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Old 08-14-2013, 07:59 PM   #1
Hitchhiker
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Default steering box rebuild.

While have my engine out for replacement, I took my steering box out on the pickup, as it has a lot of play and I have heard they are hard to get out with the engine in pickups. I've searched thru the archives and looks like everyone recommends getting the service bulletins to rebuild it, I plan on it, but I would also just like to order the parts I will need with it. Does anyone offer a good quality full kit? So that way I can just do it and make it perfect? How are the Snyders or Brattons rebuilds? I was thinking about just getting one of those.
Is there anyone else you recommend? I'd rather do it myself, but also if it's going to be close in cost after you figure machine shop cost to hone and maybe press on the worm gear. I might be better off with someone elses. I'm also trying to get this thing done ASAP as it is my daily so ordering the service bulletins,waiting for them to show, then ordering what I need sounds horrible as the engine is almost ready to go.

thanks for any advice
Matt
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:11 PM   #2
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

I rebuilt two of mine for my coupe and Tudor, but in the end figured out it would have been cheaper to buy rebuilt units. I would trust either Snyder's or Bratton's. There is some controversy about needle bearings, but with the amount of driving these cars will get I went with needles anyway.
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:22 PM   #3
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

i do them with the needle bearing bottom, new worm and sector and new brgs and races. its not cheap for parts and with the rebuilts they want your core in hand before they ship. keep in mind your also shipping the entire shaft so a long box is needed. the rebuilts have the needles also i believe. cost wise your more especially with the shipping.
i have heard the talk about the needles not lasting but have yet to see the evidence
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Old 08-14-2013, 10:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

I would be very careful. I too have heard that needles can wear badly. The entire footprint of a needle roller is a lot less than a bush. I would go as Henry made it to go, and bush it. ALWAYS ream first and hone to the final size.
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:16 AM   #5
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

I have had good luck with the two I bought from Snyder's. They even came already adjusted.
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:34 AM   #6
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

Mac's has rebuild kits, not sure about the other vendors. I too believe I would rather use a bushing than the bearing.
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:56 AM   #7
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

The problem with needles are they require a properly hardened sector shaft. The impact loading at the sector will brinell the surface, that is make small dents. This will allow the needles to break over time. The different sectors that have been made over time are probably why there are mixed results. Some have reported no problems and others had problems. My brothers car is fine since 1970 with the Argentine made repro sector that was probably made on the same line as the other sectors to be used with needle bearings.

The bushings offered by the parts houses are just wrong. The have too small an ID and can not be honed to round and still be the correct size. You really really want bushings align honed to the proper size!!!!!

Here is a link to my hints on the steering sectors.

Steering sector hints.
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Old 08-15-2013, 12:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

Rebuilding the boxes is not hard, but it is time consuming. As I recall, there are directions on how to do so in the Les Andrews books, though don't quote me on it. I know the directions are in a popular book, but I don't know precisely which one off the top of my head.

If you are going to rebuild it, replace all the parts you can. You only want to do this once.
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Old 08-15-2013, 03:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin in NJ View Post
The problem with needles are they require a properly hardened sector shaft. The impact loading at the sector will brinell the surface, that is make small dents. This will allow the needles to break over time. The different sectors that have been made over time are probably why there are mixed results. Some have reported no problems and others had problems. My brothers car is fine since 1970 with the Argentine made repro sector that was probably made on the same line as the other sectors to be used with needle bearings.

The bushings offered by the parts houses are just wrong. The have too small an ID and can not be honed to round and still be the correct size. You really really want bushings align honed to the proper size!!!!!

Here is a link to my hints on the steering sectors.

Steering sector hints.
Oh man that's some good info right there. thanks!
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Old 08-15-2013, 03:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

I do want to stay away from the needle bearings personally. That rules out the snyder box.
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Old 08-15-2013, 06:36 PM   #11
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

As Kevin says, If the heat treating is ok then it will be ok to run the needle bearings. However, These shafts bare foreign made. No way to verify the hardness or the quality of the steel. Btw, I think Kevin meant to say the ID's too large, not too small.
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I do want to stay away from the needle bearings personally. That rules out the snyder box.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:27 PM   #12
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

as i said in post #3 show me the evidence of needle bearing problems. there is a hell of alot of them out there. IMO the original poster is being mislead with misinformation.

