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  • Steering: Steering Column lengths, Boxes, & Wheels

    I've got a '53 C/K Commander with the Ross & what the Shrock Brothers website calls the Ruby wheel. Today, while backing out, one of the joints broke on the outside that connects the right cross piece to the outer rim.

    So, I'm on the hunt for a steering wheel - which years fit? I'm not overly concerned with originality or looks, but I need a safe wheel.

    But I recall someone telling me later years boxes will fit, but the columns are shorter. This may actually be appealing to me as I find the steering wheel too close to my chest. I'd really like a smaller diameter too, but I know that's wishful thinking.

    So, which later years had different length columns and the saginaw box? I've got an automatic mast out of, I think, a '63 Hawk...and as I've converted to 5-spd, I would prefer an automatic mast anyway. How much shorter are we talking? Which years?

    Thanks all!!
    Last edited by Flat Ernie; 05-08-2016, 12:50 PM.
    -------------------
    Daddy always said, if yer gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough & I\'m one tough sumbiatch!

  • #2
    53-56 C/K steering wheels are essentially the same with small differences. 53-56 C/K steering columns are essentially the same.

    The 57 and newer columns are shorter, by an inch or so, but the steering wheels are dished, so the rim ends up about as far out as the early ones. You could get a 57 and newer column and box and fit it with a custom wheel, but the adapters have been almost unavailable for years.

    The shorter columns have a smaller diameter shaft, so the early wheels will not interchange.

    Maybe the easiest thing would be to get someone to cut down your steering wheel and put a smaller diameter ring on it.

    If your car is a stick and you want to keep the shift linkage, the automatic column does not have enough pieces in it.

    The chassis parts manuals will help you figure it out.
    Last edited by RadioRoy; 05-09-2016, 04:00 PM.
    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

    17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
    10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
    10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
    4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
    5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
    56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
    60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
      53-56 C/K steering wheels are essentially the same with small differences. 53-56 C/K steering columns are essentially the same.

      The 57 and newer columns are shorter, by an inch or so, but the steering wheels are dished, so the rim ends up about as far out as the early ones. You could get a 57 and newer column and box and fir it with a custom wheel, but the adapters have been almost unavailable for years.
      Is there any further breakdown? Or is it 57-up are all the same?

      Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
      The shorter columns have a smaller diameter shaft, so the early wheels will not interchange.
      So, I'm stuck with the later dished wheel and resulting same effective length (and wheel in my chest)?

      Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
      Maybe the easiest thing would be to get someone to cut down your steering wheel and put a smaller diameter ring on it.
      I've considered this for the diameter problem. The column is still a bit long.

      Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
      If your car is a stick and you want to keep the shift linkage, the automatic column does not have enough pieces in it.
      My car is a manual, but it's 5-spd & floor shift, so an auto column is actually a better option for me.

      Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
      The chassis parts manuals will help you figure it out.
      I have some old manuals, but not sure which ones I've got - may all be early.

      I'd also like to upgrade to a Saginaw box too...the Ross leaves a little to be desired.

      With all the silliness and trying to figure it all out, I may be time and money ahead simply throwing it all away and putting a Vega or something similar in there with a custom column...
      -------------------
      Daddy always said, if yer gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough & I\'m one tough sumbiatch!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Flat Ernie View Post

        With all the silliness and trying to figure it all out, I may be time and money ahead simply throwing it all away and putting a Vega or something similar in there with a custom column...
        For some reason, everybody, especially newbies, seems to think that the best thing to do to their Studebaker is modify it with parts from some other brand. You either have to be extremely talented to do that, or naive enough to think that it will be easy. No one seems to consider that the original design is good enough in its own right and that it just needs to be refreshed/re-bushed and brought up to specification.

