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Steering Boxes and Steering Gear Lube

 Michael Mendonga commented the following: I just ordered lube for my '54 Steering Gear Box from Restoration Supply in San Diego, CA - Phone 800-306-7008. $8.00 for 500 ml (2/3 of a typical bottle of wine). The lube is for these old boxes and is 1200 weight. In a later email he was satisfied with it.


Mac Kinghorn: In a Motors Manual as well as a factory GM Service Manual that pertains to my 1952 Chevy 1300 pick up the instructions for filling the steering box are as follows:
The steering box is to be filled through the pipe plug opening on the top of the box with the top sidecover bolt above the adjustment screw removed. GREASE is to be pumped into the steering box until the grease comes out through the bolt hole. The bolt is to then be reinstalled and the steering box topped off with 80W-90 gear oil.
From experience if you rebuild the gear box and fill it with oil, even with new seals and everything in perfect condition it will leak. If you drain the oil and fill it as specified above the leaks stop, the internal mechanisms get the lube that they need and the box works as it should.

Mike: Although I'm not one to argue with a manual, I will give you my experience on two boxes, one on my '57 and one on my '59.
Neither box has ever been rebuilt or take apart (I can say this for sure on the '57, the '59 was last tagged on '62, so it had been at least that long). On both trucks, I filled with Power Punch; it's kinda like STP in consistency. The bottom thrust was tightened, as well as the top worm nut. That's the only work I've done to the boxes, other than drill out the top plug, crossways, then up to the bottom, to allow a vent.
I filled both to the top of the plug hole, after about a week or two of driving, I noticed a slight seep out the vent hole I drilled, I cleaned it off and have never seen an oil film since.
I'd guesstimate that if the box is not vented, and the oil gets hot from the exhaust pipe, then it has to push it's way past the seals in the box.

While we're on the subject of steering boxes, on mine the steering wheel turns 2 1/2 turns to the right and about 1 1/2 to the left (from straight forward). I've tried turning the pitman arm, but it will only turn a full quarter turn on the shaft due to four larger splines. Any thoughts or ideas? An adjustment maybe?

Grant Galbraith: I had the same problem after rebuilding my steering box. I had reassembled it so that the steering sector was a tooth (or two) off when it meshed with the worm. You can fix this with the box in place by unbolting the pitman arm and the cover the adjuster is on. Slide the sector shaft out enough to move it one tooth and see if that takes care of it. Try to sneak up on the stops, you don't want to slam the wheel against the left and right stops.

A special thanks to Paul W. Franchina, Mac Kinghorn, and Mike for the info on steering gear lube, and to John Walch and Grant Galbraith for the info on steering boxes.

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