How do I center the Steering Wheel? - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old May 24th, 10, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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How do I center the Steering Wheel?

While I had the engine and transmission out of my 69 RS this winter, I decided to replace the rag joint, pitman arm and leaking power steering box. The carís back on the road now and drives fine, but unfortunately the steering wheel is now about 60 degrees off-center. Iím a little surprised by that considering the steering components only go together one way. The rest of the suspension was rebuilt and aligned a couple years ago, and the wheel was centered before I replace the steering box. Whatís the best way to re-align the steering wheel? I thought I could just pull the steering wheel off and put it back on straight, but it looks like the horn button mechanism only allows it to go on one way. Second choice is to shorten one tie rod a couple turns and lengthen the other one by the same amount. Is that how itís done?

69 RS, Hugger orange/black, Deluxe interior, Sony AM/FM/XM/CD, PS & PB. 355, forged pistons, Eagle rods, balanced, Iron Eagles, 9.4:1 CR, .038 quench, XR270HR Cam, Z28 intake, FAST-EZ EFI 2.0, Thorley Tri-Ys, TCI 700R4, 2400 stall, 3.42 posi
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old May 24th, 10, 09:48 AM
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Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

Center the box by feel with the steering column disconnected, or by counting the number of turns to each side and divide in half. You'll feel a lot of resistance when the box is in the center of it's travel, but it'll be easy to turn before and after that resistance.

I can't remember if the pitman is keyed and will only go on the splines one way or not. You may need to take it off and center it once you have the box centered. Once it's centered and the wheels are pointing straight, hook it all back up and attach the steering column.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old May 24th, 10, 10:21 AM
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Thumbs up Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

If only the steering wheel (clock postion-wise) is off and the linkage/box stuff is good, then just pull it off and re-center it. Otherwise follow Joe's procedure.

Chris
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old May 24th, 10, 11:46 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HwyStarJoe View Post
I can't remember if the pitman is keyed.....

Yep, the pitman arm is keyed. Itíll only go on the steering box one way.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 130fe View Post
If only the steering wheel (clock postion-wise) is off and the linkage/box stuff is good, then just pull it off and re-center it. Otherwise follow Joe's procedure.

Thatís the first thing I tried. My steering wheel is a stock RS wheel. It has a hole in the hub area for a plastic insulator containing the spring and contact for the horn. It looks like the wheel can only go on one way and line up with the plastic insulator.

69 RS, Hugger orange/black, Deluxe interior, Sony AM/FM/XM/CD, PS & PB. 355, forged pistons, Eagle rods, balanced, Iron Eagles, 9.4:1 CR, .038 quench, XR270HR Cam, Z28 intake, FAST-EZ EFI 2.0, Thorley Tri-Ys, TCI 700R4, 2400 stall, 3.42 posi
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old May 24th, 10, 12:08 PM
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Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

If everything is in proper alignment, rag joint, steering wheel, pitman arm etc, then your tires were aligned with the steering wheel off center, I had this happen to me. Center steering wheel and bring your tires back to center by adjusting the tie rod sleeves.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old May 24th, 10, 02:24 PM
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Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

Quote:
then just pull it off and re-center it
NO NO NO NO!!!!!
The pitman arm AND the steering wheel are both keyed on the splines...ie have a flat spot and only fit on 1 way.
As mantioned above
The steering box is centered NOT the wheels
pitman locates pionting straight forward
The rag joint also only fits only 1 way round...and IF the steering wheel is on the splines correct it will be centered.
IT has to go on this way otherwise the indicator returns will not work correct.

THEN you get a wheel alignment with the steering wheel clamped striaght.

99% of wheel alignment guys have know idea that on older GM cars are different to your normal imports which the steering wheel can be removed and relocated.
They also have no idea as to setting the caster and camber with shims...They just add shims and eventually end up with a big stack of them
Shims are removed all but one front and back...then the caster camber done
There is an older post of mine that will tell you what size shim front and back will change the caster/camber so many degs each way.

My Spelling is not incorrect...it is creative

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old May 24th, 10, 06:53 PM
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Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

And I believe with all the box and Pitman arm keyed and centered, the steering shaft has a mark on the wheel end to point to 12 o'clock position.

The box, I believe, has a flat where the rag joint slips on and flat should be at 12 o'clock position.

If wheels are off center, then tie rods should center the wheels back to straight ahead.

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old May 24th, 10, 07:35 PM
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Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

If I were you, I would knock the pitman arm off the box. Then rotate your steering wheel lock to lock counting the turns from left to right (or right to left whatever). Then from full lock on either side, turn it back to center half the number of turns you counted. The steering wheel should wind up straight up.

Then check and see if the pitman arm will go back on pointing straight ahead. If not, then it's possible the box was assembled incorrectly when it was rebuilt. If the arm goes back on pointing straight ahead and your wheels are off, then you can center them with the tie rods. The box is built with a "center" in the gears so you can feel it when it is on center. You want the box centered and then your alignment to coincide with the box on center. Unless things are really messed up, the steering wheel will be centered correctly with the box on center.

