Steering rod adjustments

Joined
May 19, 2004
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435
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Midwestern Flatlands
Hey Guys,

My rig is a '76 FJ40 that was my daily driver and weekend off-road toy for about 10 years and then sat under a tarp in my backyard for almost 10 years. I got her out of mothballs last spring and started to work on her. I rebuilt the knuckles and am in the process of installing a mini-truck power steering conversion (thanks Georg for the parts). As part of the steering work I removed all the tie rods, cleaned, painted and re-lubed everything. I did not alter any of the tie rod lengths. All the time I drove her in the past I never checked or changed the toe-in or any tie rod ends although i checked things out for wear or looseness when I greased things.

Before removing the old manual box and tie rods I did not note the position of the pitman arm. I installed all the cleaned and lubed rods with the wheels centered , the new power steering box centered and the steering wheel centered. The pitman arm came out angled back about 15 to 20 degrees from vertical, rather than vertically like my stock '78 pitman is. I checked the lengths of all three rods, tie, relay and drag link:

Rod FSM Standard lengths
 
Joined
May 19, 2004
Messages
435
Location
Midwestern Flatlands
Hey Guys,

My rig is a '76 FJ40 that was my daily driver and weekend off-road toy for about 10 years and then sat under a tarp in my backyard for almost 10 years. I got her out of mothballs last spring and started to work on her. I rebuilt the knuckles and am in the process of installing a mini-truck power steering conversion (thanks Georg for the parts). As part of the steering work I removed all the tie rods, cleaned, painted and re-lubed everything. I did not alter any of the tie rod lengths. All the time I drove her in the past I never checked or changed the toe-in or any tie rod ends although i checked things out for wear or looseness when I greased things.

Before removing the old manual box and tie rods I did not note the position of the pitman arm. I installed all the cleaned and lubed rods with the wheels centered , the new power steering box centered and the steering wheel centered. The pitman arm came out angled back about 15 to 20 degrees from vertical, rather than vertically like my stock '78 pitman is. I checked the lengths of all three rods, tie, relay and drag link:

Rod FSM Standard lengths
Sorry, didn't intend to post yet, continued:

Drag Link standard length per FSM 33.7" measured length 33.75"
Relay Rod standard length per FSM 33.1" measured length 33.4"
Tie Rod standard length per FSM 47.4" measured length 47.25"

To bring the pitman arm to vertical, I would have to shorten the drag link or the relay rod. If there's enough travel in the box when I turn to full lock does it matter if the pitman arm isn't vertical in the wheels-ahead position? I haven't checked this but would like to have the pitman arm vertical or close. ANy suggestions? Any ideas on why things have come out like they have?

Thanks,
Pete
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 13, 2012
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Location
KY
I could be wrong on this, I actually have Saginaw conversion and SBC, but you might be better off with the pitman arm at 90 degrees to the rod and not worry about it not being vertical.
 

77mustard40

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Pete, if you’ve got the wheels pointed forward and the steering box centered (equal rotations left and right from center) the pitman arm will naturally be centered when you install it into the drag link (without turning the wheels). Attached is a pic of my mini truck box and original pitman arm, the pitman arm is centered on Geog’s pedestal but is not verticle. I think you where fine as you originally described things.

Did you use your manual box pitman arm? They are longer than minitruck arms and will give you full lock to lock use out of the steering box.

060B426E-90AD-44B4-9BFA-3E294561BD05.jpeg
 
Joined
May 19, 2004
Messages
435
Location
Midwestern Flatlands
Pete, if you’ve got the wheels pointed forward and the steering box centered (equal rotations left and right from center) the pitman arm will naturally be centered when you install it into the drag link (without turning the wheels). Attached is a pic of my mini truck box and original pitman arm, the pitman arm is centered on Geog’s pedestal but is not verticle. I think you where fine as you originally described things.

Did you use your manual box pitman arm? They are longer than minitruck arms and will give you full lock to lock use out of the steering box.

View attachment 2795256

77-

Thanks a million! My setup looks exactly like your photo. I'm going to take a look again to see if the arm is centered on the pedestal like yours is but my tired old eyes convince me the angle of my pitman arm and yours are very close, if not identical.

My wheels are pointed straight ahead, I have the box and steering wheel centered, and I am using my stock, manual-steering, pitman arm. I was about ready to adjust the drag link and/or relay rod lengths to get the pitman vertical but your photo and comments saved me from doing that.

Thanks again!
Pete
 
Joined
May 19, 2004
Messages
435
Location
Midwestern Flatlands
Pete, if you’ve got the wheels pointed forward and the steering box centered (equal rotations left and right from center) the pitman arm will naturally be centered when you install it into the drag link (without turning the wheels). Attached is a pic of my mini truck box and original pitman arm, the pitman arm is centered on Geog’s pedestal but is not verticle. I think you where fine as you originally described things.

Did you use your manual box pitman arm? They are longer than minitruck arms and will give you full lock to lock use out of the steering box.

View attachment 2795256

Not quite as far back as yours, but close. It'll probably change a little when I put the nut on and secure the pitman arm.

1632675689738.png
 

77mustard40

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Joined
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1,816
Location
Austin, TX
Not quite as far back as yours, but close. It'll probably change a little when I put the nut on and secure the pitman arm.

View attachment 2796213
I’d rotate the steer all the way left and right to make sure you are centered relative to the steering box (equal rotations of the steering wheel left and right from center). If you are off a spline it’s best to figure that out at this stage of the game.

Looking good, you’re gonna like it.
 
Joined
May 19, 2004
Messages
435
Location
Midwestern Flatlands
I’d rotate the steer all the way left and right to make sure you are centered relative to the steering box (equal rotations of the steering wheel left and right from center). If you are off a spline it’s best to figure that out at this stage of the game.

Looking good, you’re gonna like it.
You can probably see the white dots on the box and the pitman arm shaft which I put on by centering the shaft before I mounted the box so I think I'm still centered. I planned on doing what you suggest to be sure I have enough travel in both directions.

Thanks again for your reply to my original post. You saved me a lot of work by not having to spend time to adjust relay rod and drag link lengths.

Pete
 

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