Manual Steering


meddle

New member
I've been looking around for a van for the past few months and I think I've found one. I've heard that the type 2's most common problem is the steering. This van is said to have a bit of play in the steering. Is this something I should worry about? Is it hard to fix? Is it expensive? thanks...
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
What year and model. See Message Board Guidelines #3!

I don't know who told you that the "type 2's most common problem is the steering." That's a myth; both the T1 & T2 Type II steering was as good or better than most other vehicles of their era. Play is more often the result of worn tie-rods, damper, ball joints and associated suspension wear than the steering itself. That's usually a function of poor maintenance. Improperly adjusted steering gear or out-of-alignment condition put more strain on the steering than age or miles. If kept lubricated and no boot damage, 20 & 30 year old, ¼-million milers are every day common.

So "loose" steering, repair costs will be a function of the cause. Replacing tie-rods, ball joints & damper costs are about normal for any make. OEM versions of those parts are readily available aftermarket. If just a steering adjustment, that is covered in (Type II edition) Bentley 2-9.1 for the older worm & peg >'72, or 2-9.2 for the '73> worm & roller. Worm & peg is rebuildable but the worm & roller is usually replaced as a unit. However, oil seal on a worm & roller can be replaced individually, the most common failure (leak).

If you're talking Vanagon, the power steering, is rack & pinion and appears equally reliable, though it will now have the additional hydraulic system to consider. See the "Power Steering" & "Vanagon Front Suspension" posts on this forum.

It is really frustrating to hear wild rumors that present no facts to support them. Take the common-sense step of having the potential purchase examined by a competent mechanic (other than the one that fed you the rumor) who can tell you IF it has excessive free-play (>15 mm) and if so, why and what it will cost to repair.

Also, see the "Westy OE & OEM tires . . ." post under the BRAKES & WHEELS forum. Improper tires give a loose steering symptom.
 
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meddle

New member
ok.... sorry about the type 2 rumor. I just read about it. I'm a little new to the bus world and I'm not too fluent in all the names of these buses. But here's where I got the information about steering being a common problem. The site seems like a good site. Have a look. http://www.volkswest.co.uk/camper_buying.html

However, thanks for the info and I do hope to have a mechanic look at the van. I'd be a fool not too. Oh it's a bay window 1978 I think. It look like a pretty good van but I've yet to see it in the real world.
Cheers
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
The above site is a private URL by an individual who has restored one bus at his parents house (in England). He does not provide any data to support his contention. Some of his thoughts are interesting but he confuses Type II and Type IV engines, and again, is talking about UK vehicles and conditions. A right-hand drive vehcile will have different steering and thus may have different parts and problems.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

Tie Rods 68-78 Westys

76Heat Wagen Member # 3252 posted 03-02-2002 12:15 AM

After looking through the archives and having a serious meeting with Mr. Bentley, I still have not come up with this answer.

Here it goes: I have a 1976 VW Westy. It appears that both tie-rods are equally 'bowed' slightly in the shape of a "U". Is this normal, or should I order new ones?

I'm at the tail end of a nut-by-bolt restoratation, and want to make sure that I am best prepared to bring Rosie to a VW shop for alignment. But hope someone can help me with the actual make up of these tie rods 180 degrees? Or a slight bow (made a bit more exaggerated by the tie rod ends??)

Thanks!

Heatster
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Tie rods, in their simpliest explanation, are nothing more than a hollow pipe with threaded insides attached to two ball joints. The angular adjustment through steering and suspension movement is ALL done by the ball joints. The pipe should never change and serves only to connect and adjust the length between them.

If bent, it forces the ball joints to use part of their adjustment range to compensate for the change in angle they now experience. Minor bending -- if the length is correct, could still allow the alignment to be within specs and work. But also consider that they come under compression stress during normal suspension movement and if already bent, are now weakened and subject to further bending, letting the vehicle get out of line easier (wiping out a nice set of expensive tires to remind you).

In the real world of parts assembly marketing, it's often cheaper to replace an entire tie-rod than just the tube. If doing a ground-up restoration, you probably want new ball joints anyway.
 

ronwolffjr

New member
Twisted tie rods. Thanks, you were right they were bent. I figured that they would be expensive, but got the entire assembly for under 21.00 each! As they say, "Denial is not just another river in Egypt..." I thought they were going to be a fortune.

SEPERATION ANXIETY:

Has anyone had any problems with the steering relay assembly seperating from the beam? Here in NJ, I have seen so far 7 TII's ranging from 68-79 with these things torn off.

The exact assembly I am speaking of is located in Bentley under "Front Axle" page 25, section 9.6 (68-78 Ed.)

As I work on many VWs, through sightings of VWs mothballed, in yards, for sale, and personal experience I have noticed something personally alarming:

(This happened a some years ago...)

