replacing rack and pinion assembly, short cuts? | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

replacing rack and pinion assembly, short cuts?

Discussion in '2nd Gen 1991-1996 1.9L SOHC' started by jmczzz, Dec 20, 2015.

  1. jmczzz

    jmczzz FEOA Donator

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    I had to bite the bullet and order a parts geek cardone re manufactured rack and pinion assembly ($220. $50. core) for my 92 gen 2 pony. It is manual steering 1.9 5 speed. I have searched the forums and read what I found, I have a shop manual but know guys that have done this job have discovered short cuts. So please share with you know so I can get it done right and easiest. I alsp need at least one new outer tie rod end so will just replace both. Any tricks with that?
    thank you, James
  2. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    If you have the old rack and pinion assembly out of the car, lay it alongside the new one, and do your best to get the distance between the tapers on the outer tie rod ends on the new one to be the same distance apart as on the old one.
    I dont know of any shortcuts, just having the car raised and supported to you can work underneath. I jack it up and put stacks of heavy lumber under the places where the control arm bolts to the subframe, and I try to get those locations up at least 12", if not 15" or more.
    I would try ahead of time to loosen up the 4 nuts holding the clamps for the rubber bushings. They can be rusted and stiff on the studs; so soaking with penetrating oil will help. If the nuts arent too badly rusted, a 14mm deep socket is what should remove them If they are badly rusted, it might require heating with an oxy-acteylene torch; having some metal scraps to for heat shields so you The nuts on a 94LX I worked on were so rusty that I was able to drive a 13mm socket onto one of them. All these sockets should be the 6 point kind, not the 12 point kind.
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  3. jmczzz

    jmczzz FEOA Donator

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    ok i think i know what you mean. I just ordered the new one last Thursday so I haven't done anything yet. I will get the car in the garage tom and get started removing the old one.
    Thanks a lot for the advice. I'll keep this thread updated as I proceed.
    thanks again, James
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
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  4. Egnorant

    Egnorant FEOA Member

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    I cheated on mine! I bought a 3rd gen crossmember from a junkyard and bought a set of poly bushings. Built it on the bench with lower control arms, new ball joints, tie rod ends, poly bushings, 3rd gen sway bar. Pray your rack bushings are O.K. because I have never found proper replacements.

    Once I got it together I lifted the front up, removed tires, popped loose the ball joints and sway bar links, Hint, remove the tie rod ends before the ball joints. Go under the dash and loosen the bolt on the steering column and be careful with the rubber grommet thing. Back underneath, remove that front to rear support, then 4 or 6 big bolts drops the crossmember onto the floor jack I had the forethought to slip under it.

    Crossmember falls out and yank it out! Slide the new one in and reverse the process to install. Getting the shaft back on the steering column may require a few pumps on the jack and ducking under the dash several times but its just a thing!

    Did Loc-Tite and rechecked that everything was tight. I somehow failed to tighten the ball joint bolts to the A arm and I had to put up with a clunk.

    Wish I had a plan for not removing the crossmember as I think the rack bolts may be a bit difficult.

    Bruce

    P.S. The 3rd gen sway bar is my favorite upgrade!
  5. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    Post pics of your mnual rack bushings. I am curious as to how they are different from the ones for the power steering rack. Also, what was wrong with your existing rack?
  6. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    I have the sedan model with power steering. It's a bit of a twist and turn puzzle, but was able to slide it in/out via the driver side wheel well. Didn't have to disassemble a bumch of crap like the manual states.
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  7. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    I believe that's been said before here, but I'm still glad somebody specifically stated that here as well.
  8. twisted95

    twisted95 FEOA Donator

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    i have manul rack with the power rack es bushing
  9. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    Ideally the new parts will have the same distance from end to end (or side to side) as the old unit.
    I would get a piece of small dimension wood like a piece of lath or 1 x 2 and drive in a couple small nails to duplicate the spacing of the center of the outer tie rod end joints and use this to duplicate the dimension onto the new assembly.
    Just get the nails approximately in the right place, and then bend them one way or the other until they line up as close as you can estimate with the center of the back of the joint. It might save the expense of an alignment.
  10. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    Are you saying that the replacement bushings are the same for manual and power steering racks (or close enough)?
  11. twisted95

