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Old 08-09-2010, 12:54 PM
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Steering wheel points to the right while going forward

I have a 79 Chevy 1/2 ton 2 wheel drive (C-10) pickup that I bought in mid '07. I drove it home about 20 miles and parked it. Took its engine out for another truck (350) and then it sat about 2.5 years. I finally put a new engine in it (454). Now heres the questions.

The steering wheel points to the right, almost straight up and down when driving down the road. I dont remember it being that way when I bought it. The truck had a 250 I6 in it originally but it had been swapped for a 350 before I got it. Now that i've put a 454 in it, its got a big block engine in the front of a truck originally designed for a 6 cylinder. Could that be the reason why the steering wheel points to the right? I took the truck in for a state safety inspection and the inspector told me the right (passengers side) balljoint was a little loose but not bad enough to fail the truck. That is the side that the steering wheel points to so i suppose that could be a possibility but what i dont understand is that i dont think it was that way 3 years ago when it was parked. I dont think suspension parts are going to wear out just sitting in the yard. The only thing that makes sense is all the weight of the big block making the nose sit down farther is possibly screwing with the suspension somehow. If that is the problem, will an alignment solve that problem? (specifically caster/camber as that is probably what is affected most by the weight) Or do the springs NEED to be changed? I've got front coil springs from a 3/4 ton truck with a 454 (as well as the control arms, spindles and hubs/rotors etc, since the rear was swapped to an 8 lug 14 bolt) but not really wanting to tear the front end apart right now.


When i replaced the control arm bushings in my other truck, I remember the instructions saying that the control arms have to be tightened down with the truck at ride height. If thats true for the older truck as well, maybe I just need to loosen the nuts that hold the bushings in place and then retighten them? That might buy me some time.

Another thing is that this thing has a really crappy turning radius. I'm used to the 96 suburban I drive every day. A Suburban, a big fat SUV, turns sharper than my 79 std cab long bed pickup.

Is that normal? If not, is it possibly related to the weight of the engine as well? Keep in mind I haven't driven this in 3 years until recently so I dont exactly remember how everything was, but I do think that the steering wheel was straight last time I drove it.
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Old 08-09-2010, 01:00 PM
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Any time the ride height is changed on a vehicle with control arms the front end alignment is changed . Get the front end alignment done and then go from there .
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Old 08-09-2010, 01:36 PM
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Get an alignment and tell them to straighten the wheel.
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Old 08-09-2010, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poncho62
Get an alignment and tell them to straighten the wheel.
Also may need to note that any reputable shop will center the steering wheel with the tie rods . This is the only acceptable way to do it because the steering box needs to be centered with the wheel in the straight ahead position .
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Old 08-09-2010, 03:08 PM
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I bet you forgot about that one time when you were putting your 454 in that you needed clearance for the exhaust headers and you pulled off the rag joint and didn't put it together correctly. Remember now?
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Old 08-09-2010, 03:15 PM
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I didnt have to remove it to install the engine or the headers. I did have to remove it to change the steering column since this truck was a out 3 on the tree manual trans truck with worn out column and is now an automatic with column shift. But the steering wheel is 1/4 of a turn out, not 1/2 turn. The steering cant go back together 1/4 off but it can go back 1/2 off. However the wheels were perfectly forward as was the steering wheel when I installed that so the problem shouldnt be there. I really think it has to do with the weight of the engine, it sure seems to be down several inches in the front.
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Old 08-09-2010, 03:39 PM
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And you removed the NEW column from the exact same vehicle with an automatic?

Each Gm vehicle has a "zeroing position" in relation to the column shaft and the steering box. The double D shaft could be in the vertical or the horizontal position in relationship to the steering gear box. If you 72 pu was a verticle Double D and your donor vehicle was a horizontal double D then your steering could be 90 degrees off.

The other factor could be that the steering box was not perfectly zero'd from extreme left to extreme right.

The easiest remedy is to center the wheels using the tie rod ends which has already been stated.

The most thought is that the extra 150 pounds of engine made the wheels turn because of the weight. That's very unlikely.
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Old 08-09-2010, 03:47 PM
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If you do a search on here on centering steering wheels, aosborn wrote a great article on it, he says:

Some steering racks do have a high point on center like a steering gear. When I assemble steering systems I always assume there is.

