Steering effort for manual 16:1 - should it be this high?

Suspension, Steering and Chassis

  1. MRGTX

    MRGTX Well-Known Member

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    Let me start by saying that I'm not a small nor weak guy. I have no interest in bragging about my physical strength here. I'm no elite athlete or anything like that but it is relevant to note (before anyone suggests that weak arms are to blame) that I'm in good shape and exercise regularly. Having gotten that out of the way, I have to say that the steering effort in my Dart is very, very high. High enough that I want to check with you guys to see if I'm missing something or if this behavior is to be expected and I need to suck it up.

    I am running a large sector manual box, ebay special reman. It probably has ~4000 miles on it since install. There are a few obvious things working against me:

    16:1 ratio (IIRC, factory manual steering was 24:1, right?).
    I am running a Momo Prototipo steering wheel that is 350mm diameter.
    With the QA1 control arms, I was able to hit the target alignment specs for the aggressive street driven car which includes 5 degrees of caster
    I am also running wider than stock (but not exceptionally wide) 225/60/15 tires

    A few things that should be working for me:
    The car has almost entirely fresh front end including ball joints.
    I recently installed the Firmfeel steering sector support
    I have cut a significant amount of weight from the nose of the car (manual box, no pump, mini starter, fiberglass hood, deleted bumper brace, etc)
    I installed sporty buckets with good side bolsters (which I can brace against)
    I typically put a few extra PSI in the tires.


    Given all of those factors, the steering is sufficiently difficult that I can't maneuver the car in a parking lot without it being obvious to onlookers that I'm working pretty hard. Once rolling, it's heavy but manageable. Still, quick steering inputs when slowing down for sharp turns (like in an autocross scenario) are greatly hindered by the level of effort.

    How hard should the steering be in a setup like this? Is there anything that would help?

    Thanks for any input!

    EDIT: I LOVE this steering wheel. I've wanted a wheel like this in a car since I was a small kid...and I'd live with the strain before getting rid of it for one with a larger diameter. :)

    IMG_3182.jpg

    Screenshot 2021-07-14 at 11.22.27 AM.png
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
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    • 66fs

      66fs FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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      They are hard at low speed. Mine is in an 66 Barracuda. 24:1 was standard and much easier. The small steering wheel is not helping.
       
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      • PST

        PST Marketing Manager FABO Vendor

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        I would have to second the previous poster. These boxes (16:1)take effort at slow speed (5mph) but the combination of the smaller steering wheel and wider tires will only compound the issue.

        James From
        PST
         
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        • dano

          dano Evil Handy Man

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          66fs is correct. This is why I converted to a Firm Feel Stage 3 box and a 850 PSI Saginaw pump. No more slow ratio for me (24:1) and a firm steering feel with just enough assist at slow speed to drive the car at neighbor hood speeds and back out of my garage. Only regret is not going Borgensen box for a faster ratio but I'm not changing now.
           
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          • Lord Sparky

            Lord Sparky Well-Known Member

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            Precisely why Francis W. Davis invented power steering. I have new manual Flaming River 16:1 and other new steering components and it is still a b!tch to turn at slow speeds.
             
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            • Swingn’71

              Swingn’71 Well-Known Member

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              Yes, these guys pretty much nailed it. With the mods you have coupled by the 16:1 you ended up with high effort. Not something you want to here but 24:1 would get you back to half way decent…Swingn’
               
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              • RustyRatRod

                RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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                With a small wheel, it's gonna be tough. Even still, if you plan ahead and steer the car with it rolling, it's much easier.
                 
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                • inertia

                  inertia Well-Known Member

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                  The more + Caster, the more effort required .
                  You are actually lifting one side of the car .
                  I have seldom gone as far as +5, most customers are very happy with +2, - 3 max. These cars came with 0 to neg 1 from factory with bias tires.
                  Reduce your caster, there will be significant difference .
                   
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                  • MRGTX

                    MRGTX Well-Known Member

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                    Thanks all around for the feedback, guys! It makes sense that this would be the net result of the components I have. I knew it would be heavy but I guess I underestimated.
                    While I was hoping someone would have some idea about something I might have missed, hearing that this is normal is the next best thing.

                    This is absolutely worth considering. I don't know that I can even exploit the benefits from the extra caster with the steering as it is...
                     
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                    • MRGTX

                      MRGTX Well-Known Member

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                      Cost, weight, parasitic drag aside, The thought of installing power steering again gives me pause. The OEM power steering box was a monstrosity. I had to unbolt the header and lift the motor to get it out...and it still took a long time to free it from the engine bay. LOL. Getting it back in would almost certainly be worse.

                      How was the install on the Firmfeel box? It's a different casting, correct?
                       
