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Old 12-10-2012, 09:27 AM   #1
ledd72
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Question New Member - Same old Bronco steering issue

Hello everyone. I'm new to this forum. But here we go. I just acquired the 1981 Ford Bronco in the picture, and it has been in the family the last 25 years. And it has ALWAYS had steering issues. But driving it home from tn to oh yesterday, which is normally a 5 hour and a half trip, turned into a 9 hour trip. If is wasn't jumping into the right hand lane, it was jumping into the left hand lane. As of right now I do not feel its safe to drive unless its speeds lower than 35 MPH. I was reading a little bit about the tie rod flip, was thinking more of using a heim joint, but just wondering if anything else can be done, or if anyone else has had these problems. I jacked up one wheel, and I get an inch and a half to two inch play just by having all the tie rods cork screwed twisting up. I hate the wishbone design. I will modify or replace one way or another. Was thinking of something like putting in a 2000 F-150 rack and pinion or just switching to a 78-80 front axle as a last resort. Any questions or information or comments please send them to me. All help is greatly appreciated.

p.s It has 33in tires. And a 6 inch hecket thorn lift.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:03 PM   #2
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Here's my 2 cents. Clearly you have something terribly loose. It seems odd to be considering major design changes based on sloppy worn out components. It might be good plan to correct the current problems, have it aligned, & then consider changes based on improving a working system. Right now you have far fewer variables than you would have after making some of those changes. But if you choose to swap to a solid axle (Because you decide it would be better for your usage, not to correct a steering issue), then you'd want to put the money into those new components instead. Either way, along with everything else, be sure to check for cracks in the frame at the steering box, loose bolts at the box, & the rivets on the cross member near it.

By "wishbone design" are you referring to the TTB itself, or its steering linkage? As you consider changes, be aware that whatever the axle does, the steering components need to follow axle movement without changing the relationship between them. Bumpsteer is your enemy. If the distance between the axle and the steering changes, the tires will turn on their own when you go over anything.

Here's a recent discussion on rack & pinion: Has any tried to convert to Rack and Pinion steering. It refers to a solid axle, but a lot of the issues still need to be considered. Pay attention to the critics in that thread. There are some sharp guys in there. If those problems can't be resolved, the result would be unsafe.

You mention changing to a "78-80 front axle". The TTB design is basically the same from 80-96. It's the 78 & 79 that use the solid axle. The high speed desert guys like the TTB. Rock crawlers prefer the solid axle. FSB has a ton of info on the swap in the Solid Axle Swaps section. If you have questions on that option, the SAS section would be the place to ask.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:11 PM   #3
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Had wandering issues after my 4" lift on TTB, I blew out both upper ball joints after lift which was causing me to over correct all times. After ball joints I had to lower air pressure to 35psi to stabilize it, lost mpg but rather stay in control. Fastest I drive is 65 with 4:56 gears.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:56 PM   #4
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ok i have no components that are loose. except for the inner tie rod that connects to the pit man arm. and i really have to work it to feel it. have replaced everything twice or three times over the years. i did have a crack in the crossmember under the engine that i welded 10 years ago. also i added a crossmember of my own in front of the gear box to minimize frame rail movement at the box. now i was going to add plates on each side of the rail to staibilize the box once and for all but the movement is very very minimal almost unable to feel or see. as far as the solid axle goes i have always favored a draglink wheel to wheel . more than what i have now which is loose by design. i do think flipping the tie rods would help but i feel like the heim joint would be better. i am new and this forum i difficult to understand. i am just looking for help with this by people that have been thru it. does anyone know the name of the bushings in the swing arms.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ledd72 View Post
I just acquired the 1981 Ford Bronco in the picture...
I jacked up one wheel, and I get an inch and a half to two inch play just by having all the tie rods cork screwed twisting up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ledd72 View Post
i did have a crack in the crossmember under the engine that i welded 10 years ago...
i have no components that are loose. except for the inner tie rod that connects to the pit man arm. and i really have to work it to feel it.
This is confusing. Do you have freeplay or not? Did you just get this truck & are at the beginning of trying to figure it out, or do you have already done a lot of work that was left out of the first post? I'm not trying to give you grief, just trying to get to a good solution.

