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-   -   Sloppy Steering... (https://www.airforums.com/forums/f311/sloppy-steering-27175.html)

Auretrvr 10-23-2006 09:46 AM

Sloppy Steering...
 
Our 310 Classic seems to have a lot of play in the steering. My husband looked at the linkage, and has decided that this is just the way it is. He has become quite skilled at handling it, but I find it unsettling. I want to learn how to drive it next summer in case of emergency and to give him a break. I just can't see myself doing that as things are now. Has anyone been able to improve the steering?

Robfike 10-23-2006 11:54 AM

Our '86 345 has 159,000 miles and NO slop in the steering. That is how yours should be. I think a trip to a good truck alignment shop would be in order. With a machine that large, sloppy steering is a really bad thing.
Rob

overlander63 10-23-2006 11:59 AM

You may have bad ball joints, they can be bad, and the truck can wallow around, and you won't be able to tell unless you check them in the right way.
Once that much weight starts moving in the wrong direction, and you overcorrect, it can feed on itself, eventually swaying all over the road at best.

str8strm 10-25-2006 11:15 AM

WE also changed out the bilstein steering stabilizer and added "steersafe"(which was a do it yourself installation". Both have improved the steering

balrgn 10-25-2006 11:31 AM

4 Attachment(s)
When I got the Peanut, the front end was so loose it felt like floating a boat. First chance I got I tore apart the front end and upgraded shocks, springs, stabilizer and airbags. (rear shocks too). Drives just fine now!

Minnie's Mate 10-25-2006 02:33 PM

Also, check the tire's air pressure. If it is too low you will have a mushy front end that will contribute to rambling. If it is a matter of excess play in the stering wheel, you may need a new stering worm. (that might be outdated by the time your motor home was built) I remember my Dad replacing the stering worm in an older pick-up he once had because of loose play in the stering system, but it didn't have power stering.

Wayne Olson 10-29-2006 05:18 PM

Do not drive with loose steering. You will not be able to control the MoHo if you are trying to avoid an accident. Have your Airstream checked by a good truck shop. Our 345 drives great so why put up with loose steering when you know it does not have to be loose. Safety first.

Auretrvr 10-30-2006 09:59 AM

Great replies!
 
Thanks all. Good to know that this is something we can ammend!

swebster 10-30-2006 10:32 AM

I'm beginning to see some noticable cupping on my steer tires. In fact between 40 - 50 I get a related vibration in the front end.

I know this is related to suspension/steering or out of balance wheels. The tires are fairly new (< 25,000 miles on them) and while I've been thinking about adding some centramatics on the steer tires I was wondering about correcting the situation rather than simply masking it.

To date I have replaced the bags, shocks (bilstein), wheel bearings, steering stabilizer (bilstein) and the previously mention tires/balance.

I grease all of the joints regularly and have checked for end play on the lower ball joints (it's hard to tell if there is any since everything is so heavy).

Any suggestions on other items to check or tests to perform?

I don't get what I would ocnsider excessive wandering or steering play...the rig doesn't steer away from the crown in the road, etc.

For a long time I ran my front tire pressure too high (at the recommendation of the installing dealer) but have since adjusted to the correct pressure for the weight/wheels.

Is this simply an out of balance deal or something more?

Chaplain Kent 10-30-2006 10:39 AM

I had intermittent vibration and then sloppy steering. Recently I replaced the steering stabilizer which took care of both of the problems.

Auretrvr 10-30-2006 10:58 AM

dumb question...
 
...what is a stabilizer, was it quite expensive and where do you have work done? (We are in the process of looking for a good shop that can do work for us.)

Auretrvr 10-30-2006 11:00 AM

Uh oh, I did a search...
 
Please disregard my dumb question.:blush:

balrgn 10-30-2006 11:02 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Auretrvr
...what is a stabilizer, was it quite expensive and where do you have work done? (We are in the process of looking for a good shop that can do work for us.)

Like ashock, right front.

looks like this

Minnie's Mate 10-30-2006 12:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swebster
I know this is related to suspension/steering or out of balance wheels. The tires are fairly new (< 25,000 miles on them) and while I've been thinking about adding some centramatics on the steer tires I was wondering about correcting the situation rather than simply masking it.

