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Technical Steering problem

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Kip27, Jul 7, 2019.

  1. Kip27
    Joined: Oct 8, 2015
    Posts: 9


    My car has a rather odd affliction with the steering. The car is a glass ’27 T on a homemade chassis with a ’54 Chrysler engine. The front axle, steering and brakes are all Speedway. The camber came with the axle, the caster is 6 degrees, and the toe-in is 1/8”. The rear axle is a 9” Ford with coil overs and homemade radius rods. The wheel base is 108”

    Almost every time I take it out the straight ahead position of the steering wheel changes. I know this because I drive a 3 mile section of straight road and frequently notice the position of the steering wheel changes from 12 o’clock to somewhere around 1:30. This does not change while I’m driving on the highway, but has sometimes changed after parking or negotiating low speed sharper turns like in a subdivision. The steering is not sloppy and the car does not wander while driving.

    I have checked numerous times and find nothing loose or sloppy. The steering wheel is tight on a splined shaft. The “U” joint on the shaft is tight. The steering gear has very little play. The pitman arm is tight to the steering gear output shaft. The drag link Heim joints are tight with no play at either end. The drag link connection to the left front spindle hub is tight. The tie rod Heim joints are both tight with no play at either end, and both left and right steering arm are tight to the wheel hubs.

    The front axle spring shackles and center mount are tight. Both front radius rods are tight with no play at either end, and the Heim joints on both ends of the front panhard bar are tight with no play.

    The rear axle radius rods are tight with no play at either end and the rear panhard bar is tight with no play at either end.

    Has anyone experienced anything like this or maybe some ideas.
  2. Doublepumper
    Joined: Jun 26, 2016
    Posts: 362


    Never experienced it. Are both front and rear spring packs centered and tight to their cross members? Steering box tight to the frame? Seems very unlikely, but could the worm be shifting on the steering shaft? Only things I can think of that you haven't covered.
    Ooops, see you covered some of it...:oops:
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  3. Country Joe
    Joined: Jan 16, 2018
    Posts: 42

    Country Joe

    Your U-Joint & Shaft it round shaft or Double D?
  4. ol-nobull
    Joined: Oct 16, 2013
    Posts: 1,181


    Hi. By no means am I an expert on this but if the home position of the steering wheel changes then something has to have moved. What in your entire steering system from steering wheel to the spindles is held in place with set screws? That would be my first place to check. Perhaps if this is what is happening could it be when you turn the steering wheel all the way to where it cannot go any more it causes this to slip. There is a lot of leverage when steering is turned to locked position and held there with force. If so turning it all the way in opposite direction could correct it. Could it be slippage in the U joint from set screws? If this is the problem with the steering in correct position to direction of car remove the set screws and mark that spot and either drill a dimple in the shaft for set screws or remove U joint and file flats on shaft.
    Just a thought on this. Jimmie
    alanp561 and Country Joe like this.
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  5. Country Joe
    Joined: Jan 16, 2018
    Posts: 42

    Country Joe

    This is my first guess also. With round stock steering shaft, its going to slip inside the u-joint unless, as you suggest, drill a dimple or grind a flat.
    I've been down this road before and only use double d shaft now. The set screw only has to keep the joint from slipping off and not the Herculean task of holding a round shaft from slipping with about 3/16ths dot of pressure on the shaft.
  6. There could possibly be a little play in the steering box to cause the clocking of the steering wheel. HRP
  7. Never2old
    Joined: Oct 14, 2010
    Posts: 487

    from so cal

    For what it’s worth I always upgrade to splined components.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  8. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 3,421

    dana barlow
    from Miami Fla.

    Your note point too something slipping,so have a buddy help by turning steering wheel back an forth about 1/2 a turn,as you look an feel for slip at each place that it could happen,find an fix. That's not happening by magic.
  9. Jokester
    Joined: Jan 29, 2005
    Posts: 302


    Maybe you could draw a line with a magic marker or a scribe tool on every connection (spline, u-joint, coupling, heim joint etc.). Maybe a piece of tape would do. Then go for a drive and see what is no longer oriented the same.

