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Methods for getting steering wheel straight

Discussion in 'Tech Discussion' started by MisterB, Jul 8, 2020.

  1. idahovette

    idahovette Full Access Member

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    When you get your new drag link parts and have everything disconnected from the gear, it would be a good time to go lock to lock and then to the middle just to make sure the steering wheel is straight with the gear. And if you parked with the wheels straight ahead you can get the drag link adjusted to almost perfect when you install it.....again YMMV
     
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  2. Turbo4whl

    Turbo4whl Full Access Member

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    "Variable-ratio steering[edit]
    Variable-ratio steering is a system that uses different ratios on the rack in a rack and pinion steering system. At the center of the rack, the space between the teeth are smaller and the space becomes larger as the pinion moves down the rack. In the middle of the rack there is a higher ratio and the ratio becomes lower as the steering wheel is turned towards lock. That makes the steering less sensitive when the steering wheel is close to its center position and makes it harder for the driver to over steer at high speeds. As the steering wheel is turned towards lock, the wheels begin to react more to steering input."

    Quote from:-Wikipedia

    The Saginaw power box accomplishes this using a pinion gear that has a large diameter teeth at the center, and a smaller diameter teeth at each end. The piston gear (rack) has the teeth cut deeper in the center and less at each end.

    "Get Centered
    With most Saginaw power steering boxes, the input shaft is connected to the steering column through a rag joint that allows for some flex in the connection between the two shafts. The “on center” position is critical during installation, something that very few people fully understand from our small sample survey of enthusiasts. What this means is that the steering gear is simply installed in the mid-point of the steering gear to allow the same amount of steering input in both directions. Most importantly, however, is the fact that this midpoint also has a tighter tolerance between the piston rack gear and sector shaft pinion. This eliminates any play when driving in a straight line. This is different from simply aligning the steering wheel during setup."

    Quote from:-SuperChevy

    I can't let this go. Adjusting the drag link to center the steering wheel is not correct. Don't do it.
     
  3. idahovette

    idahovette Full Access Member

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    Wayne, as long as the steering wheel is centered with the gear you SHOULD adjust the steering wheel to center at the drag link. You will be leaving the steering wheel centered with the gear and moving the gear to center with the drag link so the steering wheel is straight with the gear and straight with tires and going straight down the road. If the steering wheel is centered with the gear and the steering wheel is off center with the rig, the gear can try to go back to center and possibly cause a pull condition. WHEW, I think I've taxed my pea brain too much, gonna go drink now!!
     
  4. Turbo4whl

    Turbo4whl Full Access Member

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    Yes Perry, I agree. But the OP, @MisterB said he put a new column (tilt) and a U joint to replace the rag joint. If he just adjusts the drag link to center the wheel, then the pinion will not be centered in the box.
     
  5. Goldie Driver

    Goldie Driver Full Access Member

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    I am fascinated by this. I knew that 2nd gen Trans Ams got those while AFAIK Z28's did not, and I loved it in my T/A's :).

    I have only seen one or two SPIDS here that mentioned it.

    Was this only a 2wd option, or part of a package, or ??
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
  6. Jethro224

    Jethro224 Full Access Member

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    Centering the steering wheel by adjusting the drag link is correct and is the last adjustment made when doing an alignment.
    The gear should be centered when the steering wheel is straight but this is assuming the replacement shaft has the flats clocked the same as the original, or at least real close.
    Easy to check while the drag link is off for replacement.
     
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  7. bucket

    bucket Super Moderator Staff Member

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    A 4x4 steering box for this application is NEVER completely centered because the pitman arm only goes on one way. When you install a replacement box, you center it, THEN adjust the drag link to center the steering wheel. Its 100% the correct way and the really the only way to center the wheel, short of modifications or adjusting other items in a way they are not meant to be adjusted. Like the steering wheel on the column... you can only move it a spline or two due to the horn contact portion of the cancel cam. And GM didn't intend for that to be adjusted anyway which is why there is a mark at the 12 o'clock position.
     
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  8. idahovette

    idahovette Full Access Member

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    OK, I think we are all talking about the same point here. Andy is right , unless you are very lucky the steering wheel may be off a small amount. The only way to get the wheel exactly straight would be to modify the lock plate for the column key lock. Jim is absolutely right, adjusting the drag link to center the steering wheel IS the last step in an alignment. Except for the road test and writing up the bill!!.....Good Night, I'm tired now!!!!
     
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  9. bucket

    bucket Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Quoting myself to clarify a little further. The drag link is adjustable for the sole purpose of centering the steering wheel. The pitman arm only goes on in one way. The steering shaft only hooks to the box in one way. The steering wheel only goes on the column one way. On a solid axle 4x4, adjusting the tie rod changes the tow setting and nothing more. Adjustment of the drag link is the only way to center the steering wheel.
     
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  10. bucket

    bucket Super Moderator Staff Member

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    And about the variable ratio steering, when the steering wheel is centered, if the box happens to be off center by a few degrees, you are never going to tell the difference when driving. It's not like the steering will be lazy in one direction and twitchy in the other. It will just ramp up the ratio a few degrees sooner in one direction than the other, nothing noticeable at all.

    Besides that, many of these trucks didn't have variable ratio steering to begin with.
     
  11. idahovette

    idahovette Full Access Member

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    OK, I'm gonna just let this go, BUT in my 50+ years of alignment I have found there are a lot of ways to get steering Wheels straight. Some good, some not so good, but when you need to save an old pickup for a person who has NO money, you improvise and make right and make it safe. A couple of my "saves" utilized GM bulletins on different "how to's". So where there is a will the is usually always a way.
     
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  12. MisterB

    MisterB Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    OK, guys. I replaced my draglink and adjuster, as well as the left tie rod and right tie rod ends and adjuster. I got everything greased up with full synthetic grease, and then I adjusted the draglink until my steering wheel was straight.

    This all made a huge difference in how the truck handles. No more play or loose feeling, or feeling that the truck is wandering and hunting and pecking for a straight line.

    So then I decided I better have it professionally aligned at a shop I trust. I told them I'm picky about my steering wheel being straight, and mentioned all the new parts I replaced. It was out of alignment allright, so they fixed that. They said everything looks good now, and that my ball joints are still fine.

    Only one problem... My steering wheel isn't straight anymore. Should I take it back and have them fix it, or shall I just adjust the draglink myself and be done with it? That said, I don't want adjusting the draglink to mess up the alignment somehow?

    Sent from my SM-N975U1 using Tapatalk
     
  13. idahovette

    idahovette Full Access Member

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    Don't go to that shop again! They completely blew you off!!! I'd go ahead and adjust the drag link yourself. Just adjusting the drag link won't change the alignment, but I would worry about the alignment that they say they did. Did they provide a printout of the "before" and "after" readings?
     
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  14. wanderinthru

    wanderinthru Full Access Member

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    My first ignorant thought when I seen your thread was "if at first you don't succede try, and try again...... Then damn so many things I had no idea of...... So now it's "mind over Matter, if Ya dont mind it dont matter" But you do mind, wouldn't go back to that shop............
     
  15. MisterB

    MisterB Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    They gave me a printout, and it showed that it was pretty far out of alignment (which I expected). I counted the threads on the old tie rod, and also measured it and set up the new one as closely as possible, but it's a crap shoot until it's aligned. I'll have to take a picture of the printout when I have it with me and post it here

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