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h16 h16 is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: harvard, ma
Posts: 26
learnings from turbo tie rod installation

in the "front-end shimmy" posting, I offered to publish some learnings about my recent turbo tie rod installation.

in typical fashion, I sat down to collect my thoughts and it turned into something more than a handful of lines.

rather than blast it out in rough state, I'm going to take a couple of days to try and do a useful, organized job.

if anyone needs this info on an urgent basis, please feel free to contact me through this posting.

perhaps it could be the starting point for a pelican parts tech doc.

other input is welcome, in addition. I performed this installation with very little guidance.

'74 1.8
Old 09-16-2005, 08:35 AM
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Location: Colorado Springs
Posts: 78
Hi Allan,

Friday PM, and I just discovered that my turbo tie rod kit from PP arrived. So of course I'll be tackling the job tomorrow. If you happen to check this in time, any halfway coherent stream of unpunctuated monosyllables you have on the install would be greatly appresciated.

Old 09-16-2005, 06:21 PM
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h16 h16 is offline
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below is what I have thus far:


learnings from my turbo tie-rod installation (your mileage may vary...)

high-level summary of steps:

0) disconnect outboard ends of existing tie-rods

1) remove rack assembly from vehicle

2) remove existing ends from rack (these look like massive eye-bolts)

3) thread new integrated tie-rod-and-ends into rack

4) install new boots

5) reinstall rack assembly into vehicle

6) connect new tie-rod ends to spindle

detailed observations:

1) rack needs to be removed to do this procedure; I don't advise trying to perform this tie-rod swap with rack
in the car (others may disagree or have differing advice). To drop the rack you must disconnect the steering column joints inside the vehicle. I suggest you mark the orientation of the
universal joints to the various shafts on interior steering hardware BEFORE you disassemble. You only need to disassemble
the clamp lowest to the floor (at least that's how I did it). There is
very little room for slop between the clamp-bolts and the flats on the shafts when you go to re-couple them at re-installation.

2) once the rack assembly is removed, plan to hold the inner rack (a tube inside the rack assembly, whatever it's called) firmly in a vice with wood as a cushion between jaws and rack to keep from mangling/scratching the tube.

3) once the inner rack is firmly in grasp of vice, the existing rack ends can be removed (eye-bolts which thread into the rack. fyi: both sides are conventionally-threaded, not reverse-threaded).

The existing ends consist of the eye bolt (housing a rubber bushing) and a jamb nut. The jamb nut is a somewhat unorthodox circular nut with four notches and a larger circular flange onto which the outboard-end of the boot attaches. To see the notched face of the jamb nut (this side faces inboard), you need to get the old boot out of the way. The outboard end of the boots can become "permanently" attached to the circular flange (mine were, anyway). Cut the old boot as close to the outboard flange as possible (razor blade works well).
I suggest saving the spring retainers from the inboard ends of the existing boot; I reused them. The outboard retainers were way too large for my new boots, therefore I did not find them useful to save/reuse.
Be sure to loosen this jamb nut BEFORE you try to unthread the old end(s), so that you don't compromise the internal threads of the rack.

Some options for getting purchase on the jamb nut:

I used an older bicycle bottom bracket tool for this; it's
a tool designed for the lock nut on an older-style adjustable cup of a bottom bracket (I realize this may be meaningless to you). Any bicycle shop is likely to have one. I can send a photo if needed. I'm sure there are other clever techniques or specialty tools.

another possible option is to clamp onto the outer flange with vice grips, then lever or strike the vice-grips with a hammer.

a third potential option is to use a vice-grip chain wrench around outer lip of flange.

5) I suggest you regrease the rack once you have the old ends removed. I didn't research the best lubricant, but I used
some form of standard chassis gease. You can move the rack full to one side then the other, and grease the surfaces closest to the middle. You do not need to disassemble the rack assembly itself.

6) thread the new turbo rods in. Mine have square flats on them which are 32 or 33 mm in size, I believe. I found that an
old biclycle headset wrench fits perfectly. There is no jamb nut (on mine), and I did not reuse the original jamb nut. I also
did not use any locktite, but a drop or two might be wise. Having these things unwind would be a real disappointment. I did
torque this as hard as manually possible with the wrench, since the threads are fairly sizeable and substantial.

7) the new boots install over the tie-rods, larger-end goes inboard. As I said I reused the original inboard retainer spring
which goes on the outside of the boot. I did NOT use a retainer on the outboard end of the boot; I just allowed boot to
stretch over rubber donut just outboard of balljoint in rods.

My boots are very stiff; when I move the rack fully to one side, the boots often don't crease nicely in the bellows pattern
that I hope for; the original boots did do that better. Perhaps that will change over time. This is probably my biggest
disappoinment about the new tie-rods. Otherwise, I'm very satisfied thus far

8) reinstall the rack. This took some jiggering under the car to clear the master cylinder and other things. Reconenction of steering column linkage took a few re-tries to get correct alignment with u-joint coupling.

