Chevy Impala SS Forum banner

1 - 20 of 58 Posts
A

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So, I'd noticed the steering on my SS was starting to degrade. It was feeling rather "loose" and was wandering something fierce.

Looking further into it, I found I had 2 issues
</font>
  1. The intermediate shaft had a LOT of play in it.</font>
  2. The Steering Gearbox itself had some play.</font>
In my case, the tires are fine and the front end parts are in good (very good!) shape.

Not being one to fix a problem with "stock" parts when an aftermarket part will solve the problem better, I looked into alternatives on the steering shaft. The best one I found was from Borgeson. They had the following parts you could buy and assemble to "brew your own" steering shaft : </font>
  • Upper U-joint (PN 015252)</font>
  • Collapsible shaft (PN 450024). Like the stock shaft, it's important to keep the shaft collapsible for crash protection purposes (Borgeson also sells a non-collapsible shaft).</font>
  • Lower U-joint with splined end (PN 034931)</font>
The upper and lower U-joints from Borgeson get used as-is, while you have to modify (i.e. cut) the collapsable shaft to the proper length using the directions provided. To keep the collapsability safely intact, it is necessary on our cars to cut BOTH ENDS of the Borgeson shaft. Also, due to the design of our steering column Double-D end junction (which mates with the upper U-joint in the engine bay) it is necessary to make a small spacer for the set screws. 2 minutes with a grinder on a $0.02 washer and the spacer issue was solved. Both of these "mods" are well covered in the directions that came with the Borgeson parts.

Took about 1.5 hours, and the shaft was installed (thanks for the help, Tully!).

Test drive showed that steering was a lot better....but still had a dead spot that was too big. So, I decided to adjust the gearbox according to the FSM directions. Plainly put, there was a LOT of "slop" in the box (about 2/3 of a turn of tightening on the adjuster allen set screw!).

So, with the shaft replaced and box adjusted......it drives like a completely different car now. There is a bit more road "feel", but steering is a lot more responsive and precise! Dead spot is minimal, but just what you want (you want SOME dead spot on center, or the car will be annoying to drive on real-world streets that have bumps in them). And the wandering on bad roads? GONE!

Nice side benefit to the Borgeson shaft is it looks a lot cooler/nicer than the stock shaft as well
. Guarantee it'll be the best looking steering shaft on ANY of the Impalas at Cops-n-Rodders next weekend :D .

Cost : about $250 shipped for all the parts. For comparison, you're looking at $150-160 shipped from Dal for the stock intermediate shaft.

Post install, I tore down the stock shaft. The stock shaft has two "wear" items in it : the rubber rag joint (next to the gearbox, replaced with the tighter lower U-joint by Borgeson) and the upper U-joint (the one below the booster). The rag joint was still in very good shape, but the U-joint had a scary amount of play in it! And on our cars, adding headers puts quite a bit of heat into this upper joint.

I took pictures, look for a future tech article in Impala SScene on it.
 
K

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Ed,

For those of us who have tried blindly adjusting the allen bolt on top of the steering box with no success, what exactly did you do to your box that made it so much tighter? I believe the method in the FSM requires that you remove the box and a few other non-1-hour-job things.
 
A

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I adjusted the box by doing the following :</font>
  • Put allen wrench into adjustment screw (forget exact size of allen wrench)</font>
  • Put wrench on locknut for adjustment screw (16mm wrench in my case)</font>
  • While holding the adjustment screw in place with the allen wrench, loosen the locknut approx 1 turn</font>
  • Tighten adjustment screw 1/4 turn (or less)</font>
  • Once again holding the adjustment screw still, tighten the locknut down</font>
  • Test drive the car</font>
  • Repeat if necessary</font>
I had to do 3 "adjustments" to get it right. Key is that you want to "fine tune" it and not just make a brute adjustment. I MIGHT be able to get the gearbox even tighter with a little more adjustment, but it's pretty good right now.
 
