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Thread: Steering not right

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    Jedi Warrior red57's Avatar
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    Steering not right

    A few days ago Michael Oritt posted a thread about being house bound and bored and asking for us to share current Healey issues/problems we are facing.... I have one and I'm stumped.

    Be patient, this may take a while....

    In July 2013 I had an 'on track incident' which pretty well mangled my 100-6. I started the rebuild at the end of that year but since I was still working, I only had weekends & evenings to work on the car and, like most of us, lots of other "life" to do as well so made very slow progress. I straightened the frame and replaced a lot of sheetmetal and installed patch panels in fenders & doors. I had to rebuild the front shroud with several new pieces (which required buying a TIG welder and learning to TIG aluminum) - that part of the project took over a year all by itself. I finally retired a little over a year ago which means lots more time to work on it. I finally got the chassis primed & painted last spring (a year ago) and just recently got it off the rotisserie after wiring and plumbing, dash & heater, etc. I recently got the rear end & suspension & brakes done and now have the front suspension mostly assembled and that's where I found a problem.

    To backtrack a bit, in the accident the steering arm on the steering box was bent and the rocker shaft in the steering box was twisted.
    IMG_3077.jpgIMG_3078.jpg
    So, the arm on the left is a good replacement and the one on the right as well as the shaft are from the accident - this just shows there were some very large forces involved (the shaft is 1" dia. and not easy to twist). Anyway, I bought a new shaft from SC Parts and rebuilt the steering box (I had a NOS peg & needle bearings I had stashed several years ago) so it is now like new. I found no other damages to the steering box or the front suspension.

    I got the suspension and steering assembled and noticed that something is not right - when the box is in the center of it's travel (where the tight spot is) the steering is way off of straight. In fact, it takes about 1/2 turn of the wheel to the right in order to point the wheels straight. So, here are some pics to show what I'm seeing.

    Looking down on steering box to show center of travel. And, it really is the center, the tight spot happens right where it now sits.
    IMG_3081.jpg

    Off set on the front. Showing both the steering box arm and the idler arm and the frame.
    IMG_3105.jpg

    Now two shots directly down on the left frame leg and the right frame leg - gives and idea how far off-set the whole thing is.
    IMG_3088.jpgIMG_3089.jpg

    So, I welcome any ideas because I have been looking at this for 2 days. I've disassembled it all and tried two different steering arms and one older rocker shaft with no real change.

    I put years into straightening the frame and measuring and checking everything so I'm very sure the frame is straight and dimensionally right and all suspension mounting points are correct. BTW, in case you are thinking I got the arms on wrong, if you look at the 2nd picture you can the splines on the shaft have a large one every 90 degress so you can't be 'off a tooth'.

    You may have noticed I removed the springs and have 2" blocks under the shock arms to simulate normal driving positions of everything.
    I have my preferred .5 degree negative camber and the 1/16 toe in I like (I should say I had those settings yesterday before I noticed this problem - now who knows what the settings are).

    I know there are a lot of very knowledgeable and experienced wizards on this forum and really hope someone has the key to this puzzle. I have more pictures and can take many more if there is something anyone wants to see.

    OK Michael, like the old tv show, You Asked For It

    Dave

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    Yoda steveg's Avatar
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    Re: Steering not right

    Dave,

    Here's my guess. Referring to the great online parts lists on this forum...

    The upper drawing shows the levers should kick in toward the center of the car [edit: like your new photo below]. IMO your steering side lever points out too far. I'll bet your steering side wheel toes outward.

    screenshot.2122.jpg
    The rocker shaft is the same for LHD as RHD and the levers stay on the same side regardless of the steering: 277 left; 278 right.

    Looking at the upper drawing, the rocker shaft will have splines to accommodate either RHD or LHD.

