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HELP!Can't figure out the BUMPSTEER issue on my '65 galaxie. running out of options.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by bava17, Apr 15, 2009.

  1. bava17
    Joined: Oct 26, 2005
    Posts: 231


    so here's the story.
    i lowered my '65 Galaxie by cutting the front and rear coils to the desired ride height. while i had it all apart i rebuilt the entire front suspension including steering box, balljoints, tierod ends, A-arm bushings, etc., etc.
    pretty darn low but since my car is a stockcar replica of sorts, i wanted a really low ride height. i think it sits at about 6 inches off the ground right now.

    once i lowered the car and put everything back together, i have had what i believe is a terrible bumpsteer issue. just driving around town is OK, but whenever i get up to 25 MPH or so, the car starts to violently dart all over the road.
    every little bump in the road sends the car left or right with no steering input from me.
    to make sure it was the lowering of the car that made this happen, i took out the cut front springs and put back in the stock height front springs. it looked really silly but drove like a freakin Cadillac.

    this lead me to believe it was the lowering of the car that lead to the terrible bumpsteer issue. not caster or camber or the toe being off. this much bumpsteer can't be caused from the caster or camber or toe being aff, IMO.
    i ordered some aftermarket, custom made springs that would keep my ride height at the same low point, but soften the ride.
    installed and no difference. still massive bumpsteer issue.

    i read online about anti-bumpsteer kits. in essence, with stock height front sprinngs, the tierods point down to the steering arms from the center drag link to the steering arms on the spindle. when the car is lowered (especially extremely lowered), the tierods are now parallel to the ground, instead of pointing down towards the steering arm.
    bumpsteer kits lower the point where the tierod attaches to the steering arm, the tierod should be pointing down, from the middle of the car to the steering arm.

    of course nobody makes a bumpsteer kit for '65 Galaxie. so i made my own from rod ends and other parts. this did indeed lower the tierod somewhat.
    but only made a small difference while driving, if any, in the way the car drove.

    i can't figure this out. and of course nobody makes a drop spindle for this car either.
    i probably need a combination of about a 3 inch drop splindle and the bumpsteer kit.
    does anyone make "custom" drop spindles?

    in hindsight, it would have been a lot easier to just have lowered the car until the fender lips were barely above the tires. but i don't think it would have looked like a racecar. i lowered the car so much that we had to trim about 2 inches or so from the fender lips front and rear.
    it looks bitchen. but i can't drive it the way it is.

    any help or ideas would be appreciated.
    i guess my next step is to inquire about racing spindles.

    Attached Files:

  2. I suspect what is happening is that you are getting a large camber gain due to the horizontal change in ball joint location. I'm no expert but you might investigate a shop that specializes in pro-touring cars. They frequently fabricate new, correct length a-arms to compensate for the changed pivot locations from extreme lowering.

  3. Kentuckian
    Joined: Nov 26, 2008
    Posts: 816


    The picture shows some seriously offset front wheels. Try a set of wheels with stock offset just to see if the problem still exists. If it goes away, try increasing the toe-in with the reversed wheels.
    Joined: Jun 6, 2005
    Posts: 1,887

    Member Emeritus

    OK, Here is the deal, to find out exactly what is happening you are going to have to do some investigation of the components that you have before buying some piece of crap that doesn't work either.

    Since your car drives out ok with the stock springs the issue centers around the new ride height. With the new ride height you have re indexed your caster, camber and toe settings to a static position but failed to take into the effect on the steering linkage as the car goes into a bump or roll mode. My assumption (and this is a guess with out seeing the set up) is that the new settings are developing a bump steer because the steering tie rods are not swinging in the same arc as the lower control arm.

    When you lowered the car and reset the tie rods everything looks ok but only at that specific ride position. As soon as the car goes into driving mode where the control arm begins to move up and down the swing arcs do not match because the position of the idler arm mount and the steering box are creating a tie rod swing that does not match the arc created by the new position of the lower control arm pivot. These conflicting arc are creating a toe steer issue.

