What Would Toed Out A-body Drive Like?

Discussion in 'The whoa and the sway.' started by knucklebusted, May 3, 2021.

  1. knucklebusted

    knucklebusted Well-Known Member

    First, I did my own alignment with tape measures and levels so all of this is subject to errors. I tried to set it to +5° caster and -1/2° camber with 1/16" toe in. It generally handles very well.

    However, after a 50 mile round trip to a car cruise at highway speeds, my car felt odd. When I turn left or right to change lanes, it felt vague with a delay off of center. I put it up on the lift and noticed the driver's side wheel bearing was a tad loose. Fixed that and greased it for good measure.

    While I was at it, I checked the gear box and adjusted it a 1/4 turn tighter. No binding through full motion and I really didn't feel it was that loose to begin with.

    I also checked all the tie rods, drag link, sway bar, idler arm, ball joints (not very old, very low mileage wise) and A-arm bolts. It has tubular upper and lowers that have greaseable nylon bushings. Nothing else was out of whack but it didn't remove the initial disconnected feeling. I even looked at the welds on the front of the frame after seeing a cracked picture in another thread.

    After the latest test drive, I got my tape measures and levels back out and found it had 1/8" toe out instead of my desired 1/16" toe in. I tightened the tie rods up 1/4 turn per side, which I guess is about 1/16" so I will likely still be 1/16" toed out. I haven't driven it yet as I needed to mow but I will tomorrow. I like to make small adjustments and test.

    Would toe out account for the spooky center drift? Once you got going, it really turned in nicely and stays planted in a curve. I can justify it in my mind that it would be a little darty feeling with both tires slightly outward. I think I read some Posey posts on the web about using toe out for road racing.
  2. LARRY70GS

    LARRY70GS a.k.a. "THE WIZARD" Staff Member

    You need toe in. That's because rolling down the road, the wheels will toe out a bit.
  3. knucklebusted

    knucklebusted Well-Known Member

    Yes, toe in was my desired setting. Raining today, no test drive.
  4. Max Damage

    Max Damage I'm Working on it!

    Yes, a slight tow out allows the wheels to steer off in there own direction which gives that spooky drifting feeling on the steering wheel. Ask me how I know...
    knucklebusted likes this.
  5. knucklebusted

    knucklebusted Well-Known Member

    Haha, I suspected as much when I found it was toed out. The sun is out now so I will drive it this afternoon to see if it needs more. I've learned never to make lots of changes at once, engine swaps excluded.
    Max Damage likes this.
  6. knucklebusted

    knucklebusted Well-Known Member

    I've had this thing up on the lift a few times now, trying to isolate this issue. I've tightened everything I can find and nothing was loose. Tie rods don't seem to flex, no idler arm issues. Steering box is solidly attached at all points.

    At this point, I'm thinking it is the gear box though it was bought as a GN quick ratio reman 7-8 years ago or something on the column side.

    I can't see any slack in the gear box but there is definitely something slack. I replaced the rag joint at the same time I swapped gear boxes because a GN box has a different spline than our standard rag joint.

    Can a rag joint be that bad? The car feels like there is an actual 15° of slop and not just at center in but in a corner as well, when you move the wheel back toward center, there's a lag.

    I think I will swap gear boxes with my 71 350 car that is engine-less to see if that has any effect.
    Last edited: May 17, 2021
  7. knucklebusted

    knucklebusted Well-Known Member

    I couldn't find anything loose so I swapped steering boxes with my disabled 71 GS. I lost a rag joint coupler bolt but that's another thread. It might have helped but it isn't solved yet. I've adjusted the toe to 1/16" in total.

