68' steering wheel has too much play ! - Ford Mustang Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-20-2017 Thread Starter
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68' steering wheel has too much play !

Hey guys, well ever since I've had my 68' coupe (going on 3 years now), the steering wheel has had a ton of play in it. I've kinda gotten used to it to the point where it's almost normal to me now, but I finally want to take care of the issue. its a non power steering car, and I've gone through everything and determined that it is the steering box, and It is the original steering box to the car. I know there's an adjustment screw on top of the box with a jam nut, would it be worth it to adjust that? And if so, how would I go about doing the adjustment? If that's not the best way to go, I also have a steering box off of a 67' that's a lot more responsive and looks like it has almost no play in it at all. Would that work in my 68'?

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-20-2017
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There is a required specific procedure...do not just tighten it as it could very well cause a gear bearing failure and cause an accident. Purchase the oem service manual. The steering box is an excellent unit.....If this does not work, then have it rebuilt by....
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-21-2017
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This video will give you a lot of good ideas about how to take out slop in your steering - including how to adjust that nut. (Yeah, it's Cougars, not Mustangs - but it's the same steering equipment.)

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-21-2017
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Manual steering boxes are simple to adjust. First, make sure the wheels are pointed straight ahead then loosen the jam nut a quarter to half turn with a box end wrench. The adjusting screw will have a slot head or allen head. With a screw driver (for slot head) or allen wrench, turn the screw clockwise a quarter turn while holding the jam nut wrench in position. Check to see if some of the sloppiness has gone away. If not, tighten the screw another quarter turn. The wear on the worm drive and pitman shaft may take a full turn or more to tighten your steering. If the screw stops turning, you will have reached the limit of your possible adjustment and you'll need a rebuilt steering box.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017
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Originally Posted by Travis98146 View Post
Manual steering boxes are simple to adjust. First, make sure the wheels are pointed straight ahead then loosen the jam nut a quarter to half turn with a box end wrench. The adjusting screw will have a slot head or allen head. With a screw driver (for slot head) or allen wrench, turn the screw clockwise a quarter turn while holding the jam nut wrench in position. Check to see if some of the sloppiness has gone away. If not, tighten the screw another quarter turn. The wear on the worm drive and pitman shaft may take a full turn or more to tighten your steering. If the screw stops turning, you will have reached the limit of your possible adjustment and you'll need a rebuilt steering box.
With all due respect, this advice could get someone killed when their steering box ball carriers split open from improper adjustment and their steering locks up while they are going down the road. Whether you háve doing it this way for 1 month or 40 years, it's still wrong, and dangerous.

The steering should only be adjusted by following the shop manual FAITHFULLY. No shortcuts.

Z

As pointed out already, Chockostang is the premier place to have a steering box restored. The price is very reasonable, and the turnaround is just a matter of days. A restored Ford steering box is superior to most aftermarket steering box replacements.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zray View Post
With all due respect, this advice could get someone killed when their steering box ball carriers split open from improper adjustment and their steering locks up while they are going down the road. Whether you háve doing it this way for 1 month or 40 years, it's still wrong, and dangerous.

The steering should only be adjusted by following the shop manual FAITHFULLY. No shortcuts.
I second this wholeheartedly. If you've ever looked inside and seen how these are built, it makes sense for there to be a *minor* adjustment. If you've gone 1/4 turn twice, (1/2 turn total) then you've done all that can reasonably be expected. It is an adjustment for wear, not a miracle cure. Cranking it down farther might make it tighter, but you are past the design limits and it won't help things. The teeth themselves will never wear evenly, because most of the steering takes place in the middle - you don't usually spend most of your time driving out at the wheel stops. If you tighten it up enough that worn-out 'middle teeth' engage, then you can't possibly turn the wheel to its limits without breaking something.

When you adjust it, make sure you put new grease in, too. The reason for the wear is typically that the old grease has broken down and is no longer properly protecting the parts in the first place.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017
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^^^^^^^^^

absolutely, the grease needs to be topped off as per the factory manual directions. A #1 grade grease isn't nearly impossible to locate these days, but a #2 grade will work OK, but nothing heavier than that.

