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Stiff Steering
this is an excerpt from the articles appearing in the OCTAGON

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Stiff Steering

Q:    In June of this year I bought subject car a '70 B-GT from a man in Oregon. I picked up the car in Baltimore, Maryland and drove it home via Rt. 95 to Perryville, Maryland and then traveled back roads to my home in Cambridge, Maryland.

The steering is very stiff and after turning left or right I have to steer the car back straight, does not seem to have any toe-in, or something is preventing -the car to tend to center after a curve. I jacked up the car and with the wheels off the ground the steering is Very easy. This is my fourth MGB-GT, the last one was about thirty five years ago. The tires on this one are 185/70R-14. This is a lot wider than what was on the other cars, the tire pressure is 36/39 PSI, a few PSI over recommended to try to help the stiffness problem. While the car was on jack stands I took the boots loose, which were new, and inspected the rack. There does not seem to be wear that would cause the resistance and I did not see any metal "filings". There was only a trace of oil on the rack, I put the recommend type and amount in the boots and re-installed them.

I turned the wheels back-and-forth with my hands to see is something is wrong with the king pin assemblies. Once the wheels starting turning I needed to be careful that I did not push them too fast, there seem t be no resistance or "catching"

I discussed my problem with the previous owner, when I thought the problem was the rack and pinion, who lives in Florence, Oregon. He said he did not remember a problem, but to my surprise said he would pay for the rack and pinion assembly. I want to get the correct parts to fix my problem, but at this point I don't know where the problem is. So far I have only put about 150 miles on the car and, would like to drive more.

Any help or thoughts toward determining the problem and the fix will be greatly appreciated.

Tom Johnson

A:     Sorry for your trouble. It's a bummer to get a new car and find issues with it, but there are fixes and the previous owner seems willing to help.

There are any number of reasons that could be the cause of your stiff steering. The 185R70 tires are probably not it. Those have been the tire of choice to improve ride and handling for years. I personally have had them on my car for ages as well and really enjoy the improvement to the ride and handling. There's a bit more resistance at rest, but driving, they offer no appreciable difference to stock tires. Center return is as normal, not requiring any additional effort to return the wheel to center out of a turn.

The wider tires, however, combined with significant wear elsewhere may make things worse, though. I've found that steering shaft or internal rack wear would tend to be similar with the wheels off the ground as down on it. Looking for wear, you might be seeing may be something typical with this type of suspension when it is worn. It's similar to old straight-axle trucks that, as either or both the pin and the spindle bushings wear, they tend to bind, especially with the weight of the vehicle on them.

Jack it up so the wheels are off the ground and the resistance fades, just as you are seeing. This could mean wear in the king pins more than in the rack or other components. The tire on the ground forces the spindle to angle and bind on the king pin or upper trunion, especially if thrust bearings (washers) or the internal bronze bushings are worn. If they are, there should be some play (jiggle) in the spindle when the wheels are off the ground. Packed with grease, it might not be so evident, but grab the tire at the top and bottom (north and south) and see if it moves. If it does, there may be wear significant enough to cause the spindle to bind with the weight of the car on it

Loading it with heavy grease using an air grease gun can give some temporary relief, if just to see if it performs better when dropped on the ground again. There should be (3) zerk fittings on the spindle, so be sure to get them all.

Safety Fast!,

Art Isaacs

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