This is going to be a little long, but please hang with me. I can’t for the life of me figure this one out.
New member... I built my ’07 (E-350 w/ RSC) with the U-Joint sold version of MG’s coil kit about two years ago and have put about 40k miles on her. I did all the work myself, and it has been quite a journey, but that will be a story for a different post…
What I am currently struggling with, and have been for a while now, is the steering box.
Backing up a bit, I ended up (regrettably, again…another story) using the U-Joint modified coil kit offered for a brief time about two years ago. I think a youtube video is still floating around of Chris explaining what he changed about the MG.
primary differences between it and the regular MG kit:
-Cross-over steering w/ a custom machined knuckle and high mount arm (like what U-joint uses on their leaf conversions) This raises the axle side drag link arm.
-Custom made drag link to fit.
-Custom trac-bar axle bracket that welds to the top of the original trac-bar ball joint mount. This effectively raises the axle side trac-bar mount and keeps the trac bar and drag link ~parallel.
-Custom heim joint (both ends) trac-bar to fit.
I think the idea of all this was to try and eliminate some death wobble/vague steering complaints some U-joint's customers were having w/ the original MG kit. By raising the drag link and trac-bar they became closer to parallel with the ground and both slightly shorter. Eventually he stopped selling the modified coil kits all together.
The van does actually steers and tracks well with no hint of death wobble.
The problem is this setup starts to kill steering boxes after about 5K miles.
The first (van original) box lasted about 5k before I started to notice a slight clunk through the steering wheel when I would come to a complete stop and then start moving again. I began checking all the regular culprits (ball joints, tie rods, loose bolts, trac-bar heims, loose shocks, pitman arm) with no luck. The clunk feeling slowly got worse to the point where I could consistently feel it clunk away while driving around. I also began to get a vague steering feel (almost floating) while turning and going over bumps. It still tracked well and the steering remained responsive without play.
This all started to freak me out and make me pretty nervous about driving my investment. At about 15K I finally noticed the sector shaft rocking a small about when I had some one move the steering wheel back and forth. Also, using a pry bar, I could pretty easily push the sector shaft back up into the box about a ½”.
I figured the original box was just old and got a new one from Redhead. It went in fine and the problems all went away. It felt tight, no clunk and it steered and responded well.
Then after about 5k miles I started to feel that little clunk again...not a good feeling. This box always had a slight fluid leak around the sector shaft, so I figured it may be a dud and Redhead replaced it under warranty.
Well, guess what. After about 5k miles the clunk is back and slowly getting worse.
The only thing I can think is that by messing with the drag link/trac-bar length and geometry, the dynamics of the front suspension are now exerting too much force on the box. I would expect the conversion to be harder on the boxes in general, but 5k miles doesn’t seem reasonable. The clunky nature is also disconcerting. I really don’t want to lose steering on the highway if I hit a pot hole or something. Do i convert BACK to the original MG design? This whole thing has been a real pain in the rear.