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Bending a pitman arm?
#1408580 Tue May 04 2021 01:58 PM
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 9
C
'Bolter
I've got the 350 installed in the 53 GMC and the steering column and box moved over. I can't find a photo of how the pitman arm is bent to line the drag ling back up with the box. Can anyone post a photo of their bent pitman arm so that I have something to go off of? Thanks.

Last edited by casper50; Tue May 04 2021 01:59 PM.

Never underestimate the stupidity of people.
Re: Bending a pitman arm?
casper50 #1408629 Tue May 04 2021 06:04 PM
Joined: Mar 2014
Posts: 2,465
J
'Bolter
Hi Casper. Before you bend the pitman arm (which some around here might tell you is not a good scheme), have you considered just finding a left exhaust manifold from a 265? This should give you the clearance you need to leave the box right where it is. I suppose it depends on what you want to get out of your 350. If your idea is to have a high hp 350, then that manifold isn't for you, but honestly speaking if you're talking about a high hp 350 mated with the stock straight axle that is a whole different conversation.


Jon

1952 1/2 ton with 1959 235
T5 with 3.07 rear end
Re: Bending a pitman arm?
casper50 #1408650 Tue May 04 2021 09:40 PM
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 9,759
5
'Bolter
I am not a big fan of moving the box over. I have seen too many which were not securely attached to the frame. I wouldn't care at all except I have to share the road with these trucks.
If it is done right, I have no qualms.
I am trying to understand why it is necessary to bend "the pitman arm to line the drag link back up with the box". Is there not enough articulation in the drag link ends for it to work with the stock pitman arm? I understand that the drag link end at the stock pitman arm will be outboard of its stock position by the distance of how far you moved the box, but is it so far that the drag link binds up?

Re: Bending a pitman arm?
casper50 #1408651 Tue May 04 2021 09:47 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,880
R
'Bolter
Perhaps someone makes an aftermarket modified pitman arm for your application. Steering components are made out of hardened material and probably the only way to bend it would be to apply heat. I don't believe that would be recommended.
Fred


1956 3100 Pickup/Red/350/3sp OD/PS/Disc Brakes
1957 Bel Air Sport Coupe/Red/355/TH350/PS/Disc Brakes
2017 Silverado LT Single Cab SB/Black/5.3/6 Speed Trans
1947 Willys CJ2A w/F-Head engine
Re: Bending a pitman arm?
casper50 #1408666 Tue May 04 2021 11:17 PM
Joined: Mar 2014
Posts: 2,465
J
'Bolter
Maybe I've just seen the mistakes, but every truck I've seen which was altered in this fashion has changed steering geometry in a negative and often comically dangerous manner. Most of what I've seen makes the term "shade tree" seem like an advanced degree...something Goober might aspire to. For the example I'm going to show you, we can even ignore the fact the steering box will be pushed outward in an arc itself. Unless you do some fairly serious modification using a rag joint, that arc is a constant. The solid tubular column forces it to happen. We won't focus on it as I said but it happens and it has an effect also. For one thing your steering wheel won't ever look straight again and it won't be.

There are basic reasons GM wanted the pitman arm, the drag link and the steering knuckle to connect and operate in the proper plane and not at incorrect angles. Most of the time with these modifications, the steering box is pushed over by 1.5 to 2.5 inches to get it out of the way and a new mount is made. Please look at what this will do to the geometry below. Ist image is stock with the exception of the adjustable drag link I made. It does push the drag link away from the pitman arm by about .25", but that isn't enough to cause concern. 2nd image below shows what moving the box out by 1.5 inches will do. 3rd image below shows what pushing the box away from the frame by 2.5 inches will do. Everyone who's comfortable zipping along at 60 mph with that setup raise your hand. If anything, the only way to restore geometry is to attach the drag link to the rear side of the pitman arm...but that also has challenges.

