While moving my car around the garage today I noticed that when I turned the wheel all the way left I felt as if the steering wheel kept rotating a quarter of a turn after the wheels stopped turning. Should I be concerned? What causes this?
The short answer? Yes, you should be concerned. Just how much concerned depends quite a bit on the year and model of your model T. And you.
What is probably happening is that as you turn the wheels to the left, the pitman arm at the bottom end of the steering column swings far to the right. Earlier years tend to be worse than later cars. Speedsters may be either safer or more dangerous depending upon the specifics of how the steering was lowered.
You DO want to check it out very closely. Maybe with the help of a friend. On good, level ground, turn the wheels hard left. Looking under the hood, at the pitman arm and drag link. What (if anything) is stopping it from going on up around , and over? Could it in any way, hitting bumps or being shaken, be made to go on up and over? (This is where a friend can help to shake and push things)
Speedsters often are limited by the drag link hitting the underside of the pan, but this is dependent on those variations of how the steering was lowered.
Stock bodied Ts also vary a lot. For some silly reason, many early (brass era) Ts will not go "over-center". BUT SOME WILL!!! Going over-center while driving can be disastrous! It makes the T steer backwards, and only partially in one direction. Some people are fortunate enough to not wreck the car when it happens. Some Ts have been totaled because of it.
Somewhere about 1920, Ford put a pin and a slot inside the steering gear case to limit the travel and prevent going over-center. However, sometimes that pin slips back, or the slot wears out, and it can again work towards over-center. If your car is from this era, you should open the gear case and check that, make sure the pin and slot are in proper order. If your T has the pin and slot, and they are in good order? You should be fine (in reality, Ts do tend to be a bit squirrely, but that is part of their charm, and once you get used to them they can be reasonably safe).
If your T is brass era, and shows any tendency to want to go over-center? Some people recommend bolting a simple L-bracket to the engine pan as a safety stop for the pitman arm (it IS a relatively harmless and non-permanent modification). I have never bothered. Yet. I have had a T or two that I could force over-center, but I never felt unsafe with them.
So, yes, it is something you should be aware of. How concerned depends largely upon you. But you should at least check it out for a few minutes.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
The length of the drag link varies. A too short drag ling will go over center easier than one with proper length. Ford changed the length often - here's one of many discussions on that subject:
The easiest check is to see if the pitman arm points straight down when the car goes straight forward. If it points slightly to the right, the drag link may be shorter than it should.
Here's the info from the encyclopedia:
YES be concerned and fix it before driving again!
My 27 T had just had the front end rebuilt, went over center while making a left turn, flipped over on top of me and I am still sore..6 months later. I am lucky that the injuries were not worse! Car was totaled.
The good news is the Haggerty Insurance was a stand up outfit that made good on the insurance claims.
YES have two experienced T guys inspect your car before driving it again.
Wes, what year is your car?
This should be fixed. I have heard of cars where it went over center and the wheels stuck in the turned position. If this happens when you are making a turn, you can continue right into the oncoming lane, or up on the curb across the road etc. If on a mountain road, you could even go over the edge. Find out the cause and fix it before you have an accident. The above comments suggest ways to fix it.
Well, I'll probably catch all kinds of "flak" from the "Henry worshipers" for this, but,.....whatever! And I apologize for the fact that my rant here does nothing in the way of addressing Wes's question. However.........
The pin and slot arrangement in the planetary steering gear case is a design that never made any sense to me. I would think that the safest and most positive and reliable means of preventing the steering from going over-center (extremely dangerous) would be to design the spindle/axle assembly with a positive, absolutely can't fail design that makes it impossible for the spindles to turn past a certain point either max left or max right. And then let the planetary gears in the steering case turn as much as they want, and that way, very little in that planetary gear case would ever cause any trouble. Not only that, there'd be much less reason for the very common problem for the rivets that secure the gear case to the steering column to become loose as we all know they do!
To look at it another way, the way the whole steering system is designed compares to the Model "T" service brake arrangement with one single band in the transmission. Anything breaking or any failure in the driveline from the transmission clear back to the rear wheels leaves you with no brakes. We all know that individual brakes right at each rear wheel (like "Rockies") makes much more sense and is certainly a much safer design.
In the case of Model "T" steering, an axle/spindle design that provides a positive, cast iron, can't fail, solid STOP to limit maximum left & right spindle travel, just makes more sense and is certainly a more "failsafe" design at the OTHER and more PROPER end of the entire steering system!
As much as I'd like to build a speedster, at my age, I probably won't. But if I did, I'd sure try to provide some sort of POSITIVE stop somewhere in the steering system much further down below the planetary gear case and as close as possible to the spindles!
End of rant, for what it's worth,........harold
26 but not sure of the steering
if it is a true 26 it should have 5:1 steering and the slot which could be worn out
I think that steering is a little like babbit in the rear end...until you know for sure...better beware! I've had it happen to me twice, never on my car always someone else car, two different cars and having been there it is NOT a pleasurable experience and you need to check your pants because there is absolutely NOTHING you can do while it is happening! (except jam on the brakes, yeah right)
On the one occasion it was a car where the slot in the steering case had been scraped away and it had never gone squirrely on the owner prior to my own experience. So we spent the afternoon playing. He could drive it anywhere, make lots of left turns and it refused to lock over on him. Me, I could make it happen each and every time I turned. The differential...he turned slow and easy, I turned more aggressive. It was a good thing I drove his car because he would have never suspected a thing.
To that end, I haven't done it but George Wood had a similar case a few years ago. He drove his car all the time and never suspected a thing. His teenage daughter qualified as a driver so he let her go for a spin. It locked over hard left on her...and if I recall correctly, she wound up in a ditch.
George then came up with a mechanical stop arrangement that was pretty slick and a bolt on. The details are here...
Wes, I would unscrew the steering gear case lid and pull it and the gears out. Now take off the pitman arm and bump the steering shaft out enough that you can see the groove in the bottom of the case. The groove should be a little shorter than about halfway around the case. The bottom of the groove should be square at the ends not like a ramp. If the groove is worn out or the bottom of the groove is ramped, replace the case. Also, make sure that the upper most gear pin extends out of the bottom of the flange and is long enough to fully engage the groove. Make sure that all three pins are tight in the shaft and that they are not worn out.
This is just my theory so it may be wrong. The spindle arms coming into contact with the axle stops the pitman arm from going over center, as long as all the correct parts are used. Sometimes you if put enough force on the wheel, putsomething together wrong, or lean the car with the steering full lock the pitman arm can go overcenter. The groove makes that impossible.
On that last part I mean to say. This is just my theory so it may be wrong. With the earlier cars, about 21 and earlier, the spindle arms coming into contact with the axle stops the pitman arm from going over center, as long as all the correct parts are used and every thing is in good shape. Usually the pitman arm going over center wasn't a problem but, sometimes if you put enough force on the wheel, put something together wrong, or something is worn out or bent the pitman arm could go over center. The groove in the later cars makes that impossible.