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Towmotor Model 462 Steering

tc429

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hi all, first post here... hoping maybe someone in here familiar with old Towmotor lift trucks steering details.
looking at trying to redo a scrapyard truck to a local museum- whether it gets restored or sent down the road to become a refrigerator will kinda hinge on whether or not I can fix the steering- its incredibly hard to steer, I dug it out of the scrap pile again, picked up the tail end everything moves free, but with weight on it, steering wheel needs king kong effort to turn it- and once turned if you try to let go of it, it unwinds near a full rev of the steering wheel.
I was told that it had manual steering... but then told (rumors only) it originally had power steering, but our old towmotor 'mechanic' removed the power assist- and that was why they put it out to pasture 5 years ago... I pulled the tin off it yesterday, the steering box is definitely manual, so if it had power, it must be like a old ford where the steering box shifts a sprung valve in the drag link to provide assist from external cylinder.
a local airplane museum has a similar truck at their shop, i called them 2 years ago to see if interested, they came, looked, wanted it, but never called back- guessing no time to fix a old truck with all their other projects... our scrap storage area is all going out next week, the old towmotor was still buried out there...asked the boss again, said sure... if I can fix the steering(have machine tools to make repair parts), I'm willing to buy/provide the tires/paint/elbow grease to save the poor thing to donate a working piece to the museum- that is thinking i can do everything for maybe 400-ish... but the steering might be a big deal.
anyone know if a 462s(G or LP)4024 forklift ever came with manual steering, or any pics of the power assist setup? I cant see anything on the draglink, but its caked in inches of grease/dirt...will have to get it home and pressure washed/counterweight off to even get a good view...
I redid a clark I felt sorry for last year, it needed a lot too, but had good tires- think i had about 800 in it all up, and it turned out a REALLY nice truck...i'm getting older, figured it could be handy out in the garage, but its big...and too new(1993) to fit in with the local air museum's motif, so decided to keep it- but the poor old towmotor was such a good running thing...needs brakes now from sitting, but it starts/runs great still, believe motor was rebuilt not many hours ago...just seems a shame to scrap it.
I understand the shop's thinking, with the hours i had in the clark, had it been billed, it woulda cost more than a used truck for sure...the old towmotor is worse looking, but in better shape actually than the clark was when scrapped- not 'worth' fixing- but as a sick hobby, I'd fix it just to both save it from its demise and to give the museum something fitting but still useable. biggest cost will be tires, but have found some pretty cheap/brand new... the steering needs sorted first though- if unsaveable, afraid its done- the gearbox output is a little loose, sure I can rebush that, but the high effort? rebushing the steer axle might be needed, but really dont think its bad- think the hydraulic assist is just physically gone... need a pic of what it should look like down there...
heres a pic of the old thing, what I'd like for it to look like when done, and a collage of the old clark i saved last year.
 

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tc429

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well, found a manual, should be here tomorrow...last week, did pull the tin and counterweight off to get a better look, and it never had power steering that I can tell...

think just soft/worn tires, dry kingpin thrust bearings, 2 loose tie rod ends, one badly bent tie rod sleeve, and a dry steering box are why so freaking hard to steer...
got a inch of grease to scrape off to find bolts/drop the steer axle out to rebuild, will decide from there if to continue with power conversion, or just leave it original...was surprised to see these old trucks had leaf springs on the steer axle...

shes a ugly duckling, but think with a little work can be brought back...
 

Pat Barrett

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Age
71
Last Subscription Date
01/02/2020
Got an old Clark in the barn, 3000# lift. 4 Cyl Cont., I think. so worn out, it won't hardly pull itself.
 

Heins

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Last Subscription Date
01/02/2020
You need to take the weight off the steering axle and get grease in the king pins, gear box, and everything in the steering that moves and get the steering axle moving back and forth.
 

