Steering box mount cracking - revisited

K

Ken Chambers

Guest
Hi all,

As discussed previously on this list we know the steering box mount is prone to
cracking probably due to the under engineered design in general as shown in the
numbers below.

My '64 has about 30K miles on the meter. Obviously, higher mileage cars would
likely have more cracking but they all suffer from weak and flexing mounts.
BTW, is 30K miles on the high side for an Amphicar? That topic in itself would
make for interesting information. How about a poll to find out what kind of
mileage is on our fleet?

The broken weld on my steering box mount was located at the bottom rear portion
of the plate facing the left wheel well opposite the steering box itself. The
movement was quite evident with someone turning the steering wheel. It was
rather shocking to see just how much the box actually moved. Turning the wheel
a half turn left and right resulted in a whopping .10 inches of left/right
movement measured at the top of the box to the adjacent wheel well.

Welding up the crack in place was not too difficult using a wire feed MIG
welder. Be sure to take all the necessary precautions while welding in the
vicinity of the gas tank. Just make sure there are no fuel vapors present and
use wet rags to shield the area. Keep a garden hose and fire extinguisher
within reach as well.

After welding, a repeat test still produced .05 inches of movement. You can see
flexing of the insufficiently thin metal of the steering box mount. In a
complete frame up restoration, that's one area that should be strengthened.

Next came the addition of a diagonal cross brace from the steering box to the
hull. I used a 1/4 x 3/4 x 18 inch bar attached to a front bolt on the steering
box that angles down to a vertical bar for the heater core. I think the
Amphicars differ somewhat in this area. Some people have talked about attaching
the bar to where the fuel shut off solenoid is mounted. On all three of my '64s
(very close s/n's) that solenoid is attached to one of the master brake cylinder
bolts. The only convenient place to attach the diagonal brace was to the heater
brace just above the frame. One drill hole was required. That arrangement
resulted in a very solid steering box. Movement now is only .005 inch
as accurately measured with a dial indicator - quite an improvement!

A road test also proved nothing short of amazing. I previously experienced a
frequent shimmy in the steering wheel while driving. On occasion the shimmy was
so violent I would hit the brakes to slow down - very scary. I'm happy to say
the steering feels rock solid now with no shimmy. The car tracks better too.

Sometimes we have the propensity to live with things that don't quite seem right
but just justify it by thinking it's probably normal for an old car. That's
probably fine unless it's a safety issue. Brakes, steering, tires, fuel and of
course, the bilge pump, are areas that should be safe and road/sea worthy.

Happy driving and boating,
Ken Chambers, CA
 
M

Marc Schlemmer

Guest
Ken,
My Amphi has around 27K mikes on it....and to your question about typical
mileage, I think that your 30K is to the high side for in Amphicar in the
United States, but to the low side for an Amphicar in Germany and elsewhere
in Europe. We Amphicar owners in the U.S. don't drive them like the rest of
the world!
In any case, my steering box had a LOT of movement. I didn't measure it,
but it was at least a 1/4", maybe more....and I drove it that way for
several years without knowing it. I put one of Robert's braces on....the
original design that bolts to the top two holes of the steering box and then
welds to the inside of the fender. Actually, it wasn't Robert's design, but
was featured in a previous issue of the club newsletter submitted by Mark
Richardson from Ren? Pohl. Robert just had some nice ones made up that I
fitted to my car. It did a good job, and reduced the movement
considerably...but the box still moved quite a bit. The movement now
resulted in the flexing of the fender where the brace was welded! Then,
Robert had a new design made. It bolts to the bottom two bolts on the
steering box, and down to a piece of steel on the frame where two holes are
drilled and the brace bolted. Now, with two braces installed, my steering
box seems nice and solid. I'm very happy. In reality, I think the second
design is much better (and more solid) and would of course make my first
bracket unnecessary, but since it was already there, I left it.
I certainly wouldn't want anyone to panic over their Amphicar steering box
moving around, but it is certainly a "must" that everyone take a peak at
their box to see if it moves and how much. Then you can make your own
decision about how best to handle the repair. I certainly would recommend
bracing the box in some manner, and I was quite happy with Robert final
design. He offered them for sale in the Club classifieds as a kit - even
with a new, proper sized drill bit! He has a good option if you don't want
to design and figure something out for yourself!

Marc Schlemmer.
 
