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steering box braces not really necessary?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by rdn2blazer, Apr 27, 2006.

  1. rdn2blazer

    rdn2blazer 1 ton status Premium Member

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    this thread is just to reiderate the information I was given be the owner of Howe Performance steering, http://www.howeperformance.com. as last years Off Road Expo. the info that was given by him makes alot of sence to me so I am passing it on to you guys to get your opinions and comments on. this is not to say a steering box brace is not a good thing to run on a truck as an added support but is is really a band aid fix over a wound that will not go away with out the proper fix.

    basically its common logic really, he said that a power steering pump is just like a tube bender, theres hydraulic pressure created when you turn your steering wheel which turns the box shaft which turns the tires. he said the reason why the frame cracks on gm trucks is that, that is the week link in the chain. he said you only see 4x4 usually have issue with the frames because those trucks see alot of force applied to the steering when being wheeled either in mud or rock crawling. in a 2wd truck almost never is there a problem with the frames because the truck is being used in "normal conditions" on the street for the most part. rarelly is the steering turned to its limit with alot of force repeatedly. so you dont see this in a 2x wery often.

    in a 4x though the steering gets turned to its max limit with alot of force repetedly which finally over time fatigues the weak point which is the frame and crackes it or pulls the box off completely. there is allready aditional stress put on it with bigger tires and increased scrub forces and poor steering arm geometry and not to mention the added weight of roll cages, gear, and such anyways. thats not what a stock box was ment to handle. not to say it wont. he said the gm boxes are a very good strong design.

    the problem is that they are mass produced and manufactured to stroke there full range of motion, which exceeds the rest of the steering components. so you have a situation where once everything is at there limits something is going to start to fail or give or flex. there is plenty of force in the powering steering to break stuff for sure as alot of guys have found out.

    he said the fix is to readjust the box to not over stroke the steering components which takes alot of stress off the frame. he adjusts every box he builds. he said its the same reason he asks anyone looking to get a hydraulic assist kit to measure the max stroke of there steering stroke so he can set the stroke of the ram accordingly to not have more stroke then the steering.

    so I had allready bought my ORD brace when I talked to him. he said run it, it couldn't hurt to have any additional support. its just the band aid not the correct fix of the problem. so what do you all think of this? it sounds like simple logic to me. since this company is known for there steering components and do alot of trophy trucks too I feel like I can trust what he said. yes I still will run my brace.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2006
  2. The Butcher

    The Butcher 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    If I'm reading what he said correctly in your post, the reason that things break is b/c the steering box actually cycles through a range of motion that is longer than all of the other steering components are set up to cycle through. Is this correct?

    If that is correct, I can see his logic. However, I'm not so sure that the "over-cycling" of the steering box is the only thing that creates pressure on the weak link (ie, where the steering box connects to the frame). While limiting this range of motion might be helpful (much like accurately measuring the stroke of hydraulic ram steering assist is mandatory to avoid breakage) in reducing some of the stress on that weak link, it doesn't reduce the stress that larger tires will put on the frame rail during normal cycling of the steering components. I could be way off here, but it seems like trying to move bigger meats back and forth in general puts much more stress on the frame rail where the steering box connects even during the middle part of the steering cycle.

    I would guess that even if you never went full lock either way with your steering, bigger tires would potentially put enough stress on the frame to cause failure eventually. I agree with him when he said the 4x's will see more failure b/c of the extreme use, but it would seem to me that this is even more argument that bigger tires=frame failure not from the steering box "over-cycling" but rather from the added stress of the tire size/weight/resistance to turning. Wouldn't 2x frames fail as well if you turned the steering full-lock on a regular basis with the same steering pump that "over-cycles"?
     
  3. GotLabs

    GotLabs 1/2 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    So there is no stress on the steering box/frame area until it gets to full lock?:screwy:

    Im not buying it that it is a bandaid fix, if something is the weaklink and you strengthen it. Then it is no longer the weaklink.
     
