o2zoom

1932 Buick 50 Series steering gear help

Recommended Posts

Some help needed about steering box.   I’m working on a recently acquired a 1932 Buick 50 Series sedan.     There is excessive play in the steering.  I have made the adjustments per the service manual on the roller shaft and worm shaft end play but it had no impact on the amount of play.  There is also mentioned that “backlash between the worm and sector is adjusted by shifting the housing cover” page 109-110.    I made this adjustment and was able to eliminate some of the back lash but need to fine tune the adjustment, with the wheels jacked up it seemed improved but once the car is back down and under load, I get some binding so I need to back off the adjustment some.  So far, I have not been able to get acceptable results.   The excessive back lash causes what in Jeep circles is called the “Death Wobble”, a severe wheel shimmy.   Second question is whether the steering box can be removed without removing the steering column/shaft.  It looks like the box could be unbolted from the frame, remove the electrical from the end of the column and if the steering column shaft is splined then it could be detached from the steering box.   I was unable to fine a reference in the manual on removal.  Bob Engle had some pictures of a steering box in response to a light switch question back in May 18, 2018 but they only showed the steering box and not how it is attached to the shaft.   If further adjustments don’t solve the problem I will either need to get the steering box rebuilt or find a replacement.  As Always, I appreciate any help and insight.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Normally one does that last adjustment for worm and sector with the wheels on the ground. In fact, the whole thing should be done that way so you can feel the movement. I suggest you go over it again for each adjustment with the wheels grounded.

 

What are the drag link ends and tie rod ends like? Get your assistant to work the steering wheel back and forth over the range of the slack plus a bit while you look at all ends for movement. Also, check where the shaft comes out of the steering box, where the Pitman or steering or drop arm attaches. If that bush inside is worn, you will get slop as the shaft moves around in the bush. Worn king pins and even suspension mountings, depending on type, can also give slack in the steering.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Follow Spinneyhill suggestions.   One other thing to check is the toe in.  sometimes the "death wobble" can be eliminated with just a little more toe in.  I think you will find that it is much easier to pull the steering assembly from the car rather than disassemble in the car  Remove the pitman arm, disconnect the wiring from the switch. disconnect the throttle linkage, disconnect the ignition switch wiring  roll up the front mat and remove the plate where the column goes thorough the floorboard. remove the 2 bolts where the column mounts to the dash.  remove 4 bolts at the frame and with a helper, pull the column out through the passenger compartment.  I can post some photos of my spare column if you want to see how they are put together.  Be very careful with the diecast throttle parts at the bottom of the column.  They break easily and spares are rare parts.

 

Bob Engle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob and Spinneyhill

 

First checks I did was to inspect kingpins while servicing the front brakes and repacking of the wheel bearings.  All good there.  Also checked the tie rods ends, drag link, pitman arm, etc.  I haven’t checked the toe in yet, I will but don’t think that’s a major contributor.  All else looks good.  I would estimate I had 10-12+ degrees of steering wheel rotation before I would see any movement in the pitman arm.  So, I figured the source of the play is in the gear box.    After adjusting was about 5 degrees but I need to back off due to binding.  Which I will do when I get back from a 4th of July get away. I suspect the gearbox never was greased in its lifetime and fear the worm gear is worn out. 

 

I previously put all new extension wiring to the light switch so I’m somewhat familiar with the delicate nature of the switch and its components.   Is the steering shaft all one piece up through the column housing?   Also does the horn button push in and turn to remove?  I take it the steering wheel is retained by a nut on a splined end of the steering shaft.  Does the locking key switch have to be removed to separate the column from the shaft assembly?    Pictures of your spare column would be a great help.   In the end I hope some further tweaking might solve my problem but I am not too optimistic.  Can the gear box be rebuilt, it so any resources for parts, etc?   I can say enough about how great this forum is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I have a spare steering column and worm gear for a 50 series--can check tomorrow.

Pete Phillips

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To get to the inner parts on the steering column, you need to loosen the diecast piece at the bottom of the column and there is a small stamped metal clamping collar on the bottom. remove the switch from its mounting and then you can push the center tube Lights) up and pull it out from the inside.  You can then push the next tube (throttle) out the top also.  The steering shaft is one piece Once the two tubes are out you will see a set of filisterhead screws that hold the steering wheel in place.  to remove the bell that the steering wheel is mounted to you need to remove the hex head nut.  the hub is mounted on a taper  with key on the shaft.  They can be very tight and you need to use care not to damage threads and the hub.  You do not need to remove the lock assembly to remove the shaft and worm gear.  The column  can be separated by loosening the clamp ring at the gearbox.

 

All of the above is easier doing with  the entire assembly  removed and done on a bench.

 

I'll get some photos tomorrow.

 

Bob

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob,

 

Thanks for the detailed instructions.   To start does the horn button after pushing in twist to come off.   That's how my old Chevy one did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When you are finished, lubricate it with semi fluid grease, NLGI 00.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The horn button is held in place by a large Hair pin clip.  You must push the light tube up from the bottom and then you can remove the clip and take the button out.  There is no need to remove the button though, you can remove the entire tube, housing and and light switch as an assembly.

 

Bob Engle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Here's photos fresh out of junk pile.  first two are the gearbox and shaft with worm gear

3rdand fourth  photos are  the throttle shaft ass'y .  It the larger of the two tubes.

5th and 6th are the light switch with the smaller tube inside the throttle tube.  Blue tape on broken plastic ring.5th photo shows the brass bushing that keep tension on the tubes.  6th photo show the brass pieces that keep tension on the shafts.  Both tubes have these pieces.

