Drove Otis to town for lunch on Monday. When I left the parking lot I made a hard left turn as I entered the street. When I did that the pitman arm turned right/upwards past the horizontal and made it difficult to turn back to the right. Looking at an old MTFCA post I disconnected the fitting to the steering arm/pitman arm and put in a spacer thinking that would correct the problem. However that didn't work. My thought was that the steering arm/drag link would be lengthened and correct the problem. It's difficult to describe the problem in a paragraph so I hope this makes sense. Seems to me I need to lengthen the steering arm to the left so the pitman arm won't go too far to the right. I may be way off base with what I've tried so suggestions sure are welcome. I will have to add this note though: Otis started on the first pull every time and ran great on mag. the whole trip. Thanks
John, this is one of the bugaboos of the early cars. Even with no appreciable wear in the steering system they can do it. The way ford finally stopped it was to lengthen one of the planet gears shafts and have it operate in a slot in the steering gear case. Early ones I have owned I just was aware of it and didn't cramp the wheel hard over.
So, during the left turn, the pitman arm turned past its maximum extension and went "over center"? How close to maximum extension does the pitman arm when you turn the wheels fully to the right?
If there is plenty of "over center" margin when you turn the wheels fully to the right, then perhaps you have the wrong drag link, in which case a longer drag link might fix your problem.
Here is an older thread that talks about the correct length for the drag link over the years of production:
Your problem is either as Mark describes above OR you may be using the wrong lower support bracket. Look at Mark's link above and measure your drag link. Also, post a photo of the lower support bracket, showing the part number if you can. A 26/27 bracket would cause the problem you've got.
Either way, this is a safety item that should be fixed.
I know my 13 has the three piece adjustable drag link.
A 26-7 bracket is almost impossible to bolt to the early frame. Nothing lines up. The bolt holes are all in the wrong place
That's good to hear! Thanks for the info!
When I got our 13 touring, it also had the wrong drag length and would over center in one direction. I had several drag links in my collection ranging from short, in between and long. Using either the short or long drag link it would over center in opposite directions depending on which one was installed. Installed the "In between" drag link which cured the problem unless you force it over.
Odd that this problem would surface after I have owned the Otis almost 3 years and driven it a lot. Monday was the first time to have that experience. I don't recall if I ever had the pitman arm off before, could it be the pitman arm is out by "360"? When under the car and turning the wheels to the stop both ways: To the right, the pitman arm isn't much past straight up and down and slightly to the left, however when turned all the way to the left it goes over center as Mark says above. Sure do appreciate all the good comments so far. Thanks
Better pull the pitman arm and check for an intact key and good keyways - have you had it apart before? Maybe the key is sheared or missing and the pitman arm has rotated on the shaft.
Les is correct. Unless you force it over. The correct drag link for a '14 has the rivet/brazed on ends.Fords did this when new. Accidents resulted from it.Aftermarket steering gear advertisements touted they would not go over center. Early Fords with one piece spindles were notorious for breaking the front wheels right off the hubs if you tromped down on the low pedal with the wheels cramped hard one way or the other.
When I first purchased my '14, (and being brand new to "T"'s), the steering did the very same thing on one of my first little jaunts around the neighborhood. When I got it home, I examined the front end. The previous owner was driving it with the front spring FLAT. When the spring flattened, the drag link was obviously banging against the radius rod on right turns...SO it was "FIXED" by bending the end of the drag link upward to clear the radius rods! This, of course, shortened the drag link and caused the problem.
The frame-off restoration included a new pitman arm (the ball was egg-shaped), a new drag link from Snyder's of the correct length and re-arching the front spring. Problem solved!
Please fix it. It scares the hell out of you when that wheel locks over, and you're pushing down on the low pedal and your brain just isn't putting all this together! Good Luck!!
It's the nature of the beast, guys. Why the hell do you think Ford finally changed the design of the front end and modified the steering gear case? Do you actually think these things were perfectly engineered with no flaws from the get-go? Again, Fords were notorious for locking over center.
Take a look here:
A lot of Model T's have part substitutions over the years. Most likely you have either the wrong tie rod, the wrong drag link, or the wrong pitman arm. Or all of the above. It won't go over center if all three are of the same pedigree.