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                      • RustyRatRod

                        RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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                        The amount of positive caster is helping to make the situation worse, but, it's not going to make a huge difference reducing it. Maybe if you went down to 2* but then, you're right back in stock crappy caster territory. I'm not sure you'd see an appreciable difference lowering it to 3*........you might, but it's not going to be night and day. I didn't see what car this is, but if it's the late A body in your avatar, that doesn't help either, as they are a good bit heavier than the early cars.
                         
                        Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
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                        • RustyRatRod

                          RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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                          You could go to the 20:1 box and still be a lot better than stock and that would make it much easier to steer than it is now. Maybe that and 3.5* caster and you'd be on to somethin.
                           
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                          • dano

                            dano Evil Handy Man

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                            FrimFeel is the stock box, just rebuilt better than stock and different firmness installed, they have 3 stages. My dad has a Stage 1 in his Coronet too, its nice for a bigger, heavier car with a 440 and a 4 speed.

                            I did have header issues with my Doug's not wanting to clear the factory coupler. I ended up with a Flaming River tilt and its smaller universal to clear. The Borgensen box is smaller and a faster ratio that stock. I think 14:1. Might be worth looking into.
                             
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                            • inertia

                              inertia Well-Known Member

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                              Many use this guide

                              E5C39AFF-EC9C-41A4-B151-77096AA66E48.jpeg
                               
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                              • Dana67Dart

                                Dana67Dart The parts you don't add don't cause you no trouble FABO Gold Member

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                                IIRC there is a 20-1 box out there.

                                There are also quick ratio idler and pitman arms, (iirc with 16:1 box and quick ratio pitman you get 12:1 or there abouts)are you sure your pitman is OEM non quick ratio?

                                I am no suspension guru, but doesn't caster keep the car driving streight, which for autocross would not seem to be a need.
                                 
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                                • inertia

                                  inertia Well-Known Member

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                                  Caster helps with directional stability, equal caster, you go strait, more caster to one side causes pull.
                                  The more equal caster - returns the steering to center harder, and turning is harder.
                                  At speed, or moving it's less of an issue, in a parking lot, lotsa caster is a biotch .
                                  My roundy- car has about 12* caster pass side, 3* on driver's side.
                                  It always turns hard left, and requires considerable effort to go straight .

                                   
                                  Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
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                                  • Scody21

                                    Scody21 Just send it

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                                    I’m running the FirmFeel 20-1 manual box in my duster with 4* caster. Yes stopped and super slow steering sucks. No issues on slick concrete in my garage. At speed it’s super light on the wheel.
                                     
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                                    • A56

                                      A56 MoPar Affliction

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                                      this is from @jimharvard who posted a pretty lengthy write up here some time ago pertaining to his '69 383 Barracuda

                                      quote "the bottom line appears to be - if you have MANUAL steering on your A-body, you can put the Borgeson POWER steering box on in exactly the same space. if you have the large, OEM mopar power steering box and you switch to the Borgeson power steering box, you'll have between 1-2" MORE space between your original OEM power steering box and the engine." unquote
                                      Borgeson on the right, oem on the left
                                      52-png.png
                                       
                                      Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
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                                      • Projectile Dart

                                        Projectile Dart Well-Known Member

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                                        The subject has been pretty well covered by now, I dont know how much this will help. But when I had the original tires on the front (about 145ish width) I had disconnected the power steering pump so that it would have no assist. To my understanding this would put me at about a 16:1 ratio and it wasnt too difficult at all to turn at any speed with the standard steering wheel. As soon as I upgraded to larger tires up front (225 width) with the more aggressive alignment (not as aggressive as yours but close) it was much harder than I liked trying to parallel park so I ended up connecting the power assist again. That extra traction in the front made a huge difference.

                                        P.S. I love your steering wheel, do you remember where you got it?
                                         
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                                        • Heywodja

                                          Heywodja The Heartbeat Stops Here FABO Gold Member

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                                          Wide tires will often increase the slow speed steering efforts as well.
                                           
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                                          • AJ/FormS

                                            AJ/FormS 68 B'cuda fb, Form S clone ... 367/A833/3.55s

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                                            I have a 68 Barracuda/360/A833/ TTI longtubes / factory K/ and a Chrysler P/S box.
                                            I dropped that box out three times in one week, to add reaction springs, to reduce the crazy boost and lack of feed-back. Finally I got it perfect to work with my 300mm wheel.
                                            I do not recall dropping the box being difficult at all.
                                            I love that box now, and it's staying.
                                            The Federal pump I had tho, was a pos, even after I rebuilt it.It just couldn't keep up. So I swapped to a Saginaw, and problem solved.
                                            But I gotta admit, that system is heavy..... ....... which is why I have a 367HO.... lol.