    Going back to your pix, it looks like maybe you have an upside down 277 on your steering side. Maybe you got a 277 by mistake when you replaced the original. That would account for the steering side kicking outward as in your original pic.
    Last edited by steveg; 03-27-2020 at 08:53 PM.
    Steve Gerow
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    Jedi Warrior red57's Avatar
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    Re: Steering not right

    Quote Originally Posted by steveg View Post
    Dave, random ideas:

    --I see from dimensions in manual, section 'R' that the ID on the frame rails in front of the cross member is 17" Yes 17"

    --is the cross rod set up too short? No, toe in is 1/16"

    --can't see from pic, but bet passenger axle is way toed in Not really since the driver side is toed out the same amount

    --Is the driver side brake backing plate parallel to the car; is that wheel pointed straight ahead or is that axle perpendicular to the axis of the car? No, both sides are as if turning left when steering box/wheel is straight.
    --detach cross rod from steering and idler arms and align left brake backing plate with axis of car
    --expand cross rod joints evenly until you can re-insert bolts into arms.

    --with steering wheel mounted, turn lock to lock and figure the exact center position. Maybe the high spot is a little off center. Did that and in the pics I posted it's about 1.7 turns either way to lock and that is also where the tight spot is.

    --is there any possibility one of the steering arms is incorrect? Don't think so, I tried two I have - one from 1004 out back and one from a BT7 - both gave same result
    Great questions Steve, keep them coming. To help clarify here are some pics of it with the wheels straight ahead, the steering wheel has to be turned about 1/2 turn to the right to make it point straight (green tape on wheel is accurate midway/center of travel.
    IMG_3095.jpg
    IMG_3092.jpgIMG_3093.jpgIMG_3094.jpg
    So, these last three pics would be exactly what I want if the steering wheel and box were in the center of their travel, but they are not

    Thanks,
    Dave

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    Jedi Knight Bob Claffie's Avatar
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    Re: Steering not right

    Not germane to your problem but this thread reminded me of accident I had years ago with an early 3000. I hit a catch basin head-on, bent a wheel and kinked the frame amazingly no body damage. After having the frame pulled and aligned I found I had three turns lock to lock BUT from straight ahead it was one turn left and two turns right (possibly the other way round, it's been a long time). Never did figure it out and sold it not too long after.
    Thank goodness the MG is finally gone, replaced by another Corvette

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    Re: Steering not right

    When I tackled my steering box years ago, the bearings were bad. The inner race on the worm was pitted and I had a machine shop cut it down and reshape it since new worms were not readily available. The balls and outer races were replaced with new. So now my "center" is a bit off. Are you sure the bearings are completely seated and of the same dimensions as original?
    John, BN4

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    Re: Steering not right

    Steve, those are the same part numbers whether right or left had drive, the right one goes on the idler in a LHD car or the steering box in a RHD car and I have the right ones. And you can't reverse them because of the tapered holes for the cross link and the side links. (besides, I have never had any RHD drive cars or parts)

    Hi John, I did the exact same thing with mine 25 years ago and shimmed the upper bearing to compensate for the material removed when they re-gound the races. Wasn't quite right but was very close - only about 1/4 to 1/2" off on the wheel rim. But this thing I'm dealing with now is 1/2 turn of the wheel - way more than happened when the races were reground. Mine seems similar to what Bob Claffie is describing.

    Great ideas, please keep them coming.
    Dave

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    Luke Skywalker vette's Avatar
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    Re: Steering not right

    I pretty much agree with Steve ideas. I don't have much but I have two pictures of this steering geometry before I took it apart when restoring my BJ7. It is hard to see in my pics but it appears to me that the joint in the pitman arm and the idler arm where the right and left tie rods join should be out board of the lower A-frame pick up point. It would seem as Steve said that your middle transverse rod is too short or just saying an alignment issue. But I think it can also be in the adjustment of the steering box. I have said many times that my steering box does not have a tight spot in the center. And I like it that way. I believe I have heard that some boxes do not have a noticeable tight spot in the center or a very slight one. Could it be that your perceived center tight spot is not accurate and the problem is in the adjustment of the box? Here are my pics for what its worth. Good Luck.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    About TV Shows-
    "...you really can't restore a car in 10 days. I don't want to watch a race where people have to restore it in a week. It's not going to drive, and those cars never work. In real life, it takes years to get it right. " Jay Leno.