By the way, in case you don't cut to the crux of the issue, the tie rod is the most likely culprit. Early Model T tie rods had a non - replaceable ball that was located about 1 1/2" to the left of where later (replaceable) balls are located. A lot of early cars go over center as a result of having the wrong tie rod. Because the car turns much more to the left than you can to the right this is an obvious conclusion.
Take a look at the tie rod. If the ball can be replaced it is the wrong one.
What Royce says is also correct. But, having had my share of T'swith original, early not worn out steering gears,I will always maintain they can still go over center. Like when you are teaching a brand-new lady friend to drive a T.And she cramps the wheel hard left turning into her parents driveway.Up a slight grade. And smacks into her father's sticker-still in the window Town Car, that I had sold him. Great fun.
Thanks Royce, good suggestion. In that 2012 post there was a chart that shows the 1914 drag link should be between 30.688 inches and 30.750 inches. Just measured the drag link on Otis and, from end to end is 30.50 inches. Is that enough to cause the problem?
John, one must also take into account how much filing /grinding has been done on this drag link and the caps through the years. Does it have the riveted on ends?Or is it forged in one piece?
That sounds close enough. Look at the photo of the tie rods. If it looks like the one with the yellow arrow it won't work for you:
Here are some pictures I just took of both ends of the drag link and parts.
Is it an optical illusion, or is the pitman arm side of the drag link bent?
Your drag link appears to be bent. What kind of anti shimmy contraption is that? Another thing that contributes to worse than normal over center is the spindle threads being out.From the looks of your front-end, I would say it needs completely rebuilt.
Also, Hasslers don't help.
John, that's a beefy looking accessory lower wishbone, how does it attached to the factory wishbone at the back end?
Agree with Jim the drag link appears to be bent. Might be enough to cause the problem, combined with all the worn out stuff.
The bent drag link was my issue! It looked exactly like yours!
Bent drag links are dangerous. Not having them straight can lead to them collapsing. May also be the source of your trouble.
Well, looks like I have some shop time in store. I'll attack the issues one at a time and see what happens. I'll begin with the drag link and go from there. Sure appreciate all the good comments. I agree with the comment above that this has to be resolved before driving again. I see that Lang's has a '14 drag link listed so I sent them a question asking for the length. Haven't heard back yet. If any of you have a spare you'd part with let me know. A PM on that would be welcome. Thanks,
John, I met the guy making the early drag links at Chickasaw swap in 2010. They are really nice. I would certainly stump up the $ for a new one, and work on the rest from there.
I have a way to renew the ball on the tie rod. I have used this method on a few early pitman arms. I grind a pair of flats on each side of the worn ball,1/2" apart. Then do the same to make a 1/2"square by grinding the other two sides. Keep track of your work with a pair of calipers. Then I grind off the corners to the same 1/2" dimension. Once that is done the rest is hand filed into round. Then you are in a position to use a die to cut a 1/2" UNF thread on the stub.
I use a replaceable ball with the non-tapered end to get the new ball. The straight end is chucked in the lathe, the ball drilled to the appropriate size and then the thread is tapped in the hole.
The new ball is screwed and Loctited onto the tie rod and a couple of good tack welds with my MIG makes sure it stays there.
This repair does not diminish the strength of the components, as the 1/2" stub is still way larger than the smallest diameter of the original ball neck on both the pitman arm and the tie rod. It simply restores the balls to the original size.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
Otis and I are happy this afternoon. Now with a straightened drag link and a new spring inside the fitting that connects the drag link to the pitman arm his steering seems to be okay now. Sure do appreciate all the good replies to my original question. I've haven't messed with the front end very much so before getting under the car and taking things all apart I loaded Otis on the trailer and hauled him to see Ross Lilleker in College Station for his comments first. His comments were also addressed to the bent drag link and it's loose connection to the pitman arm. After a 15 minute consultation I headed home and "got'er done". Seems to be working fine now and the pitman arm returns to it's correct position after a hard left turn. Thanks again.
That's great, John. But, still be aware when making turns over chuckholes and grade changes not to have her hard over. Also, this is a classic example of how forgiving T's are.