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Old 10-20-2016, 09:09 AM   #1
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SPOA Death Wobble

So just finished doing a SPOA lift in my 88 Samurai....and now it has terrible death wobble. Comes in at 30/35mph. It has stock springs and shackles. Low Range full contact spring pads. 3" drop pitman arm with a homemade high steer/OTT kit. Drag link and tie rod are almost perfectly parallel to each other. My drivers side king pin/knuckle bearings seem to be Loose or worn. Maybe 1/16-1/32 of play. All other suspension components are in decent shape. Have a stock steering dampener installed. Running used but reasonably round and true 31x10.5x15 Goodyear all terrains. Where do you guys think that wobble is likely coming from?
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Old 10-21-2016, 12:50 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vwjay View Post
So just finished doing a SPOA lift in my 88 Samurai....and now it has terrible death wobble. Comes in at 30/35mph. It has stock springs and shackles. Low Range full contact spring pads. 3" drop pitman arm with a homemade high steer/OTT kit. Drag link and tie rod are almost perfectly parallel to each other. My drivers side king pin/knuckle bearings seem to be Loose or worn. Maybe 1/16-1/32 of play. All other suspension components are in decent shape. Have a stock steering dampener installed. Running used but reasonably round and true 31x10.5x15 Goodyear all terrains. Where do you guys think that wobble is likely coming from?

I would guess it has something to do with this. And possibly your knuckle seals are worn out.


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Old 10-22-2016, 09:52 AM   #3
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Thanks, that's my first suspect. If I put the stock size tires on which were terrible. I could feel the onset of the wobble (feedback in the wheel) but it would never happen. Even with the stock steering. With the steering dampener removed and stock tires you get the wobble. Now with the 31's even with the dampener. I get the wobble. I doesn't look to bad to change the knuckle/king pin bearings so I'll start with that and report back.
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Old 10-24-2016, 08:49 AM   #4
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Ordered the parts to completely rebuild both knuckles/hubs. Now just patiently waiting for the parts to arrive
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Old 10-24-2016, 09:54 AM   #5
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While your waiting for those parts to arrive, go get a proper alignment, or at the very least, have them simply check where yours is at. See where your caster is at and have them reset your toe properly for the larger tires. My bet is that you need a couple degree shims to correct caster after the spoa.

The knuckle rebuild is a good idea, but make sure you properly shim the king pins. Please read up on that if you don't know much about it. The FSM is a good source for how to. AS for it being related to the death wobble, Unless the bearings are flat out worn out, no, it will do little to help. Same with adding a new steering dampener, it will only mask the real issue. Steering dampner is only for easing the "bumps" in the road as it travels up the steering wheel to your hands.

Worn parts causes sloppy steering and wandering on the road.
The actual alignment is what keeps the zuk going straight down the road with out wobble and shakes. Have the alignment checked!!!!!
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Old 10-24-2016, 02:13 PM   #6
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Good info, whether it helps or not they need to be done. I bought multiple shims and the tool to measure the drag. I did a quick check on my alignment. And it looks like I have 2-3/8 toe in. My buddy has the toe plates. I'm gonna borrow them and do a more conclusive check.

Last edited by Vwjay; 10-24-2016 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 10-26-2016, 10:34 AM   #7
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I would do the easiest thing first. I think I have experienced just about every cause for the death wobble after doing my SPOA several years ago. With my Zuken, the toeing is critical. I think the book say 1/4"to 1/8". Anything more than 1/8", and I get the Death Wobble. At 1/8", I have normal tire wear. My Zuke is wheeled and a Daily Driver.

I do not have a Steering Dampener, and prefer not to run one. I am of the belief that while a Dampener will mask vibrations, it also allows the vibrations to hammer front end components. My axle is the original, and has leaky seals.