    my 2 cents

  10. I agree with it being something slipping. I would turn the steering to hard stop point then Lean on the steering wheel and see what moves next. Then go to other direction stop and do it again see if it comes back to where it started.
  11. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 3,058

    from Berry, AL

    Is your steering box bolted tight to the frame? I had a semi truck once that had just had a frame rail replacement on the drivers side due to a wreck. Somehow they didn't get the steering box torqued down tight, and it would move when you made a turn. Boss thought I was crazy until he drove the truck, then we carried it back to the frame shop. Took them a while to find it. After they tightened up the box mount bolts, never had a problem with it again.
  12. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 25,027


    I'd say that is a well placed 2 cents. That would tell you if one of the connections in the steering shaft is slipping when you turn the wheel in tight slow or nearly stopped turns.
    If you make a turn in the other direction under similar circumstances does the wheel center or come back close to center again?
    If it drives straight down a good straight road hands off and doesn't drift or pull i'd say that the alignment and chassis is pretty well right on.

    Then, could it be that there is just enough slack in the steering that you are centering the wheel while driving on the long roads yourself and only notice that the wheel wants to come back off center when you make a turn and let it return to center on it's own. Hands off at 70 on the freeway where does it want to sit?
    Had a customer years back that brought his late model into the shop complaining that it pulled to the left and he had had it aligned at another shop and had taken it back and they wouldn't do anything about it.
    Took it out to my favorite test drive street drove down the street hands off at 30 and it drove straight as an arrow but the wheel was about 20 minutes off center to the right. Took it back put it on the rack checked the front end to see if it was set to specs and it was well within specs and centered the wheel and drove it again. Car drove down the street this time with the wheel sitting perfectly straight and in the end i got several referrals from him that I actually made some real money off.
  13. blue 49
    Joined: Dec 24, 2006
    Posts: 1,164

    blue 49
    from Iowa

    If you have cross steering, maybe a panhard bar would help.

    Montana1 likes this.
  14. Vic Walter
    Joined: Jan 21, 2018
    Posts: 71

    Vic Walter

    Simply looking at all the components will not reveal much, you will need to apply some mechanical motion to every component, every joint.

    Does it seem to change direction under any level of braking ? If yes, check the radius rod to axle joint.
    Park the car on a flat level surface. With someone in the car applying the brakes. Place a floor jack front to rear under the rear axle, lift the rear tires off the ground. Grab a front tire and rock the car forward and backward while observing the radius rod to axle joint

    You mentioned that the Heim joints are fine, but are the threaded ends and the threaded ends of the control rods ok ? You will need to disassemble them to know for sure.

    In draglink style steering and straight ahead moving from 12 o'clock to 1:30 could be due to a few things;
    1. The drag link is getting longer - pulled threads, bending spindle control arm
    2. The driver's side radius rod is getting shorter - pushed threads, bending, mechanical compression makes them shorter.
    3. You and others have covered it, but slippage between the wheel and pitman arm.

    Poor thread work can cause pulled/pushed threads.
    Soft metal or over loading can bend things.

    Park the car passenger side close to a high curb, wheels pointing straight ahead. Put a 2x4 between the wheel and curb, it will need to fit snugly and not allow any steering motion at the wheel . Have someone rock the wheel left and right with increasing amounts of effort while you observe every component, every joint.

    Something slipped to allow the noon to 1:30 change, it will likely slip back if you find the slippage point.

    Bottom line, don't be driving the car until you absolutely know what the problem is and fix it.
    ottoman likes this.
  15. KevKo
    Joined: Jun 25, 2009
    Posts: 266

    from Motown

    Wild ass guess. Maybe the spring and/or shackles are binding and the axle gets stuck one way, then the other.
  16. What type of steering box? Some pics might be of help...
  17. jimgoetz
    Joined: Sep 6, 2013
    Posts: 278


    Check the angel of the front shackles and the next time your wheel changes check them again. If you don't have a front panhard bar maybe the axel is moving from side to side.
    Johnny Gee and Montana1 like this.
  18. So you have side steer right? I would think that with it moving each time you drive the car, it would be getting worse if it is stripped threads or something slipping ( sounds like this has been going on for some time). So is it getting worse? if so it should be easy to see what is going on, if it is not getting worse it may be harder to find. How about something like the front spring not centered on the crossmember, the spring sliding because the center bolt is not in the hole in the crossmember.
  19. boo
    Joined: Jul 6, 2005
    Posts: 514

    from stuart,fl.

    could your front spring center bolt not be seated in the hole and moving around when you drive ???
  20. Pictures of the front end would go a long towards solving this
    Johnny Gee likes this.

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