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1941 Buick 50 Series Super Steering design flaws


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Can you be more specific about what failed? Circumstances? Results? Broken parts? What happened?

 

Because no, I have found the steering in 1941 Buicks to be exceptionally well engineered and the parts to be robust unless neglected or abused.

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The steering went completely out as I was driving it.  I believe the shaft sheared off.  It has been welded numerous times.

Currently, the steering is working but I do not trust it and my new mechanic will not touch it as he says it is too far gone.

I am contemplating purchasing another 41 Super and was wondering if there are inherent steering design flaws that I need to be concerned about.  My mechanic/restorer says it is a problem with old cars.

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These cars were well engineered and if it has been broken and welded, someone screwed something up pretty badly in the past and tried to fix it--that's not a design flaw. If you can find correct parts and put it back the way the factory built it, you'll be thrilled with the way it works and your safety concerns will be eliminated. Don't let your mechanic tell you, "All old cars have bad steering, you need to put a modern rack in it," or something stupid like that. The guys who built these cars were the smartest people with the most money given orders to build the best cars possible. If it's right, it'll be a joy. My 1941 Limited, which weighs considerably more than your Super, can almost be steered with a finger at anything but a dead stop and tracks like a cruise missile on the highway.

 

If the steering shaft broke and was welded, that's probably the problem. Someone in the past did something to break it and the repair was jury-rigged. You'll need to find correct parts to repair it, but as a Super they're pretty readily available--I think I saw a steering box and column on eBay not too long ago and guys like Dave Tachney or Doug Seybold can supply everything you may need (Specials and Supers used the same steering box so that greatly increases your chances of finding the right parts). Anything else will not work as well and will ultimately be dissatisfying. Do not trust a mechanic who says old cars were bad and you need modern parts to make them work properly. That's the sign of a guy who doesn't understand how to fix old cars and who simply installs new parts he DOES know how to fix. Maybe get a second opinion from a shop that specializes in pre-war cars?

 

Find a correct steering column and box, get a proper alignment, service the kingpins if necessary, adjust the steering box according to the manual, and use the right gearbox lubricant (cornhead grease from John Deere is a good choice) and you'll be delighted with how well it drives. It'll cost more than just patching things up again, but doing it right is always the best choice in terms of safety, reliability, and future resale. Good luck!

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47 minutes ago, henry clay said:

My mechanic/restorer says it is a problem with old cars.

The problem with many old cars is that when they were finally parked it's because they had come to the point where they had been poorly maintained and finally the last straw broke to make the owner decide to park them, same as many new cars.  Yes there are some that were perfectly maintained then parked , usually a sudden problem in the family or with the owner caused that but most were used up before being parked.  I bet if you looked further on your car there are other things that were neglected as well.  

As Matt said putting everything back into specs you will find it drives well.  Maybe not the same as a brand new car,  but thats just the difference in technology,  which even guys that upgrade to new technology often don't achieve a car that is any better and often worse than the original if properly rebuilt.

When you start installing modern components you are essentially re engineering the car.  That's a whole new game that often results in lots of problems that are difficult to fix because you have no base line to go from and will need a specialist to diagnose and fix.  Now you have a car that few if any will touch and even when they do,  few will know how to fix.  I have a friend that works with another guy fixing the problems built into their resto mods and hot rods.  Most have had several guys and some regular good mechanics look at and not be able to figure out, but most of them still tinker on it,  adjust things,  hand you a bill and a car that is no better than what was dropped off at the shop a few days earlier. 

I hear the stories and try to figure out the problems when my friend relates the symptoms.  Sometimes I can figure it out but he is a whole level higher than me as he was an engineer and has 35 more years experience fixing problems with steering , brakes and suspension when the cars were brand new and had engineering flaws from new or problems that developed when they were fairly new related to premature parts failures.  He used to actually write some of the Service bulletins for Cadillac.  I get to hear lots of great stories. 

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16 hours ago, henry clay said:

The steering went completely out as I was driving it.  I believe the shaft sheared off.  It has been welded numerous times.

 

Steering shaft should never be welded. Personally I would not drive a car/truck with welded steering.

What part broke?   As above spares will be available

1928-52 Master Parts Book pg 133-A.jpg

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