I had never heard of centramatics before researching Airstreams (the only trailer I've researched) on this forum so I didn't know you could put them on anything except trailers. Can you get them for different sized vehicles or is it a one size fits or doesn't fit, no options kind of thing? I know they aren't a substitute for front end alignment and balancing, etc. But what are they also available for?

overlander63 10-30-2006 12:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Minnie's Mate
I had never heard of centramatics before researching Airstreams (the only trailer I've researched) on this forum so I didn't know you could put them on anything except trailers. Can you get them for different sized vehicles or is it a one size fits or doesn't fit, no options kind of thing? I know they aren't a substitute for front end alignment and balancing, etc. But what are they also available for?

There are different sizes for different applications. When ordering them, the more information you can provide, the better.

Robfike 10-30-2006 04:18 PM

When we got our 345 it had the certramatics on all wheels. Since I have not driven the coach without them I have no idea of how much they help.
Our coach drives and handles great even with 158000 miles.
Rob

swebster 10-30-2006 06:01 PM

As Terry pointed out the centramatics are available for many applications. They have found a nice home on commercial trucks and claim to improve tire life considerably.

Rob, we're pushing 200,000 and it drives and steers very well. I just see this cupping and aim to stop it. At $280 a tire Centramatics are a wise investment but if there is something else in there I want to deal with it now.

Replacing everything on the front end would run about $800 (DIY). I'm not ready to just R&R everything yet since it drives so well. But checking for play and loose ball joints is just not as easy as it is on my Beetle. ;)

Minnie's Mate 10-31-2006 08:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swebster
At $280 a tire ...

:eek: :ohmy: :shock: WOW! That can add up on a tandom in a hurry. I guess that's why we don't see them on passenger cars. Lead weights are a lot less expensive.

swebster 10-31-2006 08:27 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Minnie, the tires are $280 each. Since I have eight of them on the 345 I'm all about keeping them happy.

The centramatics are much cheaper...something like $180 a pair for steer tires.

Beginner 10-31-2006 08:45 AM

Sloppy Steering
 
Things to check:
What you can do:
Make sure the front tire pressures are correct; not over or under.
Inspect:(Vehicle on ground, brake set, wheels chocked engine off and in park)
Slide up under the front end until you can see the steering box.
Have someone rotate the steering wheel back and forth from firm to firm(where the wheel gets firm to move any further).
1. The shaft that comes out of the bottom of the steering box has an arm on it. This arm attaches to the steering mechanism(draglinks etc.). Is this arm moving in and out (up and down) as the steering wheel is moved from firm to firm? If it is, you need to go to a truck repair facility or frond end shop who knows how to deal with such things. This will cause the slop.
2. Tie rod ends: These are the flexable points in the steering mechanism. Being careful not to get a finger pinched grab ahold to the tierod end with your hand. have your helper move the steering wheel back and forth slowly and carefully(as not to injure your hand or fingers. Rotation should be the only movement you feel in your hand, not loosness. If one end of the tie rod end moves more than the other end of the tierod end you probally have problems. Check every tie rod end. There will be a minimum of four(I think, I'm not familiar with motor homes but some things carry over from vehicle to vehicle).
3. Ball Joints: According to the picturers I saw on this thread there are four. You cannot check these your self. Find a good shop.
4. Upper and lower control arm bushings: You cannot check these your self. Take it to the shop.
5. Front Wheel Bearings: Should be adjusted properly. There are threads on this forum to cover this or take it to the shop.
6. Steering Stabilizer: Must be good. Any questions about it, replace it.
The Six items listed can and do contribute to loose steering. You can have a little looseness in all the points listed(very expensive) or just one or two spots(considerably less expensive)
General Guidence:
Every town has the frame/front end shop that has been around for decades. They align truck straight axles(bend and shim them), align trailer axles(bend and shim them), install eccentrics in the front ends of the foreign cars so that they can be aligned easily, they generally are a mom and pop business and the majority of the mechanics/body shops in the area send the frame work/front end work there for the finishing touches after extensive repairs. Seek out this shop. Ask many people (body shops, mechanics etc), don't limit your self to RV people. A truck is a truck, and that is what you have. There IS one in your community.
Then talk to their customers.
If you were local (Norfolk VA) I would be more than happy to take you there>
Beginner

Minnie's Mate 10-31-2006 09:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swebster
Minnie, the tires are $280 each. Since I have eight of them on the 345 I'm all about keeping them happy.

The centramatics are much cheaper...something like $180 a pair for steer tires.

Oh, I thought you meant the centramatics were $280 each. Still, at $90 a piece, they can add up for 8 tires.

