Classic Le Mans - Car Prep (3)

As promised, Andy sent out a new steering column last week which SH Autos swapped for the original one. With the old column out of the car it was easy to see just how bad it was. The run out on the spindle was horrific, the bearing shot and generally beyond repair. If only we had checked this more thoroughly first time around. Note to other builders: Double check every component before final fit.

Anyway, the new column was fitted and the car put onto the 4 Wheel Laser Alignment ramp. With updated settings from GD (the old ones suggested positive rear camber not negative!) the car was set up as advised.

Unfortunately the weather wasn't great so I was unable to get out and properly road test the new set up until a couple of days ago. The result I have to say is outstanding - this car does actually steer and handle like a modern car now (apart from at very slow speeds due to the lack of power assistance).

Most of the other little jobs that needed doing before the Le Mans trip have now been completed too and were hoping to be blessed with good weather.

Classic Le Mans 2014 - Vehicle Prep (2)

Along with the steering issues, the list of jobs needing to be sorted before the Le Mans trip are:-
  • Bell housing cover to be refitted
  • Change oil & filter
  • Fit mesh to oil cooler and brake ducts
  • Fit document holder and and fire extinguisher to transmission tunnel 
  • Investigate knocking behind dash
  • Make and fit side screens
  • Sort problem with gauges giving high readings 
Given time available, I had to call on Adrian at SH Autos to give me a hand with these items as well as the steering.

As at today the side screens have been made and fitted, the oil and filter has been changed and the bell housing cover re-fitted.

As the Le Mans trip is a classic/historic event, I thought it would be nice to 'dress' the car in period race livery. With some help from my Marketing Manager (who is a complete whiz on Photoshop) we have come up with the  following concept.

Classic Le Mans 2014 - Vehicle Prep (1)

Having gone to Classic Le Mans in 2012 and then the 24 hour race in 2013, I was keen to head back to CLM this year with the Cobra.

Since the car went back to the factory to have the suspension set up, I covered a further 1000 miles or so and I still wasn't happy with the handling and more specifically the steering. The steering is very heavy and the wheel doesn't return to centre after cornering which is quite concerning.

There are a number of other little jobs that need finishing off before heading down to France, so I took the car to my local garage, SH Autos in Bromsgrove and let Adrian, the owner of the business, take a look as he had previously helped out when I was having build issues.

After a few days in the workshop, the fault, or rather the series of faults, have been identified. Firstly, the pinion gear on the rack hasn't been made particularly well and it is quite notchy. We took the rack over to Kiley Clinton who confirmed this but they did say it shouldn't affect the steering as much as it does.

The next thing that was identified as a weakness was the UJ's in the two part linkage between the column and the rack. These were adjusted and lubricated but will probably be replaced with a better quality replacement.

With the rack back in and the car up on ramps it was clear that at every revolution of the steering wheel the rack showed huge resistance. Further investigation pointed to the centre bearing that support the connecting linkage. With this loosened off the rack would operate freely. The dilemma this presented that the linkage and centre bush needs to be tight but this stops the steering operating correctly. Further investigation revealed what we assume to be the route cause of the problem however.

The steering column is a modified Vauxhall Vectra column. Where the spindle comes out of the column it isn't running true and this causes the resistance through the centre bearing.

Just spoke to Andy and he is sending a new column out overnight so hopefully this will rectify the problem.