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Old 07-31-2012, 03:54 PM   #1
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Replace steering box???

1989 - 30 ft. Pace Arrow (on John Deere Chassis) still has about one inch of free play in steering wheel. Very annoying... Causes me to constantly oversteer & correct the unit. Front end alignment and inspection last week did not uncover any loose or worn parts other than a casual mention that one grease fitting was not taking grease properly on the idler arm... Told me to keep an eye on it for future wear. They did adjust the steering gear adjustment screw about a quarter turn and it helped some, but not to my complete satisfaction. They also increased the tow-in. I'm wondering if replacement of the steering box would provide tighter tolerances and give me the responsiveness I'd feel comfortable with??? Anyone have any experience with this type of replacement??? Where would I even find an '89 steering box for a Pace Arrow/John Deere chassis/Ford drive train??? Do they make Heavy duty beefed up replacement parts for this or just rebuilt factory parts??? Unit does have a Safe-T-Steer unit on it, but I have no records to determine it's age. I am planning to take it off and ship it to them to test for me in order to see if that is a weak link... Or not. Unit has factory More Ride system and what appears to me (???) to be a front and rear sway bar of older vintage. Unit will track pretty straight on good highway at 55mph. Over 60mph and I get the sensation that the front end is skating on ice or floating on me and it makes me nervous. Trucks passing give me a pretty good push. Oncoming trucks are not so noticeable. Curves give me white knuckles if I take then a little too fast and the rig leans to far right or left on me... That's all I got for now... Any thoughts, suggestions or questions are appreciated. Oh yeah, although it's an '89 this is a new unit for us, (but not our first rodeo) - been a number of years, but we've had both Class A and C before.

Thank you,
Tom
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Old 07-31-2012, 04:51 PM   #2
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How many miles are on the RV? I might try tightening up the steering gear box alot more than a 1/4 turn. I'd go tight enough to remove most of the lost motion. Going too tight will cause the wheel to not self return after turning a corner, too much internal loading and resistance. Placing a reference mark on the screw will aid your ability to go back to the current setting. Another option is to add a SuperSteer Trac Bar specific to your chassis. These tighten up the motion between the frame & axles, motion that exists in slightly worn spring shackles.

I have noticed that our '89 Encounter does wander more now that when we got it 20 years ago. We have not done anything to reduce the wander, yet. It has 70k miles on it. Chassis manuals & vintage info can be downloaded from my server.
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Old 07-31-2012, 07:41 PM   #3
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sounds like fairly typical gasser handling (yes, i've had one) i'd think there probably isn't anything wrong that could be fixed.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:30 PM   #4
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Is the steering actually loos or is a roll-steer issue. A lot of the gas units need a heavier (larger) anti-roll bar to stop the body roll from side to side. Shock would also be worth while at this time.

ken
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Old 07-31-2012, 11:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsflight
How many miles are on the RV? I might try tightening up the steering gear box alot more than a 1/4 turn. I'd go tight enough to remove most of the lost motion. Going too tight will cause the wheel to not self return after turning a corner, too much internal loading and resistance. Placing a reference mark on the screw will aid your ability to go back to the current setting. Another option is to add a SuperSteer Trac Bar specific to your chassis. These tighten up the motion between the frame & axles, motion that exists in slightly worn spring shackles.

I have noticed that our '89 Encounter does wander more now that when we got it 20 years ago. We have not done anything to reduce the wander, yet. It has 70k miles on it. Chassis manuals & vintage info can be downloaded from my server.
The odometer just turned over to 30k yesterday. Overall it seems to be in pretty well kept condition, but I have been replacing a lot of original equipment. Tires, wipers, belts, plugs, filters, PVC, hoses, muffler and exhaust pipe so far. Konica & Bielstien don't show any shocks for this unit, but I plan to pull a front & rear shock off this week and email them measurements and pictures to see if anything they have will work.