I agree on the solid axle steering. With a solid axle the tie rod from wheel to wheel is better. Those of us with the TTB are stuck following the swing of the beams.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:50 PM   #6
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yo,
This may help
Dana 44 IF Suspension (TTB), Parts Break-Out Diagram (TTB HD) in 80-96 w/ Nomenclature; miesk5 Note, 34992-S2 Radius Arm-to-Rear Bracket Nut is Ford Part 34992-S2, 3/4-10 HEX LOCK P/T
Source: by Steve83 (Steve, That dirty old truck) at http://www.supermotors.net/registry/media/255498

Ford Motorcraft® Steering, Suspension & Driveline Systems Components Parts Catalog it is a 12.21MB PDF file w/Suspension Illustrations: 20 see page 170
1981 — Bronco
Drag Link .... 4WD Inner Left .. MDS-1017 1
4WD Inner Right - Connecting Tie Rod - 33.65" Long - 22mm
Thread ............ MDS-1018 1
Tie Rod 4WD Outer Right . MES-2212R 1
4WD Outer Left ....MES-2213L 1
Front Suspension:
Ball Joint . 4WD Upper .. MCS-10339 2
4WD Lower .. MCS-10253 ...

Steering Box Frame Crack Repair
Source: by Steve83 (Steve, That dirty old truck) at http://www.supermotors.net/registry/media/520094

Steering Component Resto by XRIS @ http://fullsizebronco.com/forum/showthread.php?t=133625 (i.e. Tie Rod ends, Drag links, adjustment sleeves, etc).


Symptoms of Wear; "...Scrubbed tires indicate the wheels have incorrect toe. Parts to check are the idler arm, strut rod bushings, tie-rod ends, pitman arm and center link. Cupped tires are symptoms of incorrect camber. Parts that could be worn and ready to replace are the ball joint, coil springs and control-arm bushings. Cupped tires may also be a symptom of frame fatigue. Uneven tire wear suggests that the alignment is loose or parts are worn. Check for loose wheel bearings, loose ball joints and worn bushings. Make sure the wheels are balanced, and inspect the shock absorbers. Variable tire wear indicates the tires are improperly inflated. Overinflated tires have excessive wear in the center; underinflated tires have excessive outer wear. Make sure tires are inflated to the proper pressure. Regularly inspecting the three interrelated systems — braking, steering and suspension — and replacing worn parts help assure safe, trouble-free driving. ..." by MOOG® at federalmogul.com
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:01 PM   #7
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ok it has been in our family for 20 years. passed around this is the third an final time i will own it but i cant drive it or sell it until i feel i could let my wife drive it. the only fault i can find is the design. so i think a redesign is the remedy. as of right now the remedy i can think of is new bushings in the swing arms and plate the gear box mount and flip the tie rods the put my dampers on. do you know if anyone has done the heim joint setup?
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ledd72 View Post
as of right now the remedy i can think of is new bushings in the swing arms
and plate the gear box mount and flip the tie rods the put my dampers on.
do you know if anyone has done the heim joint setup?
Yeah some racers use Heim joints instead of tie rod ends and radius arm
bushings too. If you're considering those you must have a lot-more money
than I got! LOL :)

There's also polyurethane bushings that are a little more solid and longer
lasting than the original rubber. They're cheap and good. ;) Get the black
ones ...they're supposed to have graphite in 'em. Your rig have those
already by chance? (since it's lifted)

Ok, the Bronco's got Twin Torsion Beam TTB and 2wd Ford pickup's have
Twin-I-Beam. Those things got what's called an "axle pivot bushing" at the
frame end, replace those too.

Flip the tie rods! :) No kidding my Bronco doesn't handle a cloverleaf any
where near as good as my 2wd '75 F150. A lot of it's "lean steer" (bump
steer;) I'm guessing at this point. But don't know yet, still working on it.

Make sure your rig don't crab or dog track! :)

There's a shit-load of little things (let alone a loose tie rod end at the
pitman arm!) that can make a short wide wheel based vehicle act all kinds
of stupid at high speed and around turns. You just barely got it back, give
it some time, study it and think about it. It'll come together. :)

It's lifted, sounds like the "lifter" didn't do such a hot job (prob'ly thinks
he did tho! LOL) that's the way it usually works. ;) If you want it to handle
good at high speed consider un-lifting it?

