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37 Plymouth Coupe Steering Gear


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blubiu02
New User

Feb 4, 2015, 4:01 AM

Post #1 of 10 (811 views)
37 Plymouth Coupe Steering Gear Sign In

I've got a 1937 Plymouth coupe with an all stock L head 6 cylinder 3 speed trans. I would really appreciate some advice on how to adjust the steering gear. Its got about a quarter turn of play and its not safe to drive. There's not much info on the internet so I thought i'd ask my fellow gear heads for help on this one. Thanks for your time,,,,


Tom Greenleaf
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Feb 4, 2015, 5:16 AM

Post #2 of 10 (801 views)
Re: 37 Plymouth Coupe Steering Gear Sign In

Gotta help me help you on this. This is non power steering right? Probably so will go with that.


1st check top of steering box is in fact tightened down and note what you see (may have been altered fixed or changed more than once already) so it can be either adjusted or know you need another whole box.


You should see a stud with either a hex smaller bolt or probably not but an Allen headed stud held by a larger hex nut. It matters what type the Allen head would be newer and not OE.


1/4 turn is of course way too much suggesting it's really worn now. Manual boxes actually need to be checked for oil much like either a gear case or take top off and fill them. They really weren't meant for much service that I know of.


You should hoist both front wheels so turning is without any effort and point steering wheel known straight ahead. THAT IS CRITICAL! If you do anything to it with it turned you can easily ruin it!


Now feel the exact play it has without tires on the ground. That is now what you only might fix as it's excessive now.


Not sure we can know what is there now so this is general for recirculating ball (if that type??) steering gear boxes.


I'll try to find a pic of what I expect you'll find and post it.


THERE'S RISK HERE OF CAUSING A PROBLEM RIGHT AWAY SO BE PREPARED OR START LOOKING FOR A REPLACEMENT BOX NOW ANYWAY.


Fill will gear oil of a non detergent type if you can find it should do. NON DETERGENT is key. Container marked or a detergent oil/grease some call it could make it leak badly or worse than it does.


Look for a top fill probably square headed bolt. That would be a fill level near top on side. Hope it's square as it helps prove that type.


Fill till it spills out or do nothing if it's real close now. Bend a Q-Tip and check as needed.


Now that gear oil is in it you can and COUNT ALL TURNS YOU MAKE SUCH THAT YOU CAN PUT IT BACK WHERE IT WAS!
.... Loosen holding larger nut just enough. It may or may not be reverse threaded! Same with the smaller one I'll call a stud nut in center of that. That just turn a little towards CW first as it could be reverse threaded also and need to know so don't rush this.


Turn a little bit and back to steering wheel to see if there's more or less play so you know what direction all is going. You may need to only turn 1/8th turns at a time and keep checking play at wheel. Eventually you may need to back off locking larger nut which should be held in place while turning the center one or would tighten up on itself and mess you up.


Turn the center till you are sure there's less free play. If it's going well DO NOT AIM FOR ZERO PLAY but a few inches left such that when finished you still have some but not too much. It needs it or wears itself out.


Just reduce the play to reasonable and don't get too greedy for none which it will and wreck itself. Now when done tighten holding nut firmly and wheel still hoisted should turn wheels and coast! It must be free as a bird or could be too tight. You've counted turns I hope so if too tight back off till it is.


Now time for a test drive. With weight on the car now it will have less play going straight ahead if you succeeded but need to turn a corner and let caster alone return steering wheel back to close to dead ahead again. If you made the adjustment too tight it would stay turned and not come back by itself while moving - you are in trouble if so!


I'll call this a "pre-war" car and things all over were meant to be adjustable and greasable including stuff you wouldn't think of like leaf springs and pivoting things all over it not just many for steering. Not just miles but do all of them now and then.


I'll go looking for a pic of what the steering box should look like. If not and all different I may have the wrong type in mind or high chance this has already been changed out as said,


T



Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Feb 4, 2015, 5:28 AM

Post #3 of 10 (798 views)
Re: 37 Plymouth Coupe Steering Gear Sign In

Still looking. Basic idea on a YouTube NOT THIS CAR but the idea........This is when you already KNOW the play is from the box at all not something else worn or loose!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtXQvVNg6vI


Try for a crude diagram. Note and sorry, forgot that some "lash" adjuster might be a screwdriver flat headed stud too..........

Pics may not cooperate or expire?



^^^^^


It was there for basic idea not specific to your exact gear box not known and if this car is not some remarkable original may have already been altered or changed so pay attention to what you have not even what any manual says unless it matches exactly,


T



(This post was edited by Tom Greenleaf on Feb 4, 2015, 5:31 AM)


Hammer Time
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Feb 4, 2015, 5:39 AM

Post #4 of 10 (794 views)
Re: 37 Plymouth Coupe Steering Gear Sign In

I strongly recommend not attempting this. If you examine your situation a little closer you may realize that all the play you are referring to mainly shows up in the straight ahead position and very little shows up if the wheels are angled.

