|The MGA With An Attitude
PLASTIC BUSHINGS for Steering Column (A) - SR-206A
I was resisting posting on this item for a long time, since the original felt bushings are cheap, work well, and are long lived (if it ain't broke don't fix it). But there have been a number of inquires, and Jim Ferguson in North Caroline sent these nice pictures, so here it is, at least for reference.
Note that in various email messages "Todd C" is not Todd Clarke (Clarke Spares and Restorations), but Todd Conrad in Indiana. E-mail was firstname.lastname@example.org (now apparently non-op). I looked up Todd Conrad on the net and called, waiting for a call back for any additional information.
Addendum December 29, 2010:
Received an e-mail from Todd Conrad today:
"I'm still alive and well. Don't make the bushings any more though". -- TODD
Addendum September 3, 2012:
On 9/3/2012, Art Pearse wrote:
`"I have a set of bushes like you show on SR-206 at the top of the page. My note says from Todd Conrad". -- ART
Material may have been Nylon or Delrin at first (the white stuff), then changing to UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) plastic which is less prone to heat and age embrittlement. In small quantity production the parts are machined (so relatively more expensive). Larger volume production would allow the parts to be molded and cheaper, but low market demand would likely not allow this. I think the design progression is from, left to right, first thin o-rings, then thicker o-rings, then split bushing. Reason for the o-rings and the split is because the steering column outer tube has small inward flanges at the ends to retain the bushings.
The o-rings would (presumably) allow the rigid plastic part to be undersize on the OD to pass through the diameter of the tube flange, then the o-rings expand inside to keep the bushing centered. The o-ring grooves are easy to machine while the part is already set up in a lathe for turning the ID and OD. I can imagine issues of tolerance variations in dimensions of the tube flanges, so maybe the OD of the bushing would need to be smaller than desired, and the o-rings might not work as well as intended.
The one piece split bushing makes more sense, except that making the slots is additional machine processing (more expensive but necessary). Notice the smaller slot part way through the sides at 90 degree locations. This would be to thin the walls locally to improve flexibility of the otherwise rigid part to allow compression of the part to slip past the tube flange. Remember there are three different bushing sizes required for adjustable and non-adjustable steering columns, adding to machine setup expense and reducing volume per part.
It has been a few years since these plastic parts were made. I don't know original pricing or if any inventory still exists or if they might ever be made again. The felt bushings hold up for 100,000 miles for me, and they are generally cheap and easy to change. My personal opinion is to leave well enough alone and use the original type felt bushings. Those should always be significantly cheaper and always available (allowing for a bit of tinkering that may be required for installation if the material thickness might be wrong).
Konrady Plastics, Inc.
1780 Coppes Court
Portage, IN 46368 USA
Phone: (219) 763-7001
Web site: KONRADYPLASTICS.COM
I called. I was informed that this company only deals with larger businesses, not retail sales, so it may be unlikely that they produced these parts. However, there is a Todd Conrad there in the production shop. I left a message for him to call me back (10/13/09 am). I will post results here when (if) I get more information. Meanwhile, I prefer not to speculate.
No return phone call after a week, however, ....
This from a friend who actually bought plastic bushings from Todd Conrad:
"The contact info I have for Todd Conrad is:
912 Water St, Hobart, Indiana 46342. (a residential address)
He shows an e-mail on the instruction sheet as <email@example.com>. This is from around May 2005 however. The instruction sheet states that the bushings are for the telescopic steering column only. .... The sheet also states that all bushings are made from oil impregnated nylon".
The email address was a bust. Now on to look for a phone number.
Find mre photos and design drawings on following page.