Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby tinworm [OP] » December 24th 2012, 4:27pm

Im in the midst of a motor swap from my 4.3 to a MB diesel. First off, never mucked about with the steering on any car apart from replacing broken or worn stock components. Secondly, I love the stock turning radius of my 89 astro. I compared it with a rack and pinion setup on a 91 AstroRS, and the stock arrangement was a tighter circle by far, which I like for deliveries. However, Im not sure how I can keep it, so any advice appreciated!

Here is the situation-

This is the stock arrangement with the 4.3 oil sump to the rear-

Image

On the replacement motor, the oil sump is to the front-

Image

As you can see from the above pic, the oil sump obviously hits the steering arms. The motor in this pic needs to drop approximately 1.5 inches further to be at the correct height. I might be able to notch the pan, still need to see how that alters the pickup. (I built a jig that controls the height and angle of the transmission where it supposed to be since its a GM tranny im using.)

I need to either lower all the bars at least 2 inches, or should I try and go with rack and pinion instead?

here is a bad diagram of what im thinking-

Image

Ive already trimmed a subframe to clear the diesel oil sump, so its really a matter of getting the steering to work, and otherwise the motor will fit

Image
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby icebrrg3rd » December 25th 2012, 9:01am

:confused: Ummmm, if you saw a rack & pinion on a 91 RS, it was def a one-off custom, Astros never had R&P. So as far as going that route, you need to find someone who did it (successfully) so you can copy it, as if you don't have it in the proper locations, you'll have horrible to dangerous steering.

The only difference with the RS IIRC is a quicker steering box (less spins lock to lock) than the standard, still had idler arm set-up tho.

-Andrew

p.s. Sorry, didn't help you with a solution.
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby DRZ » December 25th 2012, 6:28pm

SmilieSafari on the AstroSafariVans.org site has a R&P setup for our vans.

That's Astro Safari Vans dot org.
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby tinworm [OP] » December 27th 2012, 3:15pm

icebrrg3rd wrote::confused: Ummmm, if you saw a rack & pinion on a 91 RS, it was def a one-off custom, Astros never had R&P. So as far as going that route, you need to find someone who did it (successfully) so you can copy it, as if you don't have it in the proper locations, you'll have horrible to dangerous steering.

The only difference with the RS IIRC is a quicker steering box (less spins lock to lock) than the standard, still had idler arm set-up tho.

-Andrew

p.s. Sorry, didn't help you with a solution.


I was told it was a rack and pinion, but I wasn't able to get under and verify at the time. Most likely you are right, I might have been experiencing the quick ratio idler setup. Ill have to see if I can get another look at that van to see if it was custom or anything. Probably not though, thanks for pointing this out
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby tinworm [OP] » December 27th 2012, 3:15pm

DRZ wrote:SmilieSafari on the ********.org site has a R&P setup for our vans.

That's Astro Safari Vans dot org.



thanks for the link! checking it out
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby tinworm [OP] » December 27th 2012, 5:06pm

wow, that R+P install was nuts. Im not sure I want to do that much work. :mrgreen:

Let me bounce this idea off the forum, what if I just drop all the mounts?

Image

on this side, I would make the pitman arm longer by two inches, and lower the other idler mount. The question would be how would this affect the steering? Im thinking it would be less turns lock to lock

Image
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby astroracer » December 27th 2012, 5:24pm

Modifying the steering is not something you want to do. Before you tear up the steering I would recommend looking at the oil pan and making sure you can't modify the pan to clear the steering. Doing that is a MUCH simpler solution... ANYTHING you do to the steering is going to affect how the van steers and tracks and can turn it into the van from hell to drive... A rack is not going to solve any of these problems either as it will probably need to run through the same space to work with any semblance of correctness. ( I say "work" and "correctness" with tongue in cheek as this is difficult to do with a stock motor).
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby DRZ » December 27th 2012, 5:28pm

The SmilieSafari rack & pinion mod works very well thank you and is lower and out of the way. Lowering the stock arms WILL cause bump steer though. Bump steer = when one or both wheels hit a bump and the wheel / wheels rise the toe in /out will change with some exciting results.
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby tinworm [OP] » December 27th 2012, 5:37pm

astroracer wrote:Modifying the steering is not something you want to do. Before you tear up the steering I would recommend looking at the oil pan and making sure you can't modify the pan to clear the steering. Doing that is a MUCH simpler solution... ANYTHING you do to the steering is going to affect how the van steers and tracks and can turn it into the van from hell to drive... A rack is not going to solve any of these problems either as it will probably need to run through the same space to work with any semblance of correctness. ( I say "work" and "correctness" with tongue in cheek as this is difficult to do with a stock motor).
Mark



I might have to do a little of both, cut the lower oil pan, and modify the steering. First off, ill get the engine correctly mounted on the altered subframe, then see exactly what I have to do.