The best way to get it right, is to disconnect the steering column from the rack. Disconnect the outer tie rod ends. Move the rack full left to right and count the turns on the input shaft. Go back 1/2 that number and the rack is now centered. Put the steering wheel straight in the car and reconnect the steering linkage to the rack input shaft. At this point, make certain the outer tie rod ends are both screwed onto the rack the same amount (about half way for a start). Connect the tie rods to the steering arms and set the toe adjusting each side equally. You can then make minor corrections to get the steering wheel exactly straight in the car. If you do all this properly, the rack will be centered, the steering wheel spokes will be straight and the turn signals will cancel properly.

Andy
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Old 08-09-2010, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alittle1
If you do a search on here on centering steering wheels, aosborn wrote a great article on it, he says:

Some steering racks do have a high point on center like a steering gear. When I assemble steering systems I always assume there is.

The best way to get it right, is to disconnect the steering column from the rack. Disconnect the outer tie rod ends. Move the rack full left to right and count the turns on the input shaft. Go back 1/2 that number and the rack is now centered. Put the steering wheel straight in the car and reconnect the steering linkage to the rack input shaft. At this point, make certain the outer tie rod ends are both screwed onto the rack the same amount (about half way for a start). Connect the tie rods to the steering arms and set the toe adjusting each side equally. You can then make minor corrections to get the steering wheel exactly straight in the car. If you do all this properly, the rack will be centered, the steering wheel spokes will be straight and the turn signals will cancel properly.

Andy
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You are dead on the mark on centering the steering box . But , he still needs to have the alignment done because the lowered ride height HAS changed the camber angle for sure .
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Old 08-09-2010, 04:21 PM
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And you are also very correct about the alignment.

He should also put some helium in those front tires to lighten up that front end or do a little engine set-back to keep the weight off the front end. ( He- Hee)
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Old 08-09-2010, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alittle1
And you removed the NEW column from the exact same vehicle with an automatic?

Each Gm vehicle has a "zeroing position" in relation to the column shaft and the steering box. The double D shaft could be in the vertical or the horizontal position in relationship to the steering gear box. If you 72 pu was a verticle Double D and your donor vehicle was a horizontal double D then your steering could be 90 degrees off.

The other factor could be that the steering box was not perfectly zero'd from extreme left to extreme right.

The easiest remedy is to center the wheels using the tie rod ends which has already been stated.

The most thought is that the extra 150 pounds of engine made the wheels turn because of the weight. That's very unlikely.
I did NOT mean to say that the extra weight caused the steering wheel to be out of center . What I DID mean is that he is going to have to have an alignment anyway because of the change in camber angle because of the change in ride height . He could center the steering wheel as outlined , but it is not going to handle right and is going to have premature tire wear without an alignment .
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Old 08-09-2010, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alittle1
And you removed the NEW column from the exact same vehicle with an automatic?

Each Gm vehicle has a "zeroing position" in relation to the column shaft and the steering box. The double D shaft could be in the vertical or the horizontal position in relationship to the steering gear box. If you 72 pu was a verticle Double D and your donor vehicle was a horizontal double D then your steering could be 90 degrees off.

The other factor could be that the steering box was not perfectly zero'd from extreme left to extreme right.

The easiest remedy is to center the wheels using the tie rod ends which has already been stated.

The most thought is that the extra 150 pounds of engine made the wheels turn because of the weight. That's very unlikely.

My truck is a 79 and the column came from a 73 with an auto so yes they were essentially the same thing.

And i think there is alot more than 150# extra up front now, considering it originally had a 6 cylinder. The nose does squat down now so the weight is definitely doing something.

The wheels were pointing directly forward when i removed the column and when i installed the new column it was pointing directly forward as well. I never changed the position of the wheels with the column out.
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Old 08-09-2010, 09:32 PM
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I probably wont be driving this truck much for a while. I should probably go ahead and swap in the 3/4 ton front end including the springs. I also have a sway bar that needs to be installed.

I dont have the steering gear box from the 3/4 ton but I shouldn't need it. I am wondering if some gear boxes have a better turning ratio tho, and if some boxes will allow the truck to turn a little farther or not. Anyone know?

Would a box from something like my 96 C1500 fit? Aren't they all made by a like Saginaw or something like that that specializes in gear boxes and transmissions and stuff? In that case i could see a newer box possibly fitting.
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Old 08-09-2010, 09:59 PM
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Newer boxes have variable steering boxes. If you are looking for a 'quicker' turning box to fit your truck, a Saginaw box from a 70's Vette or Camaro should do the trick.

Question: How far back did you set the engine in your truck? Is the engine close up to the firewall?

You didn't say that you had a six in it before, I assumed you had a small block, so let's call it about 175 pounds. Your coils are a bit lighter than the V8's, but if your going with a 3/4 ton suspension, it shouldn't matter.
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