Steering box adjustment, backlash, drag link ?s... - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old April 27th, 2004, 12:57 AM
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Steering box adjustment, backlash, drag link ?s...

1) When you spin the input shaft left 2 full turns to center the steering worm gear, does the drop arm look a bit to the left (not pointed straight forward)? That's how mine was on adjustment.

2) There is clear looseness/backlash when I turn the steering box to the left or right, but none when centered now. Is this standard?

3) The drag link had to be extended about two turns to get the steering wheel to ride on center going straight - so now this moves the steering box a little off "center" when driving straight. Is this also standard?
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  #2  
Old April 29th, 2004, 06:16 PM
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1) Yes
2) Yes
3) NO. To get the steering wheel straight you need to remove the steering wheel from the column and reposition the wheel on the column. If you adjust the steering wheel position by lenghtening/ shortening the drag link you lose the no play straight ahead position in the steering box and the whole rig wanders all over the road when you're trying to drive straight.
The drag link is "impossible" to put onto the steering box incorrectly because of the spline arrangement. The drop arm should be slightly off centre (as you had it) and the drag link is adjusted to get the wheels pointed straight ahead. Then you line up the steering wheel. Take the center boss off and the big nut underneath. You either need a puller tool or with the nut losened rock the steering wheel foward and back whilst pulling steadily. It will probably come off. Leaving the nut on but lose stops the wheel hitting you in the face, which is never good. hope this helps. I looked in the Haynes book of lies but it says nothing about steering geometry which is probably just as well because it's likely to be wrong
Hope this helps.
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Old May 4th, 2004, 05:13 AM
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OK right, so the concept is align the steering box CENTER with the steering wheel CENTER, then adjust drag link to make that configuration drive the car straight.
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  #4  
Old May 4th, 2004, 05:41 PM
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Not quite, center the steering box. Then adjust the drag link to get the wheels driving straight. Then remove the steering wheel from the steering column and get that straight. Steering wheel last of all because if you get the steering box off center for straight ahead driving it goes all lose and vague because of the free play in the steering box when the box isn't at the straight ahead position. You don't notice the free play in the steering when cornering because the system gets loaded up with the cornering forces.
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  #5  
Old May 16th, 2005, 12:24 AM
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Ok, maybe a stupid question, but how does one center the steering box?

thanks
charles
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  #6  
Old May 16th, 2005, 06:49 AM
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My steering wheel is slightly off center,i also have about 2" of play.When truck is off i can turn the wheel about 2"either way,all the linkage to the steering box turns but the drop arm dosn't.I have just replased the drop arm.Does this sound like a new box? or is there any way to adjust it.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 08:54 AM
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Charles--first take the truck to a flat place and drive it so the wheels are going straight forward. Take out one end of your drag link and turn the steering wheel all the way to the right (clockwise) untill it stops (only the drop arm is turning since the linkage is disconnected). Turn the steering wheel two full turns back to the left. This is where the drop arm should now be when driving straight forward--don't change this adjustment when reconnecting the linkage. Now, loosen the ball joints so that you can adjust the length of the drag link between the ball joints. Adjust the drag link so that it goes back in without the tires or the drag link changing position. This is the centered position. If your steering wheel is not in the right position, remove it and get it as close as possible. Now you can slightly adjust the drag link to recent the steering wheel, but try and only adjust this very slightly.

Jimmy, on top of the steering box is either a flat head screw with a jam nut or an allen screw with a jam nut. Loosen the jam nut and tighten the screw until there is no play in the box. To do this, grab the input shaft and turn it with your hand (it will be a little difficult, but you will be able to feel the play much better than using the steering wheel). Tighten the nut until the play is taken in, but go no further. While holding the allen/screw, retighten the jam nut. Recheck the play. That is all there is to it. When I took out my play, I had to tighten the screw a few turns, but that was just me. On my rangie, it only took a half turn.
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Old May 17th, 2005, 01:36 AM
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Yep. that sums it up very clearly
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Old May 19th, 2005, 07:08 PM
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Chris thanks for the info,got around to doing it tonight.I screwed it in till there was just enough for the lock nut to fit.took at least 5 turns but no play now
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  #10  
Old May 29th, 2005, 07:50 PM
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Hi Chris

First, I should mention my draglink was bent before doing this procedure. The bent one had been"repaired" on the trail, and I had extended its length to compensate for the bend by loosening the balljoint out a few turns. I replaced the draglink with a thick beefy rovertracks one when doing this procedure.

