o2zoom

1932 Buick 50 Series steering gear help

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Bob,

 

Forgot to ask if you would measure the sector shaft diameter as well?

 

Thanks,

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I have found a number of omissions and errors in the parts manuals.  I did go back and look and found pn 259457  Sector, steering  gear 1931.  I believe that this is where the omission ocurred.  Most 32 and 31 parts are the same.

 

I would also comment that there is very little use of parts across the GM platforms except for Parts from Delco, Klaxon etc.  There was much autonomy at the divisions within GM.   

 

The dimensions you were looking for are:  Steering shaft diameter 0.985".    Spec manual say 1.  "Measuring from the open end of the worm gear, The large inner diameter  is 0.85" ( same as shaft O. D.)  The small diameter  ( splines) is 0.965"  This means the spline depth is 0.010".

 

The overall length of the wormgear is 3.635"  This includes the inner races for the timkin bearings.  The O.D. of the worm gear is 2.120" dia.   

 

The sector shaft diameter is 1.121" .  Spec manual says 1 1/8" dia. I was surprised at how tight a fit there is in the sector  bushings.  Most all of the wear that I found is on the center tooth of the sector shaft.  Wear point is about 7/8" from the shaft center.  Any lash from this wear would be about would be about ten times greater at the steering wheel.   The sector shaft appears to have been made from a forging and is one piece .  Most of the wear is on the sector shaft center tooth.  

 

If you plan to pull your steering column from the car, I have a few ideas that you may want to try to remove the lash in the gears and eliminate the death wobble.  

 

I hope this helps.

 

Bob Engle

 

 

 

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39 minutes ago, Robert Engle said:

I have a few ideas that you may want to try to remove the lash in the gears

Ooooohhhhh, please share! I would like to see them too.

 

The main change in mine was to re-bush and grind the sector shaft to a very close tolerance. Oil still gets in but I could feel no movement. This took out maybe 1.5" of slack at the wheel rim. There have been no bearings available for my Gemmer box for years but they were in good condition and adjusted up well. You can't put anything on the sector tooth or teeth to build them up because they are subject to heavy shearing action and any coating or add-on will just peel off. Well, that was the case when I did mine in 2001.

 

You can tell if the sector bushes are worn by looking at the end of the shaft where the Pitman arm is mounted. If it moves laterally on steering wheel swinging back and forth (wheels on the ground), it is worn and creates lost movement.

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Bob,

 

You responses have been admirably succinct.  Without the information and guidance you’ve provided I’d be up against the wall with a blindfold.    I made several adjustments today without any meaningful progress; each test drive resulted with the same “death wobble” at the slightest provocation.   I don’t believe there is any option but to pull the steering assembly and inspect the internals.    I’ve been doing some research on various components and history of steering gear boxes.   It seems that Gemmer was an early manufacturer of gear boxes primarily for Ford.   They may have held the patent on this type of worm and sector design.   I am assuming that GM boxes were made by Saginaw.    I wonder if they were a knock off and if they paid a royalty for using the Gemmer design?    The spec book says the 50 series gear boxes are a 17:1 ratio.  Is there a reference to the Buick boxes being Saginaws?   I also see some early ford boxes are also 17:1 ratios.   Coincidence?   Or was the Saginaw box a hybrid.    I am resigned to start the removal of my steering assembly.    I’ll review your previous instructions on the process and get ready to gut it up.   I pretty sure I’ll find that there is pretty severe ware in the worm and sector.   The saga continues.

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Gemmer is in Dodge Brothers motors.

 

The other cause of a "death wobble" might be incorrect king pin inclination. This is set with wedges between the front axle and the springs.

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Answered part of my own questions.  Looks like it's a Saginaw box.

 

 

Steering Box info.jpg

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Before you pull the steering, run one test by adding more toe to the front.  You may be at correct setting, but a touch more may help the wobble.  More toe can have a slight negative effect on tire life.  But in reality, not many of these cars get  a lot of mileage and good driving manners is more important than trying to get maximum tire wear.  It's an easy test.

