This is the first job with has actually been as simple a it seems in the manual. However, there is one word of warning for the 420 builders. 420 cars have a different location for the horns, which – if you follow the build-order in the new manual – will have you drilling a hole under the steering rack you’re just about to install. Therefore I decided to drill the 8mm hole before installing the steering rack. I will install the horns later.    

Horn hole drilled before starting steering rack install (420 only)

Putting the rack into the chassis is simple enough, working from the front of the car slide the majority of the rack through the left-hand-side hole (which will be on your right-hand-side if you are working from the front looking towards the back of the car), until the right hand side clears the skin, then just centre the rack. 

Rack ready for mounting clamps

Once the rack is in place, put in the clamp and fit the bolts, but not tight; the rack will have to be twisted once the column is fitted (later).

The IVA trims are slid onto the tack-rod ends. Obviously these trims were originally designed for something else, so you need to cut the end off. For some reason mine had the words “Low Smoke” in white letters on them. Just rubbing them with my thumb removed these letters. 

I decided the ensure that both my track-rods start at with the some orientation. Basically, I checked where the thread started on both rods, to make sure both sides match. This involved removed a single tie wrap on the steering gaiter to view the flats on the track-rod. My rack was 1/2 turn different between left and right. One turn is .25 degrees of toe, so that was .125 of toe different on side.

Flats to adjust the trackrod end (hidden by the gaiter)

I installed the lock nuts and track-rod ends (12 turns according to the manual), and will tighten them when the track-rod ends are installed into the steering arms on the up-rights.

Fitting the universal joint resulted in two issues: one minor and one which will need a email sent to Caterham. The universal joint had a minor burr, which is simple to remove with a rats tail file. The bolt provided in the fixings kit is too short and won’t give enough thread to the nyloc nut. It’s a simple case of fitting a longer bolt, but that will have to wait for now until I receive the correct size bolt. I suspect the fitting kit isn’t up to date with the change to the universal joint, which is a much more beefy design to what I have had on my previous cars. The universal joint was a very tight fit on the steering rack spline, so the small pry bar was used to just open the joint up a fraction. This will be pulled back when the bolt is torqued.

UPDATE – Caterham response was not what I expected. It wasn’t the bolt that’s wrong, it’s the universal joint that was incorrectly supplied. The replacement is the same as my previous cars.

Fitting the new (old) steering universal joint wasn’t as simple as the original (and wrong) unit. Although the bolt passed through the universal joint without issue, it did not clear the bolt holes when fitted to the steering rack. Therefore I little modification was needed. I was expecting this, because I have seen this problem with other builders. Before I started, I also checked if the steering column fitted on the universal joint, which it did, so only one end needed modification.  

To start with, I decided to close the universal joint up a little; I did this with a plain M8 nut and the supplied M8 bolt, just applying a little torque to pull the clamp tighter. Each time I applied the torque, I removed the bolt and checked the fit back on the steering rack. After a few attempts the joint was much tighter on the rack, but the bolt still didn’t quite clear the bolt holes, so a round file was used to just open the last little bit out. This obviously left the joint needing a bit of paint for rust protection. My go-to paint is POR15 Top Coat Chassis Black (https://www.por15.com). For small jobs like this I don’t spray the parts. Instead, I just spray a little paint into a cup cake holder and paint with a small (and cheap) modelling brush.  

The universal joint is now fitted, and the bolts are left finger-tight for now, until I have the steering column in place and I can determine a centre position. 

UJ fitted

As with the gearbox to engine fitting, I used a little BMW spline grease on the spline to make removal easier in the future.  Make sure the universal joint bolt sits in the grove of the steering rack spline.

Tools used

  • 12mm Ratchet Ring Spanner
  • 10mm Long Reach 3/8″ Socket
  • 3/8″ Extension
  • 3/8″ Ratchet
  • 5mm hex Socket
  • 10mm and 8mm Combination Ratchet Ring Spanner (for 5mm hex Socket)
  • Knife
  • Small Pry Bar
  • Side cutters (not shown)
  • 13mm Long Reach 3/8″ Socket
  • 13mm Combination Spanner
  • Round File