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Thread: Steering Rack Disassembly and Refurb

  1. #1
    Boat Anchor Repairman Captain Obvious's Avatar
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    Default Steering Rack Disassembly and Refurb

    I've been doing a bunch of suspension work to my 77 this off-season and part of that work has been on my steering rack. I suspect this is old hat for lots of people, but it's my first time this deep into the rack and I've been trying to take pics of the interesting spots along the way.

    This whole project started with the rack mounting bushings. My previous owner installed polyurethane bushings on the rack mounts and they didn't look like right. The project snowballed from there, but let's start with the bushings.

    On the pass side, the bushing looked too narrow for the mounting slot on the rack and after some digging on the forums, it appears that the width of the P/S rack mounting slot got wider on the later cars. It appears that he used an early kit on a later car. Here's a pic of the bushing he put in. You can see the gap where the mounting slot is wider than the bushing:



    The solution appears to simply use the correct year bushing kit. Here's my replacement bushing installed. It was a tight fit. I even had to put a little silicone grease on the bushing and tap it into place with a plastic mallet. Much better fit:


    I've seen pics of this before from others, but for posterity, here's the older narrow style compared to the newer wider style:


    And on the driver's side there was a large gap where the bushing didn't wrap around the rack properly and was pinched by the mounting strap. Here's a pic of the driver's side bushing. You can see the gap and notice the deformation on the left side from not fitting into the mounting strap correctly:


    Problem was... When I first installed my replacement bushing, it was no better than the one that came off the car. I had the same problem and couldn't get the bushing to wrap around the rack far enough and I ended up with a huge gap where the ends were supposed to meet.

    After looking things over, I came to the conclusion that the replacement poly bushing wasn't designed properly. The rack has a smooth radius fillet on the inside corners at the bottom of the slots, while the bushings have squarer corners molded into them. As a result, the bushings don't fit comfortably into the slots.

    Here's a shot of the shot in the rack. Note the smooth rounded fillets in the corners:


    And here's a shot of the bushing that's supposed to fit in that slot. Note the inside corner that is much sharper than the receiving slot in the rack:


    Thankfully the poly was hard enough that I was able to cut it with a new very sharp fine tooth file. Using a file I was able to round the inside corners of the bushing to better fit the rack. Here's a shot after I rounded the corners:


    Finished filing both sides of the bushing and tapped into place with a plastic mallet. Note how much smaller the gap is once the bushing fits snug in the slot and slides all the way to the bottom of the groove without hanging up on the corners:


    That's what started the project. I'll post more pics as the work progresses.

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    Registered User rcb280z's Avatar
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    That's good info Capt. I wonder how mine looks. If mine is the same it could explain the slight vibration I'm getting through the steering wheel. I have tried everything else but the rack bushings. So maybe I will take mine out soon. Who supplied the bushings?

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    Registered User EuroDat's Avatar
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    Thats a big difference in size. I didn't know they changed the size over the years. After seeing that I went out to the garage and checked mine. It looks tight, no gaps, I must of been lucky and got the right one, I guess.
    Chas
    Chas
    5/77 280Z HLS30 403100 with some modifications
    Original colour: 305 Light Blue. The PO changed it to Red

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    Here's my pictures from when I did mine. Glad to see you went with the color of grease, I did and then read the black was less likely to squeak. Something about graphite?
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    1972 240Z #918 New Sight Orange
    1977 280Z #305 Light Blue Metallic
    1972 240Z #110 Persimmons Red

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    siteunseen, I remember talking about those two little plastic plugs that are circled in your pics. I took some close-up pics of mine. Here's one side:


    And here's the other:


    Still not sure what they are, but I can tell you that they are NOT plugs for grease fitting holes. Not only are they too small, but if you look inside the rack tube, there are no holes through. Here's a pic inside the tube No holes:


    So after looking and picking at them, my only theory is that they have something to do with the fitting and alignment of the two major components of the rack tube. I'm thinking that maybe since alignment of the long tube into the cast portion that houses the pinion gear is important, that maybe they loosely fit the two parts together, locked them in an alignment jig, and then used a hard setting thermoplastic to lock the two together. Similar to what they did with the throttle linkage? Just a theory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcb280z View Post
    I have tried everything else but the rack bushings. So maybe I will take mine out soon. Who supplied the bushings?
    rcb, Haha! Well I gotta admit something here...