Last edited by Mitch//pa; 08-15-2013 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:29 PM   #13
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

I've got two with needle bearings, never a minutes problem and they steer like a modern car when they are moving. I did use teflon buttons in the tie rod and drag link ends. I also used reballed spindle arms and shortened pitman arm from Wiley Higgins. Wiley also did the needle bearing housing.
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Old 08-15-2013, 09:03 PM   #14
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

Working with an excellent machinist, I have found that some new available bushings (and NORS ones of unknown pedigree) are perfectly adequate for a honed fit with a 1 thousandths clearance; meaning > 95% coverage at that clearance.

The real variable in my experience is the sector housing - if the hole diameter is too big or bell shaped, and some are, the bushings (or just one) will have too much clearance once installed. I have run across several housings in which new bushings can be pushed in with fingers - these are no good whether the bushings have a straight seam, interlocked seam (preferred over former) or no seam (most preferred). The machinist (primarily a modern engine hi-po guy) says that he can obtain bushing stock to fit the variations we have seen in sector diameters and housings but that has not been necessary yet.

I would be happy to use needle bearing-type housings if I had some reassurance from the vendors that housings with installed needle bearings and hardened sectors were consistent in size. These are quantifiable values but unobtainable apparently.
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Old 08-15-2013, 10:37 PM   #15
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

where do I get the correct bushings?
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Old 08-15-2013, 10:56 PM   #16
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

Matt,

I get them from Sammy at Arizona Model A (480) 782-0266.

Just returned from a first but quick visit to Seattle and Whidbey Island; saw one A on the road on Whidbey. Great places: richwhalen.smugmug.com
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Old 08-16-2013, 06:58 AM   #17
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

Boston Gear? Grainger?



Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich in Tucson View Post
Matt,

I get them from Sammy at Arizona Model A (480) 782-0266.

Just returned from a first but quick visit to Seattle and Whidbey Island; saw one A on the road on Whidbey. Great places: richwhalen.smugmug.com
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Old 08-16-2013, 07:29 AM   #18
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

As a former Machinist and Tool and Die maker, I don't get why the bearings have to be reamed at all. Why can't we just press them into their seat and that be that. Also, If we do have to ream them to size, why not under power? First let me say I don't like reamers very much, especially hand reamers! However, a reamer under power, does a much better job, both with size and finish. For that reason we never used hand reamers in the shops, too antiquated!
Furthermore, I'm tempted to get a quote on grinding say .015 or so, off the original sector and maintaining the purity of the restoration. I would then bore some oillight bronze bearings to fit. In fairness, I haven't had a box apart and I really don't know what I'm talking about, Maybe it's not feasible, I don't know.
Terry

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Old 08-16-2013, 09:34 AM   #19
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

Terry,

I have pushed in the bushings that the dealers sell. I have put a NOS and an aftermarket measure NOS sector in the hole without reaming the bushings. You can clearly see the high spots and if I did not know better I would think it was good to go. BUT, we all know those high spots keeping it tight would quickly wear. Then you get a loose and potentially leaky sector.
Since the bushings were already tight, any honing would not clean them up and still allow for correct clearance.

There are two ways to successfully attack the sector issue staying with a Ford original sector that has some wear. I had on with barely any wear on the teeth and about .002" wear on the shaft.

My brother ground the shaft down to a level surface. I then made up new bushings and align honed them to size. It helps to have some interesting machine tools in your hobby shop. A lathe, a mill and a crank grinder have their advantages. Throw in stumbling into a NOS worm on a shaft and I should have a real nice and tight box.

Another attack is to have the shaft built up with hard chrome and ground back to factory. Then make up some bushings and hone them to size. The cost to do this was about $200 in CA and this was less than 10 years ago. Another person went this route.

Doing the steering box right is not cheap. But then, doing any restoration right is not cheap.
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Old 08-16-2013, 09:44 PM   #20
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Default Re: steering box rebuild.

Understanding the loads that needle bearings are designed to carry, and with the rollers made from 52100 or similar, I cannot comprehend that one could live long enough to wear them out on a Model A.
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