View Full Version : 63 Lark steering

04-11-2005, 11:41 PM
My 63 Lark wanders a bit going down the road. It seems that the "bellcrank" steering linkage on the front crossmember is the problem. I can hear something clunking when I turn the wheel back and forth. There's maybe 1 to 2 inches "wander" in the steering wheel but I don't find any loose tie rods. The "bellcrank" just moves up and down slightly (maybe 1/4 inch).
The manual says to loosen the bellcrank from below and then it comes out from the top. Can this be done with the engine in place? Do you really have to remove all three of the tie rod and draglink ends from the linkage? The manual doesn't say you need to pull the engine, but it sure doesn't look like it can come out the top with my 6 cylinder engine in there! It's an oily, disgusting mess under there! How could that pivot wear out after 62,000 miles with all that lubrication floating around? What else do I need to know about this job?
Everything else I've done so far on this car has been so easy. This job looks a bit harder .....but then I haven't been under the crossmember yet with a wrench!
Punxsutawney, PA

Punxsutawney, PA

04-12-2005, 09:55 AM
You may need to disconnect the engine from the front mounts and lift it up some to get that bellcrank off of there. Either way, sounds like your center pin bearings are shot. The bellcrank has a pinch bolt on it. Remove that bolt and hopefully you should be able to pull the bell crank off the center pin shaft. If its as greasy as you say, I would expect its not rusted... It may take a couple of large screwdrivers or prybars to urge it off. The center pivot pin assembly can be removed from the bottom of the cross member. There are 4 bolts going through the cross member with the nuts underneath. You'll see them right at the center of the crossmember. Take those bolts out and the pivot pin housing should come out from the bottom. The big nut in the center holds the pin in the housing. Don't take that off while its in the car. Once the housing with pin is out, its a bench project to take apart and rebuild. That pin is supposed to get greased regularily and there is a grease fitting facing the back of the car. A access hole in the crossmember is there too. I have heard those often get overlooked during a lube job. There are rebuild kits available to rebuild those pins.

If you have the shop manual, there should be a section covering how to rebuild the pin assembly.

'53 Champion Hardtop

04-12-2005, 11:49 AM
As Jeff says, take the pinch bolt out of the bellcrank itself. Next, using a 1/4" drive, deep socket, remove the grease fitting (zerk) where it sticks thru the backside of the crossmember. Otherwise, this can impede removal of the pivot unit. Then take loose, the four bolts that hold the bellcrank pivot assy to the crossmember and extract it downwards. [^]
The bellcrank itself, might stick to the shaft a bit, but it should come loose with a bit of persuasion and you can just let it lie under the front of the engine while you take the pivot unit to your workbench for overhaul. Once you're freshened up the pivot, roughly clock the bolt notch in the pivot shaft so as to be fairly close to where the pinch bolt hole is in the bellcrank and reinstall the pivot up thru the crossmember and wiggle the bellcrank back onto the shaft. Once it's in place, use a screwdriver or some such thing to perfectly align the pinch bolt notch with the hole in the bellcrank. Install and tighten the pinch bolt:D
BTW, The late Studes used simple bushings in those pivot units. Earlier ones had roller bearings in them. And bushings or bearings, there's room for four of each in those pivot housings, not just the two they used originally. Truth is, Studebaker only used two because that's all that was needed. In fact, Avanti motors tried using 4 bushings in later years to correct some steering shimmy they'd encountered. There was no improvement. It came down to a simple matter of shimming the pivot correctly. These shims are in a pivot repair kit) Of course - install a good, clean zerk fitting again and grease the pivot GOOD![:0] Lack of grease over the years is what did these in, not a tendancy to wear out.[xx(]

Miscreant at large

04-12-2005, 12:44 PM
Thanks for the detailed instructions. That helps!

Studebaker International sells the repair kit for $55 and the entire (already rebuilt) assembly for $100. They claim that their new bearings are "superior" to the originals. Do you suppose it's worth the money to buy the assembly complete? With an important piece like this, I'd rather spend the money if it's worth it.

Punxsutawney, PA

Punxsutawney, PA

04-12-2005, 02:05 PM
Mark, honestly - I'd go with the kit. The bushings in your Stude would still be in good shape had they gotten grease on a regular basis. That zerk fitting is not easily detected by mechanics when they're greasing the car. (Heh - like you could FIND a mechanic that knows how to grease a car anymore![xx(])
I suppose if you were gonna go run the Carrera Panamerica or some such, you might make an argument for spending the extra money. But for everyday use, it's kind of a "feel good" sorta thing. You know - you can drink bottled water or tap water - which one's gonna keep you alive?[:p]
Spend the $55, keep it greased on a regular basis and drive it thusly until they take your license away (or legislate old cars off the road:()

Miscreant at large.

04-12-2005, 03:17 PM
I agree with all of the good rebuild information already posted, but I would like to back up one step. First, find out EXACTLY where the play in your steering is. Many times, people think that their center pivot is worn out when the only problem is that the pinch bolt is loose. Push up and down on the arm and carefully see where the play is. Is it between the arm and the pivot pin, the pivot pin or both? If those pivots got even occasional grease, they usually lasted quite awhile. Sometimes, if the pinch bolt has been loose for awhile, the pivot pin is damaged to the point where it should be replaced. You need to find out exactly what your problem is and what needs to be repaired and/or replaced before you start buying parts or assemblies.