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Old 08-11-2013, 03:36 PM
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Steering failure- u joint warning

I bought a 34 Ford Cabrio about 7 months ago. It has manual rack, round shaft and 3 u joints counting from the rack to the steering column connection. There is a Heim joint about half way up mounted to the frame bracket. The car has never had a steering issue or wandered and I checked it for binding or looseness in the joints before I bought it and everything checked out ok. It is about a 10 - 12 year old fiberglass car that has about 10K miles on it according to the speedo. A buddy and I were heading over to a morning cruise in in Jax yesterday. I was on I 95 getting off at the Acosta bridge exit when I felt a light tug(Like a Perch hitting a fishing line). I turned the wheel left right and it felt fine. We were doing about 60 when I felt the tug. We made the sharp 90 degree turn onto Riverside Drive and into the Times Union lot to the Cars N Coffee cruise and as soon as we entered the lot, the steering wheel went light and I could turn it 360 with abosolutely no change in direction. Thank God that we were doing about 3 mph when it let go. We stopped and popped the hood. The u joint down hill from the heim joint was connected above but not to the rack. It was freewheeling. The U joints have two spring pins and it is nearly imposssible to visually check them to see if they are broken. Either the shaft turns or it free wheels, indicating that the spring pins have let go. Got AAA to tow the car to my buddys shop and we pulled the shaft out. Both spring pins had sheared. I had no idea that the only thing between me and death on this car were two bobby pin sized spring pins. If they had failed 15 seconds earlier, we would have done a Dale Earnhardt into the side of the Acosta bridge. IF YOU HAVE A ROUND STEERING SHAFT CHECK YOUR U JOINTS RIGHT NOW TO SEE IF THEY ARE SPRING PINNED. IF SO, DRILL THEM THROUGH AND PUT A 1/4 bolt through them with a locking nut or trash your steering shaft. They will Fail and you will not know by looking at them if they are weak. We are blessed to be alive. I drove to Key West three weeks ago with my wife and we were doing 70 - 75 all the way down. We were doing 70 heading north on 95 yesterday. I have a coupld of buddies with 32 - 34 Fords and at least one of them has the same set up as I do. I AM SERIOUS, THESE SPRING PINS FAIL AND THERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW IF THEY ARE GOOD OR NOT. IF YOU HAVE A CAR WITH THIS SET UP, CHANGE IT NOW!!! THEY WILL FAIL AND YOU WILL BE COMPLETELY WITHOUT STEERING INSTANTLY!!!!. THIS IS A MAJOR SAFETY ISSUE. (SORRY IF THIS HAS BEEN REPORTED BEFORE) I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT ANYONE WOULD DESIGN SUCH A BULL ******* SYSTEM FOR A MAJOR COMPONENT LIKE STEERING U JOINTS.

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Old 08-11-2013, 03:46 PM
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Could you post a picture of the kind of u-joints you are talking about? Did the joint come apart, or come loose from the shaft?

Glad you are safe - that could have been ugly.
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:03 PM
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Yes I would like to know what brand these U-joints were. I have stainless Borgesson on my 34.

Vince
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Old 08-11-2013, 07:25 PM
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How do I load cell phone pics

I took some pics showing the u joint and the spring pin with the repair I made using a 1/4" grade 8 bolt but I can't figure out how to load them. I will try to get some pics with my camera in the morning.
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Old 08-11-2013, 07:50 PM
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glad to here no one was hurt. but just because a 12 year old car that was built by some guy you got it from. does not mean in any way the parts are to blame. with only 10k on the car seems to me they were binding just enough to cause a failure. which means the builder has the angles wrong. if in fact they were an inferior product then we sure would hear of many a rodders dead.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killeratrod View Post
glad to here no one was hurt. but just because a 12 year old car that was built by some guy you got it from. does not mean in any way the parts are to blame. with only 10k on the car seems to me they were binding just enough to cause a failure. which means the builder has the angles wrong. if in fact they were an inferior product then we sure would hear of many a rodders dead.
Depends on who made them, what kind they are, and how they were installed, that's why I asked to see a pic.
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Old 08-12-2013, 05:56 AM
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Spring pins...?...like, roll pins? It's possible the setup was intended for hardened-steel pins and somebody put those in instead.

Agree, it's garbage, even w/ better pins. The tiniest bit of clearance in the fit of the parts is going to be a fatigue causer. Anything in a steering system should be D/DD or splined, and clamped/bolted...or tig'd 360 and annealed.