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    Re: Steering not right

    Quote Originally Posted by red57 View Post
    Steve, those are the same part numbers whether right or left had drive, the right one goes on the idler in a LHD car or the steering box in a RHD car and I have the right ones. And you can't reverse them because of the tapered holes for the cross link and the side links. (besides, I have never had any RHD drive cars or parts)

    Hi John, I did the exact same thing with mine 25 years ago and shimmed the upper bearing to compensate for the material removed when they re-gound the races. Wasn't quite right but was very close - only about 1/4 to 1/2" off on the wheel rim. But this thing I'm dealing with now is 1/2 turn of the wheel - way more than happened when the races were reground. Mine seems similar to what Bob Claffie is describing.

    Great ideas, please keep them coming.
    Dave
    Dave -
    So when the steering is visually aligned per your second pix, with the arms in the correct position, what does the view of the top of the rocker shaft in the box look like?

    If we can't figure this out, we're left with the tight spot being 180* out!

    --is it possible to shim the worm back enough to move the tight spot up. And - are we absolutely sure the rear bearing is properly seated and that its seat is properly seated in the box casting?

    --is the box bolted tightly to the chassis? (I have to ask these obvious questions)

    Problems in the latter 2 questions could account for the tight spot being that far out.

    From your pix the rear bearing looks properly seated, but going to post these pix anyway...

    My rear bearing centering sleeve:
    BearingCenteringTube.jpg

    Rear bearing properly seated:
    BearingSeated.jpg
    Steve Gerow
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    Jedi Warrior red57's Avatar
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    Re: Steering not right

    Thanks, vette. You are right, if the steering box is adjusted right, you won't feel a tight spot - that's the way I have mine adjusted. I was just using the term to help explain that I was at the center of the travel which I checked by turning lock to lock. I don't think the center rod can be the problem because I have the correct toe in.


    Quote Originally Posted by steveg View Post
    Dave -
    So when the steering is visually aligned per your second pix, with the arms in the correct position, what does the view of the top of the rocker shaft in the box look like?

    If we can't figure this out, we're left with the tight spot being 180* out!

    --is it possible to shim the worm back enough to move the tight spot up. And - are we absolutely sure the rear bearing is properly seated and that its seat is properly seated in the box casting?

    --is the box bolted tightly to the chassis? (I have to ask these obvious questions)

    Problems in the latter 2 questions could account for the tight spot being that far out.

    From your pix the rear bearing looks properly seated, but going to post these pix anyway...
    Hi Steve, here are pics of the steering pointing straight ahead, then straight down into the the steering box.
    IMG_3108.jpgIMG_3109.jpg
    You can see how far off center the rocker is in this view.

    And two of the bearings - the box is fully rebuilt with new balls and proper bearing preloads.
    IMG_3113.jpgIMG_3114.jpg

    Thanks again,
    Dave

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    Re: Steering not right

    Can the new DW rocker shaft be positively eliminated from the list of suspects?

    Danny

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    Re: Steering not right

    Quote Originally Posted by red57 View Post
    Thanks, vette. You are right, if the steering box is adjusted right, you won't feel a tight spot - that's the way I have mine adjusted. I was just using the term to help explain that I was at the center of the travel which I checked by turning lock to lock. I don't think the center rod can be the problem because I have the correct toe in.
    Dave
    Dave, Iím not sure u can tell Very well that u have correct toe unless u have the wheels on and weight on the suspension. Unless you take very accurate measurements from frame to something on the axle/hub. U still need to simulate a loaded suspension.
    About TV Shows-
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    Re: Steering not right

    Dave,
    Ok, so what we know is the angle of the steering arm in relation to the rocker shaft is incorrect per the top view. this would indicate the rocker shaft or steering arm are incorrectly made*. Your right turns won't be as sharp as your left turns.

