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1922 Buick steering box


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Now that my engine is apart and I have plenty of room, I decided to open the steering box and take a look at what I had inside.  Thanks to Morgan's post (and others) on steering box issues, I understood what I was looking at after I took the cover off.   What I found was just as you would expect, nasty, lumpy old grease.   I first cleaned it out with a small spoon and a small stirring stick.  Then I used 2 cans of spray brake clean to clean out the steering box without taking it apart.  Before taking the cover off, my steering worked just fine. It operated smoothly from stop to stop.  I just felt that I needed to replace this old grease with something new.

 

Since it all looked clean, I made a new gasket for the cover and re-assembled the steering box.  I then took a 5/8 inch bolt and drilled a hole down through the center with the intentions of installing a modern zerk fitting on the steering box to fill the gearbox with modern grease.  After I drilled the hole, I cut the bolt approximately 1- 1 1/2 in long.   I then tapped the drilled hole with 1/4 x 20 tap for the grease fitting. The 5/8 inch bolt fit loosely in the hole on the steering box but a few extra layers of Teflon tape fixed that issue.

 

After installing the grease fitting, I pumped a complete large tube of grease into the steering box.  I decided to use the John Deere Corn Head grease based on all of the inputs  on this forum.  The steering is very smooth from stop to stop.   Hopefully it stays that way!

steering box opened.jpg

steering box cleaned3.jpg

steering box cleaned5.jpg

steering box cover cleaned.jpg

steering box re-assembled.jpg

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Looks like you did a great job. Does corn head grease flow a little? Cause the grease system on these things requires that the grease is liquid enough to flow back into the box by gravity or it all gets lost up the steering column.

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I purposely left the cover off while I started pumping the grease into the shaft/box.  I waited until I saw a good bit of grease squeezing out of the shaft into the gearbox and then put the cover back on before it started falling out.  It felt like I had pumped about half of the tube in at that time so I finished pumping the other half of the tube in.  I plan to pump more in when I get another tube, but I feel like there is a lot of grease on the shaft and in the box at this point.

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Morgan,

 

I think corn head grease should work well since its made for gear boxes and is said to automatically thin to heavy gear oil consistency when operating and thicken back to grease consistency when not in use.

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Mark,

     Earlier this week I loaded the steering box in my 1915 Buick speedster with Corn Head Grease. 

However, I just removed the plug and pumped it in.  I don't think you need the grease fitting since this grease flows to fill the cavities.

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The corn head grease when used in a combine corn head does heat up and flow due to the gear drives in each corn head churning it, a lot.  Like a mixer. 

 

Now with that said, you have a built in steering gearbox heater on every all left hand drive 1920s Buicks called the exhaust take down.  This should warm the box enough on a good length trip to get the corn head grease to flow back to the bottom of the unit. 

 

Buick Engineers think of everything!

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So those with RHD Buicks are out of luck? LoL.

 

"Corn head grease" is, I believe, a semi fluid grease, NLGI 0 or 00. The idea is it will flow (albeit slowly) to the bottom of the steering box when you aren't stirring it by turning the wheel. Ordinary grease will not do this much and you wipe it off the worm. It just gets pushed into the corners or up the steering column and doesn't come back, so there is no lubrication after a while.

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1920 was the year that Buick made the switch to Alemite grease fittings from the screw down grease cups.  HOWEVER, our 1920 still has the grease cup on the steering gear box.  Our 1922 has a screw down grease cup on the steering gear box also.  Both of these cars are extremely original mechanically.  The photo is of the 1920 Model K-46.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

1920 Model K-46 021.jpg

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I see Corn Head Grease is an NLGI #0 semi fluid EP grease. With EP additives, you will have to be careful of any brass or bronze bushes in your steering box. I can't see the Copper Strip Corrosion Test result for it; it should be 1a or 1b. The good thing here is it is not running very hot so any chemical will be slow. In this case, RHD rules! The steering box is not near the exhaust manifold.

