My 1910 steering column had loose rivets holding the gearbox to the center bearing. So I decided while it was apart I would replace the original steel spark and gas rods with some new brass ones. Originally the steel rods were brass plated. Now they are painted black. Rather than having them plated I went the easy way and got the new rods from Langs.
I pulled the radiator to make access to the steering pitman arm easier. A modern ball joint puller from Harbor Freight fit perfectly and then the rivet had to be knocked out of the spark lever before unbolting the four bolts at the firewall and pulling the column out.
I unfortunately did not take as many photos as usual, the rivets had been installed with something like JB Weld (!) instead of being bucked. I was able to push them out of their holes with a pin punch. No hammer required. Really dangerous. I could have lost the steering completely had all the rivets fallen out.
I used my trusty 4X rivet gun, USAF surplus along with a block of scrap steel that weighs about a pound to buck the brass rivets.
The parts were held together by clecos until a couple rivets had been installed. Then the clecos were pulled and all the other rivets bucked.
After all the rivets were shot the inside of the gearbox looks like this:
The rivets are bucked so that the manufactured head fills the countersunk area. There is still some of the rivet standing proud of the steering column thrust surface. A 2" 80 grit abrasive disc is used to sand the rivet tails flush.
Here's the area after the tails are flushed out, ready for cleaning:
The outside is going to be polished prior to riveting it back to the column:
Thank you Royce, I kept your advices because I have to do mine either. Your tips are very helpful for me thank you posting this. I print all your pictures. Really appreciated.
Drop a transmission thrust washer in there before you slide steering shaft back in and you won't have to worry about those rivets ever wearing off again.
There's no appreciable wear Jack. All the gears and teeth are like new. The bearing is tight on the shaft. No sign of any wear inside the gearbox at all.
The rivets were installed with glue (maybe JB Weld) by the "restorer" who assembled this column last time. They will stay tight for as long as I own the car just the way Ford did it when it was new.
Mario I will have more photos maybe tomorrow. Working on this today.
Ditto Mario ! Thanks for the post, Royce. It's always a treat to see your workmanship !
Are those slots in the gearbox base that allow the rods to be slid in from the top when the gear case rivets and upper casting have been removed?
If yes, did it come that way from Ford?
Mark yes, the slots came that way from Ford. I think Ford only made the steering columns like this from late 1914 - January 1915. Prior to mid 1914 Dodge Brothers made most if not all the steering column assemblies. This particular one has a "D" stamped in the underside of the quadrant.
Did I miss the step where the case is soldered to the center piece with the shaft bearing?
Layden, you didn't miss it. It wasn't done. Every case I have seen has been soldered. I don't know if this was factory practice or not, but it sure makes for an oil/grease tight assembly. Perhaps someone can point us in the correct direction on this.
Allan from down under.
I figured you would have used the original spark and throttle rods.
Are the repops a close match to the originals? Did you have to alter them in any way to make them look closer to originals?
Nice job Royce, are you going to paint the rods black where they show in the engine compartment?
The repros are very much like the originals. Mine were worn badly at the quadrant and pitted somewhat. Too much work to save.
The originals would not have been painted. The steering shaft and the rods would be bare steel originally. The brass plating would have been just at the top end. I don't plan on trying to gain any trophys so I will just leave them brass, and the steering shaft bare steel.
I started yesterday morning by polishing the gearbox assembly and then used a tri - corner file to sharpen the teeth on the original quadrant. Then I slipped the re - riveted gearbox and rods back into the steering column. I built this fixture to make the work easier.
The rivets are just pushed into the holes at this point.
A better look at the rivets. The holes go straight through the quadrant, column, and center bearing. The angle of the rivet head is not matched to the angle of the other parts. Also, since there have been rivets shot in these holes previously the holes are somewhat enlarged. The holes are elongated side to side in the quadrant. If I were to shoot these nominal sized rivets in a sloppy hole they would end up smearing, giving a crappy looking finished product.
