By Steve Tom
The sparse instructions for replacing the steering rack boot contained in the MGB workshop manual and the more complete instructions provided in the Moss MGB catalog require removing the tie rod end from the steering arm and then counting the turns required to unscrew it from the tie rod.
Separating the tie rod end from the steering arm is a difficult operation, even if you have the correct tools, and the violence that is required to complete the job. Furthermore, when counting the turns to remove the tie rod end from the tie rod, it is often difficult to determine the exact point at which it comes free during removal or just starts to catch during replacement.
Fortunately, there is an easier way. The tie rod end can be left fastened to the steering arm, and the lock nut can be used as a “marker” to replace the tie rod end without changing the alignment. Follow the instructions in the catalog on jacking the car and marking the tires, but instead of removing the tie rod end from the steering arm, use the following procedure:
- Loosen the clamp on the outer end of the steering rack boot and then use a wrench to break the lock nut free from the tie rod end. Hold the tie rod so that it doesn’t turn while doing this.
- Use your fingers to tighten the nut back to the point where it snugs up against the tie rod end.
- Turn the tie rod to unscrew it from the tie rod end. The wheel and tire will swing out of the way when it is free. Be careful not to disturb the lock nut during this process.
- Unscrew the lock nut until the outer end of the nut is exactly flush with the end of the tie rod while counting the number of turns or “flats.”
- Replace the steering rack boot, leaving the outer clamp loose.
- Thread the nut back onto the tie rod until it is again flush with the end of the tie rod. Holding the tie rod to prevent it from turning, screw the nut back onto the tie rod, using the same number of turns or “flats” used to remove it.
- Swing the wheel and tire back into position to insert the tie rod back into the tie rod end. Turn the tie rod to tighten it until the tie rod end just snugs up against the nut. (When the nut stops turning with the tie rod, it is snug.)
- Check to ensure that the steering is still centered and the alignment has not changed, as described in the catalog. Finally, tighten the lock nut and the outer clamp on the steering rack boot.
Note that the wheels and tires can be left on the car during this operation. This procedure can be used on MGAs and MGBs. It is also believed it will work on any car with a similar steering design.