My buddy and I did have two close calls with a '71. The steering seemed fine, and the 6 grease fittings were faithfully fed every 6K. (that would have given this previously owned vehicle 2 lube jobs after it was bought). Plus, we would do our inspection of the front end beam, top to bottom. (so we thought). Looking for any wear, jiggly ball joints, cracked boots, and especially any bottom rust near the corners of the front end beam. This was routine with the greasing.

While driving to NC, without warning, the relay lever arm assembly seperated from the beam; rendering the VW out of control. Fortunately, there was enough remaining weld, to barely bring the thing to a halt safely. No injuries.

He was able to get it welded back to the steering beam as a 'patch' to imp it slowly back home with relative safety. We went to a local yard, found some nice T2's and replaced the entire front beam, tie rods, spindles, everything except we put the existing calipers back on (they were new).

This time we paid extremely close attention to that area of the steering (again, so we thought). Put in the new front end, bled the brakes and brought it over to the local shop for a once over, alignment, lube job, sanity check, etc.

I borrowed the '71 about a month later, entered the college apt. complex where we all lived, slowed to go over a speedbump around a curve, and you guessed it --- off came assembly #2. :mad:

The final resolution was to bring it to a very talented welder, who on a mid 1990's and on a meager college budget seemed to cost a fortune. He was able to analyze the metals, bonding strength of a weld, ft. lbs of stress for which the relay lever is exposed ... he was (and still is) quite good.

He did a work of art with the welding, and there have been no problems ever since. After he was done, you could not tell it was even welded, and thus passed NJ inspection.

Are the 6 seperated buses plus the "'71 Story" a fluke? Has anyone ever experienced this problem?

I am wrapping up a nut-by-nut restoration of a 76 Westy, and now have 'seperation anxiety'. Although I stripped the beam before rust-proofing, it is difficult to tell if I'm going to encounter this.

Although a long post, please allow me to let you know the precautions that were taken after the first close call on the highway with the '71.

note: this was done with both the 2nd 'junkyard' front-end that seperated in the apt. complex and the current '76.

1) Wire wheeled/sanded lightly all around the relay lever 'box' took a bright light inspected all around relay lever 'box'.

2) Checked vehicles for any drag on the front-end. Result: easy to turn while elevated.

3) Checked condition of entire steering assembly for general abuse/wear.
Result: minor bottom surface rust by pass. side on beam, ('71 only) but caught in time.

4) Replaced relay lever bushings, and thoroughly shot up with grease. Result: no stress or drag (vehicle off the ground), smooth turning.

5) Maintenance: Followed schedule as under the 'tips section'. Result: failure of second '71 front end 'box'.

1976 Westy:
I have not had any problems, but have not driven it much. Finally some background to wrap this post up and get to my conclusion.

1) Both vehicles stock, no monster tires.
Recommended tires for make/model/year.

2) Rug rats not allowed to sit in VW and
turn steering wheel back and forth while
not moving. Big no-no.

3) Driving habits: Slow, for the love of the sport. Gain speed going down hill, and let VW 'roll uphill' to avoid over-revving and jamming accelerator into floor to make it up grade. In other words, a "take your time" VW attitude for both my college buddy and myself.

Conclusion:

Has anyone experienced this or can provide some preventative/insightful information on this subject (net of the data above)?

Is this a known problem?

Is there anything I can do to prevent my '76 from having this happen aside from the abovementioned?

Thanks,

76Hwgn w/seperation anxiety.

NOTE: I have only seen 6 buses with this damage, plus the '71 experience listed above. It is not my intention to alarm anyone who owns a bus that this will happen. I try to be very precise with my observations. Although my posts are lengthy at times - it is for good reason; I make the assumption that everyone one on this site will read this, so must post responsibly. Statements like "every bus I've seen", or making your own factory defects or recalls up can impact an entire community trying to preserve Westfalias. It's the "jump off the bridge theory". All information given is just MY experience, and assembled in a carefully though-out fashion.

The objective is to gain some assistance, feedback, insight, and maybe help someone out. I don't know enough about that assembly (cited in Bentley earlier) to make a generalization. Thanks for reading and proud to be a part of such a great community. /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

[ 03-26-2002: Message edited by: 76Heat Wagen ]

[ 03-26-2002: Message edited by: 76Heat Wagen ]
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The relay lever housing is a hollow assembly using bushings and protective caps with gaskets. I've talked with my 'expert' -- I owe him several lunch by now -- and he says they have had no problem with this occuring in Southern cars. He suspects it's a Northern problem due to salt. The protective caps have gaskets and that is what should keep road salts and moisture out of the housing. Back then, I doubt the internals of the stamping where undercoated. Naturally, inside rusting wouldn't be apparent until it had weakend the housing sufficiently to cause a fracture.