    You can easily check for this with a toe plates or just two flat pieces of plywood or two carpenters level bungee corded flat to your brake hubs. Using two floor jacks or blocks remove the tires and set the car to its ride height at the center of the spindle.
    Secure the two flat surface to your brake hubs, set the steering in the straight ahead position. Now from a similar point on the front and rear reference plate determine the static toe setting, (1/8" +- whatever). Now slowly jack up the lower control arm on one side so it replicates 1.5" of travel. Now remeasure the toe setting and compare the results. You will probably see a drastic change in numbers, additionally if you drop a plumb bob off the front edge surface and mark a start point on the ground and compare the finish point you can check for a toe steer issue.

    If you dont want to go thru this issue you can simply make a front view pencil drawing of what is happening by using a pencil and string as a compass and drawing out the arc swing of the front end. Simply make a horizontal line, measure the center of the lower ball joint drop from that horizontal line as point A, measure over to the lower control arm pivot where it would intersect the horizontal line and call it point B. With the pencil attached to the string at one end, position the string end at point B and the pencil end at point A and swing a vertical arc. Do the same using the tie rod end center at the steering arm as point A2 and a horizontal line thru the idler tie rod pivot center as point B2. These arcs should be almost concentric with each other or there is an issue.
    Let everyone know what you found out.

    Attached Files:

    • arcs.JPG
      File size:
      37.5 KB
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2009

  5. Hackerbilt
    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
    Posts: 6,252


    Take the springs and shocks out. Put it back together.
    Raise and lower it with a jack to see whats happening.
    If its too low...put it on 4 ramps and raise and lower it a couple of inches above and below static ride height in relation to fender/tire location.

    Talking about what it might be is good for understanding the possible problem...watching everything move and actually SEEING what it is in action would be much better.

    BTW...with all that drop, did you make sure you don't have the ball joints and tierods in a bind from excessive angle?
  6. zorch
    Joined: Dec 7, 2005
    Posts: 217


    One last thing to look at--check your rag joint. It's easy to overlook and tthe little sumbitch can rob you of control fast ... but that shouldn't really matter, being up past the box ... thinking out loud here.

    Your assumption about changing that much ride height and not jiggering up the toe-in, caster and camber is naive. As all these other guys said, your problem lies there.

    I have a 61 Galaxie--and I did almost the exact same thing. I completely rebuilt the steering wheel to wheel, and cut about 2.5 coils out of the front and because the rear is leaf, stuck 3" lowering blocks in there. I think mine is lower than yours by the description. There's no six inches under my heap. More like four. I did not replace the steering box right away, but all those new components made the thing literally self destruct within one block. So after all the new BJs and tie rod ends and all that, I did go for a good used box.

    Right after that I took it to an alignment shop that had capability to handle hot rods, race cars and lowered cars. Most cities have one, and if you're lucky it's an old guy who's seen it all.

    If a good alignment doesn't fix it, double check the steering box. Your replacement could be hosed. And double check your idler arm. But I think you'll find it's a caster-camber-toein beef.

    Good luck.
  7. krooser
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 4,584


    Your tie rods must be level with the lower control arms.... which also must be level with the ground. And the tie rods must be the same length as the center to center distance of the ball joints and inner control arms.

    Rear steer spindles like your Ford's have lots of Ackerman built in... the steering arms angle inward. You may have to find an old set of Stock Car Products spindles with the bolt-on steering arms. They are made for circle track use and low ride heights. The uppers may also be changed to tubular units which may counter any binding you may be experiencing.

    The last Ford I built to run on dirt I used a '65 Galaxie front stub with Impala spindles turned around to give it rear steer. That got ride of the Ackerman and that part worked good... but the spindle height is different between the Ford and Chevy and it really screwed up the front roll center. I don't recommend you do that deal.
  8. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,964

    Shifty Shifterton

    By your description that's not bumpsteer as I know it. I think you've got a wicked toe/caster problem to look into. Get that thing into an alignment shop then go from there. Good luck
  9. bava17
    Joined: Oct 26, 2005
    Posts: 231


    First off, thanks for all the great advice.

    i'm going to get this thing figured out sooner or later. it sucks building this car and now it's about 98% done and i can't really drive it.
    i forgot to mention that i have '77-'79 Thunderbird spindles and disc brakes on her.
    and....when i raced stockcars, we raced a '70 Nova which was rearsteer and it had a 4 inch ride height. it was lowered in the front with short racing springs and spring adjusters.
    funny, i never had this problem with that car what-so-ever. someone said, "well you only drove it on smooth tracks, not over bumps."
    every saturday morn, before we'd head to the track, i'd take it up and down our bumpy country road to see if everything was working and it steered straight as an arrow.