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  • 10 months later...

I am responding to Mark Kikta posting April 30, 2019 regarding the Jacox box in his 1922 Buick.  The pictures of this unit appear to be identical to the box in my 1920 Paige.  For what its worth as a newbie, I find this site difficult to navigate.  I don't understand why there is so much repetition but I am trying to get information on possible part sources including a company called "McMaster Carr" that someone mentioned.  Any maintenance information for Jacox steering boxes and/or 1920 Paige automobiles would be  greatly appreciated.  I have purchased a couple of Jacox boxes from Sagefinds in Cheyenne.  But they appear to be later models and heavier duty than mine and the internal parts do not interchange.  I would make these available to anyone who needs them.  

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Chuck, 

   McMaster Carr sells two piece split collars for around $10 each.  There is a ton of stuff on their website to keep our cars working.   Bearings, bushings, friction material gaskets, etc.    Hugh

 

https://www.mcmaster.com/split-shaft-collars/clamping-two-piece-shaft-collars-7/clamping-two-piece-shaft-collars-9/

 

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Thanks for the info.  I'll look into this.  I have purchased from a guy in CA a couple of boxes and some mescil. parts and books.  These are supposedly from his father's collection.  His father passed away months ago.  He could have only have gotten my information from AACA post as I have not posted anywhere else.  I hope I am not being scammed.  These parts etc. are supposed to arrive here Wed or Thur of this week.  I will wait until then to see if these parts etc. will help me.

Chuck

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Based on the temperature work Dean Tryon did with corn head grease, where he heated it to elevated temperatures with no change in viscosity, I’m thinking this is not the best lube for a steering box.  So I retract my comments above. 
 

The box tends to pump the grease up the column and you need it to flow down to the bottom and keep the shoes lubricated. 
 

Sorry for the change in direction. 
 

Corn head grease only thins out when it does significant work. Thixotropic is the technical term. 
 

I could not get the youtube video link to copy but google corn head grease and view the JD video. 

 

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Restoration Supply Co sells a product just for steering boxes that leak.  It’s like molasses. But it does flow. 

 

I’ve used it for years. 
 

The box does not take a great deal so a bottle lasts years. 

24209FBC-B0E3-483A-8D88-C8AE412F059B.jpeg

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Chuck, 

   There is really not a lot to these steering boxes.   I sent you a procedure on how to go thru them.  If it were my car, I would remove the steering box as working on the bench is a lot easier than while the box is in the car since you are doing a major overhaul of the box.  Clean the outside of the box well prior to opening it.  That said, the design on my box is likely not very different from the 1922 model.  

The top of the box will have a lid.  The lid is either held by 4 bolts or it screws into the housing.  Since mine has a lid held with 4 bolts, it has an adjuster that raises or lowers the upper bearing.  The early 1922 models look to have a round top which suggests that it is a 1 piece adjuster.  Rotating the top on that model will likely move the bearing support and take up the slack between the sector rollers and half nut ends.  

If the metal ends are worn on the  half nuts, they need to come out and get ground flat.  *THERE IS AN UPPER AND A LOWER HALF NUT.  DO NOT MIX THEM UP OR THE STEERING WILL WORK BACKWARDS.  Your steering will never work right if these wear blocks are not ground flat.  Then you need to address the 2 rollers that are on the sector shaft.  Make sure they are cylinderical and roll easily.  No flat spots.  Fix or replace the rollers as necessary.   In a perfect world, you would make the rollers larger diameter to make up for the metal removed on the half nut ends, but I doubt it will be a lot that needs to be removed and I assume there will likely be enough adjustment in the upper bearing nut to compensate.   

There is also a felt gasket on the end of the sector shaft.  You should replace this to keep the grease in where the sector shaft exits the box.  Use the grease that Brian Heil recommends.  

You will not find any of this in your shop manuals.

Hugh

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