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MG MGA - Front end alignement/rebuild

Greetings and Happy Holidays to all....

While working on my 1600 coupe, I rebuilt the steering rack and the complete front suspention. My problem is, that even with the tie-rods adjusted in as far as allowable, the front wheels still angle outwards (back to front) The front edge of the tires angle outwards. Might I have received the incorrect tie rods? Are the ones I installed slightly too long? I can't figure out how to shorten the tie rod/steering length enough to make the tires run straight. Any ideas? Thanks....as always.
Robert Maupin

What items have you replaced?
The steering rack?
The tie-rods?
The steering arms (levers)?

Do you still have the old parts?



Mick
M F Anderson

Are the trunnions installed correctly?
A Pearse

Robert, are you using the MGA king pins and brakes or have you converted to MGB parts. If the latter then the toe out condition you have is normal with that combination and the tie rods will need to be shortened about 1/2 to 5/8" to allow proper toe setting. If you haven't converted are the tie rod ends mounted on the top or bottom of the steering arms? It's possible to get those reversed which could cause the toe setting to be a bit off as well. IIRC the rod ends should be on top the steering arms.
Bill Young

I am with AP - the top link (item 3 Page K3 in the manual) can be put on backwards - does wonders for steering geometry!
Regards
Mike
Mike Ellsmore (1)

Incorrect trunnion assembly will also affect the camber angle. Are items 3 and 4 correctly fitted as per the attached image?


Mick

M F Anderson

Mike:
I took the steering assebly apart, cleaned everything well, replaced the ball seat, housing-male ball, tie rod lock washer, adjusting shims, seal-rack to tie rod/with new seal clips and of course tie rod socket assemplies (not the tie rods themselves)and of course, all the bushings, seals, I dod not replace the steering arms. The old parts are gone.

AP: I'm not sure what you're calling trunnions as there's no paert so name on the exploded part diagram in my parts book.

Bill: I used the oringinal parts that I removed from the car. However, looking at the diagram, similarly to my reply to AP, I see no "king pin" listed on the parts sheet. I think I know what each of you are refering to but I must admit, I wouldn't bet my life on it! As to the tie-rod ends being on incorrectly..
you might be on to something. However, you state they should be "on top of the steering arm". But, when looking at both the parts manual and the workshop manual, the grease fitting is shown to be located on the bottom whereas mine, mounted on top of the steering arm, have the grease fittings top side rather than under. But, with the steering arm beveled, I can't see how it can be switched to mount under the steering arm, even though that's the way it looks like it should be according to the parts book?

Mike E: My top steering link has the grease fitting located outside/top as in the drawing. When you say "backwards" do you mean left and right reversed or upside down?

Mike F A: Same question as asked to Mike E.

Everyone: Are you calling the Pin-Swivel the "trunnion"? If so, I can't see how I would install that incorrectly as there is a notch at the bottom that allows for the steering pin to pass. Inverted would prevent my getting the steering arm to connect?

So, at this point, I need to make certain if the tie-rod end/ball-joint is located on the top side of the steering arm or the bottom. I have it on top right now but each illistration in the shop manual and the parts book seem to show it the ohter way around. Let's keep putting our heads together on this one. Thanks for all the input to date!
Robert Maupin

Does the attached image help?


Mick

M F Anderson

MF -

What is the vertical bit with the ball socket running to the spring pan?

Cheers,
Christopher
Christopher Wilson

Christopher,

That is the anti-sway bar link. This was standard on later MGA 1600 and could be fitted to earlier cars if you also fitted a later chassis front extension, which has a depression on the top for the anti-sway bar bushings and bar. The spring pan also uses a reinforced version.

Robert,

I think that you have to check the markings on all parts and compare with the Service Parts List. All the parts, pin-swivel, link upper and lower for the pin-swivel, and the steering arms (levers), have R/H and L/H items (viewed the way the car travels).


Mick
M F Anderson

Greetings Mick,

Thanks for the photo! From what is shown, it looks as if I have reassembled all the components correctly, less the anti-sway assembly which my car lacks. So, at this point, I still have no idea why my brake rotors angle outwards, back to front.
Robert Maupin

Robert,
You mentioned in your original note that you had purchased new tie rod ends. When I redid my steering rack, I also bought new tie rod ends. I got them from Moss and there was a note attached about a problem where you run out of threads. It seems to me that is the problem you have. I don't currently have scanning capability, so I've copied below a portion of the note.

"The Problem
On some MGAs the additional length creates a problem. In Figure 2, the tie rod end has been threaded onto the tie rod to the point where the jam nut has run out of threads. This is a problem if you run out of threads before the wheels are aligned proplerly. This is not strictly a new problem. We have talked to a couple of shops that swapped original steering racks from one MGA to another and either the tie rod ends or the tie rod had to be shortened in order to align the front end. Not all tie rod ends, steering racks and tie rods fitted to MGAs are the same."