  4. 6.2Blazer

    6.2Blazer 1/2 ton status

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    As already mentioned, the "over-stroking" is probably only a small part of the problem when it comes of off-road trucks with big tires. I would think there is a bunch of stress on the frame even if the tires are pointed straight ahead...if they are wedged in a rut or against a rock and you are trying to turn them.
     
  5. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Sure it may be a small factor, but I bet lifting my truck sideways with my steering puts a **** ton more stress on the frame than any over extending ever does, especially since I run crossover.
     
  6. R77K10

    R77K10 Banned

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    i would have to say that it really depends on the situation,

    and that a big factor would be existing resistance between the tires and the terrain the tires are turning in- is what could possibly create enough resistance/force that it could flex the frame rail at or near the box enough to crack it

    and well we all know it happens all the time,

    and once a tiny little crack formed- in which happens all the time we know- then its only going to get worse/bigger as it is turned resistively, IE offroaded, etc, over time

    therefore pointing to the frame rail as being the weak(est) link, yep

    rather than any of the steering parts or the box or anything else

    bigger the tires and the worse the terrain and such then the more tire turning resistance that could be possible and greater chance of starting to crack the frame rail,


    but this is info everyone already knows or should know/realize

    i never wheel or offroad or anything, and never really have unless required in order to get something done i am working on, but evne then was very lightly carefully done, and plus theres not a single rock in IL around here, or hill, and theres really just a lot of nothing here, some trees, some small farms, tractors, livestock here and there, hmm

    http://coloradok5.com/photos/data/705/central_illinois.jpg

    http://coloradok5.com/photos/data/705/central_illinois_001.jpg
     
  7. 4X4HIGH

    4X4HIGH 1 ton status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    I would be curious as to how he is adjusting the steering box to limit travel. There is no provision for doing this so i'm all :ears: to listen to how he is accomplishing that.

    I also agree that if you fix or strengthen the weakest link then it is no longer the weakest link and should survive from that point on.

    Also as already stated, rolling resistance has everything to do with stressing the frame rails and larger and wider tires give more resistance regardless of what the steering box or pump is doing.
     
  8. wayne

    wayne 3/4 ton status

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    I'm curious too. I know my box will out travel my ram and everything else on my steering.
     
  9. Pookster

    Pookster 1/2 ton status

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    er. Right. This makes no sense.

    Let me put his truck in a giant vise grip so his wheels cant move.

    Then, using only minimial stroke (But trying to turn the wheels hard)- but the wheels not moving- you will excert maxium force until the wheels start to turn. Simple physics here.

    Use the brace. The only way you will prevent stress in that area is by not even having the steering box in that area. The same amount of stress will always exist, maybe not in the steering box area, but in some other area. The force cannot be eliminated.
     
  10. Citizen Rider

    Citizen Rider 1/2 ton status

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    no matter the stroke your still pushing and pulling at the frame when turning, and offroad the force is multiplied. the frame is the weak link, triangulation is goood.
     
  11. jarheadk5

    jarheadk5 1/2 ton status

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    I'll take pics tomorrow of where the steering box ripped off the frame on the '87 C10 that's donating parts to my K5. It's ugly. This truck was used as a plow truck for some time, so my guess is the extra weight of the plow, combined with the excessive lateral forces a plowful of snow can exert, pulled the bolts right through the framerail. I had intended to use the box for crossover on my truck eventually, but with a couple boltholes stripped/egged out, it's just a core now.

    I installed the ORD bolt-on brace as the very first mod I did to my K5, and it seemed to tighten my steering and made it feel more responsive. I know it's subjective, but it definitely made me a little more comfortable behind the wheel.
     
  12. seschev3

    seschev3 1/2 ton status

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    I use the ORD steering brace and I still cracked the frame. Now I need to get the weld in plate to fix the frame. If you can use both, I would recommend it.
     