Layden I skipped the solder. I may try it on the next one. The intent seems to be to keep grease from dripping on your legs. It doesn't really seem to help.
Two thoughts. Very difficult to solder these two pieces together because of the size. ie, to get the pieces hot enough for the solder to flow. Second I am curious how someone holds the rivet heads in place while you smash the flat end. There isn't enough room for a bucking bar. I've done a couple and have opted for epoxy instead of solder and used the transmission plate as Jack suggested to keep the rivets from popping out.
The tail or shop head of the rivet is the one that you make. I mounted a 6/32" rivet squeeze set in a toe bucking bar by drilling a hole at the tip. This is a tough area to get to without screwing up. I took the bucking bar to my belt sander and cleaned up the edges to eliminate any sharp spots in case it kissed the brass parts to limit marks. Also you can see the smaller nominal size rivet (5/32") next to the oversize (6/32") rivet.
Better view of the squeeze set mounted in the bar. The rivet set in my Ingersoll gun is from Big Flats rivet company. It is made to fit these round head 6/32" rivets. The tool is not made quite right, you must grind the tip a bit to give it sufficient clearance to keep it from causing a "smile" on the metal around the finished rivet:
After some careful shooting we had success:
I think I have mentioned this before but when I removed my spark and throttle rod levers there was brass plating underneath the levers on the spark and throttle rods.
Did they remove the brass plating below the quadrant?
It takes skill to do a good job.
The plating was only applied to the upper part by Dodge Brothers. None was ever applied to the part that shows under the hood, at least not intentionally.
The spring collars are clamped in place, drilled 3/32" and riveted. Original springs are quite a bit longer than the repops, but the reppops look and work fine after installation.
The steering shaft gets lubricated before installation. Not shown, I but grease on the bearing at the bottom of the steering column too.
Locating the throttle arm is easy, the support above it leaves a wear spot on the shaft.
I set the angle on the throttle arm with the throttle lever all the way up, drilled it and riveted it to the throttle rod.
The spark lever was setup in correct alignment, then drilled #43 AWG. Then I tapped the hole #4-40 to allow the lever to be easily removed and reinstalled.
I countersunk the hole in the spark lever for the screw head. This makes it darn near invisible unless you are under the car looking up with the spark lever pulled halfway down.
The screw is installed and cut off flush, making it appear like a shot rivet.
Royce, I love your description of a 'smile' on a mis-struck rivet. I know it is nicer to get them as clean as you have done, but I have seen many rivets in other places where the 'smile' is evident.
When I first built my 1912 van I used a later steering column. Once I had the correct one, I went through much the same procedure as you have shown. When soldering the two components, I generously tinned the gearcase and the bearing piece first. These were then bolted together and the two components heated with a flame until the two were sweated together without adding any more solder. Then I did the riveting.
Allan from down under.
Ok I've got a question. I have to insert the two big rivets in the top of the steering column. Is there any way to do it without those nice tools? I also have to put new rivets in the spark and throttle rods as well. They are not brass I've got a 26. Someone put two large cotter pins in to hold it all together. Not a good idea.
Robbie, I have an unrestored 60" Torpedo column and, same as yours, there is brass plating underneath where the arms were removed.
I went and retrieved one of the old rods from the trash and stripped the 6 year old lacquer black paint off the lower part of the spark rod. Sure enough, it has brass plating going all the way down! Not only that, the plating was applied quite thick. It looks to me that Ford would have left the plating showing, just as they left the steering shaft bare metal.
I just knew I couldn't be the only one.
It does look as if they would have left the brass showing.
That should have been 60 year old black lacquer.
Good write up, thank you Royce.
I don't know of any way to do it without having a rivet gun. Search aircraft rivet gun on eBay, you can find used ones with all the sets for $150 - $200 plus shipping.
Thanks Royce. Didn't want to go at it with a ballpeen hammer.