    I've been doing all this suspension work you see... And I knew that I had an old set (NOS) of strut inserts packed away in a box in the storage area of the garage. Now mind you, I bought those struts maybe fifteen years ago for the 260 I was working on at the time. Well when I started all the suspension work on my current 280, I went looking for those struts.

    I found the struts, but they are rears for the 240/260 and won't fit anywhere on the 280. BUT I also found a box of other parts that I bought at the same time with the intention of putting them on the 260. Been so long, I completely forgot I ever even bought them. And one of the things that was in that NOS box was the steering rack bushings. How unbelievably convenient!!

    So, long story short, I bought them so long ago that I have no idea where. Probably MSA or Black Dragon.

    And for siteunseen, I didn't consciously choose the black. That's what I found in my NOS mystery box!

    Here's a pic of the paperwork that came with them. Has Mfgr name and P/N's on it. No idea if this place is still in business, but that's all I got! You can see on the paperwork that they differentiate between "early" and "late", and the P/N I bought was for "late":


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    After I got the bushings sorted out, I disassembled the rest of the rack. This means you have to pull the inner tie rods off. You really only need to remove one end, but since I wanted to clean out all the old grease, I removed both ends.

    Remove the dust bellows and you're looking at this:


    Remove the plug from the inner tie rod grease port:


    Loosen the lock a little bit nut:


    And unscrew the inner tie rod from the end of the rack gear:


    After you get the tie rod off, inside you'll find the ball seat and it's associated spring. In this pic, the seat is out laying on the paper towel, and you can see the tip of the spring poking out of the hole in the end of the rack:


    Ball seat and spring cleaned up:


    Pull the lock nut and "spacer" off the end of the rack gear and you're left with this:


    If you pull the other inner tie rod end as well, just be sure you don't mix up the parts from the ends and make sure you put everything back on the same end it came from originally.

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    So Chas, You mentioned in another thread that you cut the welds on your inner tie rods so you could tighten them up a little?

    Do you have any pics of that process? I'm still thinking that I don't need to go to that extreme (yet?), but out of curiosity, how deep do you think you had to cut?

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    Got some more pics uploaded. To get the rack gear out of the main tube, you have to take off the tension adjust shoe and the pinion gear. Most of this stuff has been handled before so I'm not going to include as many pics, but thought I would include some.

    To get the tension adjustment shoe out, first remove the lock ring:


    Then unscrew the big slotted adjustment cap exposing the parts inside. Remove the washer and spring. Note that I could not fish the tension shoe out of the hole from here. It's not in there real tight, but there's just no place to easily grab it down in the blind hole. I was able to push it out easily from the other side once the rack gear was removed from the housing. You can see the shoe still installed in the housing:


    To get the pinion gear out, remove the two bolts holding the retainer in place and pull the retainer off. Note that I put some masking tape over the shaft splines to protect the grease seal while it is being slid over the splines:


    Pull the pinion shaft, upper bearing, and gear up and out of the rack. Mine came out without a fight:


    Don't lose or bend any of the spacer shims that adjust the pinion shaft end play:


    After removing the pinion gear, here's what it looks like inside the housing. The rack and lower pinion bearing are still in place:


    Once you have the tension shoe loose and pinion gear removed, you can silde the rack gear out the end of the housing. Obviously, if you only removed one inner tie rod end, then that's the direction you'll have to go, but if you took them both off like I did, then it will slide out either end. And then once the rack gear is out, push the tension shoe out of the housing:

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    So one of the interesting things about the rack is that they used bronze bushings at the ends of the housing on which the rack gear slides. There is no discussion that I could find in the FSM's that talk about those bushings. I'm sure they're off the shelf items and are certainly replaceable with the right tools and replacement parts, but I'm guessing they were never intended to be a fixable item. If they're wallowed out, you're probably supposed to replace the whole steering rack assy? Note the lube groove cut in the bushing:


    Also note the dent where the inner tie rod end grease plug was hitting the bushing at end of travel. This brings up a question for me... What is supposed to limit end of travel of the rack? On my rack, it was clearly the heads of those little bolts bumping up against the bushings and that just seems wrong. Makes me wonder if my rack was put together correctly. I'm going to file the deformation off the bushing, but unless I do something else, it's going to recur.