The construction of the pan is interesting on this diesel, it has an upper cast aluminum pan, and a lower steel pan. The cast aluminum will be a lot harder to cut into without creating some major leak since I would have to cut into a bolt pattern, and im thinking to leave the steering in the same place, I might end up have to get into that pan too.

This is a question that will be answered once I get the engine really mounted though, so as soon as I do that, ill actually have some idea of what needs to happen.
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby tinworm [OP] » December 27th 2012, 5:40pm

DRZ wrote:The SmilieSafari rack & pinion mod works very well thank you and is lower and out of the way. Lowering the stock arms WILL cause bump steer though. Bump steer = when one or both wheels hit a bump and the wheel / wheels rise the toe in /out will change with some exciting results.


ok, good to know. Ill go back and read some more, the principle thread I was reading was done by someone named rebel, with a lot of input from smilesafari.

What do people do when they raise these vans? do they alter the steering with longer tie rods? How does that change the steering characteristics? curious to know
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby DRZ » December 27th 2012, 5:46pm

I think when they "lift" the vans the sub frame assy stays the same and the body is spaced higher with shim plates.
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby tinworm [OP] » December 27th 2012, 9:37pm

positioned the engine correctly in order to build my motor mounts, and now I have an idea of what we are looking at-

This will be the engine ride height-

Image

here from the side showing how forward that sump actually is-

Image

and stock same area-

Image

Once I get it solidly mounted, ill pull the lower pan and see whats going on with the oil pickup, and whether or not I can remove some of that sucker. I also want to move the oil drain port from the side, down to the bottom
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby astroracer » December 28th 2012, 5:37pm

1Gary pointed me to that R & P install thread. I went thru it quickly this morning and it does look viable. Keep in mind though it does take a bit of engineering knowledge to do this, and if this is the direction you take, definitely talk to the the guys that built the kits. This mod is not to be taken lightly. Like I said in my first post it needs to be done right to work or it will be a nightmare van to drive.
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby tinworm [OP] » December 28th 2012, 6:13pm

so I want to jump back to the idea of bolting on a longer pitman arm, and dropping all the mounts for the idler arms. What exactly do you all think would happen to the steering if I did that?

A longer pitman arm would result in less turns lock to lock and increased effort to turn the wheels, but how would it create bump steer if its otherwise the same? is bump steer controlled by the levelness of the rack in relation to the knuckle?

Issue is, I don't see how going R+P would really be any different from dropping the idler setup, they would both need to exist in the same space, a little lower than stock, so both steering setups would be at a different angle grabbing the knuckle, so wouldn't both result in bump steer unless I altered the knuckle?
If Id be expecting the same result in steering, wouldn't it make sense to simply adjust the existing steering and avoid the level of fabrication the R+P needs to be done?

does the 89 astro use a saginaw steering box? Ive been researching 4x4 forums, and this company partsmike, makes a drillable flat pitman arm that could work in this application. The stock 89 arm looks like its about 6" hole to hole, this one can go another inch if I request, and im sure I could find a longer one than even that.

heres that product-

http://www.partsmike.com/store/store.ph ... how_detail
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby icebrrg3rd » January 2nd 2013, 4:40pm

You are correct in saying that a R&P will need to occupy the same space as the idler arms, reason being that it needs to be there to eliminate any geometry changes in the steering that will produce bump steer. Dropping the idler arms, you change the arc they swing in in relation to the arcs of the A-arms. You would also have to lower the tie rod to steering knuckle connections to keep the arcs the same. As for increasing the pitman arm length, yes, you'd increase the effort and reduce the lock to lock ratio, but as long as the idler arms are still in their relative space front to back that shouldn't change the steering geometry.