    *Edit: since you've tried a couple of steering arms with no differences, my bet is the SC Parts rocker shaft is incorrectly made - the splines are in the wrong place relative to the position of the upper arm in the worm.

    Maybe you could source a used rocker shaft and compare.
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    Re: Steering not right

    I just noticed that u have no or minimal adjustment threads exposed on your cross shaft. If u center the rocker in the box does that move the pitman arm to the out board ( left) direction? If so center the rocker and lengthen the cross rod.
    About TV Shows-
    "...you really can't restore a car in 10 days. I don't want to watch a race where people have to restore it in a week. It's not going to drive, and those cars never work. In real life, it takes years to get it right. " Jay Leno.

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    Jedi Warrior red57's Avatar
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    Re: Steering not right

    Dandare & Steveg, you both raise a good point about the replacement rocker shaft. While I have tried different arms I have not tried different shafts.

    I have the twisted one pictured above and another worn one from another raised lid box as well as one from a flat lid box - they all visually look the same, splines do not look oriented differently. But, in the morning I will try them in place of the new one from SC Parts.

    Vette, you are correct that I will need to fine-tune toe after it's on the ground but I have removed the springs and inserted 2" spacers under the shock arms to replicate approximate ride height so the toe will be close, probably within an 1/8" or so. The problem I have is 1/2 turn of the steering wheel, way more than could be explained by an 1/8" toe change.
    As to your last post: yes, if I center the rocker in the box it turns left, as shown in the first set of pictures but lenghtening the cross rod setting will not change the drivers side wheel because it is controled by the fixed length outer rod connected to the pitman arm.

    So, to summarize, the relationship between the two wheels seems fine, it's the relationship between the steering box and the wheels that seems to be wrong.

    Again, I thank all of you for the input. BTW, this process (trying to explain things) has been very helpful to me too - seeing things more clearly.

    I think Danny and Steve are possibly correct about the rocker arm and will try some others tomorrow and report what I find.

    Thanks,
    Dave

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    Re: Steering not right

    Related to Vette's post, were the tie rod ends started into the tie rod absolutely equally, and are you sure there are no issues with the first few threads of the tie rod on one side or the other? That would almost be too simple. Or, can you adjust for the off-center condition at the tie rod or is it too far off?

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    Re: Steering not right

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack T View Post
    Related to Vette's post, were the tie rod ends started into the tie rod absolutely equally, and are you sure there are no issues with the first few threads of the tie rod on one side or the other? That would almost be too simple. Or, can you adjust for the off-center condition at the tie rod or is it too far off?
    This shows the fixed (by the position of the splines) relationship between the rocker shaft and steering arm:

    DavesAndCorrect.jpg
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    Jedi Warrior red57's Avatar
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    Re: Steering not right

    Good morning, Sometime last night I realized I haven't been doing a very good job of explaining why I think the alignment settings are fine. Vette is correct that these will change when I get the car on the ground with the motor installed but I think this works for an initial setting.

    First, I have disc wheels not wires, this means my hubs have a nice flat surface to measure from. And the fact that this is still a very stripped chassis means I can set toe with a tape measure both in front of and behind the axle line.
    IMG_3120.jpgIMG_3121.jpgIMG_3122.jpgIMG_3123.jpg

    Second, I use an AngleCube. A very useful digital level that you can set on any surface and hit a 'calibrate' button and it then thinks that is 'level'. You can then place it on any other surface and see the relative difference (wood workers use them to set the angle of a tablesaw blade for example). I've been using one for years to set camber for racing and know it works very well. I know my front cross member is plumb and square to my frame rails and suspension pick-up points so I 'calibrate' it to the cross member and then check the faces of the hubs.
    Again, the springs are out and there are 2" blocks under the shock arms to approximate normal ride height.
    IMG_3117.jpgIMG_3119.jpg

    I know these are 'initial settings' and will change when everything is loaded and on the ground but my current problem is considerably more than the minor adjusting that will be needed when loaded.

