View Full Version : Inconsistent steering

03-29-2016, 12:55 PM
Still working out bugs in this car, getting down to the minor annoyances now.

All of the wear components have been replaced in the steering system: ball joints, tie rod ends, rag joint. The box was rebuilt. I have no confidence in the guy who rebuilt it but it no longer leaks, and he rebuilt the wiper motor at the same time and that works perfectly now.

The issue is when following gentle curves on a two-lane. As I turn left or right the initiation is smooth, but after that the car seems to "fall" into the turn.

The car was aligned last month with toe-in set to 0.5 degrees on each wheel, 1.0 degree total. I increased that a little bit, to about 1 degree both sides, in an attempt to correct the problem but it had no effect.

When parked, engine off, there is a small amount of slop in the steering wheel that coincides approximately with the turning characteristic.

Is there a way to adjust the steering box to take the slop out? Is that the problem, or should I be looking elsewhere?

04-16-2016, 09:31 PM
Having my wife turn the steering wheel back and forth while I looked under the car, I've determined that the loosness is in the steering box.

I've read about as much as I can on this. The factory manual has a complex method of setting the adjusting screw, draining fluids and using an inch-pound torque wrench. Discussion board discuss quick and dirty methods, by tightening incrementally. Several posters warn about over-tightening, which would induce lock-up. Most suggest increments of 1/6 to 1/4 turn, so I did 1/8 earlier this evening. It's too dark to test drive, so I'll see what happens with this tomorrow.

The first picture is initial, the second is my first increment. After loosening the lock nut with a socket wrench, I found that the adjusting screw returned to its original position when torqued to 50#-ft, so that's what I'm using to re-tighten.

04-16-2016, 09:55 PM
I don't get it. After you outlined all the methods for correctly setting your ball-screw steering box, you decided to arbitrarily turn the screw 1/8th of a turn? Why not follow the procedure Ford engineers published in the Shop Manual? Otherwise, you may be setting yourself up for disaster down the road. - Dave

04-18-2016, 09:14 AM
The shop manual doesn't address the symptoms that I am experiencing. I was hoping to rely somewhat on what others have done to address this in as simple a way as possible. Tightening 1/8 of a turn followed by test driving in a trial-and-error attempt isn't "arbitrary".

04-18-2016, 01:31 PM
...The factory manual has a complex method of setting the adjusting screw, draining fluids and using an inch-pound torque wrench...Yes, and it's in 9-1. Section 1 covers Troubleshooting and Section 2 says this in the very first paragraph:
"The ball nut assembly and the sector gear must be adjusted properly to maintain minimum steering shaft end play, a factor of preload adjustment and minimum backlash between the sector gear and the ball nut Fig. 1. There are only two possible adjustments within the recirculating ball type steering gear, and these should be made in the following order to avoid damage or gear failure."

Two adjustments. Know what they are? You turned the sector shaft adjusting screw but what about the steering shaft bearing adjuster?

It's your car but if it were mine I would follow the shop manual to the letter. Ford engineers are highly trained, well paid and they represent far more than 'some guys on the net' who take responsibility for nothing. - Dave

04-18-2016, 02:05 PM
You turned the sector shaft adjusting screw but what about the steering shaft bearing adjuster?

I don't see that second adjustment in my manual.

04-18-2016, 04:05 PM
OMG, Steve! Aren't you an Engineer? They completely tear down the steering box then they show all the parts and how they go together.

The very most critical adjustment is the one you turned without following the Shop Manual. I think you can figure it out. - Dave

04-18-2016, 05:54 PM
Dave, I'm finding the directions for adjusting this gear very confusing.

First of all, Table 2 on page 3-3, symptom "loose steering" points to item 21 "incorrect steering gear adjustment". Section 2 is IN-CAR ADJUSTMENTS AND REPAIRS, and the only adjustment in this section is WORM BEARING PRELOAD AND SECTOR ADJUSTMENT.

Item 10 describes adjusting the sector adjusting screw but nothing else. Figure 18 shows two different adjusters, but no instructions (or description) of the second.

04-18-2016, 06:51 PM
"Light dawns on Marblehead."

Item 7 refers to the adjuster at the pitman arm (the first adjustment). Item 10 refers to sector adjuster screw. :o

04-18-2016, 06:57 PM
I don't see a special wrench recommended to turn this adjuster (or loosen/ tighten the lock nut). Can this be done with a punch and hammer?

