Gear Woes Large & Small

John with a Daimler Dart transmission

John pulls away a 4 speed TX

According to the newspapers Vermont has just enjoyed the wettest two months on record in the persons of May & June.  The heat & humidity have been notable too, but so far no punches have been thrown.

As seen here, John is clearing the transmission of a Daimler SP 250 from the car.  Not seen is Butch underneath the car, having just supplied the uplift.  They were aided somewhat in their endeavor by some judicious trimming of the fiberglass floor by a previous repairer.  This transmission wouldn’t stay in 3rd gear, resolutely spitting the shift lever back to the neutral position as soon as the hand released it.

A thrust washer, with 2nd & 3rd gears

Some wear was present

John popped the top cover off the gearbox in the car and we were amazed to see about 1/4 inch of end float on 3rd gear.  The service manual allows a maximum of .007″, so we knew something was broken.  Butch tore it down, and what he found was an even bigger shock-a-roo, because 2nd gear was

Daimler SP 250

Daimler SP 250

so badly worn on the synchronizer cone and dog teeth that it was a small miracle that it worked while 3rd gear didn’t.  Click on the picture for a better look:

When the sliding synchronizer hub slides onto the small teeth on the top of the gear (dog teeth), the gear is locked into engagement.  Because the 2nd gear dog teeth were more than half worn, it’s a small miracle that 2nd gear worked at all.

Steering box coming out

Steering box coming out

One other item of concern for us was the steering gear.  I”ve commented on this page before about the parapetetic character of the steering gear in MG TC’s and their Pre-War breathern, and it was something of a surprise to discover that this particular car was a direct comparable because on our road test we were distressed to discover it had no ‘straight ahead’ position.

It’s both a good thing and a bad thing that this is essentially a TR3 steering box mounted upside down.  The upside of it is that used parts are

The caged roller bearings had escaped

The caged bearings escaped

commonly available, the downside is that with the steering box cover on the bottom, leakage leading to a dry box is always a potential problem.  It’s also a bear to pull out.

In this case the problem of the steering wander was attributable to a previous ram & jam repair which had caused the upper  ball bearings to drop out of their  sheetmetal cage.  Butch stripped the box and never found all the the missing balls.   There’s one caged bearing assembly on the top of the steering worm and one on the bottom.  Click on this picture, too.  That’s my left hand holding the bearing cage, and Butch’s right hand waiting hopefully for the appearance of the lost bearings.

steering worm damaged by over tightening

Steering worm damaged by over tightening

Many repairers seem to believe that the way to adjust the wander out of worm & roller steering is to tighten down the adjusting screw on top of the steering drop arm until it won’t go any further.  It isn’t, all it does is make the steering heavier and destroy the worm gear as pictured here.

A taddly-little bit of tightening shouldn’t  hurt things none, but most of that free play is the worm gear moving between the upper & lower caged bearings.  50 years ago when the steering box was new this was controlled by shims under the steerig box end cover (what the horn & turn signal wiring come out of), and it still is.

Quite remarkable improvements in steering control can be effected by the careful and judicious removal of shims.  Careful, because if you’re not, the upper caged bearing becomes dislodged producing the result pictured above, and judicious, because the removal of too many shims will bind the bearings.

The SP 250 Daimler is here as part of a hostage exchange in Connecticut last weekend.  I asked Tony Taylor to put his MGA 1600 MkII thru its paces before we left to fetch the Daimler.  Tony’s dad bought it when it was a one year old used car in 1963.  We think we did O.K. with it.

MGA 1600 MK II

Passed the audition

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