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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Right, I know this is a really vague post but I'm struggling a bit with this. I've done around five hundred miles in my rod since I bought it and got it on the road (Hot Rod Drags this year). I'm not expecting modern levels of competence and handling (I don't even own a modern so have no preconceptions there) but it does not drive as well as I would hope. I did not buy this car to perfect it and polish it - it was bought to drive and at the moment I do not feel like I want to drive any real distance.
The main concern is that it wanders and follows road damage/overbanding, "falls off" the crown of the road and is generally very vague feeling - so much so that I have just nudged seventy in it once and that felt plenty fast enough.
There's plenty to be done and spent on this and my concern is that if this is a basic trait then a different car may suit my needs better rather than spend out on this one...
The car is a 1970s build, 1936 Austin 16/6, 4.2 Jaguar engine and rear suspension, Nick Butler dropped tube front with a steering box and power steering (believed to be part Jag'), the car runs on radials front and back. Before I bought the car I had thought the chassis had been boxed but it appears to have been strengthened in various places but is largely original. The car had a huge amount of money spent when it was built (chrome everywhere) but this doesn't guarantee the basic integrity of the chassis design. I think it has done about 6000 miles since built.
I know that various worn items will affect the handling/driving but before I renew every bush, buy a set of new coil overs, replace the steering box, 15" wheels with new tyres, not to mention a full engine rebuild - are these typical traits of this kind of set up (maybe exaggerated by wear or being laid up for years) or do you think there is something basic amiss?
I understand this isn't at all specific but this is my first proper rod - all my previous stuff has been modified classic with suspension and steering geometry pretty much left alone - normally lowered, rack and pinion steering etc. Maybe I'm just expecting too much...
 

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With some rods you will get a small amount of wondering on motorways , its more a weight thing .
But they should drive prety well .
A few questions to maybe help you out with this ( non ment to offend )
Does the steering wheel feel like it isent connected to the wheels from time to time ?
Are all the bolts that hold all the front and rear suspension in correctly
Do you have to drive like in the movies ( see sawing on the wheel to keep it straight )
Are your tyre pressures equal either side
If the front is a tube ( i beam ) have the king pins been greased enough or at all .
Has the car been up in the air to check how much play is in the bearings
Im shure people will be able to help out once some of these have been answerd
:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Don't worry no offence taken...any interest appreciated.
Answers to two of your questions...
The steering wheel often feels unconnected to the road wheels to the extent that, sometimes, there is no discernible feedback at all.
I joked about understanding the old movies with constant see sawing to go straight, this is one of my main concerns - the constant correcting becomes really tiring especially against oncoming traffic.
As far as I can tell all bolts are tight, tyre pressures are equal but I'm guessing at what the pressure should be - have been experimenting and it doesn't seem to make a lot of difference, bearing play is minimal (just passed M.O.T. but I've also stripped and cleaned most of it myself ), linkages/swivels etc. have been cleaned and lubed, I adjusted the tracking myself and have tried several settings - the current set up feels the best so far. When I first got it going the P.A.S. belt was slipping but I've modified/adjusted this and it no longer seems to do so.
I've wondered if it could be play in the steering box but I've very little experience with them and the M.O.T. inspector reckoned it was fine (not taking that as gospel tho').
I'm hoping that it is not an inherent fault with the car but a problem that can be sorted. My old car experience takes in Triumph, MGB, Morry Minor, Austin Healey, MG Magnette etc. so I don't think it's just me...

As for wandering on motorways - where the heavy lorries have left troughs in the road it is really hard work to keep it from veering one way or t'other.
 

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As for wandering on motorways - where the heavy lorries have left troughs in the road it is really hard work to keep it from veering one way or t'other.
My Stude is crap on the inside lane on motorways, I blame the crossplies 'tramlining' in the ruts.
 

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It should be better than that...have you checked the castor?
What he said -and it's as well as checking that the suspension bushes are in good condition, make sure that there's no excessive play in the steering box and no odd drag link geometry causing a bump steer issue. I take that the rod is the one in your avatar; the big Austin models, 18, 20 & 28HP were capable of better than 70 MPH from the factory, the only one of these I have driven was as steady as a rock at speed, so it's not an issue with the original structure that's causing your handling issues IMO.

My chevy truck has the original straight axles and suspension front and rear. Drives like a truck -NSS- but is dead stable on the (French) autoroute at 80 + MPH
 

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Wandering is a trait of steering boxes leading to those who have normally driven rack and pinion steering to panic. There is a technique to driving a box, what are your normal cars?

To try to narrow down any problem,

what toe are you running
what steering box is it ( not sure why it would power ?)
what caster on the kingpins
how much movement from a central line of the steering before you see movement at 1) the wheels 2) steering arm on box?
 

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Has the front axle got a panhard rod on it? I spoke to Nick Butler earlier this year and he originally didn't fit panhard rods on the tube axles even on Andromeda but this would cause the vehicle to feel wollowey (is that a word?) so he retrospectively fitted a panhard rod to Andromeda to stop this feeling.
Castor, camber, tracking, fat front tyres, wrong tyre pressures, worn joints etc. will have adverse affects but the incorrect akerman angles will probably have a greater affect on handling and this is an area that is very often over looked.
I remember a friend of mine had a Nick Butler drop tube with a steering rack on his pop way back and it didn't handle very well to the extent that he removed it and fitted MGB front suspension to rectify the situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the replies so far.
Right, easy answer first, my "daily" is my plastic Triumph (Hurricane kit car that I recently posted in the showroom) - drives like it's on rails, but I don't think it's the comparison between the two leading me to think the rod is bad.
I have experimented with toe in - before I started it was about fifteen degrees! I reduced this to about three degrees (I think) then experimented with fine adjustments reducing it further until it started to feel worse again, then returned to the previous setting - so it is probably about one maybe two degrees.
I haven't checked the caster angle - how would I go about it - I did check that the kingpins were leaning slightly back rather than forward but that's all.
I don't know where the steering box came from - on an old magazine article it mentioned '50s Pontiac.
With the engine running, but the car not moving, you can rock the steering wheel from left to right about an inch before you see movement at the steering arm, about a further inch and a half before you can see movement at the wheels - although it does feel at times like the resistance to movement is variable. It also feels like there is more movement when the wheel is turned slowly, but this could just be an illusion caused by the difficulty of seeing very slow movement at the road wheels (if that makes sense).
 