    twisted95 FEOA Donator

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    i used the es bushing on the manual rack thats been almost 3 years ago on one ride of the rack u cant use the es bushing i get pics of it when i get off work
  12. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    OK, so are you saying that only on one side will the power steering bushings work on the manual rack?
  13. twisted95

    twisted95 FEOA Donator

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    I used the manual rack from O'Reilly auto parts the Energy Suspension bushing did not fit on the one side came with bushing already on the rack when I get back in my garage I will post few pics of it
  14. jmczzz

    jmczzz FEOA Donator

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    you guys got way ahead of me cause i slipped and tore a muscle working on my boat and had to get it sewn up so couldn't get started till now. I got the remanufactured rack and pinion from parts geek, they give 90 days to get it back for the 50 deposit.
    I got the tie rods loose but even after days of shooting it with blaster I could not turn the socket head screw inside the car coupler steering shaft to pinion. any advice with that. I am using a torax I think is the right size but it is hard to hold in the shallow zcrew head so I stop before I really f...ed it up.
    The other problem i see is getting to the brackets holding the rack. looks like I may have to remove the front to back cross member and disconnect the shift linkage.
    any ideas here on those....
    need some help please my old a$$ did not get very far...
    jmc
  15. jmczzz

    jmczzz FEOA Donator

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    help help help see above
  16. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I recently did that same miserable job on my 94LX with power steering.
    The size for that splined head pinch-bolt is probably a Torx-45. There is a Torx-47 size, which surprised me, as the others in the set go up by even "5's". But I couldnt get the Torx-47 to slide into the splines on the pinch bolt. I did get the Torx 45 to go in, fully seated, holding it in with about a 12" or 15" 3/8" extension on it. Holding it fully seated is important. I used a prybar (big screwdriver) to help the Torx bit be able to line up with the spline 'socket'.
    I had trouble turning the 3/8 drive ratchet to unscrew it, even with a length of pipe slid over the ratchet: So brought out my 1/2" drive air impact wrench, with an adapter down to the 3/8" drive, and had an extension on that so I could be pushing strongly inward. To my surprise the air impact didnt loosen it in half a second, like I am used to with lug nuts. That bolt was stiff and made about two complete slow turns with the impact wrench rattling away. (air pressure was 12opsi). Finally it began to spin the bolt out fast. They must have used the mother-of-all-thread-lockers on that bolt. When I put it back in I also used the impact wrench, to make sure I got it tight enough - so the joint between the stub shaft and the collar would have no play in it.
    Before I disconnected the u-joint from the stub shaft, I made sure to turn the steering wheel so the ends of the tie rods & the bellows were equalized left-to-right. With the rack disconnected from the steering wheel, I made sure not to turn the wheel much. I didnt want to have it be 'off' by 360 degrees from 'centered'. This was in the interests of not having the "clock-spring" be out of its 'mid-way' travel.

    With each of my Escorts one of the first jobs I do after buying them is to free up the fasteners holding that front-to-rear crossmember in place. Depending on the amount of rust the vehicle had, the job can be easy enough - or a really serious headache. With my 92LX for instance I had to re-attach the two captive nuts invisible inside the transverse crossmember after they broke loose. I have an oxy-acetylene torch, and the work soaked up most of a summer weekend, cutting open, heating the nuts, brazing them back in place, and using a tap and die to clean up the threads on the fasteners - then welding the transvers cross member back shut and with a small flitch plate for strength.

    Anyway, due to my efforts years ago on that crossmember on this car, it wasnt hard to unbolt and drop down. (With the crossmember out of the way I took the opportunity to change the transmision filter and gasket.)
    With the power steering rack there are the two hydraulic fittings to undo. Luckily these werent overtightened and came out with a little tedious working in the cramped space.
    The rack assembly came out of the car horizontally to the driver's side. I had pried off a plastic goody that I think is a splash guard that loosely fits above the bellows on the driver's side; it would have been in the way. This was after I had removed the battery and the battery tray.
    I had to rotate the rack so the pinion was facing forward at about a 45 degree angle to the horizontal, and give the while assembly a good nudge to get it come out. These things seem heavier when you are lying under them getting grit in the face.

