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  • Steering: sloppy steering

    My 65 non power steering Commander drives like a pig. I was told the pitman arm was worn. What else should I replace to reduce the play in my steering? Thanks, Tim

  • #2
    Never heard of a pitman arm worn. The nut being loose and the arm sloping around on the splines, perhaps but I have never seen one. The looseness in the steering is usually in the balls and sockets of the tie rod ends. Only way is to put it up on a rack and have some one move the steering wheel and look from underneath and see where the excess movement is at.

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    • #3
      Get a helper to turn the steering wheel from side to side while you watch all the pivot points on the steering linkage. Also watch the king pins and bellcrank for play. There are too many places the slop could be to try and guess what to replace.
      Dwight 54 Commander hardtop

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      • #4
        What do you mean by "drives like a pig"? Is the car hard to turn, follows dips and ruts in the road, has excessive play in the steering or...?
        The pitman arm is an unlikely culprit although the reach rod end could be worn and sloppy. Perhaps you mean the center pivot in the front crossmember. If you are lucky the pinch bolt could be loose allowing the center pivot to move up and down instead of just side to side. Sometimes just tightening the pinch bolt properly can solve steering problems.
        The first thing would be to raise the car so that the front suspension hangs free and then check for looseness. Observe the steering while someone slowly turns the steering wheel lock to lock. Any slack will be multiplied by slack in other parts. Grasp the wheels and pull in and out at the top and bottom to check for play in the king pins. Of course, everything should be properly greased to allow the parts to move smoothly.
        "In the heart of Arkansas."
        Searcy, Arkansas
        1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
        1952 2R pickup

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        • #5
          Thanks for the great info. Will check out the parts you listed. Tim

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          • #6
            I suspect that with our aging fleet of cars and trucks, there are more of us with worn sloppy steering than would want to admit it. For me, it is the one mechanical area I have avoided and I am at the point where I need a little education. (OK...a lot of education)

            Many years ago, I replaced the king pins in one of my trucks. The hardest part of the job turned out to be just crawling under the truck and starting the job! However, on my '48 with its planar suspension, and my '51 Land Cruiser, and '60 Lark, the parts to be inspected, repaired, and replaced are more complex. I would gladly serve as a free "GO-Fer" for anyone tackling this job within reasonable driving distance just for the benefit of learning experience.


            This would be an excellent topic for a repair seminar at some of our major meets.(and may have been done in the past) I know some of you have produced some excellent "how to" presentations on the subject, complete with pictures and have discussed it here on the forum in the past. There is nothing better than seeing it "in person" to drive home the nuances of the task. Especially the part about the special spreader needed when replacing bushings in the "A" arms. I know it is something I need to tackle. In addition to costs, fear of failure has kept me procrastinating.
            John Clary
            Greer, SC

            SDC member since 1975

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            • #7
              Great idea for a Zone or International Meet! I would sure like to "watch it done" to learn.
              Howard - Los Angeles chapter SDC
              '53 Commander Starliner (Finally running and driving, but still in process)
              '56 Golden Hawk (3 speed/overdrive, Power steering - Running, but not yet driving)
              '62 GT Hawk (4 speed, A/C, Power steering - running and DRIVING!)

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              • #8
                We're about to have our king pins and bell crank replaced. I just picked up the parts last Saturday. Trying to schedule a time with the mechanic we found that has the stuff to ream the brass bushings. If it's not during my work hours, I'm sure he won't mind me taking a few pictures.

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                • #9
                  Steering issues are high on my list of bugs to squash on my '64 Cruiser. (Right after brakes and a leaking Dana 44!) Hoping for something simple like a bellcrank pinch bolt, but time will tell.

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