    Charlie Chops, you might be correct. i'll probably look into some Pro-touring stuff. the camber gain might come into play.

    Kentuckian, the wheels aren't offset. the pic is deceiving. they are just wide. 15x8 and the tires are about 10 inches wide. i had the wheels made by Stockton Wheel and i used a stock offset.

    Mr. Spadaro, you are probably correct. it sounds like a toe-steer issue. i think you are correct that the whole caster/camber/toe-in/out subject changes greatly when i lower the car. i guess i have just been hardheaded when thinking that this much toe-steer cannot becaused by a change in caster/camber/toe when i lower the car.
    i have some investigating to do with my toe-bar, caster/camber gauge.

    Torchmann, is this right?: "Also with the wheels straight ahead the inner tie rod should intersect the Centerlink at a point that intersects a line drawn through both lower a-arm bushings."
    a little confusing. seems like 2 lines that aren't parallel will intersect sooner or later, but will intersect eventually.
    should i be able to draw a straight line from the inner tierod, thru the lower A-arm bushing, thru the center link, thru the other A-arm bushing, thru the other inner tierod?

    Hackerbilt, yeah, that's an option as well. taking the springs and shocks out and seeing what everything is doing might be the ticket. can i tell if i have the ball-joints and tierods in a bind??

    new ragjoint too.
    i was at a ride height of 4 inches (looked great) but i didn't think the exhaust could handle it. raised it up and settled on about a 6 inch ride height.
    yeah, i might look for an alignment shop. i just don't want to have the alignment done, then have the same problem. i can't afford to "waste" any money. but i guess it wouldn't be wasting money if getting it aligned took one thing out of the equation.

    krooser, why must my lower control arms and tierods be level with the ground? they sure weren't from the factory. like i mentioned, with the stock height springs back in there, the tierods point downward, from the center of the car towards the steering arms.
    i am definitely not calling you wrong, just curious.

    Thanks again for everybody's help and input.
    how people do this stuff alone i'll never know.
    i'm going to try to tear into it this weekend and take out the springs and shocks and see what everything is doing.
    then maybe off to the alignment shop. i think there is a Hotrod alignment shop near me, in Manteca.
    thanks again,
    it is greatly appreciated,
    steve bava
  10. I'd also have another look at the Thunderbird spindles. Is the steering arm in the EXACT same location as the original spindle? Both height and distance from scrub line are critical. Height will affect bump steer, center distance will affect ackerman angle.
    Joined: Oct 19, 2006
    Posts: 1,204

    from Ramona CA

    Contact BAER brakes. They should have bumpsteer kit....or take what you have made and add spacers. Each outer tie rod must be lower in relation to you inner tie rods.
    But they will me be exactly the same. One will be lower that the other. [​IMG]The lower tie rod has more shims than the top..
  12. dontlifttoshift
    Joined: Sep 17, 2005
    Posts: 652


    [yeah, i might look for an alignment shop. i just don't want to have the alignment done, then have the same problem. i can't afford to "waste" any money. but i guess it wouldn't be wasting money if getting it aligned took one thing out of the equation.

    So the car has never been aligned since you lowered it?
    Get an alignment, you have wasted money on springs and heim joints, could have had the car aligned for what those parts cost.
  13. Van Dutch
    Joined: Nov 17, 2008
    Posts: 247

    Van Dutch

    doesn't sound like bumpsteer at all.

    but let me be the first to say, it does look tits. Nice job. Is it really a 427? Or is that part of the replica look?
  14. bava17
    Joined: Oct 26, 2005
    Posts: 231


    thanks for the additional responses.
    it all helps.

    hotroddan, i'll check the spindles. you're right on. steering arm height would definitely affect bumpsteer and center dinstance would affect ackerman. (that's what the bumpsteer kits are intended to do, lower the outer tierod end where it meets the steering arm, thus, adjusting out bumpsteer).

