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Flanders

Adjusting pitman arm

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A few years ago, the shop that did my alignment didn't bother to 'center' the pitman arm on the steering box.  I'm pretty positive this is why the car has a much wider turning radius when I turn left, and could explain some of the looseness I feel in the steering when I'm going 'straight'.  My alignment specs were bang-on what I asked for, however my 2-year old tires with very low km's are going bald on the outside shoulder.  I believe this is both an alignment *and* a centering problem with the pitman arm -- I found that even when I was turning at slow speeds I could hear the tires squealing a bit!

Would my analysis above make sense?  Before I dive into correcting this myself, is centering the pitman arm just a matter of counting the revolutions of the steering wheel to find the 'center' point, making sure wheels are pointing straight, and then connecting the pitman arm back to the steering box?

Also, I've personally never disconnected the pitman arm from the steering box.  Is this a simple job, or is it a splined and tapered shaft that on the steering box that is going to require some strong words to help disconnect?  (Power steering '69, if it makes a difference)

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Simple answer is Yes to all your questions.

It is a tapered and splined  shaft that has the nut very tight, Also it helps to have the proper tool to remove it a good pulley remove can work in a pinch.

But the arm usually pops off when enough pressure is applied to the arm. (apply pressure to puller and rap the end of the arm with a hammer, The shock will sometime cause the arm to pop)

While you have it off check the box for play and adjust as needed.

Center steering wheel and ensure tires are both straight, put pitman arm on if the splines match the arm  If they do install the nut and tork.

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6 hours ago, Flanders said:

A few years ago, the shop that did my alignment didn't bother to 'center' the pitman arm on the steering box.  I'm pretty positive this is why the car has a much wider turning radius when I turn left, and could explain some of the looseness I feel in the steering when I'm going 'straight'.  My alignment specs were bang-on what I asked for, however my 2-year old tires with very low km's are going bald on the outside shoulder.  I believe this is both an alignment *and* a centering problem with the pitman arm -- I found that even when I was turning at slow speeds I could hear the tires squealing a bit!

Would my analysis above make sense?  Before I dive into correcting this myself, is centering the pitman arm just a matter of counting the revolutions of the steering wheel to find the 'center' point, making sure wheels are pointing straight, and then connecting the pitman arm back to the steering box?

Also, I've personally never disconnected the pitman arm from the steering box.  Is this a simple job, or is it a splined and tapered shaft that on the steering box that is going to require some strong words to help disconnect?  (Power steering '69, if it makes a difference)

As far as I remember, there are keys on the pitman arm and steering output shaft; so you can't remove the pitman arm and turn a teeth or two. You have to keep the steering box centered in straight line as the center point of the box is tighter.

Looks like you need to find a new alignment shop or do your own alignment to center the box to get even turn radius on both left and right turns.

 

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As aslanefe says the pitman arm is keyed, you can't just rotate it by a spline or two.

Sounds like your problem is that the alignment shop simply did not bother to check that your steering box was centered before doing the alignment.

As you stated you can simply do this yourself by counting how many turns it is lock to lock then turning it to halfway.

You may have to remove your steering wheel and index it again so that it level.

Put some masking tape on your steering wheel boss and the steering column marking the center point and get it realigned by a reputable shop.

 

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Thanks folks for great advice.  I'll attempt this re-alignment (and then re-alignment of my steering wheel) soon.  Need to save a project for when the snow hits :)  Hopefully things will line up with the splines and pitman arm when I get it all centered!

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5 hours ago, DocWok said:

As you stated you can simply do this yourself by counting how many turns it is lock to lock then turning it to halfway.

The above method only works if the steering arms are the same length,  or if the centerlink is not connected to the pitman arm.

If I were you Flanders, I'd measure the length of each steering arm then lengthen the shorter one an equal amount you shorten the longer one. Maybe do one turn at a time. Once they're equal do the above method to find center. When the box is centered the pitman arm and idler arm connections to the center link will be equal distance to the inner edge of the frame rail. 

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As far as I remember, the splines of the rag joint and steering input shaft are also keyed and have a mark pointing up when centered.. The steering column shaft splined end where you attach the steering wheel has a mark that points up (if someone has not hit it with a hammer to remove the wheel and mushroomed the end of shaft and removed the mark). So, when everything is lined up correct, the marks should point up. You can remove your horn pad and look at the end of the shaft (no need to remove the steering wheel). If you still have the mark it should point up when going straight, this shows that the box is centered. You can adjust the steering wheel as it's splines are not keyed.

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Bob is correct if the two tie rod ends are of unequal lengths would cause a short turning radius on one side. This could have been done intentionally because of a lot of wear in the center location where these old manual boxes are worn. 

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1 hour ago, Flanders said:

Would a chocostang re-build be worthwhile to make sure my steering box has minimal slop?

The thought of rack and pinion is also bouncing around in my head :D since I'm removing stuff anyway...

As far as I know, PS boxes do not wear out as much as the MS boxes. I would open it up, clean, inspect for wear first. Reassembling is a little tricky and you need an inch pound torque driver (or a rudimentary setup) to adjust the box during assembly. 

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