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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm trying to install a replacement rack. Any tips on how to get the steering shaft onto the splined rack shaft?

I can't seem to get anything down in the AL channel to push the rack towards the steering shaft and the collar seems really tight.

I looked at loosening the steering column, but there are a couple of bolts way in the back that are nutted and spin, but I am unable to get a wrench on the nuts to keep them from spinning as the bolt is turned.
 

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I unbolted the steering column under the instrument cluster and slid out the column and then back onto the splines. Make sure the steering wheel in centered while slipping onto the spline. Have someone assisting.

I have seen a write up that suggest that you take it apart at the second u-joint.
 

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I unbolted the column below the cluster as well, getting the shaft to slide in is terrible, put it off 'till winter. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have loosened the bolts below the cluster, but did you also loosen the two at the back of the collapsible steering tube?

With just the two below the cluster loose, the shaft doesn't seem to move much more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Mission Accomplished

It turns out that the easiest way to do the rack replacement is to:
1. Disconnect battery ground wire
2. Remove the upper and lower column shrouds
3. Disconnect switch wire attached to the lower shroud
4. Pop out the switch stalks, but leave the wiring connected
5. Snap off the plastic cluster cover by pulling towards the driver's seat. This required more force than I'd like, but didn't damage anything
6. Remove the cluster and set it some place safe
7. Remove the two 13 mm bolts that retain a black wiring box and the upper steering column (bolt 13 from parts list)
8. Push the black box inside the dash to get it out of the way of the next bolt
9. Remove the 13 mm bolt at the far end of the steering column (bolt 18 in parts list) using an extension and swivel through the cluster hole. It helps to use some tape on the swivel to restrain it's movement as you align the socket to the bolt head.
10. Remove the pinch bolt at the rack end of the steering shaft. If you will be re-installing the same rack, you would be wise to scribe or paint mark the two parts so they can be reassembled *exactly* where they were.
10. Jack Car. Remove the wheels.
11. Disconnect the outer tie rods using a Pitman arm puller or some better tool. No speed wrenches. No pickle forks.
12. Remove the 4 bolts holding the rack to the chassis
13. Disconnect the steering shaft from the rack. It may easily pull off from inside the car, but I removed mine by grabbing the rod end and flicking my wrist quickly.
14. Slide the rack out through the wheel opening
15. Do whatever rack stuff you intended to do
16. Put it back together
17. The hardest part is mating the steering rack splines with the shaft. That is why you loosened the column bolts. You should now be able to pull the column out the 3/4" you need to get things properly lined up.
18. To center the wheel is pretty easy. The stock Elise rack is 2.85 turns lock to lock. I put some Yellow centering tape on the wheel at 12 o'clock. Turn the wheel side to side until you understand which direction you need to go to get it centered. I found it easiest to center at the lock positions. Basically, I could see the pie slice that exists between the lock positions after working the wheel left and right. I then turn the wheel to lock (right or left, your choice) and decide where my centering tape needs to be to make the ideal pie slice. I disconnected the shaft while someone holds the wheel at lock. I then have the assistant move the wheel to the ideal location and re-engage the shaft.
19. Now go through and tighten everything up.
20. Get an alignment.

If the steering shaft can't be pushed onto to splines, try marking and removing the shaft at the upper joint and cleaning and trial fitting the shaft to your old rack until it slides on as you expect. I screwed a wood screw into the groove to open the joint up slightly. Don't go crazy with this. Just tighten the screw into the groove until the shaft slides on and off of the old rack. Then go try the real thing.

I dropped some sockets down into the channel that forms the windshield brace. A hard drive magnet with some safety wire tied to it, helped retrieve the sockets.

Don't push or pull hard down the long axis of the steering shaft or you may collapse the steering column.

It helps to practice Yoga. To decide whether this is something you should try, stuff your head all the way under the dash to where you can see the upper U-joint for the steering shaft. Now extract yourself. If that worked OK, you are probably up to the job!
 
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