Mark Shaw

1912 Model 34 Steering Damper

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I researched steering dampers here on the form and other sites.  I learned that others were successfully using VW bug steering dampers on Model T and other small cars.  So I bought one at a local auto supply for just over $30 and installed it yesterday afternoon.  I used a 2" U bolt and made a second plate to accept the anchor bolt on the axle.  I did the same with a smaller U bolt to fit on the 3/4" tie rod.  (See photo below).

 

This morning's test drive went without a hitch.  No more "Death Wobble"!!!

1906096024_SteeringDamper.thumb.jpg.b71be9bd7a45ce02193f1d57055bb519.jpg

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Well, I respectfully disagree that this is a good solution.

 

Repair everything on the front end to new specs, and you don't need a damper.

 

A lot of restorations end up with "well, front end is good enough, no need to spend money fixing".

 

Yes, , fix everything, king pins, tie rod ends, steering box, ALL of it...control of car and, ultimately, your life, depends on it...

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6 minutes ago, trimacar said:

fix everything, king pins, tie rod ends, steering box

Davie,

     I did fix all those things, and just finished changing the wheel bearings to new TIMKIN tapered roller bearings.  I thought that was the last thing to cause it, but it still had a slow speed death wobble.  So, I installed a $30 damper to use the car on the next HCCA tour in less than a week. 

    Re-checking all the front end joints etc. will have to wait until this winter.

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Posted (edited)
On ‎8‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 7:23 PM, trimacar said:

Well, I respectfully disagree that this is a good solution.

 

Repair everything on the front end to new specs, and you don't need a damper.

 

New specs were good for driving on dirt roads with wagon ruts steering your wheels for you, top speed whatever the horse in front of you was going. For modern roads you might need a damper.

.

Edited by Morgan Wright (see edit history)
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Ok Mark and Morgan, I understand, but these cars had no death wobble when new, and early cars have been driven for years on paved roads at speed without issues.

 

Double  check your tire pressures, that's a contributor to the issue.  Most early cars with clincher rims are very high pressure compared to what we deem normal today. My '31 Pierce acted up once, and it was tire pressure related.

 

There could be other issues, such as a bent axle. 

 

Just trying to help.

 

good luck with fix.

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Posted (edited)

My car, 1918, has no caster. Perhaps adding caster would make it run straighter. There was talk about adding a shim wedge between the spring and frame to add 2 degrees of caster so the wheels pointed straight, and that many people used to do that in the old days. I don't know what year Buick started designing the front axle with caster, but if my 1918 doesn't have it, 1912 doesn't either. 

Edited by Morgan Wright (see edit history)

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2 hours ago, trimacar said:

Double  check your tire pressures,

David,

    I do realize that 100+ year old cars didn't need steering dampers when new (However, old VW bugs did).  Since there are no specs available for the original caster settings on a 1912 Model 34 Buick, a steering damper will have to do for now.  I do plan to make some wedges to increase caster sometime this winter.  

As stated before, I checked and corrected everything you mentioned, and my tire pressures are all 60 psi (checked with a digital gage). 

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Something that should be checked on cars with the dreaded death wobble is the side to side wear in the spring shackles on both ends of the front axle springs.

If you can move at all, its to much. Shim for zero clearance. 

This solved the death wobble on my 25 Master and my 28 Cadillac 

Hope this helps

Jim

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8 hours ago, Mark Shaw said:

 I do plan to make some wedges to increase caster sometime this winter.  

 

Me too. That's on the too-do list for sure. A car without caster is a horseless carriage.

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I did check the spring shackles per Jim's suggestion, and they were tight.   But, with some help, I finally found the cause of the problem....

 

Yesterday, a friend came over and noticed that the front axle had a slight bend on the right side.  It was hard to detect because the only line of sight to see it was through the wheel spokes.  I put a straight edge against it to see it was close to an inch out of true.  It appears that this car hit hard on a stump or other low object that actually bent the 2" tubular axle.  The right wheel has not been tracking correctly and upon close inspection, we could barely see that the tire is scrubbing slightly on one side.  So now I know what needs to be done & I have yet another winter project to add to a list that always seems to get longer as I tour with these old cars.

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20 hours ago, Mark Shaw said:

I did check the spring shackles per Jim's suggestion, and they were tight.   But, with some help, I finally found the cause of the problem....

 

Yesterday, a friend came over and noticed that the front axle had a slight bend on the right side.  It was hard to detect because the only line of sight to see it was through the wheel spokes.  I put a straight edge against it to see it was close to an inch out of true.  It appears that this car hit hard on a stump or other low object that actually bent the 2" tubular axle.  The right wheel has not been tracking correctly and upon close inspection, we could barely see that the tire is scrubbing slightly on one side.  So now I know what needs to be done & I have yet another winter project to add to a list that always seems to get longer as I tour with these old cars.

 

Good news that you have found the problem.  Like you, my list just keeps getting longer.  I did get the starting fixed for the '13 and ready for the Old Car Festival & HCCA tour.

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There always seems to be a "root cause" to our problems, and I'm glad you found it on this car.  That was a lucky find as I'm sure it's difficult, as you mention, to see just looking at it....good job!

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Posted (edited)

Yesterday, I used a 6" I beam to correct my bent front axle.  First, I removed the steering damper and attached the I beam to the straight side of the axle with 2x4 blocks and two ratchet straps.  Then, I used a larger ratchet strap to pull the axle back into alignment.  By leaving the axle mounted in the car, the tendency of the round axle to rotate was eliminated.  The I beam actually started to bend with full tension on the larger ratchet strap. This project took almost all day since I had to remove my electric hoist and dismantle my jib hoist to use the I beam swing arm.  Today I will test drive the car without the steering damper to see if this process corrected the death wobble.