 

Bob 

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caster.thumb.JPG.64fa017f948014e842d31db3b534836d.JPGSpent the better part of the day doing a few more adjustments and took some readings.   Caster was right at 2 degrees.   Camber was 1 ½ degrees.   So those are in line with specifications in the manual.  Measured the toe.   Looks like someone else tried to cure the wobble by increasing the toe in.  However I would say a little overboard, it was  ¾ inch toed in.   Reset to ¼ inch.   End result was no improvement.   Even after backing off lash adjustments for testing purposes seems like gear box is still binding and makes it very hard to steer.   

camber.JPG

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Steering update.   Started the removal of the gearbox.  Removal of the splash panel was fun since none of the nuts are captured and holding them is a little difficult while trying to loosen the old slotted screws.  I don’t think the panel had ever been removed before.   Removed the Wizard control valve and linkages, carb and riser along with exhaust piping for access.   Found that the carburetor riser is badly cracked in two places.  The diverter off of the exhaust manifold and heat transfer tube all in pretty poor shape.   Might be time to think about a down draft mod. Will have to start a new topic on that one.   Once the area was cleared of the obstructions I followed Bob’s removal formula.   Carefully removed the light switch and throttle pieces.  The light control tube was removed without any difficulty.   The throttle tube was a bit of a problem.  It would only extract about 3 inches before becoming stuck.  I kept working it back and fourth applying some WD40 from up top and letting it work its way down.  It became evident that a shellac like coating had built up, might even have been some rusting.  In any event after a lot of coaxing it came out.  The problem now is none of the little centralizers came out with the tube.  So they are still in the steering shaft and probably contributed to the removal problem.  I’ll have to deal with that once I get the shaft and gear box out.  The pitman arm took some persuading with a large pickle fork but came off after a few blows with a trusty 3 pounder.   Will tackle the steering wheel removal and final push in a couple of days.  In the course of cleaning up under the car I found an interesting little piece.  Not sure if it is something that had been lurking on the frame for years and just now fell off or if is part of something from the column.  It’s non metallic, about 3/16” in diameter and maybe 3/8” long.  Any ideas on what it is?    

piece 1.JPG

Piece 2.JPG

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You are lucky with the engine side pans.  Many got thrown away long time ago.  On your heat riser, put new tubes on the inside and block off the exhaust tubes.  Remove or set the diverter plate in the exhaust diverter to on open position,  the cracks won't be a problem with the exhaust sealed out and new tubes for the Air/fuel to pass through.

The steering wheel removal won't be a problem.  Removing the cone piece that the wheel is mounted to if a challenge. 

 

32 Buick Trivia question.  Where did they use allen head set screws on the 32 Buick??

 

Answer:  on the steering wheel ignition lock ring.

 

Bob Engle

 

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Bob,

 

The tubes look to be in perfect shape.  The problem is the riser casting itself.   It's cracked in a couple of places.   When I get back home in a couple of days I'll post a picture.  Results in basically a huge vacuum leak.  Doubt it can be repaired.  Maybe someone replaced the tubes and cracked the housing doing it.

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 Is this what you call the riser casting? If needed, I have some. Don't have an extra steering box, though--already checked on that.

Pete Phillips

IMG_3465.JPG

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Pete,

 

Yes I think that's it.   Is the other side a 3 bolt pattern?   Thanks for checking on the steering box.

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Pete- What is the casting number on the back of the 32 50 series heat riser in your picture above please?  A picture of the back would be great.

 

Thanks...

 

Dave

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Bob,

 

I found the allen head set screws you mentioned.   Got the gear box out last night and disassembled today.   I think everything you had pictured from your so called junk pile is better than what I’ve got.  The sector has pitting and wear but still might be able to be used.  Bushings in the box looked good.  Timken taper bearings have some pitting but I think they could be used. The worm gear looks pretty poor.  Lots of pitting.  I think this was the source of the binding and extremely hard/rough steering.  Take a look at the pics.   What are your plans for the gear box parts you have?   I wonder if something could be put together that is better than what I’m looking at that might be usable?   I’m planning on going over to my buddy who has a press and see how hard it is to get the worm gear off of the steering shaft. 

 

After a little study came up with a way to remove the cone piece from the steering column that worked like a charm.  Might not be the most acceptable way for some but made short work of the task.  Happy to share the idea.

IMG_3345.JPG

IMG_3350.JPG

IMG_3352.JPG

IMG_3354.JPG

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Send me a pm with your address and I will send you a worm gear and shaft, a sector shaft and the best set of bearings and outer races that I have.  We'll negotiate a reasonable price plus shipping.

 

I collected all these parts  for my 32-58, not knowing what I might need.  Now I am happy to help others get their cars on the road.  I'm not in this as a business, I just want to recover my costs.

