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Old 09-29-2017, 08:09 PM   #1
rgunlock
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Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

I'm finishing up on my 78 GMC K15 and I'm not real comfortable with the steering. I've tried searches, but my steering isn't loose, there is no slop in the wheel. It's just wants to respond to uneven pavement a little too easily.

I've rebuilt the column, new rag joint, original gear box (just cleaned and painted), all new stock replacement front-end steering and suspension components, etc. including the steering stabilizer. I have not yet had the front-end aligned (next thing on list) but it already tracks straight with slight trend to the right when on even pavement. The truck has 4 inch lift springs with the drop pitman arm, and 33" tires.

I'd like the wheel to give more resistance to leaving centered, and the truck to not try to self-steer past bumps and dips. So what am I looking for? A better steering stabilizer, or dual shock stabilizer? A gear box upgrade? Something else?

Thanks, Rick
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Old 09-29-2017, 08:46 PM   #2
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

Explain your issue to the alignment shop. It may be something they can fix with an alignment change.
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Old 09-29-2017, 09:42 PM   #3
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

needs more caster, or a 88-91 steering box, they have a bigger torsion bar in them that makes it take more pressure to steer.
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Old 09-30-2017, 02:21 PM   #4
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

Thanks for the responses. I hadn't planned to do anything until after getting the alignment. I just wasn't feeling too confident I'd be happy with the steering even after the alignment since it doesn't seem to be that far off.
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Old 10-03-2017, 12:06 PM   #5
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

theres a adjustment nut on your steering box to fix this issue that everyone thinks is the adjustment to take slop out of the box. i had a suburban where it was the complete opposite where you would turn a corner and let go of the wheel and it pretty much stayed turned so i backed it off a bit and it was fine, also used it to tighten it up a bit on a old k5 with 38s to help with death wobble.

maybe someone can explain this better as i messed with this stuff over 10 years ago, hate for you to turn the wrong thing and the box fall apart
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Old 10-03-2017, 12:51 PM   #6
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

Drop a viagra pill in the reservoir.
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Old 10-03-2017, 06:46 PM   #7
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

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Originally Posted by gmachinz View Post
Drop a viagra pill in the reservoir.
I'll save this option as the last resort
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Old 10-03-2017, 06:50 PM   #8
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

Rick I just couldnt resist!
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Old 11-08-2017, 12:17 PM   #9
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

Wanted to update that I've gotten my truck's front-end aligned and I'm still looking for a solution to this. I believe that my issue is two-fold. One, the truck still doesn't resist being pulled around on rough pavement, and two my "EZ-Ride" 4-inch lift spring suspension is trying to bounce me off the road at the same time. Basically, don't feel like I'm in control of the truck over 45MPH unless the pavement is nice and flat.

Any more suggestions for the steering part of the problem?

[Edit] Jumped the gun on this and haven't tried all the suggestions already listed.
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Old 11-09-2017, 08:13 AM   #10
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

It sounds like the shocks are shot. My shocks are all 20 years old but they don't bounce or feel out of control. Your truck is beautiful by the way so it shouldn't be due to past abuse. I can't imagine you would be running old worn shocks on that nice truck. What kind are they? I always thought my Ranchos ride too rough and will try adjustables next time.
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Old 11-09-2017, 08:21 AM   #11
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

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It sounds like the shocks are shot. My shocks are all 20 years old but they don't bounce or feel out of control. Your truck is beautiful by the way so it shouldn't be due to past abuse. I can't imagine you would be running old worn shocks on that nice truck. What kind are they? I always thought my Ranchos ride too rough and will try adjustables next time.
Thanks! This truck took a lot of abuse in the past, but I am just finishing up about 6 years of this being my weekend hobby restoring it. The shocks are new "SX8000 Nitro gas shocks" that came with the lift springs from Suspension Connection. They've got maybe 60 miles on them now but they've been on the truck 5+ years.
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Old 11-09-2017, 11:12 AM   #12
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

Springs hold the weight of the truck up. Shocks control movement.
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Old 11-09-2017, 11:42 AM   #13
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

It sounds like you need to adjust the steering box - I just did mine recently as I had poor steering control - lots of wandering. It really helped.

