Redhead steering gear. Still have some wheel play 1995 e350

Justgosurfin

Active member
How much play does everyone have in their econoline steering wheels?

I installed a gearbox from redhead thinking it would complement all the other brand new joints I installed with the Dana 60 and UJOR 6” kit. Unfortunately I’m left with some slop at the wheel. It turns well but it seems like an inch or two of slop while driving before getting a good positive response. Not the end of the world but not super confidence inspiring either.

Per redheads instructions I tightened the post on top a bit and it seemed to help a little. I can now feel the sector shaft move with a tiny movement of the input shaft using my hand to turn it at the knuckle. However the wheel just still feels loose. Any tighter with the post and it begins to bind. Maybe that’s just the way it is but I sure wish it could be better.

Although the intermediate shaft isn’t new the rubber damper piece and small u joint in the shaft felt good when I had them out. Unless I’m missing something with the gearbox maybe it’s time for a new intermediate shaft?

Thanks for your input (regardless of its sloppiness).


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Mwilliamshs

Explorer
The sector adjuster is like the balance knob. Too loose and you don't get any steering. Too tight and your new box won't last 20k miles. Recirculating ball steering will never be rack and pinion. Having a helper wiggle the wheel while you watch the steering linkage can help pinpoint any slop. The worst I've ever seen was the column's bottom bearing being worn which allowed an oscillating of the shaft that was very tough to pinpoint. Only found it by removing the intermediate shaft and accidentally moving the steering shaft at the bottom of the column.
 

Justgosurfin

Active member
The sector adjuster is like the balance knob. Too loose and you don't get any steering. Too tight and your new box won't last 20k miles. Recirculating ball steering will never be rack and pinion. Having a helper wiggle the wheel while you watch the steering linkage can help pinpoint any slop. The worst I've ever seen was the column's bottom bearing being worn which allowed an oscillating of the shaft that was very tough to pinpoint. Only found it by removing the intermediate shaft and accidentally moving the steering shaft at the bottom of the column.
Thanks. I’ll do some more investigating. How did you access that bearing?

Here’s a video of the play in the wheel.



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sideburns

Idaho 2019 Nissan Frontier CC LWB
Not a van guy, but in ram trucks this is very common. That much play would be considered good for a ram truck, I have about double that in my truck and I've seen trucks with 4-6 inches of movement. But I understand wanting it the best it can be.

To really diagnose it you need to get a friend, with the van running have someone move the wheel back and forth in the zone where you don't get wheel movement, watch every connection, bushing, ujoint in the system. You'll find one or more with movement on one end that isn't translating to movement on the other end, or a shaft will be loose in a bushing. Sometimes it won't be a single component, it might even be every component adding up, so you'd need to replace everything to get it tight.
 

Len.Barron

Observer
Redhead boxes are adjusted extremely tight right from them so I'm surprised they endorsed you making a further adjustment. Lifted rigs can be tricky you almost always have a lot of angle at the draglink as it drops down to the axle so just a little looseness anywhere shows up as a lot of play. What is very common is for the drag link to rotate a bit when giving a steering command, this is caused by that larger than normal draglink angle, it amplifies any movement that isn't directly in plane with the tie rod. There are some products that stabilize the connection of the draglink to reduce that rotation, just search around some, I'm using this with success https://www.ruffstuffspecialties.com/catalog/R1768.html it's designed for "Y steering" but will work with any draglink rotation error. You still need to do the two man inspection as listed above to isolate what the problem is..
 

Justgosurfin

Active member
Redhead boxes are adjusted extremely tight right from them so I'm surprised they endorsed you making a further adjustment. Lifted rigs can be tricky you almost always have a lot of angle at the draglink as it drops down to the axle so just a little looseness anywhere shows up as a lot of play. What is very common is for the drag link to rotate a bit when giving a steering command, this is caused by that larger than normal draglink angle, it amplifies any movement that isn't directly in plane with the tie rod. There are some products that stabilize the connection of the draglink to reduce that rotation, just search around some, I'm using this with success https://www.ruffstuffspecialties.com/catalog/R1768.html it's designed for "Y steering" but will work with any draglink rotation error. You still need to do the two man inspection as listed above to isolate what the problem is..
Thanks to a nice design by Ujoint Offroad I have crossover steering so my drag link is very near horizontal and in plane with my tie rod. I think as mentioned above it’s just a matter of this style steering versus rack and pinion which I’ve grown accustomed too. It’d be nice to find a solution at some point to make it sweet.

