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1980 - 1986 Bullnose F100, F150 & Larger F-Series Trucks Discuss the Early Eighties Bullnose Ford Truck

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  #1  
Old 05-03-2012, 11:24 PM
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Loose steering

Hey everyone.
Didn't want to hijack Pastortom1's thread but reading it reminded me of something I've been meaning to ask.

The steering on my 85 F150 feels real loose. It doesn't wonder or anything like that, it drives good and straight it's just way to easy to turn if you know what I mean. I haven't got around to replacing the tie rod ends or bushings yet so kind of wonder if that might be part of it.

So, what can I do to tighten up the steering some? Do you think the tie rods and bushings are causing it? After reading Pastortom1's thread, do you think it might be the rag joint to?

Just one more thing on my growing To Do list.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:30 PM
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It could be all those things or it could be none of them, it might be strictly alignment-related.

You can park it, have someone sit inside and turn the wheel while you crawl around underneath & overhead and take a look-see at any obvious play in the parts.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:58 PM
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Yea, I really need to get around and do just that, just haven't yet. Alignment wise, it may be that but not real sure. It does drive and handle great, just "feels" loose.
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Old 05-04-2012, 03:17 PM
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If it drives great and it just feels loose, then it's probably just a worn out steering gearbox.
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Old 05-05-2012, 02:03 AM
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Good point, actually thought about that. Like Chris said, I need to check it out for anything loose, then maybe try tightening the steering box a little. Always hated messing with them because over tightening is really not a good thing. Well guess, if I can get my dad out of the hospital long enough so I can work on the truck again, I need to move that up a few steps on my to do list.
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Old 05-05-2012, 09:58 AM
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I hope your dad does get out of the hospital soon.

When you get to testing the steering, have the person in the truck turn the wheel just enough to take the slack out of it - back and forth, back and forth. Then you start with the rag joint, watching the input shaft and the output shaft for the same movement. Then the sector box, which is where I think you'll find slack. And so on.

I replaced a sector box with a generic rebuild for ~$150 and it made a world of difference. But, that was after I played with the adjustment on the box and could only make it worse. YMMV, but I wouldn't expect too much from that.
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:15 AM
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I tried adjusting the box on my 1970 Mustang when I was a kid, only made it worse. I haven't touched one since.
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by ctubutis View Post
I tried adjusting the box on my 1970 Mustang when I was a kid, only made it worse. I haven't touched one since.
I'm not sure why, but there seems to be a difference in the steering boxes Ford used and those used by GM and Chrysler. I used to adjust the GM & Chrysler boxes all the time and the only thing to watch for was to make sure you didn't get it too tight. And the adjustment always seemed to help. But on the Ford boxes I can't seem to make an improvement. If I take the slack out any I lose "feel", and I usually have to put it back where it was originally.

Having said that, it doesn't cost anything, so it wouldn't hurt to try. However, make sure to mark where it was originally and only go in very small increments, like 1/8 turn or less.
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Old 05-05-2012, 11:08 AM
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One thing I did to try to isolate the "slope" was to jack one tire off the ground at a time. If you leave one on the ground that will tend to keep the whole steering in place and allow you to just check that side.

Jack one up and grab ahold of the tire and see if there is any play on just that side. If it moves, look up under at the tie rod and see if that's where the play is. If you don't see excessive play on that tie rod, check the other side. If both good then you know it's one of the other joints...or the box.

That's exactly where I have ended up with mine. Replaced all the linkage and joints and it runs very straight and no vibration...just a little loose in the box.

I was going to try to adjust the box but like others, don't seem to be able to get anywhere with it.
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Old 05-05-2012, 11:36 AM
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Took me a long time to figure out there is no slope in your driveway like there is on mine........
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Old 05-05-2012, 12:24 PM
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Took me a long time to figure out there is no slope in your driveway like there is on mine........
just a little, not bad. And thank god!!! When I was putting my intake on, I put my foot on the column shifter linkage and popped it out of gear. Next thing I knew, I say driveway moving underneath me!!! Jump out and slammed on the ebrake with about 6" before it would have hit my car. A little more driveway slope and it would have been a done deal.

I put my brake on and block the wheels everytime now No matter what I'm doing!!
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Old 05-06-2012, 04:25 AM
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Thanks for the well wishes Gary, got him home today. Just have to keep and eye on him for the next few days, well more than normal that is. At 89 even the small things can be major if you know what I mean.

Thanks for the replies everyone. Hopefully I can start checking things out a little tomorrow. Really got me to thinking about the fact that probably all the steering components are about 28 years old. So probably not a real bad idea to think about replacing the tie rod ends and bushings, and maybe the steering box, anyway. Like I said earlier, it drives strait just feels loose. And it sounds like trying to adjust the box is kind of a wasted effort.
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Old 05-06-2012, 04:31 AM
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Nail on the head with the 28yo. I have to remind myself of that constantly. I was born in 90, so to me these are still the brand new cars/trucks I saw growing up. I was cursing bad ground in a cadillac a few months ago and had to tell myself "this car was 3yo when you were born."
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Old 05-06-2012, 05:54 AM
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Thanks for the well wishes Gary, got him home today. Just have to keep and eye on him for the next few days, well more than normal that is. At 89 even the small things can be major if you know what I mean.

Thanks for the replies everyone. Hopefully I can start checking things out a little tomorrow. Really got me to thinking about the fact that probably all the steering components are about 28 years old. So probably not a real bad idea to think about replacing the tie rod ends and bushings, and maybe the steering box, anyway. Like I said earlier, it drives strait just feels loose. And it sounds like trying to adjust the box is kind of a wasted effort.
When I replaced all my steering component, I took the Tie Rod ends loose from the spindles as well as the Pitman Arm. At that point, the entire steering dropped down all in one piece. This allowed me to put all the new components together on a work bench and match them up to the old lengths side-by-side. Then installed all in one unit as well.
This kept the Re-alignment to a minimum.
Also, I was able to get all the components on Amazon for about $180....All MOOG
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Old 05-06-2012, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by kedwinh View Post
Thanks for the well wishes Gary, got him home today. Just have to keep and eye on him for the next few days, well more than normal that is. At 89 even the small things can be major if you know what I mean.

Thanks for the replies everyone. Hopefully I can start checking things out a little tomorrow. Really got me to thinking about the fact that probably all the steering components are about 28 years old. So probably not a real bad idea to think about replacing the tie rod ends and bushings, and maybe the steering box, anyway. Like I said earlier, it drives strait just feels loose. And it sounds like trying to adjust the box is kind of a wasted effort.
My father is 92, and I certainly know what you mean about the small things being major. Took him in for testing on Friday so they could figure out why he is having trouble swallowing. They took a couple of X-rays and had him swallow some barium. We left the house at 8:00 and I had him home at 11:00. He went to bed at that point and slept until 7:00 PM, got up to eat, and went right back to bed for the night. And, they've determined that he doesn't have any blockage, but that he's forgetting to swallow.

I didn't want to scare you away from adjusting the box, just from expecting it to be a miracle cure. It won't cost anything and might actually help a bit, so I would try it just to see. However, make sure you mark where it is so you can get it back there.
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