    I got my Angle Cube on Amazon for $30-35 and it has proven very useful https://www.amazon.com/iGaging-Angle...%2C1203&sr=8-5

    JackT, Thanks but the cross rod ends are equal and good threads so I doubt they play a part in this - I have plenty of adjustment available for setting toe.

    Now, as I said last night, I'm going out to my shop to try another rocker shaft and see what that does. Will report back later.

    Thanks,
    Dave

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    Re: Steering not right

    Steve, I haven't tried to measure them yet but you aren't far off. I think mine may be a little less than 90*, possibly 85* or so but your sketch definitely shows the issue well, thanks. I think you have found the problem and I'm headed out to the shop to test the theory. I never even suspected the rocker because SCParts has a very good reputation (at least I always thought so, first used them a long time ago when they were Southern Carburetor) and I just never considered they would sell an incorrect part. I don't remember for sure but it has been a few years since I bought it - these long term projects can be a problem

    Thanks,
    Dave

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    Re: Steering not right

    Steve's idea about the rocker may be the problem but if it is not i must go back to my premise. Firstly I don't see that your pitman arm is wrong even in observing Steve's drawings. Compare your most recent pics and one of the ones I posted in an earlier post and I believe the angles are the same.
    Another point is that I don't think your toe alignment is an accurate reference. Your measurement at the hub is a long way from the outer diameter of the tire which is where the manufactures specification is to be measured from. I myself measure toe from a jig I developed that measures from the inside of the wheel tire bead which is not really that accurate from the outside edge of the tire but more acceptable than where you are measuring. That angle and distance from wheel pivot is considerable. If you really want to get an accurate toe measurement on a bare chassis such as what you are doing you should measure from the chassis center line. As to your thought that your error in toe adjustment is minimal compared to the excessive movement of the wheel I disagree because the cumulative movement in all the steering linkages allows more movement at the steering wheel than I think you are thinking about at this time.
    As we discuss this I am starting to experience dae ja vue (spelling I'm sure) in that I believe i fought this ghost before when I assembled my car. Ultimately I put it on the ground and drove it to no negative affect. But I know that is of little consequence when you are in this position.
    Yet, everything else aside, I still believe to go ahead and center the box then lengthen your cross rod to make the wheels straight ahead. If possible measure the wheels from the center of the frame. I know I am bull headed and stubborn and since I have never rebuilt a Healey steering box I am also unknowledgeable so I will keep quite now.
    About TV Shows-
    "...you really can't restore a car in 10 days. I don't want to watch a race where people have to restore it in a week. It's not going to drive, and those cars never work. In real life, it takes years to get it right. " Jay Leno.

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    Jedi Warrior red57's Avatar
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    Re: Steering not right

    Quote Originally Posted by vette View Post
    Steve's idea about the rocker may be the problem but if it is not i must go back to my premise. Firstly I don't see that your pitman arm is wrong even in observing Steve's drawings. Compare your most recent pics and one of the ones I posted in an earlier post and I believe the angles are the same. Yes, the angles are the same because the rocker is way off center in the box, see post #3 and post #9 (shows the rocker off-center and the arms nicely centered). This gives over 2 turns from center to lock in one direction and less than 1 turn from center to lock the other way - not drivable.

    Yet, everything else aside, I still believe to go ahead and center the box then lengthen your cross rod to make the wheels straight ahead. If possible measure the wheels from the center of the frame. I know I am bull headed and stubborn and since I have never rebuilt a Healey steering box I am also unknowledgeable so I will keep quite now.
    If you have the time, please go back and look at my first few pictures in the thread, post #1 - they are with the rocker arm centered in the box (confirmed by counting wheel turns lock-to-lock) and in the next three shots show how far off center the arms and cross rod are. This would make the car turn fairly hard to the left. The center cross rod can only change the relationship between the two wheels, it can't change the relationship between the pitman arm and the left wheel because the outer rods are fixed length. So there is no way I can see to lenghen the crossrod to make the wheel straight ahead.
    Dave, thanks for giving this some thought.​ It's helping me think it through too and I appreciate the help.

    Thanks, Dave

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