Tuesday, 28 February 2012

February 18th to present! Steering issues!

Before I start on my novel on my power steering issues, I will cover the oil leak issue as mentioned in my last post. I discovered the oil leak the same afternoon I collected my newly rebuilt engine from Benfleet. It was quite a large oil leak and I was lucky to make it home before the engine dried up and siezed.
On the A130 from Saddlers farm near Benfleet, there's a fair bit of roadworks in progress. On the way home that day, I was following a tipper lorry when a piece of debris bounced out of his back wheels and up off of the tarmac and towards the front of my car. I managed to brake enough for it to have lost a lot of its 'bounce' and it went underneath me hitting what I thought was either a floor pan or suspension part. However, said piece of debris was sharp enough, and hard enough to puncture the bloody oil filter and nearly empty my engine of Valvoline 20/50!  On  further inspection, the oil filter had a huge dent in it and had been neatly holed. At least the nearside underneath of my car will never go rusty now! And it enforced an oil and filter change earlier than I'd planned.

Now to my saga with the steering. Are you sitting comfortably?........ 

With the impending MOT on my Mk2 estate, I decided to investigate the small amount of play in the steering that had been listed as an advisory for the past two years. It wasn't that bad, but I didn't think I'd get away with it three years running.
I've had a spare untried and untested rack that's been in my possession since 2008, so the plan was to remove my one and put it in for refurbishment and fit the spare one so that I could still use the car.
I hate doing steering racks at the best of times and power steering with its messy, slippery fluid is even worse. I never seem to remove them without depositing a large quantity of fluid all over the floor!
Anyhoo, the rack was removed without too much fuss and the spare rack was fitted. 
  However, all was not well with the replacement rack. The power assistance would do nothing of the sort and I was left with a power rack, but manual steering. No amount of bleeding or flushing would cure the problem and so sulking, I gave up and left it alone. 
My original rack was left with a specialist on the Monday morning with a polite request to mark it as urgent. My 'urgent' request was rewarded with a completion day of Thursday, only to be told when I rang on Thursday that it now wouldn't be ready until the following Tuesday! If they'd have told me that in the first place, I'd have taken it somewhere else!
So, Thursday night I decided to remove the spare rack again and strip it down for another inspection. All of the pipes were removed for a flushing out and also blasted out with the airline. I also took the input shaft out to see if there were any issues there, but nothing seemed untoward (Other than a missing gasket) to my untrained eye. (Or did it? Read on!)
Friday night I was otherwise engaged, so Saturday morning I put the rack back together and refitted it to the car. Was it cured???? Was it bugger!!!  Admitting defeat I decided not to waste anymore man hours on it and wait until the original rack was finished and returned.
Seeing as it was a bright sunny day, I kept myself occupied by giving the car a wash, t-cut and polish. (Although you can't really tell from the pic below-but I did! Honest!)  

Whilst having a cup of tea in the early evening, that bloody steering issue was still bugging me. (Funny how things can turn into an obsession isn't it?) I'd managed to convince myself that the issue was in the input shaft area. So, seeing as there is no engine or gearbox in the yellow car at present, I figured I should be able to remove the input shaft and assembly from it without removing the rack. Then I could have a look at this one and compare it to the one now in the estate. I decided to do just that and once I'd removed the input shaft from the housing I could see where the issue was. The input shaft in the replacement rack on the estate was 180 degrees out, so the fluid wasn't circulating round the rack as it should. I had wrongly assumed that it was in the correct position when I removed it, and so therefore put it back together the same way. Now it dawned on me why I had been given it for nothing all those years ago! The bloody swine! It obviously didn't work then either!
With renewed enthusiasm I once again removed the rack from the estate, stripped it down again and rebuilt it again, this time with the input shaft in the correct position. At 9pm, I decided to call it a day and refit the rack (again!) Sunday morning.
By 11am Sunday morning, everything was all back together again and it was time to fill up with fluid,  and test. was it successful...................(drum roll required here!) It was! I finally had power steering!   
After all this messing about and aggravation I was hoping that the rack would be good enough to be able to stay in the car and I could keep the refurbished one as a spare when I got it back. However, I never seem to be that blessed. Without being able to explain it precisely, it still doesn't feel quite right and it also has a small leak from one of the seals. (Which is also an MOT fail) 
So as it stands at the moment, I'm collecting my refurbed rack tomorrow and so tonight was spent removing the rack yet again in readiness for refitting of the refurb tomorrow night.
Incidentally, the company refurbishing the rack told me that if I take the car into them, they can change it for me for £100 on top of the refurbishment cost. My answer?.............'No thanks, I can do one of these now in 55 minutes. I've done it four times in two weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!' :-)  

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