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steering box slop and possible crack
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airkooledchris
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:51 pm    Post subject: steering box slop and possible crack Reply with quote


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my 79 project bus - im starting to track down where the steering is going wonky, as there are times when it feels somewhat normal - and others where there is this huge dead space in the middle of the range.

ill have to turn the steering wheel 4-5 inches left/right before it does *anything* and starts translating into something I can feel.

The video above I took to show how much slop there was at the steering box. Im not sure how this looks from 'above' the steering box, so removing the steering wheel/column is probably next so I can see it from that angle - but this appears to be the connection which is giving me all of this free play.

With some decent lighting this time - I also noticed a crack running along the side of the mount between the steering shaft and the box. it's not so much a crack as it is a gap, likely been this way for a long time.

Anyone who's tackled these before, does the video spell out anything obvious without digging into it further? Should I just get a replacement steering box on the parts list now and wait to mess with it until im ready to swap it out?
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ever checked if it's got any oil in it? That's not a crack, it's a slot because the part it's on is a clamp and the sideways through bolt squeezes it together on the shaft.
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airkooledchris
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

busdaddy wrote:
Ever checked if it's got any oil in it? That's not a crack, it's a slot because the part it's on is a clamp and the sideways through bolt squeezes it together on the shaft.


thank you! so the only crack is apparently the stuff ive been smoking - good to know. :p

I haven't checked if it has oil. Can you do that without removing it from the vehicle? Is that accessible from above?

Of all the random tools ive picked up from working on my busses over these recent years, a puller and a press aren't in the arsenal currently. im always happy to add to it though, so if I need to pull the drag link and drop arm, I can run to Sears later and get the needed tools to do so and take a look.

I certainly have enough leftover fresh gear oil from my trans repair if it's low...
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris - the square rubber puck looks worn but it has not failed. The metal clamp below it is fine too as BusDaddy pointed out. Your play is between the top of the gear and the wheels. Look at the arm coming out of the steering box and tell us if it is turning as soon as you move the puck or if there is a delay. If it moves right away watch where the drag link goes back from it to the relay arm. Does it move right away or is there play?
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as checking the steering box oil level is concerned, feel around on the top of the box, and you will feel the top of a round plastic plug. Clean everything up there really well, as you don't want any dirt or grunge to fall in, and pop off that plug. It should just pry out without a lot of force. Put the tip of your finger in, and see if there is any gear oil on your finger. If not, top it up.

Get a tube (e.g. tygon) that will fit onto the nipple of the gear oil bottle, and is long enough to feed up into the filler hole that had the plug in it. Pump the oil up in there until it starts overflowing. Put the plastic plug back in and clean up the overflow. There ya go.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as checking the steering box oil level is concerned, feel around on the top of the box, and you will feel the top of a round plastic plug. Clean everything up there really well, as you don't want any dirt or grunge to fall in, and pop off that plug. It should just pry out without a lot of force. Put the tip of your finger in, and see if there is any gear oil on your finger. If not, top it up.

Get a tube (e.g. Tygon) that will fit onto the nipple of the gear oil bottle, and is long enough to feed up into the filler hole that had the plug in it. Pump the oil up in there until it starts overflowing. Put the plastic plug back in and clean up the overflow. There ya go.
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Hoody
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you do decide to pull the pitman arm I highly recommend th OTC 7311 pitman arm puller. There is no other puller out there to my knowledge up to the task. Many have broken other pullers attempting this. The pitman arm on these is an absolute bear. I got one on Ebay for 67 bucks shipped. Hope this helps.
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airkooledchris
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SGKent wrote:
Look at the arm coming out of the steering box and tell us if it is turning as soon as you move the puck or if there is a delay. If it moves right away watch where the drag link goes back from it to the relay arm. Does it move right away or is there play?


There is play. It does not move right away. Once it moves, everything else appears to respond correctly.



busdaddy wrote:
Ever checked if it's got any oil in it?


I checked and it's completely full right up to the top.



