Steering rack centering bushing

Discussion in 'Workshop Forum' started by jovani, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. jovani

    jovani True Classic

    Location:
    scottsdale
    Many X1/9s loose their rack centering bushings on the passenger side (illustration, 5). The three tabs break and the bushing slides outwards off the steering housing. In almost all cases you can find it at the end of the rack inside the rubber boot intact (less the tabs). Pictured is my permanent solution. On the quick hand drawing in RED is shown a spring-wire clip which I bent in this specific shape and it clicks in the three slots originally meant for the tabs. So, pull boot's inner end outwards until you find the bushing, slide bushing back in place and install the wire clip. Boot slides easy over the clip. YES!!! 20180903_171943.jpg 20180903_170330.jpg
     
    ianlawson, Rodger, Ulix and 1 other person like this.
  2. ArtBasement

    ArtBasement Erwin Timmers

    Location:
    DC
    I like this idea, thanks!! I'm going to see if mine is still intact in the boot. A lot easier to slide it back in and clip it than removing rack and tie rods. I've already bought a replacement so if it doesn't work... I see the clip stops the bushing from moving outward; any chance it might bind between the rack and the housing when the rack is sliding in? From the drawing it looks like the inside of the housing tapers
     
  3. jovani

    jovani True Classic

    Location:
    scottsdale
    Good question, I hope the taper only stops bushing to slide inwards, but will not bind, so far so good on my car. The other option is to mimic the housing slots in the middle of the bushing with fine Dremell bit, so the clip holds it from movement in both directions, I did this repair in a hurry, found the problem when installing my new shock mounts and I had to come up with solution in the remaining 1 hour I had access to a borrowed shop space.
     
  4. fiatfactory

    fiatfactory Steve Cecchele

    Location:
    Western Australia
    The reason the three little tabs break off is due to the method of installation. To fit bush properly the rack shaft needs to be removed from the housing, or at least drawn back into the housing far enough so the bush can be inserted and the three tabs locked into place, then the rack shaft gets slid thru the bushing... with the pinion engaged into the rack teeth, the shaft won't go across far enough... trying to install the bush while the rack shaft is still there, will involve deforming the bush and tabs enough that they will break, as they deformation weakens and fractures the nylon.

    I've overhauled many dozens of racks in my 35 years as a mechanic, and never had one break the tabs and end up in the rack gaiter/boot...

    SteveC
     
    Dr.Jeff likes this.
  5. jovani

    jovani True Classic

    Location:
    scottsdale
    "...I've overhauled many dozens of racks in my 35 years as a mechanic, and never had one break the tabs and end up in the rack gaiter/boot..." Well, except on my FOUR x1/9s and hundreds more, which are assembled by the correctly described above procedure back in the factory, but here we are talking about on-spot repair, long lasting, cheap and easy.
     
  6. ArtBasement

    ArtBasement Erwin Timmers

    Location:
    DC
    Thanks Steve, for this insight. It makes inserting the bushing more involved than I thought it would be :-(
     
  7. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    I assume this is the same bushing that is available in aluminum from some vendors? Wonder how the installation of those compares?
     
    Brayden_connolly likes this.
  8. Fiataccompli

    Fiataccompli Chris Granju

    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    I have two of those in the queue to do. I will fully give the POs of these two Xs credit if anything were done wrong (on one of them, it would only be fitting considering what I’ve had to do so far, the other not so much). I believe I have one of the metal replacement bushings to install. My plan was to remove and at least partially disassemble the steering rack. There are usually a few possible approaches, so this is interesting to read.
     
  9. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    Chris, when that time comes it would be great if you can document it for the rest of us to learn from.
     
  10. Fiataccompli

    Fiataccompli Chris Granju

    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Ill document it. Whether it will be instructional for future travelers to follow or a cautionary tale of what not to do remains to be seen.
     
    Dr.Jeff likes this.
  11. Fiataccompli

    Fiataccompli Chris Granju

    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Turns out, I guess I got lucky. I installed one of MWB's aluminum bushings to replace the given-up OEM type that provided frightening free-range RF wheel alignment...

    The old & new..
    [​IMG]

    Thankfully, it was NOT terribly difficult to loosen the ball joint from the end of the rack using two large crescent wrenches & a foot....the new bushing slid in easily (had to carefully file some marring on the end of the rack from previous staking...

    [​IMG]

    and here it is installed. Notice it is maybe a mm proud of the housing, which I can't really compare to the factory installation since I have no experience with these. I used a drop of blue locktite on the threads of the small allen bolts that hold it in place (3x)...seemed like not a bad idea & for that small diameter, that's fair practice on some bicycle stuff I do since there can't be a lot of torque.

    [​IMG]

    I need to re-lube the rack & will install this evening. I did notice the rack has been hot in the past. This car is a 1985 Bertone & at best it is a 'rescue' (the kind of Fiat I love!) so I can only assume it's had a hard life from top to bottom...is it normal for there to be such blueing of the rack?

    [​IMG]

    Once i decide what to re-lube with, I'll put the rack back in (and then I can tackle the cobbled up radiator fan wiring & splayed nose that will make the early grill & spoiler hard to mount....fun!). The rack so far has been amazingly smooth to do. The 4 mounting bolts in the cabin are not hard to reach, column was typical and everything seemed to cooperate. The aluminum works housing was pretty caked with grease & had a nice baked-on layer that I cleaned...so it will go back in maybe not pretty, but at least less ugly. I figured I'd like to have a nice known starting point to be able to detect leaks or other problems I may not feel first. I really don't know how long it was being run with some degree of loose bushing on the right side or what impact that would have had.

