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Technical Violent steering wobble at low speed

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by 1963Gasser, Feb 20, 2017.

  1. 1963Gasser
    Joined: Feb 20, 2017
    Posts: 2

    from Wisconsin

    Ok, I took my 1963 Gasser Nova out today for the first time since winter and when I turned onto another street after stopping at a stop sign, I was pointed straight and really gave it the gas, broke the rear tires loose, hit the rev limiter (not hard to do since I lowered it to 5500 rpm) - it developed an incredibly violent steering wobble. I hit the brakes and brought the car to stop to get it to quit shaking violently and then after that it was fine. The only things I have done to the front end was lube all the fittings on the steering assembly and set the tire pressure at 34 psi a couple of psi higher than it was but it had bled down over winter time. Additional note: there is no steering stabilizer on the steering assembly. It has a Speedway gasser front end clip & a Vega steering box from Speedway it has what I consider to be a bit more play in the steering box than I like so I'm going to takeout the slack in the steering box (I also did tighten up the steering box a bit right after I got the Nova - so it appears the violent shaking loosened it up a bit again).
    Is it a toe out mis-alignment issue ?
    Loose rod end?
    Wheel bearing gone bad?
    When I aired up the front tires did I change caster enough to cause this?
    Did the rear tires breaking loose in combination with the rev limiter going off combine to setup a harmonic vibration that started the wobble?

    Anyone have any idea how to solve this problem so it never happens again?
  2. rd martin
    Joined: Nov 14, 2006
    Posts: 1,962

    rd martin
    from indiana

    one thing i would do without a doubt is put a dampner on it. took care of a problem i had, drove alot better.
  3. Hit the search function and type in "death wobble". It will tell you all you wanted to know and more.
    Unkl Ian likes this.
  4. roundvalley
    Joined: Apr 10, 2005
    Posts: 1,762


    Had a friends gasser do the same thing. Checked the toe in and reset it. Wobble went away. Don't throw parts at it to mask a problem.
    Hot Rod Nut likes this.
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  5. ROADSTER1927
    Joined: Feb 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,354


    Add a few more psi to the tires first ( like 5 more each ) and check toe in as suggested. Gary
  6. oldolds
    Joined: Oct 18, 2010
    Posts: 2,549


    Bias ply tires? Could have been flat spotted from sitting.
  7. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 20,812

    Jalopy Joker

    post pics of your ride, and front/rear suspension
  8. Pete Eastwood
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 678

    Pete Eastwood
    from california

    The spindles, are they Chevy type or Ford type? The king pin inclination on Chevys is more prone to these problems.
  9. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 3,677

    Marty Strode

    You mentioned "Speedway Vega Steering box", with slack. That's where the wobble can get started, a steering damper will sometimes serve as a cure. My 2 cents.
    olscrounger likes this.
  10. classiccarjack
    Joined: Jun 30, 2009
    Posts: 925


    I would also remeasure your caster. Not enough will create a "shopping cart" affect.

    Sent from my XT1585 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Unkl Ian and mike bowling like this.
  11. 19Eddy30
    Joined: Mar 27, 2011
    Posts: 804

    from VA

    Any unnecessary movement in a straight Axel can & will cause death wobble,
    I worked on one ,made up a removable panbar to experiment with cure problem so I made it Permit ,Take notes test as you go.
  12. bchctybob
    Joined: Sep 18, 2011
    Posts: 1,386


    All of the Vega boxes I've gotten from Speedway needed to be adjusted properly to remove the play. Do that first. Check the toe-in and check the caster angle. If there's toe out - that's an issue. If the caster is greater than 6-8 degrees, that can be a problem also. Grease everything.
    Once you've adjusted that stuff and inspected for loose king pins, wheel bearings, or tie rod ends and all is good - THEN add a steering damper if you want to. Make sure you don't mask a mechanical problem that could get worse.
    If it only happened once and all the front end parts are pretty new, it should be ok after the above check. Sometimes when they wobble often, it hurts parts like tie rod ends, king pins, etc.
    Like 37hotrod said, search death wobble - lots of info on here. And do take the time to introduce yourself and post pics of your car.
  13. BoilermakerDave
    Joined: Mar 3, 2016
    Posts: 229

    from Las Vegas

    If your shackles are not those weird long ones from the '70s and your bushings are good, look at caster and toe-in. I don't think a loose steering box is the problem. And I don't think a dampener helps much.

