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Series V Idler Arm (aka Relay Lever)

Discussion in '"Stock" Alpine' started by Bill Blue, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    Mine had a lot of play in it, detectable only when the right wheel was shaken while testing. A lot of play. The strange part - after removal from the car, I found it was well greased but very stiff to move. So stiff, that I was not able to exercise the joint while holding it in my hands. Is that normal?

    Also, the replacement bushes (from Rick) are way too long. 1 1/4" and they must be no more than 3/4" . I can cut them down, but wonder why no one seems to have mentioned it. Is this something that varies with Series?

  2. DanR

    DanR Diamond Level Sponsor

    Mr Bill, I have some of the bushings from SS, will go look, seems as I recall they are no longer than 1" maybe less.

    I notice the left wheel would wobble a bit ( you could shake it side ways a very little) when turned complely to the tight left, but the right wheel would not on one of my Alpines.
  3. gary1725

    gary1725 Donation Time

    the bush that Rick provides for the Idler is the same bush provided for the bottom of the steering box and it is longer than the idler bushing - a friend turned mine down in a lathe before fitting it... can not remember dimensions just remember finding out when I pushed the old bushing out...
  4. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    Glad to hear there were no nasty surprises in the turning operation. I am surprised this is not better known and not mentioned by Rick. I have a lathe, so it should be only a matter of finding the time, which seems to be pretty precious of late.

  5. Bill Eisinger

    Bill Eisinger Platinum Level Sponsor

    The video for rebuilding the idler box in the “How To” section of the Forum talks about the bushing length
  6. DanR

    DanR Diamond Level Sponsor

    Bill & Bill,

    Here is an extract from the How to Video:

    Quote: "If the idler mechanism gets worn and rough or is un-lubricated it spoils the steering, handling and overall enjoyment of owning a Sunbeam Alpine sports car. The change that overhauling the idler on this car made was amazing, it transformed the drive completely.

    NOTE: In the video we show how, on one idler assembly we re-furbished, we cut down the long steering box bushes to be the same size as the original idler bushes. There is actually no need to do this. There is enough space inside the idler tube to use the longer (later version) bushes if you machine out the internal step in the idler tube. (This would actually be a better option as it would provide more support along the length of the pin than the original bushes did)." Unquote

    It is always amazing to me to when I re-read or re-watch something how different things pop out:)

    I watched the video and read along as I watched but did not recall the above underlined statement .
  7. Bill Eisinger

    Bill Eisinger Platinum Level Sponsor

    We’re right in the middle of rebuilding the idler box on my SI project...I think we’re going to use the video tip of machining out the center ridge of the box to facilitate the longer bushings...we’re scratching our heads a bit as to how to chuck the box onto the lathe but I think we can figure it out.
  8. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    I would argue there is no need to re-machine the original housing. I just think the seller should tell us what we bought. It is sold as a replacement bushing, which as received, is not. This is the kind of parts you get from VB.

    Bill, I don't think it is worth while. The box has to be mounted EXACTLY concentric with and parallel to the existing hole. If not, the whole thing would be ruined and have to be redone. Probably the best bet would be to mount it on a face plate. I am considering cutting the steel back of the bushes to fit the smaller I.D.. That would be a straight forward turning operation. The original bushes lasted over 100,000 miles of neglect on my car, (I've put 108,000 on it) so there can't be much wrong with the stock length.

  9. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    The replacement bushings have undersized internal diameter and require reaming to size. This is not a trivial operation for most owners, requiring an expensive 7/8", (best if adjustable) reamer. If I did not have the reamer, I would look into buying a pair of Oilite bushings from McMaster-Carr. They are about five bucks a pair and should be properly sized. No cutting to length or reaming.

  10. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    Got the job completed and the car road tested. I believe the idler arm has been problematic for the past 100,000 miles. I am now, for the first time, completely satisfied with how the car behaves on the road.

  11. Barry

    Barry Platinum Level Sponsor

    In the words of the late Arte Johnson, Very interesting! I have to admit that the relay arm is the last place that I would have thought to look for a steering problem.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  12. Charles Johns

    Charles Johns Donation Time

    Bill, does this mean when I drove your Beam it had steering problems? Since I have yet to drive one, other than yours, I did not feel any steering problems I remember. I am trying to keep the OEM Sunbeam Alpine steering in mine is why I ask. At least I have 2 cars to pick from for best spares.
  13. Charles Johns

    Charles Johns Donation Time

    Barry, and Arte Johnson was always asking Ruth Buzzy if she wanted some of his Walnettos?
  14. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    Yes, it had severe problems. Most obvious in windy/gusty weather or twisty roads. But the stiff idler are was helping to keep things stable under less rigorous conditions. Greasing the idler arm freed things up and really opened Pandora's box. In my opinion, it made the car unsafe to drive at speed. Sixty mph was starting to push the safety envelope. A day behind the wheel made for a real tired old man.

  15. Charles Johns

    Charles Johns Donation Time

    It is a very short wheelbase car so high speeds and cross wind can cause problems. Street Rods with short wheelbases have the same problem. My bro-in-law had an early Angelia with lots of Chevy power. Looked really cool...drove like crap on the highway. A good friend had a Metropolitan with blown Chevy that was really quick. I was behind it next in line at Green Valley raceway. At the end of the 1320 it was all over the track. I wondered why the two brothers flipped a coin to see who drove it. Loser drives! After that I understood.
  16. Shannon Boal

    Shannon Boal Bronze Level Sponsor

    Found an adjustable 7/8" reamer at the Melbourne, FL Hamfest for $2.... if I rebuild one of these, I am set!

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