Sorry there's no Figure 2, but it's a photo of the tie rod end and the tie rod. The note goes on to recommend that you compare the length of the old to new tie rod ends. If the new ones are longer, it says the easiest solution is to cut off 1/4" off the tie rod end with a hack saw. I think they really mean the tie rod itself as the picture shows a portion of the threaded rod being cut off.

I guess this is just another possibility for the solution to your problem as you've received a lot of ideas. Good luck.

Larry
LP Pittman

I had the same problem when rebuilding my front end in 2001. I bought the new tie rod ends from Moss. They were longer than the original ones. I used a lathe to remove about 1/4 inch from them. I chucked a piece of threaded rod and screwed the tie rod ends onto it so that the ends would be square to the threads after being cut off. Worked just fine, but I was again dissapointed that "new" parts needed to be altered in order to make them useable.
Ed Bell

So is anyone selling proper sized tie rod ends at this point? I'll be needing some in the near future and sure would like to avoid this if possible.

MF - Interesting that my car, a 1961 Mk II doesn't have that anti-sway bar link. Thanks for the explanation.

Cheers,
Christopher
Christopher Wilson

Christopher,

The anti-sway bar was standard on the 1600 MK11. It would appear that someone has removed it from your car.
Check that the front extension has the depression shown in the attached image.
Also does the spring pan have that small, square reinforcing pad which is visible in the previous posting (behind the link ball joint)?
The MGA really needs an anti-sway bar and you should consider fitting one.

Mick

M F Anderson

Christopher,

Sorry, an error in my previous posting. The anti-sway was optional on the pushrod MGA, it became standard only on the later mga twin cam.
Your car should still have the depression in the chassis front extension for the anti-sway bar.


Mick
M F Anderson

Greetings to all and thanks heaps for all the input.
I believe Larry has hit on the problem. Unfortunately, the little "note" was not included with the tie rods I received. You'd think they'd just make them the correct length. Anyway, while looking at my problem, I was leaning toward cutting as shorter as has been suggested. I just figured I must have reassembled some component incorrectly. So, I'll hack of 1/4" and see if that doesn't resolve the problem, I think it will. I'm just glad I don't have to take everything apart because I put sometinhg in wrong. Thanks again to all! Happy Hoildays!

Safety/Fast
Robert Maupin

Me again,

Larry/Ed:

Question: How is cutting 1/4" off the end of the tie rod going to help shorten the overall length? My tie rod ends are currently screwed up all the way with no more thread. Cutting off the end won't help me draw up/shorten the overall length since I can't screw the tie rod end up any more. Cutting off the threaded end of the tie rod will simply leave less inside the threaded portion of the tie rod end. Won't I have to cut off a corresponding length on the tie rod end as well? I don't know...maybe I've just been looking at this thing too long. Do I have to shorten both the tie rods and the tie rod ends?
Robert Maupin

Robert,

As well as cutting a piece off the tie rod you will have to cut more thread on the tie rod.
Don't cut the tie rod end.

As an unrelated matter, do you have wire wheels or lug type disc wheels?


Mick
M F Anderson

Robert
I did not cut the ends of the tie rods. I removed the material from the new tie rod ends. I don't remember if I had to make the internal threads deeper or if they were already deep enough. My thoughts were that the original tie rods worked for 40 years, so it had to be the new tie rod ends that were not right. Try installing your tie rod ends without the jam nut and see if they can be screwed on far enough to correct the problem. If they can, then you only need to remove enough material from the new parts to make room for the jam nuts to be installed.
Ed Bell

Robert
I forgot to say that I do not advise making any changes to critical parts of your car unless you have confidence that they will still function as intended. I felt that the changes I made to the tie rod ends did not compromise the function or safty of my car. Only you can say the same for yours. If you are unshure then I would advise you to look for a source of parts that fit correctly without altering anything.
Ed Bell

Mick:

Mine is a wired wheeled model. Sounds like I have more work to do....more than I thought might be required. Working on this car is both a source of pleasure and frustration. Having to do something over again because new parts are incorrect really spikes the latter! Thanks once again for all the comments and help. Cheers!
Robert Maupin

Robert,
I was thinking about my original comment that I thought the note meant to cut the tie rod, not the tie rod end. However, if the problem you're faced with is that the new tie rod end is too long (probably the case), then you may be running out of threads before you can properly adjust the tie rods and you'd have to cut off a portion of the tie rod end.
Ed's suggestion of installing without the jam nuts should clarify where the problem is at. He also makes the (correct) point that if the tie rod ends are new, then they're likely the problem.

I had to draw a quick sketch to clarify this in my mind. It's attached.

