Power to Manual Steering Rack Conversion (The TronSteezz way) - D-series.org

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Old 04-26-2013, 10:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Power to Manual Steering Rack Conversion (The TronSteezz way)

There's more that one way to shave a cat.

Recently when searching for good power to manual rack conversion Ideas I found after numerous hours searching that there were exactly zero writeups on doing this type of conversion the way that I wanted, so I decided to make my own. I could find plenty of different threads on "looping", "venting" or both, but that's not what I was looking for.

(I have been using a "looped and vented" Powersteering rack for years and have always been dissatisfied with the ammount of additional side to side "free play".)

I decided to investigate further and after finding what I consider to be a better solution, I'd like to share it. Hopefully the next guy like me will find this helpful.

Here's exactly what I didn't like: While at rest or traveling in a straight line an inappropriate ammount of steering wheel play was present. So much in fact that on a straight stretch of road, the steering wheel could be moved from side to side as much as 1/2" in either direction without the vehicle changing direction (aproximate). Inner and outer tie rods and steering shaft universal joints were all verified to have acceptale ammounts of play before I decided to modify the steering rack.

There are other threads on removal and install of the steering rack assembly as well as abundant service information so I will not cover any of that. I will also not cover dissasembly or reassembly of the steering rack itsef as this is also covered in the service information. What I will cover is my rack modifications and thought process.

Here's what I reccomend to have on hand to do this modification:

* Helm Service manual or equivalent (not haynes, chilton or uncle Bob's handwritten notes)

*Powersteering Rack (The rack I used is from a 89 dx model but I bet this would work with others)

*Metric Socket set and Ratchet (at least 10mm-19mm)

*Outside and inside Snap Ring Pliers

*Rack guide adjustment locknut wrench (Honda sells this tool or you can use a large adjustable wrench)

*Soft mallet (Rubber, wood, leather, brass etc...)

*Hand held power drill (or a drill press if you have one)

*Metal cutting drill bits (various sizes)

*Center punch

*Metal working tools (I used an angle grinder with cut-off wheels, a hack saw and a hand file)

*Small piece of open cell foam

*Paint or rust preventative coating

*Cardboard or stiff paper

*Marking Pen or pencil

Before I go any further:

DON'T BE STUPID I am just posting up what I did to my personal steering rack. If you mess up your own parts or your own car that is on you. I am in no way responsible or liable for anything you do as a result of reading this informative thread. By reading or veiwing this thread you acknowlage that you understand this and relese me from any liability if harm, death or discomfort of any type befalls you or your family, pets, neighbors tools etc...

Now;

After partially dissasmbling the steering rack and removing the lines connected to it this is roughly what it will look like:






This is the Valve body for controlling the hydraulic assist. It is held onto the bottom of the rack assembly with two small 10mm bolts. (They have already been removed in these images).

In this image you can see how the valve body mounts to the rack and how the lower pinion carrier has a "pin" protruding down into the valve body:



The pin moves a valve inside of the valve body left and right to "select" which way to assist the rack in turning. Unfortunatly once the power steering pump has been removed or deactivated (Looped lines) the valve body no longer has fluid pressure internally to prevent the "direction select" valve from just moving back and forth freely. The result is that the "Direction Select" pin can also move back and forth freely. Since the pin is connected to the pinion carrier this allows the pinion to move and everything else that's connected to it. (Translating into side to side free play in the steering wheel).

You can see the ammount that the pinion is able to "clunk" around in this video:
(Note that the rack guide has been removed already in this video which does account for some of the movement. However I experienced 90% of the side to side movement with the rack guide installed as well.)


This movement may not seem like much but at the steering wheel it translates into a noticeable ammount of slop.

I decided that the best remedy would be to immobilize the pin to keep it from moving side to side. This would also keep the pinion from moving side to side uselessly and therfore eliminate a good ammount of the sloppines I dislike.

I also wanted to delete the valve body since it would no longer be needed. I decided that a block off plate could get these two birds stoned at once, the only problem
would be that blocking off the valve body completly would not allow pressure to escape from one assist chamber to the other during turns. Before I go any further let me explain what I am talking about:





The Shiniest peice in the picture above is the rack itself. The rack rides inside of the grey tube, which is housed in the rack casing (black) above it. The rack piston shown here:



Creates a seal between the left and right sections of the rack. When turning, fluid (or air if no fluid is present) would flow from one chamber into the valve body and out again into the opposing chamber. Since I would be deleting the valve body and sealing it off, Fluid or air would not be able to flow from one chamber to the adjacent chamber and the rack would have resistance during turns.

I initially considered removing the rack piston or pistion seal. The pistion seal is not very pliable like a rubber O ring is and I could not remove it easily. The pistion flange itself looks like it is pressed onto the rack, however on further inspection it appears to have been affixed in some other magical way that is resistant to persistant blows from all forms of BFH.