I have a feeling that the steering play/slop is just making other issues seem even worse, and that fixing the slop isn't going to change the right/left wandering that im getting currently. One of the ball joint boots is ripped and was BONE dry inside. I packed some grease into the boot so it could work into the joint on the next drive.
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airkooledchris
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hoody wrote:
If you do decide to pull the pitman arm I highly recommend th OTC 7311 pitman arm puller. There is no other puller out there to my knowledge up to the task. Many have broken other pullers attempting this. The pitman arm on these is an absolute bear. I got one on Ebay for 67 bucks shipped. Hope this helps.



thanks for the tip Hoody. I found one on Amazon for $52 (with free shipping) and ordered it today.

im pretty sure the box is the problem, and this should help both to get the old one off of this bus, and hopefully another one off of a parts bus somewhere.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

airkooledchris wrote:
and hopefully another one off of a parts bus somewhere.

Got a fairly tight (tight as in not-sloppy) box from a '75 on the shelf in my garage if you need it. PM me.

Difficulty: in Portland.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris - If the puck turns back and forth freely and the arm doesn't move even a little, the box may just need adjusting which is normal every year or so depending on mileage and how much oil you keep in it.

the specifics on how to adjust that free play out of the steering box on a late bay is in Bentley Front Axle 9.2.

The worm is made so that it is tightest in the center to avoid it binding in a turn. If the worm is worn the steering will feel looser or even in the center, rather than being tightest in the center as it was designed. If it gets tight in the center good, if when you tighten it, it just feels tight everywhere time for a new box. Whether it is still good depends a lot on if oil was kept in it during use and how many miles are on it. I have rebuilt quite few of these and frankly the last one I rebuilt felt 100% as good as a NOS box. I'd rebuild them for others but the liability is too great if someone leaves a bolt off or forgets to torque something critical.
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airkooledchris
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SGKent wrote:
I'd rebuild them for others but the liability is too great if someone leaves a bolt off or forgets to torque something critical.



Thanks for the reply, both tristessa and SGKent!


SG - I know your work ethic and would be happy to sign a waver if you really were up to the task. I'll have the pitman arm puller in a few days and can take a crack at adjusting it, before (possibly) taking tristessa up on his offer.
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archemitis
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Am I missing something here guys? Why dont you just adjust the worm and tighten it up?
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

archemitis wrote:
Am I missing something here guys? Why dont you just adjust the worm and tighten it up?

^^^Right On^^^

Adjust the roller per your service manual. If it's full of oil and you havn't previously filled it then no need to be concerned about replacing seals. Actually if it's full of oil it is overfilled anyway. People think the top seal is leaking when actually they didn't follow the book when giving it lube. And you do not want to remove the pitman arm when adjusting it. But you do need to disconnect the drag link. And if nothing more than for fun you might replace the rubber connector because they can get bad. But get a good one and not one of the inferior ones.

Depending on how the adjustment goes there is not much need to think about rebuild because there really isn't much to do in there anyway. Evidently you don't have any leaks to fix. If the worm is shot you're SOL anyway.

So you will need a puller for the drag link. Harbor Freight has them that are good enough for the drag link, just get the right width opening. And actually their larger puller that's so much less expensive is probably sufficient for the Pitman arm if you needed it. Buy a couple steak dinners with the cost savings.

Now the other topic that will come up is saying you need a torque wrench for the adjustment. That's hogwash if you are a detailed creative person. You can get just as close with a good fish scale or other methods if you do it right. Or you can not get it right if you don't think thru it.

Normally it's the drag link that's shot and needs replacement and then also the center pin kit for the swing/relay lever.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DBM wrote

Quote:
And you do not want to remove the pitman arm when adjusting it. But you do need to disconnect the drag link. And if nothing more than for fun you might replace the rubber connector because they can get bad. But get a good one and not one of the inferior ones.


