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Loose steering tip

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Not long ago I happened to notice that one of the ball joints on the drag link of my 854 was loose. The nut was loose so I tightened it.

Today I removed the engine from the Charger (disassembly stake is now done!) and I noticed the same thing on the Charger.

So, at the very least this should be a regular point on your checklist of maintenance!

Also, if you have steering looseness, check this first!

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Funny thing about tie rods.....one of my tractors( the one with dualies) gets a loose tie rod every 2 or 3 months. I always mean to check it periodically but I always forget till I see or feel it being loose. I have really leaned into the wrenches when tightening it but sure enough its loose again soon. I suppose I should just put a lockwasher on it.......one of these days.

Mike..........the procrastinator

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The rod ends are supposed to have lock nuts on them. Now lock nuts can only be used about once and still be called a lock nut. So if they've come loose, replace the lock nut with a new one or you can almost be guaranteed of continued looseness.

Do I do that? Heck no, I just keep retightening them, and each time they hold less well than the time before.

Dale

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Which end is getting loose, inside or outside? I don't think that I have any loose, but I have to admit, I really haven't checked either.

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For me its allways the outside.

I suppose Dale is right and I should swap out the locknut.....but when I notice its loose its when I need the tractor so out come the 2 wrenches(1/2 and 9/16ths :D ) and I tighten her up.

Mike........(probably loose right now)

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You know... speaking of ball joints... has anyone else tried these heim joints from McMaster-Carr?

heim_joint.jpg

heim_joint2.jpg

I've got one set on and I LOVE THEM... They're greasless, and wear great, and they're far and away more heavy duty than these little boogers...

balljoint.jpg

And at about the same price too!

Opinions? Thoughts?

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Yep, we always used heim joints on the race cars. They don't flex under pressure, and the last a lot longer than the old style "ball and socket". As a bonus, they also take less force to rotate them.

Eldon.

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Mine did... they were the same thread size, I ordered to fit. You can order different sizes if you need... just go to McMaster-Carr and search for part 60645k44 it will bring up a whole page of the same part, with different stud and shank options... just pick what you need. the "General Purpose" one's are MORE than enough durability for garden tractors. I know a guy who went through three sets of the regular ones in about a year with a loader on a cub, switched to these, and hasn't had to replace them since. They do have even heavier duty options though, and of course the price reflects!

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Jegs has these too, several sizes. It's a referred source in some of the lawnmower racing forums, and where I got the ones I used on the racer I started.

Dale

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I replaced the tie rods with something slightly more heavy duty. Removed all but the slightest amount of play from the steering.

04-01-07_1747.jpg

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I've wanted to make heavier, adjustable tie rods like that for all my Horses for some time. But too many projects, not enough time!!!!!

Dale, behind in Michigan

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Gentlemen,

I'm still in the learning curve for tractors, but I was a SCCA tech inspector, at the National level, for many years. I also rebuilt formula car chassis, for a while. If I may offer some comments regarding these rod ends.

They don't like shock loads. They come in a multitude of qualities (The ones you get from Heim and Borgeson are among the best.) They should be installed in a double shear mount, but when used in single shear, the open side (top in Mith's photo) should have a washer sized to cover the whole diameter of the rod end. This captures the end of the linkage WHEN the bearing fails.

I'm not saying don't use them. I love the things. Just give the application some thought. That C-series tractor, with attachments hung on each end, filled tires and weights, is knocking on a ton. Impact is mass X velocity squared.

I'm sorry to come off like a wet blanket, but I have seen some scarey things come through the inspection station.

Greg B.

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Greg thanks for your concerns.

I have to add I've been thinking about the heim joint idea too.

I have to beleive a heim joint is tuffer than the ball & socket that Wheelhorse used, especially an old worn one?

I have some friends that run an ebay bussiness makeing polished aluminium tie rods for ATV's & I may see if they can turn some down for me?

May be a pretty cool dress up item for a tractor?