I can see where you would want to extend the life of those tires as long as possible. You don't have to replace the centramatics every time you replace the tires so they are a one time investment to prolong the life of every tire you buy.

dmac 10-31-2006 09:31 AM

Beginner has great advise... sloppy steering is annoying at best, dangerous at worst. Something must be loose. Jacking it up and hand wiggling the joints will not work as easily as on a small car. However the procedure mentioned by Beginner should give a hint as to what is loose.

I had an SOB MH that wandered all over the road, especially in wind, and had sloopy steering. I replaced a tie-rod, installed new front tires, and had it aligned. It still wandered all over and had sloppy steering. I sold the thing... but if I had it to do over again I would have a mom-and-pop front-end shop go through it.

Auretrvr 11-03-2006 08:10 PM

Thanks Beginner...
 
My husband had the moho at a front end shop today and pretty much found what you have posted here. Karma coming your way for taking time to help us out!!

balrgn 11-03-2006 08:32 PM

That's great! You won't believe how the ride will improve. Let us know how you make out!!! :cool:

overlander63 11-03-2006 08:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swebster
But checking for play and loose ball joints is just not as easy as it is on my Beetle. ;)

Actually, it is.
Jack up one front wheel under the lower control arm, so the bottom of the tire is about two inches off the ground.
Place a jackstand under the motor home so it won't fall on you.
Shake the wheel in and out at the top. Note any play in the upper ball joint (an assistant is invaluable for this).
Take a long pry flat-end bar, and place the flat end under the tire about halfway under the tire's width.
With your assistant watching the lower ball joint, lift up on the end of the prybar not under the tire.
If movement is noted with either test, the ball joint is worn out, and should be replaced promptly, and the front end aligned.
Repeat the test on the other side.
If movement is noted when moving the wheel in and out, but the ball joints are not moving, you may just have loose wheel bearings. Adjust the bearings and retest.

swebster 11-03-2006 09:48 PM

Thanks for all of the tips and tricks. Does any single element contribute to cupping of the tires more than others?

Terry - as always thanks for the DIY version for testing my rig.

Beginner 11-03-2006 10:34 PM

Sloppy Steering
 
Yes it good to do it yourself, but, the small shops in my area will make these quick checks for free and being reptuable, not needing to change parts for a larger bill because they are usually swamped, will tell you the truth. Also, dealing with this type of failure on a daily basis, these mechanics will pickup wear and tear that that those of us who don't do such things daily may miss.
Beginner

ROBERTSUNRUS 11-03-2006 11:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by balrgn
Like ashock, right front.

looks like this

:) Hi, this can be somewhat confusing. Although the shock like thing on it's side is actually a steering dampner; And that is what it actually does, dampen the shock of the steering from bumps and grooves in the road. This dampens the sideways shock of the bump in the road to the steering linkage. But sometimes they are called steering stabilizers.
:) The bar on the bottom of your picture [post #13] is the stabilizer and or sway bar. And it is connected on each end by stabilizer links.
:) So when you ask for a stabilizer; Do you really want a stabilizer bar or do you want a steering dampner?

:) :) Bob:) :)

balrgn 11-04-2006 05:28 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS
:) Hi, this can be somewhat confusing. Although the shock like thing on it's side is actually a steering dampner; And that is what it actually does, dampen the shock of the steering from bumps and grooves in the road. This dampens the sideways shock of the bump in the road to the steering linkage. But sometimes they are called steering stabilizers.
:) The bar on the bottom of your picture [post #13] is the stabilizer and or sway bar. And it is connected on each end by stabilizer links.
:) So when you ask for a stabilizer; Do you really want a stabilizer bar or do you want a steering dampner?

:) :) Bob:) :)


It is a Stabilizer Bar, they will know what you mean. They should look your chassis year and engine up in a parts book to get the correct part.

One other thing I have noticed. If you have a bit of air in your lines, which I did, when you push on the brake pedal it will pause, sort of, and pull to one side momentarily... (did that make sense?)

