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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - 1972 Steering Rack Repair


I am trying to “quickly” resolve an issue related to the inner tie rod end on the driver’s side (1972 RWA – North America model).

After a review of the archives, my question is now: can I reduce the inner tie rod end play by removing shims AND still leave the rack attached to the sub frame?

I am wondering IF I can remove the ball housing (female) from the ball housing (male). I have an older style rack in the garage and it appears that only ONE lock tab is folded down locking the two together. My guess is that I can remove only one shim, then reassemble and “nip” up the tension between the male & female parts on the driver’s side only.

There is very minimal end play in the inner tie rod end that is likely to be the original 1972 rack. I am likely to find another on the hidden side of the rack and be unable to loosen the female ball housing? Did the original factory assembly procedure only use ONE lock tab?

Has anyone else made any adjustments on their early steering rack with the unit attached to the frame? Plan “B” would be to follow the instructions in my Bentley Official repair manual.

Thanks for any follow up comments and/or suggestions!

Mike P.
Buffalo, NY
Mike Pelone


Your on thin ice, becareful

I cant offer any advice on the triumph rack but I do have experiance with the pre-72 rack, my advice dont touch it until you got cash, lots of time, and your patiance is at its peak

This thing is truely Pandoras box on steroids

On the pre 72, you must take it off the car, its an absolute pig to take apart....after a week and $150 in tools to break it loose it took a machine shop a welding torch, a 10 foot breaker bar, a huge butt vise, 2 boys and a man and about 10 minutes for it to break looses

Good luck... I dont envy you

Prop and the Blackhole Midget


Based on the illustrations in the current Moss catalog - the 2 components that are threaded together don't look that difficult. And with all of that grease (or oil...) floating around inside the steering rack for the last 40 years or so, I would have thought that the potential for internal rust must be very low.

My biggest concern was ACCESS to any of the lock tabs that appear to be created with a hand chisel or another devise during the assembly process. If they are on the backside of the rack assembly - then the unit must come off the vehicle.

Bottom Line?
I really don't want to remove any more of the front end and/or radiator and/or shroud, etc. than I need to at this time. The weather is changing from Summer to Fall in Buffalo NY.

Mike P.
Mike Pelone

Im not sure how to take it apart without breaking the I always order the the coller tabs

No rust inside the ball joints....its just a super fine thread that once its locked down, its locked down super tight and there is no good points to get some type of wrench on it

If you can ... wait till the driving season is over to take on this can get involved very its one of those areas, that one thing leads to another then another and so on...thus Pandoras box ref.

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

I did this job on my 1500 midget many years ago, without removing the rack. I certainly don't recall it being a difficult task. Twirling the rack on to full lock gets the inner ball joint out into the open where it is easy to get at.

I remember that the bellows were messy with oil and kept getting in the way and had to be tied back with string (now I would use zip-ties) Inside there was a nylon cup insert and some thin shims. Removed a couple of shims and tightened it all back up again. I certainly don't recall having any exceptional problem removing the inner tie rod ball joint from the rack, or in getting it apart to replace the nylon cup piece. Perhaps I was just lucky, considering Prop's experience of it!

You probably need to be reasonably careful when undoing the lock nut not to put undue lateral pressure on the rack. The force needs to be applied to back off the locknut first which might be better done with the rack retracted so as to avoid putting strain on an extended, unsupported rack. Once the locknut is backed off half a turn the joint itself can be unscrewed and taken to a bench to dismantle. (assuming you have disconnected the outer TRE as well!)
Guy W


That sounds similar to my plan - I will investigate using a strap wrench of some sort. I can see where getting a decent "grip" on the outside housing can be a little tricky.

There may be some minor differences in the early versus later racks - but the Moss catalog shows similar parts.

My guess is that either the shims have flattened or possibly the cup that receives the ball end of the inner tie rod has just a little too much wear on it.

I am only doing this project to get my mechanic off my back during the next vehicle inspection (next month) - but the rack on my other foreign iron have much more lateral play in the front end. But I am planning on keeping the RWA Midget on the road for a long time. Perhaps, I might even be able to drive it to the funeral home...

Mike P.
Still On The Road in Buffalo
Mike Pelone

This thread was discussed between 07/09/2013 and 08/09/2013

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