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How difficult to replace steering box

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  • How difficult to replace steering box

    It looks like my 1966 Cruiser needs a new sterring box. The car tracks well, but I seem to have over the course of only a few days or so gone from some play in the steering to about 2 inches. When I turn the wheel you can feel the point when it actually starts to nudge something and affect the steering of the car.

    Anyway, after having it checked by 2 mechanics, the consensus is that it's in the steering box. This is manual steering (saginaw). I've thought about adjusting it, but the manual says it probably won't help loose steering anyway, so I'm looking to replace it (steering wheel shaft and all). By the way, kingpins are new, bellcrank tower is rebuilt, tie rods are OK, alignment seem fine. The bellcrank cinchbolt it tight. The play looks partly to be coming in the area of the bushing for the shaft that goes to the pitman arm. Rebuilding the box would cost me as much or more than replacing the whole unit (in fact it WOULD be more, I'm sure, after looking at the cost of parts and figuring in labor).

    Since the manual says absolutely nothing about how to take the unit out of the car, how long should it take? How hard is it to mount the new one and get the angle, etc. right? I have this nightmare feeling about the labor involved (especially if I have to pay someone else to do it!).

    Any ideas? Anyone want to trade...?

  • #2
    quote:Originally posted by Scott

    It looks like my 1966 Cruiser needs a new sterring box. The car tracks well, but I seem to have over the course of only a few days or so gone from some play in the steering to about 2 inches. When I turn the wheel you can feel the point when it actually starts to nudge something and affect the steering of the car.

    Anyway, after having it checked by 2 mechanics, the consensus is that it's in the steering box. This is manual steering (saginaw). I've thought about adjusting it, but the manual says it probably won't help loose steering anyway, so I'm looking to replace it (steering wheel shaft and all). By the way, kingpins are new, bellcrank tower is rebuilt, tie rods are OK, alignment seem fine. The bellcrank cinchbolt it tight. The play looks partly to be coming in the area of the bushing for the shaft that goes to the pitman arm. Rebuilding the box would cost me as much or more than replacing the whole unit (in fact it WOULD be more, I'm sure, after looking at the cost of parts and figuring in labor).

    Since the manual says absolutely nothing about how to take the unit out of the car, how long should it take? How hard is it to mount the new one and get the angle, etc. right? I have this nightmare feeling about the labor involved (especially if I have to pay someone else to do it!).

    Any ideas? Anyone want to trade...?
    Scott, it sounds VERY fishy to me that a steering box would go bad so quickly after giving years of service. The usual routine is for them to wear very gradually. I'd be looking very seriously for some nut having backed off, or a cracked frame perhaps.

    I'd suggest you get the front wheels up on a set of service ramps, or even better, put the car on a wheel-lift hoist, so the weight is on the front tires. Get a helper to operate the steering wheel, and then carefully eyeball the entire steering linkage, looking for lost motion as your helper works to and fro through the slack.

    You say the bellcrank pinchbolt was torqued, but it may have worked loose again. The big nut which retains the Pitman arm may have worked loose, or perhaps the frame is cracking around the steering box.

    Whatever it is, the fact that it has come on suddenly is disturbing, and it should be thoroughly checked out.

    I'd suggest you refer to the shop manual for the procedure to replace the steering box, but I'd heartily recommend that you first determine for certain that it's the source of your problem.

    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm with Gordon on this. No way that steering box could degrade that fast if it's assembled properly. [}]


      Miscreant at large.

      1957 Transtar 1/2ton
      1960 Larkvertible V8
      1958 Provincial wagon
      1953 Commander coupe
      1957 President 2-dr
      1955 President State
      1951 Champion Biz cpe
      1963 Daytona project FS
      No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

      Comment


      • #4
        I don't know. I can't keep throwing money at this car. I need a simple driver that doesn't need all this. At least I can drive it now, and I'm assured that nothing's is about to fall off the steering linkage. I hadn't thought about the frame. I'll get that looked at.

        I'd be driving my GT hawk, but in this weather I have to be careful about it overheating. I checked on getting the radiator recored (a really good idea, and it needs it) but it's $350! It also needs the front brake hoses replaced, but I've got the hoses now. If I get that done, then it's just a matter of watching the temp gauge.
        "Madness...is the exception in individuals, but the rule in groups" - Nietzsche.

        Comment


        • #5
          quote:Originally posted by Scott
          I need a simple driver that doesn't need all this.
          You need a Toyota [)]

          Seriously, our old cars are not generally "put gas in them and go" like a new brand X.

          My daily driver has 110,000 miles on it. Oil changes, spark plugs at 100,000, an air filter and little else.

          Even the most "modern" Stude requires far more maintenance than any newish car. I mean FAR more. In addition, they are old and parts that haven't already broken are going to break (even some of those that have already broken are going to break again).

          To drive a Stude (or any old car) on a daily basis, you've got to be a fairly good mechanic, and you've got to budget more money and time for maintenance than you would for a 2000 and something Camry.

          That's the down side. The up side is smiling a little more when behind the wheel than your neighbor in his "jelly bean". Easily worth it to some. Ask Mr. Biggs [^]. Never seen him NOT grinning when behind the wheel of that Transtar.