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old May 24th, 10, 09:53 PM
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Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

Quote:
And I believe with all the box and Pitman arm keyed and centered, the steering shaft has a mark on the wheel end to point to 12 o'clock position.

The box, I believe, has a flat where the rag joint slips on and flat should be at 12 o'clock position.
Coorect the sterring wheel is also keyed on the the splines, and believe well my collumn has a dimple on the end indicating top

The rag joint will only bolt up 1 way...to the column...the 2 bolts are different and the slines are keyed also

DONT knock the pitman off...use a puller
DONT pull the steering wheel off , use a puller
Dont hit the end of the column other wise you will break the nylon pin that is for collapsing the colum in an accident...if you do break the nylon pin...replace it even thu the 2 1/2s of the column are damn tight.

If you go back to a thread of mine about 4 yrs ago it gives full details of length of column etc etc etc

My Spelling is not incorrect...it is creative

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old May 25th, 10, 05:50 AM
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Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

The steering wheel end of my column shaft has a mark at 12 o'clock as well.

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old May 25th, 10, 08:01 AM
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Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steptoe View Post
NO NO NO NO!!!!!
The pitman arm AND the steering wheel are both keyed on the splines...ie have a flat spot and only fit on 1 way.
As mantioned above
The steering box is centered NOT the wheels
pitman locates pionting straight forward
The rag joint also only fits only 1 way round...and IF the steering wheel is on the splines correct it will be centered.
IT has to go on this way otherwise the indicator returns will not work correct.

THEN you get a wheel alignment with the steering wheel clamped striaght.

99% of wheel alignment guys have know idea that on older GM cars are different to your normal imports which the steering wheel can be removed and relocated.
They also have no idea as to setting the caster and camber with shims...They just add shims and eventually end up with a big stack of them
Shims are removed all but one front and back...then the caster camber done
There is an older post of mine that will tell you what size shim front and back will change the caster/camber so many degs each way.

Step, IF everything else is centered (like I said in my post) and JUST the steering wheel is off, then why couldn't you just recenter the wheel? I have an Ididit column and you can put the wheel hub on off-center (with everything else good). I don't remember the factory column I had being keyed on the steering wheel side (maybe it was?). Is it keyed on the box side of the column (where the rag joint attaches)?

BTW, shouldn't the plastic ring stub position at about 11 oclock for the turn signal cancelling cam to work correctly? I had mine off and it wasn't working right until I repostioned it.

Chris
1968 Camaro SS coupe, Lemans Blue/medium blue interior
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old May 25th, 10, 10:37 AM
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Smile Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

There is a post somewhere around here, about the flat on the reproduction (chinese) rag joints being 180į off. In my case, I have an original rag joint and my steering wheel was upside down and no you can't just reposition the wheel on a stock column. I had to redrill the 5/16 hole in my ragjoint coupler to 3/8 so that I could turn my wheel around 180į. The problem may be in my AGR steering box but, this was a much easier fix. My tie rods are evenly spaced this way.

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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old May 25th, 10, 02:09 PM
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Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

Quote:
Step, IF everything else is centered (like I said in my post) and JUST the steering wheel is off, then why couldn't you just recenter the wheel?
Because these cars..like the Aussie GM Holdens HY HK HQ HZ models are not designed or made that way...as explained in posts above...
horn/indicators will not work correct...the ign lock can be prone to jamb, and could also effect the trans lock???

IF the steering wheel is not put on with the slines matching, the bolt will not pull down on the chamfer correct and you will post prberly strip/damage the thread on the nut and/or shaft have seen this on several Aussie GMs and a bloody idiot did it to my camaro 25 yrs ago....I know about the Aussie GMs from digging thru wrecking yard to find matching nuts and parts for my camaro
Box centered
pitman centered
steerng wheel centered
rag joint right way around with correct bolts
THEN the wheels are aligned straight to match the steering wheel...NOT the other way around,

Period.

My Spelling is not incorrect...it is creative

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old May 25th, 10, 02:51 PM
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Thumbs up Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

Step, not that I disagree with you, maybe we are not following each other. I wasn't saying to start the "centering process" at the steering wheel. I agree with you and the previous posters about the correct way to "center the wheel" by starting at the box and work back to the steering wheel. I know the 67/8's and the 69's have several differences between the two. The 67/68 ididit column (on steering wheel side) is not keyed, I can put my steering wheel off by 180 degrees and it will steer and install fine. BTW, if you try and put a 69 wheel hub on a 67/8 steering column, it will not install all of the way. Ask me how I know LOL, guess the splines are a different count. The 67/8's also don't have to worry about the ign key (in dash). Funny about the subtle differences in our cars (first gens).

Chris
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Last edited by 130fe; May 25th, 10 at 03:06 PM.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old May 25th, 10, 09:23 PM
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Re: How do I center the Steering Wheel?

Chris, to simplify this. The 69 is much different because of the locking plate that is not on the 68.

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