    SOCAL PETE, yeah, that bumpsteer kit is almost exactly what i built. including the custom made tierod sleeves. as far as spacers go, i adjusted mine all the way down (no spacers on the bottom, end of outer tierod is as low as it could go) to start with and it made little to no affect on the bumpsteer/toe-steer problem.

    dontlifttoshift, man, i really hope you are right. though it is really, really hard for me to believe that my caster, camber and toe-in/out could be adjusted that far towards the wrong way that it would cause this problem.
    a small problem, well then maybe the frontend settings are causing it. but this problem seems to be something major.
    just eyeballing the settings everything looks OK.

    i do have a caster/camber gauge and a toe bar so i could set it up myself.
    i just figured it was way beyond that and i wanted to fix this problem first, before i try to align it.

    what should the caster/camber and toe settings be for this car?

    Van Dutch, thanks for the good words. naw, no 427. just a "warmed over" 390. big cam, more compression, headers, intake, MSD, big carb, etc., etc. it really flies from zero till about 25 MPH.

    thanks again,
    Joined: Oct 19, 2006
    Posts: 1,204

    from Ramona CA

    But you haven't had it aligned yet. I thought the same with the front yard alignment.
    Yeah i know the money crunch sucks...:mad: its hitting me too.
    The trick i did was to bounce the front end. basically lift the front end and lower it so the range of chamber and toe could be seen on the alignment machine.
    The tech then understood what was needed. We did three attempts and finally got a decent alignment.
  16. BigChief
    Joined: Jan 14, 2003
    Posts: 2,084


    1/8" toe, 0 degrees camber and 3 degrees caster would be a good place to start for a street driven older barge like that. If you plan on doing any open track events with the car then you can dial in some more negative camber (about -1 to -1.5 degrees max on anything you might still put street miles on) and add another degree or so of caster to the three degrees your shooting for.

    If you dropped the car's ride height and did not realign the front end afterwords then that could be where most of your problems exist. The 'integrated' eyeball method might be OK to get you down the driveway but there's no comparison to a good alignment guy and his trusty laser. You should, however, be able to dial it in reasonably close with the alignment toys you already own.

    Nice car.

    Joined: Jun 6, 2005
    Posts: 1,887

    Member Emeritus

    WHOA,just checked back to see how you were doing and find out you left off kind of a major parts swap out , whats with the "Oh by the way its got t-bird spindles". If you have a problem and are asking for help its a lot easier to give assistance if you know what the parameters are. Stating that you have swapped parts as well as modified some is an important factor in determining what exactly is screwing up your front suspension. The post #11 about the change in steering arms is kind of important and that post #12 about that tie rod spacer kit is some scary bandaid. If you want to fine tune this a little better, take your digital camera, pop off the wheel and post a couple shots of the control arm stance at ride height both from the front and rear. This will give responders to your post a good idea of what you are working with and you will receive a better quality answer to help remedy your situation. As it stands now a trip to the alignment shop is a waste of time until you can see what the suspension is doing through out an entire bump and drop cycle. Don't purchase anything, don't drag your car to the front end shop, you can do everything in your garage and you can find the source of the issue by simply watching the suspension work as suggested in post #6.
    Looking forward to seeing a picture , keep us up to date.
    Joined: Oct 19, 2006
    Posts: 1,204

    from Ramona CA

    Also thought of something too!
    Might want to check if the upper ball joints are binding.
  19. Exactly.

    What DICK SPADARO is probably expecting to see is an upper a-frame at a sharp angle that goes upward toward the outer end, showing that the front end is in the hard-corner mode all the time. Not uncommon when the suspension is at the lowest ride height.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2009
  20. BigChief
    Joined: Jan 14, 2003
    Posts: 2,084


    Actually these bump-steer kits are quite common amongst the late model Mustang crowd. They are quite strong and a far cry from a Band-Aid. I've seen these live (or at least hang together) after wall impacts while the steering racks were torn from thier mounts. Virtually every late model Mustang thats been significantly lowered up front should have these 'bump-steer' kits installed and most my driving HPD students running 'stangs use these quite regularly. They are an excellent tuning aid in dialing in/minimizing bump steer issues. ...of course, you need to have a suspension set-up that is of sound design and adjustable to realistic alignment parameters in the first place.....something we're not quite sure we have here yet or not.

