in the bodies of new ones, right? You'll have to pull a cap or two to check.

    Either way, this could be a great find! New non-greaseable ones are still better than old dry non-greaseable ones. Keep us posted!

  34. #34
    Rust Free'ish zKars's Avatar
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    I'm Baaaaaack..


    Something came in the mail yesterday. It's a lovely 15x40mm u-joint. I believe we have a staked u-joint replacement option. Way to find a good one CanTechZ!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I've confirmed the cap OD is nearly identical to the stockers.

    I have not yet done the actual replacement on a real live specimen (some one elses Z keeps getting in the way...) , but have started the process.

    Truth #1. You cannot disassemble the yokes without distroying the u-joint. You can't drive the caps inward far enough to get press the opposite one out far enough to grab it to remove it.
    Good thing there is enough room to cut right through the yoke legs with a 4 1/2" cut off wheel. Once the yoke center section is gone, just pound the caps through to the middle to remove them.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Begin by cleaning the cap area very well (sand blasted in the pictures) then dremeling off the little peened in ears with a small carbide rotary bit.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Remove the yoke by cutting through the legs with a cut off wheel.

    Clean up the staked areas to ensure no protusion into the cap bore.

    Put new yoke in, pound in new caps from the outside.

    Put steering shaft back in car.

    About the only fly in the ointment at this point is how to retain the caps in the ujoint. There is no provision for clips of any sort, and the 40mm length puts the cap pretty flush with the yoke face (I think, have not done this yet), not sunk like the stockers with room for staking

    -Spot weld cap to yoke body.
    -Fill whatever small depression exists at the cap with epoxy?
    -drill and thread a hole in the side of the yoke (x 4) for a small set screw?
    -put head in sand and assume these will never work their way out in your lifetime?


    Please add to the list of brilliance I know you are all capable of.
    -----------------------------------------
    Jim
    73 240Z HLS30 149331
    69 510 PL510 77603

    www.zKars.com
    www.calgaryzclub.ca
    Reference materials
    www.xenonS30.com

  35. #35
    Registered User rossiz's Avatar
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    i would think you could just peen over the edges of the yoke at the perimeter where the u-joint cap is, you won't need very much at all to hold it in place, especially with a press-fit to begin with. i'm guessing if you use a punch in 4 places you could get it to work just fine. or just use a ballpeen hammer and go around the edge with the other end of the yoke supported on a vice.
    '78 280z - Daily driver/work in progress...

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by zKars View Post
    I'm Baaaaaack..


    Something came in the mail yesterday. It's a lovely 15x40mm u-joint. I believe we have a staked u-joint replacement option. Way to find a good one CanTechZ!
    Good news, however I should not take the credit for this. I was doing a search a few days ago and found that Chas had already found this source last year, see post #2 here:

    http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/s...joint-fix.html

    On behalf of the group, thanks Chas

    Mike
    '70 240Z - (HLS30-06521) restoring stock, owned since '78
    http://www.classiczcars.com/photopos...r=8626&cat=500

    '13 Audi A5 S-Line
    '04 GMC Sierra SLT Quad Cab
    '88 Suzuki Samurai - SPOA, 1.6L EFI, 31" Mud Kings, 5:13's, Custom Bush Bar, CRX Seats.
    '91 Suzuki Samurai - 2" Body Lift, Smittybilt Bumper, Warn 6000, Prelude Seats. - Sold
    '80 Suzuki LJ80 project - Sold

  37. #37
    Boat Anchor Repairman Captain Obvious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zKars View Post
    -Spot weld cap to yoke body.
    -Fill whatever small depression exists at the cap with epoxy?
    -drill and thread a hole in the side of the yoke (x 4) for a small set screw?
    -put head in sand and assume these will never work their way out in your lifetime?
    The mfgr's recommended retaining method is the staking. I wouldn't be surprised if that dictated other dimensions like the ID of the bore where the bearing cap get's pressed into:


    Too bad the removal process is destructive to the yoke. If you could reuse the yoke, you could probably just replace the cup bearings:


    That said... How to retain the similar, but slightly wider replacement? I wouldn't weld it. Not only is the yoke cast (which is trouble to weld), but you'd mess with the hardness of the cap. And I don't think epoxying the back of the cap would do much. If there's enough force to move the cap, I don't think epoxy has enough strength to hold it back.

    Set screw(s) might work. Maybe grind a shallow groove in the cap first so the setscrew has a ledge on which to retain. Loctite the setscrew in place?

    The ostrich approach might work as well. How much force did it take to get the caps seated in place?

    Only other independent thought I have is some Loctite sleeve retainer compound. I've used that stuff for bearing and sleeve retention (duh), and it really holds. If you do it right, things aren't coming apart without heat. I don't know if the gap you have is too small though. I'm not sure what the minimum gap is. Maybe file a few shallow grooves through the ID bore so the Loctite has a larger gap in some places?

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