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Thread: Steering

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    Steering

    I am trying to find the cause of my stiff steering.

    When I raise the car up, I can move the tire to the left and right about an 1/8 of an inch at the wheel without it moving the tie rods, etc at all. I also hear a small clunk.

    Is there supposed to any play and if so how much? If there is not supposed to be any play, what do I adjust to tighten?

    Thanks

    Mike
    62 TR3B

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    Re: Steering

    The slop you describe could be from numerous sources. Loose wheel bearings (likely), worn tie rod ends (likely), loose ball joints (possible), worn trunnion (possible), loose axle stub (unlikely). These things are not adjustable. Stiffness is the antithesis of the slop. Primary suspects are the steering box (which could be an adjustment, but probably needs parts replacement), silent block, seized trunnion. These latter 2 are not adjustable at all.
    Bob

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    Re: Steering

    There is supposed to be a small amount of play, everywhere except straight ahead. When properly adjusted, the steering box should hit zero clearance only in the straight-ahead position.

    Although there are adjustments on the steering box, IMO they are primarily to compensate for manufacturing tolerances, not wear. If there is wear, you need to rebuild the box and replace the worn components.

    IMO, wear in the bushing in the bottom of the steering box is one of the primary causes of stiff steering in these cars. The peg that rides in the worm hangs way out on the end of the shaft through that bushing, so any steering force tries to twist the shaft off-axis. The peg is the same V shape as the groove it rides in, so when the shaft twists, it causes the peg to bind in the worm.

    Anyway, years ago when I finally broke down and did the box on my former TR3A, the result was like night and day. I could parallel-park with one hand, or change lanes on the freeway with one finger. (I'm not saying you should do those things, just trying to describe how much easier the steering got.) Of course I learned to drive with manual steering (on cars, tractors and trucks), so I'm more familiar with the little tricks like letting the car move a little while you turn the steering wheel.

    I did do some other things at the same time, which probably helped too. Instead of the rubber "Silentbloc" bushings that have to deform to turn, I installed some free-turning pivots with a SS pin in a brass bushing. (If I were doing it today, I'd use one of Joe A.'s Delrin setups instead of the brass/SS from BFE.)

    Also started using full synthetic GL5 in the steering box (same as I use in the differential).

    And I spent some time trying to get everything lined up just right, making sure the vertical links didn't bind in the trunnions and so on. The brass/SS pivots are much less tolerant of any misalignment, so it's important to get the idler arm lined up with the Pitman (aka drop) arm.

    Tires and how they are inflated makes a big difference too. I run about 32/36 instead of the 24/32 given in the book (for radials).

    When I put my current TR3 on the road, I replaced the pin, bushing and seal as a matter of course. Unfortunately, it appears I didn't get the pin pushed into place just right, as it worked loose and made the steering really stiff (again by twisting sideways in the slot). Just something to check while you've got the box apart.

    To adjust the box, back off the screw on top (or just remove the top cover) and remove all play from the steering shaft by changing shims under the end cover. What worked best for me was to add a shim, measure the float with a dial indicator, then subtract shims equal or slightly larger than the measured end float.


    Then install and tighten the screw on top until you can just barely feel the box bind as it moves through center. You should still be able to turn the bare shaft with your fingers, but there should be a spot with noticeable drag (which should be the straight-ahead position). Note that the drop arm makes a slight angle to the steering column at the center point.

    The worm in my 3A was worn badly enough that there were two tight spots, either side of center. No worms available at that time, so I just lived with the play in the steering.

    Oh yeah, on the current TR3, I couldn't get the replacement felt (for the top of the column) to fit the way I wanted. So I turned a Delrin bushing to fit instead. Might have made some difference, maybe not.
    Randall
    56 TR3 TS13571L once and future daily driver
    71 Stag LE1473L waiting engine rebuild
    71-72-73 Stag LE2013LBW waiting OD gearbox rebuild

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    Re: Steering

    Thanks to both of you for some great suggestions. It is probably the steering box but will continue checking other possible solutions before I pull it out for inspection.

    Thanks again.

    Mike

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    Re: Steering

    Grab the wheel/ tire at 12 and 6 o’clock and push in and out then see what is there for play. That will give an idea on the wheel bearings.
    steve

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    Re: Steering

    I may have misunderstood (again) ... are you saying you can turn the road wheel as though it were steering left or right, without moving the tie rod? If so (and has been suggested by others), try moving it in the other axis (top in bottom out then the opposite). If it moves about the same, wheel bearings. But if it moves one way and not the other, bad tie rod end.

    There should be no detectable play in the tie rod ends or the upper ball joint.
    The wheel bearings are allowed to have a very small amount, just barely detectable. But 1/8" at the wheel is too much.

    Worth noting, perhaps, that the wheel bearing adjustment procedure in the workshop manual was updated for less clearance several times. For a TR3B, I would go with the half flat (.003" to .005") spec. Two flats (as stated in the red book and Bentley) is way too loose, IMO. At least for cars with disc brakes.

    Quote Originally Posted by pawpace View Post
    I am trying to find the cause of my stiff steering.

    When I raise the car up, I can move the tire to the left and right about an 1/8 of an inch at the wheel without it moving the tie rods, etc at all. I also hear a small clunk.

    Is there supposed to any play and if so how much? If there is not supposed to be any play, what do I adjust to tighten?