Stay tuned....

754025159_AxleBending1(1).thumb.jpg.47ae0ff99fe7aaae8083a3157e8beee9.jpg

Axle Bending 1 (2).jpg

 

Well, it did the trick.  I just finished a test drive without the steering damper and there was no death wobble at all.  

I didn't mention it earlier, but I added two table spoons of fine flake graphite to the transmission oil.  So now it really shifts easily with no double clutching required.  I previously had real shifting problems until I learned how to shift it from a fellow HCCA member on it's first tour.  Owners need to speed shift this particular model Buick rather than double clutch or wait for the gears to mesh.  This car now drives and shifts better than ever. 

12 Buick Roadster at the top of The Old Spiral Highway.jpg

Edited by Mark Shaw (see edit history)
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What is the "Death Wobble" for this uninitiated (and hope I never am) individual?   Is it the inability to control the steering at speed?

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9 minutes ago, B Jake Moran said:

What is the "Death Wobble" for this uninitiated (and hope I never am) individual?   Is it the inability to control the steering at speed?

Jake,

    Death wobble is relatively common in Jeeps....  

What is Death Wobble?

Jeep death wobble is a rapid oscillating in your steering components and results in your steering wheel moving very quickly from side to side. It has earned this name because it feels like your Wrangler is literally shaking itself apart and that letting go of the steering wheel can lead to a very bad day. When this occurs it becomes extremely difficult to control your Wrangler and the only way to get it to stop is by slowing down; sometimes it is necessary to come to a complete stop. This isn't your standard, annoying vibration from unbalanced wheels. Death wobble is a distinctly harsher shaking force and very difficult to control.

Death wobble typically occurs at speeds above 45 mph and in most cases requires a trigger like hitting a bump or a pothole, but can also happen at speeds under 45 mph. One of the common myths about death wobble is that it doesn’t happen to stock Jeeps, only ones that have been lifted. This is not true. It is actually possible to have death wobble in ANY vehicle with a solid front axle. However, it is true that if you have recently done any suspension upgrades (Ex: Lift kits) you may be more likely to experience death wobble.

There also isn't a set year range or specific Jeep years that are more susceptible to the wobble over others. Every Jeep, even the older Willys, can find themselves plagued with this issue. If you’re faced with this unfortunate situation, here are some steps to look into and possibly help to solve the problem.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Mark Shaw said:

I didn't mention it earlier, but I added two table spoons of fine flake graphite to the transmission oil.  So now it really shifts easily with no double clutching required.  I previously had real shifting problems until I learned how to shift it from a fellow HCCA member on it's first tour.  Owners need to speed shift this particular model Buick rather than double clutch or wait for the gears to mesh.

 

Can you elaborate on this at all? I have a 1913 Studebaker that needs to be shifted quickly like that, and I have never really investigated why, but I think that maybe the gears just slow down really fast due to the heavy lubricant. Does your Buick use an extremely heavy lubricant (1500 or whatever) in the gearbox? Do you have a cone clutch? What exactly do you notice different with the graphite?

 

Glad you got the death wobble fixed.

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)

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Yes, I do use SAE 250 gear lube (similar to Steam Cylinder Oil or 600 wt. lube) that helps to slow down the gears when shifting.  Yes, I do have a leather cone clutch and yes, the graphite helps make shifting smoother by reducing the amount of pressure needed to push the shifter into gear.  See the original can below with description & directions. 

Graphite Brand.jpg

Graphite Description.jpg

Graphite Directions.jpg

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On 8/22/2019 at 8:43 AM, trimacar said:

Ok Mark and Morgan, I understand, but these cars had no death wobble when new, and early cars have been driven for years on paved roads at speed without issues.

 

Double  check your tire pressures, that's a contributor to the issue.  Most early cars with clincher rims are very high pressure compared to what we deem normal today. My '31 Pierce acted up once, and it was tire pressure related.

 

There could be other issues, such as a bent axle. 

 

Just trying to help.

 

good luck with fix.

I was accidently correct, I think I need to mark this on the calendar and make sure my wife knows that for once I was right!!  Great that you got the problem fixed....David C.

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3 hours ago, trimacar said:

I was accidently correct, I think I need to mark this on the calendar and make sure my wife knows that for once I was right!!  Great that you got the problem fixed....David C.

David,

     Thanks for your suggestions... 

I too get it right every now & then.  As I tell my friends, I have lots of ideas....but only a few are good ones.

Edited by Mark Shaw (see edit history)
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On ‎8‎/‎31‎/‎2019 at 2:01 PM, Bloo said:

 

Can you elaborate on this at all? I have a 1913 Studebaker that needs to be shifted quickly like that, and I have never really investigated why, but I think that maybe the gears just slow down really fast due to the heavy lubricant. Does your Buick use an extremely heavy lubricant (1500 or whatever) in the gearbox? Do you have a cone clutch? What exactly do you notice different with the graphite?

 

Glad you got the death wobble fixed.

 

 

On ‎8‎/‎31‎/‎2019 at 10:25 AM, B Jake Moran said:

What is the "Death Wobble" for this uninitiated (and hope I never am) individual?   Is it the inability to control the steering at speed?

 

From my experience on our older cars,  Death Wobble usually occurs at less than 10 miles per hour and usually under 5-6 mph. It has happened to me on my truck a few times when I would be turning in or out of a parking lot over the curb cut area, hit a bump, or some other input into the steering system.  The wobble is a violent shaking of the vehicle front end side to side and you can not drive out of it. The only way to stop it is to come to a complete stop and start off again.  I believe that as David said, tire pressures are a critical first step to correcting.  That does not leave out the other checks, but it is the easiest to check.  Glad everything worked out for you Mark.

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