Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Suspension, including wheel, tire and brake.
Derek
Posts: 1330
Joined: 04 Jul 2003 17:19
Location: San Francisco, CA

Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by Derek » 10 Aug 2013 16:29

Hey 510'ers

My car started doing something weird starting a couple of months ago. I would drive a stretch of road near a friend's place that has a long period wash board undulation to it. Whatever it was about this washboard was it caused my steering wheel to start shaking back and forth, and if I did not control it by a firm grasp of the wheel it would escalated quickly to a very intense back and forth motion. It happened every time I drove on that road, (which was only a few) but no where else, so I didn't think too much of it.

Fast forward a bit later and I was driving my car down to Laguna Seca to go to the MotoGP, and 10 minutes into my drive thought I heard a clicking from the front left corner, and decided to pull off the highway to investigate. This time the steering shake was initiated by light braking from high speed -- and it was way more intense than previous times. I had to slow the car down to a crawl to get the steering settled and pull off to the shoulder. I made my way to a gas station to poke around but found nothing. I carefully drove home and switched cars.

Now I've finally had time to take a look at the front end and I can't find anything wrong! Everything is tight, no slop in any of the linkages or rod ends. The wheels have all their weights. All the stopnuts were in place. There was no pulsing in the brake pedal when driving to suggest warped rotors. The worst thing I could find was the sway bar end link bushings seemed to not be fitting the bar as tightly as they could -- but this also had to do with looking at the suspension at full droop.

Here's a pic of that: Image

I was going to go get my wheels rebalanced (and have the tires flipped while I was at it). But aside from that I don't have any other ideas. Anyone have any thoughts?

User avatar
bertvorgon
Supporter
Posts: 10800
Joined: 04 Aug 2003 20:45
Location: White Rock, B.C. Canada

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by bertvorgon » 10 Aug 2013 16:58

hey Derek, ( I finally put those arm rest on..thanks! )

We..all three specialty 510's, had a similar problem, years ago, which we tracked down as a worn steering box worm and sector gear. We checked EVERYTHING at first, like you everything tight, etc..

I had mine shake so violently, it almost put me off Hwy 99, and Georges at Westwood almost got put off the track, same with Tracey. It would sometimes trigger at the slightest braking, just crazy.

Long and short, Andy figured that once a small bump or whatever, gets the steering in a cycle of oscillation, which we do not realize at first, in our hands, then the slop in the box lets it magnify, which then turns into a violent shake. If you turn your wheel slightly off center, see how much play there is before it actually moves the wheel.

We cured it instantly at the time with the installation of the HL510 boxes, with new worm and sectors in them. NLA now. Both Georges and I had it the worst, as we had gone to 15" wheels, so the dynamic flywheel effect of the larger wheel just made it worse.

http://www.the510realm.com/viewtopic.ph ... nt#p179694

This was my post on adjusting the box...just scroll down the thread
Last edited by bertvorgon on 10 Aug 2013 17:04, edited 1 time in total.
"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

Keith Law
1973 2Door Slalom/hill climb/road race / canyon carver /Giant Killer 510
1968 Vintage 3HP Mini Bike
1971 Vintage 13' BOLER trailer

User avatar
tycot1
Supporter
Posts: 1269
Joined: 12 Oct 2006 18:22
Location: maple ridge, british columbia, canada
Contact:

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by tycot1 » 10 Aug 2013 17:02

i had the exact same problem three years ago and it urned out to be a bad advan tire. the steering wheel slap was so bad every time that it almost tore my thumbs off. i replaced all of my tires with nittos and the problem NEVER came back.
http://bigtimemotors.ca 1972 datsun 510 220 hp ka "couped", 1971 510 westwood champ gt4 '81& "83, 1979 550 hp trans am, 1962 cadillac hrdtp, 2005 subaru sti, 1999 triumph daytona 955i.

Derek
Posts: 1330
Joined: 04 Jul 2003 17:19
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by Derek » 10 Aug 2013 17:24

bertvorgon wrote:hey Derek, ( I finally put those arm rest on..thanks! )

We..all three specialty 510's, had a similar problem, years ago, which we tracked down as a worn steering box worm and sector gear. We checked EVERYTHING at first, like you everything tight, etc..

I had mine shake so violently, it almost put me off Hwy 99, and Georges at Westwood almost got put off the track, same with Tracey. It would sometimes trigger at the slightest braking, just crazy.

Long and short, Andy figured that once a small bump or whatever, gets the steering in a cycle of oscillation, which we do not realize at first, in our hands, then the slop in the box lets it magnify, which then turns into a violent shake. If you turn your wheel slightly off center, see how much play there is before it actually moves the wheel.

We cured it instantly at the time with the installation of the HL510 boxes, with new worm and sectors in them. NLA now. Both Georges and I had it the worst, as we had gone to 15" wheels, so the dynamic flywheel effect of the larger wheel just made it worse.

http://www.the510realm.com/viewtopic.ph ... nt#p179694

This was my post on adjusting the box...just scroll down the thread
Thanks Keith -- very helpful. I had to dig through my old private messages to even remember the arm rests -- it's 4 years to the day that I think I sent them!