Pat Barrett

Subscriber
Age
71
Last Subscription Date
01/02/2020
I wish I had a way to pull out the motor on this one and build it. These things are worth their weight in gold when you need them, other wise no one wants them. It's kinda like the little red hen when she ask "Who wants to help me eat my bread"
 

tc429

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I wish I had a way to pull out the motor on this one and build it. These things are worth their weight in gold when you need them, other wise no one wants them. It's kinda like the little red hen when she ask "Who wants to help me eat my bread"
you mentioned low power- while it wont help with oil consumption/smoke, might suggest adjusting tappets and ignition timing just to see...lot of times even a low compression leaker can still make decent power-long as it can get a full breath of air and proper advance... we had two at the shop with weak starters(thin old calbes mostly), someone had backed timing off so theyd crank, but sheesh, theyd barely move on level ground...even just a couple degrees makes a huge difference...if propane running really stinky rich kills power too
 

tc429

Registered
You need to take the weight off the steering axle and get grease in the king pins, gear box, and everything in the steering that moves and get the steering axle moving back and forth.
weights off, pulled the forks so it can be safely carried from the front if needed(pin had been welded in, fun grinding that off enough to pull it) dragged the steer axle home and pressure washed it a couple nights ago...
everything was surprisingly good- nothing galled/seized or anything- both tie rod sleeves were badly bent, and the center link was very slightly bent downward, rubbing on the axle...betting it got driven off a dock at some time in its history...
that said, i really think the whole kingkong effort to steer was mostly: tires... they were wore past the 'tread' and the cores are spongelike, think the squishy rubber was 90% of the crazy springback(let go of steering wheel after turning while stationary, it would unwind near a full turn) with counterweight off, of course it steered a lot easier, but was still springy

new tie rod sleeves will be here tomorrow, pressed the tires off last night( that was a workout...our big hydraulic press is manual pumped...) new rear tires will be here end of next week.
holding off on ordering fronts as dont want to throw much money at it till i am comfortable that the steering issues are doable- else its back in the scrap bin.
Im gonna mill a tiny bit off the parting line of the center ink where it was rubbing axle, and repack everything after painting, then axle can be tossed back under it, and will do some limited driving(hopefully- no brakes) just to decide if the hydro conversion will really be necessary, or not...

really think tires were the biggest thing though- they are the softest tires ive ever seen on a lift truck, probably 30-40 yrs old - heck, maybe original? was happy to see how easy to service the steer axle is- two bolts, loosen draglink socket and it slides right out...small as it is, bet it still weighs near 400 pounds though :)
 

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tc429

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funny...this truck sat out in the dirt for 5-6 years, I last started it with jumper wires 3 yrs ago to see if it ran...hooked a bottle up on the floor tonight(trucks pretty disassembled at the moment), put a near dead battery in it from another truck scrapped, touched the jumper wires (someone stole the ignition switch years ago) it cranked maybe 2 revolutions and fired right up...no smoke, no noises, just a slight miss(spark plugs/wires weathered pretty bad) that smoothed out as it warmed up..gage showed no oil pressure, checked, line was cut/plugged off, thought i'd crack loose the remote filter line just to make sure it was pushing oil...broke off instead- yeah, it had pressure alright :) the lowly old flathead was rebuilt not long before they mothballed it, and it still runs great.
got the rear tires in tonight, taking them to the press tomorrow night, hoping to have the steer axle back under it by the weekend, wanna drive it around a bit to make sure how the steering improves- if it does :)
 

tc429

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got the steer axle finished up tonight...pressing tires off/on was a chore :( thrust bearings and kingpin needle rollers were ALL stuck solid- grease was like asphalt...disassembled/straightened tie rods, flushed/relubed everything, all looks good... dint bother painting though... hoping to pop it back in the truck tomorrow and test drive :)
 

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tc429

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well, drove the old truck around after popping the steer axle back in- was still a little hard stopped, but way improved...moving, could steer with a finger, stopped could still turn one handed, but hard...saturday put the counterweight back on though...eew... probably half what was needed before the axle/tires, but still ridiculous steering effort. definitely going to need to put power steering on it if the museum is ever to get any real use out of it- most the guys there are older than me, the steering would wear out a 19 yr old...
will see where it goes from here. will prob hold off on paint/front tires till steering is truly OK, else it might just be time to let it go...darn thing runs so good. drove a few laps around the shop saturday, prob put a mile on it, brakes are working, drug the park brake to rub all the rust off, its smooth, the clutch freed up smooth as silk...but the steering will relegate it as useless the way it still is.
 

