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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - 1971 Midget - steering lock!

While I was fixing my loose dash, I thought I would also deal with the scraping sound coming from my steering wheel when it turned.

After removing the cowl, I found that it was the contact for the horn which was the issue.

Easy fix - except that now after putting the cowl back on, my steering lock doesn't work where it was working before!

I didn't deliberately do anything else, but does anyone have any ideas about this? I am not bothered about the steering lock per se, but I would be bothered if it decided to lock when driving the car...

Any ideas gratefully received!

Not helpful (or it might be!) but my understanding was '71 midgets didn't have steering locks fitted.
Jeremy MkIII

I think they were fitted in the UK some time after the Mk3 facelift and earlier for export markets.

Sometimes the outer can move in/out relative to the steering lock so the two don't quite coincide.

MG Moneypit

Are you sure the scraping sound wasn't from your steering lock(?).

IIRC the steering lock body has a locating hump that goes into a hole in the steering column and there can be a bit of play there, add in play to the steering lock from wear and tear perhaps.

The steering lock should be held on by two shear bolts (the hex head shears off when fully tighten to stop thieves simply unbolting the lock). If the hex heads are still there perhaps the lock isn't fully seated in the correct position as the body wasn't fully tighten down. - IF this is the case you could carefully loosen the bolts and slightly move the lock body until the lock work and re-tighten - but - do not fully tighten the shear bolts and take the head off until you've test driven the car and tested the steering lock fully works in case you need to move the locking body again.

If you need to remove the existing shear bolts getting the right size and length drill bit makes the job very easy and quick - but the wrong size and length makes the job a real pig and can take ages (I know). IIRC you need a 6.5mm(?), longer than standard drill bit, the bit being sharp always helps of course.
Nigel Atkins

Terry's book gives info about steering locks and when they were fitted, IIRC there were different ones and fitted at different times (possibly?) for different markets - Original Sprite & Midget The Restorer’s Guide by Terry Horler –
Nigel Atkins

Thanks for all the replies!

Nigel - yes, I am sure the scraping wasn't from the steering lock, but from the metal band that reaches from the indicator assembly/column to sweep over the horn contact. I've had that issue before.

I know my steering lock was previously working, so very puzzled as to what I could have done to disturb it. My worry (as per first post) is that it engages when I am driving.

It won't take long to get the cowl off again, but even so...

Jeremy, Rob, Nigel - I have a copy of Terry's book. Just had a look and it states that steering locks were standard on home market cars from December 1970; mine was built early January 1971. (As an aside it has the dash 'blanking plug' feature where the key used to be but before BL had used up all the old dashboards!)

in theory at least what you've done shouldn't effect the steering lock at all so perhaps it's just a coincidence.

Is the key to barrel or barrel to lock loose at all, felt any play in either/both(?)

To save taking the cowling off you could just try and see if there's any movement of the steering lock assembly on the steering column by grabbing the steering lock assembly and trying to push and pull it around or up and down on the steering column.

ETA: Did you remove the steering wheel and replace it perhaps a spline or two different?
Nigel Atkins

The lock has a plunger that fits into the steering inner column.
Has the lock moved up or down the outer column as Nigel noted - ISTR it should sit in a location groove?
Also check the inner has not moved on the splines on the rack.
Does the column move in out when you pull the s/wheel ?

richard b

Thanks Richard, Nigel.

I've had a look this morning. The steering column doesn't move, but the lock assembly does a bit.

When the key is out, I can hear the pin trying to engage to lock the column when I move the steering wheel. When the key is in, and engine started etc. steering is normal. I didn't take the steering wheel off.

So, looks like I need to do a realignment as Nigel described. Didn't have time to check if the sheer bolts were there.

It may have become disturbed when I was poking about under the dash on that side...


Unless there's a lot of wear something, perhaps lock/ignition assembly or steering column, must be fairly loose to be able to be moved without effort. As you can imagine the lock/ignition assembly should be located fairly tightly when the shear bolts are tightened enough to shear the hex heads off.
Nigel Atkins

On a '71 car, if the clamp bolt at the steering rack pinion is slack, then the inner column will pull up and down by an appreciable amount. It can be easily felt by pulling on the steering wheel. This up and down movement would be enough to allow the slots in the inner and outer steering column to get misaligned so that the lock pin won't engage.

Good one.

Now I should have remembered that, shouldn't I, but I didn't. :)
Nigel Atkins

This thread was discussed between 25/06/2017 and 27/06/2017

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

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