Anyone have any experience with the steering stabilizer that Mac's sells in their catalogue for $111.
If you actually need a hydraulic stabilizer, I'd suggest you rather support Lang's that knows T's and has better customer service - and it's cheaper there
(but the first check before adding an accessory is of course if everything is snug and without excessive play in the front end - and if the toe in and caster is OK.)
It works well to mask the symptoms of a worn out and misadjusted front suspension. A better plan would be to fix the defects.
Working on fixing any defects in front end wasn't sure if that would be enough to tighten the play.
Excessive steering wheel play is often a buildup of a lot of little things. Once you replace the kingpins, tie rod ends, and their bushings, check the adjustment of your front wheel bearings to make sure they are as tight as they can be and still allow the wheels to spin freely. Then, look at the balls and sockets on both ends of the drag link and make sure they are snug (insert shims or file the caps as needed). Make sure the lower steering shaft bearing/housing is mounted tightly to the frame and check for excessive clearance of the gears inside the upper steering box housing. Make sure that the housing cover lockscrew is present and tight so that the cover can't rock back and forth when you turn the steering wheel.
If you do all of these things, you should be able to get your steering wheel free play down under 1 inch at the rim.
I put them on my T's, including the one I am restoring now that has everything new on the front end. If you happen to drift off the edge of the road and hit either a bad pot hole or broken up macadam, and you're not expecting it, it can whip the wheels to full lock.
This has the potential to flip the car. The steering stabilizer will greatly reduce the chance of this happening. Another advantage is you can back up a T in a straight line with no hands on the wheel. Try doing that without one. Some people will say that it will steer harder. I put one on my wife's car and she never knew it until I told her. She didn't notice any difference at all.
This has been discussed numerous times on this forum
I had one on my car and removed it. It felt odd when making turns. Too much resistance for me to feel comfortable. I agree with Dan though that one could be a lifesaver if you drift off the side of pavement.
Ray, I just did the front end on my '26 and it is rock solid now. I try to make it shimmy and it won't do it. Like you, I was looking at a damper. I think I'll hold off now. PK
Some years ago I rebuilt everything on the front end of my '27 Touring as it was shimmying like crazy. Nothing seemed to help. One day I decided to swap the tires, front to rear as the tread on the rears was getting a little thin. The shimmy completely disappeared. I've since replaced all of the tires and all is still good.
Unbalanced wheels may contribute in starting a shimmy, especially with wider and heavier 21" tires. I'm very pleased with the function of balancing beads in the tubes:
"His flivver had such a shimmy that he named it Sister Kate."
Well going to take all your advise on front end fix and see how it goes before spending money on stabilizer, but still a possibility I guess. Thanks for all input.
Listen to Royce! I had a '25 once that had front end problems, so I fixed them. No more problems, and no stabilizer either.
After a couple of interesting experiences while backing up in my former T, I've changed my opinion about steering stabilizers and will be putting one on my next T. Having the steering wheel whip out of my hands and going up on two wheels was NOT fun. I was backing down a hill turning into a driveway. I would never install one to "fix" shimmy or other problems, but I might install one to prevent going "up on two" again.
Dennis, I agree. I've driven a T since 1975, and I have had this happen to me three different times, almost flipping the car. I may be wrong, but its my opinion that the fatalities that have occurred with T's in the past few years are direct result of this. I have a stabilizer on all my drivers. You're right about backing up, it backs up like a normal car. Bottom line, you only have to please yourself
Never had that problem. You need to back up antique cars slowly due to the high center of gravity. A shock absorber on the steering is not a substitute for sane driving technique.
Just Rockford that be-yotch !
There are many things to think about here.. A Model T is an antique car that never will be as safe to drive as anything produced in the last 50 years or so, and it's all about how high risks you're willing to take. There have been a few accidents where a Model T has rolled backwards down a hill - then the squirrely steering is a factor that adds to the risks for a fatal ending.
The stopping in a hill part of the accidents can be because of several problems, the most problematic is if the pinion and driveshaft breaks due to a faulty pinion bearing - then you haven't got any service brake and you'll have to think fast to use the emergency brake effectively. Problematic repro parts can add to the problem, like Rocky Mountain brakes that doesn't work backwards and solid roller pinion bearings that breaks (use the Fun Projects version)
When in as new condition the T doesn't go all squirrely when backing - it's due to the friction from the axle towards the thrust surfaces on the spindle bushings - then you have sort of a friction steering stabilizer built in. When the axle wears in use, the friction is soon gone and you have to be very careful when backing up.. Always use two hands on the steering wheel. That's the main reason Ford dropped the reverse lever for a reverse pedal early in 1909 production, I think.
Later cars doesn't act like this when backing up regardless of inner friction in the steering - and it has to do with angles and steering geometry. Cars with front brakes has the spindle bolts at an angle pointing down out to under the tire, not straight up and down like the T. That angle helps while backing up too, I think.
So, if you want to be a little safer should you ever roll backwards down a hill, then keep the spindle bolts a bit tight so there's some friction in the steering - (or add a hydraulic steering damper..)
Dennis had the problem in reverse, mine was going forward,once being forced to a rough shoulder by another car. I also have accessory brakes. I put a lot of miles on my T's and try to be as safe as possible, you cannot predict what you may run into on the road, even if it has never happened to you before. I,m sure the cars involved in the fatalities never had it happen before either. I would just as soon not have you guys critiquing the underside of my car if possible. Like I said, you only have to please yourself.
Its all comes down to the risk you are personally comfortable with.
As Roger says, these are vintage cars, they are never going to be as safe as more modern car, however I believe if kept in good condition well maintained condition then they will drive and react as they did 90-100 years ago and pretty sure the roads now are 'generally' in better condition.
Should you fit a damper, well that's down to the individual and how they view the risk.
And, just to add, before anyone says they are available now we should make our cars safer if we can to drive, just consider how many vintage cars you see with seatbelts fitted, there are pros and cons for fitting them of course, but again down to personal choice and risk (and sometime local laws) we are prepared to take for yourself, family and friends.
Anyway from where I live world has gone a little mad to the tune that my daughter is not allowed to run in the playground at school due to health and safety concerns..... world gone mad maybe!
It seems to me my friends with model A s or T s only feel they help if they have worn front ends or have alignment issues. After i rebuilt my A coupe mechanically it drives as good as any car with manual steering could be expected. Now you can drive it with one hand and it doesn't wonder on the road at all. The same with the couple of Model T people i know. I absolutely agree it helps if these old cars need front end work. My 27 drives smooth and straight but the 26 still needs to have the front end rebuilt. Just what my opinion! Tim
I agree with Royce (and others) that number one priority should be to repair/rebuild the front end to like new (or better) condition which should make the stock steering as safe as when the car left the factory. However,......
Because the stabilizer, ugly as it may be, does tend to stiffen the steering somewhat, and, more importantly, it tends to take at least some of the quick and violent "cocking" of the front wheels that can occur when backing, I can see where the stabilizer would aid in the area of safety when backing. We all know that the Model "T" has always had this "bad habit" of acting "squirrely", especially when backing as Roger says. That is one reason why we all know that it is advisable to grip the steering wheel WITHOUT hooking your thumb(s) over the steering wheel rim, right?
So, that being said, I can see where there should be no more objection to the addition of the steering stabilizer than there is to the nowadays accepted addition of brake lights and electric turn signals. And, if you paint the ugly darned thing flat black, what's the big deal, right? FWIW,.....harold