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Old 05-07-2003, 05:21 AM
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Post Ford Truck Steering woes

Hello,

I'm kinda new to the rodding world, and I've noticed our boards have the tendency to lean toward the SBC, which is OK with my Firebird, but I now have a Ford question.

Are there any difinitive answers regarding the steering "slop," or excessive play, that seems to notably plague the 1970's F100, F150, F250 and F350 model pickups? I have checked out a couple Ford truck web sites, but it seems the solutions are "hit or miss." To me it seems this problem is about as common as the SBC problem of "won't start when hot" and seems to have about as many different types of potential solutions.

In this 1975 F100 project truck I just picked up, I have about 1/5 of a full steering wheel turn in play. I've noticed some "unusual" bends or wrinkles at the knuckle where the steering shaft attaches to the power steering gearbox, but I don't know what that's supposed to look like on a Ford truck. I was under the impression that the 4-bolt circular face of the joint should be flat or flush where they meet, but it is not. I also noticed that the box does leak on the bottom side. So the power steering box seems like my first candidate for trouble.

I'm also not much of a front end expert, either, but I have helped replace a front end drag link and tie rod end on a Ford van which seemed relatively easy. The most visble sign of trouble on my pickup is that the tires noticeably "toe out" giving the visual impression of an upside-down "V". So if you can give me some "down and dirty" troubleshooting tips for the front end that I could do using a hydraulic, stands, and/or drive-up ramps, I would appreciate the advice and knowledge.

Thx...Kaylah

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Old 05-07-2003, 06:00 AM
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First, check the steering gear by moving the steering wheel while having someone watch the pittman arm. On a system in good repair, the wheels should begin to move virtually the same instant the wheel moves. If the wheel moves and the arm doesn't, the gears are either worn out or the gear just needs adjusting. There is an adjusting screw on the inside of the gear in line with the pittman arm shaft. You might try adjusting this anyway. Put the wheels straight forward and loosen the jamb nut on the adjusting screw. Turn the screw in until you feel a little resistance (inch pounds of torque). Keep trying this until the slack is taken out of the gear. If this doesn't work, trade the gear in @ your local parts store for a rebuilt. You will be $ and heart burn ahead in the long run.

To check the rest of the system, it is very lo-tech. Consists of wiggling bending and twisting to see if things are tight or loose. Check all the rod ends by trying to move the pittman arms and tie rod. Any movement = bad joint - replace it. Also, with the truck on a hoist, try to wiggle the wheels left and right, up and down, etc. checking for bad rod ends and kingpins.

What you are describing as toe-in sounds like camber to me. Toe-in refers to the wheels being closer together in the front than in the back by 1/8" to 1/4". Camber refers to the lean of the top of the wheel. The usual spec is to have the top of the wheel leaning farther to the outside of the car than the bottom of the wheel. It should be a right side up "V". Assuming you have determined that the kingpins and all the other joints are in good shape, all you need is an alignment. This must be done at a front-end shop. If your truck has a solid axle, they can fix it by bending the axle. If it is an independent suspension, they do their usual magic adjustments. If it is one of those Ford dual I-beam suspensions, I don't know how they adjust those but they do and that is what is important.

Basically check all the joints in the system for looseness and replace any that are not rock solid, then have the thing aligned. Don't forget to check the spring pivot pins and shackles if you have parallel leaf springs or the A-arm joints if it is a coil spring suspension.

[ May 07, 2003: Message edited by: willys36@aol.com ]</p>
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Old 08-15-2008, 04:09 PM
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The best way to fix negative camber on a twin-axle Ford pickup is todisconnect the front shocks and the upper spring retainers and
insert a spring spacer above the top of the spring and the upper
spring seat. Then after letting the truck down and re attaching the
shock, the truck will set higher and the camber will be positive.
Then the alignment shop can go from there to give you the
correct toe-in...
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Old 08-15-2008, 04:17 PM
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On a Ford, the first place to look for play is the flexable coupling at
the bottom of the steering colunm and above the steering box.
It inverriablely wears out and must be replaced. What wears it out
the most is that the cab/firewall supports rust out and cause a
missalignment in the colunm/steering box area. The next place to
look for play is the pitman arm end of the drag link. If you find that
you need a new drag link,try to find one that has an adjusting link
in it so you will be able to center your steering wheel
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Old 08-15-2008, 05:09 PM
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This is a thread from 2003 and I think the thread starter is no longer on the site.

That is good information you posted though. Might help somone in the future.
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