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Steering box adjustment question


I'm about to go over the steering to try to rid it of as much play as possible. I've replaced all the ball joints and the relay and I've overhauled the swivel hubs.
I thought I'd now check out the steering box. It's difficult to know how tight to go with the adjuster to take out any play without restricting the movement.
I have a second steering box that came with a bulkhead I bought a while ago and so I thought I'd open it up and see how it worked. Oddly, when I tighten the adjuster I get to a point where the movement nips in the middle of the steering range, but has play at the limits. This is an old steering box and I would have thought that if there was wear, it would be in the middle of the lock range - is this normal (?designed to accommodate wear in the system) or has this box been owned by someone who's spent years driving around in circles??
Two things to bear in mind with steering.
first i adjust my steering box so that there is about one inch movement on the steering wheel untill the road wheels just start to rock. that seems fine.
second link arm or tranfer arm assembly at the bottom left of the radiator as you look at it get worn sometimes and can cause a flat spot so it makes the whole steering system seem like you have play and no amount of adjustment of the steering box will help. they are not dear just a complete pain in the ass tochange if they have been in for a while. had to press mine out using hydraulic jack and acro prop. nightmere.
anyway these tend to be the two things that cause play in the steering. well as far as i know.
Jack both front wheels off the ground. Disconnect the steering damper if you have one fitted. Make sure oil levels in the swivel housing, steering column, and drop arm box or correct. From inside the drivers wheel arch (remove the box-shaped protective cover if it's still there). On the side of the steering column box there is a thread and locknut, which is the adjuster for the steering column. Slacken the locknut (these can be seized and a right swine to undo). Then turn the threaded shaft inwards to take up play. Frequently turn the steering lock-to-lock until any slack is removed and there is no binding of the steering. Tighten the lock nut and that's it really.
It's very common for the drop arm box to wear or seize - this is because they are so damned awkward to get at/maintain, and dangerous to strip.
Play in the box at either end of travel is normal. The reason for this is that the main nut's cone is "trapped" in the rocker arm's fork when in the middle range of movement, but as the steering goes to one side or the other and the rocker shaft rotates, the main nut cone will tend to run up and down the rocker fork a little. That's why the steering must be adjusted in the straight ahead position.

With the steering box in the middle of its available turns, the drop arm shold hang just a little forward of vertical. You'll be able to check for this free movement by undoing the pinch bolt on the steering relay's lower arm and removing that arm from the relay shaft. Trun the wheel all the way to one side and note its position. You should then be able to turn it freely 3.5-3.75 turns the other way - count the number of turns you get and note the final position. Then rotate the wheel back exactly half the full range. That is the box position you should have when steernig straight ahead.

Make sure the box is not turned for the moment, and ensure that the relay's top arm is parallel (or close to) to the chassis crossmember. This may require adjustment of the first link length. With the road wheels in the straight ahead position, the lower relay arm should be set at about 83o to the top one (to get it right its easies to get it 90o, then move it two splines closed angle on the shaft). This may need adjustment of the drag link length. Once set, make sure everything is tight.

To adjust the steering box, make sure the box is in the straight ahead position. Remove the mudshield steering box cover under the wing and slacken the lock nut onthe drain plug/adjuster. Gently tighten the adjuster until rocking thesteering wheel produces no knock at the wheel. Then get soemone to move the steering wheel very slightly back and forth (no more than 1") while you watch the drop arm. If you see a tiny movement with 1" or less of wheel input, then tighten the locknut while holding the adjuster steady. If there is no arm movement, tighten the adjuster a little more (45o at a time initially) until you produce immediate arm response. Be careful not to overtighten the adjuster as it will produce rapid wear of the main nut and rocker shaft fork, and make sure the box is topped up with fresh EP90.

Have a look at the steering section on my blog - I rebuilt my box and the photos will help explain the above.
I had the box apart and the design - rocker arm with the round nut moving in the fork is alwasy going to give some play.

Can't remember how I worked out how mcuh to tighten the nut - thjink I jacked up the front wheels, nip up the nut, trun steering from lock to lock so it feels like it is not tight then do up the lock nut, whcih of course pulls the inner nut out so it becomes loose hence you need to nip it ia bit more to allow for that.

I too found that the tightness in the centre differes rom that on each lock.
"Book" method goes something like adjust until you feel resistance on the adjuster, then 1/10th of a turn more. When you tighten the locknut whilst holding the adjuster nut still with a spanner, tightening the threads tends to pull the adjuster away from the end of the rocker shaft slightly - hence the extra 1/10 turn before you lock it up. You're aiming for virtually zero free play straight ahead and an inch or so on full lock - that's perfectly normal. The stuff Snagger says about centralising everything and setting up properly is very important. Done right, Series trucks can have precise, light, steering that doesn't wander.:D
Thanks! Does it really make a difference if the raised boss on the relay is facing towards or away from the radiator when you fit it? IIRC the holes on my relay would only line up the "wrong" way round.
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