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Steering Rack

Discussion in 'E30 (1984-1993)' started by E30jim, Mar 18, 2011.

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    E30jim

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    Can anyone recommend a good place online to buy a rebuilt steering rack?? I saw carsteering .com on another blog as recommended, has anyone used them? Thanks for the feedback!:D
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    granthr

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    Try www.bmpdesign.com or bavauto.com. But also price the dealer, they just might be competitive.
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    John in VA

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    http://www.griffiths.com/
    Their website is horrible, so call them for details and pricing. I got rebuilt racks for 2 cars from them - excellent quality.
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    Brian A

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    Needing to change the rack is a great opportunity to optimize the steering ratio (iie number of rotations lock-to-lock). Search this forum for info. I believe the rack from a 1.9L Z3 has the fastest ratio and (I believe) is a direct replacement.
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    granthr

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    Even less than an E30 M3??
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    Brian A

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    Here is the post (I am not an expert so can't vouch for accuracy):
    http://bmwcca.org/forum/showthread.php?p=25763#post25763

    Note that there are modifications needed (steering knuckle). There are "how to" posts elsewhere on the internet and some stores (Turner? Bav Auto?) sell the needed converter.
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    MGarrison

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    Zionsville Autosport sells e36-into-e30 steering rack conversion kits.

    http://www.zionsvilleautosport.com/

    R3vlimited has a fairly comprehensive thread discussing the conversion; read all 38 pages and you'll get most pertinent matters covered.

    http://www.r3vlimited.com/board/showthread.php?t=66247

    The word from that thread on the Z3 rack is that it's less turns lock-to-lock because the rack itself is actually [highlight]shorter[/highlight], (which means you lose turning radius), so it's better to use, say, the E36 M3 rack which doesn't reduce your turning radius and still improves steering ratio, assuming you wouldn't want to lose turning radius.

    For the diy'er, it's a good idea to read to whole thread, there are valid points brought up about how this or that should be done without damaging things during disassembly, and so on.

    One thing that neither Zionsville or anyone in the thread mentions is that converting the stock E30 steering knuckle to work with the E36 rack essentially eliminates a safety feature designed into the knuckle. The 10th picture in the first how-to of the R3v thread shows the stock knuckle, and the bottom section is press-fit onto two smooth shafts that are pressed into the upper section (see the pic). If the car is in a severe enough impact, that design allows the lower knuckle (& thus, the steering rack) approx. 2" of upward/rearward movement before it could make contact with the upper section and have the potential to push the steering column rearwards, towards the driver.

    The conversion works because it uses a spacer on a bolt to reposition the lower knuckle at about the rear-most position of it's former available travel; since it's bolted together with the spacer in it's new positioning, the 'collapsibility' of the oem design is eliminated. I think most consider this not to be too much of a risk or potential problem, but any driver who's short, err, "height-challenged" (for the politically-correct police), and requires a seating position close to the steering wheel, might want to take that into consideration.

    I'm sure a conversion-specific knuckle could be designed to retain some of the worst-case-scenario movement-allowance, but nobody's done that, apparently due to the obvious costs involved - that single piece would make the conversion vastly more expensive.

    There's the debate about bending the tabs; the less, the better - ideally, it's better to suspend the engine with an engine hoist (vs. the risky & potentially disastrous jack-from-below method) and drop the subframe to remove the steering rack without having to bend the tabs.

    Dittos on Griffiths, they did good work on a rack for me years ago, presumably they're still up to par.

    Except for the knuckle-conversion and power-steering fluid lines, all the same work to replace the stock steering rack has to be done as to swap in an E36 rack, so if sticking in an E36 rack is even a remote consideration, it would seem like a bit of a waste of effort to have to do it all again, later.

    Since less turns lock-to-lock means higher steering effort (after all, you're not gonna stick on a giant steering wheel are ya?), on a street-driven car, one would probably find life easier by retaining the power-steering.
    • Member

    granthr

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    Thanks for the info guys. I have read about this conversion in the E30 Restoration Bible. However, I didn't realize the Z3 has a shorter rack, but seems pointless if you lose steering radius. That is part of the beauty of an E30. I am not really planning on doing this, unless of course I happen across an E30 M3 rack that is too good to pass up. So basically I will never be doing this. LOL :) Besides I already have one! :D
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    mrl325i

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    A minor problem is that when you order a rebuilt rack you have to return the same type to get back the core charge. So, if you get a Z/M3/whatever rack you won't be able to return the old regular e30 rack and get your money back.
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    mrl325i

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    I got a rebuilt one from Pelican.
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    E30jim

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    Thanks for all the advice and help.

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