Attached Files
pitman arm orientation.jpg (45.99 KB, 264 downloads)
pitman 3b.jpg (44.19 KB, 268 downloads)
pitman 3c.jpg (43.52 KB, 256 downloads)

Jon

1952 1/2 ton with 1959 235
T5 with 3.07 rear end
Re: Bending a pitman arm?
casper50 #1408667 Tue May 04 2021 11:38 PM
Joined: Mar 2010
Posts: 600
B
Curmudgeon
I would search the Internet for more opinions before you decide.
I found this fairly quickly:
http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/showthread.php?t=332970

* A 265 manifold will work but the 350 head ports are larger than the 265 so port matching is required.
* Slightly cocking the engine is possible but may be an appearance issue.
* Moving the steering box just a little...3/4"....questionable.
* Use headers.
* Raising the engine.
* Some combinations of the above?

Most car and truck forums frown on bending a pitman arm.
It's not safe afterwards and your insurance company can refuse any accident claims.

Re: Bending a pitman arm?
casper50 #1408674 Wed May 05 2021 12:01 AM
Joined: Mar 2014
Posts: 2,465
J
'Bolter
Interesting. That article says the guy had to move the steering box 3 to 4 inches out to make it all fit. If that steering box is actually sitting 4 inches out, there's tire/wheel contact with nearly every left turn and that truck probably couldn't pass a vehicle inspection in Mexico.


Jon

1952 1/2 ton with 1959 235
T5 with 3.07 rear end
Re: Bending a pitman arm?
casper50 #1408701 Wed May 05 2021 10:25 AM
Joined: Jul 2019
Posts: 533
B
'Bolter
Torch it up pretty close to cherry hot and get a big pry bar in there and bend it out the 2” you need. I did mine and its never had a problem. I heat and bend stuff a lot so doing that I didn’t even bat a eyelash. As long as its not cherry when you throw water on it you are fine. Most people overthink it. Just bend it and move on. I will attach a pic of mine if i find it. The steering box “move over” is totally fine in my opinion. Cant tell at all from inside. Steering wheel looks more centered than stock actually. *** Oh and I zip along at 70-75mph with this setup with one finger on the wheel with no worries about the steering. It drives perfect. No binding or problems returning to center or anything. My father drove it and he couldn’t believe how nice the truck drove and he usually bi***es about anything including braking but he was just totally impressed how seamlessly the LS and old transmission with original steering and braking on new radials all worked together.

Attached Files
07EE4995-F200-442A-8663-47208083A3E7.jpeg (229.93 KB, 233 downloads)
59990B98-28C0-4304-9CAF-5D1EF55B1AD4.jpeg (254.02 KB, 240 downloads)
680F02D9-1270-4E69-BC68-4C2CF5CB1849.jpeg (224.28 KB, 234 downloads)
C0EFE411-6A95-45E8-9C86-115BB0F2543B.jpeg (249.66 KB, 222 downloads)
Last edited by Barnfind49; Wed May 05 2021 10:33 AM.
Re: Bending a pitman arm?
casper50 #1408705 Wed May 05 2021 11:42 AM
Joined: Feb 2021
Posts: 9
C
'Bolter
Thank you BF. That's what I needed.


Never underestimate the stupidity of people.
Re: Bending a pitman arm?
Barnfind49 #1408819 Thu May 06 2021 06:57 AM
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 815
M
'Bolter
Originally Posted by Barnfind49
Torch it up pretty close to cherry hot and get a big pry bar in there and bend it out the 2” you need. I did mine and its never had a problem. I heat and bend stuff a lot so doing that I didn’t even bat a eyelash. As long as its not cherry when you throw water on it you are fine. Most people overthink it. Just bend it and move on. I will attach a pic of mine if i find it. The steering box “move over” is totally fine in my opinion. Cant tell at all from inside. Steering wheel looks more centered than stock actually. *** Oh and I zip along at 70-75mph with this setup with one finger on the wheel with no worries about the steering. It drives perfect. No binding or problems returning to center or anything. My father drove it and he couldn’t believe how nice the truck drove and he usually bi***es about anything including braking but he was just totally impressed how seamlessly the LS and old transmission with original steering and braking on new radials all worked together.

Speaking from actual experience is always appreciated.


1951 Chevy Panel Truck
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