A labour of love

Steering column and rack fitting

Steering column and rack fitting

Now that I have working front and rear axles fitted again, and the realistic possibility of putting some wheels back on the car, the logical next job seemed to be to refit the steering to help me move the rolling shell around as needed.

My original steering column was in perfectly serviceable condition, and could have gone straight back on, but now that I’m so far down the rabbit hole of making everything look factory fresh, I obviously had to clean it up a bit first.

I started by getting it onto the bench and stripping it down, all easy enough with the exception of the ignition barrel, which is held to the column by headless security bolts. I had long suspected the existing barrel to have been a potential contributing factor to the intermittent ignition problems that had originally made me take the car off the road, and planned to change it anyway, so the angle grinder made pretty quick work of the security bolts!

And here it is again below, all cleaned up and repainted. Also in the picture is the brand new Lucas ignition barrel. Since I will later be fitting a complete new wiring harness made to factory GT V8 spec, I ordered the V8 specific ignition barrel, which has different wiring connections to the 4-cyl version for some reason.

Here is a detail pic of the new barrel once fitted to the column. As supplied, the mounting bolts have regular hex heads, which, once fully tightened should be cut off to prevent the barrel being tampered with. I didn’t actually bother to do so, such a rudimentary security feature is barely going to slow down any determined modern car thief, so it didn’t seem worth inconveniencing my future self in the event I ever need to remove it again.

And below, the refreshed column has been mounted back into the cockpit.

Moving onto the steering rack, I had picked up a standard exchange refurbished rack from Rimmer Brothers, which is a relatively inexpensive option, and comes ready to fit with new boots etc. I also fitted a new pair of track rod ends of course.

Fitting the rack to the car proved a lot more difficult than on previous occasions, mostly due to the change in geometry caused by the castor correction wedges I mentioned in my previous post on fitting the crossmember. The wedges come supplied with a stack of washers that you need to use as shims on the steering rack mounting bolts to achieve the correct mounting angle that allows the rack to operate smoothly, and without the pinion shaft fouling the engine mounting bracket that it passes through. It took a fair bit of trial and error to get the operation to a satisfactory point, and I wonder if I might need to come back to it again in future once I’ve experienced how the car actually drives.

So now I have a rolling and steerable shell, which feels like a good step forward. I already worry that I’ve made things difficult for myself with the engine fitting though. I optimistically pre-fitted the rubber engine mounts to the shell before I put the rack in, as I know how hard it is to do the nut on the back of the offside mount up once the rack is in place, but I also suspect it’s going to be very hard to get to the bolts securing the engine to the rubber mounts once the V8 is in place. I will find out soon enough – if it proves too difficult I’ll just have to take the rack out again temporarily and do it the other way round (and remember how many shims I placed on each bolt!).

Leave a Reply