• Welcome to For E Bodies Only !

    We are a community of Plymouth Cuda and Dodge Challenger owners. Join now! Its Free!

steering center link challenge '73 Challenger

Buckminster

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 18, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
34
Location
Fenton, MO
I have a '73 Challenger and after installing the fast ratio steering arms (idler and pitman) I had a different turning angle on the drivers side VS the passenger side. I talked with Carmen at Steer and Gear who rebuilt my steering box and trouble shot the setup to eliminate anything that could be incorrect with regards to the box, pitman arm, or idler arm. I'm down to suspecting the center link (drag link as some may call it). The passenger side tie rod end is shorter than the passenger side tie rod by 1 5/8". According to everything I've read on the forum this is supposed to be the same side to side. Here are the things I've checked that I believe I've ruled out.
1) the joint from the steering box to the steering shaft is lined up correctly. the wide tooth on the steering box input shaft is installed in line with the divot on the flex joint in the steering column.
2) the steering wheel is centered
3) the K-frame is on correctly according to the shop manual. The cross dimensions from the k-frame to the frame locating datums is on spec.
4) the steering knuckles are not bent.
5) the 4 double wide splines on the steering box are lined up with the chassis centerline as its supposed to be
6) the pitman arm is not bent

I have two questions. The first one is which way is the curve in the link supposed to go? Away from the pan sump (bumped towards the back of the car), or towards the front of the car? Two, if there are different drag links or center links that have different relative locations of the tie rod ends to the pitman arm or idler arm locations? i.e. if someone inadvertantly in its history put in an A-body, B-body or other drag link could it cause this problem and how would I identify if I had the correct '73 Challenger (E-body) drag link? there do not seem to be any markings or part numbers on this drag link. See the photo below for a measurement on one side of the tie rod. they are different side to side by 1 5/8" with the steering wheel straight ahead and the wheels aligned straight ahead.


Any help would be greatly appreciated.

IMG_1724.JPG
 
Last edited:

challenger6pak

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2011
Messages
4,052
Reaction score
908
Maybe for some reason your Kframe was replaced with one from a B body. They have a different angle on the steering gear box.
 

Challenger RTA

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
2,964
Reaction score
1,530
Location
PA Flood city
I don't think that would have anything at all to do with it if the linkage clears!
I was refereeing to the center link direction. If you think your way through it .it becomes more satisfactory and you learn something. center it up.
 
Last edited:

Challenger RTA

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
2,964
Reaction score
1,530
Location
PA Flood city
To find where or if there is an error. Myself I would center the center link. Idler arm connected not the pitman arm maybe loose to hold center link in place. Make all 4 tie rod ends equal.With car down use a tape measure from LT tread to RT tread.make equal as close as you can,front tread should be about an 1/8" wider. Then connect steering box. If no one post a center link measurement I'll get it tomorrow. With Idler arm and pitman arm straight back they should measure the same as the holes on the center link. Inside holes to center to center 21 give or take an 1/8".
 
Last edited:

Buckminster

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 18, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
34
Location
Fenton, MO
To find where or if there is an error. Myself I would center the center link. Idler arm connected not the pitman arm maybe loose to hold center link in place. Make all 4 tie rod ends equal.With car down use a tape measure from LT tread to RT tread.make equal as close as you can,front tread should be about an 1/8" wider. Then connect steering box. If no one post a center link measurement I'll get it tomorrow. With Idler arm and pitman arm straight back they should measure the same as the holes on the center link. Inside holes to center to center 21 give or take an 1/8".
if you could provide those measurements, that would be very helpful and appreciated.
Thank you all for input.
I spent a great deal of time centering the steering wheel and then using a string line to make sure the thrust angle and then used my camber/caster gages to make sure the caster/camber and toe angles were correct. Once I did all that, I have a mismatch in the angles of the wheels left to right at full lock. When I looked at the tie rod ends they were different by 1 5/8". I have ruled out the pitman arm. I had Carmin at Steer and Gear make sure it was not bent, which would have explained this difference. I'll look through the forum as I've seen many articles on the K-frames. hopefully I can rule that out. if there were different steering links or they were different left to right and I had it in backwards that might explain it. I do have mine installed like the photo from Challenger RTA shows. it made sense to me to put as much clearance away from teh pan sump, but wanted to double check.

I also have a reproductoin of the factory manual from above. Thanks for posting for reference, but I've read that chapter front to back and back to front again and I could not pinpoint anything to explain my conundrum.
 
Last edited:

Challenger RTA

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
2,964
Reaction score
1,530
Location
PA Flood city
From center of tie rod boot to boot,measures 12" following the sleeve. You might have to look at the k fame as someone said.
 

