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Variations On a Well Designed German Setup: Steering, etc...
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Vanapplebomb
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting, that's a new one to me. What do you think was the issue?
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tdonaldson
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Went to adjust mine the other day after replacing tie rods, and tires. With everything tight as it would go, still had a quarter turn of slack in the wheel. Threw a washer in the front under the cap that threads in, and it's full of life again!
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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My apologies readers. I made an error in this statement...

Quote:
Be sure to leave a bit of a gap so the steering doesn't bind. 0.004 inches is a good starting point. Thats a little less that 1/16 of an inch.


The gap should be about 0.04 inches.

0.004 inches is nowhere near 1/16 of an inch (0.0625). Again, sorry for being misleading and giving conflicting measures.
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Vanapplebomb
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a good look inside the Later style worm and roller box. The earlier worm and sector boxes come apart the same way.

Lotrat wrote:
I've pulled a few apart. Once I see that they are crap, I throw them out.

Once you have the cover off, the roller pulls out. There is a clip that holds the worm in, slide the clip off the input shaft and you can push the rest through the box. That's all I can tell you. It's been awhile since I had one apart.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, since this came to the top again, I thought I may as well add something to it.

Here is an excellent YouTube video by richpin06a. This shows how to completely adjust the steering box. Not only does he adjust the sector shaft, but he also adjusts the worm gear, which is often overlooked.

Although this is an early worm and sector steering box, the procedure is the same for the latter worm and roller steering boxes.


Link

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, If you have anything you wan't to add, feel free.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

great thread
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Using a idler arm as in Diffdude's picture does not work well either. Short tie rods cause excessive amount of bump steer.
On a trailing arm supension you need as long of tie rod as you can use.


Good point. You could use equal length lr&p tie rods if you mount them to the center of drag linkage as opposed to the ends of it.

Thank you for your input.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good information here.
Just a couple of things that don't really work well.

The full length tie rod that goes to each steering arm (picture of pan with yellow wheels) does not work. And the more travel you have the worse the handling becomes.
On a straight axle it works fine as both sides are moving in same plane.
The VW front axle each side moves independedly and causes excessive bump steer.
Bump steer is the toe (in or out) changing when supension cycles through it travel.
Using a idler arm as in Diffdude's picture does not work well either. Short tie rods cause excessive amount of bump steer.
On a trailing arm supension you need as long of tie rod as you can use.
With stock travel using the stock tie rods (one short, one long) works fine and you really don't notice the bump steer.
As you gain more travel and use stock length tie rods bump steer increases.
To get rid of most of the bump steer using a center mounted rack & pinion or steering box with both inner tie rod ends close together works very well.
Also where the position of rack is located helps with eliminating any bump steer.
Having very little to no bump steer (toe) change is ideal for making you vehicle handle like it should.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:58 pm    Post subject: Variations On a Well Designed German Setup: Steering, etc... Reply with quote

I have been doing an awful lot of thinking lately about how to set up the steering on my rail project. I came across a lot of information from a lot of different places and felt like compiling some of the important things onto one page. Here is some eye candy of various VW beetle style steering components as well as some interesting variations on the standard rig that other people have whipped up that I have come across on my searches. I will try my best to give credit where credit is due.

There are a few steering boxes floating around out there that are commonly used on standard beetles, baja bugs, and buggies. Among these breeds are,
1-the early german bug boxes (through 1960),
2-early porsche boxes (eg Porsche 356),
3-late standard bug boxes ('61 and newer),
4-aftermarket boxes.

The strongest of the bunch is the Porsche style box. The cast iron cover is much tougher than the beetles magnesium covers. with hard off roading, the pit arm gets pushed up up into the box and smacks into the cover. This shock loading can, over time, crack the lighter magnesium beetle covers. This pit arm movement is not as big of a problem on these Porsche boxes due to the tapered roller bearings which do a good job handling the thrust loads. While it is possible to pop the Porsche's cast iron top, it rarely happens. Another nice bonus is the mounting clamp is wider and uses 4 bolts for a nice snug fit to the front beam. You can expect your wallet to shrink if you purchase one of these boxes. They are getting scarce. In my opinion It isn't worth the price. You could get a fine rack and pinion set up for not much more $$ than you would pay for one of these babies thats in good condition. This photo of a 356 box was uploaded to the samba gallery by Thefladge. Note the pit arm has been gusseted for extra strength.

