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Isolated shaking of the steering wheel - '32 Buick Model 86


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I took our '32 Model 86 Victoria out tonight. Strangest thing happened; never experienced this before (of course, this '32 is the first classic car we've ever owned) so I'm hoping to find some answers here. I was traveling around 35-40 mph and hit a small pothole in the road.  The steering began shaking left and right.  I hesitate to use the word "severe" but it wasn't just a little shimmy.  I put some pressure on the wheel trying to stabilize it but found that applying the brake was ultimately what stopped it. I hit a few other bumps and potholes coming back home and it didn't happen again.  Wasn't sure if this normal every once in a while or if it represented a bigger problem (tie rod end, etc).  Any help would be appreciated.  If you have questions to help isolate the issue, let me know and I'll do my best to answer them.  As this is our first classic Pre-War car, I'm still learning.

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Check and correct front end.  All tie rod ends, all other connections.  Check caster, camber and toe in.  Check wheel bearings for proper tightness.  Check if front wheels are straight.  Check for broken leaves in springs and all shackles..

In other words do a complete front end alignment.  There is no point in fiddling around with alignment do it right and do it once.  

After I aligned my Pontiac it would go down the highway at 30, 40, 50, and 60 perfectly straight with hands off the wheel.  No problem with diagonal railway tracks and could parallel park using two fingers as long as the car was creeping ahead or back.

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While all of the above is important and should be done for good operation, since you have not done anything since previous driving, I would suspect wear in the steering box.  If you have excess play in the steering wheel, you should try to adjust per the manual.  

Braking is the best way in an emergency to stop the wobble if it occurs.  

 

Bob Engle

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Your front axle is loose on the springs. These cars have very low caster to zero caster, and your wheels wobbled when the pothole moved the axle relative to the spring and the caster went below zero into negative caster. When you hit the brakes, that moved the front axle back a half inch or so, giving the car positive caster again.


You need to put some shims between the axle and the leaf springs, and tighten the bolts down. Hubert might be able to find the thread, we talked about it in detail before.

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1932 Buick specs are 1 to  2 degrees for both caster and camber.  The specs and adjustments manual for 1932 has details on adjusting to specs with shims.

With the car having driven satisfactorily previously, I would still bet on steering gear excess backlash.

 

Bob Engle

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On 4/3/2020 at 5:13 PM, edinmass said:

Welcome to the death wobble........Ain’t it grand?

 

The fix is simple...........and only takes time and money.  You need to go through EVERYTHING! Springs, shackles, kick shackle if it has one, king pins, spindles, tie rod’s, drag links, steering box........get it all back to new and presto! Problem fixed......be sure to run 40 pounds to 45 pounds air pressure in the front...............

 

want to know what I have been spending the last 60 work hours doing??

 

look at the photos........I practice what I preach........the springs and shackles were the last item on my list.......steering box, king pins, and all the other stuff done first........the problem on this car was the spring shackles that were frozen and pounding in place.....terribly difficult fix.......I’m half way done as of 4 o’clock today.........

 

PS- Your big 1932 Series Buick is a fantastic car..........better driver than a Cadillac........and I’m a Cadillac guy!

 

 

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This is the most intelligent response.  Follow his directions and you should fix your car. 

 

I am in the process of doing the exact list of items on my '15 Buick truck. 

 

On my truck, it usually happens less than 15 mph and in a parking lot or crossing a curbe.  I never had the problem the first couple of years I owned the truck but the more I drove it the more "loose" the truck has gotten.  It sat for maybe 50+ years prior to me buying it. 

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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On 4/4/2020 at 5:09 PM, Larry Schramm said:

 

This is the most intelligent response.  Follow his directions and you should fix your car. 

 

I am in the process of doing the exact list of items on my '15 Buick truck. 

 

On my truck, it usually happens less than 15 mph and in a parking lot or crossing a curve.  I never had the problem the first couple of years I owned the truck but the more I drove it the more "loose" the truck has gotten.  It sat for maybe 50+ years prior to me buying it. 

 

 

There are two approaches:

 

1. Diagnose the problem and fix the most likely cause. If that doesn't work, fix the next most likely one, etc., until it's fixed. This method should be used on drivers, restored cars that were working well until something went wrong, etc. This method uses the least amount of labor and money to get the job done.

 

2. Fix everything, to solve the problem. This method should be used on an unrestored barn find, etc, where everything is probably broken, rusted, rotted, or out of style, or on a car that has multiple problems. This method takes maximum work and money.

 

Judging by the description of the car in the OP, we don't know whether to use method 1 or 2 for this car. We don't know if it's perfectly restored and something broke, or whether the whole car is broke.

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There are a lot of definitions of "restored".  Everything from a light clean up and paint to taking everything back to "original". Plus who knows how many times different hands have been on that vehicle with same amount of opinions on what is "OK".

 

On a 100 year old vehicle +- a few years, the best thing to do is to start at the beginning and bring everything up to factory specifications.  

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1 hour ago, Larry Schramm said:

 

On a 100 year old vehicle +- a few years, the best thing to do is to start at the beginning and bring everything up to factory specifications.  

Is that not exactly what several of us have suggested.  No one knows how or what has been done except for the person/persons that worked on the car.  Even if you had a invoice for things that were ordered to be done, unless you were present and knowledgeable you have absolutely no idea how or what was done.

Many a business has lost their reputations because more and more customers found their work to be less than satisfactory.  Dealing with older cars that are not driven many miles makes it harder for we who own them to know that we got what we ordered.

An old prominent machine shop in Winnipeg went out of business when cars got faster and mileages increased faster.  Suddenly customers found that their work was only marginal.

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For what's worth here is a link to the thread on problems I had and eventually cured on the "death wobble" on my 32 50 series.  Perhaps there might be something you can find that will help you solve your issue.  In my case it was a corroded worn out steering box.

 

 

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