Steering shaft and new UJ

I had to make my own Universal Joint to fit the Citroen BX rack. I needed to make a steering shaft and new UJ’s.

It’s all getting a little tight and I still have some bracing to add.

Because this Locost chassis is 4 wheel drive, the rack was initially mounted in front of the Sierra Cosworth differential.

The route the steering shaft made, was like a Snakes and Ladders board. Even then, the steering geometry wasn’t perfect.

Therefore, I swapped from front mounted Ford Escort MKII rack, to a rear mounted Citroen BX item. I swapped the uprights from one side to the other so that the steering arms were in the correct place.

With a rear rack it’s possible to get the shafts perfectly in line with the ends of the steering arms. The steering arm joints are also perfectly in line with the lower arm joints. This, now rare rack, was a blind purchase that turned out to be a God send. Since then, I have found an even more rare, genuine Citroen ‘new old stock’ replacement.

Reaming Sierra Upright

I used a 1.5″ per foot tapered reamer to machine the steering arms, so that the ball joints could mount to the underside of the steering arms rather that the top.

Taper Reamer Tie Rod End

I also intend on replacing the large and baggy Citroen steering rack boots with Subaru Imprezza items so that they clear the chassis on full lock. The Subaru boots are 22mm narrower the the Citroen items, but still have about the same clearance as the Escort items. The Escort rack is a ‘2.4 quick rack’ unit, whereas the Citroen rack is noticeably slower (2.9) for the same amount of turn at the wheels. However the Citroen rack is 4.25 turns lock to lock (total) so has the ability to turn the wheels considerably more. Providing tyres clear the arches, parking will not be a problem with the Citroen rack.

The only problem I had was the steering shaft extending from the Citroen rack was 18.6mm (round with a flat) and not 12mm (splined) like the Escort.

I scoured the the web with only one joint suitable for the Citroen rack and my current shaft. It was huge, ugly and designed for agricultural equipment. At over £140, I thought it was a little pricey. Therefore, I made my own from stainless.

Locost Steering Shaft and UJ’s

Stainless Universal Joints

It’s fairly tight to the Thor oil oil pump housing; 22mm; but I don’t think there is any way the engine could move anywhere near without tearing its’ mounts.

I’ve found 6mm roll pins are much better at holding the UJ’s tight on the shafts. Previously, I tried both M6 ‘through bolts’ and shafts with flats, but each had a very small amount of twist. With 4 of these joints, this small amount added up to a noticeable wobble at the steering wheel. Not like the wobble you’d feel on a 50’s car with a steering box, but still a wobble.

Not having the ability to cut splines onto the shafts, roll pins seems to be a very good solution. I hope the IVA man agrees. Having knocked one of the roll pins out with a pin punch, large hammer and a vice I can categorically state, they aren’t going to fall out in a hurry! However, I have cut grooves into the UJ’s allowing securing circlips to fit around. This should make double sure that they will never ever budge.

The steering shaft runs fairly parallel to the front Volvo 121 Amazon propshaft. It’s 14mm stainless bar. I managed to re-use one of the now unused Escort steering rack extensions as a ‘steady arm’.

Steering shaft

With the Escort rack set-up, because of its length, you could actually get the stainless bar to twist. With this set-up, it is 100% rock solid.

The propshaft clears the P5B starter and steering shaft by about 25mm. If I find a cheap after-market Hi-Torque starter there will be loads more clearance.

P38 headers

Rover V8 Stainless Headers

The keen eye’d of you will spot that I have used P38, stainless tubed, headers. In this shot, the nearside manifold  is mounted to the offside of the car. That isn’t going to be the final configuration, as I have already cut them up.

In this shot, the exhaust exits pointing forward. Although I could make this work, it’s not ideal and not just for gas flow. There is no room to add some extra bits of square 1″ tube to complete the chassis boxing. Although the rear 2 header tubes are positioned perfectly, the front pair prevent me from adding crucial strengthening members.

NB. Although the tubes of these headers are stainless the flanges and plates are just mild steel. I found this shot, where someone has polished the tubes, but you can see rust forming on the flange plates.

P38 Stainless Headers

P38 Range Rover Headers

The flat plates that bolt up to the cylinder heads are in pairs.  I had a pair of manifolds and one had a crack, so I cut them up, with the aim of making a custom set.

I have ended up with 4 pairs of tubes. The rear pairs work well, but the front pairs need making, almost from scratch, using bits of tubing salvaged from redundant parts.

I’ll order up some Chinese collectors and some standard 1.5″ tube bends and start fabricating.

Header Merge Collector


Nearside Stainless Manifold


Offside Stainless Manifold

Before I really start the manifolds, I need to get the front propshaft finished and mounted. It’s in 2 pieces with a UJ in the middle. The mount for the UJ is a sliding arrangement. Currently the sliding mount is part of the front propshaft, but I will spin this 180° so that it is part of the propshaft from the gearbox transfer unit. It will end up a hybrid of Sierra Cosworth and Volvo bits. I will speak to a local company, Wimborne Motors about this. They’re pro’s at this stuff and have made propshafts for me in the past.

Front Propshaft

The reason I’m using a Volvo propshaft with a Sierra gearbox and front diff is that the Volvo shaft has the same flange as the Ford. On a Sierra, the front differential is mounted to the side of the sump with a short 1 piece shaft. My diff is 30cm in front of the engine and to clear the larger Rover V8, starters, oil pumps etc a 2 peice shaft with a 10° bend in the middle is required. The new propshaft will be over 1 metre longer than the Sierra item.

Who knows, the propshaft might not end up with any Volvo parts at all. I need to speak to Wimborne Motors.

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