So, I did what you described below, but I am unsure of this is correct or not. Maybe I was just being hypersensitive, but here are the things I noticed after installing the new draglink and doing the adjustment below:

1. The first thing I noticed was louder tire noise - almost like the tires were not aligned correctly (toe in incorrect?)
2. The steering wheel never returned to the position it was prior to the bend (yes i know I can correct this at the wheel, but I expected it to come back to something close to what it was before the draglink got bent).
3. I now feel some play/wander on the road, and perhaps a light pull to the right. Again this may just be me being hypersensitive.

So any suggestions? I was thinking of disconecting the drag link and letting it roll straight and have the wheels fall straight first, then adjusting the drga link lenght. is this a good or bad idea?

I'll also check my steeering box for play.

thanks
charles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davis
Charles--first take the truck to a flat place and drive it so the wheels are going straight forward. Take out one end of your drag link and turn the steering wheel all the way to the right (clockwise) untill it stops (only the drop arm is turning since the linkage is disconnected). Turn the steering wheel two full turns back to the left. This is where the drop arm should now be when driving straight forward--don't change this adjustment when reconnecting the linkage. Now, loosen the ball joints so that you can adjust the length of the drag link between the ball joints. Adjust the drag link so that it goes back in without the tires or the drag link changing position. This is the centered position. If your steering wheel is not in the right position, remove it and get it as close as possible. Now you can slightly adjust the drag link to recent the steering wheel, but try and only adjust this very slightly.
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  #11  
Old May 29th, 2005, 08:18 PM
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Just shooting from the hip but could the extra noise and pull to the right be from the tires being worn badly from the bent draglink? To rull it out you could rotate the tires. Just an idea
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  #12  
Old May 29th, 2005, 08:37 PM
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good thought, but i only ran it for about 200 miles on the bad draglink...

I'll get the tires balanced as they need it and then I'll rotated to be sure too.

thanks
charles
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  #13  
Old May 30th, 2005, 02:28 PM
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You should also check out your tie rod and see if there is any bend--this is the rod behind the axle. Adjustments to this create toe-in/toe-out which could easily account for both the noise and the wander. What you want is a little toe out. Here is the way to check--First, make sure the truck is on flat ground point straight forward. Now, take a string and wrap it tightly around all the tires on the truck at the 1/2 way point up the tire. Looking at the front tires, you should have string contact with the front of the tires and just barely a gap at the rear of the front tires which would indicate that you have a little bit of toe-out (the front of the front tires are pointing wider than the rear of the front tires). You may have to turn the wheel SLIGHTLY in order to fully look if the string is touching.

While you are at it, take a look at how the string is sitting on the rear tires--they should have the same contact on front and back of all the rear tires and if not, you may have to check your front and rear radius arms and see if any are bent or if there is play in the rubber bushings.

Don't worry about the resetting of the steering wheel--even a slight change in length of the drag link can change this, but more than likely it was not set up right before your change over.
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Old June 1st, 2005, 03:53 AM
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1. make sure the steering box is in the straight ahead position. there is progressivevy more play te further from the straight ahead position you are, count the turns from lock to lock with both front wheels jacked off the ground. The drop arm WON'T be pointing straight ahead with the steering box centered. If there is play in the sterring box at the straight ahead position carefully adjust it out with the screw and jam nut on top of the box.

2. Keeping the steeering box centered adjust the drag link length to get the wheels straight ahead, sight down the tyre walls front to back or use string.