    Joined: Jun 6, 2005
    Posts: 1,887

    Member Emeritus

    Hey Big, these things are a POS installed to compensate for some other suspension deficiency. Because of the difficulty, cost or lack of skill to re engineer something its easier to purchase a part that is band aid approach to correcting the problem. Will it cure the problem maybe somewhat but the problem is still there, its under the bandaid.
    Look at it this way: The little boobie girl got implants, now she thinks shes got bigger boobies but in reality shes still got little boobies that appear bigger, just masked the situation.
  22. BigChief
    Joined: Jan 14, 2003
    Posts: 2,084


    You nailed it, Dick. The simplicity and cost effectiveness of simply adjusting the height of the tierod pick-up point on the spindle with proven and effective parts FAR outweighs the engineering and development costs involved with making an entirely new spindle or cutting the entire front end out of the car to fix the problem.....especially when your dealing with weekend warriors on a budget. The fact is that when you lower these previously mentioned O.T. cars it changes suspension geometry to the point where you need to adjust the steering linkage to lower control arm relationship.....not unlike the problem our friend here with the Galaxie *may* have. Part of the problem is eleviated by repositioning the steering rack and the the rest of the FIX is to do a fine adjustment of the tierod end location until you have zero, or near zero, bump-steer throughout the suspension jounce travel. Your a race car/chassis guy, I'm sure you know how to tune bump steer out of a chassis. There's only so many ways you can move things around while keeping things simple. SCCA, American Iron and other sanctioning bodies allow and encourage the use of these specific kits because it makes these particular cars handle more predictably and as a result are safer. Without the kit these cars (when lowered) are prone to "understeer snap spins" under certain conditions. They're tough parts that correct a geometry problem created by f'ng with the factory set-up and are proven to be safe when installed and adjusted correctly.

    BTW.....I don't descriminate against any tits. If I've got them in my hands then they're real to me....regardless if they were God given or brought to me by Gerow and Cronin. :)

  23. bava17
    Joined: Oct 26, 2005
    Posts: 231


    thanks again, guys.
    still workin on her. got the front end apart and i will probably start to diagnose this weekend.
    mr. Sparado, you are spot-on with the band aid thing.
    example: i ran my first stockcar for about a year with an absolutely terrible push. so much that the right front would smoke coming out of the corner. everyone said "you have too much right front spring and not enough stagger". to make a long story short, i went from about a 1100 pound spring in the front all the way down to about a 400 pound spring and it didn't make any difference. i also spent hours at the race tire shop going thru all the tires trying to find the smallest and the largest ones to increase my stagger in the rear. again, no difference.
    this went on and on for a whole season (changing springs every week and hoping it would take the push out of the car).

    one night towards the end of the season, in the shop, my friend who is about 6'8" and 325 lbs. was a little tired and sat on the back bumper of the car while the car sat at ride height on the floor. the car went down a couple of inches from his weight then hit something (tonk!) and bottomed out.

    we all kind of looked at each other and wondered "what was that?"
    well the gentleman who had built the car had put a pirce of tubing down underneath the rear floorboard, perpindicular to the rear frame, in between the fram rails, from one side to the other.
    everytime i would exit a corner, the car would try to squat and the rear center section would hit this bar and bottom out. there was almost no weight transfer to the rear of the car coming out of the corner.

    that bar was pretty beat up.
    we torched out the bar and that Saturday (after a few front spring changes during hotlaps)we went from a decent B-main car to a top 5 contender in the A-main. we set the pole a few weeks later.

    anyways, we were doing exactly what you mentioned with all the spring changes and stagger. we were trying to fix the problem with things that were not addressing the problem at all.

    thanks again,
    i'll keep all you guys updated.

    and BigChief, "if i can touch them, they're real!"
  24. BigChief
    Joined: Jan 14, 2003
    Posts: 2,084


    Ummm......thats what I said. :)
  25. bava17
    Joined: Oct 26, 2005
    Posts: 231


