Replacing steering rack gaiters on an MGB / MGBGT

OK, so you've noticed some oil on the floor under the rack, or through your vigilant inspections you've noticed that a small split has appeared in the rubber. You don't need this, as water can get into the rack and they're VERY expensive to replace.

Jack up the car under the spring pan and set securely on stands.

Remove the wheel (leave the jack under the pan)

Slacken the trackrod end lock nut (7/8 AF), loosen the ball joint but leave it on the thread and separate the ball joint from the taper.(you may have to worry it a bit)

Remove the nut and unscrew the trackrod end, counting the number of turns (jot the number down somewhere, you're bound to forget it) and remove the lock nut.

Remove the old gaiter (the clips will be rusted, so cut them off (you did order new clips with the gaiters, didn't you?) With the gaiter removed a small amount of oil may run out of the rack, have a tray under at the ready. Replenish the rack with EP 90 oil after cleaning away any grit.

Fit the new gaiter and secure with those new clips.

Screw the trackrod and lock nut (you nearly forgot the lock nut didn't you?) back onto the rack, counting the number of turns that you noted earlier (you didn't write it on your hand, did you?) If you did and more than a week has passed and you've washed it off, you'll note that when you screwed the lock nut on, it became tighter after about 18 turns. This is a fair bet that that's where it was before you began this exercise.

Fit the ball joint in the steering arm and tighten the lock nut. If as invariably happens, the joint rotates, put some downward pressure on it until you can tighten the nut. Depending on what type of nut you have on the steering rod end, you will need to align a split pin hole and fit a new pin, or if you have a 'self locking /nylock nut' put a new one on. You did get a new one, didn't you?

Refit the wheel and lower the car to the ground (or the floor, whichever comes first.) The tracking will not be altered if you've followed these instructions. However, if you find you are going all round in right or left circles, a wheel alignment is required. (you probably needed it anyway) Oh, don't forget to wash your hands.

(from On The Marque - December 2001)


The above article in the July 2002 MaG was very informative for the beginner. However, a little more information could be of some help.

Before starting to undo the tie rod clamp nut, clean off all excess dirt etc, mark the rod, nut and rod end with a centre punch or file or something that can be seen after assembly.

Loosen the nut and then using a pair of polygrips or large pliers, turn the tie rod to unscrew it from the rod end. Usually the rod end taper is so tight in the steering arm that it can only be removed with the correct tools (unless you bash hell out of it which usually damages something).

After the rod is unscrewed you can measure the distance from the end of the rod as well as count the number of turns to take the nut off. The reason for marking the nut position is because one turn of the nut amounts to approximately 1/6” of toe-in measured at the rim. So if you are a half turn out in your refitting of the nut you will suffer undue tyre wear.

Before fitting the new boot, clean the rod, put the outer clamp on the boot, put the inner clamp on the rack end, put some grease on the ball joint and then fit the boot. At this time, it is also a good idea to take the top and bottom cover off the rack pinion housing and let all the old oil drain out. If there is water and dirt in there, then the pinion bearing will need replacing.

Take off the steering column shroud and take off the indicator switch before attempting to remove the pinion nut. The pinion can then be tapped down to push the bearing out of the housing, fit the new bearing and reassemble the bottom cover. Add 200mls of gear oil, fit the top damper and check for play in the rack by grabbing it next to the housing and see if there is any play. If there is, then remove shims to reduce clearance. Check by turning the steering wheel slowly to feel any stiffness. Most racks are now a bit worn in the middle, so play cannot be entirely removed.

Garth Bagnall

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