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The next strongest box is the early beetle steering box. This style was manufactured through 1960. It's unique because it is a worm and sector type box, not a worm and roller. Also notice the unique top cover. This is an easy way to identify an early box. Keep in mind that the output shaft for the pit arm is larger than the later boxes, so be sure to use the correct arm. All the stock arms for these boxes will be tapered for the pre '68 tie rod ends which have a smaller taper and are not as strong as the later ends. These boxes are also getting harder to find in good shape, but they are still much more plentiful than the Porsche boxes. Most can be had for a reasonable price. Conversion pit arms are available if you want to run '68 and later VW ends with the larger taper. The gear ratio is 14:1 and rotates 2 1/2 revolutions lock to lock.

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Then there are the late style boxes which run a worm and roller bearing, similar to the porsche box. The roller bearing end supports are thiner and weaker than that of the Porsches. The pit arm output shaft is smaller than the early boxes, so again, be sure you get the right pit arm if it doesn't already have on on it. These boxes are still pretty reliable, plentiful, and can be had for pretty cheep. Again, there are conversion pit arms available to run the smaller taper pre '68 rod ends. You might have gotton lucky because the first few years the late boxes came with the smaller pre '68 tapers. Check what you have first. Chances are you have a box with the '68 and later rod end tapers because they only made the late boxes with small tapers on the pit arm from 1961-'67. The gear ratio is 15:1, and rotates 2 7/8 revolutions lock to lock, a bit more than the early boxes. There are also New units available from TWR that are basically the same thing. The photo shows a new Brazilian TWR box on the left, and a late VW box on the right. Expect to shell out two to three times the cash for the new boxes.

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All of the above accept for the Porsche steering box use the style of clamp shown below to hold the box to the beam. Shiny billet clamps are also available for show cars.

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There is a cure for broken steering box covers. Get a new one. There are Billet aluminum ones available from Jamar and Empi that work well.

Personally, I am a believer in preventive maintenance. There is something called the "washer trick" that many use to help keep the pit man arm from pushing the shaft up into the box in the first place. The idea here is to make a spacer to bridge the gap between the pit arm and the iron steering box. That way when the arm is pushed up, it makes contact with the washers, transferring the load to the tough iron box, and not the weak magnesium cover. Alternator shims work great for this. Just be aware that they may not fit on the shaft of the early boxes. Just remove the pit arm from the shaft and fill the space with washers or shims. Be sure to leave a bit of a gap so the steering doesn't bind. 0.004 inches is a good starting point. Thats a little less that 1/16 of an inch. Here is a picture of a shaft with the pit arm removed with the shims stacked on it.

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If you are having trouble with your boxes wandering on the beam you can mount the box into position, and weld the clamp to the beam. This will take care of any twisting that you might have going on. If you don't want to weld the whole clamp on, you can weld a small piece of metal to the beam to act as a key to keep things from twisting.

Over time, steering boxes may become sloppy. This lash can be taken out by breaking the torque on the top center nut of the box and turning the screw in with a flat head screw driver. It usually doesn't take much. Once you have it adjusted, hold the screws position with the screwdriver and re-torque the nut down. The steering should be tight, but not to the point where theres any binding or hard spots. If you have the steering wheal attached, a good rule of thumb is to not have more than 1 inch of lash around the parameter of the wheal. If you can rotate it any more than that, your probably due for an adjustment.

Another note on steering boxes, Please don't use anything other than the stock fiber reinforced donut coupling, or a good solid universal joint. All the other stuff out there is bad news. Don't waist you money and put your self at risk by getting a urethane coupler. Urethane has its places in VW's, steering couplings are not one them.

The VW tie rod ends aren't the strongest ends you have ever seen. They work fine for play buggies, but they are not racing material. The pre '68 ends are they weakest due to the small diameter taper that fits into the steering knuckle on the spindle as well as the pit arm. In '68 VW came out with a different end that had a larger diameter taper which was a bit stronger. This is a good upgrade for a king and link pin front end. You can use either a late style pit arm or a conversion pit arm depending on the year of your box. If you want to use the larger ends on the spindle end, you will have to ream out the taper in the steering knuckle to accept the larger taper. Same with the earliest Ball Joint beams.

There are more options out there for people that want stronger tie rod ends. Ford and International Harvester/Navistar International ends are a good upgrade if you demand a little more angularity. They are also stronger, not to mention cheeper on average when compared to the VW style ends. Again, keep in mind that you will have to use a special reamer to fit the even larger tapers of the Ford and International ends because there are no conversion pit arms. Thefladge reamed out his pit arm for the larger and beefier Ford ends.