    I've run the gamit of alignment specs with no effect on bumpsteer.
    i've tried many combinations with no effect.
    started with factory recommended specs. nothing.
    RF with 5 degrees of positive caster and the LF with 5 degrees of negative caster.
    both with 5 degrees of positve caster.
    vice versa.
    both with 0 caster.
    including all combinations of camber and toe-in and out.
    setting after setting after setting. no effect.
    i've spent some time on this and still I belive the alignment has nothing to do with this massive bumpsteer problem.
    i don't think you could "dial-in" this much bumpsteer from adjusting the alignment specs even if you wanted to.

    i think the problem is more in the tie-rod vs. lower A-arm angle area.
    but other than a bumpster kit that lowers the attachemnt point of the tie-rod end to the steering arm, i don't really know what to do.
    maybe seek out some professional advice from some pro-tourer's?

    i'm at a loss.
    i think i'll put my bumpsteer kit back on, lower the tie-rods as far as adjustment will let me, then bend the steering arms down as far as i safely can, and see if that changes anything.

    thanks for all the input and help,
    it is great appreciated!
  26. tedsrodshop
    Joined: Mar 29, 2009
    Posts: 34


    I have seen these spindle conversions on some other cars and the bumpsteer is real bad. Have a friend push down on the car and I bet you will see the toe change. The tie rod angle and lower a arm angle need to be the same. Don't just bend the steering arms down they will break. Figure out what you need first. Stock car racers bend the steering arms ford spindles can be heated red hot and bent. After the heating let them cool as slow as possible rapping them with alum foil will help. Don't try this with a chevy spindle it will break. But these cars are not driven on the street. I hope this will help
  27. GuyW
    Joined: Feb 23, 2007
    Posts: 576


    This highlites the point that one needs to thoroughly understand a system, before one modifies it.

    When a person becomes competent on basic IFS design concepts (and typical practical design compromises from ideal), and then the specific model's design parameters, then they'll know how to modify it correctly.

    It looks to me like these bandaid components may be marketed by people who haven't complied with the above (or the parts are being used in unanticipated ways).

    Scary $%^&, anyway.
  28. zorch
    Joined: Dec 7, 2005
    Posts: 217



    We need to know what the final outcome was. And now that I know about the discs and all, I'd vote more in that direction except for the smooth ride at stock height.

    Alignment, son. That'll be your redemption here.

    let us know. All this is no good unless we get the final punch line.
  29. uglydog56
    Joined: Apr 8, 2008
    Posts: 331


    Set the alignment to +3 caster both sides, zero camber, and 1/8 in toe in, like they said to in the earlier post. Put your bumpsteer kit on. Don't bend the steering arms yet. Now measure how much room to the bumpstop, so we can make sure you have enough suspension travel in compression. Then put the car on jackstands and take out the springs/shocks. bolt a flat plate at least 2 feet long to the hub on both sides. Get two floor jacks, drop it to full extension, and measure the toe. Now raise both sides one inch and measure the toe. Do this all the way to full compression. Check the ball joints for binding at the top while you're there. Report your findings and we can diagnose further.

    Those bumpsteer kits work just fine. I have one on my early mustang, that was built as an autocrosser. It made a huge difference. I also moved the tie rod mount points out 1/4", down 1", and closer to the spindle 1". Fixing the ackerman and the bumpsteer transformed the car.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2009
  30. Mizlplix
    Joined: Jan 8, 2007
    Posts: 170

    from S/W USA

    ADDITIONAL: Before you take it apart...Put a zip tie around each shock absorber shaft. Push them down against the shock body and drive the car around the block. Hit bumps, turn corners hard...then measure their movement. This gives you the suspension travel in the up direction.

    Then as others have said...block the car at ride height with blocks under the frame. Remove springs and shocks. place a 24" X 24" square of plywood against the outside of the front tires (to measure toe with). Place a floor jack under the brake drum of the left/front tire. From ride height...let jack down 2" then measure toe-jack up the 2" plus the zip tie measurement then measure toe again... Do it again only measure caster up then a third time and measure camber up and down.. Presto! Caster-camber-toe changes for ur new suspension.

    The corrections may be more difficult, but at least you know where to start AND you have a set test criteria to recheck after each try at fixing it.

    This has worked for me for a lifetime of racing cars of all types. Sport, roundy and drag.

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