Steering chuck and alignment angles upgrades for precise control.
By Richard Ehrenberg
The more seat time we spend in new cars, everything from rentals to the latest 392 Hemi Challenger, the less tolerance we have for cars—classic Mopars included—that have steering and suspension that, being kind
now, are not up to “contemporary standards”. Conventional wisdom holds that new cars all have rack and pinion steering systems, and without a major re-engineering job, there’s no way your power-steered ’60-’70s Mopar can play in that sandbox. Well, that’s just so much bull. Until recently, all ’Benzes had recirculating ball, and nobody ever accused them of being sloppy steerers, despite a boatload of other flaws. Ditto, for one quick example, recent Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees. They all had recirculating ball and indirect linkage, and they steered very well, thank you. As we’ve mentioned in recent articles, Mopars of “the day” were exceedingly well engineered, it was the execution that wasn’t always up to speed. (In fairness, these systems were designed in the late 1950s, and were at least 20 to 25 years ahead of the competition.)
In the articles immediately preceding this one, we’ve showed how to reduce K-member flex (via a super-slick bolt-on Pitman shaft lower bearing gizmo), and take the slop out of the idler arm via a needle-bearing retrofit, both driveway bolt-ons. So, Vern, what’s left? Plenty!
The make-or-break component of the steering system is the steering box, also referred to as the gearbox or just the “chuck.” Back prior to mid-1973, you had about a 25% chance of getting a well-mannered chuck in your brandy-new Mopar. That year, however, everything changed: Ma Mopar, awakening from a