:cool:

Beginner 11-04-2006 02:53 PM

Sloppy Steering
 
One thing that I forgot. On the steering column between the steering wheel and the steering box there may be universal joints and segments(steering column not a straight shot to the steering box) and there will probally be a vibration isolation damper (to remove road shock from the steering wheel). The different manufacturers had their own ideas of how this vibration isolator should be built. Dodge trucks and vans have a "ball and trunion" looking araingement, GM used what looked like a piece of tire sidewall riveted to the steering column shaft then rotated 90 degrees and then riveted to the steering column going to the steering wheel. At any rate have these additional sources of loosness (play) checked out also.
Beginner

Cracker 11-04-2006 05:01 PM

I had an '85 22' Winnebago on the Chevy chassis with the 454. I completely rebuilt or replaced everything on the front end, including new air bags, tires, stabilizer, shocks, and tie rod ends. It still handled sloppy and it would wear you out on a long trip. The alignment was done by a top notch heavy truck shop. I installed the Steersafe system and the problem was cured immediately. I could now enjoy a cup of coffee while steering with one hand on the wheel! It may not work for everyone - but I sure was impressed.

swebster 11-07-2006 09:15 PM

Cracker,
Which system? The stabilizer or the spring returns on the wheels?

Cracker 11-08-2006 10:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swebster
Cracker,
Which system? The stabilizer or the spring returns on the wheels?

I'm not sure that I understand your question. The Steersafe assembly is, in effect, a pair of spring loaded centering devices ("---spring returns"?) mounted at each front wheel that help to keep the wheels from wandering. The "stabilizer" I referred to is the OEM horizontal shock absorber that attaches to the transverse tie rod to "dampen" the same wandering tendancy - as discussed earlier. The latter, although marginally effective, just doesn't seem to have the degree of effectiveness that the Steersafe does. This is probably due to the normal "lash" or sloppiness in the vehicles steering apparatus that the OEM horizontal shock absorber simply cannot address - regardless of new tire rod ends and the like.

Beginner 11-08-2006 02:03 PM

Sloppy Steering
 
Just got off the phone with one of the local front end shops and one of the sloppy steering problems(wander) was reffered to as memory steering. He went on to explain that stiff components(frozen stiff ball joints, frozen tie rod ends and frozed idler arms) can cause this. This problem I am addressing is the failure of the steering wheel to center after a turn by its self. This can also be caused by a stiff steering stabilizer(center drag link shock absorber).
The wheels when seperated from the steering box should move freely from left to right.
Just food for thought.
Beginner

Cracker 11-08-2006 03:48 PM

I think that, for many motorhomes, once all of the steering components are up to specification, and the vehicle is properly aligned, the very nature of the beast, i.e. - high profile and high center of gravity, plus relatively poor aerodynamics and a lot of weight forward - makes the wandering tendancy a common problem. A dip in the road, a cross-wind, a passing vehicle - all contribute to wander. The Steersafe simply provides a substantial force to keep the wheels straight ahead. It is also suppose to prevent loss of control if the right wheel leaves the pavement and encounters a soft shoulder. I can't vouch for the latter as it never happened to me personally!

Beginner 11-08-2006 07:06 PM

Sloppy Steering
 
Somewhere I read that the angle of inclination of the king pin(when vehicles still had kingpins) combined with the weight of the vehicle made the wheels return to straight if you let go of the steering wheel. Of course ball joints have replaced the king pin, but they do the same job and should maintain the same amiginary angle of inclination that is supposed to make the wheels center when you release the steering wheel when the vehicle is rolling.

I have found this to be true on all the vehicles that I have owned except for the Dodge van and the present GMC van.

That being said I can see the distinct advantage of having the Steersafe system that is supposed to force the wheels straight inspite of a blow out or wandering off the road.
I had a blow out on a walk in van one day( no power steering) and as I remember it was a bear to hold(only doing 35 Mph or so).
Beginner

ROBERTSUNRUS 11-08-2006 11:51 PM

:) Hi, Beginner. The king pin angle and the offset of the ball joints is called "Caster" Like the wheels on a cart, Casters, they lean back to follow in the direction of motion. Three basic parts of wheel alignment are Caster, Camber, and Toe.

:) :) Bob:) :)

Beginner 11-09-2006 05:48 AM

Sloppy Steering
 
Thanks
I understand the concept, but because I don't use them on a daily basis I forgot the labels.
Seriously, thank you for the gouge though, I never put the two together (Casters: Caster angle, duh) been saying for years.
Soon as my sholder gets a little better, Im going to disconnect the components of the front end on my van and see if there are any stiff joints like the fellow at the front end shop referred to.
Beginner

Chuckles 11-09-2006 02:13 PM

One item I replaced - two actually - were the Bell Cranks. Well that's what they are called in the USA, we refer them to the "Idlers".

