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  • Steering: '48 Steering gear

    I tried a cursory search and didn't stumble across information that directly addresses my immediate concern, so I thought I would post another (boring) thread. Hopefully, some of you with more experience than I, can make it worth the effort. I am thinking about violating one of my self-imposed rules and I may pack my Champion steering gear with GREASE! Yep...once again, becoming a hypocrite regarding a topic I have been guilty of being rather "preachy" about in the past. I have removed steering gear covers before and found them "almost" full of grease. The reason I said "almost" is because of how most folks attempt to fill them and the nature of how grease "packs away" from its intended target over time.

    Usually, when someone attempts to grease a steering gear box, they take out the fill plug and pump grease into the hole. The problem with that is that the hole is usually near the top of the box, grease does not flow well, and most likely...the grease ends up in a stringy rope-like pile with air pockets. What grease makes it to the worm gear (cam) and the cam lever pivot pins, will in short order be squeezed aside, and it does not take long before the intended lubrication parts are making undesirable metal to metal contact in a pocket of air surrounded by grease.

    Once that happens, the contact pins wear flat spots with corresponding wear on the worm gear, and the unit is ruined because of the excessive play caused by the wear. I may be putting the cart before the horse, because I have yet to remove the cover on my steering gear box. This past year, I filled it with STP, but I suspect that like most of these units, it probably has leaked down. I also suspect that some previous owner has tried the grease method. Since it is still below freezing in my man cave, I thought I would go ahead and throw this topic up for discussion while I am waiting for it to warm up a little.

    My thoughts are to take the cover and install a zerk fitting near the lower end of the cover. Then take the pipe plug that is near the top and drill a tiny weep hole that will act as an air purge and tell-tell sign when the unit is full of grease. That way, I should be able to get a good grease fill with chassis lube, purge the air, and be sure to get grease to its intended target.

    Anybody want to chime in here? Seems that the nature of chassis lube has changed from what was typically offered in the past. Not as stringy as it once was. If it is good enough for tie rod ends, ball joints, king pins, and universal joints, properly applied, it should work for the steering gear.
    John Clary
    Greer, SC

    SDC member since 1975

  • #2
    The steering gear was never meant to be greased. The proper fluid is a FLOWABLE grease. SI sells stuff that will work.
    If it leaks out, it means your seals are dried out and leak. Fix that first.
    Bez Auto Alchemy
    573-318-8948
    http://bezautoalchemy.com


    "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln

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    • #3
      Originally posted by bezhawk View Post
      The steering gear was never meant to be greased. The proper fluid is a FLOWABLE grease. SI sells stuff that will work.
      If it leaks out, it means your seals are dried out and leak. Fix that first.
      I have no quarrel with your post. However, even if you renew all the components, the design of these boxes seem to be that even when new, they were quick to leak. Also, except for those (back in the day) who had all their service done at a dealer, I doubt that few ever got the required lubricant. Just like the issue with ZDDP today, having to special order a product, remember where you stored it, or jump through hoops to go to special efforts to lubricate the part, why not make a one time alteration that allows grease to be used successfully?

      I may do exactly as you suggest, but I am willing to explore the concept. Since my initial post, I have removed the cover and discovered the box is full of a "witch's brew" of lubricant. Initially...the components seem to be lubricated, but I have not given it a good inspection. Came in to warm up and get ready for an afternoon appointment. Thanks for the comment Bez, I respect your opinion.
      John Clary
      Greer, SC

      SDC member since 1975

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      • #4
        John Deere Corn Head Grease is good for the steering gear in my opinion. Works good for most slow running gear box - especially the ones with a semi liquid grease specified. I plan to use it in my 47 Champion and use it already in some of my tractors.
        Neil