Last photo is the horn button with the hairpin clip and the center horn contacter.

 

I hope this helps. let me know if you have any further questions.  When there is wear in the gearbox, it is often on the sector shaft and not on the worm gear.  That;s why when the lash is set on dead center, it usually is tight when moved off of center. 

20190705_124558_800x600.jpg

20190705_124617_800x600.jpg

20190705_125240_800x600.jpg

20190705_125252_800x600.jpg

20190705_125631_800x600.jpg

20190705_125637_800x600.jpg

20190705_125659_800x600.jpg

Edited by Robert Engle
incorrectly numbered photos (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob,

 

Really a big help.   Interesting about the sector shaft verses the worm gear wearing out.   From your picture of the shaft and worm gear I'd say that worm gear looks to be serviceable to me.   If I have to pull mine apart maybe it will be the sector shaft as the source of the excessive play.    Still will re-adjust gear box when I get back home in a couple of days to see if I can get rid of the binding without such an excess of play.   I will follow up with results of that effort. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think if the wear is on the worm gear, you could put shims under the bottom worm gear timkin bearing to move the steering shaft up to get to a different contact area on the worm gear and sector shaft.  The wear occurs because most all driving is with the wheels going straight forward  and any play in the system shows up at the gear contact spot.  

 

Bob Engle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting thought on shimming up the worm gear.    They must machine the worm gear separately and then attach it to shaft.   How do they attach it to the shaft?   Welded? Pinned? Crimped in some fashion?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In Gemmer boxes the worm is pressed on with a woodruff key to prevent it turning on the tubular shaft.

 

I think you will find both worm and sector worn. I believe that in Gemmer boxes, maybe others, the worms were made slightly tapered so they were tight in the middle and looser at the ends. As wear occurred, they would become more even. After a lot of wear, they became loose in the middle and fitting or tight (binding) at the ends.

 

Mine is like that and the worm looks "serviceable" as you say, but the wear is even and it is really not. You try finding a NOS RHD 1930 worm and sector!

 

Someone will have to help me with how moving the worm up with shims will improve the situation. I can't see how this will help. The problem is that the space between the worm turns is now bigger than the width of the sector teeth and you can't push the teeth far enough into the worm to fill that space without it being tight at the ends.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wear in the gearbox generally is only a problem going straight ahead.  There is no loading in either direction.  When turning, the gear will load in one direction only so there will be no death wobble while turning.  The wear occurs in the neutral position.  

Now think if you lock the sector shaft so it can't turn. and could move the worm gear up, the steering wheel will turn off center to a new less worn contact  area on the worm. If you then change the length of the steering connecting rod, the sector shaft will rotate to a new contact area with the  worm and then allowing the steering wheel  to come back to center.  If you assume half the wear on the sector shaft and half on the worm, You will reduce the lash in half when in the neutral center position..  It will change the lock to lock steering so it is not equal left to right. 

 I'm not proposing this as an ultimate solution, but recognizing that there are no NOS worms and sector shafts,  and any available used steering gears will most likely have the same wear problems.  Reducing the lash will help reduce the potential death wobble effect.  The alternative is machining a new gear and sector shaft or welding and grinding the gear and sector shaft.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll clean up the end of my spare shaft and take photos so you can see the attachment.  In the parts manual, they are listed a one part.

 

Bob Engle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Robert for the explanation. But if it uses pretty much all the worm, you can't move it! Same with the sector, if it uses pretty much all of it, you can't rotate that a little either. That is my thinking, anyway!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an experiment, you can do the same thing by changing the heighth of the steering wheel.  To center the steering wheel you change the length of the connects steering rod which will put the straight contact of the gear and sector on a different location.

 

Bob Engle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will have to study what's involve in changing the height of the steering wheel.   As to the worm gear regarding it's taper.  Can you put a straight edge on yours to see if the center has a high point.  If it does then indeed they may taper toward the ends.  If not then chances are they're not.  Could also mic the worm in several place from end to end for variations.   As you say the part number is for the shaft with worm gear.  However I think the two pieces were made separately and joined as suggested.   I wonder if a new worm could be machined and put on a shaft if the old worm could be removed?   Can you provide the part number for the shaft and sector in case there are any other GM cars of the era that use the same components?   Probably would never find good usable parts but one never knows.   I'll certainly know more once I try to re-adjust or dissemble as the case may be.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I pulled another gear box apart to look at the sector shaft.  As seen in the one poor quality photo, the gear is on a spline.  You can see the wear on the gear and sector shaft.  The timkin bearing inner races appear to be part of the worm gear.  

 

Bob Engle

20190706_095358_800x600.jpg

20190706_095418_800x600.jpg

20190706_095429_800x600.jpg

20190706_102403_800x600.jpg

20190706_102412_800x600.jpg

20190706_102427_800x600.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good pictures explain a lot.   Do you happen to have the part numbers for the sector and the steering shaft?    I see the Ford guys can get an after market replacement:

 

Steering Shaft Worm Gear - Ford Only

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob,

 

Unfortunately I'm on the other end of the country north of San Diego. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There were 2,000,000 Model A fords built.  There were only 25,698 50 series 1932  Buicks built.  You can build a model  A from repro parts.  

 

The steering  shaft assy, is style 6, pn 260853, 42  3/8 ' long.  11 1/4" to locking collar.  The worm gear pn is 261102.

 

The sector shaft is not listed in my parts book.  

 

Bob Engle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Bob.   Odd there was no part number for the sector.  Could you do me another favor and measure the worm gear length and the steering shaft diameter?   Would help in seeing if I can get another GM piece to adapt.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...