Changing the steering gears

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2018: Changing the steering gears
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Donald Goodwin on Monday, November 12, 2018 - 06:25 pm:

Does changing the steering to a 5 to 1 ratio make a noticeable change? this my first T and the steering seems too direct or is me that needs to get used to it. some how my first post is in the classifieds, i was not paying attention to where is was.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Hanlon N.E.Ohio on Monday, November 12, 2018 - 06:41 pm:

5:1 gearing will make a difference. I would also make sure everything is tight and not worn or out of specifications on the front axle and steering system.

What year etc is your car ?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Brian Eliason...........Whittier, CA on Monday, November 12, 2018 - 06:48 pm:

Donald,
Welcome to the world of Model T’s!
When I changed mine, there was a slight difference I noticed, but not enough that I would do it just to change the gear ratio. The steering is very direct with either 4:1 or 5:1 gears when compared to any modern car I have driven.
Best regards.
Brian


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Scott Conger - Wyoming on Monday, November 12, 2018 - 06:48 pm:

I believe it was Bob Coiro who did the same to his brass car when he was new to the hobby and recently stated that he regrets modifying his car; that it made so little difference as to be almost unnoticeable.

I own 4 T's and would never consider the change, myself.

A great many folks do not consider themselves caretakers of history, but final owners of blank canvas' which beg for modification or alteration. Since you are new to the hobby...welcome! My advice would be to tamp down enthusiasm to modify anything until you have 2 years or 1,000 miles under your belt. Then if you feel compelled to change things up, it will be your decision and not someone else's opinion impressed upon you. Taking ownership of a T invariably comes with finding plenty of things "not quite right" which can be brought back to new condition, thus improving safety, without redesigning the car.

Your steering is already damped down 4:1 through a planetary gearbox on the column. 5:1 would not be a big difference.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Neil Kaminar on Monday, November 12, 2018 - 06:53 pm:

Made a difference in my 1915 touring car, but still does not steer like a modern car. As Dave said, make sure everything is tight. The steering wheel should not move more than 1/4 inch at the rim without the tires turning. Also, make sure the geometry is right. You should have 5 degrees of caster and 1/4 inch of tow in.

See http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/822076/912980.html?1541698020


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Derocher on Monday, November 12, 2018 - 09:09 pm:

That is some great advice Scott, not only on a T but most any restoration I think! JD


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Donald Goodwin on Monday, November 12, 2018 - 11:50 pm:

Thanks to everyone for the information, I guess i am a little impatient. by the way, my car is a 1924 touring.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Coiro on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 12:34 am:

Because we operate (for the most part) on decently smooth pavement, we can cruise faster than was the case back in the days of dirt roads, and that higher speed is why, to some of us, the Model T's steering might feel just a but more lively than we'd prefer.

In the modern context, the slower 5:1 ratio feels marginally better than the earlier 4:1 ratio. -The question then arises as to whether the change-over task is worth the effort.

Just how much effort are we talking?
Well, as it happened, the 5:1 gear-set simply would not fit into the gear-case of my '15 at all. -Completing the job required un-riveting and removing the original 1915 gear-case from the steering column and replacing it with a 1926 model-year case. -Then the replacement gear-case's incongruous nickel plating was abraded off, and the underlying brass, smoothed out and polished up. -It was a HUGE job, far beyond the skill-set of someone like yours truly. -Fortunately, the gentleman who did the work for me was a highly experienced Model T mechanic (whom, by the way, found the task to be quite the challenge).

Now, if it happens that a set of 5:1 gears will readily fit into the steering case of your model-year car and function smoothly—great. -But if the gears don't fit and function right off the bat, my recommendation is that you return the parts and forget about the project. -It's just not worth the negligible improvement.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roger Karlsson, southern Sweden on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 06:08 am:

The pitch of the gears was changed late in 1919, so for 1920's T's there should be less problems switching gears between them. To change from 4:1 to 5:1 you'll also have to change the long axle and the small pinion where the steering wheel is mounted.

The reason for Ford to change was the introduction of the 21" balloon tires that was introduced as a very popular option in 1925. Maybe it's 21" tires on your '24? Then perhaps a 5:1 set would help, but avoiding to steer when standing still helps the most, as soon as the car is moving the slightest, then the strain on the steering components is much reduced.




(Message edited by Roger K on November 13, 2018)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Joss sanderson on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 08:01 am:

Changing a good idea. Have never seen gears that were plated. Always plain metal. Dropped right in.
Appreciate the poster who said the steering wheel should not move more than 1/4" without the tires moving. While this is possible, sure think that everything would need to be absolutely perfect and even then you might not get it down that far. An inch or two in wheel play is acceptable and far less than the 4+" I have often observed when doing safety inspections.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Treace, North FL on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 08:21 am:

Don't forget that to change out 4:1 to later 5:1, you have to change the three pinion gears, and the drive pinion (that mounts the steering wheel spider), AND you have to replace the steering post, that long shaft going to the pitman arm.





Best to find a good used late '25-'27 p/n 3516E, they are forged on the top for the 3 pins, the reproduction steering post has welded on upper plate.