Reminds me of ball-joint failures...I've had two (and please know that many replacement ball-joints will give you only a fraction of the life of an original). Both failures at the best possible places, a driveway and accelerating on a freeway onramp where another thirty seconds would have made the difference between a medium-size mess and a total disaster.

Some times I think old-car guys get their own special angels. They know when something's about to go, and give it a hard kick just at the right time.
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Old 08-12-2013, 07:46 AM
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I watched every episode of American Chopper, American Hot Rod.... all those shows.

I used to watch and scratch my head sometimes. And then, even when the car's built right a manufactured part let's you down.

I'm glad you were in a safe place.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:00 AM
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Pic attached

Appreciate the comments. First, it was built in Southern Florida by a professional shop. Its a pre street beast Classic Industries car based on the VIN# I believe. I bought it from the second owner. I also have a 37 Chevy coupe and it is stainless steel double D with set screws and lock nuts all the way from rack to steering column. I am familiar with the binding issues with Heims and knuckle joints and did check to make sure that neither car binds. It's a little tough to perform product failure analysis over the internet based on one post, but I do understand that there may be some other issues involved. But my main point is in line with the last poster, this is not only poorly designed(or installed as the case may be) but extremely dangerous as there is no way to check the spring pin to see if it is damaged without driving six pins out and looking at them with a magnifying glass. They are way too small and if one fails, the second one is sure to follow. AND you cannot tell if you have a fractured pin as both pins failed on my knuckle and stayed in place in the holes in the knuckle. I would not build it this way. I attached the best picture I could. The hole and roll pin are tiny so I marked the location with whiteout. The bolt in the knuckle is my solution to the problem. I removed the shaft and drilled out one roll pin per knuckle and replaced it with a 1/4 " hardened bolt with a lock nut. I am switching to power steering this fall and I am for sure going with Double D shaft alll the way!! My reason for the post is a buddy has the same set up on his 32 coupe so I know there are others with the same set up as me. Someone out there has had this happen I know. There is no way that two tiny roll pins, hardened or not can support the torque of the steering shaft, no way.


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Old 08-12-2013, 08:20 AM
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Wow! If that tiny hole next to the white-out is where the roll pins were, that is scary. Those are way too small! I hope you are fixing your buddy's car right now, before he drives it again!

I used stainless double D shafts and u-joints, with the ends drilled to provide an interference fit with the set screws. When I did the final assembly, I used Loctite on the set screws and the lock nuts. My u-joints are Borgeson and my vibration dampener is Flaming River.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:29 AM
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The pin is only supposed to locate the joint axially on the shaft. The shaft and it's joint should have either splines or a "D/DD" type shape to keep it from spinning within.

Russ
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:31 AM
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Double D is the way to go, IMO. Believe it or not, that hole is where a spring or roll pin fit. They were hardened but WAY too small!!! After we pulled the shaft out of the car, we could not believe anyone would even think of fastening a round shaft that way. Just goes to show you how important it is to do it right the first time if you build it yourself or spend a lot time checking and rechecking the car before you buy it!! BTW, I really appreciate the ideas and comments here. It is both entertaining and informative!! And, it relieves back pain and makes me more regular!!
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:39 AM
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Sorry to disagree on the spline asessement. That is exactly what I assumed when I saw them and bought the car. The splined knuckle IS on the rack end and the steering column end but the rest of them are on round shaft with absolutely no splines, no key way or any other mechanical device to hold them in place in case of failure. If they were tack welded, the weld failed as well. We could not see any sign of a tack weld but it is possible. Anyhoo, if you have roll pins DO NOT ASSUME THAT THE SHAFT IS SPLINED OR KEYED!!
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:45 AM
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If there is a NSRA safety inspector here at HR. com I would like to have him speak to this issue.

We were told by NSRA inspectors NOT to drill and pin the connections on the steering shaft. This was a few years ago so that might have changed by now.

So are the round shafts ONLY for weld-in applitions ?

I'll bet theres lots of Street Rods out there with the drilled and pinned steering shafts. I had them in the past too.

Thanks !


454 RATTLER
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:14 AM
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that is just poor craftsmanship.
the joint didn't fail, using a shear pin on a round shaft is bs
DD shaft or splines and captive u-joints are the only way to go
removal of all the set screws in my steering will not cause the steering to fail
i have to unbolt either the rack or the column to remove any component in the steering shaft.
i'd be suspect of any system in that car, inspect the brakes and any critical welds

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