I have attached a photo of my old eye-bolt ends and jamb nut in two forms: with jamb nut in place, and with two pieces separated. The middle tool with "hooks" on end is tool I used to engage the notches on the jamb nut and loosen it. This is an older bicycle bottom-bracket adjustable cup lock ring tool (I bet the germans would have an impressive, single word for all of that). The other tool is the bicycle headset wrench I used to tighten my new turbo inboard ends. The open end side of the wrench is relevant, the other end of that wrench is not.

Good luck with your installation; I apologize if any of this is bad advice. This is what I learned from my ONLY attempt at doing this. It's possible I've done/suggested something wrong or unwise. I am NOT a trained professional.


'74 1.8
Old 09-17-2005, 04:30 AM
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Posts: 78

Allan, I got your post in time -thanks ! When I read it, I thought removing the rack was kind of extreme. Then, when I crawled under the car, I decided it might be a good idea after all. I undid the steering linkage inside the car and the 2 bolts supporting the rack, but unfortunately, wasn't able to drop the rack. There's a hard plastic piece that shields the input shaft, and (at least, working by myself) I wasn't able to decouple the steering input from the rack. In order to get at it, I felt like I needed to remove the gas tank; that, however, is another project...

Anyway, I went back to the conventional approach. Pulled wheels, jacked up car (reverse order, actually) loosened tie rod ends, broke 'em free w/ a pickle fork (pretty easy, to my suprise) and screwed tie rod ends off, counting each revolution.

Removing the inner tie rod end was harder. I didn't have the old-fashioned bicycle bottom bracket tool that others have mentioned (last time I worked on a bike, it wasn't old fashioned !!!), so I tried the runner-up method : hammer and chisel. What I didn't know, and wish I had, was the DIRECTION to turn the friggin' jam nut. I thought it was jammed against the tie rod (it isn't) , so I was jamming it harder against the steering shaft ! Only got a little bit of rotation on it before I gave up. So then I attacked the tie rod. Used a pipe wrench, as I didn't care what shape it was in after I mangled it off. Not a fun job, and my knuckles ain't so pretty just now, but I did get the rods loose. Seeing all that squishy, deformed rubber in there makes me glad I went turbo. Actually, including the price of new boots, there's really no reason not to.

Then, as you mention, I removed the tie rod ends from the new tie rods, install the rods to the rack ends using the new spacer, tightened 'em down as hard as my arms and space would allow (no LockTite...) using a cheap-ass 1-1/4" spanner thinned down on a grinder wheel. Then I put the boots on, put the boot retainer springs on (not impossible, but it does take a while...), and then scooched the smaller end of the boots up onto the rubber thingies where they belong. Installed the tie rod ends into the strut (w/ cotter pin) and then screwed the tie rod into the ball joint part the correct number of turns. I'm not sure if the number of turns is really the same for old vs. new, but I'm gonna get an alignment done, and it worked out to be reasonable looking and driveable.

Results : Very definite improvement; no doubt whatsoever. If you have old, spongy 914 tie rods, it is a very, very worthwhile project; and definitely go w/ the turbo design; it's simply better. If you have brand new, still fresh, old-style tie rods, it's prolly not worth the hassle. If you're doing an overall restoration and your not totally impulsive about it, it would be a very good idea to plan this project along w/ a master cylinder upgrade or rebuild; it's possible to do this job w/ the master cylinder in the way, but it would be much more pleasant with it removed !!!

As I mentioned, I used a cheapo spanner that I machined down to the right thickness to tighten the new tie rods on. I used a 1-1/4", which fit very snugly. I do recommend this approach, as it wouldn't be very fun for this particular part to come loose. One other apprach I thought about was to take the spacers that come w/ the kit (they're just like thick washers) and machining their outer profile from circles to squares that match the tie rod ends. That extra meat doesn't do anything usefull as far as I can tell, and this would allow a plain old wrench to do the job. Any comments on this idea ?

Finally, a few things not to do :

1) When the car is up on jackstands, and the front wheels are removed, and the tranny is in gear, and you are upside down w/ your head next to the pedals, DO NOT crank the starter. Don't ask me how I know...

2) If, for some reason, you decide to take the keys out of the ignition, be sure to note very carefully where you place them. This could save you, oh, two f^&**%$ing hours of frustration.

3) Don't expect the job to be as simple as it sounds. It is dirty, cramped, and frustrating. Don't be discouraged from doing it, but just make sure you approach it w/ a suitably pessimistic attitude; then you'll be okay.

Oh, and BTW : I started this adventure because of a vibration in the front end; in the steering wheel , to be precise. I discovered a very definite play in the steering linkage, and replacing the tie rods seems to have taken care of that. But I also found that my driver side ball joint boot is rotten and torn, and the vibration, while much reduced in amplitue, is still there. So the plan is to replace the ball joints (hopefully before RRC and alignment), and then finally look into replacing my crappy old tires.
Old 09-17-2005, 07:39 PM
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