tc429

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a little progress- found in my humble opinion THE perfect donor steering box- a 2000 Astro van has the lefthand worm, flat mounts, hydraulic ports in the ONLY ideal spot... made a half inch mount with 3/4" standoffs, plasma cut about 3 1/2" off the old sidemount/frame of the towmotor, this will sit right in there with room for about 3" of weld on 2 sides of left and top, then *might* add a gusset to other side- but dont think it would be needed, really- its already gonna have more holding it in than original, and all attachment points are also 1/2" plate...
was gonna put it in tonight, but got detoured helping a old friend with some parts for his 67 Dodge P200 van's front end (found out it has a D100 axle)... the guys 80 years old, fairly crippled up, and rebuilding this thing by himself... Ive just been trying to help out supplying a few bits and pieces, and making some simple tools needed- man, if I EVEN make it to 80, hope I have even 10% of his ambition :) he rebuilt a 64 galaxie suspension a couple years ago, and it looks better tan any show car underneath- impeccable care at detailing...pretty neat stuff.
Anyways, Astro box, Jeep Pitman, 55 chevy ballstud, 1/2" 6x6 plate and three standoffs, you got a reasonable facsimile of a power steering setup for a very old forklift...not that theres many other idiots out there thinking about doing this LOL

heres the box roughly propped in place, and on its yet unmounted mount...








oh- and heres part of why it didnt want to turn left-

lower bearing rollers were ALL turned 90 degrees, and severe corrosion of the teeth on the ballnut and sector gear...no fixing this one economically- really a crappy gearbox. Saginaw 540 is the type- looks super light duty inside compared to a automotive box...
 

tc429

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got more done tonight, mount welded in, box bolted in and draglink temporarily hooked up... a ugly mess still, as nothings clean and hydraulic lines all looped together temporarily to get them out of the way- but the big stuff is in...



skip tooth on the jeep pitman is one different- will need to offset adjust the tie rods to center the steering, but otherwise, couldnt have asked for a better fit.

gotta get the hydraulic hoses remounted(old bulkhead had to go) and swap the 32 ford ballstud out for the 55 chevy one thats coming, cut the steering column, find a coupler (measures .725, 36 tooth spline- must be .750) for the steering box input, make a lower column mount(didnt have one before- it pressed into the old steering box, but now will need a coupler and lower mount, and mounts for the two shift levers...
then flip generator brackets to lift it up 2", then new pump/pulley/brackets mounted under the generator, then hoses/tubing to the steering box, then cleaning/painting everything- will probably bring it home to do that, trying to get it driveable while still at the shop, lots more room...hmm, maybe theyll let me paint it there too- we have a booth... oh yeah- need to order the front tires I guess soon- looks like its gonna live.

oops, gotta make one new side panel- might replace both, and thru cut alternate lettering...hmm. and will need a new seat and belt still. gonna cost twice what it might be worth, not counting hours spent either, but it should live on for quite a while...
 
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tc429

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made some room for a automotive power steering pump...flipped the old generator mounts, just had to elongate the lower bracket's elongated holes other direction for alignment when flipped, gained 3"! now have a clear 8" height, hoping to find a cw rotation vee belted pump (hopefully on a bracket to hack up) at the pocal pull-a-part in the next couple days...

did machine the old column tube to accept lower bearings, and snapring grooved the shaft to locate/lock everything in place axially... still need to make a lower column tube mount- the Honda goldwing splined shaft/ujoint take up alignment, but not enough lateral stability- can see the tube flexing a little when cranking the steering...surprisingly, even with no power assist and only 3 turns lock to lock, (was 5.5) it still steers easier than it did :)
 

tc429

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took a while, but it steers/drives again...aside from the manual clutch, drives like a new one :)
still ugly as ever for now, but its come a ways... all thats left is rewiring, front tires, brakes, pull the mast to finish welding the chassis gussets around the new steering box, fill, paint, seat, belt, lights, horn... ok- yeah still a lot to do...but after the holidays

last winter, 5 years out in the weather:


current- driveable, but still ugly as ever... but back inside:


heres the steering pump(before hoses connected) and the honda goldwing u-joint on a speedway spline adapter to the chevy astro steering box, and the rerouted tilt cylinder lines... been fun getting it this far, but still a ugly mess...