On to the steering -- it's been years since I've touched the steering box, so I'll try tightening it up again -- and I'll do the full re-fill with fresh oil I should have done the first time I read about your experiences.

With all the NLAness going on though, if this doesn't solve it, what are my realistic options? Could this push me into trying to work out a rack and pinion solution?

Tyson -- I've put a bunch of miles (4k?) on these tires (Dunlop Star Specs) without issue so I'd be surprised if that was the issue. I could swap front and rears as an easy experiment though.

User avatar
bertvorgon
Supporter
Posts: 10800
Joined: 04 Aug 2003 20:45
Location: White Rock, B.C. Canada

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by bertvorgon » 10 Aug 2013 17:29

Yah, and I know you have some serious track miles on that box also.

Someone on here posted about a company that rebuilds boxes, that would be what I would try.

I have a card for a fellow up here, that even I was going to check out, as my box has some serious miles on it now also..read.......27 years of race tire loading.
"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

Keith Law
1973 2Door Slalom/hill climb/road race / canyon carver /Giant Killer 510
1968 Vintage 3HP Mini Bike
1971 Vintage 13' BOLER trailer

datzenmike
Supporter
Posts: 5460
Joined: 24 May 2006 12:40
Location: Van. Isle.

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by datzenmike » 10 Aug 2013 18:52

Badly worn idler arm bushings will too. The vibration is AKA 'Death Wobble"
"Nissan 'shit the bed' when they made these, plain and simple." McShagger510 on flattop SUs

Derek
Posts: 1330
Joined: 04 Jul 2003 17:19
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by Derek » 11 Aug 2013 17:40

I did some more poking around, and it looks like slop in the box. When centered it is pretty tight (+/- 1/4" wheel movement) but a turn to the left of the right and the dead spot grows about 2-3x.

The idler arm was replaced with an aftermarket new unit back in 2007 when the entire front end was rebuilt. This was during the panicked build up for Targa, and I should have asked for the OEM link back as I have an experimental engineering idler arm kit I'd love to install into an OEM arm as I was amazed at how sticky the rubber bushinged arm is.

Back to the box. I want to tighten it up, but before I do that I want to re-lube it. Do I need to pull it out to drain it? I imagine the answer is yes, but here's to hoping!

Edit -- that was a bit of a rhetorical question, I did plenty of searching and I guess I need to decided to pull it out if I want access to taking it apart and cleaning or just try to suck what's left of the oil out of there -- I looked in the fill port and it was LOW.

User avatar
finn
Supporter
Posts: 831
Joined: 09 Oct 2011 22:02
Location: Chesapeake, VA

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by finn » 11 Aug 2013 18:27

I had a '53 jeep with the original steering box and it would do this exactly at 40 mph with the steering shock removed. perfect with it. I replaced the box and linkages when I did the Saginaw swap but I used the original tie rod ends and knuckles(out of desperation) and it went away even with the steering shock removed. I know its not a 510 but it would appear that a worn steering box is the usual culprit.
'69 2dr KA24DET
okayfine wrote:You could turn the car into a Transformer. Just a matter of money and talent. Front-hinge hood would be easier, but you still need money. And talent.

User avatar
okayfine
Supporter
Posts: 14139
Joined: 12 Nov 2007 23:02
Location: Newbury Park, CA

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by okayfine » 11 Aug 2013 18:58

And changing the oil/lube in the box isn't really going to help. It's just wear over 45 years, vastly accelerated by sticky and wide modern tires. You can put in new bearings and there are some seals floating around, but what you need is:
Worm Gear 2.jpg
Worm Gear 2.jpg (56.69 KiB) Viewed 3399 times
:(
Because when you spend a silly amount of money on a silly, trivial thing that will help you not one jot, you are demonstrating that you have a soul and a heart and that you are the sort of person who has no time for Which? magazine. – Jeremy Clarkson

User avatar
bertvorgon
Supporter
Posts: 10800
Joined: 04 Aug 2003 20:45
Location: White Rock, B.C. Canada

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by bertvorgon » 11 Aug 2013 22:37

http://www.the510realm.com/viewtopic.ph ... oil+change

This may help, but, as OK said, the only fix is.......worm and sector...NLA......

BIGGEST problem was that they NEVER got adjusted over the life of them, it was like nobody ever thought of it. Ever drive a clapped out American car, same thing, 4" of steering wheel travel..before the wheels turn. Talk about WANDER.....
"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

Keith Law
1973 2Door Slalom/hill climb/road race / canyon carver /Giant Killer 510
1968 Vintage 3HP Mini Bike
1971 Vintage 13' BOLER trailer

Three B's Racing
Supporter
Posts: 1198
Joined: 03 Mar 2009 11:58
Location: New Hampshire

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by Three B's Racing » 12 Aug 2013 05:45

My 510 did this and I found the bolts from the balljoints to the strut had come loose. A good torque to spec and shake gone. You did check for wheel bearing and tie rod end slop with the front end off the ground right? I like to keep one tire on the ground when checking one side and reversing to check the other.
"Lastnight the wife said oh boy when your dead you can't take nothing with you but your soul oh "Think"
- John Lennon

