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Username Post: Complete rebuild of steering box/column
DZAUTO 
Senior Member
Posts: 8424

Loc: Mustang, OK, USA
Reg: 12-25-99
09-07-09 03:41 PM - Post#1767847    

REBUILD OF 49-54 PASSENGER CAR AND
53-62 CORVETTE STEERING BOX AND COLUMN

DISASSEMBLY, CLEANING AND INSPECTING

This is a rebuild procedure I learned to do long ago without any particular special tools or a scale (as illustrated in the service manual). The adjustments and preload on the bearings and sector roller are all done by “feel” and I’ll explain how it is done and what to feel for.

For a holding fixture, I use an engine stand with an old rail road tie plate drilled and tapped for attaching the steering box. A good vice would work just fine, but with the column mounted to a stand in this manner, it is mobile around and the box can be rotated to multiple positions during the rebuild.

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/DZAUTO/Fr on...


http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/DZAUTO/Fr on...

After initial cleaning with some industrial strength degreaser and a power washer, the first thing to do is remove the sector shaft/roller by removing the four bolts on the side cover.

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The sector needs to be positioned so that the sector roller is in the straight up position because there is a notch in the steering box which the roller must pass through.

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Once the sector and side cover are removed as a unit, loosen and remove the lock nut from the adjusting screw. Then screw the adjuster out of the side cover.

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http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/DZAUTO/Fr on...


Loosen the big lock nut on the end of the steering box then unscrew the end cap from the end of the box. This will allow the worm gear and steering shaft to slide out as a unit.
At the upper end of the steering shaft is a bearing and horn contact unit, along with a split retainer which puts preload pressure on the upper bearing when the spring and steering wheel are installed. DON’T LET THE SPLIT RETAINER FALL TO THE FLOOR AND GET LOST!

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http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/DZAUTO/Fr on...


Once the steering shaft is removed from the column, the upper bearing/horn contact can be gently persuaded out using a screwdriver and hammer. The upper bearing is completely covered with a hard rubber like material, so go slow and be very gentle when tapping it out because this rubber material insulates the brass horn contact from the outer column.

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This is the upper bearing/horn contact after removal. The bearing is in pretty good shape, but the terminal has been broken off of the end of the wire, so the bearing will be replaced with a new one, which is still available from some vendors. The old bearing CAN BE saved by soldering on a new terminal.

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After the side cover, sector and steering shaft are removed, thorough cleaning of the interior of the box and parts are done so that they can be closely inspected for wear, damaged bearings, mating surfaces and overall condition (also, it’s no fun working on a nasty, greasy steering box).
After cleaning, the roller bearing (49-52 pass cars will have bushings here) in the steering box is driven out (prior to driving out the bearing, the old seal on the end can be pried out with a big screwdriver).
This is very simple and easy, but again, be gentle. Use a socket that will just barely pass through the bore for the bearing and gently tap it out.

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Here’s the bearing partially driven out.

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And the removed bearing along with the socket that was used to drive it out.

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Once everything is removed, all parts can be closely inspected.
With this particular steering box, amazingly, all the bearings, races, worm gear, sector roller and sector surfaces were in excellent shape. As a result, everything was thoroughly cleaned (I use a lot of brake cleaner on parts like this then blow dry with compressed air).
Below are the critical areas to inspect.
Naturally, look very closely at the bearing rollers and races for abnormal wear and pitting.

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There is a race for the roller bearing up inside the box, look close at that race. If any of the outer bearing races have to be removed from the box or end cap, a suitable puller will have to be used to remove them. The same goes for the roller bearing inside the side cover.

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Each end of the worm gear is an inner bearing race. If these race surfaces are damaged or excessively worn, you get to buy an expensive new rebuild kit (the worm IS NOT available separately).

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http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/DZAUTO/Fr on...


http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/DZAUTO/Fr on...

Also, look VERY closely at the contact surfaces of the worm gear and the sector roller for wear, chips or pits. If there is any detectable wear, it’s going to be a personal decision as to whether or not the parts are re-useable.

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http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/DZAUTO/Fr on...

Check the interior surface where the sector roller bearing is pressed into to assure it is in good condition.

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Also, closely inspect the surface of the sector shaft where it rides in the roller bearings (bushings in the case of 49-52 pass cars). This one is in excellent condition.

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/DZAUTO/Fr on...

Once all the parts have been inspected, the box is blasted to remove all residual dirt, grease and rust that was not removed during the cleaning with degreaser and power washing. The openings of the side cover and end cap were masked off to prevent blasting media from damaging the bearings or races.

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After blasting, the box, column, side cover and end cap were thoroughly blown out, flushed several times with brake cleaner and blown dry to assure no debris or blasting media were remaining inside the box, inside the steering column tube or in the bearing areas.
Once everything was clean enough to eat off of, the end cap and side cover were installed and the entire box was painted with a rust preventative satin black enamel paint (your choice of paint).

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h219/DZAUTO/Fr on...

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