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@TheMayoMachine and I went for a drive on Sunday and I experienced quite a bit of front end wander. At speed the front end would dance around between the lines and there was no movement at the steering wheel. 

The first time I sensed this was when I took my Speedster to the wedding earlier this summer. After I noticed it I inspected the front end and I discovered a very, and I mean very, slight amount of play in both rotors. This likely occurred after I replaced the rotors, bearings, and pads when I replaced the master cylinder. I went ahead and tightened everything back up and thought that might fix it. I had been a few very short city speed drives and didn't notice any wandering so I thought I fixed it.

While out driving on Sunday I experienced it again and it was about the same. I got the front end up off the ground and inspected the beam ball joints, shock mounts, and the steering column. The only thing that had any noticeable movement was the steering column but it wasn't that much. I held tight to the front wheels and had my son turn the steering wheel. I noticed the column moved before the wheels so I loosened the jam nut on the sector screw and tightened it up. I've seen on other VW steering boxes another nut behind the box that also gets tightened but my steering box doesn't have that. The only adjustment I could make appeared to be the sector screw. I haven't lifted the tail end to see if anything is loose there yet but if the wandering continues I may have to. After that I went ahead and greased up the beam.

I'll take it out for another highway speed drive to check on this adjustment. While I was underneath the front end looking at everything I noticed a split in the rubber mount that connects the two halves of the steering column. Is that something that should be replaced immediately and if so what brands/types of replacements should I avoid?

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If you're not living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space!

 

 

 

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Last edited by Robert M
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Get a German rubber/rag joint ONLY! DO NOT GET ANY URETHANE! If it's cracked, replace it.

I cannot stress this enough, your life depends on it.

Also tighten the pitman arm nut, a lot of times this nut looks tight but if you really crank on it, you'll get 1/16th of a turn. This can and does make a difference, and this fix has worked for many others.

I've never seen a steering box with only one adjustment, so I don't know what to tell you there.

Also tighten the steering box attachment bolts.

@DannyP posted:

Get a German rubber/rag joint ONLY! DO NOT GET ANY URETHANE! If it's cracked, replace it.

I cannot stress this enough, your life depends on it.

Also tighten the pitman arm nut, a lot of times this nut looks tight but if you really crank on it, you'll get 1/16th of a turn. This can and does make a difference, and this fix has worked for many others.

I've never seen a steering box with only one adjustment, so I don't know what to tell you there.

Also tighten the steering box attachment bolts.

That's what I was thinking too Danny. So I went out to the garage and snapped a photo of the steering box itself.

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Sector screw is obviously the clean-ish nut and screw on the top. Nothing else looked like it could be tightened. Other steering boxes I've seen had an adjustment at the back of the steering box where the shaft comes in to the box but I've got nothing there.

I'll order a new rag joint and get that swapped out immediately. I'll take it for a test drive before I check the pitman arm in case today's adjustment works.

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Last edited by Robert M

YES!  Replace it immediately!  DO NOT drive it until the coupler is replaced!

We're not kidding about this!

Also, do not use a Urethane coupler - they are junk.  They stress crack and fail just like the one you have, only much sooner.

Try to find a genuine OEM VW  part number 111415417  (fits years 53 - 72+).

https://www.bugcity.com/shop/s...ery=steering+coupler

Note:  The older ones were round, the newer OEM version is square-ish.  A new VW one should be around 20 bucks and could be from Brazil, Mexico or India and are good.  A new old stock German version will be closer to 50 bucks.

I had an issue with an after-market (non-VW or German) version that had longer than stock metal bushings used which caused the horn to short to ground through the coupler.  Replaced that with an OEM VW version and the problem vanished.

Your photo shows the adjuster on top of the box, and there is a YUGE! hex lock nut on the front (left in the photo, right on the front of the box).  That gets loosened (it's a 41mm moose) and then you need a special tool that is nothing more than a 7/8" hex nut welded to a flat piece of metal.  The nut gets cut to about half the height/thickness to fit up in there (it's a close fit to the body) and once the lock nut is loose you can use that tool to turn the adjuster (which is a depressed hex cup to accept the aforementioned nut).

I doubt that you need to adjust the steering box (although that seems to be popular on here, lately).   Just get the coupler replaced and I'll bet you'll be good to go.

Good luck Robert.

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

Meh.  You got a good one - I'm not fussy about where it comes from!   

