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Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial
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SGKent Premium Member
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

Wasted youth wrote:
Steve, to your point on centering the steering box and wheel...

In the past with my other buses, I got into the habit of letting the bus find its own happy center spot on a drive. Then, I popped off the steering wheel and reset it.

By doing that, am I in danger of actually missing the center point of the box?

Said another way, if the steering box is somehow off in travel from left to right, and I reset the steering wheel only, I'm fooling myself?


Yes, I hate to make this long winded. Imagine it is 1910 and you build a steering box. It wears and the farmers complain that it can't be adjusted. You add an adjusting screw. That way the farmers can adjust their steering box as it wears. Well, it wears with the worst wear in the center, and almost no wear on the outside of the turn. So one day the farmer adjusts it so it runs great around the farm and town. Then he turns hard right into an alley next to the hardware store, the gearbox binds on the far outside of the screw and the car ends up in the barbershop scaring the heck out of everyone. Guess who gets the blame - the steering box maker. So, the next model the gearbox maker builds the worm so that it is highest in the center and looser on the outside of the screw. That way as it wears it has to be worn out before the center is lower than the outside of the worm - then the farmer will get blame if he crashes with a worn out steering box he knows he should have replaced. So that is why the highest / tightest point in the steering box is the center. That is where it is supposed to be when the front wheels are centered. VW is really clear on this too - the adjustment and center is the highest point. If the car goes straight on the center highest point and the steering wheel is way off remove the steering wheel and put it on straight. But if the steering box is not centered on the high/tight spot going straight ahead the drag link has to be adjusted so it is, then the steering wheel put on straight. The way I do it is make sure the steering wheel is straight ahead on the high spot with the drag link disconnected, then adjust the drag link to attach it with the front wheels straight ahead. Drive it and make the final adjustments at the drag link. If you can't feel the high spot with the drag link off, one needs to follow the Bentley or Orange manual to set the preload. The procedure is slightly different on early bays vs late bays.

late Bay - note that the rubber pointer is moveable. It should point to the center of the raised tab on the high spot with near equal turns from center to lock to lock:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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Tom Powell Premium Member
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

SGKent wrote:
... make the final adjustments at the drag link. ...


If you replace the drag link you can cause further complications. The drag link can only be adjusted in full term increments. The replacement may not have the threads started the same as OG and you will not be able to get spokes level with the steering box on the high spot with either one turn more. or one turn less, on the drag link. The solution to this is two adjustable tie rods and straight tracking and toe in adjustment with them.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
Steering wheel was spokes level on the high spot in the steering box. After installing a new drag link, driving straight ahead the steering wheel was cocked to the left.



Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
Steering wheel was spokes level on the high spot in the steering box. Adjusted the drag link one turn and the steering wheel was cocked to the right when driving straight ahead.

You'll need to do many test drives and 1/4 turn tie rod adjustments, but I'll report that I did it successfully with SGKent's input.

The goal is:
Steering box on the high spot.
Spokes level.
Toe in correct.
Goes straight on a level street.

Aloha
tp
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Wasted youth
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

This thread is immensely helpful. Thanks to all who contributed! It is clear to me that I need to go back and start over from scratch: Verify/set steering box, toe-in and camber. I feel like I have a much higher comfort level approaching this whole situation.

I've pulled the steering wheel on and off so many times in the past few weeks messing with the steering coupler, column and steering lock that it's position now is probably meaningless.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

Caveat #1
All my experience is with a '69 camper. Later VW's have a different steering box and the procedures and drills may be different. More knowledgeable people will give you better information.

Caveat #2
IMO, when it's done right there is never a need to pull the steering wheel. More knowledgeable people will give you better information.

I've been helped by DBM, SGKent, BD, Aeromech, Telford, Robby, and many others. Now it's my time to contribute my meager and questionable knowledge and experience.

Aloha
tp
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

Tom Powell wrote:
Caveat #2
IMO, when it's done right there is never a need to pull the steering wheel.


The only exception to this caveat, is when you had a dum-dum PO who put the wheel on crooked. Then it's time to find a 27mm socket and a puller (early bay) or a 27mm socket and a beer (late bay.)

Robby
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3. 90% of problems are between the driver's seat and the steering wheel.
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Wasted youth
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

Okay, so I adjusted my steering box and per the Bentley procedure, centered the steering and took the remaining slop out by feeling the Pittman Arm slack and removing that slack with the steering box set screw.

Next, I set up the toe in check using the paint on tires/scribe with nail method. I subtracted front and rear readings and come up with 3/8 inch toe in. Looks like the thing to do is turn in the adjustable tie rod by one turn and re-measure.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

Wasted youth wrote:
... took the remaining slop out by feeling the Pittman Arm slack and removing that slack with the steering box set screw. ...


IMO:
The adjusting screw should be set on the bench or installed without the pittman arm. Adjusting too tight will result in excessive wear/damage internally. Use that adjustment, no load, to define the height of the high spot.

Aloha
tp
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

Wasted youth wrote:
Okay, so I adjusted my steering box and per the Bentley procedure, centered the steering and took the remaining slop out by feeling the Pittman Arm slack and removing that slack with the steering box set screw.

Next, I set up the toe in check using the paint on tires/scribe with nail method. I subtracted front and rear readings and come up with 3/8 inch toe in. Looks like the thing to do is turn in the adjustable tie rod by one turn and re-measure.


Good Job Tom

Steve - yes - that is how VW says to do it. When you get to 1/8" toe in lock the tie rod. With the wheels up turn the steering left then right and see where the high spot is. You should feel a tiny drag thru center but just a tiny bit barely noticeable. With the steering wheel on the high spot put the steering wheel as straight as you can by removing it and putting it back on. I make a mark on the wheel and the shaft when done in case I ever pull it again. Then let the bus down, take it for a drive (I am assuming everything else is locked down.

