chuck nixon

1921 Touring steering question

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Needs some advice on the 1921 Touring car I bought last May.  I have not driven the car more than 1/2 dozen times due to other commitments and just plain busy but when I have driven it I have a problem with the steering.  Turning right no problem with the steering wheel and making the turns.  Turning left is another story.  I can't turn more than 1/2 a turn on the steering wheel and the wheel almost locks up.  You can feel it getting tighter as you turn it and then it is almost locked as you turn as far as the wheel will go.

 

I know this could be caused by several issues but before we go taking things apart I looked in the spout where you add steering box lubricant and it is dry as far as I can down the hole.  So I am thinking maybe the box could be half full or lower and needs lubricant.  I have not researched all my 1921 technical info but thought I would ask for opinions here first.  If it does need lubricant, again without researching the manuals what weight oil would I pour into the steering box?

 

Appreciate all advice and opinions.

 

Chuck

 

 

 

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Edited by chuck nixon (see edit history)

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Chuck, 

      There is no drain plug on the steering box, but there is a felt seal for the output shaft.  The output shaft is probably worn some due to lack of oil along with mainly the bearings, and the felt seal is probably long gone.  If you just add fluid, it is going to leak out.  To change the felt seal, you have to remove the steering arm on the end of the steering box output shaft.  This requires disconnecting the steering column from the dash (may have to remove the steering wheel) and dropping the column down a little and sliding it toward the engine.  The fluid below the output shaft (if there is any, will be almost 100 years old).  It will just be thick black goo.  I personally would remove the steering box and go thru it and inspect all of the parts.  When I did mine, I had to rebush both output shaft  bearings, and I installed a spring loaded lip seal to keep the oil in.  Bushings are available from McMaster Carr.  These Jacox boxes are really well built units and very heavy duty.  The photo of the 2 steering boxes is my 1925 Standard box compared to one for a 1929 Ford Model A.  I have a 10 page technical paper that will help you go thru the rebuild process.  I would have to make photo images of the pages to post here if someone else needed them.   If You can PM me your email address I can send you the word file.  I was really glad to have cleaned mine out and inspected the internals.  Rebuilding the column also gave me the opportunity to clean and use fresh lubricant on the spark and throttle tubes and is all moves smoothly now.  Even these parts were sticking together and moving slowly due to grease that was completely dried up.  Your car looks great.   Thanks for posting the photo.      Hugh  

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Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)

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Chuck,   

Love your car.  As Hugh said,  the best would be to remove the steering column and box to overhaul.  But if you want to keep it simple at present,  you could remove the steeriing arm.  Turn the steering wheel  till it is at the centre of its travel.  One steering box of mine has two turns lock to lock and another has two and a half turns.  Ensure the wheels are straight ahead and and reconect the steering arm.  If this doesn,t  rectify  the problem you will need to remove the box,  as it has been assembled incorrectly.  On assembly the half nuts need to be positioned so they have equal travel  both ways.  There is also a left and right. There is a large nut at the top of the steering box for removing play in the steering,  But if you tighten this to remove play when the wheels are straight ahead,  the steering can become hard on full lock,  as most wear occurs in the centre of the half nuts.  I use a heavy oil in the steering box,  but I,ve heard others on this Forum use a semi fluid grease.  Others will chime in to which is best.

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Edited by ROD W (see edit history)
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I think Rod is correct regarding an incorrect assembly of the steering box was attempted.  My technical paper is of the approach to help you assemble it as if all the pieces were in a box and you didn't even know where to begin.  The place to start would be to remove the steering arm.  Set the front wheels pointing straight ahead.  Turn the wheel lock to lock (It should not have any tight spots).  Center the steering wheel and reattach the arm.   Raise the front with a Jack and see if the steering is working properly lock to lock.   Hugh

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Remove the 3 bolts that hold the cover to the steering yoke on. You can stick your finger in and see if it's all tar and gunk, maybe clean it out somehow, but if the carburetor is in the way you have to remove it.

