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View Full Version : Crooked steering wheel... dislodged rear axle.


NetDoc
10-04-2013, 01:26 PM
OK, I bought this van and knew I was buying a lot of work. That's OK as I like this kind of challenge. One thing that caught my attention was the steering wheel being by 20 degrees. My buddy also noted that the van was cattywumpus as I drove in front of him. A quick gander at the rear wheels and it was obvious that the RR wheel was further ahead than the LR wheel in their respective wells. A quick see under the vehicle, and it's obvious that the axle has slid forward on the left side spring. You can even see the slide marks. Nothing else looks bent and the wheel turns true, so I'm going to loosen the shackle bolts holding the axle on, chock the front tires, put the truck in reverse and gently ease the axle back into place. Of course, then I'll re-tighten the shackle bolts and recheck the steering.

Does this sound legit? Am I missing something bigger here? Has anyone else had to do this?

icarus
10-04-2013, 01:31 PM
Why not spring for a legit 4 wheel alighment? You could move the axle close yourself, but I would get it laser aligned afterward. I also would look into why the steering wheel is of center.

Icarus

NetDoc
10-04-2013, 01:47 PM
An alignment is in her near future after I replace the struts and lower control arms and ball joint. The steering wheel is crooked to compensate for the grossly miss-aligned rear axle. Other than that, the front tires are not showing any undue wear indicating a poor alignment.

Here's a pic of a misaligned rear end. Notice how the rear tires have created a new "center" or thrust angle that is different from the center of the vehicle:

http://www.discounttyresuk.co.uk/images/4-wheel-alignment-diagram.jpg

This diagram is showing a vehicle with 4 wheel independent suspension. On a vehicle with a solid rear axle like the Sprinter, there is no way to do a true four wheel alignment. You can adjust the thrust angle by moving the mounting points of the axle on the springs, but that's about it. In fact, without cam bolts, there is probably no castor or camber adjustment on the front either: just toe. You have to get creative or replace parts if you find your vehicle too far out of whack.

hkpierce
10-04-2013, 03:29 PM
OK, Am I missing something bigger here?

Yes - you should get your models correct. There are no 144" 2005s. See your signature block.

2005 Freightliner 2500 144"

NetDoc
10-04-2013, 04:36 PM
Yes - you should get your models correct. There are no 144" 2005s. See your signature block.

2005 Freightliner 2500 144" I have no idea what it is then. It's a short wheelbase Freightliner with a high top.

However, moving the axle back to where it once was worked. Once I took the nuts off on the left side, I had to tap the u-bolts upwards with a brass hammer to get them completely loose. Once off, there was an iron cap that sits on top of the spring with grooves to accept the u-bolts. The spring is smooth on top and bottom I cleaned off all the sand before I reassembled it. I used a floor jack to just lift the spring off of the axle tube pad. My son used two 2x4s and a piece of plywood to leverage the wheel back into position without doing damage to the body. Once the edge of the bottom pad matched it's previous spot, I tightened down the left side bolts. Then my son tightened down the right side bolts. The test drive verified the fix as the steering wheel is now centered. My thrust angle and centerline are reasonably close again.

That being said, I now feel some slop in the steering I hadn't noticed before. I do wish that I had a rack to work with, but that's OK. The lower control arms, the front struts and the strut mounts will be here next week while I'm on the road. I'll take a look at the tie rod ends this afternoon and see if I have any leaks in the rack and pinion. I see them rebuilt for about $365, including the inner tie rod ends. The ends are only about $40/ea, so I could have a completely rebuilt front end for less than a grand plus my time. I like that.

NetDoc
10-04-2013, 04:43 PM
NO.
Your coarse of action seems flawed. Might want to take it to an alignment shop per Icarus. When the front end is ready for an alignment, I'll take it there. Again, there is nothing a typical alignment shop can do here. A spring shop would be a better choice, but I doubt I have met the alignment tech who could, or would try to set the thrust angle of a rear end.