    So back to the question about end of travel limit... I had these two black washers installed just inboard of the tie rod end lock nuts that floated stupidly in space between the grease plugs and the tie rod lock nut. The washer in question is just to the right of the grease hole in this pic:


    Here's another pic showing the washer after the tie rod end has been removed. The washer in question is top center in this pic. They are thick metal washers with a hard black vulcanized rubber coating applied to the outside:


    To me... That washer just screams "End of travel bump stop!!". But with the grease plug bolts installed as they were on my rack, it never gets that far. So I'm wondering if those grease plug bolts are correct. I'm thinking that if I used headless set screws instead to plug the grease holes, then not only would I stop denting my bushings, but I would also decrease my turning radius a little.

    So a question for the suspension experts... What is is that is supposed to limit end of steering travel? Is it supposed to be those black rubber coated washers, or something else?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post
    So Chas, You mentioned in another thread that you cut the welds on your inner tie rods so you could tighten them up a little?

    Do you have any pics of that process? I'm still thinking that I don't need to go to that extreme (yet?), but out of curiosity, how deep do you think you had to cut?
    Hi Captain,

    Great write up and the photo's are clear BTW. This thread is worth moving to the Tech articles section IMO.

    Its going back 2 1/2 years, but I remember mine was loose. If you look at your first photo in post 7, your threaded end remains suspended in the air. Mine would fall down. It actually had a millimeter or so play in it.
    By chance I discovered I could turn the welded lock nut, all be it with difficulty. It was welded, but still turned. I think that is what caused the excessive free play. It was then I decided to cut the weld with a small dremel cutting tool, since it couldn't get much worse than it already was. If I couldn't fix it, I would still need a new one. I retensioned it and tested it with a spring gauge according to the FSM specs and tacked the weld with a stick arc welder.

    Looking at your unit, I wouldn't go that far either. You don't seem to have any problems there.
    Interesting about those grease port plugs. I can't remember mine sticking out like that.
    Someone in the past may have changed the originals after damaging them when greasing the rack?

    Keep the posts coming.
    Chas
    Chas
    5/77 280Z HLS30 403100 with some modifications
    Original colour: 305 Light Blue. The PO changed it to Red

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post
    So one of the interesting things about the rack is that they used bronze bushings at the ends of the housing on which the rack gear slides. There is no discussion that I could find in the FSM's that talk about those bushings. I'm sure they're off the shelf items and are certainly replaceable with the right tools and replacement parts, but I'm guessing they were never intended to be a fixable item. If they're wallowed out, you're probably supposed to replace the whole steering rack assy? Note the lube groove cut in the bushing:
    Those bushings shows as a replaceable item but don't appear to be available (on courtesyparts.com anyway). That grease looks pretty solid, do you think it was doing any lubricating?

    Datsun 240Z/260Z/280Z Steering Gear (Rack & Pinion Type)
    1976 280Z, with some minor modifications

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    Blue, Thanks for the leads. At this point, I'm 99% convinced that those rubber coated washers are indeed bump stops and my rack should never have had those plug bolts installed in the grease ports. Since the other end of that passageway is not plugged anyway, I'm thinking that it probably doesn't matter if I plug those holes with something headless (like set screws) or just leave them completely open hidden inside the rack bellows. But I AM sure those headed bolts are a mistake.

    Zed Head, Thanks for the info on those bushings. Apparently they seem to have been available at some point. Curious thought that a part that was offered wasn't discussed in the FSMs. I bet they didn't sell a lot of them. And about that grease... Yes, that's what snowballed this project. Originally I was working on the rack mounting bushings. During that work, I noticed that the bellows were split so I pulled them off. Once the bellows were off, I noticed how hard and waxy the grease was on the rack ends. And before I knew it, I had the whole thing taken apart!