Buckminster

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 18, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
34
Location
Fenton, MO
Do you have the right parts? Center link Inside holes center to center 21" give or take an 1/8".Tie Rod End Adjusting Sleeve is 8". This usually goes together with very little effort. I'll get you the Tie rod ends measurement in the morning. Pretty much eye the parts together. Steering wheel the same. Finalized when aliened.
the center to center distance on the drag link is 21". I measured the toe rod sleeves. One is 8" and one is 7". Which is concerning. This means that this has been an issue since I bought the car. Those parts I have not changed. I do not believe they are the problem, only someone elses attempt to fix the problem. Here's why.
1) I Measured the center of the torsion bars. Per the chassis book, this is supposed to be 26.4". This indicates to me that the K-frame is correct. Mine measure 26.4"
2) The pattern on the steering shaft (4 wide slots in the sector shaft are aligned front to back and across the car as close as I can measure)
3) The center to center distance between the sector shaft and the idler arm is 21" on the K-Frame
4) The center to center distance between the center holes on the drag link is 21".
5) The lower control arms are 12" from the zerk fitting to the center of the torsion bar on both sides. (thought maybe they were out of whack, which could certainly contribute to this.
6) I also measured the distance from the tie rod holes to the pitman arm and idler on both sides, they appear to be the same, so swapping the bar around (i.e. if I had it in wrong) isn't the issue.
7) The K-frame does not appear to be shifted one side to the other and as mentioned in my original post is square in the chassis.
8) The steering knuckles appear to be LH and RH as they should be and do not appear to be bent.

Any key ways to identify if the K-frame is the wrong one? there do not seem to be any numbers on it. Any other thoughts? Appreciate all the suggestions.

IMG_1951.JPG


IMG_1952.JPG


IMG_1953.JPG


IMG_1954.JPG


IMG_1956.JPG


IMG_1957.JPG








IMG_1961.JPG


IMG_1962.JPG
 
Last edited:

Buckminster

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 18, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
34
Location
Fenton, MO
From center of tie rod boot to boot,measures 12" following the sleeve. You might have to look at the k fame as someone said.
Thank you. if I had whatever was causing this issue resolved they would be approx. 12". right now one is 11" and one is 13". Thank you for the dimensions.
 

Buckminster

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 18, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
34
Location
Fenton, MO
From center of tie rod boot to boot,measures 12" following the sleeve. You might have to look at the k fame as someone said.
Thank you. if I had whatever was causing this issue resolved they would be approx. 12". right now one is 11" and one is 13". Thank you for the dimensions.
 

Buckminster

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 18, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
34
Location
Fenton, MO
So, I spent several hours last night looking through this forum for ways to identify k-frames and did not find any hard dimensions, comparisons or features that would identify what K-frame goes to what. Does anyone know how to identify what k-frame it is? I'm talking specifics like bolt spacings or dimensions to steering box bolts, something concrete that would help troubleshoot this conundrum.

If the steering box were located inboard/outboard further on certain k-frames that would explain this issue I'm having. Otherwise, I'm at a loss to explain this.
 

moparleo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2011
Messages
6,991
Reaction score
1,791
Location
So. Cal. Riverside area Moreno Valley
The bump on the center link goes to the rear of the car, away from the front sump.
It doesn't affect the lock to lock but the ride height looks too low. Did you lower the front with the torsion adjustment ? What size tires/wheels are you running ?


70_4-door-340-Cuda_underside.jpg
 

Buckminster

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 18, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
34
Location
Fenton, MO
The bump on the center link goes to the rear of the car, away from the front sump.
It doesn't affect the lock to lock but the ride height looks too low. Did you lower the front with the torsion adjustment ? What size tires/wheels are you running ?


View attachment 102499
Oh man. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you very much! this is just the sort of information I was looking for. Your car looks amazing! Not sure how you got this photo, but this is a fantastic reference.

Yes, the ride height is slightly lower than stock.
I am running 17" X 8" fronts with 4.5" backspacing.

On a side note, that also answers a question I was going to get to eventually which is how the tranny cooling lines were routed. (BONUS!) Thanks again.
 

Buckminster

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 18, 2019
Messages
79
Reaction score
34
Location
Fenton, MO
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! this is exactly the information I was looking for.

I do not have a "coin" on my k-frame. There are two other numbers on the bottom of the K-frame. looks to be the sub component part numbers. Not sure if anything can be deduced from that. I took a white grease pencil and that seems to clarify that the number is 20017.

I also looked at the reference to the K-frame part number cross reference. I'm not familiar with that chart, and it doesn't list 1973 which is the year of this car. Also, it isn't clear if the column labeled CDE is referencing the last two digits of the code. Do you have the rest of that chart? possibly up to '73 and were there codes in the column that would line up with last two digits 17? I would find it hard to believe that that is a year code.

Once again, thank you very much for the info!



IMG_1964.JPG


IMG_1972.JPG


IMG_1965.JPG
 
Last edited:

moparleo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2011
Messages
6,991
Reaction score
1,791
Location
So. Cal. Riverside area Moreno Valley
Who ever did the alignment should have spotted right off the bat that the short tie rod sleeve is incorrect.
The proper method of initially getting your readings requires that you do what is called a caster swing.
This is turning the wheels all the way to the left and then all the way to the right.
This would have instantly shown that the lock to lock was off on one side.
Factory sleeves should be approximately 8" long.
Get the car aligned and give the tech the new sleeve(s) to install at that time to properly do the toe adjustment.
 

Challenger RTA

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
2,964
Reaction score
1,530
Location
PA Flood city
When you replace the sleeve. Make all 4 tie rod ends equal.count the threads and make equal. I don't think it's a k frame issue but check anyhow.

20230219_170556.jpg
 
Last edited:
Back
Top