I guess I should mention that I was ASE Master Certified for both autos and trucks, including alignments and suspensions. I also worked for 30 years in the automotive industry, the last fifteen of those for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co as an automotive technician as well as a service manager. I've gone through Goodyear's alignment school, advanced alignment school and their ride disturbance school up in Akron. I didn't see a clear picture of how the spring interfaced with rear axle tube and was hoping for some advice on that.

NetDoc
10-04-2013, 04:50 PM
Here's a better diagram of what I was dealing with.

http://www.mileonecollision.com/Images/Sites/1335/suspension/alignmentimage3.jpg

The truck was obviously in some sort of collision. The previous owner obviously cheaped out on the repairs. This was an easy fix.

CJPJ
10-04-2013, 04:57 PM
You have a "broken alignment pin" . http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showpost.php?p=253459&postcount=1


bty T1N's comes in three wheelbases (118in, 140in, and 158in), two roof heights (standard and high), and two weight classes (2500 and 3500).

ECU
10-04-2013, 05:59 PM
There is such a thing as a rear end alignment for this van. You should have it checked.

NetDoc
10-04-2013, 07:24 PM
You have a "broken alignment pin" . http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showpost.php?p=253459&postcount=1 Thanks. Now that was useful information!!! I felt between the spring and the axle and felt nothing but it's possible that I simply missed it. I looked for the part and found this:

http://www.daytonparts.com/dpweb/App_11/Dist_site/211/diagrams211/fbcfsa.gif

It's not exactly how my sprinter is set up and it's showing the pin on top of the spring which is definitely not my set-up. I wonder if anyone has a part number for this?


bty T1N's comes in three wheelbases (118in, 140in, and 158in), two roof heights (standard and high), and two weight classes (2500 and 3500).

OK, I don't see it on the title. It does say that it's weight is 4834. Can I extract this from VIN? wd2pd644155769702

NetDoc
10-04-2013, 07:30 PM
OK, it's a 140 inch. I found this: http://www.ourexcellentadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/07SprinterParts.pdf which spelled it all out. Apparently there are five different lengths.

jmoller99
10-04-2013, 07:47 PM
From the 2005 T1N NAFTA parts manual. Looks like there are 2 different type springs - one with, and one without the centering bolt. If you have a passenger van (multiple leaves) then you should have it, otherwise if a single leaf (cargo van) then it's not there.

Part Numbers are in the parts manual (there are a number to pick from depending on your model/configuration).

jmoller99
10-04-2013, 08:07 PM
You can find some information/pictures about changing T1N rear springs here:

http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27971

NetDoc
10-04-2013, 08:37 PM
There is such a thing as a rear end alignment for this van. You should have it checked. Anyone who sells a rear end alignment on a vehicle without independent rear end suspension is stealing from you. There is nothing for an alignment tech to adjust back there. Doing a "four wheel alignment" where the rear wheels are referenced, however, is a good thing as long as they don't mess with shims on the rear hubs.

NetDoc
10-04-2013, 08:47 PM
From the 2005 T1N NAFTA parts manual. Looks like there are 2 different type springs - one with, and one without the centering bolt. If you have a passenger van (multiple leaves) then you should have it, otherwise if a single leaf (cargo van) then it's not there.

Part Numbers are in the parts manual (there are a number to pick from depending on your model/configuration). That's what I have concluded as well. I get that the others think I have no idea what I'm talking about and while I'm new to Sprinters, I am no novice in vehicle repair. They are giving advice suitable to those who are not mechanics or mechanically inclined while I was seeking advice from someone who actually got their hands dirty once in a while. Thanks for the well thought out advice and the clear pictures.

NetDoc
10-05-2013, 04:03 PM
Your 1st post made us think you should hire someone before you hurt yourself, any questions? No questions. You clearly did not understand the problem. I get that now. I am glad someone had actual knowledge and freely shared it. I thanked those posts which were helpful and on topic.

Terse answers are rarely helpful in a forum. Impugning someone's ability and over reacting without any insight as to why only creates needless rancor. If someone is asking for technical insight, and you have it, then give it. If all you can say is "bring it to someone else" because you don't know how to do it, then keep it to yourself. If you think there is a safety issue, rather than going all Chicken Little on us, clearly describe what you think is dangerous. If you can't give respect in your post, then you should not be surprised when none is returned.