M

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Originally posted by AutocroSSer:
So, I decided to adjust the gearbox according to the FSM directions.
Originally posted by AutocroSSer:
I adjusted the box by doing the following :</font>
  • Put allen wrench into adjustment screw (forget exact size of allen wrench)</font>
  • Put wrench on locknut for adjustment screw (16mm wrench in my case)</font>
  • While holding the adjustment screw in place with the allen wrench, loosen the locknut approx 1 turn</font>
  • Tighten adjustment screw 1/4 turn (or less)</font>
  • Once again holding the adjustment screw still, tighten the locknut down</font>
  • Test drive the car</font>
  • Repeat if necessary</font>
I had to do 3 "adjustments" to get it right. Key is that you want to "fine tune" it and not just make a brute adjustment. I MIGHT be able to get the gearbox even tighter with a little more adjustment, but it's pretty good right now.
So what you are saying is you in fact didn't do the FSM method at all which involves removing the box from the car, using a torque wrench and a spanner wrench on the box AND adjusting the allen screw as well. Yeah it may have worked, but thats NOT the FSM way to do it, and IMHO is a very incorrect approach to adjusting something as critical as the steering box. FAR from fine tuning if you ask me.
 
A

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
OK, I assumed that was the FSM method (it is on other cars). Guess I assumed wrong.

That said, it works. Or goto the trouble of removing the box....probably multiple times.....if you want. If you do the method I outlined above and it doesn't work, then your box is toast anyways.
 
M

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Ed, it's not going to be a multiple time thing. If you remove the box once, and follow the FSM directions, there is in fact a science behind what you're doing. It is a one time thing. I do agree, if you adjust it and it doesn't help then the box is probably in need of a rebuild.

The biggest reason I have not adjusted my steering box yet is when I had the entire front end apart 2 months ago for the complete rebuild it got, I didn't have a spanner wrench. Rather than adjust it improperly, I figured I'll leave well enough alone, and replace the steering shaft and adjust the steering box next time I have a few days in a row to work on the car and get some things done that I've been planning.
 
9

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Mike, I have to laugh when you of all people preach about following the service manual to the letter.
First the sector adjustment requires adjustment much more often than the input Torrington’s.
The factory approach is not that scientific anyway.
Basically they want the input plug loose enough the there is not excessive preload on the Torrington’s and tight enough the Bellville washers are nearly flat. The factory basically says snug it down, back it up 1/2" and tighten the lock ring. They want you to use a inch pound torque wrench of the input when adjusting the sector simply because they can't say " adjust the sector till you can just feel drag over centre" because one guy "just" is another goons "not just enough"
You basically want zero lash across center with no binding.
Eds adjusting in the car is fine 90 % of the time. Usually with the box centered you can hold the 3/16 hex and back the 5/8 nut off a couple of turns. If you lightly spin the adjuster in lightly until you just feel it touch down you will be very close and you can lock it up there.
Yes the Torrington’s and races wear and periodically need adjustment but not as often as the sector.
One thing the books do not mention is sector to adjuster bolt clearance.
With the steering turned way off centre gasp the pitman from below and try and move it up and down. If it moves freely the adjuster has lost its preload in the sector and no adjustment will help because the sector will drop off center and bind coming back to the high point.
When I adjust boxes on the bench I put a 6 inch vice grip on the input and adjust the sector so I can just feel the drag over centre when turning the vice grip with one finger.
All you are trying to do is get the minimum clearance without binding. If you start binding and still have clearance then it is time to go inside.
Adjusting the sector in the car is a fact of life when doing wheel alignments. As long as you have a feelfor it you can do a correct job. I have been adjusting this way while doing alignments a couple-few times a month for 27 years and more often than not the input does not require adjustment. Also,if you are crafty, the input plug can be adjusted in the car too.
Another way is to drop the pitman then you can feel the high spot over center when adjusting. You can also adjust until the rotational rattle is just gone from the sector when the box is centered.
Regards, Gerry
 
M

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Gerry, you are right, thats not being debated here. My main point in what I've said on this thread is that 95% of the people on this forum aren't mechanics, and don't know how to tell what a 0 lash point feels like...I'm pretty sure I don't. That said, I don't feel anybody on the forum should be telling them to just go ahead and blindly make that adjustment...the science I refer to in the FSM method is just that, it makes the procedure basically fool proof, if you follow it as it says. If you do exactly what the FSM says, and it doesn't work, then you know your steering box is in need of a rebuild or replacement. Granted it did work in Ed's case, but I think it's also pretty understood that Ed knows a few things about working on a car. However, I don't feel that people should be told to adjust something as critical as the steering box in that manner simply because as you yourself said, "one guy 'just' is another goons 'not just enough'"...whereas inch pounds on a torque wrench are the medium that allows those who would otherwise adjust it too tight or too loose to get it right.
 