LP Pittman

Robert,

I know that this is getting confusing, but stay with it. Your earlier post states that you have run out of thread on the tie rod. If this is the case then you cannot determine if the tie-rod is bottoming out in the tie-rod end.
You have only three choices.
(1) Obtain a tie-rod end that is the correct size.
(2) Extend (cut) more thread on the tie-rod to see if you can get the correct adjustment without cutting the tie-rod end.
(3) Cut the tie rod end.

I prefer (1) and then (2) as I do not like the idea of reducing the length of contact between the threads on the tie-rod and the tie-rod end.

On a separate issue. On wire wheel cars, after you have removed both hubs, you must fit them back on the same side that they came from. If the hubs are on the wrong side the wheels will fall off after you drive a few miles.
The check for the correct side is in the Workshop Manual and in the attached image.


Mick

M F Anderson

>You have only three choices.
>(1) Obtain a tie-rod end that is the correct size.
>(2) Extend (cut) more thread on the tie-rod to see if
>you can get the correct adjustment without cutting the
>tie-rod end.
>(3) Cut the tie rod end.
>
>I prefer (1) and then (2) as I do not like the idea of
>reducing the length of contact between the threads on >the tie-rod and the tie-rod end.

I disagree. In extending the threads on the tie rod farther down the rod by just running a die down it, you can set up a potential failure that may not occur for some time, probably at the worst possible moment (like there is ever a good time for a steering link to break). Without going to the shop and doing some major cleaning on my parts that I'm not ready to do yet, I can't say whether the threads on the tie rod are cut or rolled, but usually threads on critical parts such as these are rolled. In addition to being weaker than rolled threads, cutting the threads farther down the rod can create a stress riser at the point where the new threads stop, which can lead to a fatigue failure at that point. This can be prevented by chucking the part in a lathe and turning (tapering) the rod down to the minor diameter of the threads at the point where the threads end, but few of us have the ability to do that.

If the end has truly run out of thread, then I am not sure what the easy solution would be. Maybe some other supplier has tie rod ends of the correct dimension. I suppose if you got a new rack and new rod ends from the same supplier, there would be a reasonable expectation that they would work together, but in this day and age of reproduction parts, I wouldn't place any sizeable bets on it. And besides, that would be squashing a fly with a gold plated sledgehammer, when all that is really needed is new rod ends.

Here is some more information on cut threads vs. rolled threads, for anybody who is interested:

http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=159069&page=2
Del Rawlins

Greetings all,

Thanks for sticking with me on this one.

Could someone take a minute and measure the entire length of their tie rod ENDS, from outside ball edge to threaded end opening. Maybe then I can determine which component is the incorrect length? Cheers!
Robert Maupin

Robert, I have just finished rebuilding my 1960 A Coupe steering rack and had to have one of the teeth welded and grind down, but that's another story. I used OEM tie rod ends and have no problem with the alignment. The distance from the outside of the ball end of the tie rod to the end of the threaded end is 3 1/2". I would be reluctant to cut either the inner tie rod or tie rod end.
Thats not the safest way. Get some more tie rod ends. You could try Cecelia at Scarborogh Faire and see what she says. She's a world of information and very willing to share.

Good Luck, don't take chances.

Andy

Andy Preston

I was just taking my rack apart tonight and measured mine, also 3.5. Mine are shot however and need replacing, so again, does anyone know of a good source? Surely someone out there has recently fitted tie rod ends that are spec and fit with an original rack?

I'll take some pics tomorrow and show the state of things.

BTW -- I assume the dampers should have no wear? Mine appear pretty worn and are arched to the shape of the rack.

Also, my car had no felt seal and of course was packed with grease rather than oil. Good news is the rack itself looks fine as do the tie rods and ball joints.

I just need two good tie rod ends.

Cheers,
Christopher
Christopher Wilson

Thanks Andy,

Looks like a great start to your restoration!

Unfortunately, your measurements are consistant with my tie rod ends so I guess the problem lies in the tie rods themselves. Cheers!
Robert Maupin

Robert,

The plot thickens! If your tie rod ends are the correct length and you are using your old original tie rods, why is the adjustment not correct? I think you need to re-check your assembly.
If somebody has their rack out of the car (or disconnected at the tie rod ends) could they measure the length from the end of one tie rod to the end of the other tie rod, with the tie rod ends removed? You would have hold the tie rods parallel to the rack while you take the measurement.


Mick
M F Anderson

M F,

I have my rack disassembled right now and would be willing to take those measurements. I'll post a pick as well when I get them.

Cheers,
Christopher
Christopher Wilson

Mine is currently disconnected with the steering rack still installed. I will try to get the measurement that Mick suggested later today.

Hope everyone has a great holiday and Merry Christmas!