    Hope this is helpful for someone. I know there's plenty of documentation on this stuff here, but I also know that some of the older threads I found had dead photo links, which is a bummer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
  12. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    Thank you, very helpful.
    That old bushing was completely shot. Guess I should look closer at mine (some day). I like that aluminum replacement. In the VW world they make the upgraded replacement rack bushing from delrin plastic; very durable yet very smooth sliding. And being a plastic, it has a slightly oversized OD that is pressed into the housing - so no need for further attachment anchors.

    I wonder if the bluing was from the original hardening process of the shaft? Or was it an obvious sign of overheating in use? Hard to imagine a steering rack getting that hot.

    There was some discussion in a prior thread about the type of lube used for the rack, but I don't recall exactly what it was. Hopefully you can find it with a search. I also recall mention of some seals that can be replaced on it. I wonder if that was the reason for all of the crud on the outside of yours? Did you notice any seals that could have been leaking? I'm not sure how easily they can be replaced, might have to completely disassemble the rack. Although if they were leaking and the unit went dry, that might explain some of the bluing. But I doubt it; just doesn't seem like it gets that much movement to get that hot - even if dry.

    Keep us informed of any new findings, and thanks for sharing the info.
     
  13. Fiataccompli

    Fiataccompli Chris Granju

    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    will do. it was all lubricated w/o smelling or looking burned inside & it looked like it was a white moly type grease that had been used. There was certainly nothing "actively" dripping/leaking, it just looked more like about 35 years of slight seeping (or, let's give it a break...say 30 years).
     
    Dr.Jeff likes this.
  14. Dr.Jeff

    Dr.Jeff True Classic

    Location:
    Sin City
    Just saw your other related post as well.
     
  15. MikeHynes

    MikeHynes True Classic

    Location:
    Goodfield, IL.
    That blueing is normal, your rack didn't get that hot in operation.
     
  16. Fiataccompli

    Fiataccompli Chris Granju

    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    thanks. that's nice to know!
     
  17. jovani

    jovani True Classic

    Location:
    scottsdale
    Fiataccompli, have you installed your new bushing the wrong way (the side with bolts closer to it inwards the rack) on purpose and what it might be, in case it is obvious why originally it is installed the other way around, sitting deeper in the housing? I started this thread and don't want people to get confused. Also what made you choose aluminium vs number of better suitable for this application plastics - derlyn, ABS and dozen other self lubricating high-impact and wear resistant ones? Just curious because I can't think of a good answer.
     
  18. 128kid

    128kid Courtney Waters

    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Chris, you do have the aluminum bushing in the wrong way. Flip it around so the short side with the screws faces outward and the bushing will be recessed in the rack housing. This provides room for the shoulder on the inner tie rod to clear when the rack is at full lock. The second photo in jovani's original post shows that pretty well. Possibly one of the reasons ears were breaking off plastic bushings is if someone put it in the wrong way and then the tie rod end smashed into the bushing. My experience aligns with Steve C. -- I have never seen that failure but it seems possible. All the ones I've replaced have simply disintegrated with age (ears are ok, but the bushing is in pieces) or broken up from high loads.

    You're right on with the loctite. The original instructions call for purple (low strength for small fasteners) but blue should be fine.
     
    Dr.Jeff and Fiataccompli like this.
  19. 128kid

    128kid Courtney Waters

    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    The aluminum is teflon hard anodized against wear. The original application was for a highly prepared autocross X1/9, so plastics were ruled out (a new OEM plastic bushing had been destroyed in short order). In addition, the screws (M3 x 0.5) would be pretty easy to strip in plastic. Your nice wire clip design would eliminate that problem but maybe not ideal on a racecar.
     
    Brayden_connolly and Dr.Jeff like this.
  20. Fiataccompli

    Fiataccompli Chris Granju

    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Holy hell, but THANK YOU guys for pointing this out. yes, the old one was (I think) reversed (obviously mounted by 'cheating' & cutting it, sliding it in) and generally chewed up & I didn't catch the orientation difference. Thankfully, life, little league, & a garage construction project have kept me from doing anything more than putting the end back on the rack, so it's an easy correction to make.

    I don't have any long-term (really any at all) experience with X1/9 racks/bushings (obviously, right?), so the selection of the aluminum bushing was based on 2 things...1. friends with long-term experience with these cars recommending this vs. the plastic (albeit, perhaps based on older replacements having been hacks) & 2. knowing that Matt doesn't sell crap products, so a bit of blind faith that it's a good product. Cost is probably another factor....so, the metal bushing is I guess 4x the cost of a plastic one & that's a huge difference...the time & hassle (not hard, but it does take time) to R/R the rack is the same either way, so I figured if I'm into X1/9 & 128 ownership for the long-haul, "investing" in a fancy bushing that could migrate to a different rack/car later didn't seem like a big deal. I guess even if I install stuff backwards, I tend to make product selections with a long-view in mind, if that makes sense (probably doesn't)
     
    Dr.Jeff likes this.

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