X2

Bentley Front Axle 9.2 for a late Bay. I saw nothing about pulling a pitman arm. In fact I think you are supposed to hold it in one hand while you adjust the screw with the other but maybe I misread Bentley. If you lack the inch pound torque wrench to double check your work just make sure it doesn't bind thru center as you turn the steering wheel. That is bad. A little drag thru center is what you are left with at 11 INCH pounds. That is just under 1 foot pound. A little drag. You will feel the pitman arm wiggle when the screw is too loose, then you will feel less and less and then suddenly you will feel none. Presto - stop there and then turn the steering wheel through center back and forth. It should drag a tiny bit thru center. If not turn the screw another 16th of a turn and repeat.

VWOG in the Orange manual says it a little different but the result is the same, maybe a tad tighter. Remove the drag link. Center the steering wheel. Mark the center of the steering wheel top or bottom with say a piece of tape. Loosen the adjusting nut and screw a tiny bit. Using the tape as a marker turn the wheel 180 to 200 degrees either direction and stop. Get under the bus and hold the pitman arm in your hand and wiggle it while turning the screw back in. When all the play is just gone stop. Turn the wheel thru center to 180 to 200 degrees the other way and check it again. There should be a slight drag thru center (not bind). Past 180 - 200 degrees you should get play in the pitman arm again. Center to 180 - 200 degrees you should feel no play when you wiggle the pitman arm. When you are done tighten the lock nut and make sure it doesn't bind thru center.

I might add - the center should be tighter as you pass thru it. With the draglink off if you go 1/2 of the total steering wheel turns you can also find where the center is. When you pass thru that center you had better feel drag. If for example you find that someone has pulled the steering wheel off before and then misadjusted the drag link, putting the wheel back on off center, it needs to be fixed. Dead center is where the most drag should be and that should be about equal turns from each extreme. It should also match the pointer on the steering gear but be aware the pointer is a rubber puck and it can be spun.

So let me try saying it once last time. If you pull the drag link and you spin the steering wheel count the turns and divide by 2. Turn the wheel there. That spot should also be where the steering is tightest when it is adjusted. 0 being tightest and 5 being loosest 5-4-3-2-1-0-1-2-3-4-5 . If the count in turns says here is center, and the 0 says here is center but someone has pulled the steering wheel off and it doesn't agree, you will have to make it agree by removing the steering wheel, centering it and then afterwards adjusting the drag link per Bentley so the steering is now really centered. Make sure you have plenty of threads on the drag link cause some folks with dual adjustable tie rods could be off there too.

If none of this makes sense please leave your steering alone.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SGKent wrote:
Bentley Front Axle 9.2 for a late Bay. I saw nothing about pulling a pitman arm.
Because Bentley doesn't say to do it. Because you don't want to do it. So just don't do it. But you have to pull the drag link. If you don't one of the problems is that the relay lever turn stops might be confused with steering box travel limits. Also with the drag link arm on there won't be the sensitivity you want for box adjustment.
SGKent wrote:
VWOG in the Orange manual says it a little different but the result is the same, maybe a tad tighter. Remove the drag link (yes). Center the steering wheel. Mark the center of the steering wheel (NO)
I don't have the Orange shop manual but I can't imagine they said that because it's misleading and could be the cause of steering problems and destroying steering boxes. Centering the steering wheel travel is what the goal is. So many people faulty think that means to turn the steering until the steering wheel is level and looks good. That's wrong and the right goal that must be met is that the steering box be centered. Which you do determine by marking the steering wheel and finding the mid point of total travel.


It's all a potential accumulation of errors in working on and setting up the front end. First error is not understanding why VW has one non-adjustable tierod, and then replacing it and ending up with 2 adjustable tierods. That alone is not a problem Providing one is (much preferably the RH side for convenience) adjusted the same exact pin to pin length as a non-adjustable one. Only one tierod then gets adjusted for the correct tow-in. That assures that the relay lever is swinging in the correct geometry. Incidently, the pin to pin dimension of the final adjusted tierods will probably have both the adjustable and non-adjustable (or 2 adjustables) the same unless there has been some front end damage

Next step is getting the wheels exactly straight ahead. If the tow isn't set it's the nonadjustable side that needs to be exactly straight ahead. You can do it by rolling or driving the bus straight ahead (if tow-in is approximately correct) and then a tape mark on the steering wheel lined up with some reference point. So once it's going to drive straight ahead then disconnecting the drag link..