 

tc429

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still lumbering along... got the front chassis 1/2 x 2 bar reinfocement welded in- zero flex when steering now(these old ones are a bit flexible- if ou steer back and forth, could see the whole front of the chassis flex slightly- after cutting out for the chevy asto steering box, it got worse...put a 1/2 x 2 bar across under the front, helped a little, not much though, so ran 2 bars up to tie lower axle mounts to the front upper(is all welded, just lower part is overhung a few inches and seems to flex due to the tilt cylinder holes) no more flex at all now.

most of the paint stripped and ospho treated, hope to have filled/primed maybe this weekend. time to order front tires. darn thing has gotten expensive... totalling up cost, gonna have 1500 minimum in it- and doubt it will be 'worth' 150 when done...old forklifts arent worth more than scrap 90% of the time, but sure are handy.

hopefully with the new steering and when army paint motif is finished, it will end up a usable prop, with a 'easy' life inside the museums restoration shop/hangar, maybe occasionally out on display with their 'tug' and other restored ground support equipment...
just hope they'll still want it and will take care of it LOL
KIMG0042(1).jpgKIMG0020.jpg
 

tc429

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well, got all the exterior stripped/etched/treated/epoxy primed, first filler in the dings/dents... hoping to maybe get the think leveled and the O.D. Green on it tomorrow... still a bit of a ugly duckling, but getting better
 

tc429

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well, its mostly OD Green finally...

hopefully will get the mast cleaned/painted/reinstalled, then pull the front wheels to redo the brakes and press the new front tires on. new tank mounts are ordered (current one half broken...) gotta get some duraglas to reinforce and repair the seat pan... the top gelcoat is a million little cracks, think its gonna get covered with something... maybe a 'tool tray' type thing on the right(wider) side, and tread tape to cover the other... think the pan in OD Green with a black seat, black tread tape beside the seat and black steel tool tray would look OK? gonna need something to hide the gelcot cracks, they will just return if filled/painted...
 

tc429

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got the seat pan repaired, ended up cheating- used 'fibercotton'- old tee shirt strips and polyester resin after grinding off all the old gelcoat...stretches snugly against the surface when soaked with resin, just dusted over it with a DA to knock the fuzz off and brushed another thick coat of resin over- looks like new celcoat :) reinforced the underside and filled missing chunks/cracked areas with duraglas, reallt surprised how well it came out in just a couple hours work. didnt even level the under seat portion- a metal plate covers it...used thik shoprag as cloth to add more strength there... but the flat/side areas came out better than anticipated :)

got the mast/forks cleaned up and back on, pulled the wheels to check out the brakes... shoes had almost no wear- BUT, one pad came unbonded(wheel cyl leaked on it) and the final drive gears ground it up- explained the intermittent lockup...
sadly, this truck is a oddball 462- originally had 9" front tires- never seen another that had the wide front wheels like it- well its also got 11" brakes instead of 8 3/4, and from what ive found, shoes (41884) are not available...the 8 3/4 are a little rare, but still out there. found a set of 11 x 1 3/4 rivet on linings (58 ford F100 rear) that I hope will work, should have them friday, along with the seat wheel cylinder cups (1 1/2"!) and some other junk... the thing has the heaviest brake springs ive ever seen...my Clarks springs are huge- but these are bigger yet...PITA even to remove. should have brakes back on this weekend- then gotta pull wheels again whenever tires get here.

shoot- still gotta order the tires, gotta pay off my credit card first LOL, this things turning into a money pit.

did some rough sketching, think I can put 9" 4 link under seat pan, so it can lift/swing off tho the left side- really tight fit under there, but think it might work...then will add hood pin lock down near the seatbelt anchors. also sketched up sidecover layout with cooling slots staggered to leave room for a larger white star, I think will work, and photoshopped roughly to check scale, think I like it... gotta order 3/8 aluminum sheet -maybe lexan?- to make them from... did pick up wiring materials, but havent started yet. gotta order hood pins and battery cables too- forgot to measure cable lengths tonight too... too forgetful.

anyways, its coming along...
 