04-21-2016, 08:17 AM
Man, that Pitman arm was a job to take off. I had to use a 4' bar on a 1-7/16" socket to take the nut off. I'm glad I went ahead and bought a heavy duty puller, made for Ford trucks (Lisle 41970). It was almost too big, but I worked the heck out of it. Lithium grease on the threads, tighten as much as I dare, PB blaster, hammer on the arm like a madman, heat, re-torque, repeat.

I measured 3-5#-in 20 degrees from the stop turning right, and 5-6 in the opposite direction.

Working with a long bar, hammer, PB blaster, below the hood hinge, then again through the removed inner fender, I can't make the adjuster nut move. So the box is coming out.

Since I have to remove it anyway, I'm just going to use it as a core for a remanufactured unit. Looks like Pat Wilson has the best prices on these.

04-21-2016, 09:08 AM
Actually Rock Auto is $90 less. Hefty core charge though. :eek:

04-21-2016, 09:58 AM
Are those insulator mounts gold plated? :mad:

04-23-2016, 06:50 AM
Any tips on removal? The rebuilt should be here Tuesday. I know I'll have to shift and lift the motor. Hoses, input shaft, three mount bolts, then plop it onto a few layers of cardboard so it doesn't crack the concrete floor. ;)

04-24-2016, 07:42 AM
They are heavy and you will find that you can probably only get one hand in there to hold it up. I did mine on my back on the floor. It kind of needs you to push up on the back end of the box and pull slightly towards the firewall, then do a half sumersault with a three quarter pike to get it past the block. There is a spot were you will find it will just slide past everything and just fall out. I found when putting it back it was easier to use my engine crane to take the weight and put it back in reverse of the way you took it out. If you can remember. Enjoy the challenge.

04-24-2016, 12:32 PM
This will be on the floor as well. I'll prepare with lots of wood blocking to hold the motor up on the frame, then use my floor jack to help raise the new box in place.

04-24-2016, 08:23 PM
Don't know if you will have enough room under there for a floor jack as well. I think that was why I used the engine crane and held it from above.

04-24-2016, 11:01 PM
If I can't make room, I'll use a bottle jack, levers, oak branches, baling wire...

05-09-2016, 10:57 AM
What a hassle. What a workout. This job took me all Friday night, some of my Saturday then all of my Sunday night. I had to remove the exhaust from the header and jack the motor up to get enough clearance. You also need to remove the rear inner fender to get access to the rag joint.

The hardest part was lining up the rag joint with the input shaft on the new box. You can't bolt the box in and then insert the joint, because the steering shaft does not pull in-out more than a faction of an inch, so I attempted to lift and wiggle the 30# box on my back as a buddy worked through the fender to line up the joint. Three different people tried to help me. After destroying three friendships I finally got smart, removed the steering wheel and the small plate that holds the steering shaft from going in-out. That way I could bolt the box in solid, then simply slide the shaft/ rag joint in.

Next was "clocking" the system. First I loosely installed the pitman arm then centered the box using the steering wheel. Then I removed the pitman and left it into position just below the splines, then lined up the front wheels as best I could by sighting in the across the edges of the sidewalls to the rear tires. With the front of the car on jacks, the toe-in is much more than normal, so I had my daugher eye-ball the alignment while I held a tape measure off the rear tire sidewall. Trial and error to get both sides even. Next I applied anti-seize compound to the shaft splines, lock-tite to the nut, and torqued in the pitman arm.

After setting the car back down onto the floor I re-checked the toe-in, again by sighting across the front tire sidewalls. The rear track is 1" wider so sighting the rear tire sidewall is very close to spec. After getting the front wheels "straight" I then removed the steering wheel and centered that on the splined shaft.

05-09-2016, 11:05 AM
Don't know if you will have enough room under there for a floor jack as well. I think that was why I used the engine crane and held it from above.

I lifted my old one out, then the new one in on a creeper using muscle power. The master cylinder is in the way to lift it from above. And I didn't want to remove the hood. Once I got one bolt in I used my floor jack to maneuver the box into position for the remaining two bolts.

05-29-2016, 12:36 AM
Reading this makes me thankful I only had to replace two inner tie rod ends and the steering was tight. The rag joint looks much better than a 50 year old should look.