Edited by Morgan Wright
thanks for not correcting my spelling (see edit history)

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Chuck,

Here is the grease that you should use in the steering box.  It has a tendency to somewhat flow when it is needed to and will not seep out when left alone.  It can be gotten at your local John Deere dealer.  I paid a little over $4.00 for a tube.  I'm thinking that this will fix your problem.  From what you have described it sounds like the steering box is dry.  If you try this, let us know how things work.  Hope this helps.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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The reference manual calls out steam cylinder oil for the steering box.  That would be 600W.  Today I think people use 250W.  More like STP.  The grease may stay in, but might give the steering a heavier feel?  

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Hugh, 

Would you be able to email that  service and assembly paper to me.  rodwise32@yahoo.com.au

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I've been using this Penrite  "Steering Box Lube"  for my Model "A" Fords for many years and it works great.  I don't know if it is acceptable for the early Buick steering box, but I thought I'd throw it out there as an alternative suggestion.  

 

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Gary

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10 hours ago, Terry Wiegand said:

Chuck,

Here is the grease that you should use in the steering box.  It has a tendency to somewhat flow when it is needed to and will not seep out when left alone.  It can be gotten at your local John Deere dealer.  I paid a little over $4.00 for a tube.  I'm thinking that this will fix your problem.  From what you have described it sounds like the steering box is dry.  If you try this, let us know how things work.  Hope this helps.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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Terry, I bought the Corn Head grease.  From the top looking into the filler stub oil input device there was a light grey grease coating but when I unscrewed the filler stub from the box body  and looked further into the box I did not see a level of grease.  We loaded the Corn Head grease in a grease gun then ended up putting 1/2 - 2/3 of the tube in the steering box.  Then I moved the steering wheel back an forth with wheels jacked up off the floor.  I think the left turn binding was a little less but still binding. 

 

I may try to take the back of the box off and see if the box is full of crud before considering taking it out and all apart.  Will also study the info from Hugh and Roy including Hugh's 10 page document on a rebuild. 

 

Could be the king pins need grease but we can see grease oozing out top and bottom from previous service.  Different grease fittings from today's grease guns so will have to do some research on what to use to add grease to them. I will look at other steering components to see if there is any binding  before we remove and disassemble the steering box.

 

I will keep the post informed as we move forward.

 

Thanks to all who have provided info and keep it coming.

 

Chuck

 

 

Edited by chuck nixon (see edit history)
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I am going to try posting my technical paper here.  Sorry, it's 14 pages.  I was very apprehensive about opening my steering box because at the time I found very little guidance and I was afraid of getting a handful of ball bearings on the floor.  I am really glad that I opened it.  There were a lot of issues that needed to be addressed in the box and the spark and throttle levers.  Some of this is a first pass and it could use a little editing, which I will do later.  Some of the information came from this forum, so I thank the other contributors as well.  Hugh
 

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Chuck, 

     I took a modern grease zerk, and I ran a 3/16 drill bit into just the very end of the threaded end.  This allowed the spring to come out, and the ball followed.  I can push this fitting on to a regular grease gun.  If I hold this tight on the old car fittings, it works great.  My gun has a metal tube on it and not a rubber hose so it is easy to keep pressure on the fitting.     Hugh

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Hope you don't have to take the steering gear box out. The job is a pain, requires removing the linkages to the spark and throttle, removing the carb, etc. Since you have a touring car, you can put the top down and pull the steering column assembly up from the floor of the car and out. If you had a sedan it's a much harder job you'd have to remove the steering wheel etc. With a touring the whole thing comes up and out.

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I second Terry's use of corn head grease.  When the gear is being turned the grease becomes more fluid/ liquid.  When it is not being used/car sitting the grease stiffens up and does not leak out of the gear.

 

If you use regular grease, with use, the grease will migrate away from the moving parts in the gear and will not keep the parts that rub against each other lubricated.  That is why the corn head grease is so good.


As for still binding, you are probably right that there is still some crud in the gear. The crud could cause premature wear of the moving parts. You should be sure the gear is real clean and then reassemble with the new grease.

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Thanks again guys for all the advice and experience.  After next weeks classic car show I will get it back in the shop and we start taking the box out and appart.

 

Chuck

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On my steering box, the reason it would not turn is one of the half nut was stripped. I have these I can sell you cheap if they are the right part numbers. On my 1918 the half nuts were cast iron. They went to brass in the 20's which wasn't as brittle. Here are my brass half-nuts for unknown year.

 

 

 

 

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