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


Another option is to do a Heim joint conversion. Heims are very strong and can handle much more angularity than the above. Unfortunately dust and dirt can get in between the ball and socket and wear the Heim out. Here is a picture from Bajahuck

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All you need is a drill, a drill bit, a thread tap, 4 grade 8 bolts, 4 Heim ends, some self locking nuts/lock washers, and 8 high misalignment spacers. While your at it, you may as well make some beefy tie rods to match. There are aftermarket conversion studs that fit an International taper and convert to a Heim mount, but whats the point? You will have to precision ream the taper out. Personally I think it's a wast of your time and money. Here is what they look like anyways.

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


The misalignment spacers help you take full advantage of the Heims ability to articulate. You can buy them new, or fabricate your own. In general, they look something like this.

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


Installation is easy. Simply drill out your tapers to make a hole with a diameter the same as the minor diameter of the bolt you chose to use, then tap it for the threads. The Heim will dictate what bolt you use. Most people use a 1/2 or 5/8 inch Heim. Whichever you chose, its good to have the threaded end of the Heim 5/8 of an inch. Chome-moly is a nice bonus. It is best to use grade 8 hardware. Now thread the bolt through your steering knuckle or pit arm. Then slip on a high misalignment shim. Some prefer to weld this shim to the steering knuckle or pit arm for extra strength. Slip the Heim on, then put another misalignment shim on top like a sandwich, and bolt everything down nice and tight. It is generally a good Idea to use something like a nylock nut that won't have a tendency to work loose over time. Lock washers are also good stuff. Here is what Bajahuck's looks like when its all bolted together.

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Keep in mind that you have increased the stress concentration factor in your steering knuckles and especially your pit arm by drilling the tapers out to a substantially larger diameter. If not reinforced, there is a possibility that you might break the metal surrounding the bored out holes. Some people have cut some steel plate to weld around the profile of the pit arm. No sense in going to a strong Heim joint only to weaken the mounts right?

Tie rods are another area with room for improvement. Stock tie rods work alright until you wail on them. Fortunately, they are easy to reinforce. The most popular methods of reinforcement include chopping the front swaybar up and inserting it into the tie rod. This helps stiffen them up considerably. If you do this, just be sure its long enough, otherwise the tie rod will most likely bend right where the sway bar ends in the tie rod. This is effective, but it can be annoying to some as the swaybar can occasionally rattle around a bit.

Another method is a little more involved, but still pretty simple. Slip a pice of tubing over the tie rod. 1 inch 0.12 wall tubing works well. Cut the tubing to length, or about 3-4 inches shorter than the tie rod. Drill a few holes in it about 4-5 inches from the ends. If you want you can also drill one in the middle to keep it from rattling around. Make the holes around 3/8 of an inch. once you have done that, slide it over the tie rod and center it. weld the tie rod to the tubing through the holes. Once you have done that, weld the edges. When your done it should look something like these tie rods that Jason C posted.

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


Some people will scrap the stock tie rods all together and get some made of fancy heavy duty aircraft grade aluminum or similar material. These work too. It's all up to you on how much you wan't to spend. Here is a good example of alternative tie rods used on Ronholm's rail.

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


Speaking of tie rods, lets look at how some people made use of their creative juices to come up with their own steering links. I thought these were all pretty neat.

This is Gary Massin-Ball's "Poor mans rack and pinion" This is a really neat way to run longer tie rods to cut down on bump steer and tie rod angles. This solves the issues associated with the short left tie rod. The question is will it creates problems of its own? Hmmm...

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


Below is another that takes advantage of the long passenger side tie rod. I found it interesting how the left and right spindles were directly connected by a tie rod. Notice the Heim joints for rod ends.

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


Some have proposed the use of two steering boxes to create a makeshift drag link so that longer tie rods can be used. Different people have used an idler arm, similar to whats in the bus or the supper beetle. Diffdude made a drag link using an idler arm from an old Camaro.

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


Another option mimics a rack and pinion set up. Center mounting the steering box can be very effective. To do this you will need a pair of universal joints to connect your steering wheal to the box. Keep in mind that this may not work if you have front adjusters that are also centered. The stock pit arm can be cut and re-welded so the tie rod tapers are even for correct geometry. Many people don't even bother because the difference is so small.

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


Here is a diagram showing you the slice you need to take out of the pit arm for proper alignment.

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


If anybody wants to add anything that you feel is important, you are more than welcome.

Thanks!
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