Now, in case anyone missed it. This Sprinter's axle issue was resolved by moving the left side axle back into place. There was no index to align and nothing other than a 19mm deep impact socket, a 3/8" drive impact wrench, a torque wrench, a couple of 2x4s to pry with and a couple of wheel chocks. For the moment, the steering wheel is reasonably straight with just a bit of play. The front end will be aligned after I replace struts, strut caps, lower control arms w/ball joints and the outer tie rod ends. That should eliminate all the play I'm feeling in the steering wheel.

lindenengineering
10-05-2013, 06:15 PM
From the 2005 T1N NAFTA parts manual. Looks like there are 2 different type springs - one with, and one without the centering bolt. If you have a passenger van (multiple leaves) then you should have it, otherwise if a single leaf (cargo van) then it's not there.

Part Numbers are in the parts manual (there are a number to pick from depending on your model/configuration).

For info.
The single leaf blade does have a location pin, its formed as part/partial of the leaf and therefore not shown as a separate part. It not available as a part from the dealer as a seperate item.
And yes we have managed to get the sheered off part out of a leaf and put a good one in without having to buy a pair of road springs.

I can almost hear "pair"!
Yes the manufacturer will have many suppliers being a world wide operation. There will be differences in the actual dimensions. This must be taken into account when attending to "rear steer" situations.
As a repairer of fleets we see a lot of this with big rigs and tandem axles set ups etc.
Cheers Dennis

Trayscott
10-05-2013, 06:32 PM
Good information from those that actually added to the knowledge base here. I just read through and saw little wrong with your repair sequence. After all there are still backyard mechanics and nothing wrong with learning by doing as long as we don't get hurt trying!

Boater
10-06-2013, 12:05 AM
Just a thought, if the location pin is missing (I'm not sure whether to believe a line diagram or Dennis' wealth of experience on that - I know my springs have them but I have 2+1 springs from a heavier variant and the pin is also the bolt that keeps the leaves together), you might be able to get some indication of alignment from the bump stops on the chassis rails.

You may have an aftermarket replacement spring already, like I say it was only after I removed mine that I realized they were from a 4t sprinter (mine is 3.5t). My mate had to replace the springs on his pickup the other day, which I think is a 2008, one had a broken leaf and both were inverted. When he removed the one that wasn't broken we noticed that it was a relatively new 3rd party spring with the suppliers name still visible on it!

lindenengineering
10-06-2013, 03:39 AM
Boater
Hello mate hope you are having a good weekend.

Basically the same over here, you will find road springs from Dodge and MB and then there's the aftermarket. I had one in a box with "Hecho en Mexico" stamped on it delivered the other day.

Anyway in every case the modus operandii before tear down is to spray a personal code mark on the f'ward section of the leaf with some gash engine paint in a rattle can . This identifies f'ward from aft of the axle and left to right (if you can remember your own coding after a few pints in the pub.):bounce:

I always take a measurement from the location pin to the eye in each direction, simply because some road springs have a locate pin offset. Obviously you can get them mixed up and have a "rear steer" effect. This can be a big issue in HGV's (Big rigs)!
Same goes for handing.

The problem often arises in mass manufacture, and suppliers. There will always be variations and run out of tolerances.

As an example, I remember doing a quality and material audit on coil springs for Leyland. Visiting a small black smithing manufacturer in St Annes on the Fylde I got talking to the owner about using drawn Swedish wire and some gash wire from the Soviets and B Steel. I presented him with a "soft" road spring;- Failed under warranty. sagged on Iraqi roads.
His immediate retort was "not my bloody spring" mate!
Inquisitively "I asked how do you know"?

