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Replacement of the "Intermediate shaft" on steering column (2000 Diplomat)


StellaTariche
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Hi all,

I'm chasing down some steering lash in my 2000 Diplomat (38' One big wall slide), and looking for some expertise. 60k miles on the rig. Way too much rotational lash (play) in the steering.

I have a TRW box (TAS 65), and have been getting generous help from Brent at Weller on adjusting it.

Even after the correct adjustment, there is about 1" of play (lash) at the steering wheel.

Pat Gaukel at Douglas Tek (Steering Column Engineering Manager) says the columns themselves are usually NOT the cause of the lash.  

I suspect the u-joints (or maybe even the slip joint) might be worn from trying to turn the steering wheel with the engine off, or something related.

Instead (Pat writes): "If the lash is not felt in the column (note: it isn't - John), there is a possibility it could be in the Intermediate shaft.  Within the Intermediate shaft there are 2 universal joints and a slip joint - one u-joint at the bottom of the column and the second attaching to the top of the steering gear. Depending upon who made the shaft, the universal joints might be serviceable.  If the shaft is made by Dana, they offer a service kit.  Some of the others have the bearings staked in place and can’t be serviced, only replaced."

Anyone have any experience with this item, where I might find a new one, the vendor, tricks on replacing it, etc?

After this I'm on to installing the Monaco Watts system. Tired of being blown around I-25.

Thanks,

- John

John Taylor
Colorado Springs, Colorado
2000 Diplomat (38' One big wall slide)
2014 Jeep Cherokee toad

 

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There are 2 U-joints on the intermediate shaft.  I would have someone try and turn the wheel while you visually see if there is actually any play at the slip joints.  I would think you would be able to see if that was the problem.  If in doubt you could pull the shaft and clean and inspect.  The U-joints could probably be sourced at a large truck shop. 

Here is the parts page for my 2002 Windsor, it may be the same as yours but it will give you an idea what to look for.  I did a quick search for one of the two shafts listed and only had one source that said it was special order.

 

 

1 Steering Column.pdf

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On 2/16/2021 at 7:37 PM, jacwjames said:

There are 2 U-joints on the intermediate shaft.  I would have someone try and turn the wheel while you visually see if there is actually any play at the slip joints.  I would think you would be able to see if that was the problem.  If in doubt you could pull the shaft and clean and inspect.  The U-joints could probably be sourced at a large truck shop. 

Here is the parts page for my 2002 Windsor, it may be the same as yours but it will give you an idea what to look for.  I did a quick search for one of the two shafts listed and only had one source that said it was special order.

 

by chance, would you also have reference /parts page to a 2007 Monaco Knight . Maybe if I find the intermediate shaft with excessive play I could not have to replace the steer gear with a TRW unit-thanks Steve

 

1 Steering Column.pdf 67.72 kB · 14 downloads

 

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I only have parts pages for my 2002 Windsor.  Back in ~2010 when Monaco was in bankruptcy they left access to their site that dealers used to look up parts.  Someone posted a link on IRV2 and I spent a couple days skimming and downloading ~100 pages. 

My suggestion would be check for play at the U-joints.  Also look and see if there is a part label on the shaft. 

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On 2/16/2021 at 4:59 PM, StellaTariche said:

Hi all,

I'm chasing down some steering lash in my 2000 Diplomat (38' One big wall slide), and looking for some expertise. 60k miles on the rig. Way too much rotational lash (play) in the steering.

I have a TRW box (TAS 65), and have been getting generous help from Brent at Weller on adjusting it.

Even after the correct adjustment, there is about 1" of play (lash) at the steering wheel.

Pat Gaukel at Douglas Tek (Steering Column Engineering Manager) says the columns themselves are usually NOT the cause of the lash.  

I suspect the u-joints (or maybe even the slip joint) might be worn from trying to turn the steering wheel with the engine off, or something related.

Instead (Pat writes): "If the lash is not felt in the column (note: it isn't - John), there is a possibility it could be in the Intermediate shaft.  Within the Intermediate shaft there are 2 universal joints and a slip joint - one u-joint at the bottom of the column and the second attaching to the top of the steering gear. Depending upon who made the shaft, the universal joints might be serviceable.  If the shaft is made by Dana, they offer a service kit.  Some of the others have the bearings staked in place and can’t be serviced, only replaced."

Anyone have any experience with this item, where I might find a new one, the vendor, tricks on replacing it, etc?

After this I'm on to installing the Monaco Watts system. Tired of being blown around I-25.

Thanks,

- John

John Taylor
Colorado Springs, Colorado
2000 Diplomat (38' One big wall slide)
2014 Jeep Cherokee toad

 

John,

I would observe the input shaft to the TRW while someone moves the steering wheel back and forth only in the dead motion zone to verify that the lost movement is in fact in the column spline shaft and/or the universal joints. It is rare but there have been cases of failed TRW boxes that produced excessive play even after adjustment. Another thing to keep in mind is the design of the TRW. The TRW output shaft must be aligned on the marks when the adjustment is made. If not then there will be play in the movement. When the marks are aligned the internal gears are on a high spot. Turing the steering wheel right or left drops off the high spot but you do not notice the play because you are applying force against the gears as you make the turn. When the vehicle is pointed straight ahead the gears should be back on the high spot so the steering system feels responsive. This allows you to steady the Pitman arm and the attached drag link and consequently the front wheels. If you are not on that high spot when traveling straight down the road there could be some motion in the Pitman arm and drag link. That translates to wander.

Besides the TRW and the steering components you should be aware that a lot of your handling issues are a result of the H-frame moving around the single tie point of the Panhard bar. This single tie point acts like a fulcrum and consequently your front tires, which are attached to the H-frame, can be forced to point in a direction that you are not pointing your wheels. This is usually caused by external forces such as wind acting on the motorhome. The H-frame is attached to the frame by four air bags and they are flexible by nature. The upper and lower trailing arms are used to stabilize the H-frame front to back and the Panhard bar reduces lateral movement. The bushings in the trailing arms have some movement so the H-frame can wiggle around the Panhard bar tie point. The Watts link adds another tie point in parallel with the Panhard bar thus stabilizing the H-frame.

 

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Bob Nodine was my first "Guinea Pig" to test out the Watts link stabilization concept.  He gave me enough engineering measurements from his coach to make the very first front Watts link installation.  The rest is history.  Bob is one of the sharpest technical contributors to this forum.  When certain folks on this forum post something, I read what they wrote even if it does not apply to me.  Bob is one of those folks, along with a handful of others.

As Bob previously stated, the best way to check the adjustment of your TRW steering gear is to use one hand on the input shaft of the gear and the other on the Pittman arm.  DEFINITELY not necessary to disconnect the drag link.  Adjust the pinion engagement screw until you feel zero lost motion.  And as often stated, since the rack gear into which the pinion mates is purposely cut on an arc (high in the middle) it is important that you have the steering gear near-perfectly centered when making the adjustment.  It's not rocket science, nor is it difficult.  But if you adjust to zero lost motion when the steering gear is not centered, you will feel a slight "tight spot" when you are driving with the steering gear centered.

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