Then center the box and adjust the box. Adjust and reconnect the drag link while the box is centered and wheels straight ahead. Then there is a good chance based on poor prior adjustments that you'll want to pull the steering wheel and reposition it on the splines so that it looks good and level.
Then an alignment and call it done.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since you are in NorCal, I'll mention that if you need a new steering box, Bus Boys in Redding sell rebuilt units. I just picked one up for my '69 Bay.
http://www.bus-boys.com/
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would just like to update this post after reading it last night while doing some checks on my steering box adjustment.

The steering box on my 1979 Westy was a new TRW box purchased back in 2006(?). The new box was adjusted by me in trying to cure some steering issues present at the time and made no improvement.

So, fast forward to June 2014. Found my issue was the drag link ball joints being TOO tight.

After replacing the drag link with a good used unit in addition to the center pin bushings/shaft, I decided to make sure that the box was adjusted correctly.

To make a long story shorter, I found that the 'tight' spot was NOT 1/2 way between lock-to-lock turns. The tight spot was where the little rubber pointer was centered on the 'cut out' on the steering box housing. At the 1/2 way point the pointer was to the Right of the 'cut out'.

I found this using the same tool shown in the Bentley Manual to check the steering box 'drag'. I could see the force increase and then decrease when turning the wheel through the center point.

Found out that I had adjusted the box slightly too loose in the past. Corrected it to the Bentley spec at 11 cmkp. The test drive tonight was a dream.

Hopefully this information will be of some use to someone out there.

If anyone would like to 'borrow' this factory tool, please PM me.

Once again, thanks to all the great minds here.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tristessa, have you still got that box? i need one....ill come pick it up....


i gotta tackle my bus's steering box soon. somehow i missed this thread in my searches, i have been trying to figure out how to top it off for a while...Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

obieoberstar wrote:
I would just like to update this post after reading it last night while doing some checks on my steering box adjustment.

The steering box on my 1979 Westy was a new TRW box purchased back in 2006(?). The new box was adjusted by me in trying to cure some steering issues present at the time and made no improvement.

So, fast forward to June 2014. Found my issue was the drag link ball joints being TOO tight.

After replacing the drag link with a good used unit in addition to the center pin bushings/shaft, I decided to make sure that the box was adjusted correctly.

To make a long story shorter, I found that the 'tight' spot was NOT 1/2 way between lock-to-lock turns. The tight spot was where the little rubber pointer was centered on the 'cut out' on the steering box housing. At the 1/2 way point the pointer was to the Right of the 'cut out'.

I found this using the same tool shown in the Bentley Manual to check the steering box 'drag'. I could see the force increase and then decrease when turning the wheel through the center point.

Found out that I had adjusted the box slightly too loose in the past. Corrected it to the Bentley spec at 11 cmkp. The test drive tonight was a dream.

Hopefully this information will be of some use to someone out there.

If anyone would like to 'borrow' this factory tool, please PM me.

Once again, thanks to all the great minds here.


sounds like the steering is not centered properly. The drag spot should be when the tires are straight ahead which is also 1/2 way between lock - to - lock. The adjustment can be made by changing the length of the drag link, and then once the steering center in the steering box is straight ahead, center the wheel on the column last.

Also FWIW - back in 2013 someone made a comment that the orange book was wrong. It is the VW of Germany European repair manual. The method they give for adjusting late bay steering boxes made by Gemmer and ZF, is a different method than the Bentley. It actually works a little better than the Bentley, which is written towards the early boxes. The Bentley was an Americanized copy of the German manual.
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