L

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
We don't need Mr.Lee, we got Mr.Gerry! Thanks for that confidence building info. With it, I feel I can adjust my box[steering] now. :cool:

And Mike, thanks for asking questions!

And of course, thank you Ed, for input on your mod!
 
A

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Thanks Gerry, couldn't have said it better myself.

Mike : just because it's not the exact FSM procedure doesn't mean the car is gonna blow up if you try it
. Witness the FSM procedure for changing front springs (look it up, then shake your head
), for example....

BTW, to keep this thread at least somewhat on topic, here are the pics

Old vs new shaft (Upper U-joint not on Borgeson shaft, and Borgeson Shaft not yet cut)



Borgeson Lower U-joint



Old Shaft as installed in car



New Shaft as installed in car

 
L

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Sorry Kevin, you get a capital THANK YOU! But Mike, you kept discussion going! ;)
 
M

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Ed, changing springs is one thing...ADJUSTING a steering box is another. There is no lash point to worry about with springs...and as long as you get the springs remotely into the pockets and put it back together, the car will be safe to drive, the proper indexing and everything else is how you get the car to sit level and all, and getting them completely into the pockets the first time is how you avoid funky noises and having the car settle a lot less than you'd think (I am talking about front springs here). If you screw up the steering box, that is NOT the case at all. See my previous post for the rest of my argument that I don't feel like re-stating. I'm not trying to start a fight or point fingers, I'm just trying to point out that this is apples to oranges. I could get into the same argument about all sorts of different things on this forum (including things I have done in the past as well as other VERY respected forum members), but I don't because safety isn't really a concern of mine with the other arguments, this one is. Yes it worked for you, yes it could work for everyone else, no it isn't safe to be telling everyone to do.
 
I

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Ed, you give part numbers but where do you get them?
 
A

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Mike : I think you are misunderstanding (overstating?) how drastic a change this adjustment screw makes.....ESPECIALLY if you are adjusting it only 1/4 turn or so at a time (which I do state in the third post).

In other words, 1/4 turn at a time it's a somewhat subtle change. It's not like your car is gonna go from "loosey-goosey" steering to a locked up box in 1/4 turn of adjustment! Hell, if you don't know what you are feeling for here you might not even notice ANY change at all (sounds like that may be what Kevin experienced when he tried adjusting his steering box...in his case it might pay to try another 1/2 turn or so in 1/4 turn increments with tests between).

Key here....which I emphasized in my directions in the third post in the thread.....is to make SMALL changes in that adjustment screw then test after each change. And by "test", I mean a test drive at safe speeds in a safe area......not doing 120 around corners in a school zone
. Just use some common sense on this one ;)
 
M

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Like I said Ed, I'm not trying to make it a fight, and granted you're right, a 1/4 of a turn at a time is not that much, BUT it did take you 2 posts to say you only went a quarter of a turn. You should not mention an adjustment like that at all without stating what you have just now stated at the very beginning. I'd hate to see someone go out there and blindly turn it thinking "crank it down until it stops, thats the zero lash point" and then crash coming out of the driveway...a 5 mph fender bender in someones pride and joy ruins their day pretty quickly.

So all that said, thank you for finally stating what I've been trying to state from the beginning (sometimes I take WAY too long to get to the point I know). I'm sorry it seems like I'm being a prick about it, I'm not doing that intentionally, it's just my way.
 
O

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Originally posted by 95wagon:
Adjusting the sector in the car is a fact of life when doing wheel alignments. As long as you have a feelfor it you can do a correct job. I have been adjusting this way while doing alignments a couple-few times a month for 27 years and more often than not the input does not require adjustment.
gerry, do you do this on all alignments? or only certain makes and models?
 
1 - 20 of 58 Posts
Top