If the Steering wheel needs adjustment pull it into the garage straight even if the steering wheel is off. Then remove the drag ling at the arm and adjust it so the steering wheel is as straight as you think you can get it. Put the drag link back on and drive it again. You may need to go a turn in either direction like Tom's photos show. When you are as close as you can get with the drag link pull it back in the garage again and loosen the coupling that the shaft goes into that attaches to the steering box. Turn the wheel the tiny bit until it is straight and lock the nut on that clamp. The wheel will be straight. The last step is the one Tom is missing ALTHOUGH he has dual adjustable tie rods so he can adjust that out with them. Every time I have removed the steering gear for anything the steering is no longer straight because that clamp allows a lot of movement even though the bolt is still thru the coupling. It is a pinch clamp.

FWIW the first time one does this is the worst time wise because Lord knows how the prior owner or mechanics messed with it.

There is also one other important adjustment when done with the toe and steering. There are limiting bolts on the beam. when the steering wheel is turned all the way to each side there is a measurement that the tire has to the suspension so it doesn't rub.
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Wasted youth
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

First... I gotta get this off my chest...

I have never driven any VW air-cooled product that has steering as nice as this bus. I did not know it could be so good. Dancing

Took it for about 25 miles tonight... freeway, country roads, and in town. I put some quick left and right swerves between 40-50 MPH , and the giant loaf of bread actually always wanted to right itself. Amazing.

Okay... now that I'm done peeing all over myself, I will say that I should probably take Tom's advice about not loading up the set screw too much. I did set it per the procedure, but then didn't like it based on steering wheel play, so I tightened it a little more... by doing that, I achieved a close proximity to the desired < 5/8 inch radial slop in Steering Wheel.

However, the steering needs a little nudge to get back to center on its own after a turn, so I bet I have the steering box too tight now. I will back off the set screw just a bit and see how it goes. The high spot/center is somewhat difficult for me to determine, though I can clearly feel Pitmann Arm slop come and go when I adjust the set screw. This is with Drag Link removed.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I have achieved just less than 1/8 inch toe in. Other adjustment caused a fat 3/16" toe in, so I went the other way. Using the paint/scribe method seems to work pretty good and is certainly simple enough. My wife was foolish enough to come out and bring me some ice water, so she got drafted into holding the tape measure while I worked through the process several times looking for that toe-in sweet spot.

Next: Loosen up steering box set screw just a bit, Check over-steering stops/limiting bolts, and if all good reinstall the splash pan!
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:48 am    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

SGKent wrote:
There is also one other important adjustment when done with the toe and steering. There are limiting bolts on the beam. when the steering wheel is turned all the way to each side there is a measurement that the tire has to the suspension so it doesn't rub.


Unfortunately, not all early (pre-'70-ish) buses have this feature. Colin and I speculated that the limiting stop adjustment could have been implemented implemented when radial tires became an option on the bus. With their different profile and behavior under mastered steering, the radials and bias-ply tires might have required different limiting stops. The adjustment, if you have one, should be done incrementally. Judging the lock with wheels off the ground is easy, but the steering geometry changes greatly as load is put on the front suspension, so the final inspection will have to be done in an empty parking lot after driving at full lock for a few feet in one direction. Then the other.

I adjusted mom's bug (radials were available earlier for bugs) stop off the ground, and the turning radius was abysmal. Adjusted with load on the suspension, the car turns much tighter at full lock without rubbing any tires.

Robbie
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2. Don't rely on the guy before you. He was not able to fix the problem.
3. 90% of problems are between the driver's seat and the steering wheel.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:58 am    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

When holding the tape measure on the line use the 2 or 3 inch mark on the tape rather then the hook at the end of it,that give a more accurate measurement.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:03 am    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

lil-jinx wrote:
When holding the tape measure on the line use the 2 or 3 inch mark on the tape rather then the hook at the end of it, that give a more accurate measurement.


That's exactly what we did Cool ... the tab on the ends of most tape measures are loose, plus it's just easier in this instance to press the tape against the tire right on the inch mark line than it is to try and hold the tab just so perfectly.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:16 am    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

Good job. The spouse usually tell all their friends they helped align the car. It helps because when they go to have a car aligned someday, and the mechanic starts giving them the long story about how much work it is to align the toe-in..... yeah right. Gimme the tape measure..

Quote:
so I bet I have the steering box too tight now


you did. There are two or three ways to adjust them including using an inch pound torque gauge to actually measure the drag. The factory how to is the easiest and gets the job done. It is from the dealer service book.

These buses do handle quite nice when the owners take the time to get them right. When we go up to Yosemite there is always someone in an SUV that wants so badly to get around me. I'll pull over and let them go when there is a safe spot. But when we get to the curvy section, they can't keep up - and I am just cruising and so comfortable.
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Wasted youth
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:44 am    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

SGKent wrote:
...But when we get to the curvy section, they can't keep up - and I am just cruising and so comfortable.


That's funny!

At some point, I hope to take the bus for its 'Sea Trials' once we get released from the dry dock. Planned route is Fresno-Tioga-Mojave and home. That's mountain and desert driving with likely headwinds over Tehachapi on a route that's just under 600 miles.

Got a ways to go before that is going to happen, but I'll keep digging. Razz
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Looking for alignment/toe-in tutorial Reply with quote

Backing off the set screw a 1/4 turn at a time, done twice with driving tests seems to allow the steering wheel to return to center much easier and I do not notice any additional operating slop, so I guess it's pretty much dialed in.

Last thing will be to verify steering travel stops.
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