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Just a thought, if it takes only about an inch of steering wheel movement to see the steering arm move, but a further one and a half inches to move the wheels as well (as the drag link?), then perhaps it is worn drag link ends.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just a thought, if it takes only about an inch of steering wheel movement to see the steering arm move, but a further one and a half inches to move the wheels as well (as the drag link?), then perhaps it is worn drag link ends.
Can't find any play in any of the links, they are all rose jointed so any wear should be easy to spot. Can't feel any knocking or backlash. Same with the front tie bar. Just wondering if there is something "flexing" that shouldn't, can't imagine what tho'...too dark now to investigate further.

Generally tho' it seems that the consensus is that I should be able to improve the drive, that's what I was hoping to hear and not that it's an inherent trait of this sort of rod "so just live with it". I shall persevere with it and not trade it in for an MX5!
 

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This sounding like your steering box is worn a bit , my old box was worn and it did take
As Kev said a knack to driving it ( more by very forward thinking ) but i ( well a very nice bloke with me hindering him ) fitted a
Fresh box and it now drives like its on a rack .
There is a way of tightening up a box so all is not lost , does it have an ajusting screw on the side ?
 

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Do any of your steering bars have a deliberat bend in them ,
And does it have a power pump on it , if so is the fluid leval good
 

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I'm surprised no-one has mentioned the Ackermann angle, to me this would seem the most likely if there is only a small amount of play in some componants?
You'll need to look it up as its almost imposible to describe in words!

Gary
 

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I wouldn't tolerate a rod if it was like that. For me they have to drive in an enjoyable way. As an example my brother has a well built '32 RPU. I can't get in the bloody thing when the roof is on but did manage to drive it a few times with the roof off. Great fun, stable and precise and I thought well set up. He came to me a month or two back and said it didn't feel right. I gave it a go and it was awful, just what you are describing. An inspection showed that the steering box adjuster had loosened slightly(Polished cover and the lock nut had not gripped). Set the adjustment and a quick drive proved that all was right with the world again. My 34 built by Johnny on here could be safely driven one handed at some speed, well it could when on radials anyway!
I'd be measuring that caster angle as a mate had trouble with a Nick Butler set up tube. He ended up on the pavement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for all the comments and advice. I've spent a bit of time on Google (where would we be without it?) and I now think I have a powered version of the Saginaw steering box. There is a lot of info regarding adjustment of this so I'll start there, being a rack and pinion type I didn't even know that you could adjust these without a rebuild. If there's no improvement I'll have to dig deeper...but I'll start with the stuff that doesn't need a chassis rebuild or a fortune spent!!
I have read up on Ackermann angles before now but never having carried out major mods to a chassis it's not something I've concerned myself with, anything radical I've done has been on 'bikes.
Again, thanks for all the replies so far, I was getting a little despondent as having only just put the car on the road I had been treating it gently then my first trip over sixty five made me want to park it up. Not good as we are hoping to take it from here in the South up to Scotland, or at least to the Hot rods and hills...
 

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Just a quick one the adjusting screw on mine is a slotted out let with an external nut on it ( sounds odd lol but you will know it when you see it ) mine only adjust's when turned clock wise and locking off with external nut . This means that when you try it if its to tight then turning it anti clockwise will knock it compleatly out , even just a tiny back out , so you have to start again with it loose and slowly adjusting it inward , hope this helps and is understandable lol :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Spent pretty much all day on or under the front end - one of the benefits of not having any work at the moment! - and am convinced there is no play in any of the linkages etc. Whilst I was out there I repacked the wheelbearings, cleaned out the grease nipples and regreased the kingpins. After all this I checked the play at the steering wheel again, engine off I got about three inches at the rim of the steering wheel before the road wheels moved; engine on I got about the same but if I continued to turn the steering wheel very slowly I seemed to get hardly any movement at all, and the resistance at the steering wheel felt like it was constantly varying. If I moved the steering wheel quickly from side to side the road wheels appear to react almost immediately...I think I'm fairly convinced that it's the box so I'll see if I can find someone local who knows their stuff...
Incidentally the car is fitted with a Panhard rod as queried earlier and all the link bars are straight and solid (highly unlikely to flex).
And "old pizz yella" - that makes perfect sense, but I couldn't shift the lock nut so I've left it soaking in WD for now - I have found out that it's a Saginaw 605 - wonderful things these forums.
 

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I'm not gonna give advice on this as there is a lot more guys on here with a lot more knowledge than me as far as steering angles, castor, tracking etc. All I can add is keep looking, there's got to be an answer staring you in the face surely, I'd renew the steering box personally?
On my '32 roadster, I have a jag steering box with no power steering, jago drop tube and a jag rear, it handles superb and is a pleasure to drive with it's 350ci Chevy. Stick at it mate cos it will all be worth it when your crusin' all safe and sound.

Micky T.
 
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