          Dick Steinkamp
          Bellingham, WA

          Comment


          • #6
            True. I did bring this Cruiser back to life and I have been able to drive it maybe a couple thousand miles in the last year or so. It's just getting me down right now. From 1989 to 1993 my only car was a Studebaker and I had little trouble. This is a different car, though.

            I did once have a 1974 Corolla with a 5 speed stick. It was a cute little car and I drove it a lot. That was in the mid 1980s. I also had a Fiat 850 Spider for a couple years. I loved that little car. Except for the Ferrari 2+2 I got to drive once, it was the most nimble car I ever drove.
            "Madness...is the exception in individuals, but the rule in groups" - Nietzsche.

            Comment


            • #7
              I've got a buddy here locally that has a REALLY sweet 60 Lark 2-dr. I knew the car before he bought is some dozen years ago or so. It was a nice, driveable Lark 6. Of course, he wanted more zip to it so the decision to go with a Stude V8 was made (And he wanted a Stude V8 - nothing else would do).
              So he bought a donor 60 (2dr also) and swapped everything pertinent over to the 6 car. He does nice work. Very attentive to detail and precision. Went thru the tired engine before putting it in place too.
              And yet that damned car has had little niggling things keep it from being a fun car. It's crazy, some of the things that have dogged that car even after it's had just about everything on it rehabbed or replaced. It's just one of those things - I really believe that. I'm not one of those who assigns a car a personality of sweet or evil. I know lots do.

              But for instance, our 60 Lark ragtop (it started life as a 6 too) has been a fun car for the most part - in spite of it's getting totally refitted with V8 stuff.
              The engine that's in it was one that a rodder was gonna toss (even tho it had ZERO hours on it since a total overhaul!) in favor of a 350. I don't know WHO built it, but after I pulled the pan and valve covers, I knew it had been gone thru. It's run pretty well for the last dozen years - coupled to a FOM that I pulled from a junked '62 and pressed into service without ever looking into it!
              My point is, my Lark's gotten less attention overall than my friend's Lark and our experiences as far as trouble-free'ness, have been way different. Why would this be???[}]

              Miscreant at large.

              1957 Transtar 1/2ton
              1960 Larkvertible V8
              1958 Provincial wagon
              1953 Commander coupe
              1957 President 2-dr
              1955 President State
              1951 Champion Biz cpe
              1963 Daytona project FS
              No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

              Comment


              • #8
                After so many years and so many hands touching the car it's hard to say, Mr Biggs!

                Let's say everything else checks out and it really is the steering box. Theoretically how much of a nightmare is it to put in a new steering box?

                As an aside, this kind of thing ALWAYS makes me wonder why anybody is willing to spend a dime on modifying a car. If it's difficult to get the stock items adjusted properly and working the way they should together (expecially in steering and suspension), how much MORE difficult must it be introduce foreign mechanical components - like tilt steering columns and the like - and get them to work in harmony? It leaves me mystified. Why in the world would anyone want to willingly put themselves through such a headache and expense???
                "Madness...is the exception in individuals, but the rule in groups" - Nietzsche.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The steering box (if found to be bad) isnt that hard to deal with, it
                  requires a pickle fork to separate the pitman arm from the box, 3 or
                  maybe 4 bolts to the frame, the trans linkage, and then removing the
                  screwed in section of the firewall thats there to pull the box and
                  the column through to the inside. Its been YEARS since I did this in
                  my 60 Hawk, but I dont remember it being too hard to do. Other areas
                  to look at for steering play is the actual bellcrank pivot, if it can
                  move up and down, then it will add movement to the wheel (play). You
                  can tell if its the box by having someone move the wheel back & forth
                  in the "play" & watching (or feeling) the splined shaft for movement.

                  As for Toyota .....

                  Toyota recalls, investigations ... hmmmm. Finally the truth is out :

                  http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/pro...718&ID=5873092

                  Then there is the Toyota engine failure/sludge problem that has plaged
                  the Camry, Solara, Avalon, Sienna, Highlander, Lexus RX-300 & ES-300,
                  and other models since the late 90's :

                  http://www.petitiononline.com/TMC2003/petition.html
                  http://yotarepair.com/How_to_prevent_sludge.html
                  http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news0...ta_sludge.html

                  Contrary to the last article (though it has good info) a coworker took
                  her Toyota Camry (which smokes worse then my Avanti ever did) to the
                  dealer and they gave her the run around, finally convincing her to do
                  a new timing belt for 800 bucks. Yah, I should have gone with her, but
                  everyone says how Toyota take care of their customers. Most people
                  havent even HEARD of this problem, Toyota has done a fabulous job of
                  covering it up. Kudos to them!

                  Oh .. by the way .. 224,000 on my 93 Camaro Z28 (heads never even been
                  off the engine) and 215,000 on my Impala SS. Dont waste your money on
                  those overrated cars, just fix what you have and enjoy it, its money
                  MUCH better spent.

