Saturday, July 21, 2012

Honda CRX steering rack Replacement

I had the chance to change the steering rack on my friends crx last weekend. His old one was loose and making a lot of clunking noises. It was a pretty easy job and it sounds like it's a pretty common problem so I figured I would post it here. you'll need a a bunch of metric sockets with some extensions and some side cutters to remove the cotter pins in the outer tie rods. 

First of all, jack the car up off the ground, enough so you can crawl under it. After you have it up in the air, take off the wheels.

Here is the parts I had to put on. There is a new steering rack, and both left and right outer tie rods. You will not need to buy inner tie rods because they come with the new rack. My buddy got the rack from I was very impressed with the quality of the parts and would recommend buying from them. The prices are almost too good to believe and they are great to work with. If you have a few days to wait to get your parts because they are all shipped, this is a good place to go. 
Now cram down into the drivers side foot well, pull up the carpet and you'll see a plastic cover. Remove the little plastic cover (which has (3) 10mm plastic nuts) and then pull off the cover. Here you can see the steering coupling. If you have a buddy to help guide the new rack up into the coupling you can just remove the lower bolt from the coupling that goes to the rack. I didn't have a buddy so I removed both bolts and slid the coupling up the steering column so I would have enough play to get the steering wheel set up.
 Now jump under the car and remove the cotter pins and loosen the castle nuts on the outer tie rod ends. 

If you don't have a rivet gun now is the time to whack them with a hammer and they will pop out off the steering knuckle.
 If you have a rivet gun, remove the nut and just hit them with it and they come out nice and easy.

 Now at this point I lost my camera underneath my floor jack for awhile so the pictures are lacking. Anyhow now you can take off the 4 bolts that hold the rack on. There are two 14mm bolts on each side, the drivers side will have longer bolts. After you get the bolts out and the rack is somewhat free, pull the rack down a bit so its loose from the car. Now everything I read on this job says to remove the shift linkage and the stabiliser bar for the transmission at this point. I didn't want to do that because it looks like it's a real pain in the butt so I decided to try to remove it without doing all that. I did have to remove the 2 bolts on the exhaust so that one of the flanges would clear it. That was easy though. I shot them with kroil and even though the car has 300,000 miles the bolts came right out. There wasn't even a gasket to mess with. Honda did this one right. Now comes the puzzle part of the job. I found that if I turned the rack so that the car would be turning all the way to the left ( that means that the left side tie rod is completely collapsed and the right one is fully extended) and I rotated the rack so the shaft came out the back side of the hole it is in, I had just enough room to get the shaft free. The shaft is now pointing down and it is then free to push all the way out the right passenger wheel well. It worked great and wasn't hard at all. I figured I saved a bunch of time doing it this way rather then trying to beat out the pin holding the shift linkage in. Now installation is reverse of removal. Just remember how you removed the rack and it should go in the same way it came out. I installed the rack without the outer tie rods. They are very easy to access so it made it easier to put in a shorter rack. I installed the rack with the 4 bolts, torqued them hooked up the exhaust and then went inside and hooked up the coupling for the steering wheel. I wanted the steering wheel straight so I counted how many turns it took the rack from stop to stop. This one measured 3 5/8 turns of the steering wheel. I then cut that in half and turned the shaft on the rack to that point. I straightened my steering wheel and installed the coupling. I double checked it with the turns of the steering wheel and it worked out perfect.

 Now it was time to install both outer tie rods. I pulled a quick measurement off the old rack and put the new tie rods onto the new rack with that to get me close. I then got some yarn (that was all I could find but it works) and pinned it to the back tire and ran it up to the front tire and fine tuned the front tires so I touched the yarn with both the front and back of the sidewall of the tire and tightened them up. This will get it close enough to get it to the alignment shop. Make sure you put your cotter pins in.
 Now you just need to install the wheels and torque them and take it for a spin. I was amazed how much of a difference it made. I had a crx that I loved and after driving this one with the new rack in it I remembered how much fun they are to drive. I actually miss that car. Both Dixie and I loved it. If I could find an unmolested one I would probably buy it. I looked hard a few years back but everything I found was altered by teenage kids wanting to build ricers out of them. Oh well. I guess I was like that once also.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sounds like Victory to me!

Well, it sounds like a Victory motorcycle anyways. I got my buddy to weld up the exhaust because he's a lot better welder than me. He did an awesome job and they look good.
Here is Ian welding up the pipes. He makes it look so easy but I know it's not that easy to weld rusty pipes.
Here they are installed and ready for a test fire. They are super quiet especially compared to the old pipes. I can actually hear the engine noise over the exhaust noise. It's about the same as my other bug now. My neighbor said they sound boring now. I guess he's right but he has a straight piped Harley. I think he just wants someone else in the neighborhood to be loud so he's not the only one. I must be getting old because I like the sound of them and I really like the looks. The only trouble I am going to have is keeping my kids from touching them when they are hot. Hopefully I never get rear ended or I may have 2 pipes flying towards me from behind.
I took a video of the engine running but I have spent the last 2 days trying to figure out how to get it on here. Obviously you can tell I haven't figured out how to get it to work. I guess my techno savyness is really lacking. I will have to try to get my 10 year old to do it for me. So one bug is back up and running. I am cleaning up the new/old beam for Ed and I hope to get it in the car soon. I have some welding to do on it and then I need to paint it. Check it out a little later.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The price you pay to look COOL!