I considered drilling vent holes through the piston however it's about a solid 1/4" worth of what looks to be stainless steel and due to the shallow angle I would not be able to get the bit perpendicular to the surface.
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I decided instead to drill vent holes in the Rack casing (the dull silver one, not the black exterior housing). This would allow pressure to escape directly from one chamber into the opposing side during turns.

With the casing next to the rack I was able to determine the farthest amount of travel that the piston makes by sliding it all the way to each side "lock to lock". I marked the rack casing just outside the farthest amount of piston travel by an inch (approximate).



I drilled 4 vent holes evenly spaced around the circumference of the "rack casing" (grey tube)
with a something or other/16ths sized drill bit (doesn't need to be exact) and de-burred the inside and outside of the vent holes so they would not catch the piston.

I made the block off plate using the following method:

Trace the general shape of the valve body onto cardboard marking the position of both hydraulic orifice and the "direction select pin".



Cut out cardboard template and transfer shape onto metal. (I used 1/4" thick mild steel plate).



Cut the rough shape out with metal working tools. (I used a 4" angle grinder with cut off wheel, a hack saw and hand file to de-burr). You will also need to drill the holes for the direction select pin and the hydraulic orifices .

The hydraulic orifice vents do not need to be specific but the direction pin does. I wanted an interference fit with this pin to prevent any movement so I measured the pin and used the next size under drill bit. (I want to say it was a 4/16ths, but measure yourself to be sure).

You will also need to drill two holes for the mounting screws. Make these slightly oversized so you can adjust the plate slightly to get the other holes to line up perfectly.

After cutting, de-burring and drilling, I painted the plate to keep it from rusting and this how it looked:



(Red adds 5kw)

Since the rack housing was drilled, technically there shouldn't be any pressure that needs to escape when turning but to prevent any changes from atmospheric pressure I drilled vent holes in the plate as well. To prevent debris from entering these holes I put small pieces of open cell foam into the rack hydraulic orifices before pressing the plate into position.



Press the plate onto the rack with a vice, BFH or chubby homie, install the mounting screws and you will have something that roughly resembles this:





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Old 04-26-2013, 11:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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During the modifications to the rack I also cleaned and regreased everything internally. Since power racks are normally lubricated with the power steering fluid, I wanted to remove all traces and switch over to conventional synthetic hi temp grease to complete the manual conversion (That's the red goop seen in some of the pics).

I also installed new inner and outer tie rod ends and adjusted the rack guide tension adjustment. (Procedure is found in the helms service manual).

After completing the re-build, installing the rack and doing a homeschool style alignment the vehicle drives phenomenally better. The center "free play" is virtually eliminated and the steering effort feels light and intuitive. The steering feels generally "crisper" and the sloppy clunkiness is completely gone.

I initially performed this mod about 5 weeks ago and have been daily driving the vehicle since to check for any adverse effects.

So far I have experienced none as a result of this mod and I am overall pleased with the outcome.

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Old 04-27-2013, 04:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Ill be dealing with my rack soon..

I dont have metal or metal tools..
I was going to cut off the piston, lube up everything and new seals

but thanks fir the write up. definately another point of view when dealing with racks.
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Old 04-27-2013, 07:09 AM   #5 (permalink)
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^No problem.

I thought I was just going to remove the piston as well...

You'll be surprised how well it's attached. It looks like it would just press off but I couldn't get it to budge at all.

The other thing that you will need to address is the Pinion carrier and direction select pin movement. This is actually the main cause of the play from what I saw.

Removing, drilling or venting the piston assembly won't do anything to fix this movement.

Welding the pinion carrier to the housing would work instead of what I did but the pinion carrier is Steel and the housing is aluminum. The other option I thought of that could work would be to immobilize the direction select pin with some type of epoxy (JB weld), but I think the block off plate is better.

The raw material for the plate was actually really easy to get. They sell flat plates like this at Lowes and Home depo. If you don't have an angle grinder you could still make the plate, using hand tools.

You can cut the plate with a hack saw it would just take a while longer.
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Old 04-27-2013, 08:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Any reason you choose this, instead of just doing the Line loop? <== clearly to remove slop... lol

Also good write up, repp'd.
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Old 04-27-2013, 08:54 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks man.

Yeah I have been using the rack with looped lines for years already. The part no body ever seems to address is that even though the lines are looped there is no longer any pressure in the system.

What happens is the valves in the assembly just flop around allowing all that slop shown in the video.

I could have just switched to a manual rack but this was cheaper and the power steering rack has a shorter ratio.
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Old 04-27-2013, 09:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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awesome write-up, man.
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Old 04-27-2013, 12:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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thanks Edd!

I can't rep you now!

Hopefully people that are searching for a way to solve this problem will find this helpful!
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Old 04-27-2013, 02:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Line looping still has you pushing fluid making it harder..

not to threadjack and clearly for informative urposes, heres a write I was looking inot..

