How goes the LHD Bongo?

As our regular blog readers will know, Worcester’s Mobile Mechanic director David Connellan has many sayings.

These include: Everyone needs someone to blame, it is not the problem that is the problem, it's how it is resolved which is the problem, no job is difficult - some just take longer than others and everybody makes mistakes.

With this job, which went slightly pear-shaped, there is only one person at fault – David!

This vehicle is the Bongo we are converting to left hand drive (LHD) for our friends at Legs4Africa. No one, as far as we are aware, has ever done this before and Mazda has never produced a LHD Bongo.

We had rebuilt the vehicle but after we had bled the steering, lowered the vehicle and tried the steering then tried to turn left, the wheels turned right. And when you turned right, the wheels turned left.

What was the problem? It was either the hydraulics piped incorrectly or a faulty or incorrect steering rack. We thought we were missing the blatantly obvious so we abandoned the job while we thought about it.

At Worcester’s Mobile Mechanic we always tackle jobs logically and on this occasion we decided to look at the steering basics.

On a Mazda Bongo the track rod ends connect at the front of the hub and the rack sits in front of or virtually on the front axle. When you turn the steering wheel to the left the rack “pushes” the wheel to the left. Simple really.

With a Ford Transit Connect, the rack sits behind the front axle and connects at the back of the hub, so when you turn left it “pulls” the wheel which turns the vehicle to the left.

We had found the fault - now how could we get the Bongo to turn left. We had to completely change everything we had done and remember we fitted a reconditioned LHD transit connect rack with all relevant pipework and new track rod ends, abandon this and start again or think of another solution!

In the end, we came up with a novel idea and bought a reconditioned RHD Ford Connect rack at a vastly reduced cost from PSR in Huddersfield. Our idea is to “flip” the rack, and then when we turn left, the rack will push the wheel in the direction we want to go.

This involved the WMM team having to completely strip the front of the Bongo. The moment of truth will be later this week so check back soon!

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