Alvin in AZ
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:45 PM   #9
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well i think i did a good job back in 97

and your correct i will take some time and put a plan together. i just thought it would be easier to do heim joints instead of tie rods because i could just drill the holes straight through on the steering knuckles. i will get my galaxie off my lift and tear it down till i dont find wore out anything aka axle pivot bushing. i did look at the thread about putting on a rack and pinion and i think if the would have asked about putting a rack setup on a ttb axle the thread might have actually went somewhere.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:52 PM   #10
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I currently tracking steering demons down in my 85. I started with all new f250 tie rod ends (bolt up). I just finished putting energy suspension radius arm bushings in. I have a new steering box coming and I bought a Saginaw pump and bracket. I also have the lower steering shaft with a good used rag joint. Everything was purchased from FSB members with the exception of the tie rods and the bushings. The tie rods and the bushings have made significant improvements to the drivability and I expect the rag joint and the steering box with have an even greater impact. I did but sleeves for the TRE flip, but I'm not sure if I'm going to do it.

Just my $0.02.


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Old 12-11-2012, 12:39 AM   #11
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If you're driving straight and it just darts its usually a toe in issue. If its darting back and forth when you cut the throttle or add throttle it might be your rear axle moving. Bad spring bushings or loose axle bolts with blocks will do horrible things on these short bkos. There's too many of these that drive good to make a case that Fords design wasn't good. Sounds like you are on the right track with pivot bushings and tie rod ends. If there is play in the ball joints swap em out. It's not much money if you have the tools for the job.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:05 AM   #12
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ok thanks. can you tell me more about the f250 joints. it does not dart by giving or letting off the gas. just all over the place. you know i have not checked the rag joint in forever. i do know i need to fix my tilt every time i have to do a hard turn at a slow speed it slams all the way down. if i do the tie rod flip what exactly would i need. and thanks everyone for all the help.
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:20 PM   #13
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I got a Dorman rag-joint/steering-coupler kit then threw all of it
"away" except for the hunk of conveyor belt with the holes in it.

If you go this route, please don't use their hardware, please? :)

Took the original apart using a little hand grinder and tapped the
old rivet holes using 3/8-24 tap and those holes are already the
perfect size for that tap. :) See it? The bolts are threaded thru
the castings and then effectively "double nutted" with the extra
nuts. That thing is essentially hard as a rock when compared with
an original, especially if the original has been oil soaked with ATF
for years. ;)

But, it's not as solid as the expensive u-joint type that others brag
about liking so much! :)

So I took one of the two I'd fixed like that and doubled up on the
"hunk of conveyor belt" and it feels like it's more than double the
stiffness of just one. The test is when the engine is off and you're
-feeling- for play in the whole steering system and the squishiness
from the rag joint is obvious as anything.

Feel every joint in the system while your helper rocks the steering
wheel at your command. Any play at all is too stinkin' much for a
good steering vehicle let alone a short wheel based little sucker
like our Broncos! LOL :)

The more I drive mine the better I like it! You too? :)

Alvin in AZ
ps- I used grade-8 nuts, bolts and washers. It's a "safety part" do
the best job you can on it. :)
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:57 PM   #14
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This is what I have done and plan in doing re: my steering

There's a couple good links.
http://www.fullsizebronco.com/forum/...d.php?t=215465



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Old 12-11-2012, 08:25 PM   #15
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check the gearbox.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:12 PM   #16
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Muffinman944 has a used one. I just bought his reman one.


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Old 12-12-2012, 11:49 AM   #17
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I drove a Bronco a few weeks ago that would steer itself. Looked under it and the pivot bushings were shot.
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:45 PM   #18
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I drove a Bronco a few weeks ago that would steer itself. Looked under it and the pivot bushings were shot.
Can you tell visually if the axle pivot bushings are worn out? They look like a bear to replace.


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Old 12-12-2012, 02:19 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OhNoBronco85 View Post
Can you tell visually if the axle pivot bushings are worn out? They look like a bear to replace.


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On the Bronco I was driving you didn't have to guess when you looked at the bushings. They were pretty much gone. But the vehicle would would go over a bad spot in the road and jump to the right 5 or 6 feet.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:55 PM   #20
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yo,

axle pivot Bushing Replacement & Homemade Tool in an 84
Source: by justshootme84 (Randy Z, Casual Mudder) at http://www.supermotors.net/clubs/sup...y/1133/33818-4

more LINKs in my site @ http://www.broncolinks.com/index.php?index=332
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