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Steering gear box removal/rebuild
#1
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Bob E.
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Hi,
I am contemplating removing the steering box ('55 Patrician) and rebuilding it or having it rebuilt. Rebuild kit from Max is $250 and awaiting a quote from www.powersteering.com. Got a quote from a place in WA that was "$600-$900" so obviously I am looking around. Reason for thinking of rebuilding it is that my Patrician was very loose while driving and the steering was very hard (like PS wasn't working). So I replaced all the suspension bushings, had my power steering pump rebuilt, and am cleaning and replacing seals in power steering cylinder and control valve. The engine is out and front clip is off so this seems like the time to do this.

2 questions:
1. How do I remove it? It's attached to the steering shaft and steering wheel but couldn't find any service manual info on how to remove. Do I need to remove the steering wheel etc to separate the shaft?

2. Any experience/recommendations with rebuild shops and/or lessons learned from doing it yourself that I should be aware of?

Thank you,
Bob

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Posted on: 2017/3/19 12:17
Bob
1955 Packard Patrician
Sapphire Blue
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Re: Steering gear box removal/rebuild
#2
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HH56
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The 55 and before is a one piece shaft so the steering wheel will need to come off to remove the shaft from the column. The horn button emblem above the nut is held by a compressed rubber O ring but be advised the old rubber ring may have deteriorated and is now acting like glue. IIRC, there is another rubber cushion under the emblem which could be in equally sad shape. Be careful in removing the emblem because it is brittle and prying it out could cause a chunk of the clear plastic to chip off.

Once the wheel is off disconnect the plug for the turn signal switch under the dash and also disconnect the brake pedal from BTV and remove the toe plate at the floor. That frees space around the column at the bottom. The brake pedal can usually be tied up out of the way but whether the BTV itself will need to be removed is your call. Remove or disconnect the neutral safety switch from the column on engine side and also disconnect the shift rod at the upper end. There is a clamp around the base of the column at the steering box. Loosen or remove that clamp. The last remaining fastening is under the dash at the bracket holding the column to the brace and dash. Remove any screws holding the rubber cover to the dash and push that aside to access the bolts holding the bracket to the brace. Note the gearshift indicator is also clamped under that rubber cover. It should be possible to drop the column down with it still attached but be careful of it. If there is doubt remove the clamp to the wire and move it out of the indicator area.

After the bolts holding the column bracket to the brace are removed the column should be free to rotate as needed for clearance and slide up the shaft. There is one more obstruction pre 55 but I am not sure about 55s. If the column does not want to freely slide up the shaft and off, there is a concave ring which forms part of the upper bearing assy. It needs to be removed on earlier shafts but since the 55 has a completely different upper end and maybe a different bearing I am not sure if the ring is still an issue.

Here is an illustration showing the ring location on pre 55s. Look closely down inside your bearing and see if there is anything resembling a split concave ring forming part of the inner race for the ball bearing. It may be well inside and covered with grease so look carefully. If you find one, remove it so the column can slide up and off the shaft. The shaft and column is long so cover the end or be careful nothing dirty touches the headliner. If the angle is too great and column won't clear the shaft before hitting the headliner, loosen or remove bolts holding the box to the frame so the angle on the shaft can be lowered a bit. After the column is off and pitman arm or any other attachments are free, the box and shaft is removed as an assy.

One possibility you could also consider in lieu of a rebuild is get another column. I believe Gerry at Packards Southwest has several but no idea on price or condition as compared to a rebuild. Mike Dulinski in Minnesota would be another source for used.

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Posted on: 2017/3/19 12:50
Howard
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Re: Steering gear box removal/rebuild
#3
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Owen_Dyneto
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Lares is the first name that comes to mind among steering gear rebuilders.

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Posted on: 2017/3/19 13:25
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Re: Steering gear box removal/rebuild
#4
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Ross
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Don't be in any hurry to replace or rebuild that box--they are quite robust and seldom have any significant wear especially as they are so lightly stressed when the car is equipped with power steering.

Go ahead and clean it out since you have the top off, and install a new seal on the cross shaft if you like: CR 12334 which is only a few bucks at NAPA. Of course you will have to pull the pitman arm to do that. Then slap the thing back together, fill it with some 90W gear oil, and adjust as per the shop manual. I'd say there is a 90% chance you can make a very nice adjustment on it--when the wheel is in the straight ahead position you should be able grab the pitman arm and feel no play.

There are other places for excess play to enter the picture on the power steering units: the control valve adjustment comes immediately to mind.

Posted on: 2017/3/19 14:02
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Re: Steering gear box removal/rebuild
#5
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DrMorbius
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Lares........ha! I used them for rebuilding my Caribbean steering box and when I got it back my mechanic spent 2 hours installing and setting up and having the same problem. I called Lares and they said send it back, we will fix it no charge (no kidding!) How about springing for hours spent by my mechanic. Sorry, no can do. Another hour removing it and 5 weeks later comes back, 2 hours later installed and set up and the same thing! I sent it out to someone else and 3 weeks later I have a Packard steering perfectly!
As you can tell, Lares is not my friend.

Posted on: 2017/3/23 9:58
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Re: Steering gear box removal/rebuild
#6
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JeromeSolberg
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So looking around getting ready to put the engine back in, I notice that it looks like my steering gear is leaking a lot, or at least there is a lot of evidence of that. It didn't steer badly before, tho.

So is it just a matter of pulling the Pitman arm and replacing the cross-shaft seal? CR/SKF 12334? Simple as that?

Posted on: 5/11 22:15
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