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        • #5
          Originally posted by avantibngrant View Post
          John Deere Corn Head Grease is good for the steering gear in my opinion. Works good for most slow running gear box - especially the ones with a semi liquid grease specified. I plan to use it in my 47 Champion and use it already in some of my tractors.
          Neil
          Thanks Neil. I have also heard of a Shell product called Retinex for similar applications. Do you know if the Deere product is available in grease gun cartridges? Do you have a Deere part/product number?
          John Clary
          Greer, SC

          SDC member since 1975

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          • #6
            Originally posted by jclary View Post
            Thanks Neil. I have also heard of a Shell product called Retinex for similar applications. Do you know if the Deere product is available in grease gun cartridges? Do you have a Deere part/product number?
            Hi John. Here is a cut and past from Yesterday's tractor about a Cockshutt 30 - my othe passion. It is available in grease gun cartridges and is available as an equivalent from Case Ih and others.

            Use EP 90 or 80W90 gear oil in the trans/rear end and PTO on all Cockshutt built tractors. Use #10 non detergent oil or light hydraulic fluid in the hydraulic system.

            The three cavities of your Cockshutt 30 need: PTO unit 1 & 2/5 gal., trans./re 5 gal., and pulley housing 2 gal.

            The steering gear uses EP 140 gear oil. I use John Deere special purpose corn head grease # AN102562.

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            • #7
              Since the correct gear lube is available, why not just purchase it from one of the Studebaker Vendors?

              Jim
              "We can't all be Heroes, Some us just need to stand on the curb and clap as they go by" Will Rogers

              We will provide the curb for you to stand on and clap!


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              • #8
                Good point. Excellent point. However, not all fish swim with the current. This, like a lot of the stuff I get into...is as much a curious distraction as I avoid the inevitable...like tearing apart the entire gear box, wallowing in grease/grime and rebuilding the unit.

                However, even if I determine that the unit needs complete rebuilding, I'm still considering modifying and improving the long time survivability of the components. Improvements in lubricants have made it possible. This, to me, is part of the fun of the hobby...even if it means wallowing in the dirt, getting greasy, skinning knuckles, and being humbled by the limitations of age.
                John Clary
                Greer, SC

                SDC member since 1975

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                • #9
                  To each his own, I use Mobil SHC634 in my steering boxes.

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                  • #10
                    Well...blast it all...my head cold of a couple weeks ago, has now descended to some kind of chest malady and now I have a cough. Despite this little annoying setback, I have continued to tinker with the car in little bits followed by long rest breaks. Anyway, here's what I decided to do with the steering gear box. I noticed that the cover had a "boss" cast into it on the lower end. Knowing what I have seen in my career, of selling to, and dealing with foundries, I'm thinking that the boss may have been originally intended for a second plug but (probably due to cost) deemed not necessary. Therefore, it was never drilled and tapped. I drilled and tapped it for a second 1/8NPT plug. I also found a local supplier of "00" flowable grease with all the characteristics for the gear box. Additionally, it is in a squeeze bottle. I was able to (using the new fill hole) fill the gearbox with the new lubricant until it came out of the upper plug hole. Also, I adjusted most of the play out of the cam lever using the top adjuster screw and lock(jam) nut.

                    That seemed to take most of the loose play from the steering system, so (for now) I have decided to hold off replacing anymore tie rod ends until I put the wheels back on and take another test drive. When I had the cover off the gear box, it was obvious, that over the past 65 years, various attempts to lube the gear box had been made. In addition to the old black gear oil we often encounter in rear ends (along with its distinctive odor) there was the STP I had put in it, along with evidence of chassis lube and white lithium. It will still have traces of this stuff in it, because, without taking the entire assembly out of the car, there was only so much I could remove and clean out.

                    After the test drive, we'll see if further work will be required. Since this little red car is perfect for small trips and errands around Christmas time...I hate to not be able to take advantage of the season.
                    John Clary
                    Greer, SC

                    SDC member since 1975

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                    • #11
                      I've had success with packing the gear boz with chassis grease then topping of with gear oil.

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