I think you are right in suggesting we tighten the steering gear up more, before giving it the ole heave-ho. Do you think I should remove the Safe-T-Plus unit first? I do have a full set of original manuals for the chassis, engine, generator and coach.

Thanks
Tom
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Old 07-31-2012, 11:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXiceman
Is the steering actually loos or is a roll-steer issue. A lot of the gas units need a heavier (larger) anti-roll bar to stop the body roll from side to side. Shock would also be worth while at this time.

ken
Working on finding shocks as we speak...see my other reply. I can actually wiggle the steering wheel right & left about an inch while driving and get no steering correction. I think I am going to take a few pictures underneath and see if anyone can identify what I think are anti-sway bars on it currently. You may be right and what's under there now is just not getting the job done.

Thanks,
Tom
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Old 08-01-2012, 12:28 AM   #7
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One inch of play is not killer. I drive school buses and two inches is allowed by the DOT. Be careful tightening up on the steering box screw, you can destroy the box. Lucky it's a FORD, on G.M. you don't touch that adjustment unless you are doing a rebuild.
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Old 08-01-2012, 06:50 AM   #8
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1" of free play is not unusual. Think we have more than that. Constant correcting can be very tiring. Making an effort to do less correcting showed that although it wanders it does seem to self correct. Resisting the urge to correct is tough too.

Given that you only have 30k miles on it, I'd make other part replacements before adjusting the steering box. The Safe-T-Steer is basically a bi directional self centering shock. If in doubt about its current usefullness, replace it.

We do not have any add-on devices. It came stock with very large sway bars front & rear, maybe 2" diameter. The sway bar support bushings can wear out too allowing increased body movement before becoming effective. Be sure to look at both axles for signs of free play. Even with a tight front end, a loose rear end causes a "tail wagging the dog" effect. Low tire pressures can increase sway. Try pushing the pressures to the max.

Shocks are available from several sources, such as ShockWarehouse or ProAm. Bilstein #B46-1318 front, #B46-1319 rear is what I used. Going over speed bumps and observing more than 2 bounces was my clue it was time to replace the shocks. Replacing them did help stabilize it on the road, some.
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Old 08-01-2012, 07:25 AM   #9
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One thing to look at it the joints in the steering column as free play can add up in worn joints in the column. In the Ford pick ups and E series the bottom of the shaft has a reinforced rubber ring to take out vibration in the shaft and it get soft and or dry rotted attributing to play in the steering.
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Old 08-11-2012, 04:09 PM   #10
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Well, I replaced all six shocks. Two KONI's on the front. Replacement in the rear with KONI's would have taken six to eight weeks. Have to come from Holland in the Netherlands, I believe. Decided on Monroe gas magnums since there are four of them carrying the load. Ride is noticeably better, but steering is still a pants full... I think I need to find some expert help to drive my coach and advise me. I live in the Jackson, Michigan area. Anyone have any recommendations?
Thanks,
Tom
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Old 08-11-2012, 07:12 PM   #11
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How much does your front end weigh? I had the same problem. I put firestone air bags on the back and inflated them top 65 pounds transfering weight to the front of the rv. This corrected my wandering.
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Old 08-11-2012, 07:44 PM   #12
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Huh. It's been years, but I seem to remember that to adjust the steering play, you turn the screw all the way down to resistance then back it off 1/4 turn. Can't remember the exact procedure tho. I've done it a couple times on cars and trucks over the years but never on an RV. And it never damaged anything. If you can find the steering boxes number, molded right into the metal, maybe a google search will show you something. It's probably a Bendix. They make everything.
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:36 AM   #13
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Koda,
We're you also getting the sensation that your front end was skating or floating like it was on ice when you got up to 60 - 65 mph???
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:48 AM   #14
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IMO I would contact "Henderson Drive Line" in Oregon. John and his team can correct anything. He offers solutions and custom manufactures many products that will correct the exact problem you are experiencing. Fixed my 2003 coach that was a white knuckles all the time. He sent the parts with detailed instructions, then we took the coach to a truck service. They completed the work at a very reasonable price!
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