    The new replacement went back in went fairly well. I installed the support clamp on the driver's side, - but minus the rubber bushing - until I had gotten the coupling of the U-joint back onto the stub-shaft of the pinion, and had the pinch bolt inserted to keep it from falling apart. Then I installed the bushings and the supporting brackets.
    I think I only had to crawl under the car and back out again to stand up - about 50 times. I work outside and use large sheets of cardboard so Im not sliding around on the weeds and having the fire ants get to me.

    My alignment method, after adjusting by eyeball, is to run a length of cord or twine, tied to the trunk latch, and brought under the rear bumper and to the side - so it comes forward touching the sidewalls halfway up the tire, on front and rear tires. With the steering wheel pointed straight ahead, I adjust the "toe-in" by turning the tie rod, until both sidewalls of both of the tires are just touching the twine. Doing this on each side in succession takes a while, but has always left me with excellent. treadwear; and a centered steering wheel.
    The last stage is tightening the locknuts on the outer tie rod ends.
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  17. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    Wow the captive nut headache sounds like a real nuisance. Luckily my one Escort and Protege sister car gave no trouble with the crossmembers.

    If I could add one extra tip for the preventive maintenance bolt loosening, it would be to have an oil can handy and oil every bolt before it goes back together. I have been doing this for years and it's a real work-saver.

    I also very much like your toe-in adjustment technique, it seems like it should be as good as any "professional" way.
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  18. jmczzz

    jmczzz FEOA Donator

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    thanks for this step by step. I'll have to get my compressor in place to reach the car I didn't know that pinch bolt was gonna be such a hassle. Is it possible to unfasten the coupling just up from that and get the pinch bolt coupling out with the pinion / rack assembly to work on a vice? I may have already messed up that mother of all pinch bolts. i'll try a thorax 45 and air hammer pry bar routine today.
    thanks James
  19. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    If you dont remove the coupling which that the pinch bolt secures, I cant see how it would come out of the car by going horizontally out to the driver's side; nor the passenger side. In that case it -might- be able to come out after being moved toward the passengers side far enough to drop down below the big lump of the back of the transaxle. Maybe with the inner tie rod end unscrewed from the driver's side. ?? The opening where the rack has to pass when it comes out horizontally is just barely big enough for the pinion part of the rack to fit; and the sides of that opening are the body and the subframe.

    About 3 years ago I replaced the rack assembly on our 92LX, also due to some left-right looseness found by the safety inspector. For that pinch bolt I had taken the driver's seat out (four bolts and the electrical connector for the seat belt reminder). It is a 4 door wagon so I could put a length of plywood down, then from the open rear door, could lie down on it, and be able to reach the pinch bolt without twisting my old spine. At that time I didnt own an impact wrench, so just used the ratchet with pipe slid over it, and a wood block to support the end of the ratchet and extensions - and still be able to push inward on the Torx 45. I remember it being a slow process.

    Strange to say, I dont recall that pinch bolt being hard to reach in the case of the 92LX, but with the 94LX I wasnt confident I could get the Torx head all the way into the pinchbolt recess, as it rubbed against that plastic 'surround'.

    Jersey_Twowagons: I also lube every bolt/nut before reinstalling, using either oil or grease or antiseize on them. I fixed up a 94LX wagon for my older daughter last summer. It had many rusted bolts/nuts on its front end, and I spent day after days soaking them with penetrating oil and trying to get them out without snapping off - then lubing them before putting them back. Some of them I had to heat with the oxy-acetylene torch to get loose. A few I had to drill out then clean up the threads with a tap. I just dont like to leave ANY bolts or nut rusted in place if I can help it; especially when the engine/trans is out of the car and I can work by sitting in the engine bay on a 5 gallon bucket. This also applies to flare nuts for brake lines and hoses.
    With aluminum parts - It has been decades since I put a bolt back into an aluminum engine head or block or transmission without using some sort of grease or antiseize on the threads.

    Im retired, so I have the time, and benefit from the exercise.
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  20. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    Can you make a How-To with pictures on this, please!

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