    Chas, My inner tie rods droop when they don't have the spring and seat pushing against them from the rear. Are you saying that yours drooped even WITH the spring and seat applying pressure on the back side of the ball? If that's the case, then yours were clearly looser than mine. Mine stay up (as you pointed out) when attached to the rack, but once removed, they droop. When you cut your welds, did you use the cutting disk along the seam? Is that how you broke the bond? With a small slit along the existing part line? How much of an additional rotation do you think you got out of yours before they tightened up to spec? Eighth of a turn maybe?

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    And here's progress to today. I got the entire thing torn down.

    Here's a pic of the whole thing exploded. Only thing you can't see is the lower pinion bearing. I pulled it out, cleaned it, and put it back in before I thought to take this shot. And I wasn't going to pull it again just for the camera:


    Left end parts:


    Right end parts:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post
    Chas, My inner tie rods droop when they don't have the spring and seat pushing against them from the rear. Are you saying that yours drooped even WITH the spring and seat applying pressure on the back side of the ball? If that's the case, then yours were clearly looser than mine. Mine stay up (as you pointed out) when attached to the rack, but once removed, they droop. When you cut your welds, did you use the cutting disk along the seam? Is that how you broke the bond? With a small slit along the existing part line? How much of an additional rotation do you think you got out of yours before they tightened up to spec? Eighth of a turn maybe?
    I had one side that was loose before I started dismantling it. The square nut (aluminium colour in your photo's) was tight, but the welded nut turned. I think the nut was not tight enough before welding.

    I used a very small dremel drill with a thin cutting disc, about 1/2mm thick and cut between the nut and cap end until I was through the weld. The nut tightened about 1/3 of a turn past the weld. The other side was tight and didn't need dismantling at the weld.

    Chas
    Chas
    5/77 280Z HLS30 403100 with some modifications
    Original colour: 305 Light Blue. The PO changed it to Red

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    Thanks again Chas for the details. It sounds like your one side was definitely looser than either of mine. I don't think I'm going to whip out the Dremel at this juncture.

    My rack bushing install screw-up by my PO is just the tip of the iceberg. I've found so much stuff wrong with my suspension it's just comical. I'm betting that my car will feel so much better when I'm done that I won't have a second thought about tightening up those inner tie rod ends.

    That's the plan anyway!

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    Oh, and BTW... I think I've turned up a cheap viable alternative to the original steering rack bellows.

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    Walmart greeter Mikes Z car's Avatar
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    I have wondered for years if there was a cheap alternative. What did you discover? I have wondered if it might be possible to slather (this would not look nice) (isn't slather a nice word?) black silicone rubber all over an existing one with holes.
    Last edited by Mikes Z car; 02-25-2014 at 10:52 AM.

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    Captain,

    Really nice job of writing this up. I only wish I had it about 6 months ago when I was planning my rebuild. It would have been very helpful. Hopefully I can add a few more bits of information that will help as well.

    I finished my rack refurbish and install just recently. I was planning to do this some time back but could not locate some of the critical replacement parts like the inner tie rod ends. I did find a source but they were not available at the time. So I went with a remanufactured one for about $300, which in the limit looked like it was only cleaned up, repainted, new boots, perhaps new grease, and that's about it. Was a definite improvement over my original one with 150+ miles on it and almost 40 years, but it was not what I was expecting.

    In the course of doing some research, I ran across a rebuild article on the IZCC site:

    the Z Car Home Page

    It was contributed by John Downing and apparently those inner rack end bushings were available from Nissan at one point. If you read the article he purchased a "kit" that included these as well as some other critical components. Unfortunately I could locate them and they are NLA from Nissan now. Never the less, the article was very informative otherwise.

    I gave up on finding the end bushings and decided to replace as much else on my original rack as possible. Went through the exact same process as you outlined in your posts, but I also found that my inner tie rod ends did droop even when full tightened, so finding new ones was going to be critical.