First you need to loosen the lock nut on the back of the box where the steering shaft comes into the box, once the lock nut is loose you can adjust the nut on the back of the box, its hard to see it but here are two holes on the back that you can rotate - I used a punch. I set mine to "snug". Then retighten the lock nut. After this you can adjust the nut on top - loosen the nut with a 5/8" wrench and get a allen wrench to adjust the inner adjustment - I basically found the spot where I could feel it make contact and then gave another 1/8th turn. Drive and see how it feels, and make additional adjustments as needed on the top.
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Old 11-09-2017, 11:08 PM   #14
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

The manual says the adjustment in post 13 is for something else entirely.
That said, the description sounds like the toe is off, which should have been fixed by alignment. I wonder what the shop said the toe, caster and camber are/were. https://www.google.com/search?ei=Phc....0.risBAJkM7Lc
See if there's a steering damper, or brackets for one. It's basically a horizontal shock absorber that limits quick changes in steering.
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Old 11-10-2017, 07:35 AM   #15
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

I wonder if there are cracks around the steering box. It's never happened to me but it's supposed to be common.
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Old 11-10-2017, 08:09 AM   #16
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

Frame cracks can cause this . But if everything checks out you may want to look into caster . If caster on both sides are equal but too negative the steering will feel light, the truck will wander and be difficult to keep driving straight. If both sides are equal but too positive, the steering can be heavy . So you may be a little too neg . Have the alignment people add a little positive to both sides and see if that dont help . It should stiffen some and help with road conditions as well .
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Old 11-10-2017, 08:47 AM   #17
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

I've been over the frame pretty carefully and didn't spot any cracks, particularly around the steering box mount area. I have also added a brace to that area. I do have a new steering dampener.

This is what I got for the alignment. I haven't really looked closely at it until posting it now. Lady at the counter included this with receipt and I just folded it and left. Doesn't look like they touched caster, and if I'm reading this right it isn't even in spec. Figure you go to what's supposed to be a reputable shop and ask for an alignment they would have done whatever was needed.

Appreciate all the suggestions.
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Old 11-11-2017, 12:43 PM   #18
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

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The manual says the adjustment in post 13 is for something else entirely.
Been reading up on steering box adjustment, and it looks like that is more to remove play from the steering wheel. I don't really have any play in the wheel. More that the steering is too easily influenced by where the road wants to take the tires. So far, its looking like my next step should be to get shims to add a little more caster in my alignment since I think the alignment shop got the toe set ok. But... I've read just as many threads saying you can't really adjust the caster?
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Old 11-11-2017, 12:55 PM   #19
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

Caster and Camber are the major contributors to how the vehicle steers, Corners and tracks down the road. They both play a part depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Your vehicle may require other than stock settings to get the drive that you are comfortable with. Work with a Knowledgeable alignment technician who understands that rather than one who just sets by the book specs.
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Old 11-11-2017, 04:18 PM   #20
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

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Thanks for the responses. I hadn't planned to do anything until after getting the alignment. I just wasn't feeling too confident I'd be happy with the steering even after the alignment since it doesn't seem to be that far off.
I had an alignment done as my truck was pulling to the right a bit and steering felt like I was herding chickens. This was after a 2" lift done w/springs. My castor was like 4.5 and 5.5 it is supposed to be about 8. All they could adjust was the toe-in. I could have done that myself.They replaced some front end parts and 1300.00 later I was right where I started. I could have done that too. I bought some castor wedges (3 degree) but have yet to put them in as it is a real PIA. Front axle has to be dropped from the spring like 5" to fit in the new bolt and wedge. So,get the alignment to get your numbers and some wedges.
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Old 11-11-2017, 04:18 PM   #21
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

caster is adjustable with pinion shims and you are somewhat under spec but in reality 6 degrees is pretty good. I do not think you need to adjust the steering box. I think you could benefit from a strong dual stabilizer or a really good single. Fox racing steering stabilizers are excellent at controlling much larger tires than you have. If you are just looking to firm up the feel then add that and you will be turning that as well as it controlling your truck from the road conditions. fox offers a universal stabilizer that you would probably like the feel that it would give your truck steering.

if you want to do dual, bds offers a bracket set 55374 and fox shock 98224011 x2. Thats way overkill but it will work reeeeeeally well.
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Old 11-11-2017, 04:26 PM   #22
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

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Originally Posted by rgunlock View Post
I've been over the frame pretty carefully and didn't spot any cracks, particularly around the steering box mount area. I have also added a brace to that area. I do have a new steering dampener.