One reason the grease in these boxes disappears, aside from normal leaking over the decades, is car washes. A pressurized stream of water will easily make its way into the box, often displacing whatever grease remains. And we all know how well water lubricates metal.
Every time the engine Bay is pressure washed a little more grease is washed out of the box. over the decades it adds up


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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-22-2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis98146 View Post
Manual steering boxes are simple to adjust. First, make sure the wheels are pointed straight ahead then loosen the jam nut a quarter to half turn with a box end wrench. The adjusting screw will have a slot head or allen head. With a screw driver (for slot head) or allen wrench, turn the screw clockwise a quarter turn while holding the jam nut wrench in position. Check to see if some of the sloppiness has gone away. If not, tighten the screw another quarter turn. The wear on the worm drive and pitman shaft may take a full turn or more to tighten your steering. If the screw stops turning, you will have reached the limit of your possible adjustment and you'll need a rebuilt steering box.
Although there are many who do it this way, it is not safe and can lead to an accident, injuring or killing someone......while I agree it is an easy SOP, the oem procedures must be followed IMHO.

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-23-2017
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Not to "put down" the above "experts" but I rebuilt steering boxes for the Postal Service for 15 years. Enough said!
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Quote:
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With all due respect, this advice……. "Whether you háve doing it this way for 1 month or 40 years, it's still wrong, and dangerous….."
Z


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Originally Posted by Travis98146 View Post
Not to "put down" the above "experts" but I rebuilt steering boxes for the Postal Service for 15 years. Enough said!

see comment above. wrong is wrong, whether you've been doing something for 15 minutes or 15 years. I've been working on these cars for 50 years. When I think I'm smart enough to know everything, just because I've been doing things for X number of years, then I hope I'm smart enough to keep my mouth shut.

I've seen first hand steering boxes that were adjusted by just cranking down on the adjustment screw until resistance was felt; eventually the ball carriers will rupture under such treatment. Using the Ford shop manual procedure is the only safe way to adjust the steering box. I trust the Ford engineers to know more than I do, and following their procedures has never been a mistake.

Z


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I just thought I'd show you guys an illustration here, to remove some of the 'mystery' of how this thing works.



See the little 'gear' attached to the Pitman shaft? Looks like a crown? If the middle teeth get worn out, and you take all the slack up so those teeth are 'tight', what does that do for the unworn teeth on the ends when those swing into the ball nut on that 'screw' or worm gear? Yep. It mashes them and damages other things, making it really sloppy again - or worse. Maybe bent shaft, maybe busted housing, maybe damaged bearing races. It can literally split everything open just like a maul. Once wear gets past a certain point, it's best to replace parts, not just make it tighter.

Please don't think I'm attacking you personally, either, Travis. Maybe the postal service trucks use a different setup? All I know is that if you crank all the way down to the stop on one of these Mustang steering boxes, bad bad things ensue, inevitably.
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^^^^^^^

Bravo


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One major difference here is that I doubt that any postal service trucks are 50 years old. They have not been out there long enough to lose all grease from their gearboxes and wear out the worm gear as you can find on many a formerly neglected 60s car.

Its not the balls I would worry about so much as mesh too tight can physically break teeth from the cast iron worm gear when you turn the wheels away from center.
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Gee, now you've gone and hurt my feelings. Apparently I've wasted 55 years as a professional mechanic (30 with USPS & 25 in a business) by doing "everything wrong" even though I disassembled, cleaned, rebuilt/adjusted several hundred gearboxes (per the Saginaw trainer). Since I don't know enough to compete with the "experts" here, I'll refrain from making further comments/suggestions.
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no need to walk away with a chip on your shoulder. I think you can find it in your heart to forgive me, and others, when we want to adhere to the Ford Shop manual procedures when dealing with a potentially life or death maintenance item.

The advice you gave will take up the slack in the center of the gear, while at the same time make the gears mesh way too tightly at the ends. This is a common mis-adjustment of the Ford box. I've seen numerous Ford boxes that were damaged by this type of adjustment. If it hurts your feelings to point that out, I'm sorry for that. But a novices safety is more important than your feelings, or mine for that matter.

You and I have a lot of experience, but that experience doesn't mean we are exempt from still learning something new once and while.

If you have a Ford shop manual, read it, and see if you can understand where we are coming from. If you don't have a manual that covers the early Ford steering boxes, then I'll try to get one to you if you PM me.

Z

PS no one here has claimed to be an expert, certainly not me. That's why we see value in following the Ford shop manual procedure since it's been demonstrated over and over that to ignore the manual is foolhardy.



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