    Thanks

    Mike
    62 TR3B
    Randall
    56 TR3 TS13571L once and future daily driver
    71 Stag LE1473L waiting engine rebuild
    71-72-73 Stag LE2013LBW waiting OD gearbox rebuild

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    Re: Steering

    One thing that is often over looked is the idle arm when the steering is tight; it is kinda a Deadman for the steering box and it sit opposite to it on the passenger side. When they get ignored in a lube job the zerk fitting clogs up--- plus the fitting is in a difficult spot to see and to get a grease gun on. Take the zerk off and have and a look if it will not take grease. It is ok to have the zerk fitting a little lose so it is friendlier to get at for greasing when using a hand held gun, but if you are using a high pressure system it is better to have the fitting tight. The click could be so many things, but do the easy stuff first like wheel bearings and lube job. How are the front brakes?
    steve

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    Re: Steering

    Thanks for the advice, I will check the idler arm.

    Mike

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    Re: Steering

    I think I found what the "clunk" is. When I turn the steering at the wheel and remove the play, the drop arm at the steering box moves up with the rocker shaft assembly and makes the sound. This, I don't know how to cure. I can see about an 1/8 inch of the splines just above below the drop arm. Any suggestions?

    Thanks

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    Re: Steering

    Can you elaborate? Is the arm moving in respect to the shaft splines...or is the arm moving WITH the shaft splines? 2 different fixes between the 2.
    John

    1955 TR2

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    Re: Steering

    Is that centered, or with the box turned to one side?

    Actually, either way, sounds like something wrong inside. Might just be the adjustment got backed off somehow (the end of that screw is what holds the rocker shaft down), but I would want to at least pop the top off for inspection.
    Randall
    56 TR3 TS13571L once and future daily driver
    71 Stag LE1473L waiting engine rebuild
    71-72-73 Stag LE2013LBW waiting OD gearbox rebuild

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    Re: Steering

    If you remove the top off the steering box DO NOT MOVE the steering wheel back and forth to look with the top off because the peg will hop out of the worm gear and most likely chip it. I agree I would take a look and see. Usually the best way to get the cover off is to remove the driver side horn so you can get in there better. In addition you might want to put a pan down because the fluid will probably run out, I hope anyways because you do not want it dry.
    steve

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    Re: Steering

    Quote Originally Posted by CJD View Post
    Can you elaborate? Is the arm moving in respect to the shaft splines...or is the arm moving WITH the shaft splines? 2 different fixes between the 2.

    Moving with splines. Looks like the arm needs to be moved up more into the splines.

    Thanks

    Mike


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    Re: Steering

    The arm stops where it stops and cannot be moved tighter on the spline (unless the nut is loose). Per Randall's post, I think the screw on the top plate is supposed to be adjusted to control the up and down movement, but it is not really designed to adjust for worn bearings on the worm shaft or worn gears. (But it should help temporarily.) If you do it folow Randall's instructions or you risk chipping gears.
    Bob

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    Re: Steering

    Quote Originally Posted by pawpace View Post
    Moving with splines. Looks like the arm needs to be moved up more into the splines.

    Thanks

    Mike



    So...I am hearing that the arm is solid to the shaft, and that the entire arm/shaft assembly are moving up and down. If that is the case, then the adjustment for the shaft is not holding the shaft vertically. Normally, if everything is in generally good shape, all you have to do is loosened the locknut on top of the box and turn the bolt in until it just contacts the pitman shaft (sorry, I still fall back to American part terms). You want to take up all the slack without placing the shaft in a bind.

    ALSO...and very important, you must make the adjustment with the front wheels off the ground and the steering in dead center straight ahead. The manual even tells you to remove the center tie-rod, but if you pay attention you can do it without going that far. When the adjustment is correct, as you turn the steering wheel from one stop to the other, you will feel the ever-so-slight drag crossing the dead center position. This drag should only last for about 1-2 inches of wheel rim travel. If is lasts longer, or there is a double drag spot on each side of center...then the worm and/or peg is worn.

    Finally, many cars have bad top plates, so the adjusters are modified or broken. Some even have springs to take up the adjustment. So, don’t be surprised if you run into issues doing the drag adjustment...
    John

    1955 TR2

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    Re: Steering

    Hmm, come to think of it; is there any chance someone has installed the modified top plate? Been some years ago, but a friend's TR3A had that problem and it was the spring in the spring-loaded top plate compressing and letting the rocker shaft move up during turns.
    Randall
    56 TR3 TS13571L once and future daily driver
    71 Stag LE1473L waiting engine rebuild
    71-72-73 Stag LE2013LBW waiting OD gearbox rebuild

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    Re: Steering

    I have the top off of the steering box and I have plenty of fluid. Should I remove all the guts and check to see if there is any obvious wear? The top inside of the lid does not appear to be altered and there is no spring.

    Thanks

    Mike

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    Re: Steering

    Does anyone know of a site that has a video showing the rebuild of the steering box for my TR3?

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    Re: Steering

    Well, there is something wrong with the box and you haven't found it yet. I guess you could proceed to making the adjustments and see what that gets you.

    But normally the wear is going to be too small to judge by eye. And with a complaint of stiff steering, I would replace the bushing (and seal) as a matter of course.
    Randall
    56 TR3 TS13571L once and future daily driver
    71 Stag LE1473L waiting engine rebuild
    71-72-73 Stag LE2013LBW waiting OD gearbox rebuild

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    Re: Steering

    Quote Originally Posted by pawpace View Post
    Does anyone know of a site that has a video showing the rebuild of the steering box for my TR3?
    Not a video, but might help.
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B2...GZzVExjdzJ1Z0k
    Randall
    56 TR3 TS13571L once and future daily driver
    71 Stag LE1473L waiting engine rebuild
    71-72-73 Stag LE2013LBW waiting OD gearbox rebuild

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