I took my frame and new engine out for a run around the block today. The steering has one quarter turn of play to the pitman arm. Is there a way to tighten the steering wheel area up? Thank you.
First,make sure the pitman arm is on tight. You can enlist the help of a friend to turn wheel,while you watch and see where the most play is. The tie rod bolts can be worn,and /or the caps on the drag link. The suppliers sell shims for those,or you can make your own. Add a little grease to those areas .Good luck.
There are many areas that can introduce play in the steering system. Usually, it's not just one problem but the cumulative affects of many.
Starting from the top down;
1. Worn planetary reduction gears and/or pins in the steering gear box.
2. Steering gear box loose in steering column tube.
3. Steering column housing loose at mounting with firewall.
4. Pitman arm loose on steering column shaft, (sloppy fitting/worn woodruff key and/or keyslot)
5. Worn bushings in lower support bracket.
6. Worn column shaft diameter where it fits in lower support bracket bushings.
7. Worn out pitman arm ball and/or drag link socket.
Is the steering gear case twisting when you turn the wheel? They are often loose on the column where the rivets are and they are also cracked sometimes. The cracks can be welded and the rivets can be replaced or perhaps tightened. Often the play is from a number of sources including the ball on the pitman arm and the tie rod ends. A little play here and a little play there and before you know it there is a 1/4 turn or more play in the steering wheel.
If the pitman arm is loose on the shaft do NOT just tighten it and call it good. Remove the pitman arm, clean everything and inspect for a worn woodruff key, a stretched keyslot, and most important, cracks starting at the corners of the keyslot in the shaft.
If the arm can move at all on the shaft than one of the above conditions definitely exist and need to be addressed.
In addition to the places Jack mentioned, you can have play in the steering gear behind the steering wheel and in the bracket bushing that holds the lower end of the steering gear post (that's what the Ford book calls it). Usually it's not just one place, but a little bit of play in several places adding up to a lot.
Is there an echo in here? Jerry and Val type a lot faster than I do.
Jack up the front axle so it clears the floor. If you have two jack stands that's the best way to do it.
Once its jacked up slowly move the steering wheel and you easily see where all the slack is in the front end.
You'll be surprised at all the 'looseness' that you can find.
If you haven't gone through the front axle now would be the time to do it. Good luck.
And don't forget the front wishbone ball and cap.
Actually I have found it more obvious to find loose areas of the joints with weight on the axle and a second person gently rocking the wheel back and forth. It shows the severity of the looseness. This could actually be disguised by the easiness to turn the gear with no load. Just my opinion, others may vary!
Also, don't forget that innocent little key under the steering wheel. I had a good half inch of slop in my '15 that I swore was somewhere "down low" and everything in all the steering gear was as tight as a witches anatomy, only to find it was in the key. Replaced it and now it is almost zero play in the wheel.
Thank you guys.
If the steering components are worn, the spring and perch bushings may be too. It wouldn't hurt to check those while you're at it.