I just saw in the January 2015 edition of the Pierce Arrow Society Emporium that there are steering stabilizers “shock absorbers”” available for 29-31 cars that help to alleviate the steering shake that sometimes happens with these cars. Has anyone had experience with these that have produced good results. Thanks.”
My opinion is that any steering shake is due to worn out parts or unbalanced wheels/tires.
Too many cars are restored cosmetically but when it comes to front end components such as king pins and tie rod ends and so forth, “it’s good enough”” is brought into play.
I can’t believe they shook when new….and firmly believe it’s worn out parts that cause the issue.”
I have one on my 36. There are not any worn parts on my car. .(shake) installed it so it can’t be seen. Never had any issues since then.
Hi Syd, I have one of these ‘shimmy-dampeners’ on my right hand drive ’25 Series 80 touring car. While I agree with David Coco, that the Pierce cars did not shake and shimmy when new, I do believe it was some form of a problem back in their day, because so many changes were made to spring shackle design, steering geometry, etc. Those yearly changes were for a reason. I think the big balloon tires were prone to shimmy when a bump was hit ‘just right’. My 1933 836 has always tended to shimmy when a bump is hit with the right front tire. The suspension components are tight, tires balanced, and I’ve tried a dozen different combinations of caster, toe-in and tow-out, factory spec settings etc.. and it still will set up a shimmy/wobble at times.
Next will be a set of different tires, perfectly balanced, etc.
My ’25 ‘Aussie’ Series 80 touring does have some slightly worn components, I picked this car up the weekend before the meet last year in Warwick, so It had never been home in my shop at the time of the Warwick tours. This car would shimmy at low speeds only, if I was above 25mph, it would track and drive smooth. Since I was away from my shop, and my tire equipment, alignment shops etc, I had to figure out something. I bought one of the shimmy dampeners after two days of fighting the shimmy, trying moving tires around, toe in, caster changes, steering gear box adjustments.. Nothing cured the shimmy.
But the shimmy dampener did the job, when I felt the shimmy start from a bump or tar strip. the dampener would stop it .
I personally don’t like ‘bandaid’ treatments, much like David, but sometimes the bandaid is needed.
I will repair or replace the worn components.but until then the car is drivable and enjoyable.
The shimmy dampener is easy to attach, and can be attached such that it is not really noticeable, But can be seen if looked for.
For the very reasonable price, it sure made the rest of the Warwick tours enjoyable, and the three weeks after Warwick where we toured around New England, possible and safe.
I just wish I’d bought the dampener the first day of Warwick, instead of stubbornly trying to compensate for the slightly worn front end components.
Based on comments, I guess my “firmly believe” will need to start changing! I have a slight case of shimmy every now and then on my ’31, but know that the previous owner restored it the first time in 1960 (after driving it in original condition from New York to New Orleans), probably not doing anything to the front end, and then drove it tens of thousands of miles. I know the front end on the car is worn, if not quite worn out….as one gets older, one has firm beliefs, but one should also be able to use the wisdom learned with age to learn and change…
Dave, John and I worked for weeks to get rid of our shake. We used this fix as a last resort. We were out of options and going on tour. Our temporary fix has lasted 15 years. I think it may be related to tire wear over time. I have since burned through another set of tires, never bothered with the stabilizer.
A great quote from a good friend who worked in the space program for his entire 45 year career, both for the Government and NASA:
Quote: NOTHING is more permanent than a ‘temporary fix’ THAT WORKS. Unquote. LOL..
We have spoken of this many times. Have an accomplished big truck shop align the front end to specs. Problem will go away (it did in my case for sure)
Our Pierce used to shimmy like crazy when you hit a bump going 25 – 30mph.
It was very worrying at times it shook so badly.
Checked the king pins, had new tires installed and balanced, made sure all the steering linkage didn’t have slop in it and then we took it to a truck alignment center that has been in business for 30+ years.
Not sure exactly which one of those remedied the problem but the shimmy has not been back for going on 8 years now.
I had the same problem as Craig on my ’30 Model C sedan. It was a case of too much castor. 4 shims on the connecting u-bolts solved the problem and it, too, never returned. Murray Fahnestock had a great article on correcting steering “wabble” in his book “The Model T Ford Owner”. It explains the problem and the geometry clearly, and solved “wabble” on both my 30 Pierce and my ’14 Cadillac once and for all.
Syd, I had this problem with my left front wheel when I first picked up my Model 43. When I test drove it, it wobbled at 35. Then when picked it up 3 months later, I couldn’t drive it over 20 mph. I changed out the tire with one of the new side mounts and haven’t had a problem since. I also pay attention to the tire inflation pressure which I keep around 35 psi. The suspension is solid and not worn out when the front was jacked up and moved around.
I did have an issue with the rear axle hopping at 50 mph, but having all of my tires balanced, replaced the fluid in the Lovejoy shocks, and replacing the worn 3rd member webbing, the hopping is pretty much gone now as well and drives very smoothly.
35 PSI is rather low and could be unsafe with a snap ring style wheel. Every Pierce I own the front tires are at 45PSI. Soft tires will make heat, causing tube and tire failure. Just my 2 cents.
Among the things that I accumulated are many years of SAE Journals and in the 20’s there were tons of articles about balloon tires and the problems they were causing with shimmy, wabble, and axle tramp. Consensus opinion among the engineers was that the cars were suitable to a “semi-balloon”” tire that ran at 40-45 psi. rather than the full balloon type that ran at 20-25 psi.
The “”semi-balloon”” type was still a marked improvement over the original high pressure tires that ran at 80-85 psi.
It makes sense that we would be empirically finding out the same thing. I also run my tires at 45 psi. They’ll shimmy at 35 psi but not at 45 psi.