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Has anyone considered Power Rack and Pinion Stearing and/or an Air Bag suspension

RAC68

Darth Vader
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Hi All,

I was looking at a Wheeler Dealer episode addressing the Honda 2000S and one of the fixes was the Electric Power Rack and Pinion steering. The unit seemed quite small with no hydraulics involved. I was wondering if anyone considered this to the point of doing any research as to its possibility and potential.

Additionally, has anyone considered the replacement of our spring suspension with air bags. Not that I would do this but it would allow the elimination of sagging suspensions and provide the low stance we all like.

Just late winter thoughts,
Ray(64BJ8P1)
 
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RAC68

RAC68

Darth Vader
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Thanks Rick,

Very interesting approaches. A Healey on air bags in the rear would definitely give us the ability to adjust the height and even the stance. It would totally eliminate any need to consider the spring or even chassis sag effects over time. The application of electric power steering, although not a major need with a 16" diameter steering wheel, could be an interesting addition and seems to be getting only as complex as installing an alternator. I am amazed at how doable these to things have gotten.

Thanks again,
Ray(64BJ8P1)
 
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Torrington bearings on the king pins eliminate some of the steering effort, and are quite a bit simpler and easier--not to mention cheaper--to install.
 
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RAC68

RAC68

Darth Vader
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Very good point Bob.

Viewing the episode mentioned, I was really surprised how simple the electric variable power steering unit with rack & pinion really was and how little space it took. Although my steering wheel is 15" rather then the 16 1/2" or the original, the only time I have problems is when first backing out of my garage and turning around on the drive. After that, all is good for me. However, I can't say wasn't impressed and expect salvage yards to have them at a reasonable price soon. The unit Rick provided the link to is even stealthy and would probably pass unnoticed at most car shows.

Thanks Bob,
Ray(64BJ8P1)
 

CLEAH

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Hello Ray,

I have often thought about air bags on the back of the Healey. I have 5000lb capacity bags on the rear of my RAM 2500 for when I drop the camper in. They level the truck and improve weight management and control while on the move. To avoid redesigning or replacing the suspension of the Healey, air helper springs might work well. The stock leaf spring suspension still does most of the work, and locates the axle, but the helper is used to control height, and would improve control (which might be helpful at speed while going over dips, which can bottom the Healey suspension pretty easily). Bags for the Healey would have to be pretty small to fit the space and because they don’t need to handle much weight, compared to a bag for a truck. Pretty cool idea.

EDIT: Adding some pictures. The bags on my truck replace the bump stops on the axle, which you could probably do on the Healey too. Controls height and load really nicely.
 

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RAC68

RAC68

Darth Vader
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Hi Hugh,

You bring up a very interesting potential for controlling the height of the rear while increasing control. As I have said before, I increased my rear body height by adding an extra leaf to the original spring pack on both sides. To achieve a balanced height, I then lowered the higher side by adding a spacer between the spring and axel connection. Your idea of adding a helper bag would eliminate the need for the extra leaf and also eliminates the need for the spacer.

Simple, clean, and effective. How would it work if used to maintain a predetermined balanced body height? Would a compressor and control unit be required or could you get a helper air bag that could be filled by an external air compressor. Wondering what the cost of this type of system would be, I looked on ebay and found a pair of air bags and fittings for under $65.

Hugh, thanks for extending your idea as this is an isolated addition (not a replacement) that could solve a problem and, when desired, easily removed to originality.

Ray(64BJ8P1)
 

CLEAH

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Ray, the bags can be inflated in several ways. There are on-board compressors with in-cab controls to inflate/adjust at the push of a button. Or, you can inflate with an external compressor or basic pump. I mounted the two Schrader valves in my rear bumper for easy access (one for each bag). I air up with my compressor and I'm good to go. I have not experienced any leak down, even after a week of travel. It would be easy enough to mount the Schraders in the boot.
 

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DerekJ

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Electric power assisted steering results in a loss of 'feel' when driving in a 'spirited' manner. Its an issue with a lot of modern performance cars that switched from hydraulic systems.
 
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RAC68

RAC68

Darth Vader
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Thanks for the references Rick. I was glad to learn the many available compact EPS units available and am still learning what is required. Some units act on the steering column and others on a rack & pinion. I wonder which Safe mode operating unit would be the easiest to convert our Healey steering setup.