Suggestion to those suspecting that potential problem -- inspect yours now, using it as an opportunity to go through the front steering. While the bushing is out you might clean, derust & undercoat/seal the housing, then put in new caps & gaskets.

There is a strong tendancy to neglect the steering damper, which absorbs much of the road shock on the steering, including the relay lever. It is nothing more than a small shock absorber and is a service item -- change often. I'd suggest checking every 30K.
 
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ronwolffjr

New member
Thanks for the research.

Very good point about the caps not being 'salt water' proof. I must admit, have seen some 'white grease' after the last detachment. Your post it makes sense of it now. I indeed live in the Northeast, good prediction.

I think the 'topping off' maintenance suggestion, should really be amended to 'completely evacuate' the old grease in that housing. If you get some 'white grease' like I did after several 'overflows' (of grease gun), you know you have water in there.

I would too after 30 some years.

Going to inspect inside, and replace the dampner on the relay lever.

Again -- thanks. Very valuable info.

76HW
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
kelly floyd Junior Member posted June 13, 2002 07:25 PM

Would a bad steering damper cause the front wheels to shake bad if you hit a bump. I checked the steering box and it seems fine. The damper has a bad bend in one end of it.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
What year & model? What have you checked per the Bentley? See Guidelines.

If the steering damper is damaged, the steering can't work in it's designed range. Steering dampers are a SERVICE item, to be replaced from time to time as they wear, and anytime damaged.

But shaking after a bump could be from many causes, often dangerous wear or looseness on some item. The bump is throwing the steering off it's center and allowing it to oscillate around this excess play. It can even be in the suspension mounting, not just the direct steering gear. Testing all of these are described in the Bentley.
 

clongwell

New member
Silly question... Mr. Bently dosn't seem to mention manual steering racks well in his book. Judging from my lack of a pump and resovoir I'm guessing I don't have power steering. Did VW make a Manual rack in 84 or do I have a bigger problem? If so where can I find more info on it?

Thanks,
Christine
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The manual rack is shown in Bentley page 48.4. Most of the repair procedures such as tie-rod and ball joints ends are the same as the more common P/S. However the parts are not interchangeable. Pg. 48.6 lists some of the differences.
 
Greetings Campers:
I've just put on a four new 195 R 14 Conti Vanco 8 tires on my 84 camper @167K and we can't seem to shake the shimmy. The two mounted sets (winter and summer) of previous tires did not bring on the pronounced vibrations. Two attempts to balance the tires, the ball joints and bushings are in good shape according to tech that levered all the front suspension components. Wheel bearings are fairly new and snug and the tires do not appear to have any major flaws.
I'm curious if any of you have had issues with the manual steering rack repair or a work around. There is definitely play in the wheel when parked. If I make a make a mark on the wheel @ 12 there is a 1/2 inch float on the steering wheel before it engages the gear again.
When Jimmy, of Southern States fame, did the last alignment he informed me that the steering wheel was not centered and I could just pull the wheel to address the slight off center issue. A review of the Bentley does not indicate if the rack and pinion could be realigned to engage another tooth section nor can I, at this point, determine which component might be more worn.
Thanks,
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
As to the steering wheel being off-center, that's not a rack adjustment, but just lifting the wheel off the splined steering column and moving it around 1 spline.

Play in steering, IF all of the suspension is 100% in specs, can be from sources within the steering column. There are a two flange sets (Bentley 48.2) that have that have coupling discs (buffers). There is also a plastic ring that helps brace the column to the dash. Finally, there is a transfer gear to change direction between column and rack. New tires may have just found the right harmonic to show wear in any of those up.

The other, and @167K miles a reasonable possibility, is just plain old wear & tear on the rack & pinion. Manual steering does require a grease (special, naturally) which means there's also wear point.
 
Although 1968~79 VW Type 2 steering

The above site is a private URL by an individual who has restored one bus at his parents house (in England). He does not provide any data to support his contention. Some of his thoughts are interesting but he confuses Type II and Type IV engines, and again, is talking about UK vehicles and conditions. A right-hand drive vehcile will have different steering and thus may have different parts and problems.

Although 1968~79 VW Type 2s, have been very prone to rusting, owing to the cold, damp climate, during late autumn, winter & early spring, I have never heard of the central bearing-housing for the steering, coming adrift from the lower torsion-bar tube, of the front suspension.

Athough VW 17/18/2000 Type 2, VW Type 4 style engines, became the only factory-fitted engines, in North American specification, 1972~79 VW Type 2s, in Great Britain & Europe, the VW 1600 Type 2, VW Type 1 style engine persisted as the factory-fitted default engine; the VW 17/18/2000 Type 2, VW Type 4 style engines being an extra-cost, factory-fitted option.
 
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