Build Day 25 – Steering column

I had a few hours to spend on the car after work so figured I’d pick up with the steering column since I was missing the injector loom and the alternator wiring from Caterham. I also wasn’t quite sure which way to run the wiring loom so figured I’d just do what I knew – plus before I started buttoning up the engine figured I’d get the mechanical bits into place as it’d be difficult to do with the engine fully assembled.

The manual was pretty clear as to how to go about doing the steering install. First I started with inserting the long steering column through the hole in the dash and sliding its way down through the rubber grommets, into the cheese wedge (which was already installed by Caterham despite the manual saying you may need to install it), and down to the rack. The rack and the column met up at the right angle – which I was glad of – and then set about getting the universal joint attached.

Steering column and rack U joint

Getting the bolts through the U-joint holes was a little challenging. The bolts fit just fine without it in the car and attached to the column or rack, but with the rack and column in place the bolts didn’t want to slide into the grooves on the rack – it was like they were 1mm too big. It was easily resolved with the rubber hammer, but I managed to mangle the bolt in the process. The threads on the nut end of the bolt were ok and managed to get it to thread, but the middle of the bolt doesn’t look pretty. It shouldn’t matter though so just moved on.

To install the upper steering column, I greased up the end with synthetic grease and then inserted it down through the lower bushing very carefully. I had read on a number of other blogs that they had knocked out the lower bushing while getting the upper column through it; let’s add a bit more grease…

Greased upper column

Thankfully there was no drama getting the upper column to slide through the lower white steering bushing. The approach I ended up taking is when it got tight in the bushing I’d give it a little tap with the rubber mallet. Just enough ‘umph’ to move it forward a bit; slow and steady. When it came out the bottom end, the bushing still in place, I kind of looked at it, shrugged, and thought to myself “well, one part that went in with no trouble”. Those have been pretty rare so when they happen it feels notable. With the upper column in place next up was to secure it with the bolts, bracket, and grub screw. Everything went into place as described, but one tip from another build blog as to make sure the beveled edge of the bracket is positioned properly.

Upper and lower columns with bracket


I also snapped a picture of the column as it runs down through the left hand side of the car. As you can see it’s pretty tight in there!

Column down the left sideNext up was to get the upper bushing in place and the wheel boss onto the splines. The upper bushing was TIGHT! To get it in, I ended up using a screwdriver and rubber mallet to tap it in, working my around from opposite sides tapping as I went. It doesn’t seem to sit fully flush with the dash, but based on build blogs, forum posts, and some advice from Simon it looks like its in properly.

Upper bushing and spline

Getting the steering wheel boss on the splines was a different matter though. It looks like the chrome coating on the upper steering column adds just a bit too much width to get the boss on. I took the rubber to the steering boss (quite liberally) and it won’t quite slide on. After pulling it off I noticed some chaffing at the coating, but the metal inner of the spline (pre-coated material) looks like the perfect fit. Not sure how to sand down the coating on the splines… or do I just get a wood block and tap (smack) it down into place? Going to have to figure that one out – perhaps a post to USA7’s will garner some advice.

With that done, I snapped a quick pic of the garage from the door of both the Lotus and the Caterham in the background before calling it a night.

2 Lotus, 1 Caterham