I was just giving the Bug City ones as an example.  I always forget about the cost of shipping, 'cuz Kathy and I get so much from Amazon with free shipping.  Kinda makes you forget about that stuff.  We got our new house generator on Amazon with free shipping from the manufacturer - 264 pounds from Ontario, California to Massachusetts!   Makes you wonder how they make any money on their stuff!

Glad you're headed in the right direction.  Don't want to see your Clown Car careening off the road somewhere!

Chiming in here. This is a red urethane rag joint that came with the Spyder project I bought. It was installed on the steering box but with no steering column attached, so it had never once been used to turn the car's wheels.

After replacing it with a proper rubber one and getting the steering shaft dialed in, I still had just a bit of play in the steering. I was about to make a tool to adjust the box when someone (probably @DannyP) reminded me to check the nut holding on the pittman arm. I found a big socket for that and a breaker bar and, sure enough, a bit of grunt moved it an eighth turn or so. 

And that did it.

 

@Robert M posted:

 

While I was underneath the front end looking at everything I noticed a split in the rubber mount that connects the two halves of the steering column. Is that something that should be replaced immediately and if so what brands/types of replacements should I avoid?

IMG_BA7632AD10C7-1

Ironical, given your sig line!

In related news: On my way home to NYC when I first bought my Spyder, I noticed quite a bit of wander, so much so that I bought all new ball joints. Fast forward a year until I got my car sorted enough to drive it, I discovered when I replaced the 165/78-15 tires with the ones Carey recommends that the PO had mounted the rear 5.5" wheel on the right side and both the 4.5 front wheels on the right. 

That fixed the wander right up. Sometimes I think it's a little loose on center, but the reality is that if I move one of the steering wheel spokes more than 1/2" it changes direction. Thanks for the tip on the Pittman arm, Ed. That's definitely worth a look. 

Last edited by dlearl476
@dlearl476 posted:

Ironical, given your sig line!

In related news: On my way home to NYC when I first bought my Spyder, I noticed quite a bit of wander, so much so that I bought all new ball joints. Fast forward a year until I got my car sorted enough to drive it, I discovered when I replaced the 165/78-15 tires with the ones Carey recommends that the PO had mounted the rear 5.5" wheel on the right side and both the 4.5 front wheels on the right. 

That fixed the wander right up. Sometimes I think it's a little loose on center, but the reality is that if I move one of the steering wheel spokes more than 1/2" it changes direction. Thanks for the tip on the Pittman arm, Ed. That's definitely worth a look. 

Yep!! If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space. I guess my toes were the only thing hanging over the line this time. 

@Robert M posted:

@PaulEllis Would you mind posting a diagram or photo of that Paul? I'm not familiar with that clamp. Thank you sir.

@DannyP posted:

Robert, you have two of them(in your picture above), on either side of the rubber/cloth donut. Paul is talking about the pinch bolt, one on the steering box input shaft and one on your steering shaft.

Thank you Danny.

@PaulEllis Please disregard previous request as the referenced part is in my picture from above.

Got an email from Air-cooled.net on Thursday that my part was on backorder but a new part was expected by the end of this week or the middle of next week. Went ahead and tightened up all of the suspension bolts as suggested by everyone here. The steering shaft pinch bolts were a tad loose but not enough, I think, to affect the steering. Tightened up one of the two pitman arm nuts. One of them turned a 1/4 turn but the other was tight as a duck's you know what. Checked the remaining nuts and everything else was tight. As soon as the new rag joint gets here I'll swap that out and give it a test drive. I'm missing some premium driving weather right now so it's been little difficult to not take the Speedster out.

So the new rag joint came in today's mail and I had it installed in about 30 minutes. Total install time included jacking up the car and collecting my tools. Also tightened up the big nut on the pitman arm. Took it for a road test and I'm still getting some wander.

Going to move to the back of the car now to see if anything at the back of the car is loose. I'll post if I find anything out of the ordinary.

And if that doesn't fix it I'll take the Speedster down to the alignment shop to have the alignment checked.

Dittos to edsnova & Alan Merklin. Urethane non oem rag joint failed.  Fortunately, while I was backing out of my garage. 

To Alan's post, changed rear to wide 5 rotors, had a senior moment, missed appropriate torque on stub axle nuts.  I would describe the sensation like the tires were mushy.  I knew where to look since no changes were made to the front.

These clown cars can be insidious.

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