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Old 05-01-2020, 10:21 PM   #1
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Steering Box Troubles - Ujoint Modified MG Kit

Howdy,
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.

Any ideas????


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Old 05-02-2020, 12:08 AM   #2
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I’ll PM you my contact info. Feel free to call or email me.
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Old 05-02-2020, 10:40 AM   #3
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hydraulic ram to complement the steering box
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Old 05-06-2020, 07:48 AM   #4
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Very odd, I would switch to a Ford steering box before changing anything else. I've had little luck with aftermarket steering boxes and have never seen an issue like this.
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Old 05-19-2020, 06:44 PM   #5
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Update:


With much help from MG we have narrowed down to a highly likely suspect for my troubles.


The Ujoint modifications drastically altered the steering ratio by using a longer "high mount" knuckle arm than the stock one (I assume the same as used with his leaf kits) This means the box is maxed out well before the knuckles hit their stops on the axle. Below are pictures of the gaps at full lock (both directions) on the knuckle axle stops. I can easily fit a 1/4" in each of the gaps.


The thinking is the steering box is being damaged during tight turns by being over rotated and essentially gacking itself to death if it hits any small bump at full lock. The internal box stops/sector shaft/bearing would be taking ALL the force. This is a fundamental design flaw with the Ujoint modifications. My guess is because the leaf front axles don't have nearly the turning radius as the coil kits, this is not a problem with them, and it was overlooked when the "update" was put together. I never took this latest steering box off road, and it seems tight parking lot turns/going over speed bumps have ever so slowly done the damage.



Anyways, I am in the process of converting over to the original MG design. (not fun to do all this work again) and unfortunately I also think the box (my third one) is trashed and will eventually need replacing.


Anyone else out there have experience with the modified kit? I would be interested to hear if you have had similar issues...Or not.



And again, this is just a highly probable theory at this point. I have a hard time believing that both the stock box and TWO redhead boxes all failed by the same means in the span of a year because they were 'bad boxes'



Super big thanks to MG for all of his help with this. He really went above and beyond in both working to find what the issue could be and also helping me rectify it...Especially because this was not really his design anymore...


Also, anyone want coil kit modification kit? For sale for cheap.
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Old 05-20-2020, 07:01 AM   #6
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1st off, sorry you're having an issue, wish you had reached out to me to help.

1. "If" this is the problem why don't you try some steering stops to isolate it? The difference between the stock knuckle and the crossover arm is .5" where the drag link attaches, I wouldn't call this drastic. It's a ton of work to go back to the steep trac bar/drag link angle as you know, steering stops will be easy.

2. We haven't had any other updated coil kits need a steering box. Or with our leaf kits that all run crossover steering.
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Old 05-20-2020, 10:08 AM   #7
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If the heart of the issue is that the steering box is acting as it's own stop, wouldn't it be simpler to adjust the knuckle stops so the box can't over rotate? I'd also be curious to know what Red Head had to say about the failures. It should be easy to see internal damage caused by an over rotation / hard hit. If that's the only cause of the issue, it seems to me that you may be doing a lot of unnecessary work converting back. Best of luck..............
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Old 05-20-2020, 10:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UJOINT View Post
We haven't had any other updated coil kits need a steering box. Or with our leaf kits that all run crossover steering.
I think this also comes down to driving style. When I learned to drive, in a '78 Econoline, I got yelled at any time I turned full lock. Also once in high school taco'd a drag-link hitting a boulder at full lock going backwards at a weeee bit faster than a crawl. So i never do that i any car I own. And I still cringe when other people hold their steering wheel tight at full lock, with the blow off valve hissing away.
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Old 05-20-2020, 10:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UJOINT View Post
1st off, sorry you're having an issue, wish you had reached out to me to help.

1. "If" this is the problem why don't you try some steering stops to isolate it? The difference between the stock knuckle and the crossover arm is .5" where the drag link attaches, I wouldn't call this drastic. It's a ton of work to go back to the steep trac bar/drag link angle as you know, steering stops will be easy.

2. We haven't had any other updated coil kits need a steering box. Or with our leaf kits that all run crossover steering.
1. There are more differences between the stock knuckle and the high steer knuckle than just a half inch longer arm. Moving steering arm away from the axle centerline (along with the effects of caster angle) also play a role. Those changes result in much more than just a half inch difference. Obviously you did the math on this when you developed this kit of parts so go ahead quantify what is and what isn't "drastic".

"Steep" relative to what? I happened to have access to a stock 2016 F350 4x4, a stock 2019 F350 4x4 and the CAD models for '07, '13, '17 and '19 Fseries frames/axles/suspension/steering. I've measured the trac bar angle in real life and in CAD and there is no more than a 2 deg difference between a stock Fseries trac bar angle and the angle of the trac bar in my design. Is that considered steep? I don't consider it steep in the context of these conversions. We can agree to disagree on the severity of this...you seem to think it's a huge deal based on how many times you mention it in your posts. It's not a huge deal in my opinion.

I suggested that an easy fix would be to make some steering stops. That's certainly an option but it comes with some trade offs. The first being that you're missing out on some turning radius that was taken away for no good reason. Second, your "fix" is a hodge podge of custom parts rather than off-the-shelf Fseries parts. Not to mention the increased forces the high steer geometry places on the sector shaft.

2. If you turn the steering shaft all the way one way then continue to try to force the sector shaft to turn, by design, the sector shaft has no where to go but up into the box and into the sector shaft cover plate (which is cast aluminum by the way). So anyone who installed your steering parts should at the very least check their steering gear for play and make themselves some steering stops at the knuckle.
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Old 05-20-2020, 11:01 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by carringb View Post
I think this also comes down to driving style. When I learned to drive, in a '78 Econoline, I got yelled at any time I turned full lock. Also once in high school taco'd a drag-link hitting a boulder at full lock going backwards at a weeee bit faster than a crawl. So i never do that i any car I own. And I still cringe when other people hold their steering wheel tight at full lock, with the blow off valve hissing away.
True, I agree 100%. Everyone drives differently, I also avoid turning the wheels at a stop unless I absolutely have to.
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