Sleepys-14
Posts: 434
Joined: 03 Mar 2011 11:26
Location: Appleton, WI

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by Sleepys-14 » 12 Aug 2013 07:46

I have been having this issue also. It only will happen with an oscillating set up bumps in a row. At the end of the auto-x course in Brainerd there were some of those repetative bumps that made the steering go crazy. It took the wheel right out of my hands! Scary stuff. I double checked everything under the car, all the joints, idler arm. Everything was tight. I tightened the box up just a hair more, and it still did it. I guess I will look for a hl510 box next... I can't find one for sale anywhere... arggg.
Beer... The cause of, and solution to, all of lives problems- Homer Simpson

Derek
Posts: 1330
Joined: 04 Jul 2003 17:19
Location: San Francisco, CA

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by Derek » 12 Aug 2013 08:37

bertvorgon wrote:http://www.the510realm.com/viewtopic.ph ... oil+change

This may help, but, as OK said, the only fix is.......worm and sector...NLA......

BIGGEST problem was that they NEVER got adjusted over the life of them, it was like nobody ever thought of it. Ever drive a clapped out American car, same thing, 4" of steering wheel travel..before the wheels turn. Talk about WANDER.....

Thanks Keith -- I didn't see that in my searching, very useful. Honestly the deadband on my box is pretty small. I've adjusted it at least once in the past, and it was enthusiast owned before me (pre 2003), so it may have been a regular thing.

Is it normal there was more slop when the wheels were pointed off center?

I had my wife wiggle the steering wheel while I watched the box and pittman, and there was obvious (but not huge) movement of the u-joint with no movement of the arm. Once it started moving I saw the whole box flexing its mounts -- and that's with the wheels off the ground! I blame that on the sticky idler arm. Seems like it's time to brace the box and reinforce the mount points while I'm in there.

As for the box again, googling got me to a Bluebirds list thread about this shop in Seattle that claims to rebuild steering boxes

http://www.redheadsteeringgears.com/re- ... uring.html

David Carroll vouched for them based on vintage race car work they've done. Apparently they do full diasassembly, inspection/tuning up and the reassemble with new balls. I can imagine that you could potentially clean up the worm to make it consistent in its sloppiness and then put oversized balls in it to make it newish again. I haven't seen the inside of the 510 recirc ball assembly to know whether this is actually possible. Or is all the slop in the box due to the interface between the teeth in the worm block and the sector gear?


Three B's -- I did all my checking w both wheels off the ground, but I'll drop one to allow for more rigorous tugging. Bolts all looked good, but I'll check them with a torque wrench.

User avatar
bertvorgon
Supporter
Posts: 10800
Joined: 04 Aug 2003 20:45
Location: White Rock, B.C. Canada

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by bertvorgon » 12 Aug 2013 09:23

Yes, more slop off center is the norm, as we have the box tight for on center steering, but, most of the loading comes when we are in the hard turns, so what happens is that we try to tighten the box even more, then it will NOT come back to center, which is a dangerous situation.

Flex on the frame is huge, which is why we put the steering box brace on back in the 80's, I even have a rod that goes to my toe board to really stiffen things up. When the 9.5" race tires were on my car ( all the Specialty cars) the flex was amazing. Kinda takes any toe setting and throws it out the window.

As you can see, my tire just touches the rod under full lock. This was never designed around 15" tires, which we all run now. So if you did this, adjust the angle so you have good tire clearance. I only have the problem parking..... :lol:

Thanks for that link, maybe a winter project for mine, just to stay on top of any wear.
Attachments
lower plate bolts to main steering box bolts. this makes frame rigid.JPG
lower plate bolts to main steering box bolts. this makes frame rigid.JPG (132.58 KiB) Viewed 3352 times
drivers side brace for steering box.JPG
drivers side brace for steering box.JPG (124.77 KiB) Viewed 3352 times
"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

Keith Law
1973 2Door Slalom/hill climb/road race / canyon carver /Giant Killer 510
1968 Vintage 3HP Mini Bike
1971 Vintage 13' BOLER trailer

User avatar
duke
Supporter
Posts: 1858
Joined: 26 Oct 2005 14:21
Location: Santa Rosa, CA

Re: Strange Intermittent Intense Steering Wheel Shake

Post by duke » 12 Aug 2013 10:06

Three B's Racing wrote:My 510 did this and I found the bolts from the balljoints to the strut had come loose. A good torque to spec and shake gone. You did check for wheel bearing and tie rod end slop with the front end off the ground right? I like to keep one tire on the ground when checking one side and reversing to check the other.
I have had this happen to me recently as well. I had experienced the shake in the past and traced it back to the steering box, but this time I knew the steering box was tight. After re-torquing the ball joint bolts, it was gone. I ended up drilling the bolt heads and safety wiring them also to make sure that it never happened again.
Duke Schimmer

'72 2-Door 510
"Simplify and add lightness."

Post Reply