On the rack
The steering on a Lancia Delta is one of its best features. It gives true feedback to the driver, and is perfectly weighted for fast or slow driving.
One of the keys to happy steering is the position of the steering rack. The Delta's rack is mounted behind the front wheels, and is mounted securely to the car's front bulkhead in a sheltered and rigid location. This location is perfectly aligned to the front suspension's centre line, thus avoiding bump steer, and being located behind the front axle line means less input motion is required for any steering movement, and gives accurate control of the Ackerman compensation.
Very simply, perfect Ackerman steering occurs when a line drawn down the two front wheel track rod end mountings intersects with the rear axle centre.
A short and straight steering column is also a Lancia Delta feature,
allowing direct steering input, and giving the classic Italian driving position, which doesn't allow falling asleep at the wheel!
When the Delta was first designed, it didn't have power steering, and the rack position allowed easy removal for any maintenance required. However, as the Delta became more complex, and the 4 wheel drive was installed, the steering rack became more difficult to access. So difficult that replacing the rack needed the removal of some major parts,
including big pieces of the gearbox.
This lack of access sets challenges for us owners. Barry recently replaced the inner track rod ends on his black Delta, this is a difficult job to do in situ. Barry bravely completed the operation with a special tool designed for unscrewing the inner rod holder, the replacement rod and mount from AECar has hexagonal flats to allow secure tightening with a big spanner.
This quest started because we had a car with a serious fluid leak on the rack, left lock meant fluid squirted out of the rubber boot like a dog on a lamp post. Removing the rack was the only option, but I didn't want to remove any oil filled gearbox parts, nor did I want to drop the engine out. Anyway, that job is done now, with the engine left in place, it's repeated on Youtube.
What caused the leak is interesting too. This is a TRW Italia rack, a bought in part from the Italian branch of an international company. In the spirit of investigative journalism I wanted to
find out what went on inside this TRW rack. So I removed the track rod outer ends, the pipes, and the rubber boots. This revealed a cream coloured plastic seal holder at one end.
I noted a slit in the rack body to allow the seal to be pushed
out, I stuck a screwdriver in this hole and hit it with a hammer,
of course that broke the plastic part.
After a while I gave up trying to save this component and chiselled at it with the screwdriver, I got it out, but couldn't slide
it off because the inner tie rod mount was still in place.
This mounting appeared to be sweated on to the rack end,
it was blued, it was also staked on like a front wheel bearing nut.
This is what Barry firmly removed with the special tool, from underneath his car.
Inner steering rod removal tool
Our removed steering rack
My butchered seal holder
I bit the bullet then, and took the rack to Preston Power Steering. I presented them with the butchered rack, the owner looked at me with pity, and annoyance. 'I don't like working on racks someone else has had a go at' he said, I told him I just wanted to see what was inside!
A week later the rack was done, perfectly reconditioned and repainted, with new seals and boots. My new friend told me that as a TRW cost saving exercise, the previous metal seal holders, which had bronze support bushes, were changed for plastic items. These new hard plastic seal holders and rack supports wear out much faster than the metal item. Our man has installed new metal components in the rack, so it will last much longer.
PPS also said it was ok for Barry to twist hard on the inner fitting in situ, the rack is fixed firmly, and there's a tough spring inside to prevent road shocks, which protects the inner pinion. Loctite will secure the
screwed in rack inner end without staking the thread,
if access is difficult.
A new metal rack support and seals
Our recon rack from PPS
So, our rack was a challenge to remove and replace, but it's done. Barry has shown that the inner track rod ends can be replaced, and my man in Preston showed me a tool to remove the rack's seals.
I would now therefore say that a Lancia Delta steering rack could be refurbished at home,
on a bench with a good vice.
Walkers ask £350.00 + vat to refurb a steering rack, and they want your old rack too.
So I say fight back, it's only nuts and bolts! If anyone does this job, let us know and
we'll post your report on our site.