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slop steering in old cars

Discussion in 'Off Topic But Still Civil' started by voiceofstl, Apr 20, 2020.

  1. voiceofstl

    voiceofstl Well-Known Member

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    Cras from the 60's and 70';s had the old fashion "ball" steering box. All the ones I drove were years old, my buddy who has a nice 71 GTX installed a new "firm feel" boox in it . It was better but I thought is was still "sloppy" feeling
    Of course I am camparing them to modern rack&pinion units.
    QUESTION: When these cars were brand new was the seering as tignt as Rack&pinion or is rack&pinion that much better system?
     
  2. GaryS

    GaryS Well-Known Member

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    Several years ago, I installed a new Firm Feel box in my '64 Valiant convertible, along with a steering and suspension rebuild using upgraded components. I prefer the handling and ride in the Valiant over my wife's 2014 200 convertible, and it sure isn't sloppy..
     
  3. valiant67

    valiant67 ...

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    It all comes down to tolerances. Apparently for the normal cars, tolerances were not that close so you ended up with slop. Factory firm feel (police and other performance options) boxes were better, tighter tolerance, less slip.

    The aftermarket builders have really stepped up in making better than factory options available.
     
    tlc and Bob Lincoln like this.
  4. DC-93

    DC-93 Well-Known Member

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    Power rack and pinion has less tolerance than recirculating ball with power steering.

    Be interesting to compare manual versions of both.
     
  5. rapidtrans

    rapidtrans Well-Known Member

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    The slop is from a worn steering box. Some slop can be eliminated by an adjustment bolt on the box. Or a rebuild is required.
    New 60s era cars weren’t sloppy but did have a greater turn ratio than new cars. My Monaco has a 24:1 ratio box, 5 turns lock to lock, and a large diameter steering wheel. The firm feel box drops ratio to 16:1 at about 3.5 turns lock to lock.
    My daily driver has variable electric steering at 2.2 turns lock to lock. Just takes a 90 deg flick of the wheel for a tight 90 deg corner. The Monaco requires a complete 360 wheel turn to make same turn.
    FWIW. Just the difference in wheel diameter made a noticeable difference in feel. The Mopar Tuff Wheel Dad ordered in a 71 & 73 B body were big improvements over the big standard wheel.
     
  6. Bob Lincoln

    Bob Lincoln "CHECK FAULT CODES"
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    My dad's 66 Chevy Biscayne with manual steering had 6 turns lock-to-lock. It's more the specifications than what's possible with each system.

    A few years ago, I felt a LOT of wander and play in my 92 Dakota's steering (parallelogram). Wasn't like that during the morning ride. Felt like I was overcorrecting.
    I got home, checked ball joints, tie rods (they were almost new), pitman and idler arms. All good, all tight. While I had the hood open, I absentmindedly grabbed the steering shaft and rotated it with my hands, and the steering gear box rotated into the frame.

    The inside vertical face of the frame was so rotted, invisibly, that 2 of the 3 bolts holding the steering gear to the frame were gone. A little more and it would have broken loose and highway speed, and that would have been it for me and anyone in my path.

    I had it welded and rebuilt, and I check it every 6 months. It's still solid, but other areas are getting punky, so this will be its last year of service.
     
  7. Doug D

    Doug D Virginia Gentleman

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    Bob - I'd say you got your money's worth out of the 92 Dakota after 28 years. My Ram is 14 years old, but still in good condition - just one rust spot developing. Hoping to get 20 years out of it.
     
    Tony K likes this.
  8. dana44

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    A lot of it has to do with the ratio, as noted. My first '68 Charger had a really good feeling steering box in it, you felt the road and the turning, my present '68 Charger box steers like it is floating on air and extremely soft, no force, feel or return from the road, easier to oversteer without realizing it. Son-in-Law's '82 truck with slant six/manual A833OD/manual steering was super sloppy and all over the road. I was able to tighten the endplay adjustment to take a 40 degree slop out to about ten degrees where it should be, so that was good, but without any seat time, talk about understeering to take a corner, it's more than half a turn to go around a corner. Being shelter in place and all, I drive my '95 Dakota about once a week and the wife's '04 Mini about once a week, keep the batteries charged and all, and both of them are rack and pinion. Her rack has the electric steering box (it was getting an occasional funk about two months before a factory recall replacement), but it turns on a nickel, thumbs at 2 and 10 and for a corner you are doing a 90 degree corner with 90 degree turn of the wheel (super fast). It's about 1.75:1 lock to lock, the Dakota about 2.5:1 and you can really feel the difference between the two ratios, after driving the Mini the truck steers like an 18 wheeler.
     
  9. Tony K

    Tony K Active Member

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    BR Ram 4x4s will get pretty sloppy in the linkages. There are several fixes, the simplest being "Luke's Links" and the best (IMHO 15 years ago anyway) was to replace the BR style track bar with a DR style track bar, which requires a special bracket that you bolt to the frame, and a steering box support kit to render the sector shaft more solid to take the slop out. I put that on a 99 Ram 1500 that was all over the road, and it was a different machine after. The pre-DR Cummins drivers really love these because all the weight makes the BR HDs that much quicker to go wobbly.
     
    wtxiceman likes this.
  10. wolfsblood07

    wolfsblood07 Active Member

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    I like cars that have "1 finger" steering like my 1972 Ford LTD had. My 2014 Avenger has very firm sporty steering which is fine, but I would never put any kind of firm feel steering box in a car. If I were lucky enough to have a classic car I would want it to drive like it did from the factory.
     
  11. AC TC

    AC TC Well-Known Member

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    Dont forget that todays chassis are much stiffer and that helps a lot.
     
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  12. DC-93

    DC-93 Well-Known Member

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    New ball joints really helped my 68 Charger.
     

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