3. Adjust the tie rod to get proper toe in about 2mm I think. Repeat step 2 if the toe in was way out.

4. If the steering wheel is was out undo the nut but leave it on with a couple of turns. remove the steering wheelby rocking it side to side and pulling, it will come off buut may take a while, reposition hte wheel to the straight ahead position.

It is a mistake to adjust the steering wheel position by adjusting the drag ling because you move away from the tight position at straight ahead position in the steering box and the truck will wander on the road needing constant small corrections, this will also wear the steering box.
The steering box is the starting point for setting up the whole thing and the adjustments radiate out from there.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 03:03 PM
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Ok, I haven't had a chance to address this, but hope to look at it this weekend. I wanted to ask one more question though. I have noticed I have a clunk noise now that i hear on relatively sudden stopping, relatively hard accelatation, and on tight corners (but this may be while one of the other two are occuring).

Tugging around underneath tells me this is the sound the tie rod makes when it hits the qt diff guard bracket.

Any ideas whats going on? Are my tie rod ends shot?

thanks
charles
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  #16  
Old June 3rd, 2005, 05:12 PM
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When you say tie rod do you mean the bar joining the two swivels together? Have you bent this too?
Is it standard or thicher? If it's a thicker one there might not be space for it in the tie rod catcher portion of the QT diff guard below the diff on full lock (the tie rod moves foward slightly on full lock).
If its bent it might well hit the catcher designed to stop it bending but it shouldn't move about under braking/acceleration. Are the suspension bushes good on the front axle? But only the panhard rod will move independantly of the front axle. Some pics of the problem would help.
You can't sucessfully straighten either of these bars. Well you can straighten them but they're weakened by so doing and bend even more easily next time round. I carry a spare drag link and steering tie bar with me when offroading, happily I haven't needed it yet but I see a very bent out of shape tie rod about once every two months on average when marshaling at play & pay sites.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 07:44 PM
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Take a look at your rear trailing arm bushings, especially the arm to frame bushings. Sounds like there may be a bit of play there and it would clunk when heavy breaking, accelerating and cornering.
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Old June 4th, 2005, 12:10 AM
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It's the rod behind the axle with tie rods ends on each end It's stock, but i don't believe it's bent. I bent the drag link but replaced it with a nice beefy one.

I think the trailing arm bushings sound like a suspect. I'll see if I can make anything under there move while tugging on stuff. I guess its time to do all the bushings really.iirc someone sells a kit with them all.

Mike, I'll take some pictures tomorrow - I plan to be under there replacing the panhard rod bushings.

charles
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  #19  
Old June 4th, 2005, 03:17 AM
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Take a look at the ball joint on top of the rear axle too. Thats a prime suspect for clunking when accelerating/decelerating.
If you're lucky it'll be an adjustable ball joint (rare) of have a grease nipple in which case it shouldn't have worn atall because it'll have been greased regularly.

Follow-up Post:

If your trailing arm bushes look like this then they're ready for the skip
Steering was truely terrible on the road but it flexed well off road
The gap between the rubber and steel is bad,very bad, I could nearly get my finger into the gap.
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  #20  
Old June 9th, 2005, 12:05 AM
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Sorry I never got around to taking pictures. I tightened up a few bolts front and rear and it seems to have taken the clunk out.

I also re-did the centering (on my truck its not 2 full turns) and shortened my drag link by 2 full turns of the tie rode end. Before this, when I pulled straight, the drivers front wheel looked straight ahead, but the passenger one had a noticeable toe-out. Now they both look straight but haven't tried the string check yet.

I straighted the steering wheel when done. Nice to have it straight again!

I adjusted my steering box, but at first I think I did it too tight. I could feel it pull back to center at certain point. I backed it off today, but I think i might have gone too far loose now The problem is I still have a lot of play if I turn the input shaft by hand - even when I overtightened it, and it turns pretty easy too. I dunno, i'll drive it bit like this and see.

Thanks for all the advise.

charles
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