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53 Commander steering rebuild

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  • Steering: 53 Commander steering rebuild

    I am working on the steering on my 53 Commander. I have a few questions.

    1. How many balls are supposed to be in the Ross box? I think it had 11 in the top and 11 in the bottom. But, there seems to be room for 12 in each end. When I ordered new ones from SI, I got 25.

    2. There were 2 small foam spacers or plugs that came out of the center of the steering column. It seems their function is to center and protect the horn wire. When I put them back in, where are they to be located along the column? Bottom, center, or top?

    3. Is the center bell crank linkage supposed to be centered when installed? One of my tie rods was set about an inch longer than the other.

    4. When I reassemble the Ross box, should I use some RTV on the new gasket or just put it on dry?

    I have read many posts on the Ross vs. Saginaw issue. Also read many on the fluid vs. grease issue. Since the Ross box looks like it is very good shape, I opted to restore it and see how it performs. I put a new output shaft seal in it and am using John Deere Special-Purpose Corn Head Gun Grease - AN102562 in it. It is the thinnest grease I have ever seen, thicker than gear lube, but barely. $4 at local JD dealer.
    Rob in ND
    \'53 Commander resto-mod (work in process)

  • #2
    Rob, I have taken apart many Ross boxes and never counted the number of balls in them. Everything in the bellcrank linkage should be centered. It is for proper ackerman. The foam pieces are put above the bottom and down from the top to keep the horn wire from shorting out when you make turns. Put about 90 lbs more over the pass. side rear and you won't get that fish tailing when you leave the line. Most Ross boxes have flat spots on the 2 pins that fit into the worm. Am glad to see that yours was in good enough condition to re-use.


    • #3
      Alan- thanks for the input. The pins did not have any flat spots. This fits with a lot of other things I have noticed during this restoration. The car was parked in about 62 with a bent connecting rod, so maybe doesn't have many miles. Unfortunately, it was parked outside!
      I put the Ross box together. It is 11 balls on each end. I didn't use any RTV on the seal. The JD grease looks like the exact right consistency. I tipped the box on its side and filled it with the cover off. That way I could watch the gears mesh when I turned the steering wheel. That JD grease is amazing in how it clings to the gear. Time will tell if the new output shaft seal holds the grease in, but I am pretty confident it will.
      Rob in ND
      \'53 Commander resto-mod (work in process)


      • #4
        That JD grease is good stuff. We use our 8N Ford tractor steering box. It won't hold gear oil anymore, but that stuff stays in there. It's liquid enough to flow and not leave voids like regular grease would.
        Dwight 54 Commander hardtop