BX steering pinion seals replacement.

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alan s
RIP 2010
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Joined: 26 Jan 2001, 16:53
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BX steering pinion seals replacement.

Post by alan s » 13 Jun 2004, 14:31

After putting up with the green drips on the driveway whenever the car was parked long enough to allow the suspension to settle, it was decided when the clutch cable carked it that now was as good a time as any to fit the seal kit to the steering pinion.
An examination showed that the problem extended further than the seals too with the steering coupling (Hardydisc) also showing signs of degradation in the form of cracks that extended over halfway across diagonally. This coupling of course is the bit that keeps the bit you hang onto (the steering wheel) connected to the steering pinion and hence the road wheels (the bit that sits on the road and tells the car which way to go.)
The coupling problem was caused by what we suspect was also the cause of the LHM leak being at times intermittent; the missing heat shield above the coupling that separates the heat from the downpipe from the actual lower part of the steering column.
To gain proper access, it was decided to totally remove the entire exhaust system.
The cheesehead bolts holding the pinion assembly in have 6mm allen headed bolts and are a bit awkward to access. Once out, the shaft with the pinion and it’s bearing just slide out of the housing; some may require a bit of a tap with a plastic headed mallet but usually not all that tight as there’s no reason for them to be.
It was discovered that this had been out previously, possibly by the gentleman in Sydney who also felt heat-shields were for sissies and so didn’t bother refitting mine. He also thought that as long as the guts of the seal assembly was back inside, it would be out of his warranty before he needed to explain how the “O” ring was demolished getting fitted back into it’s work area. Refer to pic in “photos”
To remove the existing “O” rings could be as easy as simply running a knife or screwdriver under them, breaking and then discarding, but what if………I break a new one on installation and also if I do use brute force do I stand a chance of creating a burr that may also damage the new rings or the working area for them?
Rather than taking that risk, I found an old packet that something had been packed in that was covered in that approx .5mm clear flexible plastic or polypropylene or whatever it’s called.. I cut a strip about 60mm long by around 35mm wide. I wrapped this around the outside of the area that the “O” rings sit and fitted an <35mm jubilee clip to hold it in position. Using a small thin flat bladed screwdriver, I firstly pinched the furthermost “O” ring between thumb & forefinger which allowed it to just slightly lift from its groove enough to slip the screwdriver under it & lift a part of it onto the plastic sleeve. Getting the thumbnail under it allowed the rest to be slid onto the plastic at which point the entire sleeve is slid back off the pinion shaft and the “O” ring removed without damage or distortion. Repeat for the other two and that’s the removal sorted.
Comes time to fit the new ones – ooooeee; isn’t this going to be a fun job!!
Well it could be if you’re not careful. The point with this is that the “O” rings used aren’t like a standard “O” ring. They’re made of a hard type of material that gives the impression it’s a bit on the brittle side, almost like it’s got carbon in it and which could be hard inside but coated with rubber externally. I came to this conclusion after inspecting the one the Gorilla in Sydney had jammed into the housing, tearing the outer skin off in the process.
When you refer to the Japanese site, Yohsuhke and the guys in Japan, wrapped the rings in Cellotape or clear sticky tape normally used to wrap Christmas parcels before clamping. I had reservations about this as I reckoned it could be a problem in its own right due to the potential of leaving a sticky residue which in turn could cause the “O” rings to roll when being fitted and repeat the dose of what had caused my problems. I went back to the piece of plastic I’d used to remove the old rings and rolled it this time into a funnel shape. I sprayed the outside of it with silicone spray and holding it as tightly as possible over the section where the rings have to go, slipped each one on to the funneled plastic and slid them along until I had them over the centre part. I then slid the plastic to the edge of the groove they had to fit into & slid them off the end and straight into the groove they were intended to go. Even after doing this, these rings were still a sloppy fit but I had left the pinion assembly out in the sun so everything including the rings was warm. I then cut another piece of the plastic sheeting about 80mm X 40mm and after spraying one side of it with silicone spray, wrapped it around the pinion shaft and over the “O” rings. I then fitted 2 jubilee clips of the < 35mm size; one over the end “O” ring and the other over the two top combined (one clip will cover both) and carefully lightly tightened it. I then rotated the plastic over the three rings making sure nothing was trapped. Once sure, I tightened it slightly more but so that it the plastic could still be turned on the shaft. I then placed the lot in the freezer for an hour. Removed, checked and rotated and then tightened a bit more, repeating the dose throughout the afternoon. Personally, I feel I could have refitted it within the hour but I decided to play it safe. By the end, it was obvious that the new rings were well and truly shrunk back to the size they originally were as the basic law of physics had taken over with the clamps contracting as the got colder and letting nature take its course to resize them.
Refitting to its housing now becomes a matter of using silicone grease on the rings and around the face of the housing to allow a smoother fit.
It is best if the circlip is removed above the bearing and the bearing pulled off the shaft. This can be done either at the commencement of the job or prior to trying to refit. When it comes time to fit those hard and tight "O" rings into the cylinder, it then means that they can be seen right up to getting into the cylinder whereas if done with the bearing in place, it means that the seal either has to be fitted over the "O" rings or prior to commencement of the job. It also means that only the first of the "O" rings is visible by the time the seal reaches it's upper retaining lip. The bearing itself is only sealed on one side to be sure to refit it te same way; sealed side towards the pinion gear whilst the shaft seal fits below it facing into the cylinder area.
Other traps to watch with this job are that the steering is left unlocked whilst sliding the column up & down and in particular take note of the grooves the “O” rings come out of as I understand the LHD and RHD are different. On the Japanese site they make mention of this but unless the car they were doing the job on was a LHD, they got it wrong as one was in a different groove to mine. To double check, inspect the insides of the cylinder and a shiny section will show where each "O" ring was located. Use that as a guide to correct placement when reassembling.
Alan S