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Old 05-12-2017, 01:16 PM   #1
Fordman487
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Default How to clear steering gear box out

I need advice on how to clean old grease out of a steering gear box-

Someone put Kendall SHP general grease in the steering box. It seems to work fine but I need to add some. I'm at a crossroads weather to add more generic grease or try to get all the old stuff out to add 90weight or JD Corn Head grease. Any thoughts? How am I going to get it all out without taking it apart?!?
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Old 05-12-2017, 01:43 PM   #2
JSeery
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

General purpose grease is not a good lubricant to use in a steering box. It is difficult to remove any lubricant from an installed steering box. The corn head grease would be the best choice going forward IMO.
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Old 05-12-2017, 01:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

I agree; I'm in a pickle because I really don't want to pull the entire gear box and wouldn't even know how to. I wonder if I can add some corn grease now, or if the old stuff has to all come out
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Old 05-12-2017, 01:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

I would say add it.
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Old 05-12-2017, 06:36 PM   #5
Kurt in NJ
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

Add gear oil, the grease will just take up space, perhaps it will have to be checked more often
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Old 05-12-2017, 07:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

I would be suspicious the reason grease is in it is because it leaked. One way to find out is put 90W in it and see. If it doesn't leak badly it will work fine. What kind of vehicle do you have?
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Old 05-12-2017, 08:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

It's a 1935 1 1/2 ton pick-up.
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Old 05-12-2017, 08:40 PM   #8
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

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Originally Posted by 4t8v8 View Post
I would be suspicious the reason grease is in it is because it leaked. One way to find out is put 90W in it and see. If it doesn't leak badly it will work fine. What kind of vehicle do you have?
Hate to keep harping on this, but as far as I know there is no such thing as 90W lubricant. 85W ("W" for winter) is rated at a different temperature than SAE 90 viscosity and above. The highest winter rating is 85W.

Adding SAE 90 might be a good approach, it could thin the grease out over time.
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Old 05-12-2017, 09:21 PM   #9
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

So I'm going to jump in and ask a dumb question. After my steering box was rebuilt it would drip out a drop or two every so often. I asked the guy who rebuilt it and his answer was exactly what was said above, drain it and put grease in it. I did that simply because he is an old school guy thats been working on cars longer then I've been alive so I figured it was fine. Is having grease in the steering box harmful to either the steering box it's self and/or does it make it harder to drive?
Thanks
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Old 05-12-2017, 09:35 PM   #10
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

It's not harmful in the sense it will cause direct damage, it just doesn't provide the required protection to mating surfaces. Worm gears wipe grease from the mating surfaces and there will be greater wear (the worm gear surfaces wear more quickly). Additionally the steering gears will move easier improving steering.
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Old 05-12-2017, 09:50 PM   #11
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

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Originally Posted by JSeery View Post
It's not harmful in the sense it will cause direct damage, it just doesn't provide the required protection to mating surfaces. Worm gears wipe grease from the mating surfaces and there will be greater wear (the worm gear surfaces wear more quickly). Additionally the steering gears will move easier improving steering.
You are correct in the 85W vs SAE 90. I meant SAE 90 but am prone to typos in my old age. Another problem with grease is it will may not work it's way up to the upper bearing in the box, leaving it unlubed.

Last edited by 4t8v8; 05-12-2017 at 09:51 PM. Reason: Oops. Again.
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Old 05-13-2017, 11:20 AM   #12
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

Finding SAE 90 is not easy- any suggestions where to find it in small quantities? Or is it hiding under another name or brand?
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Old 05-13-2017, 11:43 AM   #13
4t8v8
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

SAE 90 is hard to find in small quantities. SAE 85W 90 will work just fine for what you are trying to do.
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Old 05-13-2017, 12:59 PM   #14
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

SAE 50 motor oil is same as SAE 90 gear lube. Put some in there and do an oil change on it after 6 months or so and see what comes out. The grease soaps will liquefy over time with exposure to to a detergent motor oil and all will come out over time. If it leaks further, either replace the seal where its leaking or put the JD corn head grease in there.
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Old 05-15-2017, 08:37 AM   #15
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

Gear oil is available in 75W-90 and 80W-90 in quart containers at the usual suspects, I mean stores.
I am curious about the difference in JD cornhead grease vs. EP and general purpose greases in their ability to lubricate the steering box gears. Wouldn't the worm gear set wipe off the JD just as it does the others? Do you fill the entire steering box with the JD?
Is there a drain on the steering box or do you have to remove and disassemble it to remove old gear oil? Or does enough leak out so you never have to drain it - just add new?
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Old 05-15-2017, 10:33 AM   #16
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

Worm gear drives don't really need any EP additives. Some Gemmer designs have the sector on the side and some are on the bottom for the later cross steer applications. Draining depends on the design. Ford never mentions draining the steering gear since they just mention servicing it at 1000 mile intervals. Some are a bit easier to drain since they don't have a light switch on the bottom of the steering shaft and some have to remove the switch. The horn wire tube and lower steering shaft bearing cap can be removed to effect draining the cavity. It doesn't drain everything out but short of pulling out the sector shaft or the whole gear box, that's about as good as it gets.

If the seal is still working, it will hold the lube pretty well till the steering sector bushing gets worn enough for the shaft to start pushing the seal lip around. If the seal lip is pushed too far to one side, it will leak some out every time. It just slowly leaks out. Eventually the seal will be shot and it will seep all the time.
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Old 05-15-2017, 10:48 AM   #17
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Default Re: How to clear steering gear box out

Cornhead grease liquifes very easily as opposed to normal grease. It is very different and made for this type of application, thus the name.
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