Driving an Airstream on the narrow UK roads full of ruts and pot-holes, and not to mention mad truck drivers! (I said don't mention the mad truck drivers!) Steering has to be spot on.

It was a bit hairy when we first had the 310, but after getting Mary to wrench the steering wheel from one side to the other, while I checked under, a small amount of vertical movement could be seen. It was only a small amount but after fitting "SuperSteer" Bell Cranks, it was marvelous - She actually stayed in a straight line. I can drive now one handed with a glass in the other now!!

All this on a coach with only 43000 miles! I did replace the front air bags as well but the main benefit with the air bags was no more vicious banging from underneath when hitting a bumpy road, We have a lot of those here!

For my money the SuperSteer units were well worth it.

Howard Lefkowitz 11-09-2006 03:09 PM

Check the Kingpins
 
Before you purchase new parts, shocks, stabilizers etc. you should have the king pins checked. The grease fitting's are almost impossible to get too without jacking up the chassis with the wheels on the ground. That is what my problem was. Get a front end alignment and have them check the king pins first. A good shop will always check for worn parts before doing an alignment. If you are in the Greater Washington DC area I know a great place. After you are aligned and worn parts have been replaced, including shocks, you should have no more problems with the steering.

ralley 11-09-2006 05:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Howard Lefkowitz
Before you purchase new parts, shocks, stabilizers etc. you should have the king pins checked. The grease fitting's are almost impossible to get too without jacking up the chassis with the wheels on the ground. That is what my problem was. Get a front end alignment and have them check the king pins first. A good shop will always check for worn parts before doing an alignment. If you are in the Greater Washington DC area I know a great place. After you are aligned and worn parts have been replaced, including shocks, you should have no more problems with the steering.

HL: Where is the great place? PM me if you like. I don't need an alignment now--but I will.:brows:

R

Pat370 11-09-2006 06:54 PM

Loose steering
 
The 310 MO does not have Kingpins. The only Airstreams with Kingpins are the 370's with the heavy duty Gillig bus chasis. Sometimes loose steering can be corected by taking up the play in sector box worm gear. this can be done by tighting up the allen set screw on the side of the steering box. Very easy to do.


Good luck I hope this helps,

Pat 370

ROBERTSUNRUS 11-09-2006 11:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pat370
The 310 MO does not have Kingpins. The only Airstreams with Kingpins are the 370's with the heavy duty Gillig bus chasis. Sometimes loose steering can be corected by taking up the play in sector box worm gear. this can be done by tighting up the allen set screw on the side of the steering box. Very easy to do.


Good luck I hope this helps,

Pat 370

:) Hi, Pat is correct on this; The worm and sector gears get excessive play in them and the sector gear is adjustable. But don't overtighten the sector, just take some of the slack out of it and make sure the steering wheel is straight and centered position. The gear box has a high spot on center and must be on that spot when adjusting.

:) :) Bob:) :)

Howard Lefkowitz 11-10-2006 09:59 AM

Good alignment shop
 
The 345 Motorhomes have kingpins. An excellent alignment shop in the Washington DC area is:

R & S Spring Works Inc.
5001 Windom Rd.
Bladensburg, MD 20710
301-864-5805

They also do springs, air bags, universal joints, drive shafts etc. Very reasonable prices.

Pat370 11-10-2006 06:16 PM

Sloppy steering
 
Howard, if you look at the photos of the subject MO on post # 5 you will see that the Chevrolet chasis has a Independent A frame front suspension with ball joints and not kingpins. Only those MO's with a front I beam axel have kingpins.

Thanks for your reply,

Pat370

Beginner 11-12-2006 07:31 AM

Sloppy Steering
 
When ever I adjusted the slop out of the steering box, I always had the wheels off the ground. The reason for that was to to rotate the steering wheel from lock to lock (left most extremity to right most extremity) to make sure that the box was still free. The wear that you are adjusting out is in one spot and when the wheel is turned to another position you are into areas of little wear, thus the box could bind up.
Just something else to consider.
Beginner

jking 11-12-2006 02:23 PM

Another comment on the Steer Safe - we have haad them installed on both of our AS Mohos - and have survived a front wheel blowout at 60mph on the interstate and two ball joint failures (three separate incidents) because the steer safe things kept the wheels straight and under control. I highly recommend them to everyone who drives a classic AS Moho.
84 310 diesel - Jamie


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