Oiling the Steering Rack
(Images are thumbnails)

The Workshop Manual is quite clear in terms of what lubricant should be used in the steering rack, viz., the same 90 weight hypoid oil that is used in the rear axle. With 80 wt. specified for extreme cold.  My experience has been that it's easier said than done.
  Recently (Sept., 2008), I discovered a split in the left boot of the steering rack and decided that it was time for a new set after 13 years.  Installing the new set of boots wasn't very difficult.  The technique that I used to avoid messing up the front end alignment was to count the number of 'flats' on the locknut to back it all the way off.  I then removed the locknut to install the boot, after which I adjusted the tie rod until the locknut 'locked' after the same number of flats from the backed all of the way off position.  It seems to have worked, but I'll have to keep an eye on the front tires.  Next step was to lubricate the rack.
When the boots were off it became obvious that the grease that I had previously put into the rack some 13 years ago wasn't really getting to the ball joints on the ends of the tie rods.  I can see why the Brits specified the use of oil in the rack.  So, I decided to follow their suggestions.  There have been numerous threads on the UK MGBBS about getting oil into the rack.  Some folks say that they've had no problems doing it with an ordinary oiler with a zerk fitting on it.  Some talk about sneaking it in via a piece of tubing.  Some mention going in via the damper cap.  There is reference to an article about making a pressure oiler from a grease gun.  This article can be found at  I wanted to try that approach but I couldn't find a new grease gun with a removable end cap.  All seem to be staked together.  The correct oil was easy to come by.  I've had a couple of quarts of Castrol 80/90 Hypoy oil on my shelf since TD day one for use in the differential (before I switched to Redline).  The Workshop Manual says that the capacity of the steering rack is 400 ml, about 13 ounces.  Attempts at using a plain oil gun were fruitless. I ended up with very significant quantities of oil on me, the workbench and the garage floor.  By the way, if you haven't played around in that area before, you should know that the zerk fitting goes into a larger fitting that screws into the center of the rack.  It looks like this .  Removing the larger fitting (3/8W) gives about a 1/2" hole to work with.  In hindsight I suspect that my efforts at squirting oil into the opening were probably being thwarted by the presence of grease inside of the opening.  I tried using a piece of tubing and just ended up with more oil of the floor (time for a new bag of kitty litter).  Next step was to try to adapt an oil gun to a zerk fitting.  A trip to Home Depot gave me an oil can with a removable, flexible spout   .  A look through the plumbing section located the adapters that I needed to adapt the oil gun out to a grease gun line (1/8" pipe thread).  This gave me something like this that I then tried to use.  The pressure necessary to squeeze oil into the rack was greater than the pump could handle.  Things bent.  Decided that I needed to give air a chance to evacuate from the rack as oil went into it.  Ah yes, loosen the damper cap.  Another problem.  Seems that the damper cap is larger than my largest Whitworth open end wrench, i.e., larger than 1/2W.  I'm guessing that it takes a 5/8W wrench, that I don't have.  Thanks to 'the53' I was able to find that an SAE 1 1/8" open end wrench would fit.  A trip to Sears (and $20) produced a 1 1/8" wrench that allowed me to loosen the damper cap.  still couldn't squeeze ant oil into the fitting. Forget that approach. Tried putting the oil into a small, cartridge type grease gun and just succeeded in needing more kitty litter.
I work part time at Sears (tools section) to feed my TD habit.  Things were slow that evening and I wandered around the automotive tools area looking for some inspiration.  Eureka!  I discovered an air powered grease gun.  It's Sears Model 09-19958, $29.99.  I bought one and took it home. It comes with a flexible extension hose.  I discovered that, if I installed the extension hose, I could keep the gun upside down so that oil inside of the cylinder goes to the internal feed area with no leaks.  I put about 200 ml of oil into the gun and proceeded to give the trigger a lot of squeezes.  I unscrewed the cylinder and, sunofagun, the oil was just about gone.  Refilled and did it again until it I felt that I had enough in the rack.  Removed the gun from the zerk fitting to admire my work. Slight problem -- oil was leaking out of the zerk fitting.  The damper cap was still loose so I knew that it wasn't a pressure problem.  I unscrewed the zerk fitting and separated it from the large fitting that it mounts into.  What I discovered is that the spring in the zerk was out of position and was preventing the ball from seating .  I then cannibalized the zerk from 'the53' and installed it.  No leaks.  This zerk must be a generic item.  It's only $1.98 from Abingdon Spares ($2 from Moss).
So, about $50 later I now have 80/90 wt. hypoid oil in my steering rack.
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created 9/27/08