|The steering rack on the Esprit is
definitely a weak, delicate link. (No pun intended). You can tell that
it's starting to go when you notice excessive play in the steering wheel
or when the car is constantly changing direction every time it hits even
the smallest pebble on the road. In order to minimize its wear, do not
attempt to move the steering wheel while the car is stationary as this
puts too much strain on the rack. Those of you with S4 or newer Esprits
with power assisted steering can ignore this statement.
Also on this topic, Mark Pfeffer wrote:
"I once read a Remarque (Lotus Owners Group
newsletter) article about Esprit steering racks and how the bearings
go to mush from moisture and lack of grease. As noted on my recent
post I had questions about the working parts."
"Today, I opened the steering box up from both the
lower and side cover plates. Low and behold as the Remarque article
noted, moisture in the bearings. Thank God I caught it early and was
able to put in some new synthetic grease. The bearings were fine after
a cleaning, but there was a distinct presence of moisture. The next
step was to "waterproof"(??) the box housing the gears. I used some of
the liquid blue gasket compound available at any parts store,
replacing one of the shim plates with a thin (VERY THIN) layer of the
magical blue goo. Don't know what the long term ramifications will be,
but the steering has the same solid feel as before (e.g.: no play), it
actually turns a little easier, and hopefully a lot more resistance to
water infiltration in the steering box."
"I think this little bit of preventive maintenance
shall be added to the annual "to do" list. Checking the lower (larger)
plate is VERY easy and the time spent can save some tremendous
headache (replacing a steering rack) and that all important $$ for
other necessary projects on our beloved Lotii."
... to which Tim Engel added:
"JAE now offers a rebuild kit for the Esprit S1/ S2
rack-n-pinion. However, they are now out of stock. Jeff is trying to
get some in now."
"If the two access plates you mentioned, the one on
the forward face of the housing provides access to a spring loaded
slipper foot... sliding block guide... that presses the rack against
the pinion in order to maintain a zero backlash condition. There are
shims under the cover that produce the correct pressure setting. If
the rack has developed some slop, removing one or more shims will
allow the cover to move in more when the bolts are tightened and press
the rack closer to the pinion."
"Similarly, the access plate on the bottom of the
housing provides access to the pinion shaft bearings. If the pinion
shaft bearings have developed too much end float, removing one or more
shims will tighten the preload on the bearings."
"Re-shimming will only accommodate so much slop, and
it's time to rebuild the rack. The kit contains the pushing for the
end of the rack opposite the pinion housing (passenger side), pinion
shaft bearings, rack slipper foot and inner tie-rod rebuild parts. "
"If the rack is tight with minimal free play, there
is no reason to mess with it... so don't."
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