New Borgeson Steering Shaft and Gearbox Adjustment - Chevy Impala SS Forum
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post #1 of 58 (permalink) Old 10-12-2003, 12:25 PM
AutocroSSer
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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 [img]smile.gif[/img] . Guarantee it'll be the best looking steering shaft on ANY of the Impalas at Cops-n-Rodders next weekend .

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.
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post #2 of 58 (permalink) Old 10-12-2003, 04:55 PM
kevm14
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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.
post #3 of 58 (permalink) Old 10-13-2003, 06:11 PM
AutocroSSer
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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.
 
post #4 of 58 (permalink) Old 10-14-2003, 08:04 AM
Mike454SS
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Quote:
Originally posted by AutocroSSer:
So, I decided to adjust the gearbox according to the FSM directions.
Quote:
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.
post #5 of 58 (permalink) Old 10-14-2003, 01:53 PM
AutocroSSer
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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.
post #6 of 58 (permalink) Old 10-14-2003, 02:32 PM
Mike454SS
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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.
post #7 of 58 (permalink) Old 10-15-2003, 12:01 AM
LarryCigar
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I wonder what Mr. Lee would say?
post #8 of 58 (permalink) Old 10-15-2003, 01:54 AM
95wagon
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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
post #9 of 58 (permalink) Old 10-15-2003, 11:56 AM
Mike454SS
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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.
post #10 of 58 (permalink) Old 10-15-2003, 01:40 PM
95wagon
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I'll buy that Mike.
Gerry
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