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Old 10-26-2016, 10:12 PM   #8
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My cause with the death wobble when I did my SOA was that my pinion angle was pointed up way too much. I did this so that I could have better driveline angles. I eventually swapped to Toyota axles and run a Hi pinion diff in front. I made sure I put a level on the trunion bearing before I welded the perches. After I did this I was able to drive it without white knuckling my steering wheel when I drove above 40 MPH.
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Old 10-31-2016, 09:53 PM   #9
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The spring perches I used don't allow you to change the pinion angle during the swap. It's stock angle or negligibly close to stock. I checked my toe and set it to an 1/8". It was 3/16-1/4". No difference in the wobble. As far as the knuckles, I can move both sides up and down at least a 1/16". That's straight up and down pushing on the bottom of them. Grabbing the tire or the brake rotor gives about the same play back and forth or rather rocking top to bottom. Cause of the problem or not, that's not right.
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Old 10-31-2016, 10:46 PM   #10
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My perches are the same as the stock ones.
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Old 11-08-2016, 09:21 PM   #11
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I had really bad death wobble on my Tin top. I had a SPOA on stock springs with a Z-bar. After playing with all the different aspects of trying correct it, what worked for me was the Calmini OTT steering set up and correcting my caster angle.

The previous owner had done a really hack job on the SPOA install. My front pinion was turned up so high it would make your nose bleed. I pulled my front drive shaft and use an angle finder to find the angle of the front pinion and the angle of the front out put shaft of the transfer case. It took a 6 degree wedge to correct the pinion angles. I ordered this from Brent at Trail Tough.

After the install I took the Sami to Les Schwab and had it aligned. I could not believe the difference it made.

You might consider checking your pinion angles before you spend any more money. Remember the more you lower the front pinion, the greater your caster which will be, which will allow your vehicle to track straighter.

Having said that, there is a fine line to walk here. You don't want to lower your pinion so much that it binds up your drive shaft u-joints.
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Old 11-22-2016, 08:42 AM   #12
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So rebuilt my steering knuckles. Both upper kingpin bearings were shot and the knuckle seals were almost non-existent. Still have the wobble. It's better, but not eliminated. My next step is I'm gonna try to borrow a set of good tires from my buddy and see if it's my tires/wheels which I suspect may be the problem. Bright side is the knuckles are rebuilt and the needed it.
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Old 11-22-2016, 01:01 PM   #13
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I suggest you check the toe in. Inexpensive and easy to do. I will add, it does make a difference where you measure.

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Old 11-23-2016, 11:44 AM   #14
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I'll keep repeating myself on all of these threads..... Get an alignment.....

But as reddog said, adjust your toe at the very least. Because where your toe is set on 205's, it will not be correct on 31's. Turn it out a 1/4"-3/8" and see if it improves, it should.

Youtube adjusting toe alignment using both the tape measure and string methods.

This is all assuming your caster was set right during your spoa perch welding.

Keep us posted.
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Old 11-23-2016, 12:42 PM   #15
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Sometimes I feel a little embarrassed telling people to check the toe-in when they have a wobble issue. It's so simple to do, and cost nothing.
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Old 11-24-2016, 07:15 PM   #16
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I set my toe using low range off roads toe adjustment plates. It should be at 1/8". I used full contact spring perches that sat directly in/on the old perches. Caster shouldn't have changed. While I was rebuilding my knuckles. The upper king pin/bearing hole was visibly tilted toward the firewall as it should be. I'll try throwing a little more toe in at it and see what happens. Next will be tire swap and likely the alignment shop.
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Old 10-12-2017, 10:09 AM   #17
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So all in all. It appears my issue was a bad wheel(s) or tire(s). I recently got a set of new 31x10.5x15 TreadWright all terrain tires on some used steel wheels and the truck rides well with no issues at all attainable speeds. I'm sure the alignment and knuckle rebuild helped as well. But considering how terrible the truck rode with the old tire combo even after the alignment and knuckles. I'm saying it was mostly the tires. Now to install my transfer case re-gear kit and cradle to get 5th gear and low range back.
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