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Old 07-11-2010, 10:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Front End Steering Alignment Question

I am new to Samurai (former Jeep owner) and am rebuilding am '87 Sami SE I acquired. Before disassembling the vehicle for engine rebuild and paint ( front clip, engine, trans, doors, windshield, roll hoop removed) , I noticed that the steering wheel was off-center going straight, and there was excessive play in the wheel. There is no "pull" to either side, and the Sami will track straight, albeit with the play mentioned.

I did a "Search" but didn't see anything relevant-

By centering the steering wheel (1/2 lock-to-lock position which corresponds to proper steering wheel position for straight ahead), there is NO play (since the steering sector on worm boxes are normally cut tight in the center, and with play on either side). This is as it SHOULD be, and my Sami box is perfect in this regard.

The problem is that with the steering wheel straight, the front tires are turned slightly to the right, meaning to make the Sami go straight, one must hold the wheel slightly left, resulting in the play described (since the steering is no longer at the center of the steering worm). This is with the toe set properly (there is no abnormal tire wear), BTW.

Since the only adjustment is toe on one side, there is no way to set both front wheels straight with the steering wheel straight.

The only ways I can see to accomplish an aligned steering wheel are:

1) Reposition the Pitman arm on the steering gear one tooth off to hopefully recenter the tie rod (assuming the splines will allow this) w/ the steering wheel positioned straight ahead, or
2) Loosen the "U" bolts securing the front axle to the springs, and slightly repositioning the entire front axle to one side slightly (probably by less than 1/4"), causing the wheels to be straight ahead w/ the steering box/wheel centered. I am not sure this is physically possible, either, if there are locating pins or tabs to hold the axle in position.

Failing 1) or 2) (above) are there tie rods, or Pitman arm-to-tie-rod steering rod assemblies available that have adjustments possible as with virtually every other 4WD vehicle I have owned?

Surely Suzuki cannot think that adjustment will never be required on a vehicle intended to rough service as is the Sami. I am not aware of any frame damage (nor is any evident), BTW.

Thanks-
Bob
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Old 01-19-2012, 10:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobinyelm View Post
I am new to Samurai (former Jeep owner) and am rebuilding am '87 Sami SE I acquired. Before disassembling the vehicle for engine rebuild and paint ( front clip, engine, trans, doors, windshield, roll hoop removed) , I noticed that the steering wheel was off-center going straight, and there was excessive play in the wheel. There is no "pull" to either side, and the Sami will track straight, albeit with the play mentioned.

I did a "Search" but didn't see anything relevant-

By centering the steering wheel (1/2 lock-to-lock position which corresponds to proper steering wheel position for straight ahead), there is NO play (since the steering sector on worm boxes are normally cut tight in the center, and with play on either side). This is as it SHOULD be, and my Sami box is perfect in this regard.

The problem is that with the steering wheel straight, the front tires are turned slightly to the right, meaning to make the Sami go straight, one must hold the wheel slightly left, resulting in the play described (since the steering is no longer at the center of the steering worm). This is with the toe set properly (there is no abnormal tire wear), BTW.

Since the only adjustment is toe on one side, there is no way to set both front wheels straight with the steering wheel straight.

The only ways I can see to accomplish an aligned steering wheel are:

1) Reposition the Pitman arm on the steering gear one tooth off to hopefully recenter the tie rod (assuming the splines will allow this) w/ the steering wheel positioned straight ahead, or
2) Loosen the "U" bolts securing the front axle to the springs, and slightly repositioning the entire front axle to one side slightly (probably by less than 1/4"), causing the wheels to be straight ahead w/ the steering box/wheel centered. I am not sure this is physically possible, either, if there are locating pins or tabs to hold the axle in position.

Failing 1) or 2) (above) are there tie rods, or Pitman arm-to-tie-rod steering rod assemblies available that have adjustments possible as with virtually every other 4WD vehicle I have owned?

Surely Suzuki cannot think that adjustment will never be required on a vehicle intended to rough service as is the Sami. I am not aware of any frame damage (nor is any evident), BTW.

Thanks-
Bob

I don't see any replies to this old posting... you ever get your answers you were looking for??
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Old 01-19-2012, 10:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I don't believe so.

One COULD perhaps shim the steering box away from the frame slightly, though this doesn't seem wise.

It would only offer adjustment in one direction.

This is a design flaw IMO for cost and simplicity.
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Old 01-19-2012, 10:56 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobinyelm View Post
I don't believe so.

One COULD perhaps shim the steering box away from the frame slightly, though this doesn't seem wise.

It would only offer adjustment in one direction.

This is a design flaw IMO for cost and simplicity.
I guess you've not corrected the problem yet??

I also don't see you mention to remove, and remount the steering wheel (similar to the idea of the pitman arm) to re-center the steering wheel itself.

I'd NOT shim anything, or move anything (as you mentioned loosening u-bolts and moving the axle) to simply center up the wheel or gain alignment correction.

As a last resort, you can always weld in an adjustment on the center link (from pitman arm to passenger wheel), just as the link has for toe-in alignment. It's easy to do, just scary if not done correctly due to possible breakage or separation.
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Old 01-19-2012, 09:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Just pop off the steering wheel like JA said and you will be fine.
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Old 01-19-2012, 11:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ebattleon View Post
Just pop off the steering wheel like JA said and you will be fine.
Doing this wont return the steering gear to the center position. It just makes the steering wheel look better. You would still have slack in the steering because, the gears are not centered at the zero lash/center position. If you adjust the gear lash to make it tight as is, the gearbox wont last long because, it will be too tight when you turn past true center when cornering. An adjustable center link would be the real solution. This is strange Suzuki didn't make it that way in the first place. I guess I'll have to make one up, as mine has the same problem.
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Old 01-20-2012, 01:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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... I guess I'm a bit confused. Seems more simple than what's being discussed.

I understand you want the steering gear box, as centered as possible. No problem.

Center the box. Once centered, do one or multiple things to center the steering wheel;
1- move the pitman arm so the wheels are as 'dead center' as possible (by R&R'ing it).
2- move the steering wheel to center (by R&R'ing it), once #1 has been accomplish.

I haven't looked, but isn't there an bit of adjustment out at the tie rod ends too?

The adjustable center link is just a bonus, and not needed to get it all centered. You just need to remove and replace more than normal.
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Old 01-20-2012, 08:35 AM   #8 (permalink)
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R&R the pitman arm would work. Just a pain to do for something that should have an easy solution. Great, move the pitman arm, road test, move pitman arm...... not the best way to get your steering adjustments done.
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Old 01-20-2012, 12:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Azelgin View Post
R&R the pitman arm would work. Just a pain to do for something that should have an easy solution. Great, move the pitman arm, road test, move pitman arm...... not the best way to get your steering adjustments done.
Nope. Not easy, or efficient.

However, if you had my (Ford) Excursion... you'd have to remove the panhard bar drop-down mount JUST to get at the pitman arm nut. And it's ONE BIG NUT! (I'm sure it's another reason the center link is adjustable). Be thankful, your small rig is so easy to work on and access the pitman arm nut.
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Old 01-20-2012, 01:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by JohnnyAirtime View Post
However, if you had my (Ford) Excursion... you'd have to remove the panhard bar drop-down mount JUST to get at the pitman arm nut. And it's ONE BIG NUT! (I'm sure it's another reason the center link is adjustable). Be thankful, your small rig is so easy to work on and access the pitman arm nut.
My Dodge/Cummins isn't quite that bad. I think if an engineer is going to design something, he should have to work on it, too. We'd see cars and trucks that could actually be repaired in a reasonable amount of time.
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