        Maybe that is my problem. I am either too stupid/untalented to do these mods, or smart enough to realize that there is a point of diminishing returns. Maybe I am just too easily satisfied, or maybe I'm too lazy. It certainly is a point of frustration for me.
        RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

        17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
        10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
        10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
        4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
        5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
        56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
        60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
          For some reason, everybody, especially newbies, seems to think that the best thing to do to their Studebaker is modify it with parts from some other brand. You either have to be extremely talented to do that, or naive enough to think that it will be easy. No one seems to consider that the original design is good enough in its own right and that it just needs to be refreshed/re-bushed and brought up to specification.

          Maybe that is my problem. I am either too stupid/untalented to do these mods, or smart enough to realize that there is a point of diminishing returns. Maybe I am just too easily satisfied, or maybe I'm too lazy. It certainly is a point of frustration for me.

          I think that you are on the mark Roy and your first response answered a big question for me in that the splines are the same from '53-56.

          Your answer was concise, to the point and yes, use Studebaker stuff as all of it is readily available.

          I also believe that a Power Steering wheel has a smaller diameter than the manual wheel... Yes?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Flat Ernie View Post
            But I recall someone telling me later years boxes will fit, but the columns are shorter. This may actually be appealing to me as I find the steering wheel too close to my chest.
            Could the seat just be installed a little further back?

            Mark
            sigpic

            S2Deluxe = (5H - C3).

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
              For some reason, everybody, especially newbies, seems to think that the best thing to do to their Studebaker is modify it with parts from some other brand. You either have to be extremely talented to do that, or naive enough to think that it will be easy. No one seems to consider that the original design is good enough in its own right and that it just needs to be refreshed/re-bushed and brought up to specification.
              I'm neither a newbie nor naive. My stock stuff is in pretty good condition, actually. I also appreciated your answer and asked follow-up questions which you ignored to 'attack' the notion of personalizing a car by calling me names. I appreciate that some people are more purists than others and prefer stock cars - that's OK. I don't care what you do with your car...it's yours. And very little of what I do with my car is permanent. I try very hard not to cut or weld things where I don't need to precisely because I can appreciate stock vehicles. And I always try to use same make components when able.

              As far as the steering, the Ross design was amazing for its day, but it is a 1930s-era design. The Saginaw was a 1950s improvement. There have been many more improvements since then. There is nothing wrong with the Studebaker design. I simply find my steering to be slower than I like (too many turns lock-to-lock), with a wheel that is larger in diameter than I prefer, and closer to my chest than is safe...or comfortable. I wasn't in a big hurry to change any of it, but my steering wheel breaking prompted me to explore my options. In truth, I'd prefer to do it all with Studebaker stuff, but if it's as you tell me, it won't get me where I want to go. I was looking for a saginaw box with a shorter Stude auto column and I don't care if I have to use a later wheel or not...as long as it's Studebaker. So you misinterpreted my comment and chose to attack.

              Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
              Maybe that is my problem. I am either too stupid/untalented to do these mods, or smart enough to realize that there is a point of diminishing returns. Maybe I am just too easily satisfied, or maybe I'm too lazy. It certainly is a point of frustration for me.
              My Stude is my no-kidding daily driver. My only other driver is my '54 F100. It has nothing to do with your stupidity and everything to do with my preferences. Had my steering wheel not broken, it would've been a long time before I changed anything on my steering because I know precisely what a pain it is to modify stuff.

              Originally posted by GrumpyOne View Post
              I think that you are on the mark Roy and your first response answered a big question for me in that the splines are the same from '53-56.

              Your answer was concise, to the point and yes, use Studebaker stuff as all of it is readily available.

              I also believe that a Power Steering wheel has a smaller diameter than the manual wheel... Yes?
              That would be useful information to have, but since I appeared to chip away at the stones of dogma with a throw-away comment about doing it myself, I doubt I'll see anything because of grumpy old men who can't or won't understand differences between what people do with their own cars...

              - - - Updated - - -

              Originally posted by S2Deluxe View Post
              Could the seat just be installed a little further back?