This is what I got for the alignment. I haven't really looked closely at it until posting it now. Lady at the counter included this with receipt and I just folded it and left. Doesn't look like they touched camber, and if I'm reading this right it isn't even in spec. Figure you go to what's supposed to be a reputable shop and ask for an alignment they would have done whatever was needed.

Appreciate all the suggestions.
Well there you go then there! You need 2 degree castor wedges. The thick part of the wedge goes to the back. The fancy alignment shop I went to said they never put in wedges before. And they can't adjust camber either. All they can adjust is the toe-in. Good luck
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Old 11-14-2017, 02:41 PM   #23
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

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Originally Posted by obijuan View Post
caster is adjustable with pinion shims and you are somewhat under spec but in reality 6 degrees is pretty good. I do not think you need to adjust the steering box. I think you could benefit from a strong dual stabilizer or a really good single. Fox racing steering stabilizers are excellent at controlling much larger tires than you have. If you are just looking to firm up the feel then add that and you will be turning that as well as it controlling your truck from the road conditions. fox offers a universal stabilizer that you would probably like the feel that it would give your truck steering.

if you want to do dual, bds offers a bracket set 55374 and fox shock 98224011 x2. Thats way overkill but it will work reeeeeeally well.
Thanks for the tip obijuan. Ordered overkill - better than underkill Spent too much on this build already to be nervous driving it!

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Well there you go then there! You need 2 degree castor wedges. The thick part of the wedge goes to the back. The fancy alignment shop I went to said they never put in wedges before. And they can't adjust camber either. All they can adjust is the toe-in. Good luck
Decided to start with the stabilizers (easy bolt-on), but keeping this in mind. I know that adding the 4" lift increased the angles on the front driveshaft. Is there any concern about adding these wedges and adding more angle on the driveshaft?
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Old 11-14-2017, 03:49 PM   #24
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rgunlock View Post
Thanks for the tip obijuan. Ordered overkill - better than underkill Spent too much on this build already to be nervous driving it!



Decided to start with the stabilizers (easy bolt-on), but keeping this in mind. I know that adding the 4" lift increased the angles on the front driveshaft. Is there any concern about adding these wedges and adding more angle on the driveshaft?
I put in a fancy Ranco stabilizer and it was no help. Ran it w/no stabilizer for a while as I bent mine. No difference. A stabilizer is a bandaid to the problem. You need to put in the castor wedges and 2 degree wedges will not effect the drive shaft angle.
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Old 11-15-2017, 09:05 AM   #25
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Re: Power steering - how to stiffen it up?

Those alignments specs look about perfect to me. These trucks rarely get camber and caster adjustments and spend their lives aligned where the factory did it when new. It's a big job to shim that stuff and I doubt any alignment shop is going to do that for the standard $50 charge. My camber is off 1/2 -1 degree and we looked up the shims it needed and they were still available but it didn't seem worth the effort to dis-assemble the front hubs and spindle to make it "perfect". My tire wear is always perfect too. I see so many newer trucks with tires worn on one side. I would not be happy with that.

I had no idea these trucks have 6 degrees of castor. I can't get that much castor in any of my cars. I put offset control arm shafts on my Caddy to try to get 4 degrees of castor and still only ended up with 2 degrees.

Rick must be used to newer trucks with car like handling and I am not. My old squares feel the same as they always did to me. I roll down the interstate at 75 easily and a lot of times I look down and it's going 80+ and I have to whoa her down some cause it's 40 years old. I have kicked the 4bbl in while going 80 and it shot right up to 100 pretty quick. I shut that down quickly too. On rough roads I do have to hang on because it does feel like the wheels come off the ground on rough dirt roads. Your head will hit the ceiling if you aren't buckled in. One of my buddies found that out too.

Another buddy has a newer ford, like 2012. He had to take out a $2500 loan to rebuild the whole front end. My 76 has 185k with the original ball joints and u-joints. I'll have a hard time getting used to the higher maintenance cost of a newer vehicle if I ever "upgrade". I'm stumped on the OP's nice looking truck. The alignment specs say it is fine. I would try a new steering stabilizer and see if that band aids it.

We haven't touched on the topic of a 4" lift and if it has the dropped steering arm or not. That is different from my trucks. My K20 has a 2" lift with stock steering arm and I noticed no change in handling I ran 33's and 35's on that truck and it seemed to track fine as to what I'm used to.
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