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Breakthrough: Rack and pinion steering

1 year ago

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David Twohig | Engineer


15 February 2023

Keep It Simple, Stupid. KISS – it’s a pretty good life rule in general, but especially so in engineering. Complicated solutions are sometimes necessary, but in general, the more straightforward the technology, the better.

Steering gear provides us with a neat illustration of this. Now, I’m conscious that we talk quite a lot on Ti about steering, but I think we’re probably justified in doing so. We may be connected to the car through the seat, our feet operating the pedals, and possibly (at least for a while yet) a hand stirring a gearlever, but the most important connection remains that of our hands through the steering wheel: it’s the primary command/input when asking the car where to go, and a very important feedback/output, hopefully confirming that it’s going roughly where we pointed it.

So let’s talk about one of the most important breakthroughs in steering. We’ll skate quickly over the invention of the steering wheel itself, as Andrew English brought us up to speed on that recently (Reinventing the wheel). We won’t talk too much about power-assisted steering either, as we’ve already covered that topic (Steering clear). What I want to talk about today is the application of the rack and pinion system to steering.

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