Stephen in northern IN

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Also Greg I didn't mean to come acroos like I was down playing your concerns, they are good tips.

All things considered though a heim properly used I think would be better than my old tie rods that come loose.

Has anyone peened the end of a tie rod with a ball peen hammer or a punch to sit the socket on the ball a little better.

I have done this on some of the oldies & you get more life out of them.

Stephen in northern IN

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Aww Greg, you can't say things like that!

Now I've gotta figure out how to modify my spindles to make them double shear! :D

Just kidding of course- and the big washer is a good tip. I would imagine the guys with an FEL may want to pay particular attention to that...

Kevin

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Greg, agree with everything you say. Hadnt thought about putting a big washer on top incase it popped apart. There isnt really too much for it to hit if it does break though.

To be honest, the whole front axle/spindle/tie rod setup needs replacing, it isnt really up to the loader. The 1/4" bar that the joint bolts onto on the spindle is bent too, just to give an idea how much of a thrashing it gets. I'm holding out for the time being as I want to add power steering, but I'll wait till the backhoe is done before I explore that too much.

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Hey Mith,

I can't remember the model, but one of the later models (300/400/500 series) had a power steering option. I saw it on one of the Yahoo groups awile back.

kevin

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I'm not trying to be a wet blanket. I have seen them fail, in just about every way imaginable, both subtle and spectacular. They are good devices when used with a little thought. I replaced them, on the car I was responsible for, at each chassis rebuild..., about three times a season, if the driver didn't do anything stupid. All 42 of them. The good ones are pricey and made in USA or England. You get, almost exactly what you pay for, with these things.

Also, this is no place for the aluminum items. Spring for steel or stainless.

The reason for the original WH design was to exclude as much dirt as possible, within the engineering and budget constraints of the time. These are bearings. Something else to think about :D

Has anyone considered using automotive type tie rod ends? It would incolve a minimal amount of machine work, on the spindle arms, but would be more suitable for the environment Mud, dust and some things you really don't want to think about over lunch).

I'll step down from my soap box, before I get thrown out.

Greg B.

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Greg, I'm sure you have no reason to worry about being "thrown out".

The whole point of having the forum is to discuss things like this. I really like the tie rods that came up in this thread, and will probably try at least one set out.

That said, given the points you made, they may not be the best thing to use in a high-load application such as a FEL or something similar, but for everyday use (mowing, tilling, plowing, etc...), they are probably fine.

And you are correct- the open design of them is just an invitation for krud to get into them.

All in all- good discussion on a problem all of us have to deal with on our tractors. Your experience with these is just another reason this forum works so well.

I have a feeling that as parts become more difficult to get, such issues as this will be seen here even more often. Plus, a little ingenuity goes a LONG way when you're using 30-40 year old equipment.

Kevin

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Kevin, I'd appreciate any pics if you can find them of the power steering. That tractor is a 312, so any of the newer tractors is relevant.

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I just found the pics! It is a 520, and it has a "power steering" decal on the hood. I can't guarrantee it's factory installed, but it sure looks like it came that way:

a9491.jpg425c1.jpg

f9f42.jpgd5c31.jpg

b8cf1.jpg

Sorry, it took a while to find these. They are in the "2003showpictures" group on Yahoo, in a folder named 'Nick857'. They were posted in 2003, but you may be able to contact him through the group.

That's a single tie rod underneath it, from one spindle to the other- not sure I'd like that...

Kevin

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Kevin thats a custom setup there.

Nicks brother works at a Horse dealer ship down south of Wakoneta, OH (not sure of the town or the dealer name?)

But I thought I head it was dealer installed?

I have seen pics of a similiar setup also done at another dealer.

I'm deffinatley no mechanic...but with an orbital valve powere of the Eaton pump this probably would not be hard to do for someone that knew hydraulics?

Very cool photo's & thanks for posting them!

Stephen in northern IN

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