Hi Derek,

Steering feedback is very important and so is self centering. Some units seem to provide these characteristics with other units and implementations requiring constant correction. With such a critical unit, there is much more research and experimentation needed before deciding to take this modification path.

How is the steering addressed by those Healeys converted to V8s and use of much wider tires?

This thread has become even more interesting then I first thought.
Ray(64BJ8P1)
 

HealeyRick

Yoda
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How is the steering addressed by those Healeys converted to V8s and use of much wider tires?

This thread has become even more interesting then I first thought.
Ray(64BJ8P1)

Ray,

One of the advantages of the V8 is it's lighter than the Healey six. My steering is much improved over the original and I don't feel the need for power steering at all. Some V8 builders convert to rack and pinion, but I think more out of a desire for better and more precise feel, rather than easier steering. I don't know of any power steering equipped V8 cars and perhaps the lighter weight of the V8 offsets the effort needed to move wider tires.
 

Bob Hughes

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Guys

Just eat your spinach !:wink-new:

They had an electrical system for the steering demonstrated at Goodwood- what I saw looked a bit of a lash up and frankly it was quite expensive. I would rather do without thanks.

:cheers:

Bob
 

steveg

Yoda
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I'm running the 180 x 15 Michelins which are high-profile and low-speed steering effort with the stock engine is no problem.

Looks like the people at the link are Cobra replicas which tend to have wide rims and roll-of-tape tires. Their cars are rack-and-pinion to start with.
 
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RAC68

RAC68

Darth Vader
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Hi All,

Although I can understand resistance to add power steering to a Healey, I see it as another option and find its selection a mater of taste, desire, interest/challenge and person contention.

Rick, I had forgotten that a V8 is lighter then the Healey's 6, however many of those converting to the V8 also install the lower wider tires for greater traction which usually implies greater turning effort at low or no speed. Keep in mind that the original cross ply tires with 16.5" diameter steering wheel was a combination that made steering much quicker with less effort. Today's replacement radials (of any size fitting the Healey) and commonly installed smaller replacement steering wheel have resulted in more effort required as well as slower turning response at slow speeds. For those not having issues, this is not an option to follow, however, it may be a potential for those that do.

Maybe Bob's suggestion on eating more spinach would help...however, the Healey has always been a perfect platform to stimulate change and many have installed V8, 5-speed transmissions and added many other components to improve performance, reliability, and improvements in the driving experience. Although I don't agree with elrey's simplistic comment on this modification, I appreciate his choice and respect his point of view.

I have learned quite a bit from this thread and it has opened up other thoughts and solutions for issues recently discussed. Air bags seems a good option for correcting rear side-to-side height unevenness. And, if I ever install a Viper V10 replacement on low profiles, I have a direction to investigate to ease my steering.

Ray(64BJ8)
 

turtle

Senior Member
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My BN2 has a SBC400. The weight is about the same as the original 4cyl. My firewall was removed and reformed around the engine which was pushed as far back as possible. I would describe it as a front mid-engine car in this configuration. The car is very much a GT.

The balance is near perfect and the car handles very well at speed; light and responsive steering even with the original box. Proper application of throttle helps to steer through the twists and turns. Tires are 185/70 so they are about as tall as the originals but much wider. The car does not like going slow so parking is a work-out. I might go with the rack and pinion eventually to get rid of the peg and grove.

Lever shocks up front but the back are adjustable shocks over the leafs. They book end a very stout Ford 9". It looks just right to me.

The most amazing modern vehicle I've ever owned was a V10 TDI VW Touareg. That had a bag system that made the beast both a great highway drive and off roader. It could do just about anything but I wouldn't call it a driver's vehicle.... it was a utility vehicle.

I'd be afraid that the bags and electric steering might change that raw feeling (especially with a 6.6 liter V8) the Healey has. In the Touareg, speed was not experienced, it was softened out. In the Healey there's a feeling of triumph (forgive the pun) at 45mph....until you hit a pothole... maybe bags are a good idea after all.
 

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This is all very interesting though it looks like no one is seriously considering either option for his Healey.

Personally I'm with Elrey.
 

maxwedge5281

Jedi Warrior
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lots of info on the electrical power steering on the british v8 forum. might be of interest to some of you guys! i have a sbc on my bn6 and even with a thirteen inch healey steering wheel it is not to heavy when in tight confines. i do not run wide rims on the front wheels...just factory width with 195-60 kumho tires.
 
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