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Steering gear lubricant

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  • Steering gear lubricant

    These days it seems modern lubricants are constantly changing and we are always being admonished to use a specific oil or grease for a particular job or risk failure of the part in question. This was not the case when my 27 Dictator was built. To say that the service and owner's manuals are vague would be an understatement. They simply say that a "very heavy transmission oil or light transmission grease" should be used in the steering box. I recently disassembled the steering boxes from my both car and my 1925 ER parts car. The lubricants used in them were about as far apart in terms of viscosity as it is possible to get.

    The box from my car was packed full of an extremely heavy black grease which had no "flowability" at all. I put it in solvent and let it soak for two days to see if the grease would soften up. Nothing doing. I am still scraping the stuff out with a putty knife because it has refused to respond to any of several degreaser/cleaning agents I have available. Whoever filled the box must have spent some time doing it because it can only be filled through two Alemite grease fittings.

    On the other hand, the box from my parts car was filled with a medium weight oil which is almost too flowable. There are no gaskets or seals used in these boxes, so the lack of a leak around the side cover which supports the sector shaft was a bit of a surprise. Cleaning that one was a breeze!

    The up side to this is there is virtually no wear evident in either box in spite of the difference in lubricants.


  • #2
    Studebaker International has a specific steering box lube in their catalog. Why not check with them?
    '59 Lark VI Regal Hardtop
    Recording Secretary, Long Island Studebaker Club


    • #3
      I've been using a wheel bearing grease in my Studebakers for about 25 years now without problems...i always figured what was good for the front wheels would be excellent for the steering box which wouldn't have near as much strain on it as wheel bearings. I'm sure it wouldn't be any good in cold weather but none of my Studes ever have been used in the winter months.

      Home of the Fried Green Tomato


      1960 Champ , 1966 Daytona , 1965 Daytona Wagonaire


      • #4
        I use Shell Alvania 00 semi fluid grease in Studebaker steering boxes and I'm happy with the results. It's thicker than gear oil so it doesn't leak out and it's thin enough to lube everything inside. Bud


        • #5
          There are different kinds of steering boxes in the Studebaker world. Ross steering boxes typically have a metal stud sliding in the groove of the worm, but some of the better ones have that stud on roller bearings, making it a rolling contact, not a sliding contact. Saginaw boxes use a recirculating ball and nut design, which has mostly rolling contact. I'm speaking mainly to post-War designs here.

          All other things being equal, an adequate supply of the wrong lubricant beats an inadequate supply of the right stuff.

          If a steering gear works, but has leaky seals, and the fluid lube runs right out, I'd say put a grease fitting on there, and pump it full of some low-temp grease that has EP properties.

          I think a moly additive may have some value in Ross boxes.
          Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands


          • #6
            Cotton picker spindle head lubricant is as close to "Best", as it gets for Ross boxes. It also works on others. However regular gear lube works better on Saginaw boxes. Of course they need to have good bushings and seals, or be rebuilt, to not leak.
            Last edited by Flashback; 09-18-2012, 01:28 PM.