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Old 03-09-2017, 08:04 AM   #1
carguybill
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Default hard steering - radials or bias ply

My '34 is difficult to turn when not moving or moving slowly. I put a number of layers of polyethylene plastic sheeting under the front wheels and the steering effort is relatively easy so I'm assuming that the issue is the friction between the tires and the pavement.

I have original type bias ply tires on the car but am considering changing to radials for improved road handling but I wonder if the larger footprint of the radial tires would make the slow speed turning even more difficult.

Any ideas/comments?

Thanks
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Old 03-09-2017, 08:12 AM   #2
slowforty
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

I have radials on my 40. It probably has the better steering gear. But the ride is great.
Dont go big on the tire size. Smaller is better. Get some catalogs from Coker and Diamond back for good information . Parallel parking is still an adventure,
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Old 03-09-2017, 08:27 AM   #3
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

This is why power steering was invented! Are you wanting to keep the car 100% original? Later steering gears like an F1 was a common upgrade to improve steering on the 33-34s.
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Old 03-09-2017, 09:33 AM   #4
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

It may have some rough bearings or stiff bushings but you can tell that by lifting the front wheels clear of the ground and feeling for stiffness. Disconnect the drag link from the pitman arm to see if there is a difference indicating stiff king pin joints or thrust bearings. If all is smooth off the ground then that may be as good as it gets.

The later Gemmer II steering gears with the rotating sector gear really made the big difference in ease of steering but in good shape, the early Gemmer gears still work OK as long as you are moving. Some have taller ratios that improve the rotational torque level of the steering wheel but there are more turns lock to lock on them.
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Old 03-09-2017, 10:29 AM   #5
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

My experience with manual steering, radials will be heavier to steer than bias ply tires. By harder, I mean it takes more effort to turn the steering wheel. And maybe it is my imagination but since I put steel belted radials on my 52 Merc is seems to ride "harder" as in I feel every gravel stone it hits on the driveway. Even with the pressure down in the low 20s. Maybe just my imagination or else I didn't notice the bumps when I was a kid in the 60s.
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Old 03-09-2017, 11:01 AM   #6
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

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Higher tire pressure will make steering easier.
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Old 03-09-2017, 12:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

My 34 is similar, but I figured it was because I have relatively wide radial tires on the front as compared to the 5.5" wide tires the car was originally supposed to have - lots of friction between the tire and the road. Mine are 8.9" wide. What width tires do you have? Once you are moving it steers OK. I agree that having them properly inflated makes a big difference - which makes me think it is the friction between the tires and the road. Your test on the plastic sheet would also tend to confirm this.
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Old 03-09-2017, 02:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

I currently have the original type 17" bias ply tires which I inflate to 35psi. The bigger footprint of the radial would seem to me to be problematic. Truth be known, I probably just need stronger arms, but my 80 year old body is tiring.
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Old 03-09-2017, 03:10 PM   #9
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

Have a '40 box in my '36 with 195/65/15 radials on the front and it does feel like power steering compared to the original '36 box.
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Old 03-09-2017, 03:34 PM   #10
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

Just finished my 32 Ford PU and have a 37 Hudson steering box with a 34 Ford pitman arm going up to stock 32 spindles. I have 500R16 Excelsior radials running 35 lbs of air with a 39 Banjo steering wheel and it turns with very little effort.
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Old 03-09-2017, 04:02 PM   #11
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

Regarding my '35 my only reference point is the original size and 650/16 Bias'd I had on all four vs. my new front 195/75/16 ( much like a 550-16, little taller ) and rear 215/85/16's ( much like a 750-16 ) radials and compared to the originals the radials in the stated size are easier to steer and much nicer ride and handling.
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Old 03-09-2017, 09:07 PM   #12
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

High caster setting will positively increase static steering effort.
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Old 03-10-2017, 09:19 AM   #13
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

I have a 32 and 34, both with correct tires and both steer well. If your car does not have the 15-1 gear in it, that could make it hard to steer. I believe my 32 was changed along the way since it steers easy.
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Old 03-10-2017, 04:24 PM   #14
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

The easiest improvement you can make is to remove all you can of the old grease in your steering box and replace it with either STP or if you are having problems with leaking box use John Deere Corn Head grease. Nothing is going to make it steer as easy as replacing the box with a 37 or later box.
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Old 03-11-2017, 09:09 AM   #15
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

I removed the radial tires from 3 of my cars due to hard steering.Replaced the with bias ply,the steering effort improved,but the ride and Handling has diminished somewhat.

Last edited by trainguy; 03-11-2017 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 03-11-2017, 11:28 AM   #16
carguybill
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

Quote:
Originally Posted by keith oh View Post
The easiest improvement you can make is to remove all you can of the old grease in your steering box and replace it with either STP or if you are having problems with leaking box use John Deere Corn Head grease. Nothing is going to make it steer as easy as replacing the box with a 37 or later box.
I have replaced the grease in the box with JD corn head grease. Thanks
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Old 03-11-2017, 05:07 PM   #17
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

Did the John Deere Corn Head Grease make an improvement?
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Old 03-11-2017, 05:30 PM   #18
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

Quote:
Originally Posted by hotrodA View Post
High caster setting will positively increase static steering effort.
Really? Can you PLEASE explain how that happens? DD
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Old 03-11-2017, 05:33 PM   #19
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krylon32 View Post
Just finished my 32 Ford PU and have a 37 Hudson steering box with a 34 Ford pitman arm going up to stock 32 spindles. I have 500R16 Excelsior radials running 35 lbs of air with a 39 Banjo steering wheel and it turns with very little effort.
Adding, I have JD corn head grease in the Hudson box, Took almost a full tube.
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Old 03-11-2017, 08:12 PM   #20
hotrodA
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Default Re: hard steering - radials or bias ply

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Originally Posted by V8COOPMAN View Post
Really? Can you PLEASE explain how that happens? DD
Sure. With caster being defined as the centerline of the kingpin (in our cars), measured in degrees from true vertical, as viewed from the side, it's the physics of "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction"..

At zero degrees caster the spindle snout/stub will be parallel to the ground as the spindle is rotated on the kingpin. As caster is increased from zero to a positive angle, the snout is no longer moving parallel to the ground as it rotates, but is pushing down toward the ground as it moves rearward, since the kingpin is tilted. Since it can only move down as far as the tire's compression will allow, it then tries to lift the weight on it.

As the positive caster angle increases, say 3 to 6 degrees, more static steering effort is needed to push the snout down (or lift the weight), as the force and snout is pushing more vertically downward. This steering effort has to come in the form of more muscle, leverage from a larger diameter steering wheel, longer pitman arm, or power assist.

But once moving, the tire's rotation has a gyroscopic effect and as downward force is put toward the ground, the weight being raised wants to return down, the snout returns to neutral, and the steering straightens out. Right or left turn is the same, given equal caster angle on both sides.

Visualize the high caster on a dragster, more force is required to deviate the tire from straight ahead. Which is why a higher caster angle will resist drifting and road walk, but requires more input effort at rest. Of course the dragster has light front weight, and that conversely requires higher caster.

I probably omitted some variables and fine points, but that's it in a big nutshell.

Last edited by hotrodA; 03-11-2017 at 08:23 PM.
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