    If the front tires are out of balance, alarming things can happen too.
  14. christmas tree
    Joined: Dec 7, 2009
    Posts: 326

    christmas tree

    On my 29 roadster I let my helper read the tape measure for 1/8 toe in and must of had about 25 lb in the tire, ran the car in the quarter 100 mph (its a flathead) all was OK next year prepping for the season I aired the front tires to 45 lb for less rolling resitance and to the strip I went. Car was OK under acelleration however had a VIOLENT wobble when you backed out of it. Home we went and I checked the toe in and it was 5/8 inch instead of 1/8 inch. I got by with this toe in until I aired the tires up. Reset the toe in to 1/8 in and all was OK. Also 5-7 deg of caster
  15. Eric GILROY
    Joined: Apr 22, 2017
    Posts: 41

    Eric GILROY
    from GILROY CA

    63 gasser , did you ever get problem fixed, i am having same problem with speedway kit.?
  16. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 4,740

    from Minnesota

    This thread is over a year old, and the OP never got back to tell us what fixed it, or to thank the people who helped him fix it. So Sad.
    seb fontana, Unkl Ian and X38 like this.
  17. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 2,827


    Hey 1963,
    A speed wobble like this one I filmed in 1964 at an All Gas Coupe and Sedan drag race day at Lions Dragstrip? It was K.S. Pittman in his lightweight, red, Willys Coupe ready to go against Big John Mazmanian. Something happened that sounds like a similar occurrence. BJM won this race by default.

    Best guess, on-the-car tire balance and alignment.. Then you can blame something else if that does not work.

    Budget36 likes this.
  18. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 1,548


    This wobble has been around as long as straight axles. It almost always occurs with straight axles and not A-frame suspensions. . Frist and foremost, check everything for wear and correct and balance the tires. Aline it to specs. If you still have the problem adjust the caster a few degrees either way till the wobble stops. This is a problem with a lot of ot four wheel drive diesel trucks on the highway today. Have solved their problems many times after they spent big money at other places and still had the problem. Don’t know why some trucks/ straight axle cars are prone to wobble and some are not, but we don’t live in a perfect world. Some times you just have to make adjustments. Putting a stabilizer on a wobble prone front end is not the solution. Bones
  19. Eric GILROY
    Joined: Apr 22, 2017
    Posts: 41

    Eric GILROY
    from GILROY CA

    i got 7.5 degrees rake , i tried 3.5 same shake when i hit certain bumps in the road.

    Attached Files:

    Boneyard51 likes this.
  20. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 1,548


    Try nine
  21. sdluck
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 1,769


    Is the vega box setup for cross steer? If so it requires a panhard rod on the front axle .
  22. Happydaze
    Joined: Aug 21, 2009
    Posts: 646


    Yep. A pet peeve. That sounds like a good starter for a thread. Opps, we got that already ;)

    Stogy, Budget36 and Unkl Ian like this.
  23. mike bowling
    Joined: Jan 1, 2013
    Posts: 3,374

    mike bowling

    Well apparently he figured it out and didn't think all the people that tried to help him were worth thanking, or he's dead.

    "So it goes." ( Kurt Vonnegut)
  24. Eric GILROY
    Joined: Apr 22, 2017
    Posts: 41

    Eric GILROY
    from GILROY CA

    I will let everyone know if i get this wobble thing fixed its bugging the %^&$ out of me. I ordered a vw steering damper to see if it helps , the sector shaft in the steering box was a little loose i tighten it up some . Here is my set up.
    3100 lbs car
    speedway 4inch drop axle kit.
    chevy spindles and disc brakes
    speedway leaf springs came with kit.
    shackles set around 42 degrees.
    15 x 5 chrome reverse rims 2 inch back space.
    pro shocks 401 10 1/2 ride height
    hoosier 23 inch drag tires 15x 5 32 p.s.i.
    flaming river vega steering box.
    2 inch drop pitman arm.
    kingpin inclination set at 7.5 degrees.
    are parts are new.

    I can include what ever pictures are needed for your help.
  25. Hollywood-East
    Joined: Mar 13, 2008
    Posts: 853


    Tow in? How much...
  26. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 1,548


    Like I said in an earlier post, putting a damper, on a system, is like putting a bandaid on a cut. You can’t see the cut, but it’s still there. Fix your problem, make your front end steer with out shimmy/ wobble. Then put a stableizer/ damper on for insurance. There are millions of straight axles going down the highway everyday with no damper and have no problems. If your font end shimmies/wobbles, change something till it stops. Specs are guide lines, sometimes you may have to adjust.

    117harv and F&J like this.
  27. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 2,583

    from SW Wyoming

    Im gonna throw this out there, as some food for thought. Some years back, I had a Sportster with a 35mm front end on it. One day it developed a wobble at 65 or so. Went home and started looking for wear anyplace I could find it. The only thing I could find wrong with it, was one side was down on fork oil, and not much at that. Filled it back up, and the wobble was gone. It happened again the following spring, low fork oil once again being the culprit. Changing fork oil became a monthly deal afterward, and I learned how important proper dampening really was.
  28. Relic Stew
    Joined: Apr 17, 2005
    Posts: 1,083

    Relic Stew
    from Wisconsin

    It's an issue inherent with front beam axles.
    From "Chassis Engineering" by Herb Adams
    beam axle.jpg
    Elcohaulic and Boneyard51 like this.
  29. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 1,548


    There you have it.

    That diagram mentions coil springs, the wobble will happen on leaf springs too. That’s why I never understood the straight axle change over in “Gassers”. A wobble from a straight axle at 65 is bad enough, couldn’t imagine what it would be like at 130mph.

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