    Well I did locate them, and although the design is a little different, they have proven to work really well so far. They are made by a company called Rare Parts and you can find the Z steering parts here:

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

    These are a completely sealed unit but fit perfectly on my rack. They only make one thread configuration so you have to make sure you get the correct outer tie rod ends, and I believe it is the one for the passenger side.

    In addition, I was able to locate the bushing / grease seal that is on the top of the pinion cover plate. If anyone needs the part number for that I'm sure I can dig it up.

    Also, I went and looked at some of the pictures I took and I did not have any sort of plugs in the end of the rack. They were just open holes.

    All of the gears and bearings looked good and so I cleaned everything up, re-greased everything and then re-greased it again, and installed it on the car. The new inners seemed to make a lot of difference and overall the steering was much more stable and responsive than the remanufactured one it replaced. So far very happy with the refurbish. Wish I could have found a new one, but in the absence of that, this was a very acceptable alternative.

    I've included a few pictures as well.

    Mike.

    Attachment 69921

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    Mike, Thanks much for adding to the info.

    So it seems there might be a source for inner tie rods after all? I'm planning to reuse mine, but maybe I should squirrel away a pair for the future. That's great detective work.

    I couldn't see your pic attachments though... Not sure what the problem is, but it's probably at my end. I'm going to post the last of my pics in a sec, and I sure hope you didn't just post the same shots!

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    Here's some pics of the pinion gear bearings. There are two of them, and on the later racks like mine, they are identical. I've done a little digging and I believe the earlier racks used just one roller bearing at the top, and a sleeve bearing down inside the rack housing. But I've got two roller bearings. Here's the top bearing which is pressed onto the pinion gear shaft:


    The bearings they used are intended to be side loaded, and because of the design, you can take them apart. Carefully pry off the grease seal, pop off the retaining ring, and the bearing falls apart. You don't HAVE to take it apart to clean it out, but you can do a more thorough job if you do. Here's the retaining ring popped out of it's groove:


    Take the bearing apart, clean the old grease out, put it back together, and add new grease:


    Here's the lower pinion bearing popped out of the housing. Note that this was not the easiest part of the job:


    But after seeing the grease in there, I'm glad I went through the effort:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikes Z car View Post
    I have wondered for years if there was a cheap alternative. What did you discover?
    I'll post more info in a day or two. I want to make sure they fit as well as they I think they will. I want to give it another day apart in case anyone wants any pics of stuff that I haven't taken already.

    I will tease you a little bit and tell you that I got a pair of them for $8.99 each, and they look perfect!

    So... Anyone want to see any other angles of the rack or it's parts before I put this thing back together?

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    Doesn't seem like my pictures showed up so I've posted them again here.

    Mike.

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    Mike, Awesome. Those are great shots. Couple of questions...

    You mentioned that you found the inner tie rod grease ports completely unplugged, right? Do you think it came from the factory that way, or is there a chance that a shop or previous owner lost something that was originally in those holes?

    Also, that article you mentioned talked about replacing and honing the bronze bushings at the ends of the rack housing. Did you replace yours as part of your rebuild, or did you just leave them alone?

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    Captain,

    I'm the original owner so I know this is the way it came from the factory. I do not have any record or recall any service to the rack that would have removed whatever might have been there.

    I wish I could have replaced those bronze bushings but I could not find them anywhere and did not want to go to the lengths of trying to find something that would fit. They looked pretty unique with the grease slot in the middle, so I didn't think they would be easy to find. All I did was clean everything out really well, re-greased it with good grease really well, and put it all back together.

    I have the large adjustment screw in pretty tight, but it operates very smoothly and I cannot feel any play.

    Mike.

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    Mike, That's great info for me about those grease holes left open. I checked the threads, and they're 1/4-28, so if I happen to be passing by a hardware store before the rack is done, I may stop in for a pair. But if not, it seems like leaving them open is a completely acceptable scheme as well. Excellent.

    Also confirms my belief that those hard rubber coated washers are indeed bump stops to limit steering travel. My turning radius, and marred bronze bushings thank you!

    About those bronze bushings... I bet they're not as uncommon as you might think, even including the lube slot. I've purchased similar stuff in the past for other unrelated applications. For research sake, I'll poke around a little and let you know what I find.