                                            But to answer your question;
                                            jack the car up under the LCAs as close as you can to the LBJs. Now go turn the steering wheel.
                                            If it is still really difficult, your BJs could be really stiff. Some brands are ridiculously stiff. Or it could be the Tie-rod ends. To find out which;
                                            Separate the outter tie-rods from the steering arms and manually push/pull each of the wheels from lock to lock. It should require very little effort. If they are stiff, you will have to dig deeper to figure out if it's the upper or the lower. But if the BJs are normal, then you will have to check each tie-rod and the Idler/pitman arms.

                                            New means nothing these days of cheap junk on the market.
                                            I was a suspension/steering/brake and alignment tech for 6 years, and I can tell you; I blackballed a lot of parts manufacturers for the crap they sold, and others for their inconsistency of products. Most of them were just too daymn tight. Some were too loose. Some wore out in just weeks or days. And one even fell out of it's socket, and I had to tack-weld it back in. There is a lotta lotta junk in the front-end parts industry.

                                            One thing nobody mentioned is your scrub radius. If it falls outside the design, your steering will be stiff. Scrub radius is the point on the surface of the road where two imaginary lines meet; actually three;
                                            1) A vertical line drawn down to the road from the mounting face of the front hub
                                            2) An imaginary line drawn thru the center of the upper and lower ball joints,
                                            3) the horizontal roadway.

                                            Scrub radius
                                            From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
                                            Jump to navigation Jump to search
                                            150px-Scrub_Radius_Illustration_-_English.jpg
                                            Zero scrub radius (top) positive scrub radius (center) negative scrub radius (bottom)
                                            The scrub radius is the distance in front view between the king pin axis and the center of the contact patch of the wheel, where both would theoretically touch the road. It could be positive, negative or zero.

                                            The kingpin axis is the line between the upper and lower ball joints of the hub. On a MacPherson strut, the top pivot point is the strut bearing, and the bottom point is the lower ball joint. The inclination of the steering axis is measured as the angle between the steering axis and the centerline of the wheel. This means that if the camber angle is adjustable within the pivot points the scrub radius can be changed, this alters the width and offset of the tires on a vehicle.

                                            If the kingpin axis intersection point is outboard of the center of the contact patch, it is negative; if inside the contact patch, it is positive. The term scrub radius derives from the fact that either in the positive or negative mode, the tire does not turn on its centerline (it scrubs the road in a turn) and due to the increased friction, more effort is needed to turn the wheel.

                                            Large positive values of scrub radius, 4 inches/100 mm or so, were used in cars for many years. The advantage of this is that the tire rolls as the wheel is steered, which reduces the effort when parked, provided you're not on the brake.

                                            The advantage of a small scrub radius is that the steering becomes less sensitive to braking inputs. More scrub radius adds to road feel by pushing the inside wheel into the ground.

                                            An advantage of a negative scrub radius is that the geometry naturally compensates for split μ (mu) braking, or failure in one of the brake circuits. It also provides center point steering in the event of a tire deflation, which provides greater stability and steering control in this emergency.
                                            END

                                            So if your tire is not same height as factory, or if you have a large offset wheel; you will have increased turning effort.
                                             
                                            Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
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                                            • Darter6

                                              Darter6 Well-Known Member

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                                              I installed a Flaming River 16:1 on a 72 B body with 18''wheels and 10'' wide tires on the front.
                                              Almost impossible to steer at low speeds.Ended up with a stock manual Mopar box.
                                               
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                                              • MRGTX

                                                MRGTX Well-Known Member

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                                                Excellent info again, guys. Thanks to all.
                                                I'm really leaning toward that Borgeson power box. I can justify the sacrifices to my vision of the lightest, simplest possible setup if it means that I can enjoy driving a bit more an get an even quicker ratio in the process.

                                                It's a MOMO Prototipo. It shouldn't be too hard to find. They aren't cheap but the expense was worth it to me. I mean, a hand stitched Italian made steering wheel is right at home in a 1970s econo car. Am I right? :D

                                                MOMO PRO35BK0S MOMO Racing Prototipo Steering Wheels | Summit Racing

                                                That's a little less than I paid. Oh well.
                                                 
                                              • MRGTX

                                                MRGTX Well-Known Member

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                                                So Borgeson lists compatibility through 1972... does anyone know what has to be changed to work in '73+ cars?
                                                 
                                              • AJ/FormS

                                                AJ/FormS 68 B'cuda fb, Form S clone ... 367/A833/3.55s

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                                                I think the sector shaft diameter was increased.
                                                If that's true, you would need to swap your steering to 73and up style, which is what I did.
                                                 
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