Yea Steve at redhead had so his “test” holding the sector shaft with channel locks and rotating the input shaft. This isolates the the slop issue to the gearbox. I tightened the adjuster until input movement resulted in the slightest bit of movement felt in the channel locks.


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Justgosurfin

Active member
Not a van guy, but in ram trucks this is very common. That much play would be considered good for a ram truck, I have about double that in my truck and I've seen trucks with 4-6 inches of movement. But I understand wanting it the best it can be.

To really diagnose it you need to get a friend, with the van running have someone move the wheel back and forth in the zone where you don't get wheel movement, watch every connection, bushing, ujoint in the system. You'll find one or more with movement on one end that isn't translating to movement on the other end, or a shaft will be loose in a bushing. Sometimes it won't be a single component, it might even be every component adding up, so you'd need to replace everything to get it tight.
That makes me feel a bit better. Had a van friend send me a video of his and it too has a similar amount of play so I guess that’s where we’re at. As mentioned below, the play is isolated to the wheel by testing the gearbox itself.

Sooooo who wants to engineer a new steering system for the van? Haha.

Thanks for all the help comments everyone.


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WVI

Adventurer
I've never have been a fan of ford twin beam design, other than its easy to replace parts.
I've contemplated what it would be like to graft a GM 1T front end into it..
 

Simons

Adventurer
That looks completely normal/perfect for a steering box. Curious what size tires you’re running? The taller the sidewall the more flex they have and will contribute to that soft or delayed steering feel.
Cheers,
Simon


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Justgosurfin

Active member
I've never have been a fan of ford twin beam design, other than its easy to replace parts.
I've contemplated what it would be like to graft a GM 1T front end into it..
Dana 60 in front now


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Justgosurfin

Active member
That looks completely normal/perfect for a steering box. Curious what size tires you’re running? The taller the sidewall the more flex they have and will contribute to that soft or delayed steering feel.
Cheers,
Simon


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35” but as mentioned above, the play in the wheel is from the gearbox up. This movement occurs before the sector shaft begins to move.

Seems we have a case of it’s an old truck.


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Simons

Adventurer
Right! I did read that. I got distracted by the video showing you wiggling the wheel while driving down the road. Well if indeed there is a worn component you should be able to easily identify it using your method.
Good luck sir and let us know what you find.



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Justgosurfin

Active member
Right! I did read that. I got distracted by the video showing you wiggling the wheel while driving down the road. Well if indeed there is a worn component you should be able to easily identify it using your method.
Good luck sir and let us know what you find.



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Sorry didn’t mean for that to sound condescending if it did!

Yea i think that’s just how it is. Do newer/other trucks use rack and pinion or a different style box?


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Arctic Travelller

Adventurer
I installed a Redhead box in my 2001 E250, and at first, it would not return to center. A call to Redhead resulted in my being told to adjust until it loosened up, despite the tag warning that any adjustment would void the warrenty. After a couple try's (1/4 turn at a time) it loosened up enough to return to center on its own. At that time, the steering seemed better, with little play. Fast forward a few thousand miles, and now its getting loose again. All other componants seem tight, so another call to Redhead resulted in my being advised to tighten the adjustment 1/4 turn at a time until it's better. WTF? Why should I have to keep making adjustments? This is not the first time I've heard complaints lately about Redhead boxes. It's still under warrenty, but they said I have to send it back for inspection before they will do anything. Meanwhile, I can't use the van, and after spending a couple hundred on shipping back and forth, they might deny my claim. I thought Redhead was a top of the line rebuild facility, but I now question thier quality control.
 

Justgosurfin

Active member
I installed a Redhead box in my 2001 E250, and at first, it would not return to center. A call to Redhead resulted in my being told to adjust until it loosened up, despite the tag warning that any adjustment would void the warrenty. After a couple try's (1/4 turn at a time) it loosened up enough to return to center on its own. At that time, the steering seemed better, with little play. Fast forward a few thousand miles, and now its getting loose again. All other componants seem tight, so another call to Redhead resulted in my being advised to tighten the adjustment 1/4 turn at a time until it's better. WTF? Why should I have to keep making adjustments? This is not the first time I've heard complaints lately about Redhead boxes. It's still under warrenty, but they said I have to send it back for inspection before they will do anything. Meanwhile, I can't use the van, and after spending a couple hundred on shipping back and forth, they might deny my claim. I thought Redhead was a top of the line rebuild facility, but I now question thier quality control.
Yea I was a little disgruntled to be told to adjust it after reading the tag on install. I’d be pretty upset if I had to take it off and reinstall again. That’s a whole day of tinkering at the end of it.


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