Wheel spacers and steering dampener


Ken Chambers

I've got the front wheel spacers on one of my Amphicars. They space the wheels
out further away from the frame to allow for a tighter turning radius. There
are left and right steering stops on the adjustment bracket to stop the tires
just short of rubbing on the
suspension. Access is under the car above the large front cover plate.

Regarding the installation of a steering dampener. My Amphi had such a dampener
installed when I purchased it several years ago. At that time the car handled
terribly. As I reported a while back, the toe-in was way too much. The result
was the car didn't know
which tire to track while driving down the road. Depending on which tire had
more friction on the road at the moment it would track that one, then the other,
resulting in a car that jumped around left and right. The purpose of toe-in is
to take up the play of all
the worn steering parts so the steering is tight.

Getting back to the steering dampener, whoever installed it did not check for
interference during suspension travel. Since the dampener rod was attached to
the right steering tie rod, the first big dip in the road caused the dampener
rod to hit the frame thus
permanently bending right tie rod about 1-1/2 inches.

I believe the owner installed the dampened in the first place in an attempt to
rectify the lousy steering. That was really a band aid. The real problem was
the elusive steering box mount. As designed, the steering box mounts to a very
weak and flexible mount.
After enough miles, the mount will crack. The symptoms on my car was a
dangerous steering wheel shimmy, which puts a tremendous force on the steering
box and mount, thus weakening it even more.

I recently welded the crack in the steering box mount and added a diagonal
brace. That strengthened the side to side movement of the steering box to
almost zero movement. The result was nothing short of amazing. The steering is
now rock solid with absolutely no
shimmy. Just got back from driving the Amphi 400 miles this last weekend and it
handled perfectly.

Once again, check that steering box of yours. Do it by having someone turn the
steering wheel left and right while observing the steering box. Any visual
movement is not good. Add a simple diagonal brace and drive with improved

All the best,
Ken Chambers, CA
vacationing in the Chicago area,
wishing it was a month later to attend Celina

> I just today test drove and swam her after the
> installation of the steering damper I asked about a
> while back. Ended up using a 10mm rod end screwed
> onto the pass side steering-stop bolt threads, VW
> damper, and a simple welded bracket with a couple of
> U-bolts over the tierod.