                  Tom
                  '63 Avanti R1, '03 Mustang Cobra 13" front disc/98 GT rear brakes, 03 Cobra 17" wheels, GM alt, 97 Z28 leather seats, TKO 5-spd, Ported heads w/SST full flow valves.
                  Check out my disc brake adapters to install 1994-2004 Mustang disc brakes on your Studebaker!!
                  http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...bracket-update
                  I have also written many TECH how to articles, do a search for my Forum name to find them

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I would first check the three-bolt side cover and make sure it hasn't loosened. Then I would attempt to adjust the sector shaft bolt in the center of that side cover. If it is still loose internally, you can replace it with a 1961-66 Saginaw steering box from another [u]sedan</u> with manual steering, part number 1551386.(sliding roof wagon w/manual steering uses a slower ratio).
                    This is a very reliable unit, so I wouldn't be afraid to buy a used replacement.
                    The 1965-66 Shop Manual is a supplement, and so only contains new information that isn't in the previous manual. The 1959-64 manual will have the information you seek. It sounds/looks like a lot of work, but it isn't that bad.

                    Dwain G.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Scott, it's not THAT big a deal to replace it. I don't know what the clearance is on the 66 with a V8, but on the cars with a Stude V8, you hafta loosen the left front motor mount so that that engine can be raised up a bit on that side.
                      Then remove the steering wheel completely and loosen the steering column jacket at the base of the column. Remove any shift linkages, undo the wires that exit the side of the steering jacket as well as the neutral safety switch (you might wanna remove said switch altogether to keep it from getting busted) and unbolt the clamp that secures the jacket to the bottom of the dash. Then pull the jacket up completely from the inside.
                      Now pop off the reach rod from the end of the pitman arm and undo the bolts holding the steering sector to the frame. Once loose, there should be enough room for you to spin the box 180 degrees so that it'll pass downwards and forwards until it's clear of the car. Obviously, the car has to be elevated a bit for the sector to clear the ground and be free of the car.
                      Install the "new" box in reverse fashion and don't forget to swap the pitman arm before you proceed. It's alot easier to deal with that out of the car than later.

                      Miscreant at large.

                      1957 Transtar 1/2ton
                      1960 Larkvertible V8
                      1958 Provincial wagon
                      1953 Commander coupe
                      1957 President 2-dr
                      1955 President State
                      1951 Champion Biz cpe
                      1963 Daytona project FS
                      No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        They got rid of the access plate in the firewall to allow you to pull
                        the whole box/column/steering wheel out in one piece??? I never did
                        one on a Lark, my experience was with a 60 hawk. The Avanti I havent
                        done, but I am sure that its different then both Lark and Hawk.

                        Tom
                        '63 Avanti R1, '03 Mustang Cobra 13" front disc/98 GT rear brakes, 03 Cobra 17" wheels, GM alt, 97 Z28 leather seats, TKO 5-spd, Ported heads w/SST full flow valves.
                        Check out my disc brake adapters to install 1994-2004 Mustang disc brakes on your Studebaker!!
                        http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...bracket-update
                        I have also written many TECH how to articles, do a search for my Forum name to find them

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I would cover the basics first. Oil level and adjust free play in steering box.

                          GARY H 2DR.SEDAN 48 STUDEBAKER CHAMPION NORTHEAST MD.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Scott writes:"I've thought about adjusting it, but the manual says it probably won't help loose steering anyway,"[V]

                            Scott, that adjustment is one heck of alot easier than replacing the box! Why not try it first?????[:0][:I]

                            As far as "getting the angle right", leave the box-to-frame bolts less than tight and adjust to line up with the lower edge of the dash like it did before. Note any shims that might have been between the clamp and the dash when you took it all apart. Be sure to reuse those shims if there were any.

                            Miscreant at large.

                            1957 Transtar 1/2ton
                            1960 Larkvertible V8
                            1958 Provincial wagon
                            1953 Commander coupe
                            1957 President 2-dr
                            1955 President State
                            1951 Champion Biz cpe
                            1963 Daytona project FS
                            No deceptive flags to prove I'm patriotic - no biblical BS to impress - just ME and Studebakers - as it should be.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Over the weekend I tried looking at the frame around the steering box. I couldn't actually see right there, but every part of the frame I could see behind and in front was very good looking. I don't remember seeing any rust. I do know there is some surface rust at least on the bottom side of the frame, but overall it's solid.

                              I turned the steering wheel with the car parked. It felt like there was NO play and the front wheels moved immediately when the steering wheel was moved. But when the car is moving it seems like there is play (well, it doesn't just seem like it, there IS).

                              But, it also seemed like after I had gone back and forth with the steering wheel several times I started feeling and hearing a very gentle kind of thump after about an inch of travel either way.

                              This is really bizarre behaviour. Any more thoughts?

                              I also tried to get a look at the plate on the box and it was caked with old dry grease, but it did not have any obvious signs of being loose or having shifted.

                              Did you know the manual says to check the steering box for lubrication every 6000 miles!?

                              I sort of tried to get the fitting on the top of the box off so I could check the lube level, but it was on hard and the angle doesn't work well with a crescent wrench. Is there any such thing a socket that fits square nubs like this one?
                              "Madness...is the exception in individuals, but the rule in groups" - Nietzsche.

                              Comment

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