    I guess at this point I start looking at caster and camber again. I can't find anything that wiggles or moves in a way it shouldn't.
  8. TORQUED455

    TORQUED455 Well-Known Member

    What are your front wheels on when you are adjusting toe? They will need to be on something that allows for slip, like greased metal plates or plastic garbage bags. Are you using some sort of toe plates for your toe measurement?
    knucklebusted likes this.
  9. knucklebusted

    knucklebusted Well-Known Member

    I've use grocery plastic bags. For the most part, I drive in and stop the car on the shopping bag and use my two levels on each side of the tires and two tape measures to take reading. It is repeatable.
    TORQUED455 likes this.
  10. TORQUED455

    TORQUED455 Well-Known Member

    Can you explain what you are doing to obtain positive caster?
    knucklebusted likes this.
  11. knucklebusted

    knucklebusted Well-Known Member

    I already have tubular arms to add caster. I turn the tires 20°, measure caster with my angle app on my phone, turn them the other way and measure. Shim to get the +5° and move to do camber to -0.5° with equal shims add/subtract front and back. Then toe in with tie rods.
  12. TORQUED455

    TORQUED455 Well-Known Member

    Where are you putting the shims to add caster?
  13. knucklebusted

    knucklebusted Well-Known Member

    Positive caster adds shims at the rear A-arm bolts to rotate the centerline rearward at the top. I also have tall upper ball joints.

    Removing an equal thickness of shims from the front as added to the rear should change caster with minimal change to camber, right?

    Adding or subtracting same thickness at front and rear should change camber with minimal change to caster.

    Toe is always last because everything can affect it.

    I do caster first since it is the more difficult to measure.
  14. TORQUED455

    TORQUED455 Well-Known Member

    It sounds like you have your procedure correct. Why did you align it and was it doing the same thing before?
    knucklebusted likes this.
  15. LARRY70GS

    LARRY70GS a.k.a. "THE WIZARD" Staff Member

    Greg, the tubular arms have added built in positive caster, correct? That should help handling a lot. It's hard to get very much caster with the stock upper A arms.
    knucklebusted likes this.
  16. knucklebusted

    knucklebusted Well-Known Member

    I replaced the tubular upper and lower control arms, ball joints, tall upper ball joints, springs, drag link and idler arm several years ago. I did not pay much attention to it until I replaced the steering gear box with a GN quick ratio. I thought it was a little loose and tightened the lash adjustment.

    The only thing I have not swapped is the tie rod ends. They aren't expensive and I'll only have to set the toe again.

    Maybe I'm spoiled with everything else being rack and pinion.

    Yes, the main reason I swapped. The tall ball joints improve camber gain. It corners like a new car if I could only clean up the slop.

    The 71 350 car has been down for engine overhaul since the first of the year so I can't compare them. Got a buddy with a Skylark I can drive for comparison.
  17. TORQUED455

    TORQUED455 Well-Known Member

    You can ferret-out loose linkages (inner and outer tie rod ends, center link, etc) by having the car on the ground and having a helper wiggle the steering wheel back and forth with the engine off while you’re looking at the steering components for looseness.

    So if I’m understanding correctly, the issue may have started after you put the GN box in? Do you have your original gearbox still? There is a specific procedure on setting the backlash in the gear box, and tightening it when it doesn’t need to be tightened often gives the exact opposite of the intended results. In other words, you can make things worse.
    1973gs and knucklebusted like this.
  18. knucklebusted

    knucklebusted Well-Known Member

    What is that procedure for a gear box? I've not gotten it to point it binds when turning the wheels.

    I've been using a prybar to rock things and not seeing it. I will get a buddy this week to give me a hand.
  19. TORQUED455

    TORQUED455 Well-Known Member

    I am unclear as to whether the problem started after the GN box or not.

    The procedure is in the service manual. Maybe Larry can post it. In order to set the pre-load properly, the input shaft preload needs to be backed-off first, and that means the box needs to be out. Unless you have the box apart, there is usually no reason to ever mess with that adjustment, and tightening it in an attempt to solve another problem will have you chasing your tail. Just as loose components will cause a wander, tight components will too, aka binding ball joints.
    1973gs and knucklebusted like this.
  20. LARRY70GS

    LARRY70GS a.k.a. "THE WIZARD" Staff Member

    From the 71 manual,
    knucklebusted likes this.

Share This Page