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1959 Rapier steering box

Discussion in 'Huskies, Imps, Rapiers, Fastbacks, etc.' started by Chrisp Rapier, Jun 25, 2022.

  1. Chrisp Rapier

    Chrisp Rapier Donation Time

    Hello all new guy here. I have taken on a big project, my 1959 Sunbeam Rapier. I am here in the US. I have been searching for info on the steering box. I had removed everything from the engine compartment including the steering components. Nothing was moving. No steering wheel rotation. I opened the access cap. There were some loose ball bearings. I took it all apart. The seized part ended up being the steering column. The shaft was seized inside the sleeve (tube). I managed with a lot of "liquid Wrench" and actual wrenches, to free up the shaft. Lots of very rusty solvent was dripping out.
    I read about rebuilding and ball bearings and races and shims. I think I get it all. What I believe my problem is not in the box but rather the shaft. No amount of shims would allow for the bearing to have the proper capturing force. The shaft has a lot of play. I mean like up and down play. Like a piston. This play is about an inch of travel. I did see a diagram for an early Alpine steering box that appears to be the same unit.
    I see on the diagram an internal spring. I feel no spring action. Is there a way to disassemble the steering column? It appears to be maybe riveted together.

    Any insight as to how to open the unit and am I wrong about the travel up and down issue?
  2. Chrisp Rapier

    Chrisp Rapier Donation Time

    I see now that there is an adjustable steering wheel on the Alpine. No doubt the spring I see on the diagram is related to that adjustability.
  3. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    Loose balls visible when the cover is removed is loads of bad news.. No spring is involved in the adjustment feature. There is one spring in the Alpine unit, it provides downward pressure on the steering column "nut". This "nut" contains balls that ride in the worm gear that is a part of the steering rod. The loose balls are likely from this "nut", a very ominous sign. I have no idea how closely the Alpine unit resembles the Rapier unit.

  4. Chrisp Rapier

    Chrisp Rapier Donation Time

    The spring that holds down the component with the large ball bearings is intact. It was not the BBs from what travels on the "spiral", that were loose. The smaller BBs were from the end race, at the end point of the shaft. Everything looks good in the box itself. The surfaces of the ball bearing races are all free of wear. It is more to do with the amount of play in the steering column shaft. The shaft "pistons" up and down inside the sleeve. Without it being "fixed" in the sleeve it is impossible to locate the ball bearings in the end races. My guess is there is not supposed to be this play in the steering column shaft. I think something is amiss inside.

    So I guess I have two questions. One, what is inside? Is it one continuous shaft from steering wheel down into the box or are there other components in between? My second question is: Can the steering column be opened up? How is it disassembled if so? Any insight?
  5. pruyter

    pruyter Donation Time

    As an owner of both a Tiger MK I and a Rapier Series IV I can confirm that both steering units look very identical but there are differences.
    The best way to help you is delivering you a picture of the Rapier Parts List in which I found 3 different steering units. The third one regards the Series IV and V so this is not relevant to your case. The first one regards Steering unit P which is used for the first number of Rapier Series I and the second drawing (Steering unit type F) regards the late Series I onwards to the Series IV. Your Rapier is from 1959 so I assume your Rapier is a Series II and has the Steering unit type F.
    So now come the task trying to upload the pictures from the Parts list which will show both the Steering units type P and F.
    Steering Unit-P type 001.jpg Steering Unit type F 001.jpg
    I hope this is somehow helpful


    Last edited: Jun 26, 2022
  6. Filister

    Filister Silver Level Sponsor

    I replaced the " worm and peg" in my series 1 Rapier a couple of years ago with the unit from a series v alpine. Bolts right in. In the process I disassembled the unit from my 59 Rapier parts car. Here's what I remember.

    There should be no "piston" action from the steering shaft. That play is controlled by the shims between the column and box and should be in the thousandths.. The upper and lower ball races positively locate the steering shaft. I remember getting the upper and lower races assembled was tricky. If these balls were loose in the box something may have broken. Unfortunately I don't remember how I assembled the races. I believe the upper column holds them in place. To disassemble the column, disconnect the column from the box, (3 bolts) remove steering wheel, turn signal, etc. This will allow the column to slide up off the steering shaft. The only thing I remember in the column was a felt bush.

    Sorry for the vagueness I hope something here helps. And I'm sure you recognize it but your series 2 is the middle picture above. Burman F
  7. Chrisp Rapier

    Chrisp Rapier Donation Time

    Wow! The diagram of type F is the one and it is so helpful. Thank you so much.
  8. Chrisp Rapier

    Chrisp Rapier Donation Time

    Excellent. I now understand. There is definitely something amiss in the steering column. There is no doubt it is rusted inside and is causing the piston type play when the column is bolted to the box. Now I also understand the column should slide off of the shaft (after unbolting from the box) but does not. Clearly whatever is rusted inside that caused the inability to spin the shaft in the column is causing it to not slide out now. I think more penetrating oil and we will see what happens. There must be some bushing inside. I imagine they are located where I see two riveted pins, top and bottom along the column. Thank you so very much for your information.
  9. Filister

    Filister Silver Level Sponsor

    Pulled out my old column. I only see 2 obstructions ( tight fit) One at each end. one about 2-3" from the steering wheel end and one at the box end. Both narrow spots are about the same diameter and that is the diameter of the hole at the box end. The box end is approx 3" long, the steering end is approx 1/2" long. The rest of the tube is hollow.
  10. Chrisp Rapier