G

Greg

Guest
To add my 2 cents. I have a low mileage car showing
5k. It is assumed accurate because it was mostly a one
owner car before me. Until I checked last year, I
assumed all this talk about steering box movement was
over done and applied only to very high mileage cars,
but when you see it you will be a believer that there
is a problem. I finally had someone turn the wheel
while I watched under the hood and was shocked, so
much so that I didn't want to drive it again until I
installed the brace. I also concur with the huge
improvement in driveability as well with much less
shimmy but the safety issue is the real issue and you
wouldn't want to lose the vehicle over a few dollar
brace.
Greg Z. (Michigan)


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J

Jim Z

Guest
Re: RE: Steering box mount cracking - revisited

Marc,
I am picking up on this conversation late, so if I'm asking questions that
have already been covered, I apologize. I have unfortunately discovered that my
(like everyone else's) steering box moves around a bunch while driving, and I am
definitely in need of one of these braces.
One issue about my box beyond the weak mounting bracket was (relatively) loose
mounting bolts. If you haven't checked those, please do. My mounting bolts
were not as tight as they should have been. We discovered that one day when
the car drove so badly I didn't want to take it home. We tightened those bolts
and the difference was phenomenal. However, it was short-lived. Now, all the
stresses that were lost to the loose bolts are cracking the bracket.
Marc, you mentioned using "Robert's" design. Robert who, and where/how can I
reach him. If the new brace works as well as you say, I'd be interested in
fitting it. Considering my finding this crack, I really don't want to drive the
car much before fixing it.

Jim Z.
----- Original Message -----
From: Marc Schlemmer
Sent: Saturday, May 31, 2003 6:00 AM
To: Amphicar Digest
Subject: [amphicar-lovers] RE: Steering box mount cracking - revisited

Ken,
My Amphi has around 27K mikes on it....and to your question about typical
mileage, I think that your 30K is to the high side for in Amphicar in the
United States, but to the low side for an Amphicar in Germany and elsewhere
in Europe. We Amphicar owners in the U.S. don't drive them like the rest of
the world!
In any case, my steering box had a LOT of movement. I didn't measure it,
but it was at least a 1/4", maybe more....and I drove it that way for
several years without knowing it. I put one of Robert's braces on....the
original design that bolts to the top two holes of the steering box and then
welds to the inside of the fender. Actually, it wasn't Robert's design, but
was featured in a previous issue of the club newsletter submitted by Mark
Richardson from Ren? Pohl. Robert just had some nice ones made up that I
fitted to my car. It did a good job, and reduced the movement
considerably...but the box still moved quite a bit. The movement now
resulted in the flexing of the fender where the brace was welded! Then,
Robert had a new design made. It bolts to the bottom two bolts on the
steering box, and down to a piece of steel on the frame where two holes are
drilled and the brace bolted. Now, with two braces installed, my steering
box seems nice and solid. I'm very happy. In reality, I think the second
design is much better (and more solid) and would of course make my first
bracket unnecessary, but since it was already there, I left it.
I certainly wouldn't want anyone to panic over their Amphicar steering box
moving around, but it is certainly a "must" that everyone take a peak at
their box to see if it moves and how much. Then you can make your own
decision about how best to handle the repair. I certainly would recommend
bracing the box in some manner, and I was quite happy with Robert final
design. He offered them for sale in the Club classifieds as a kit - even
with a new, proper sized drill bit! He has a good option if you don't want
to design and figure something out for yourself!

Marc Schlemmer.


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M

Marc Schlemmer

Guest
Jim,
The "Robert" I was talking about is Robert "still alive" Vondracek from
Valparaiso, Indiana. His email is: rjv@drakebuilders.com
He has a classified listing on the club web page at www.amphicar.com/ads.htm
Scroll down and you should find the braces, along with some photos from his
installation. It worked great, and was a snap to install. The ad does say
"No welding or car modifications" which I guess it true....but it does
require drilling two holes in a brace on the car....so it's not really a
"modification", but two holes are put into the car.
I'd recommend the brace without hesitation.
Good Luck,
Marc.
 
I

Ina Cabanas

Guest
My Amphi has about 2,500 miles on it. When Bill Syx told me it was probably
original I couldn't stop laughing. He said the cars rusted out before the
owners had to do tune ups on them. After reading other Amphi's milages I guess
he's right. So, count me at the low milage end.

Ina in the Boro
----- Original Message -----
From: Greg
To: amphicar-lovers@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Sunday, June 01, 2003 9:25 AM
Subject: Re: [amphicar-lovers] Steering box mount cracking - revisited


To add my 2 cents. I have a low mileage car showing
5k. It is assumed accurate because it was mostly a one
owner car before me. Until I checked last year, I
assumed all this talk about steering box movement was
over done and applied only to very high mileage cars,
but when you see it you will be a believer that there
is a problem. I finally had someone turn the wheel
while I watched under the hood and was shocked, so
much so that I didn't want to drive it again until I
installed the brace. I also concur with the huge
improvement in driveability as well with much less
shimmy but the safety issue is the real issue and you
wouldn't want to lose the vehicle over a few dollar
brace.
Greg Z. (Michigan)


__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Calendar - Free online calendar with sync to Outlook(TM).
http://calendar.yahoo.com

Yahoo! Groups Sponsor





THE AMPHICAR-LOVERS LIST
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Before posting requests for information, please check the List
Archives:
http://www.escribe.com/automotive/amphicar/search.html
For more information about this List and other available services
visit:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amphicar-lovers/
To UNsubscribe from this List, just send a blank email to:
amphicar-lovers-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
Any other issues may be addressed to the List owner (Mike Israel) at:
amphicar770@yahoo.com
This list is provided as a free service. Please support our sponsors at:
http://www.growerflower.com/default.asp?id=41762


Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.


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