May have been just one, but I helped finding out why the gears didn't fit in one retro job....the welded on plate was at an angle and made the gear mesh a mess. :-(


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Scott Rosenthal in Cincinnati Oh on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 08:37 am:

I have rebuilt all of the steering wear components on my early projects, where each was initially so tight when complete that there was at or near zero backlash in the gear train. The wheel can initially see movement before the tires move, and this is with the front axle raised up on jacks...initially feels like the steering is spring loaded. Restriction relaxes after relatively little driving, but backlash has remained minimal. As per other thread running in the Classifieds, this is using the 5:1 gear ratio.
Regards,
Scott


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Davis. Tomball Texas on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 12:56 pm:

My post about the steering stabilizer on My 26 touring was deleted.
It is a option many new T owners don't know about and was installed on My car before I bought it by a well respected model T restoration shop that thought it was needed.
P.S. Don't forget to VOTE for MTFCA Board of Directors and mail in Your ballot before Dec 15 2018.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Treace, North FL on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 03:32 pm:

Jim

Your post a year ago didn't get deleted...found it easy via Bing search.

By Jim Davis on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - 11:14 pm:
This is the steering damper that is on My 26 touring, steering is very tight with very little play or shimmy going down the road, it might help with your problem if there are no major problems with Your front end that need addressing.

Model T Ford Steering Stabilizer

The picture wouldn't up load.



Part #: 16-26514-1
Alt Part #: B3281STAB
Price:
$89.95 ea.
Availability:
In Stock
Fitment:
1909 thru 1927
See applications below for exact details.



.
.DESCRIPTIONFITMENTMORE PRODUCT INFO
DESCRIPTION
•High Quality Construction
•Eliminates Front End Shimmy
•Reduces Driver Fatigue
•No Drilling Required
•Instructions Included
driving your classic 1909-1927 Model T should never be a hassle. However, constantly having to readjust your steering wheel, especially while on long drives, can cause you a great deal of unnecessary strain. This popular bolt-on accessory effectively eliminates front end shimmy, making your 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1924, 1925, 1926, or 1927 Model T much more enjoyable and safer to drive. It hides out of view behind the front axle. No drilling is required. This stabilizer greatly reduces driver fatigue on longer drives. MAC's Model T Ford steering parts.


Am a user of the dampener, front end fully restored, works great, but the dampener is on there for safer control.....the steering wheel will jump in your hands when you hit a deep hole in the road, or over rail tracks at speed. The dampener gives a better feeling in maintaining control without the white knuckles from grasping the steering wheel tight :-)




Hard to tell its behind the front axle, not a solution for a bad front end, but works well in use for added security.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Neil Kaminar on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 04:12 pm:

Roger,

I never steer while standing, always sitting down.

Bob,

My 5:1 gears went in my 1915 gear case with no problems. Not tight but no play.

Neil


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tom_k on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 06:52 am:

Stabilizer makes the steering so much safer. One thing though, as the instructions state, everyone once and awhile check the clamp on the axle for tightness. If it loosens up, you'll only be able to turn the car one way. Personal experience. Don't leave home without one.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bruce Compton on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 09:20 am:

In my opinion, anything that increases the steering ratio is a step in the right direction. The modification is not visible and certainly helps to improve the almost direct steering set-up. By the mid-30's the standard Ford steering ratio was in the 15 to 18:1 area, so going from 4:1 to 5:1 will help, as will increasing the steering wheel diameter to the max of 17", or getting lucky enough to find a short pitman arm. I agree that with perfect 4:1 gears, a Model T is fine at 25-35 MPH, but if you want to drive around 40-45 MPH it's a different story.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Scott Conger - Wyoming on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 09:22 am:

It can also break your tie rod.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Scott Conger - Wyoming on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 09:25 am:

I wonder why a motorcycle with direct steering is apparently safer than an automobile with 4:1 steering?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bruce Compton on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 02:52 pm:

Good question Scott, so here are a few possible answers. You're right over the wheel on a bike with absolutely no other connections between your hands and the front tire so road feel is direct, and you're in effect partially controlling the steering with body shifting as well as by moving the handle bars. It's hard to turn the handle bars more than 45 degrees in either direction so a 4:1 ratio would be difficult if not dangerous. Most people driving a motorcycle are probably in the 16 to 50 year old bracket with great reflexes and totally aware of the consequences of a mistake whereas the average Model T driver may have much slower reflexes,is probably well over 50 and very much used to power steering with an 18:1 steering ratio.I know of several guys that are quite concerned with the almost direct steering of any Model T with 4:1 or 5:1 steering, especially at speeds over 35 MPH. While the change from 4:1 to 5:1 is not huge, it's a step in the right direction and is noticeable, at least for me. I'm not suggesting everyone change their steering ratio, but I did, and will do so on my '21 coupe as soon as I can find the parts to do it. What the rest of the world does is up to them, I'm just responding to the initial question with my experience. Cheers : Bruce


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Neil Kaminar on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 03:17 pm:

A motorcycle has a lot more caster. You can take your hands off the bars and still go straight or turn by shifting your weight. (Don't try this at home.) Even so, you can get into trouble on a motorcycle by the front wheel going into uncontrolled oscillations or getting the front wheel stuck in a rut, equivalent to a Model T getting a front tire stuck in a rut or hitting a curb.

The Model T steering is not all that bad when all things are as they should be and the road is flat without any pot holes or other issues. The problem is when the road is not flat or the steering system is not maintained. Hitting an obstruction can move the steering wheel and send the car in an unintended direction. Modern steering does not allow the wheels to move the steering wheel. Steering systems that are broken can send the front tires into wild oscillations or make the car wonder all over the road. All this is worse at higher speeds, 45 mph or higher.


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