CORVETTE RESTORATION UPDATES

DECEMBER 18, 2005 - STEERING SYSTEM ASSEMBLY AND STEERING BOX REBUILD

 

 

 

 

   

Things are moving right along now... Next on my to-do list was putting the new tie rods together. I applied a bit of anti-seize compound to the threads of the tie-rod ends to make future adjustments a little easier. Once the tie rods were put together I installed them on the car.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

A few photos of the nearly completed steering linkage...

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Oops, I almost forgot to install the anti-sway bar! I don't know how I forgot about it until this point, I guess I got sidetracked by the steering stuff. The new 1 1/8" diameter bar that came with the suspension upgrade kit should be a big improvement over the relatively flimsy stock anti-sway bar.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

One obstacle to installing the new anti-sway bar was getting all the excess POR-15 out of the bolt holes for the sway bar bushings. After two coats of POR-15 and a top coat of Chassis-black, quite a bit of paint was plugging up the bolt holes and nuts. However, some careful prodding with a utility knife and flat head screwdriver took care of the problem and the anti-sway bar was bolted to the frame in about twenty minutes.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Well, as it turns out I'm not going to be able to finish installing the sway bar right away. Without the weight of the vehicle compressing the front suspension the holes for the links that connect the sway bar ends to the lower control arms don't align very well. Rather than force them into place I'll add their installation to my "don't forget to do this later" list.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

At this point the one major steering component left to be installed was the steering box and pitman arm assembly. Up to this point I've been procrastinating cleaning and painting the steering box since there's a pretty hefty layer of grease and grime caked on it. Once cleaned and painted the steering box will bolt to the frame and the pitman arm will connect to the stud on the power steering control valve (shown in the lower right of the photo below).

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Well, I've been putting it off for long enough, time to clean up the steering box. For those who aren't familiar with it, the purpose of the steering box is to convert the rotational movement of the steering column into the left/right movement of the pitman arm. Here's a before photo of the steering box.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

After a lot of cleaning, wire brushing, degreasing and a coat of primer I discovered a small problem. The oil seeping out of the steering box at the base of the wormshaft told me the thrust bearing seal was in need of replacement. Looks like I'll have to open up the steering box and check things out inside, who knows what's left for lubricant in there...

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

The first step in disassembly is the removal the lock ring. I didn't have a wrench nearly big enough so I used a hammer and socket to get things moving. Luckily removal of went pretty easily.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Next it's time to remove the thrust bearing adjuster.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Well, at least there's still a little bit of lubricant inside. Most of it had actually turned into a thick syrup-like sludge though. Should be fun to clean...

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Next I removed the three bolts holding the side cover in place. Before removing them I took a second to break loose the lock-nut holding the adjusting screw in place. It's much easier to do so now while the cover is still securely bolted to the steering box housing.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Once the three bolts were off I removed the adjusting screw lock-nut and then turned the adjusting screw all the way down into the case.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Here the side cover and adjusting stud have been removed.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

At this point I was able to easily remove the pitman arm shaft and worm gear assembly.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

After a fair bit of cleaning and degreasing I ended up with the parts shown below. Apparently carburetor cleaner makes a good paint remover too!

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Once things were cleaned up I took a few minutes to inspect each part for wear. Thankfully no significant wear was visible on the teeth of the worm gear assembly and pitman arm shaft.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

In order to complete inspection of the worm gear assembly I removed the ball guide clamp and ball guides so that things could be completely taken apart and looked at.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

With the guides removed (only one has been removed in the photo below) I carefully removed the steel balls being careful not to loose or drop any. There are 27 in each guide assembly.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Further inspection didn't reveal any problems so I'll clean everything up real well before starting reassembly.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

To reassemble everything I centered the shaft and put as many steel balls into the assembly as possible.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

The remaining balls that wouldn't fit in the worm gear were placed in the ball guides and packed with grease to keep them from falling out. Reassembly was pretty much the reverse of disassembly and went fairly quickly.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

The last thing to check was the bearing races. No wear was visible.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

So, it looks like I just need some new seals and grease in order to get the steering box put back together. Finishing this job is next on my agenda, with a little luck it won't take too long to track down the new seals.

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Total time spent on restoration to date:

186 HOURS

JUMP TO THE NEXT UPDATE -  STEERING BOX REBUILD (CONT'D) AND TRAILING ARMS

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