  13. garlicbreath

    garlicbreath 1/2 ton status

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    How do you adjust the throw of the steering box?? I just put a 78 box on my 71 and it was way more throw to one side than the other.
     
  14. pvfjr

    pvfjr 1/2 ton status

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    I was a bit concerned about over-stroke when I discovered that my Sky steering arm had a considerably shorter distance between the TRE and the kingpin center as compared to a stock setup. Also looking at the LONG superlift arms that everyone is running, with the HUGE drop in them, it all seemed like it would be very bad for the frame. I just picked up one of those Econoline pitman arms though, which will change the throw ratio between the steering box and the rest of the steering components. It's looks like it's just short enough to make up the difference and put things where I want them. It also has a lot less drop than the superlift arm that ORD sells, which will take a lot of the torsional stress off of my framerail. IMO, it's really the perfect pitman arm. The TRE nut on top of the pitman arm swings under the weld-in frame patch, missing it by 1/4". With it's shorter throw and less drop, that's enough peace of mind for me.
     
  15. rdn2blazer

    rdn2blazer 1 ton status Premium Member

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    some of you guys that think he was saying that there is NO stress OR ONLY stress when the steering gets to full lock need to read it again. ofcourse there is stress on the steering. just sitting still theres stress on the components. but hes saying the system was designed to handle normal driving conditions and normal loads the truck was intended for. not everything else we throw at it with the big tires and everything else too.

    one guy said yea it happened to my 2wd, but I had a snow plow on it, well there is the possible answer right there. look at all the added weight and stress the steering saw.

    Im not saying I aggree with him either. Im just letting people know there is another possible problem to think about or take into consideration. as I said I will be running my brace regardless.


    EDIT: my thread title was probably not the best title to come up with for this thread but I knew it would get you guys talking.
     
  16. Dallin

    Dallin 1/2 ton status

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    My completely stock C10 cracked with no offroad use.
     
  17. rdn2blazer

    rdn2blazer 1 ton status Premium Member

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    he did not go into how he sets the limits of the box other then to say he did this on every box that goes out his shop. your guess is as good as mine. I have never been into one yet.
     
  18. MattK

    MattK 1/2 ton status

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    hmmmm...would a shorter pitman allow more torque to be placed on the draglink and components afterward? maybe a boost in steering force since the load on the pitman is closer to the sector shaft?
     
  19. garlicbreath

    garlicbreath 1/2 ton status

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    I speedread the thread, but from what happened with my setup it makes sense. With the 78 box on my 71, and NO other changes, it lifts the drivers side of the truck at full lock one way but not the other. I haven't checked to see if the pitman arm is on right but after seeing the 1/2 inch copper water line used as fuel line on his frame I wouldn't be surprised if it's goofy. But I do see how a steering box with more leverage than the rest of the system can handle will make a weak link appear.
     
  20. jarheadk5

    jarheadk5 1/2 ton status

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    Nope. The pitman arm acts as a lever; the longer the lever, the more force is exerted. This works both ways - the steering box exerts more force to the draglink and on down the line when the steering wheel is turned, but the draglink will also exert more force on the steering box and it's mount when the tires get pushed into a turn.



    That's exactly the point - bigger tires, big steering inputs while moving very slowly or stopped, heavy bumpers & winches over the frontend, steering boxes that travel further than the rest of the system... it all adds up. The sum of the forces involved overwhelms what strength GM engineered into the steering box mounting points, and something yields. A crack starts, and repetition of the above causes the crack(s) to propagate to the point of total failure.

    I'm not arguing with you by any stretch, and I'm not arguing with Howe - they've probably forgotten more about powersteering than I'll ever know. But for them to say that the box braces are not the solution is a bit silly IMO. Even if it's possible to set the steering box travel to stop precisely when the knuckles hit the stops, there's still gonna be more forces transferred to the box; i.e. during suspension cycling.

    Just like you, I'm running the brace regardless of what they say. I feel it adds strength to a critical system in an area that needs it, and it makes me more comfortable. That's good enough for me...
     

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