There is a lot of headache involved with steering geometry, it probably would be better to do a body lift, then lift the engine so it sits higher in the frame, avoiding any steering issues with idler/pitman arm modifications. Just my :2:

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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby tinworm [OP] » January 17th 2013, 9:55pm

icebrrg3rd wrote:You are correct in saying that a R&P will need to occupy the same space as the idler arms, reason being that it needs to be there to eliminate any geometry changes in the steering that will produce bump steer. Dropping the idler arms, you change the arc they swing in in relation to the arcs of the A-arms. You would also have to lower the tie rod to steering knuckle connections to keep the arcs the same. As for increasing the pitman arm length, yes, you'd increase the effort and reduce the lock to lock ratio, but as long as the idler arms are still in their relative space front to back that shouldn't change the steering geometry.

There is a lot of headache involved with steering geometry, it probably would be better to do a body lift, then lift the engine so it sits higher in the frame, avoiding any steering issues with idler/pitman arm modifications. Just my :2:

-Andrew


this is a really good idea. maybe this is the route I will go. That way the only issue I need to concern myself with is extending the connection to the steering box, right? Other than that, its just the 6 subframe bolts and using longer ones with some kind of spacer?

Ive removed the whole steering apparatus from the original subframe, maybe ill mark the engines current height, install the full steering to the replacement subframe, re-mount the engine so it doesn't interfere with lock to lock, and measure the difference in height that I raised it and make spacers that height.

now im getting excited about this idea. :mrgreen:
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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby icebrrg3rd » January 18th 2013, 3:45pm

Some Astros can be lifted 2" and there is enough that you don't need to extend the steering linkage, the ones you do need to extend you grab the longer one and use it. Problem is, I can't remember which are longer, 1st gen vs. 2nd gen, AWD vs. RWD. Dang memory. As for the body lift, yes 6 sets of pucks, w/ longer bolts, will lift the front. A set of lift brackets for the rear leafs. Parking brake bracket gets a slight modification.

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Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby chaosR » February 9th 2013, 6:27am

I did the drop in steering on my AWD when i installed the 5.3 v8 and did the lift. The reasons why i had to do mine was because i droped my front diff down 1" afer the lift. This made the fr axle angles almost back to stock. Before the Cv's would bind at full susp extension or when towing and they would growl and vibrate. But by droping the diff the idler arm on the left hit the diff when steering was cranked to the right. So i made simple 1" blocks and droped the idler arms down for the clearance.

This diff drop made everything run nice and smooth, and when i did the 5.3L later it was a lifesaver because the oil pan would have never worked with the diff in the stock position. Kind of same scenario your having with the cross member and your pan. It also made the front dif driveshaft alingment nice for me.

Anyway the vans steering is a bit different than before, but not bad at all. There is some bump steer but it is lifted and i have 31" tires, so it will never drive like stock. Also i have a stock spec alingment right now. Which i know is not great for my set up. Im atually going in on monday to get the caster increased by 3 deg which is aperantly the ticket. So i will report back after thats done.

Seems others who lift vechicles need to move the steering components around as well.
So ive been reading about that on some other 4x4 forums, And it seems that the draglink should be in line with the track bar to minimize bump steer. So if you lower the the idler arms you sould do a longer pitman arm to get those angles are back to stock. This may increase the steering effort some but the Astros have very light steering anyway, most modern vechicles are much stiffer i find.

Having said that i did 1". If you go 2" maybe droping the box down would be better istead of +2" on the pitman length.

I want to try the 1" longer pitman this summer to see what happens, but the alingment is first so ill report back on that first. I think a lot can be solved / changed with playing with the alingment numbers.
Cool project BTW.

Check out mine if you feel like it. viewtopic.php?f=42&t=14613
I should do a post on the diff and idler arm mod some day too.
Cheers!
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chaosR
Firing on 1 Cylinder (L1)
Firing on 1 Cylinder (L1)
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Extra Info: 5.7 rwd lowered

Re: Need to lower or modifty steering, R+P needed?

Postby tinworm [OP] » March 25th 2013, 7:05pm

a few pics of the body lift I settled on. 3.5 inches is what should clear the motor from the steering, and allow me to get the valve cover off.
I also ordered that steering box linkage to compensate for the lift from overland vans.
Once I get it back together, ill take some pics of lock to lock to see how it turned out, hopefully well! :mrgreen:

In the meantime, I also sourced a set of 2" drop spindles to try and bring the van back down in the front a bit. I want to compare these vs taking a look at cutting the springs by a coil or so. I don't want to end up with a feeling of height and zero ground clearance, so I have to play with it after the subframe is bolted back up

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Original Poster [OP]
tinworm
Firing on 5 Cylinders (L1)
Firing on 5 Cylinders (L1)
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