    The spec on the tension adjust nut is to drive it all the way in until the spring is completely bound and then back the adjustment screw off by 20-25 degrees. In other words... Pretty tight is perfect.

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    Great info especially about the tension on the adjust screw.

    Yes please keep me posted on what you find with the bronze bushings. My plan is to disassemble the remanufactured rack over time and re-build that one with at least new inner tie rod ends and so if I can get the bushings as well, that would be a plus.

    Mike.

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    Mike,

    Here's a snipped out of the FSM that talks about the adjustment of the rack tension nut. They changed the wording a couple times over the years, but this is the simplest, easiest to understand version that I could find. This is from 73:



    In later years (starting in 74) they started suggesting that you could shim the adjustment spring if necessary to get the correct pressure, but I don't think anyone is going to go to that level of detail.

    So tighten it all the way. Loosen it up 20-25 degrees. Lock it down. Have a beer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post

    I will tease you a little bit and tell you that I got a pair of them for $8.99 each, and they look perfect!
    I'll guess for an ATV?
    1972 240Z #918 New Sight Orange
    1977 280Z #305 Light Blue Metallic
    1972 240Z #110 Persimmons Red

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    Nope. It's from a car. A very popular import. From recent times as well!

    I'm having a hard time containing myself, so unless I get requests for additional pics of the rack disassembled, then I'll spill it later tonight.

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    Let me guess....from a 350Z?

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    I would have guessed Fiero because it's you but since it is an import I'll guess Subaru because some swap in Subie PS racks.
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    You know I was going to say subaru too but a friend of mine recently replaced his rack billows on his 350Z and they look close to the 280Z ones.

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    I got one word for you... Miata.

    Well, that and a big thanks to manufacturers who still put mechanical drawings in their catalogs!

    I took a couple measurements off the steering rack and off my old cracked boots and came up with the following:
    - Big end needs to be about 1.42 inches (36mm).
    - Small end needs to be about 0.47 inches (12mm).
    - Natural boot length (neither compressed or extended) needs to be about 6 inches long.

    Then I did some digging and turned up an Empi catalog in pdf that still has drawings in it and discovered that they had two product offerings that looked like they would fit. I cross referenced their part numbers and found they are used on the Miata. They had two numbers that looked like they would work OK. 88-1509 (used on non P/S Miatas), and 88-1527 (used on Miatas with P/S). From what I could tell, pretty much, the main difference between the two is that the one for P/S is a half inch longer.

    I bought the non P/S boots 88-1509. Here's the old with the new:


    Here's the big end:


    Here's the small end. The Empi boot small end is a little smaller than the original:


    I was a little worried about the small end being smaller than stock. Put a little tape on the tie rod end threads to smooth out the application. Put a little silicone grease on the tape:


    Push the boot into place. Small end first. Big end last. Take off the tape. Worked great!! Smaller end didn't cause a problem at all. In fact, it just means you don't need any clamp on the small end. it's tight enough without. Here it is fully collapsed:


    And here it is fully extended. Note that the big end clamp isn't even tight and it's not pulling off the big end, It snaps into the retaining groove just like the originals:


    WOOT!!

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    haha you gotta love it! Guess what I'm ordering tomorrow? Thanks Captain!

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    That's some great internet detective work. I wanted to see more pictures though, so I went to my favorite economy site, Rockauto.com, and the pictures didn't look like your EMPI part. So I plugged your EMPI numbers in to the Google and found an EBay link that suggests the car would be a 92-99 Nissan Sentra.

    Just helping get the most out of your work. Makes me want to go rebuild my rack now. I know I'll be checking the boots/bellows for damage next time I get a chance.

    Empi 48204 53Y25 Power Steering Rack Boot Kit Fits Nissan | eBay (check the interchange number in "item specifics")


    Edit - Maybe I'm just muddying up the thread but it looks like that 88-1509 bellows fits several cars. Found another EMPI catalog. Looks like 88-1527 does fit the Miatas. Probably best to just get the EMPI brand 88-1509 part rather than a boot that fits the car. Anyway, thanks for sharing! http://www.empius.com/bcatalog/PDFs/2013_B_Catalog.pdf
    Last edited by Zed Head; 02-27-2014 at 12:29 AM.
    1976 280Z, with some minor modifications

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    Yeah, it's not just you. The applications for where the boots get used is a little muddy.