This happens because of excessive wear in the straight ahead position only. If you crank down on that backlash adjustment it will be too tight on turns. That adjustment was put there for initial setup when the box is first assembled and should never be touched after.

Replacing or rebuilding the box is the correct option.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
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Feb 4, 2015, 7:46 AM

Post #5 of 10 (790 views)
Re: 37 Plymouth Coupe Steering Gear Sign In

Already said this can ruin a gearbox. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT MIGHT HAVE ALREADY BEEN DONE OR DONE WRONG.


True as HT says if this ever was set/adjusted when not in the center or straight ahead position it would ruin it! YOU MUST KNOW WHAT EXACT TYPE YOU HAVE AND FIND SPECIFICS IF NOT TOTALLY COMMON ONES!


In my hunting did find exact fit whole new boxes to way back models. The issue remains what it is now of total importance and if unknown find out somehow.


In my mega hundreds of adjusting these things notice that at about the 10 year mark they could use some adjustment and were meant to BUT YOU REALLY COULD ONLY DO THAT ONCE maybe twice then box is just worn out.


Not sure your intention or budget for the particular car so say so. Some would dump the whole thing for an entire different type usually rack and pinion.


There is a lot of geometry to even antique steering concepts simply because any must accommodate the different angles a wheel will want to turn and not scuff up like even an old child's toy something. NO. It must allow different steering radius' for each wheel DURING a turn NOT when straight ahead.


This is design engineering for the specific vehicle when new not really intended to need or last long enough for service. The car still exists so lubrication for the thing used much or not probably was ignored and wore it some or badly by now if original.


Full warning on this. Know exactly what you have and want to do or don't touch it until you can do anything and know the difference or find someone who does to deal with it. The free play you mention is excessive and a warning that you are up for serious troubles or at least a hassle to make it safe and to your liking again,


T



Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Feb 4, 2015, 9:17 AM

Post #6 of 10 (784 views)
Re: 37 Plymouth Coupe Steering Gear Sign In

If the box has worn a flat spot in the worm in the straight ahead position, it should not be adjusted.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Feb 4, 2015, 9:59 AM

Post #7 of 10 (781 views)
Re: 37 Plymouth Coupe Steering Gear Sign In

True.


OP - Let me start over with just the complaint of free play. Before we even go to steering box which is common so are other things. All steering parts must be in order from the wheel bearings, joints (king pins) on up the any steering damper and splined for the wheel itself to the shaft - all of it. In fact if this happened quickly - few miles then noticed something is broken. If so it's wildly important to find or risk total loss of steering. 1937 and some newer most all older lacked strong metal that was light, lubrication of things lacked also. Still some rubber products not yet used and might find leather where you would have used rubber still and if dried out cracked. You must know what and choose the fix method depending on what,


T



blubiu02
New User

Feb 6, 2015, 4:42 PM

Post #8 of 10 (751 views)
Re: 37 Plymouth Coupe Steering Gear Sign In

Thanks to all for the help. From what I gathered from all the reply's, I'm now looking for a replacement steering gearbox. I checked the gear oil level and there is none which tells me it's wore out. That old gal and I have gotten pretty close over the years and she deserves nothin but the best. I'm sure all you gear guys and gals can relate. Take care and thanks again everyone.


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Feb 6, 2015, 5:14 PM

Post #9 of 10 (749 views)
Re: 37 Plymouth Coupe Steering Gear Sign In

I may be wrong but I thought I remember a lot of those older manual steering units not using oil but regular grease instead.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Feb 7, 2015, 1:42 AM

Post #10 of 10 (743 views)
Re: 37 Plymouth Coupe Steering Gear Sign In

Excuse my novels on these type gearboxes - still used in certain things. Still own what you probably have almost exactly. Happens to be oil filled I guess intended for life as all manuals on the thing don't really get into that. Top was snapped in 1956 (48 John Deere - automotive steering) and brazed, filled and was fine for another 25 years!


No exact parts ever found now for 46 years! It works but has same 1/4 turn play and fine as top speed is ~15 maxed out.


Another I did put a grease fitting on and filled it - no problems. Caps where the types adjust have a notch for a vent or better ones a ball valve such that water can't get in but maintain zero pressure or vacuum so as not to encourage leaking.


In short you found it dry no surprise so replace it is the job. In searching for images (almost any search engine) you'll find they go to a site and many pics showed for exact bolt on duplicates for anything but wouldn't post their pics here - went blank. Look for an exact would be lots easier then custom fitting in something IMO.


Said early that it probably already was replaced to try to find out what you have. I just want you to consider the ratio of the thing in what you find works best. OE duplicate if you find one would last indefinitely simply because metals are much stronger and seals more tolerant.


Good luck with the fix. Can't expound more until you know what you want, have and can find. Whatever do pay attention to set it centered if not marked count turns lock to lock. Many were AFUed and turned more one way than the other forever and still had too much play but just enough to drive at all. It can be fair never be great with the design of front end at all,


Tom







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