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Old 03-05-2015, 09:38 AM   #1
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Tightening Pitman arm onto steering box "in situ"

My new used Sportsmobile is a '94 Ford E250. The seller installed a 4 inch lift and must not have a torque wrench, because many nuts were loose. The Pitman arm looks like this: http://youtu.be/giMFAfeBB1A?t=6s

The way the steering box sits near the suspension I-beams, you can't fit a socket over the nut. Instead, my idea is to put both front wheels on jack stands, turn the steering wheel to the left to give better access, and then tighten the nut to 200 ft-lb with a torque wrench and a (32 mm) crow foot wrench. While the wheels are off the ground I can check for play in the other steering links. Does anybody see a problem with this plan?
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:56 AM   #2
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Re: Tightening Pitman arm onto steering box "in situ"

sounds like a good plan, but i would remove that pitman arm and make sure nothing is stripped before torquing it down. looks to be a LOT more play than i had on mine a few months ago when i replaced the steering box.

also, i was instructed by the shop i use that you dont want all the weight off the wheels when checking for loose balljoints and bearings. i was instructed to leave wheels on ground, but take the majority of the weight off of them. iirc, this was to help mask weak people like me not having enough strength to man handle the bigass wheel/tire combos around enough to actually see slop.

as always, this is what i was told and im not 100% familiar on the full sized vehicle suspensions. so if im wrong, i know one of the better informed gents around here will correct me
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Old 03-05-2015, 01:29 PM   #3
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Re: Tightening Pitman arm onto steering box "in situ"

Thanks for the input! I would indeed like to check the spline teeth inside the Pitman arm hole, but because the I-beam is so close I couldn't get the arm off without removing the steering box. Then there's fluid dripping everywhere and I have to bleed the steering box and so on. I don't even have a service manual yet. So plan A is to tighten the nut and see if it stays tight.
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Old 03-05-2015, 08:12 PM   #4
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Re: Tightening Pitman arm onto steering box "in situ"

Yea, you'll want to inspect for damage. The pitman arm will usually strip before the box so if it shows damage it should be replaced.

We sometimes remove 2 of the steering box bolts and loosen the 3rd to pivot the box and give better access to the nut.
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:43 AM   #5
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Re: Tightening Pitman arm onto steering box "in situ"

That is not a factory pitman arm, and it is NOT the correct splines for your box. That is very troubling and needs to be corrected ASAP!

Show us a better picture of the pitman arm and an numbers on it.

Follow Chris' suggestion about the bolts - it works.
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Old 03-06-2015, 10:16 AM   #6
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Re: Tightening Pitman arm onto steering box "in situ"

It's a drop Pitman arm to go with the 4 inch lift. The arm is marked FD500, so I assume it is one of these: http://www.summitracing.com/parts/exp-fd500
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Old 03-06-2015, 10:40 AM   #7
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Re: Tightening Pitman arm onto steering box "in situ"

As loose as that is... I was thinking it was a pitman arm for a Sagnaw box that has a very similar spline but is different - that is not the case if it is a FD500.

The FD500 fits the heavier duty steering boxes with a 1 3/8 in. (1.375) steering shaft only and is 36 spline. These are usually only found on E350 vans in your vintage.

E250's usually had the smaller box that would use an FD400. The FD400 fits models with a 1 5/16 in. (1.313) steering shaft only and is 32 spline.

I'm wondering now if some how they put an FD500 on a 32 spline sector shaft?

edit: I just watched your video again - that is very loose and is very dangerous. I would not drive it until resolved. It looks like it is the wrong pitman arm and should be an FD400.

Please let us know!
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Old 03-06-2015, 10:51 AM   #8
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Re: Tightening Pitman arm onto steering box "in situ"

The seller thought this van was an E-350, so I guess I have to check... Hoping I don't have to disconnect the steering box fluid hoses.
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Old 03-06-2015, 10:55 AM   #9
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Re: Tightening Pitman arm onto steering box "in situ"

Quote:
Originally Posted by k2orbust
The seller thought this van was an E-350, so I guess I have to check... Hoping I don't have to disconnect the steering box fluid hoses.
No you won't. Just loosen the three bolts going through the frame and remove two letting it pivot on the third. That will let you get the pitman arm off and keep the box in place. This is what Chris from Ujoint was suggesting.
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Old 03-08-2015, 10:09 PM   #10
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Re: Tightening Pitman arm onto steering box "in situ"

Okay, had some fun shopping for new tools and, thanks to viewtopic.php?f=39&t=15522, got the drag link off.

Now the challenge is getting the Pitman arm off the steering box. The nut is ever-so-slightly larger than 32 mm, which makes no sense to me. A 1-9/32" nut? Does anyone know what Ford is thinking here? I have a 34 mm socket, but with the 200 ft-lb torque this nut needs I'd be afraid of rounding it off...

In order to get a socket on the end of the sector shaft I had to remove all three bolts that hold the steering gearbox onto the frame. (See photos.) That leaves the steering box dangling from the steering column U-joint, and any torque I apply to the nut gets passed on up to the steering wheel. Doesn't seem like a great plan.

I also have a 32 mm crowfoot wrench, which is ever-so-slightly too small for the nut. The best plan I can think of is to widen the wrench a little bit on a bench grinder, and then use it to remove the nut while the steering box is bolted onto the frame. Then I unbolt the steering box again so that the Pitman arm can be pulled off the sector shaft. Check splines, replace Pitman arm if necessary, and do the reverse to reinstall.
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