Don Carlberg
1960 MGA 1600 roadster
Don Carlberg

M F,

I don't have both tie rods removed, but here are measurements of the tire rods and rack on my car.

Tie rods = 8.5 inches each exactly
Rack = 23 3/8 inches

Total length of rack with tie rods = 40 3/8 inches

Cheers,
Christopher






Christopher Wilson

I got just a little more than 40 inches. Difficult to get a precise measurement because the rack and rods are installed. This would seem to confirm Christopher's measurement.

Don Carlberg
Don Carlberg

My fellows,

Measuring my "total" length, from outside to outside of the tie rod ends, I have 46". I ran a tape measure up the tie rod, across the rack (tape laying behind the grease fitting, and down to the other tie rod end. As you say, not exact by any means but it gives a "total" length of the assembly. Remember, my tie rod ends are drawn up all the way, with the locking nuts still in place.
Robert Maupin

Robert, your unit appears to be approximately 1" too long. I measured the tie rod end thread depth to 1 7/8". The total length of each tie rod end(unit with the ball joint) is 3 1/2 inches. The thread showing up to the locknut is 1 1/8" on each tie rod (the locknuts are pretty close to where they were with everything installed.) With the tie rod end installed up to the locknut, the additional length would be 2 3/8" (3 1/2 minus 1 1/8) on each end (4 3/4" total.) That added to the 40 3/8" would give a total length of 45 1/8" with the tires aligned. I believe that I got my tie rod ends from JC Whitney about 20 years ago (photo attached). (Note the lack of a grease fitting.)

Hope that this helps.

Good luck.
Don Carlberg

Don Carlberg

Fellas,

I just called Moss and asked about their tie rod ends since I need some. They measure 3 5/8 which is acceptable with the inside thread of 1 7/8 as Don mentioned. Moss says the tie rod thread itself should be 1.5 inches, which mine is. With the jam nut on it takes some off of that to just above an inch. That should mean the Moss tie rods ends would be OK.

I've order a set and will let you folks know with pictures of the fit compared to my current ones.

Oh, and BTW -- the Moss ones they are carrying right now have the grease fitting, they did say at one time they didn't carry these.

Cheers,
Christopher
Christopher Wilson

Robert,
Is your car assembled? engine and all bodywork installed? If not, it may change the geometry of things when that weight is added.
Ed Bell

Ed, Isn't front wheel alignment normally set with the cars weight off the wheels? Engine in or out wouldn't make a difference in that case.
Andy Bounsall

O.K. then.....

It's seems my assembly length is about 1" to long? Looking at it head on, that's about what I would have guesstimated. So, now I have to figure out where the 1" came from and how to get it taken up. No idea. Thanks for all your running out to the garage and taking measurements. I appreciate all your efforts in helping me figure this out. Still don't know how to correct this darn thing. I'll let you all know if one night soon I sit up in bed and yell, I've got it!
Robert Maupin

>Ed, Isn't front wheel alignment normally set with the
>cars weight off the wheels? Engine in or out wouldn't
>make a difference in that case.

Front end alignment is normally adjusted with the weight of the car ON the wheels, with the wheels sitting on slip plates that will remove any friction between the ground and the tires from the occasion. It is also standard practice to "jounce" the suspension up and down once on the plates, to allow the car to settle to its "true" currently adjusted suspension geometry.

If you don't have proper slip plates, a couple of steel plates with grease in between under each front wheel would make for a reasonable substitute. If you are just trying to get it close enough to drive it to an alignment shop, that really isn't necessary.
Del Rawlins

Ref: Alignment

I can understand how weight on the tire would effect the camber and caster but not sure how it would change the toe-in/toe-out of the wheels? Right now my engine and tranny are set on the frame but the car is resting on a cradle my neighbor welded/made for me so I can roll the frame unit around the garage as needed.
Robert Maupin

Robert,

As the wheels move up and down the tie rods swing through an arc with the inner joint at the rack being the center. Moving through an arc changes the effective length of the tie rods which then move the steering arms (levers). All wheel alignment, toe in, castor, camber should be measured with the wheels on the ground and the engine and transmission in.

One more thing, try and adjust the tie rods so that they are approximately the same length. This will have the pinion gear spending most of its time at the center of the rack. Only the teeth near the center of the rack have been flame hardened for that reason.

Remember to check that the hubs are on the correct side of the car, as explained in an earlier post. (Just wind the eared nuts on and off without the wheels).



Mick
M F Anderson

> Front end alignment is normally adjusted with the weight of the car ON the wheels...

I stand corrected. The thing I lie about this site is that I learn something every day. :)
Andy Bounsall

> The thing I lie...

OK, that should've said "The thing I LIKE...". I'll step away now and let you all discuss whether or not that was a freudian slip.
Andy Bounsall

This thread was discussed between 19/12/2008 and 23/12/2008

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