              Mark
              I still need to reach the pedals.
              -------------------
              Daddy always said, if yer gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough & I\'m one tough sumbiatch!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Flat Ernie View Post
                I still need to reach the pedals.
                Could they be moved more easily than the steering wheel?

                Mark
                sigpic

                S2Deluxe = (5H - C3).

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by S2Deluxe View Post
                  Could they be moved more easily than the steering wheel?

                  Mark
                  I guess I could tape blocks to them.
                  -------------------
                  Daddy always said, if yer gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough & I\'m one tough sumbiatch!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I know this is probably not cost effective......BUT......BIG BUT.
                    Could you use a later model, shorter column and have the center of the correct steering wheel for that column modified to accept a smaller diameter, non dished ring?
                    I know there are steering wheel restorers that can make things happen, BUT, is it too costly?
                    sigpic1966 Daytona (The First One)
                    1950 Champion Convertible
                    1950 Champion 4Dr
                    1955 President 2 Dr Hardtop
                    1957 Thunderbird

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My rant was more about my personal preferences than anything else and was not intended as an attack, merely a rant.

                      I did have the same idea that you could move the seat back and put blocks on the pedals. Taping would not be sufficient (the blocks would fall off at the most inopportune times) , but the pedals are steel backed and you could certainly drill and tap them and put the blocks on with screws.

                      The power steering wheel is the same size as the manual one. The C/K has a smaller wheel than the sedan.
                      RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

                      17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
                      10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
                      10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
                      4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
                      5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
                      56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
                      60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Radio Roy opined...

                        "The power steering wheel is the same size as the manual one. The C/K has a smaller wheel than the sedan."


                        Great! I have a c/k wheel that should fit the sedan nicely. You learn something of value everyday!

                        Thanks...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think Ernie was kidding about the blocks.
                          I HOPE Ernie was kidding about the blocks...
                          Mike Davis
                          Regional Manager, North Carolina
                          1964 Champ 8E7-122 "Stuey"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by StudeNewby View Post
                            I think Ernie was kidding about the blocks.
                            I HOPE Ernie was kidding about the blocks...
                            JC Whitney used to sell them -- came with little clamps so no drilling (or tape) necessary.
                            Skip Lackie

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by StudeNewby View Post
                              I think Ernie was kidding about the blocks.
                              I HOPE Ernie was kidding about the blocks...
                              Yes...kidding.

                              Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
                              My rant was more about my personal preferences than anything else and was not intended as an attack, merely a rant.
                              Sorry if I assumed too much then. My comment about the Vega steering was more orout of frustration than anything else...I'd truly prefer to use stude stuff when able.

                              Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
                              I did have the same idea that you could move the seat back and put blocks on the pedals. Taping would not be sufficient (the blocks would fall off at the most inopportune times) , but the pedals are steel backed and you could certainly drill and tap them and put the blocks on with screws.
                              I was kidding about the blocks, and I'd prefer not to do that. That said, I am going to put buckets out of a later Hawk in, so that may be the time to "steal" an extra inch or two...not enough to need pedal blocks, but a little extra can't hurt.

                              Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
                              The power steering wheel is the same size as the manual one. The C/K has a smaller wheel than the sedan.
                              Well,, sounds like short of a custom wheel, I'm stuck with the diameter. No worries. If I could find a good 16"steel ring, I might try it...


                              I guess a shorter column and Saginaw box from a later car would be the first order of business. I'll have to figure out the rest after that.

                              I think I have an automatic mast jacket from a '63 Hawk...or Lark (not sure). I'll use a later wheel, but am open to splicing the shaft to use the earlier wheel. If I go that route, I can always shorten a wee bit as well.

                              I guess I was just hoping for some combo of stock parts that would do everything: Saginaw box, shorter column, smaller diameter wheel....two out of three ain't bad.

                              So the next question is which stock application Saginaw box has the best ratio, or are they all the same?
                              -------------------
                              Daddy always said, if yer gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough & I\'m one tough sumbiatch!

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