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Thread: Play in steering

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    Play in steering

    My steering has some play that I find annoying. With a 14 steering wheel it's about 1.5 to 2.0 inches of slop. When the car was restored I was told that the steering box did not need to be rebuilt but that they replaced the bushings. Nevertheless, I don't like the play. I was considering a Denis Welch column (STD) and also a new peg but, before I do, I'd like your thoughts on how to determine if I really need both.


    thanks
    Rich
    '67 BJ8, mine since '75

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    Re: Play in steering

    Have you tried adjusting the box to remove the play? There is an adjustment screw on the top.
    John, BN4

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    Re: Play in steering

    Rich,
    There's been a lot of discussion here of the DW boxes as well as the adjustment. Do an Advanced Search in the forum listed: "Austin Healey" for "Steering adjust" and you'll see a lot of threads.

    For adjustment, loosen the big lock nut on top (3/4" IIRC) and lightly tighten the adjuster screw while moving the steering wheel back and forth from center until you can just feel the tight spot as you go past it. That'll be as good as it gets. This works better with the front end off the ground. You can use a coin in the adjuster screw.

    I'd make sure the box is adjusted properly before considering the DW box.

    See also threads on steering box lube, penrite and john deere corn head grease.

    If you have to add lube, make sure you operate the steering lock to lock so it will settle to the bottom.

    Edit: this is the most comprehensive thread: "Steering Box Replacement"...

    http://www.britishcarforum.com/bcf/s...light=steering
    Last edited by steveg; 04-08-2020 at 06:41 PM.
    Steve Gerow
    Altadena, CA, USA
    Maker of most complete Big Healey rear disc kit
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    Re: Play in steering

    Thanks guys. Over the years I tried using the adjuster with no improvement. When I did reduce play at the center the steering bound at lock. However it was so long ago I don't remember if I raised the car! So, that will be the first step and I've ordered some Penrite lube in case the resto shop didn't use decent lubricant although, as I mentioned, they said the internals looked OK. (So they say)

    If all that fails I'm considering the steering column from DWR but dread the thought of shimming and the like. I'll do it as the car is now a family "heirloom" but I'm more vintage than the car is and my parts are wearing too.

    Appreciate the help.
    Rich
    '67 BJ8, mine since '75

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    Re: Play in steering

    Quote Originally Posted by RickPA View Post
    ... If all that fails I'm considering the steering column from DWR but dread the thought of shimming and the like. ...
    What shimming are you referring to? The DWR column comes pre-shimmed/adjusted.

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    Re: Play in steering

    Quote Originally Posted by RickPA View Post
    .... However it was so long ago I don't remember if I raised the car! ...
    Be sure to put 2" blocks under the upper A-arms when lifting the car so the front suspension stays in its normal ride height. As you tighten down the adjustment screw, move the steering wheel back & forth to make sure you are at the tight spot in the center and it doesn't bind.

    Please let us know how that goes.
    John, BN4

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    Re: Play in steering

    Quote Originally Posted by John Turney View Post
    Be sure to put 2" blocks under the upper A-arms when lifting the car so the front suspension stays in its normal ride height. As you tighten down the adjustment screw, move the steering wheel back & forth to make sure you are at the tight spot in the center and it doesn't bind.

    Please let us know how that goes.
    Or put jackstands under the spring pans.
    Steve Gerow
    Altadena, CA, USA
    Maker of most complete Big Healey rear disc kit
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    Re: Play in steering

    Thanks again. I'll give it a shot tomorrow.
    '67 BJ8, mine since '75

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    Re: Play in steering

    I've have an AHspares box in my car. DW had stopped selling them for a while when I did mine a couple years ago. I've heard read on this forum that they've been having problems. Anyway, even if you change it you won't eliminate the play altogether. I have about 1/2" in mine. If I tighten it any more I can get it down to about 1/4 to 3/8, it still self centres at that but it gets a bit heavier on the arms!

    AJ

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    Re: Play in steering

    Maybe a little late in the game but how are you all measuring play? I measured at the wheel rim on a 14 inch wheel.
    '67 BJ8, mine since '75

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    Re: Play in steering

    Rick,
    We're all measuring play like you are.

    Don't forget to observe your tie rods and idler.

    With the wheels on the ground, have the assistant move the wheel back and forth for the play per above. My idler was moving up and down. Turned out I needed to remove a paper shim from the top cover to delete the play. Or maybe you've got worn tie rod ball joints.

    If those are all perfect and the box is adjusted at the tight spot, then the play is in the box itself.

    I called a friend who has a DW box and he says it has hardly any play at all, like AJ's above.

    I rebuilt my box with a new DW worm and was not able to get better than about 1-1/4" play. I was lucky and had 3 other boxes from my mechanic that I could pull the best parts off.

    If I had it to do over, would buy a new box from DW or AHS.
    Steve Gerow
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    Maker of most complete Big Healey rear disc kit
    Check out my galleries:
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    Re: Play in steering

    I'm realizing that whoever put my car back together after restoration wasn't the greatest. I checked the adjustment on the box and snugged it up some. There is a noticeable drag at straight ahead now. Not a lot but it took some play out. While jacking the car I noticed the bumper bolts and overriders needed tightening. So, with that in mind I'll be checking the other steering components tomorrow.

    Steve, I appreciate the comment about replacing just the column and still having play. You may have saved me from a futile effort. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate tomorrow and I can test my adjustment.

    Rich
    '67 BJ8, mine since '75

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    Re: Play in steering

    Rich,
    Others may differ, but if you snug everything up and have 1" - 1.5" of play, IMO this is decent for a stock box.

    When you're checking the play, remember to observe the front wheel - during part of the play it will move very slightly. How much play do you get before it moves at all?

    I'm not a woodworker, but if I had those long bar clamps, I'd be tempted to clamp the front wheels tightly then see how much play in the steering wheel.

    PS - if you've discovered some loose bolts & nuts, time to check all the bolts on the front and rear suspension for tightness.
    Steve Gerow
    Altadena, CA, USA
    Maker of most complete Big Healey rear disc kit
    Check out my galleries:
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