It's often hard to take in how much has changed from the early days of motoring such as the road surfaces vehicles travel on, the size and performance of suspension and tires and the speeds at which we travel our streets and highways. Back in the early days it was enough just to be able to hang on while the old "flivvers" and "lizzies" made their way down the bumpy and rutted trails that were also used by horse and wagons.
Due to the advancement of smoother roads, stickier tires, and higher performance engines, it was necessary by the '50s to figure out a way to lessen the transmission of every bump in the road to the person sitting behind the steering wheel. The solution used by OEMs was a rag joint, which did a great job for decades. Since the street rod community can never stop with good enough, the people at Borgeson developed something even slicker. Here's the scoop:
Why is a Steering Dampner used?
Noise, vibration, and harshness are on the top of the list of concerns to all automotive enthusiasts. With the more frequent use of rack-and-pinions and low-profile high-performance tires, there are more road vibrations transmitted to the steering wheel than in the past. Vibration reducers are used to diminish the annoying vibrations that are transmitted through the steering system. Vibration reducers are not designed to fix a problem causing a vibration, only to lessen the road vibrations transmitted up thru the steering system. As an added benefit, this reduction in vibration has been shown to increase the overall life of the steering components.
What is a Steering Dampner?
The first vibration reducers where developed in the mid-'50s for use on production vehicles. The original style was called a rag joint. A rag joint used a material similar to the wall of a tire, sandwiched between two steel ends.
This allowed each end to slightly flex thereby absorbing vibrations sent up the column by the steering system. Rag joints were used as the standard for vibration reducers until the eighties, when a new style of vibration reducer was developed. The new style vibration reducer incorporated a steel shaft surrounded by urethane inside of a metal housing. This style dampener has become much more popular then the rag joint in new production vehicles.
Where is a Steering Dampner used?
All production vehicles built today use a vibration reducer in the steering system. It is strongly recommended that when designing a steering system for your rod or custom you add a vibration reducer to the system, it is a minimal cost and it will drastically improve your steering system.
What styles of Steering Dampners are available?
Borgeson introduced their first vibration dampner in 1988. Over the years the dampner has been redesigned and improved. In the past, street rodders and specialty car builders eliminated the common factory-style rag joint vibration reducer due to space limitations. With the compact size of the Borgeson vibration reducers, this problem can be overcome. Today Borgeson offers vibration reducers in different styles and materials. Inline dampners can be used for a straight connection, or a vibration reducer U-joint combination (our lead photo) can be used if an angle is needed. Using urethane compound to isolate all the metal components, Borgeson vibration dampners retain their function, but add a bit of style to your steering system. Dampners are available in many different spline and double-D configurations to fit almost any application. The vibration reducer joints are offered in steel, stainless steel, and polished stainless steel. Borgeson has recently started to produce the original-style rag joint. These are designed for a straight connection only. On certain applications people like to keep a rag joint rather then the newer style vibration reducer. The rag joints are also available in a large variety of spline combinations. Using a Borgeson vibration reducer results in an immediate change in the steering feel.
Now that you are better acquainted with what exactly a steering dampner is and what it does you can decide what vibration reducer is for you.