Well, I decided to extend my garage today and work on Ed. I wanted to get the front beam pulled out and assess the damage to it. It was a pretty hot day so we set up the canopy to shade the front of the bug. It worked really good. I got side tracked today hunting some voles that decided they liked our tulip bulbs but I was able to kill the voles (hopefully) and get the beam out. The beam was damaged beyond repair and I really feel kind of bad about it. The way I look at it, Ed had this front beam under him for 43 years and it served him really well until I come along and lower him and then run him into a construction plate. Hmm. Maybe I should raise him back up. If I did that he wouldn't look nearly as cool as he does lowered. I think I will keep him lowered.

 I am going to reuse the torsion arms since I just replaced the ball joints in them and they look to be in OK shape. Remember to remove the speedometer cable on the left side before you remove the spindle.
So here's the extent of the damage. I'm not sure if you can see in the pictures but there's a big nick in the bottom of the shock tower. That is where the plate hit and then it bent the beam backwards from the frame horn outboard. You can see where the paint has flaked off. That is where it is bent. So to remove the beam you have to remove the tie rods and the steering stabiliser. I removed the torsion arms also because I didn't want to remove the ball joints from the spindle. It is then just a matter of removing 6 bolts and the beam will fall right out. (unless you have a jack underneath it for support which is what I would recommend.)
 So here it is with the tie rods, steering stabiliser and torsion arms removed.
The top torsion arm can easily be removed out of the spindle because the camber adjuster just sits in there. The adjuster should stay with the ball joint and it easily removes out of the spindle.

You also need to remove the steering shaft coupling. That's easy with just 4 bolts. You need to knock out at least the left side inner tie rod end from the steering box.You can leave the right side one on if you want.
 Here is another shot of the damage. Notice how bent the beam is compared to the torsion leafs.
Just look at that tube. It's bent beyond the limits that I am willing to chance in trying to bend it back. At this point you can remove the steering box if it is still serviceable and you want to use it on the new beam. My steering box was perfect and is nice and tight so I am going to reuse it.
I had a friend from the vw club give me a beam. It's a little bit rough but that's OK because it's straight. The only problem areas there are can be fixed. I have decided to try this one with no adjusters and see where Ed sits. I ended up adjusting my adjusters all the way back up when I put on lowered spindles so it's worth a shot. I am also going to start saving up for a 2 inch narrowed beam with adjusters so this beam may just be installed temporarily.
 At the end of the day this is where it sits. The beam is out and I overlooked the frame horn a little closer and it looks like it's OK. I am going to take my new old beam into work and clean it up a little bit and I need to do some welding on it and then it should be ready to go back in. I am also going to weld up the exhaust for tugger so maybe just maybe I can have both up and running again.
So if you want to drive around in a really cheap? car that looks super cool, be prepared to spend a little bit of money maintaining it. Just don't jinx yourself by telling the whole blog world that it's up and running good because that's when life will throw you some lemons or at least a construction plate to run into. Never fear though, It can easily be fixed. It just takes money. That's the price you have to pay to look cool!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fitting the exhaust for welding.

I was able to remove the exhaust of the baja and got it ready to install the motorcycle exhaust I got for it. I am hoping it will look good and that it will quiet down the engine. It's really obnoxious now and it also looks really bad. I used a cutoff wheel to cut off the old glasspacks.
 I was happy to find the tube inside the muffler matched perfectly with the motorcycle exhaust. I trimmed up the old bracket that I am going to use to hold up the new mufflers and I then fit the new muffler to the old pipe.
 Looking down the exhaust side shows the 2 pipes that combine into one. It's pretty rough in there but it will work just fine.
I decided to mock it up on the baja and was glad I did. You can see in the picture that the clearences between the muffler and the intake manifold is very close. I adjusted the mufflers and brackets around to get more clearence. It should work pretty good.
Here it is all mocked up and marked where I need to weld it. I think it looks a ton better then the old ones.
On my lunch break today I went to weld up the exhaust. It didn't work out because the welder was out of wire. I was totally bummed because I am excited to hear them on the bug. I also am back to having only 1 car running right now because both the bugs are down. Ed, the white bug has a bent front axle beam and needs a new beam. I was heading to work one morning and hit a steel plate that construction workers use to cover holes on 7200 west. It was a really hard hit and I knew something was wrong because my steering was all messed up. I limped it home and found out the front beam was bent. Anyways that's for another post in the future. I did get a beam from a friend in the volkswagen club and that will be my next project after I get the baja going again. When I get it done, I will try to get a video of it and try to figure out how to post it so you can hear it.