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tc429

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where was i...Got the new seat mounted, made some fork stops(never had them that i knew of- used to just have bolts dropped in to pin the forks in place), think worked on some other tidbits too, but forget... do want to remake the clutch linkage part I had welded/remachined a while back- was cast steel and I didnt take time to pre/post heat, afraid should it ever break it could cause a crash... will remake it out of one piece of good old steel, the original had worn so severely, it obviously shoulda been steel from day one

last night, put the riveted linings on, honed the wheel cylinders, then wasted about 2 1/2 hours trying to bleed... pressure/vacuum/up/down... nada. someone replaced the brake tubing with 1/4" and bent a few up/down air bubble traps... was about to redo it with 3/16(less internal volume in lines the better for bleeding purposes) and no messy bends that could become air trap loops, when found just by quick pumping/fully releasing, would get a few bubbles out... so did that for another half hour and got pedal finally...need a extra person there to do final bleed.

tonight, took the top of the mast apart- its odd, a floating rod/open piston float about a foot, every time dropping it, was seeing water come out the breather... knocked it apart- the chain trunnion popped off, lifted it off the main rod, and watched the floating piston sink...the hollow rod was fully filled with water from sitting in the weather all those years. luckily, had a neodymium magnet to make a retrieval rod from, got the guide rod out, then siphoned about 2 gallons of water out...added a grease zerk in the top hole,greased the crap out of it and reassembled. guide rod only travels a foot, but cyl rod is hollow to the bottom, about 5' deep....anyways, can check that off the to do list, mast moves smooth as silk now, even that last foot full-up.

dunno if i'll work on it Sunday yet... got a rewrite about sorted out today for a gauge machine i'm working on- need to go back thru and remove all the original stuff from the program and swap in the new, mostly a lot of readdressing, but its monotonous/time killing stuff...plus some wiring/calibration to finalize...need to get that thing online this coming week and off of my plate, as the next two big CNC lathes will be ready for me by midweek- I do the eectrical design stuff, give them schematics tobuild the panels/cables, and write the cnc/plc interface programming- distractions have had me tied up and those PLC programs have barely been started yet... may be stuck late after hours on 'work' stuff this week. the first dozen of these automatic gauges we did two years ago, the software about killed me- me and my bright ideas, kept suggesting more stuff we could add, in the end had a month of 90-100 hour weeks sorting all the details out...had a 80 page ladder program, 60 pages of arduino code(it just handles the barcode scanning/data tables for all the parts we run- but also timestamps and writes all the data out to a network port and onboard SD card), anyways they started running the double-wide 'supersingle' truck wheels again, had to widen the machine, come up with a zero backlash spring centering device n a 2' diameter plate to catch the location of topside of the wheel, then flip half the sensors to under that plate- been a rather interesting last couple weeks... although ive always enjoyed the programming aspects of the job more than drawing/machining parts, this program has evolved into a mind-numbing mess of code to maintain, hard to explain how exhausting the software development became...really proud with how well theyve worked out, and how well theyve held up, over two million parts thru the first 12 gages the last two years, a couple pneumatic check valves and some bend stop pins from rough operators have been the only real 'failures'...anyways lots of work to do that may take this weeks 'after work' hours and then some :)
 
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tc429

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well, got the lights hung(no wiring), put new gages in the painted dash panel(no wiring) and made up the seat pan 4-link...really liking the sideways access, gotta add a gas strut and lock pins... rethought that- going to put 'fork' on back of seat track, that will engage grooved lock pins when seat slid back- just slide seat full forward to open hood :) heres a little video of the seat arrangement-
https://flic.kr/p/2itnXJs
 
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