Simple "COS my springs are would right to left and those thieves (referring to his multi-national competitors) wound their crap from right tut left lad--that's how I know!:laughing:


Often the left side spring will be "taller" /Stronger/wound different than the right side on right hookers . Obviously for the US and other places where they drive on the other "wrong" side its "vickey verkey".:rolleyes:

I don't think you will find much difference on a standard van, but with coach builders and box truck makers you can find some differences. But in any case it pays to mark and measure everything before and after teardown.
Cheers Dennis

Boater
10-06-2013, 10:58 AM
Good tips Dennis, I take digital photos to help me re-assemble stuff and sometimes mark stuff where it looks identical in all directions. I know my drivers side spring is the one that I found broken under the forward U-bolt and I left the shackles on to identify the rear of each spring. I have yet to price new springs from MB but will probably end up with 3rd party springs, need to complete the rust repairs in the area before I worry about buying springs, so little time, so much to do! In fact, I should be doing it now!

NetDoc
10-06-2013, 04:10 PM
The ride height is within a 1/16" left to right and best I can measure, the front/rear hub to hub spacing is equal. I measured from the garage floor to the frame and the manual suggests bolt to bolt on the shocks, I'll do that when I replace the shocks. I'll probably be beefing up the rear suspension at some point and will re-visit this. Steel Scuba Tanks can add up quickly to the rear weight and my spot for them will be directly over the rear axle. Any thoughts on simply adding more steel or going for adjustable air springs?

shortshort
10-07-2013, 06:00 PM
I think upscale has camber adjustment kits for the front.

Peter_C
10-08-2013, 03:30 AM
I use the term "Dog Tracking" when a vehicle is moving kinda sideways down the road.

I must say I can not ever remember seeing a leaf spring set that didn't have a locator pin. Although typically in the automotive field you don't mess with leaf springs very often. Now in the offroad world they are replaced/upgraded all the time. I would worry about the axle walking again without some kind of pin. No matter how tight you get the u-bolts they can walk.

So this is the new scuba mobile? Will it be towing the boat? Are you going to put a bed in the back of it? I have all kinds of crazy ideas for building a dive vehicle.

What do you think of this under the bed for all your dive gear?
http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c201/NHCraigT/IMG_1270.jpg

NetDoc
10-08-2013, 08:28 AM
I don't think there will be room enough for a bed back there. Tanks will be over the axle. In front of that will be a work bench for dealing with lights, regs and what have you. I'll post pictures in the next week when it all starts coming together.

psychoboy
10-08-2013, 04:22 PM
I've not seen a problem with the locator pins on either of the TN1s that are within my reach, but our NCV3 has evidently chucked both sides. we fixed one when we bought it used, and now the other side has slipped. too odd.

autostaretx
10-08-2013, 06:23 PM
Something i haven't seen mentioned in this thread is that the T1N requests/requires/mandates a U-bolt torque check as a part of the first 10,000 mile service "visit". (125 ft-lbs, 170 N-mt)
Many folks who "self maintain" their Sprinters (or lazy dealer mechanics) may have neglected to do that, leading to just the issue you're facing.

--dick

shortshort
10-09-2013, 03:53 AM
<heads to garage with torque wrench>

Boater
10-09-2013, 08:34 AM
If I ever get mine back on the road I'll need to remember that since it will have new springs and U-bolts!

4xSprinter
10-09-2013, 10:27 AM
The front end will be aligned after I replace lower control arms w/ball joints.

Ball joints and bushing are available so that the lower control arms can be rebuilt for less then the cost of buying the complete assembly.

I too have never seen a leaf spring with out an alignment pin - the axle will move on you again if not corrected.

NetDoc
10-09-2013, 11:18 AM
Ball joints and bushing are available so that the lower control arms can be rebuilt for less then the cost of buying the complete assembly. Yeah, but the entire assembly is @ $110 for each side. Why bother pressing out and back in? This is an "easy button" for me.

I too have never seen a leaf spring with out an alignment pin - the axle will move on you again if not corrected. It's unusual, but not unique. The Lada (Russian car) was made without any index pins on the axle, at least for a few years.

4xSprinter
10-10-2013, 04:13 AM
Lada, now that is a quality vehicle - that one "slipped" my mind.

It is a lot less work to press in and out a Ball Joint that drop the a-arm - "easier button".