    Remember... This is an aftermarket company that is trying to fit their boots anywhere they can. It might not be a perfect fit on the car, but someone in their application group told sales it would work. That's what got us into trouble at RockAuto in the first place with the boots where the big end is way too big. Someone said the generic fit would work, but they were wrong.

    Here's a snippet from the EMPI catalog with the three that I think would work:
    • The first is 88-1509 and I have verified through personal experience that it works great.
    • Second is 88-1527 and the dimensions look like it would work perfect as well. Slightly smaller large end and slightly longer natural length. Both of those should be OK though.
    • Third is the 88-1536, and the big end is slightly larger and so is the small end. Small end might require a clamp.



    I just wish other mfgrs included mechanical shots like that. They all used to, but very few do anymore. Now they all want you to go their website and enter the vehicle and (since they're all so much smarter than I am) they'll tell you what fits.

    So a big shout out to EMPI for still including info in their catalog that allows some independent thought.

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    One more thing... So why is it that nobody lists these EMPI boots as the correct replacement for the Z series? Probably because of the small end dimensions. I'm thinking that they just don't care about such a small market enough to look into it.

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    Very cool...great detective work.
    C

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    Capt, who did you buy them from? I assume you went through a local parts supplier?

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    Actually, I got mine from Amazon. They were $8.99 each and free shipping (because my wife has the "prime" something).

    However, that said... I've apparently created a run on these things because I went back to look at the page where I bought them, and they've run out of stock on the 88-1509.

    I didn't look local, but I would assume anyone who carries EMPI could get you any number they make. Actually, EMPI is in your neck of the woods, right? Maybe you could just stop in?

    On edit, here's one on ebay from JC Whitney.
    New Mevotech Steering Rack Boot Front Chevy Pontiac Fiero Chevette T1000 MK6299 | eBay

    They say the brand is movotech, but if you look at the pics, you can see the EMPI 88-1509 number molded into the rubber at the large end. They say it fits Fiero and Chevette, and the EMPI catalog agrees. Might be cheaper if you go to JCW direct instead of getting it from them off ebay.
    Last edited by Captain Obvious; 02-28-2014 at 08:21 PM.

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    Doing some more cross referencing, it appears it might also be the same as:

    Beck-Arnley P/N 103-2679:
    New Beck Arnley Rack Pinion Bellow Kit Gear Boot Cover 103 2679 | eBay

    MEVOTECH P/N MK6299:
    New Mevotech Steering Rack Boot Front Chevy Pontiac Fiero Chevette T1000 MK6299 | eBay

    ACDELCO Part # 45A7011

    All the above numbers are on Rock Auto as well. They don't seem to have the EMPI number, but they've got Beck-Arnley, Mevotech, and ACDelco.

    Remember however, that the farther you move away from the source, and the number of times you cross reference to competitor, the confidence in accuracy decreases.

    For about $15, you could buy any of those off RockAuto and confirm fitment though!

    Probably others, but that should get you started.
    Last edited by Captain Obvious; 02-28-2014 at 08:44 PM.

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    Haha! yes they are close...hour drive and in the same area as Motorsport Auto! I better just order online. Would be hard to not swing by MSA and then harder to not walk out with anything from MSA! I will probably call EMPI direct for a local supplier. Thanks for the info Capt.

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    My pleasure. Let us know what you find.

    I got my rack back on the car and it looks great. I don't have the rest of the suspension back together yet, but at least the rack part seems to have turned out well. Much better looking bushing fitment than I used to have!!

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    You put a new meaning to refurbing mine, I did about 60% of what you've done and just got some bellows of e-bay. But I'm slowly learning, I've got another one now to do. Thanks for the part number.
    1972 240Z #918 New Sight Orange
    1977 280Z #305 Light Blue Metallic
    1972 240Z #110 Persimmons Red

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    The most intricate part of the rack work was probably getting the lower pinion bearing out and back in. I used a "blind bearing puller" from HF. This tool uses an expanding mandrel that pushes outwards against the inner race and a slide hammer to knock the bearing up and out of the rack housing. And I used my hydraulic press to put that lower bearing back into place after cleaning and greasing. Other than that lower bearing, everything can be handled with traditional hand tools.