EK steering rack de-power + Integra Pinion - Honda-Tech
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Old 04-27-2013, 02:44 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I dont have my manual in front of me, but do you guys think this could be transferred in theory to other vehicles? My 92 camry does exibit slop in the wheel, as everything under the power steering catergory leaks like most camry's and es300's from the early 90s

Cant do it to the GE8 as its electric and rack mounted
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Old 04-27-2013, 03:12 PM   #12 (permalink)
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nice one Tron. I think I'll give this one a shot.
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Old 04-27-2013, 05:07 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Esotericimage View Post
Line looping still has you pushing fluid making it harder..

not to threadjack and clearly for informative urposes, heres a write I was looking inot..

EK steering rack de-power + Integra Pinion - Honda-Tech
There is minimal resistance from residual fluid in a "looped" rack. It's virtually non-existent. I would bet that 99% of people wouldn't be able to accurately pick out the "looped" rack from a lineup of completely dry ones or vice-a-versa.

Even so, the fluid is still not pressurized so the valve body is free to allow slop in the pinion holder.

Still thanks for sharing that link. That would be a good alternative for those who don't want to drill holes in the Piston casing. (although the piston itself is pretty hardy, so It probably took a pretty heavy cutting instrument to get through it like that).

I appreciate your feed back but I think you aren't reading what my goal was with this modification.

The link you posted would be one way of disabling the hydraulic assist chambers of the rack but it did not address the pinion holder free play at all. In addition, by welding the rack shut completely, the OP of that other thread has effectively created an "altitude bomb"

If he ever takes the car to Colorado for example there would be no way for pressure to escape the rack.

I do like the idea of using the integra pinon. I'm not sure if it would work in the 88-91 rack. It does look like a different design.

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Originally Posted by mattliston View Post
I dont have my manual in front of me, but do you guys think this could be transferred in theory to other vehicles? My 92 camry does exibit slop in the wheel, as everything under the power steering catergory leaks like most camry's and es300's from the early 90s

Cant do it to the GE8 as its electric and rack mounted
The concept should still apply to any hydraulic assisted rack. The first thing I did after dissasembly was study exactly how the fluid travels to help me get an idea of what the best way would be to "fix" the issues I was having.

If you do the same with your camry I'm sure you'll find a good solution.

As for the Fit, I wouldn't even bother hahaha. The EPS doesn't really add noticeable drag to the engine and the packaging is compact enough that I would just leave it alone.

I would have left the pump and lines installed on my hatchback, I just wanted the extra space and simplicity of a manual setup.

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nice one Tron. I think I'll give this one a shot.
Thanks homeslice. I think you'll like it
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Old 04-27-2013, 10:40 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I got ya... but not too many people have metal/tools laying around that could attempt the custom work
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:14 AM   #15 (permalink)
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^yeah. I got you.

I would consider this a more "advanced" DIY.
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Old 07-05-2013, 07:13 PM   #16 (permalink)
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That is an Awesome write up guy. I was stuck with the idea that the only way to fix that was to actually swap the rack with a manual one. Thanks.
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Old 07-08-2013, 06:19 AM   #17 (permalink)
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No problem B20.

Yeah I really wanted to keep the better ratio of the PS rack. Plus this was way cheaper than buying a manual rack!
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Old 07-30-2013, 04:37 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Hmmm, so you're saying this causes the slop, and cutting the piston would just relieve the pressure?

It would make sense. I tightened the rack guide a lot lol.

BTW, how did you determine what location is best to lock the pin in?
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Old 08-20-2013, 04:26 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Fodo View Post
Hmmm, so you're saying this causes the slop, and cutting the piston would just relieve the pressure?

It would make sense. I tightened the rack guide a lot lol.

BTW, how did you determine what location is best to lock the pin in?

Sorry for bringing this back (I've been away for awhile so I didn't notice your question until just now).

Yes, this fixed a good deal of side to side play that the rack was allowing normally. The Pinion being able to move is what I believe was the source of the movement (shown in the video). The "Block Off" Plate fixed this by immobilizing the pin on the bottom of the pinion carrier assembly.

This prevents the pinion carrier from rotating. The pinion itself can still rotate since it has separate bearings.

The holes I drilled were just to prevent pressure from building up in either chamber of the rack. Basically this just allows each side to "breath" into the other side and equalize as the rack moves from one side to the other.

You could probably accomplish the same thing by removing the piston from the rack or drilling through it, but I couldn't figure out a good way to do either. Drilling through the piston "case" like I did was very easy and I don't see any downside so I figured this would be best.

I've been driving the vehicle using this rack now for many months. The side to side play is still much better than it was and the steering effort is easy (As easy as a non-powered rack normally is lol). I do have some "clunking" noises that seem to be coming from the rack ends but I think this is a result of worn rack end guides and not this modification.
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Old 08-20-2013, 05:15 PM   #20 (permalink)
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instead of fabbing a blockoff plate, couldn't you drill two holes from the case edges and use two parallel bolts to create a channel trapping the pin? I feel like that'd be easier than fabbing a plate
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