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74 Powerwagon
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Discussion Starter #1
I have a retired park service 74 W100 with a 318 that has been having some steering issues for a few weeks. I first noticed the problem while driving home from work and it felt like strong wind had pushed the truck a few times, when I got out it wasn't windy. I replaced the tie rod eds and drag link as the were a bit loose and had an alignment done. I felt better and the shop said it wasn't too far out but they adjusted the toe in. The PS pump would sometimes squeal in parking lots or tight turns, I checked the fluid and it was brown and burnt smelling. I changed out the pump and both hoses and added a filter and fluid cooler. I bled the system with about 6 stop to stop turns and took it out for a test ride. It all felt good, but 2 days later going to work it had an occasional pull again. The steering gear isn't leaking, the rag joint is in good shape as is the other u-joint gizmo on the steering shaft. The sector shaft turns with only a little movement on the input shaft and the input shaft doesn't ride out of the steering box with rotation. Could there be a few air bubbles left in the system, the cooler is a upside down u shape that is attached above the PS pump? The cooler is the high point and air could be trapped up there maybe and causing the intermittent steering wander if the bubble gets into the gear box, my best guess at this point. The other components I changed were due for replacement, so that wasn't a waste, but firm steering is important up here in the mountains especially. If anyone has any thoughts or experiences to share that would be appreciated. Thanks
 

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A pull to one side isn't usually steering related. The alignment tech would/should have said something if he saw suspension binding so that is doubtful. The most likely culprit is going to be a wheel getting slowed down by something. Could be a bad bearing trying to lock up or brake pads/shoes grabbing or not releasing. Does your '74 have front drum brakes? My money would be on that if it does.
 

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74 Powerwagon
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
brake drag causing wander

Hi Tx Wooley, I did a disc brake conversion at the end of January when the passenger side hub failed. I cover that task in another thread as I had to use a kit for a 78 Ford 1/2 ton PU since no one makes one for the 72-74 w series trucks. I will look into that possibility, but the wander isn't braking connected in time. I will check that though on tomorrows drive.
 

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74 Powerwagon
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I will open up the hubs this weekend and grease the bearings and inspect the brake pads. When I did the disc brake conversion it was 15 - 20 degrees with 35 mph winds and several inches of snow on the ground in the Rockies of Colorado. It's jobs like that that make me realize how nice a garage would be. I'll report back results for clarity.
 

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Check the steering box mount to the frame. Here is a quote from blogger LilRedDad, "Due to constant flexing, the steering boxes on the Dodge trucks have been know to crack the frame at the four attaching bolt positions, causing the steering box to break away from the frame, resulting in complete steering loss!!"

The steering brace at Dodge Connection is a reproduction of the ones offered on the Heavy Duty Suspension package and all trucks in '81 and '82.

Credit: LilRedDad Check out the ammeter bypass info while you are there. I have some great pictures on my build thread of what can happen to the ammeter.
 

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74 Powerwagon
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I was able to jack up the front end of my truck after work today and the wheels are a little stiff on rotation. They don't wobble top to bottom or side to side, the do rotate smoothly with a little drag. I will repack the bearings with more grease this weekend. I also looked closely at the steering gear mount and the frame where the mount attaches to the frame, the is no sign of any wear or cracking at any of the bolts. Thank you for all the suggestions helping me to diagnose this situation. I am confident it is a wheel bearing needing more grease problem.
 

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When my frame cracked, the crack was under the steering box so not visible with the box in place. A weld and above described brace fixed it.

I didn't have wandering steering, instead I had an occasional wild up/down driver side wheel oscillation which turned out to be caused by a broken spring (about one turn from the top), broken but somehow still in place.
 

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74 Powerwagon
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
My truck is a 74 4x4 that has the desirable cast iron cradle mount and horizontal sector shaft that people seek out to modify their lifted trucks of other makes. My steering column is stable and not vibrating, definitely not shaking. Having jacked the truck up and rotated the wheel and felt the smooth but not easy rotation I am confident it is a bearing grease situation, it acts up when the weather is cold, steers fine when warmer. I understand that there is quite a history of cracked frame or mount with the 2wd boxes unlike the only couple of year cast iron cradle a 4x4 boxes.
 

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Hi, I recall my father in law had a government auction dodge power wagon with the 318, a lot of those trucks started out as military trucks then given over to parks & recreation, dept of forestry and so on, anyway back to what I was getting at, a lot of those trucks don’t use typical dodge parts, they use military grade parts, he used to have to search around when something needed fixing or replaced. But sounds like your truck is tracking, could be your tires. Best of luck, Tim
 

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74 Powerwagon
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I finally was able to find the culprit causing my steering issues, a seized axle u joint. Since the axle rotates freely in 2wd when the u joint was in the wrong orientation it would hinder the steering knuckle from turning freely. I also changed the ball joints, greased the bearings, and added a dual steering stabilizer while replacing the axle u joints. Steers straight and firmly now which is very important up here in the mountains with rutted dirt roads and snow last week. Thanks Dodge Talk for the input.
 
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