Smalller steering wheel with manual steering - Chevelle Tech
Brakes, Suspension & Steering Conversion questions & more.

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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old May 29th, 20, 1:23 PM Thread Starter
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Bryan
 
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Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

Lately the original steering wheel on my '66 has been bugging me. I'm not a big guy and I sit with my seat kind of far forward. And because of that, I'm always knocking my knees on the steering wheel getting in and out of the car, and even sometimes while I'm driving. It constantly gets grimy and sticky too, no matter what I use to clean it or how often. It drives me kind of crazy.

Anyways, my car has manual steering, which I've become very accustomed to and driving a manual steering car does not bother me one bit. With that in mind, what should I expect if I replace my steering wheel with a smaller diameter aftermarket wheel? Looks like there's a lot to choose from in the 13" to 14" range, so that's probably where I would start looking. Should I expect any big difference in steering effort, and will that be small enough that I should stop bumping into it all the time?

'66 SS Clone
Fast Burn 385hp Crate 350 (for now)
Muncie M20 & 3.42 Posi
UMI Stage 2 Suspension all around
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old May 29th, 20, 1:34 PM
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Re: Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

Smaller wheel means more effort to steer. It will also be quicker to respond to input. I would not go any smaller than you need to be comfortable.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old May 29th, 20, 1:35 PM
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Re: Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

Figure out how much smaller the wheel is that you are considering (old wheel diameter divided by new wheel diameter). that how much more force it will take to turn the new wheel. So if the original wheel is 16" and you go to a 14", it is about 15% harder to turn, a 13" wheel would be closer to 25% harder. I'm rounding numbers off here.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old May 29th, 20, 1:42 PM
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Jeff
 
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Re: Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

If you buy the Grant hub, then you can swap wheels until you find the perfect size..

I think the 14" would be perfect. Make sure the suspension is greased and the caster isn't over 2 degrees..
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old May 29th, 20, 3:07 PM Thread Starter
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Bryan
 
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Re: Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

Thanks for the input guys. I figured going from 16" to 13.5" would require around 20ish% more steering effort, and I'm sure I can live with that no problem. I'm gonna go ahead and give it a shot!

'66 SS Clone
Fast Burn 385hp Crate 350 (for now)
Muncie M20 & 3.42 Posi
UMI Stage 2 Suspension all around
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old May 29th, 20, 7:25 PM
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Re: Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

After the steering wheel swap & tooling around a while you will become jacked!
My aunt never had a problem with manual steering in her '67, nor does my little 5"1 wife. It isn't a big deal as long as you are rolling, and it shows how much force it takes when "dry cranking" the wheel while stationary (and why it is a bad idea to do so).
Many folks seeking horsepower advantage went with 396s & manual steering. Or later 454s & COPOSs as well.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old May 29th, 20, 11:19 PM
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Re: Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

I usually just move the seat back when I exit the vehicle!!

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old May 30th, 20, 2:00 PM
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I usually just move the seat back when I exit the vehicle!!
Unless you have a bench seat! LOL!
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old May 30th, 20, 10:37 PM
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leo
 
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Re: Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

bench seats move too!

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old May 30th, 20, 10:54 PM
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Re: Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

I put a tilt column in all my cars just for that reason. But I have a bit of a, uh, stomach!
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old May 31st, 20, 6:49 AM
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Re: Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

Adding air to the front tires also makes steering easier.. There are a lot of pluses to manual steering, better road feel, positive bounce back are two of them..
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old May 31st, 20, 8:54 AM
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Re: Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

Power steering is an easy modification. Then steering wheel size is not an issue.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old May 31st, 20, 10:59 AM
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Re: Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

Not a direct answer to your question, but... my 68 had the stock overboosted four-turn P/S box and a stock-ish sized steering wheel when I bought it. I put a higher-effort quicker-ratio box on it and it felt good. But when I finally settled on the steering wheel I liked, which was about 2 smaller, suddenly I hated the steering feel. I was surprised that the effort increased as much as it did with just the steering wheel change. I drove it for about six months this way figuring Id get used to it. In the end, I kept the smaller wheel but reinstalled the stock steering box.

Bottom line is that the right feel is subjective. But the amount of that change in feel just by going to a smaller wheel was way more than I expected. With manual steering Id tread very lightly and at least try a used steering wheel before committing to something expensive when changing sizes.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 2nd, 20, 9:14 AM Thread Starter
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Bryan
 
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Re: Smalller steering wheel with manual steering

Thanks again guys for the tips.

I ended up getting the Grant 838 which is a 13.5" diameter. Going from 16" to 13.5" makes a big difference in the way the looks and feels in your hands, maybe a little more than I expected, but I'm not knocking my legs on it anymore. Steering effort seems maybe just a little greater but nothing very drastic at all. Granted my car already has a 16:1 steering box and I have about 4.5* caster on my UMI arms, so I'm probably already pretty accustomed to it. But anyways I thought I'd just follow up to report that the difference in steering effort seems minimal in case anyone out there is wondering.

'66 SS Clone
Fast Burn 385hp Crate 350 (for now)
Muncie M20 & 3.42 Posi
UMI Stage 2 Suspension all around
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