    Chrisp Rapier Donation Time

    after a little penetrating oil and a tug, the sleave slid off the shaft. the little bit of rust inside was inhibiting its removal. everything looks exactly as you describe it. There are basically sleave bearings on either end of the tube. The sleave bearing at the steering wheel end is made of an unusual material. It looks like maybe it is bakelite or something. This sleave is my problem, I think. This has a crack in it that I can see down inside. I believe after seeing how this all works that the slight "shoulder" that exists on the steering wheel end of the shaft rides against this sleave bearing. The shoulder in the metal shaft is very slight. I think this small shoulder is sliding past the edge of the sleave bearing, because of the crack. Because of steering shaft sliding too far into the column, it makes for too much play well beyond what several shims that I have, could overcome. There is more than 1/2' too much play. I think I need to replace this sleave bearing if it was possible to find one. If not I would need to attempt a repair of this sleave bearing. Maybe with epoxy.

    Thank you for your information!
  11. Filister

    Filister Silver Level Sponsor

    Is it possible you're missing the collar (#62 in the diagram) ? With the upper and lower bearings assembled correctly the column base will press that collar tight to the bearing. There should be no slop at all. As you add shims the preload on the bearing will decrease . I don't think the steering column and shaft will have any affect on up and down motion except from the shims.
  12. Chrisp Rapier

    Chrisp Rapier Donation Time

    I have #62

    The shaft has some stop inside the column. It has to in order for it all to be kept in check.
  13. Chrisp Rapier

    Chrisp Rapier Donation Time

    I have actually found a new upper steering column bushing. I have ordered it. I shall see if this sorts out my excessive play issue.
  14. Chrisp Rapier

    Chrisp Rapier Donation Time

    OK I see. So the base of the column pushes on the upper bearing. this in turn pushes the entire shaft down on the lower bearing. Somehow the pressure is to be equal on the lower and upper bearings. I see there is a cap underneath the lower bearing. Is it possible to remove this cap? Would there be a benefit to positioning the ball bearings into the race on the lower set with the ca off?

    Just to clarify everything. I guess on the shims required put all the bearings in place. See what kind of clearance I get. Then remove everything entirely again, to add or remove a shim and do it all over again? Seems a pretty unscientific method. Well I guess the shaft and bearing can stay in place and the column slide off to add shims.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2022
  15. Filister

    Filister Silver Level Sponsor

    According to the work shop manual this can be done in 2 steps. Assemble the column with no shims and measure the gap with a feeler guage. Subtract .oo15" and that is the thickness of the shim and gasket pack. There should be 2 paper gaskets in the stack one top and bottom and are included in the thickness. This should be done before adjusting the box shims. So this gives a bearing pre-load of .0015" shared between top and bottom bearings. This should effectively eliminate any "pistoning"

    I'm still worried about the large amount of up and down movement. Something is wrong there. Have you checked the condition of the worm gear ends. These function as the inner bearing races. Perhaps they are worn allowing the balls to come loose. Finding loose balls is a bad sign.
  16. Chrisp Rapier

    Chrisp Rapier Donation Time

    The balls that were loose were not the larger ones from the "yoke" that travels on the worm gear. They were from the lower bearing.

    My steering unit has 5 shims in place and only one paper gasket in very poor condition.

    My Rapier was recently acquired. It was someone's project from the mid 1970s. It came with a parts vehicle that was very much disassembled. It had no steering column or box. I might assume that it was taken many years ago and put on the other vehicle. My point is that someone probably had been monkeying around with the steering box many years ago before it all sat for decades. Perhaps the balls were loose from someone's prior handywork.

    The worm gear shows no wear marks. The bearing races are also good.
  17. Filister

    Filister Silver Level Sponsor

    Just to be clear. When I said the worm gear bearing races might be worn I was talking about the small bearing sets at the top and bottom, not the large carriage bearings. The worm gear casting incorporates the inner bearing races for these two sets,

    And you're certainly right about what previous owners might have done.
    Just fyi, I have a 59 parts car and a few odds and ends if you run into something you need.
  18. Chrisp Rapier

    Chrisp Rapier Donation Time

    I will clean everything up including the shims, which are not pristine. The one paper gasket I have is torn up and is a throw away. Lets say I require three shims, does that mean I have this paper gasket then the three shims then another paper gasket? Are the paper gaskets also between each shim? I am guessing the paper gasket is the attempt to prevent leaking so surely there must be a paper gasket between each metal thing? I am assuming I need to make these paper gaskets.

    That is exceedingly nice of you to say about the spare parts. Thanks.
  19. Filister

    Filister Silver Level Sponsor

    The book shows a paper gasket at both ends of the shim pack. So that would be , paper gasket- shim pack-paper gasket. No gasket between the shims. Seems odd but that's what it says. It lists the paper gaskets at either .002" or .005" thick. It also calls the paper gaskets "joint washers" if that means anything to you.
  20. Filister

    Filister Silver Level Sponsor

    I believe this site has a copy of the workshop manual 124. This manual covers the Rapier steering box in section J. The rapier seems essentially the same as the Alpine except for ratio and the adjustable reach top end.

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