If you are doing bushings also, then replacing the whole assembly at that price makes sense. T1N arms are much cheaper than NVC3 arms.

Yeah, but the entire assembly is @ $110 for each side. Why bother pressing out and back in? This is an "easy button" for me.

It's unusual, but not unique. The Lada (Russian car) was made without any index pins on the axle, at least for a few years.

NetDoc
10-10-2013, 10:40 AM
Yeah, the bushings are shot, the ball joint is merely "iffy", the strut is bent (collision). The right side would be tolerable, but I'm not putting only one strut in. With 210,000 miles, I don't mind starting over with the suspension.

As many front ends as I have repaired/rebuilt, you would think that I should enjoy it. I don't. Suspensions have always been nothing but dirty work to me with little or no joy involved. If I can save a second and not have to deal with a part of it, you can bet I'll pay some extra money to do that. That doesn't mean I don't understand them or am intimidated by them. I just don't like them.

Contrast that with my love of electro/mechanical systems. I take great care and a lot of time with electrical wiring and I would rather rebuild an alternator and know it's right on the inside, than to replace it with someone else's rebuild. I do the same with engines and all their ancillary devices. I don't want to just "make it work": I want to make it work perfectly. I might be merely competent when it comes to suspensions but I am a craftsman when it comes to the rest of the vehicle.

Boater
10-10-2013, 12:39 PM
It is a lot less work to press in and out a Ball Joint that drop the a-arm - "easier button".

What piece of kit do you have that makes that statement true for sprinter balljoints?
Can I afford one?

I had to remove my lower arms and take them to a press to get the ball joints pressed out and in (still fitted my budget better than replacing both arms).

I completely agree for cars, I can replace a ball joint myself quicker than the garage quoted me to replace the arms (although I still had to take them off to drill out rivets on the drill press - the replacements bolt in though so not next time), but the sprinter ball joints are on a different level. Hell, even the nuts are tightened to something like 280Nm - I needed a 3/4 drive breaker bar and scaffold pole extension and still almost burst blood vessels undoing them!

I can see netdocs view point with suspension, it is pretty low tech and full of high torqued components and strong springs making for back breaking work and always that chance of accidental release of pressure you thought you had relieved with potential harmful consequences when the powerful spring slams a bit of metal against another bit of metal irrespective of any body parts you might have had in the way.
I do my own on a budget, but it is some of the least pleasant work I do on vehicles.
More unpleasant is laying underneath with a wire wheel on a grinder stripping out rust and underseal ready to repair. Difficult to say whether the actual welding is more or less pleasant - when you get spatter running into your ear it is definitely the least pleasant thing you can do, if you wear ear plugs I'd say it's 50/50 between getting burned by the welder and choked by the grinder....

4xSprinter
10-10-2013, 02:34 PM
What piece of kit do you have that makes that statement true for sprinter balljoints?
Can I afford one?

Ball Joint Press - $35 to $100.

NetDoc
10-10-2013, 05:20 PM
What piece of kit do you have that makes that statement true for sprinter balljoints? This is one of the ones I own, although mine's not as pristine:

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/95/9b/be91c0a398a0a7cad0bea110.L.jpg

http://www.amazon.com/OTC-7249-U-Joint-Anchor-Service/dp/B0002SRGXY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381425468&sr=8-1&keywords=ball+joint+press

Mine says MAC on it, which ups the price significantly. :lol: :lol: :lol:


I used to have access to a hydraulic press which makes putting in bushings a cinch. I guess I could buy one, but I rarely turn wrenches for anyone but me anymore. I could also bang them in or use one of the on the car presses I own to do it. Screw it. It's just not worth saving the little bit of difference between the ball joint and the bushings or the entire lower control arm. Everyone has a different tolerance for what they are willing to do.

pvsprinter
10-11-2013, 03:18 PM
I guess being meticulous goes with inhaling and expecting air. Moog makes camber shims for the T1N as well as bushings, strut mounts, etc. My camber was was off from go as was alignment. Was the van designed to have max load 24/7? You Know what they say about Ladas F ix I t A gain T ony (FIAT)
Bob