 

Bob Engle

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You got it right.   That car must have driven through deep water and flooded the gearbox to get that much rust on the parts.  Most gear wear is from people switching to grease rather than gearlube.  I have seen a lot of boxes with zirk fittings on them instead of the square plug.  Use Cornhead grease when you get your gearbox back together.  It is thixatropic (spelling??).  grease like when static, but when it is stirred it flows like gear oil.

did you get the tube locating brass pieces out of the gearshaft?

Bob Engle

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It did have a zirk fitting in the gear box.   From what I can tell the zirk was also bad.   Worm gear is it awful shape.   I did get the locating brass pieces out.  There was only one located in the center of the tube and then there was some sort of composite bushing located at the top of the shaft tube.   I looked very carefully and did not find any other locating brass.   From looking at the tube I could see where the one brass locator rides and could see where the upper bushing rode.   I didn't see any more wear spots on the throttle tube. 

 

Another item under review.

 

 When I had the car running some times I could hear the pinion on the starter dinging once in awhile on the flywheel.   Pulled the starter to inspect it and found that the return spring located on the starter engaging cross shaft is broken.  So the starter drive was not being fully retracted.   Another parts quest to find a spring that will work.    

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53 minutes ago, o2zoom said:

It did have a zirk fitting in the gear box

We old guys will tell you that those zerk fittings have been the cause of many, if not most, of trashed steering boxes of 1920s and 1930s cars, and of flathead Cadillac water pumps through 1948.  You see, the "grease compressors" (usually one-hand, pistol grip) furnished with new cars were designed to dispense 600-W gear oil, NOT GREASE.  Further, the meaning of "grease" has changed:  600-W gear oil was called "liquid grease" or just "grease" when these cars were new.  To use the factory-provided tool, put the unit's female fitting against the zerk, push against the spring, and a fraction of an ounce of GEAR OIL is dispensed.  But in the last 60 years, "mechanics" and other well-meaning souls see the zerk and use a lever-operated CHASSIS GREASE gun to dispense CHASSIS GREASE at up to 3,000 psi, thereby blowing the seals so the box will no longer hold gear oil.  Further, CHASSIS GREASE channels away from the worm so the worm wears dramatically.  Substitute a plug for the steering box zerk, and save the zerk for installation only for judging.

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The grease nipple on my Studebaker's Ross steering box has no ball in it. This would work well with an oil "gun".

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When I first got my 32 Buick in 1998, I went through all the lubes and inspections.  When I started the engine for the first time, The starter return spring broke and the starter stayed engaged spinning the starter armature.  It through the windings out of the armature and into the field windings.  I went on a search and found another starter.  I was unable to find a suitable spring and I ended up winding and bending my own spring.  In 1932 the starter bendix was on straight splines and while there is an overrunning clutch in the bendix, it will not take a lot of overrunning.  before it will seize up.

 

On my 1917 Buick, I had to make a torsion spring for the brake return also.  You can get spring  manufactureres to reproduce the springs, but the price is astronomical for the setup costs.

 

Bob engle 

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Posted (edited)

So I am restoring a 1931 Buick 60 series car and have been keenly following the steering gear portion of this and especially the recommendation to use "corn head grease" as a suitable lubricant for these old gears.  Bob Engle- is there a way to safely and thoroughly clean out whatever is in my gear which is mounted in the car with all the dressing without tearing it out and taking it apart before filling with the corn head grease?  I was able to find and order John Deere corn head grease on Amazon so I have that coming.  If I can do some PM to my gear which seems to be healthy and save it from disaster that would be a good thing I think...

 

Thanks

 

Dave

Edited by Str8-8-Dave (see edit history)

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o2zoom- that unidentified piece you asked about looks like a zerk fitting dust cap to me...

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There are 2 bolts that hold the bottom end plate on the main gearbox housing.  The tapped holes for these bolts are through holes.  The holes are partially obscured by the bottom timkin outer race, but part is open and if you flush with a a solvent or light weight oil it could flow out the bottom opening.  I don't know that it will do a lot of good.  there is not a lot of movement in the gear box that would agitate the old grease.  

 

To be technically correct, my spec and adjustments manual shows a square head plug, not a zirk fitting.  The plug has a flat on the side of the threads to act as a breather for the gearbox.   I believe the zirk fittings were added by owners and mechanics for ease of lubrication.

 

Bob Engle

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