    What if you don't want to go through that much effort?

    You can grease the two bronze bushings at the ends of the rack housing by slathering the rack gear with grease and running it back and forth a bunch of times. You can grease the rack gear teeth (and hence the pinion gear teeth) by slathering the exposed rack teeth that poke out of the end when the steering is turned all the way to one side. The sliding faces of the tension shoe will also get grease by slathering the exposed rack gear.

    What you CAN'T do is get to the bearings on the pinion gear shaft without pulling the pinion out of the housing.

    So you can do a decent job of getting to maybe 75% of what needs grease without taking anything off the rack at all. In fact, that 75% can be done with the rack on the car without even disconnecting the tie rods. However, that last 25% requires pulling the pinion gear.

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    Thank you very much, TimsZ

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    My pleasure. The pics of your hardware in your thread are a little different than what I found in mine, but hope the info helps anyway!

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    Quote Originally Posted by siteunseen View Post
    just got some bellows of e-bay.
    siteunseen, did you get those bellows you talked about? Are they the same ones I bought, or one of the other alternatives?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post
    Here's some pics of the pinion gear bearings. There are two of them, and on the later racks like mine, they are identical. I've done a little digging and I believe the earlier racks used just one roller bearing at the top, and a sleeve bearing down inside the rack housing. But I've got two roller bearings. Here's the top bearing which is pressed onto the pinion gear shaft:


    The bearings they used are intended to be side loaded, and because of the design, you can take them apart. Carefully pry off the grease seal, pop off the retaining ring, and the bearing falls apart. You don't HAVE to take it apart to clean it out, but you can do a more thorough job if you do. Here's the retaining ring popped out of it's groove:


    Take the bearing apart, clean the old grease out, put it back together, and add new grease:


    Here's the lower pinion bearing popped out of the housing. Note that this was not the easiest part of the job:


    But after seeing the grease in there, I'm glad I went through the effort:
    how did you manage to get the lower pinion bearing out?

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    Quote Originally Posted by takayuki View Post
    how did you manage to get the lower pinion bearing out?
    I used a device called a "blind bearing puller" which is an expanding mandrel on the end of a slide hammer.

    You put the mandrel though the inner race of the bearing while it's down in the housing, expand it until it's tight, and then use the slide hammer to "knock" it up and out of the housing.

    Prices for such a tool are all over the map depending on quality. Here's a pic of one such device. This one is a little over $50 on Amazon:

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    ahh i see! Thanks for sharing!

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    What is the main difference between the left and right inner tie rod? Measurements the same only the thread is different RH vs LH?

    Outer tie rods the same except for RH vs LH threads as well?

    Are they regular thread going onto the rack?
    things will only bother you if you let them.

    82 280zxt 4 spd auto
    73 240z--lsd, cv axles
    short throw info

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    Both of the inner tie rods have right hand threads and can be assembled onto either end of the rack. And yes, the outer tie rod ends are the same except for the RH vs LH threads.

    You could use all the same parts on both ends and just make up for it when doing an alignment. Not sure why they went through all the trouble to have the two sides different in the first place. Seems like a lot of extra expense for no "real" benefit.

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    The guy with the reverse thread taps and dies company also had the patent on tie rods?

    Or he felt sorry for left handed people and wanted "neutral" steering. (groan)
    There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply.
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    thanks, only asking because one side is NLA. Both inner are the same on my '97 altima, was wondering why they couldn't be used the same way with z car inners as long as the outer tie rod went with the same inner.
    things will only bother you if you let them.

    82 280zxt 4 spd auto
    73 240z--lsd, cv axles
    short throw info

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    Yeah, I've heard the same as well about one side being NLA.

    I'm thinking that the guy who owned the left hand thread company had dirt on the suspension design guy at Nissan.

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