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Tunable Power Steering

Allow folks who drive for a living to get some some exercise
  [vote for,

I drove nearly 25 miles yesterday when the power steering motor went out, and it felt great. So I got to thinking, it would be great to have a simple rheostat on the dash to increase or decrease the power to the power steering. That is all.
21 Quest, May 14 2013

Similar to this, perhaps? http://www.halfbake...justable_20Steering
Couldn't tell if this is the same thing. [21 Quest, May 14 2013]


       That other idea is mostly baked. This one I would like. My power steering would be -off-
DIYMatt, May 14 2013

       It might be possible to fit an air conditioning compressor clutch onto the power steering pump; that would give you on/off capability. Not quite sure how you'd do a variable assist - possibly an adjustable bypass on the hydraulic lines, bleeding the boost down. Seems like that would tend to overheat the fluid, though.
lurch, May 14 2013

       Add the little radiator from a transmission cooler kit. I have one cooling the hydraulic brakes on my duece; now I can descend long hills without updating my will.
Alterother, May 14 2013

       Yes. [+]
csea, May 14 2013

       I don't suppose a simple current limiter on the power steering motor would be sufficient?
21 Quest, May 14 2013

       //power steering motor// The what?
DIYMatt, May 14 2013

       In some vehicles, Matt, the power steering system uses an electric motor instead of a hydraulic actuator.
21 Quest, May 14 2013

       "On Fiat group cars the amount of assistance can be regulated using a button named "CITY" that switches between two different assist curves, while most other EPS systems have variable assist. These give more assistance as the vehicle slows down, and less at faster speeds." (Wikipedia, Power Steering.)

       I would prefer [lurch]'s system; I'm not especially fond of power steering, and would like to be able to turn it off altogether. Presumably, if the power steering system lost power for any reason the clutch would disengage so you wouldn't have to fight the motor.
spidermother, May 14 2013

       I like having it on while negotiating parking lots, just not all the way on.
21 Quest, May 14 2013

       Surely the simplest way would be for a steering wheel with an adjustable diameter, I'm thinking a stretchy rim with extensible spokes, wind it in for less leverage/extra exercise.
not_morrison_rm, May 15 2013

       I like it, Morrison.
21 Quest, May 15 2013

       //I like it, Morrison.

       I get worried when people agree with me. Actually, I'm a bit surprised car makers don't fit something like this already, after all there's a "sport" mode option for car transmission.
not_morrison_rm, May 15 2013

       [+] I see a whole suite of products based on this idea. Can I please order a laptop power supply that supplies most of the power from the wall socket, but also requires me to pedal a generator a little bit?
not_only_but_also, May 19 2013

       What was driving like before most cars had power steering? Did you have to have two people each with a wheel, so they could combine their turning force? Or did they use worm-geared steering shafts like on steamrollers, so you have to crank the wheel 20 turns just to change lane?
pocmloc, May 20 2013

       I used to have a diesel hatchback with no power steering. In order to get the required leverage on the wheel, I used to have to sit much closer... I removed a couple of bits of under-dashboard trim for more knee room.

       The benefits included chiseled arms and shoulders and the fact that my girlfriend/mother* never wanted to borrow it.

       * completely independent, separate, different people.
bs0u0155, May 20 2013

       A '78 Civic was the last car I owned which had manual steering... fine except parking lots were annoying (the ratio is higher so lock-to-lock is longer). [+]

       I might still be driving it if it had had power steering: hitting a rock tore the steering wheel out of my hands.
FlyingToaster, May 20 2013

       I think that's why a lot of older vehicles had hefty knobs on the wheel... for extra leverage.
21 Quest, May 20 2013

       certainly, there are many cars with hefty knobs BEHIND the wheel.
bs0u0155, May 20 2013

       I was only teasing, I have never actually owned a car with power steering, only rentals. Still not really used to it.
pocmloc, May 20 2013

       Power steering is sort of a funny idea because it's really a powered device for doing something powerful, like powered levering.
rcarty, May 20 2013

       What was it like before power steering?

       I own a six-wheel-drive military truck commonly known as a deuce-and-a-half. It is eight feet wide, twenty three feet long, has 46" diameter tires, weighs seven tons, and does not have power steering*. Here are some highlights of the driving experience:

       -If I want to turn the front wheels, the truck must move. I'm a pretty strong guy, but I am not strong enough to turn that wheel when the truck is standing, even on pavement. The best I can do is put it in gear and repeatedly feather the clutch, turning the wheel a little bit with each tiny lurch forward and roll back.

       - At highway speeds, I keep my hands fairly loose on the steering wheel and let it waver back and forth a bit. If I tried to hold the wheel as firmly as I do in a vehicle with power steering, my shoulders would be burning within fifteen minutes.

       - In the woods, I carefully keep my hands on the outside of the steering wheel, because an unexpected stump or rock can spin that wheel fast enough to snap my thumbs in half. Power steering works both ways.

       In summary, it was probably like that, but less extreme.

       *There is an 'air-assist' kit that is supposed to work like power steering, but it isn't worth the box it comes in.
Alterother, May 20 2013

       I saw it from the other way, one teeny Suzuki car in Japan, with completely overboard power steering. One finger steering probably possible and, a non-linear change of direction when turning the steering wheel. Very, very weird to drive.

       And not self-centering steering as well.
not_morrison_rm, May 21 2013

       This where I can crow about the virtues of a light car...may I introduce the Mazda Miata first model (NA)...no power steering on some of those. Didn't need it.
Ling, May 21 2013

       in fact.... the manual steering rack was coveted by the MX5 enthusiast. Unfortunately the manual steering rack tended to appear on the poverty- spec 1.6 models, where as the LSD and other goodies tended to appear on the specced-up 1.8l models, lots of swapping about went on there.

       Although, if you did have power steering it was probably for the best, you needed it, what with the extra weight of the power steering gear...
bs0u0155, May 21 2013

       [Alterother] - that does indeed sound familiar. At 12 years old, I was driving a '46 Chevy 2-ton flatbed while hay-hauling (driving was the work of those too "puny" to throw hay) so I had no "highway speed" problems, but the other points were right on. Hitting an irrigation furrow not-quite square on would really spin the wheel on you. Steering while stopped was as easy as bending a crowbar behind your back.

       The '63 Dodge Powerwagon I got for my own later (which thought "highway speed" was 48 mph) was much nicer - stopped, I could force the wheel around if I had my feet braced on the firewall (by this time I was big enough to throw hay-bales) and it seldom jammed my thumbs - but I think I had just gotten in the habit of keeping them out of the way of the spokes. Come to think of it, I still do.
lurch, May 21 2013

       When I say 'highway speed' I meant 30-50mph. Going down a long hill with a stiff tailwind I can get my truck up to 65.
Alterother, May 21 2013


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