My brass steering gear case at the top of the steering column tube is loose. Im interested in any fixes people have used to tighten them. Now that the speedster project is on the ground with tires I can see the case wiggle and twist inside the tube. Its not a massive amount, but it will drive me crazy while driving the car to see it wiggle. I know the rivets are probably loose and will need oversize rivets, but what is a good fix to make the case tight in the tube and not just rely on the rivets. Thanks and have fun and be safe ...
Maybe add some shim stock around the top where the rivets go.
I vaguely recall reading a "Tinkerin' Tips" article about driving pieces of hacksaw blade between the case and steering tube to tighten it up. I guess the theory was that the teeth would keep the blade shims from coming back out.
That hacksaw blade idea works on the triangular tube. But I don't think anything except better rivets will work for the round tube.
Round tube? Aren't all the tubes the same shape at the top?
I'm not sure what year things changed, but I am sure that the early brass T's had a round tube and the brass steering box fit into the top of the tube. The rivets held it in place. Later, the top end of the tube is diamond shape. I was wrong in my above post. It is not triangular but diamond shape. This case also has rivets, but the shape of the tube and the base of the steering box keeps it from moving concentric to the tube when the rivets are loose. It can wobble a bit but not turn around in the tube. This is the type on which the hacksaw blade works to keep it from moving.
If the case is loose in the tube I would cut a shim to tighten it then install new rivets.
I keep a flattened can for cutting shims.
Interesting. How early, Norm ? My '13 has a diamond profile column.
The hacksaw blades sound promising. That way I may not need to remove the column again. My column is a diamond type from about 1919 to 1925. It has the large horn wire tube. I can tell the rivets are loose in the holes so Ill also have to make a couple oversize rivets. Thanks for the input.
(Message edited by dobro1956 on December 20, 2017)
I ended up shortening my steering column in my Racer as I'm a little vertically challenged and in order to comfortably set the seat and reach the pedals so I shortened the top end the required amount and re-drilled the tube for "pilots" to re-insert the newly nickeled gear case, reamed to fit and installed tension pins - easy to keep an eye on them and I've driven it over 20 + years now and they haven't budged !
I used the hack saw blade method as a temporary fix and it tightened things up nicely but when I went to make a permanent repair I found that the tube was cracked. I suspect that the cracks were there before the temporary fix and not caused by it but can't be certain of that. I welded up the cracks, put new rivets in and problem solved.
Funny that you mention making a couple of oversized rivets. That might be best. :-)
I recently got some 3/16 X 1-1/2 steel round head rivets from a company out in Pacoima, CA for the same purpose, the gear case moves a bit.
1-5/16" would be a more correct length I think but oversize (3/16) are available only in brass from some of our vendors.
I just measured some of my half pound of 3/16 rivets (for ten bucks) and wow, do they vary in size!
Some are fairly round and some others aren't even close to being round and most are undersized a bit.
I'm thinking for my column, shorten, sharpen and then drive the rivets thru after reaming it just under 3/16".
Some folks say that a drill bit will drill oversized.
Shoot, I need to make a driver AND a bucker.
Donnie, what about heating the tube and shrinking it? Might be worth a shot, may even be able to do it with the gearcase installed if you're careful. Just a thought, Dave
Jim Dix has a good selection of rivets: http://www.bigflatsrivet.com/
Val S mentioned it. First and most important, check closely for cracks. If the tube is cracked? Even a small crack? No fix other than welding or replacement will make it safe. Any competent welder should be able to weld (or even braze) the tube well enough to be strong and safe.
Second. I have seen several steering columns with rivets broken inside. If everything is firm and tight? I generally accept that the rivets are probably okay, and run with it. (The fact is, that taking a good thing apart and doing unnecessary work on it is almost as likely to cause a problem as to prevent a problem.) If the rivets are in any way raised, twisted, loose, or odd looking? Then new rivets are definitely in order.
Third. Quite often, that diamond shaped tube has been stretched over the years. This usually results in some looseness, whether the tube or rivets are broken or not. If this is the case? Generally, the best repair is a simple shrinking of the steel tube, and maybe the spark/throttle quadrant. This can sometimes be done without taking the whole top end apart. First, look extra close for any signs of the beginning of a crack. Shrinking would put added stress onto any crack. With no sign of a forming crack, I have managed to carefully heat the steel to just cherry red, and tap lightly to shrink down as it cooled. I have also tried it a couple times and found then that the rivets were broken inside, and required replacement.
The combination of shrinking and new rivets usually results in a nice tight steering column.
You can also buy oversized rivets from the parts suppliers.
Wane, I don't think Donnie would have to look too far to find a competent welder. Just kidding. Dave
I have the same issue with my 26 coupe. The tube is not cracked. I wire brushed the paint off and inspected it when I put in my re-plated gear case and spark/throttle levers. I read in the ford manual that the holes should reamed with a number two taper pin reamer then the pins installed to tighten up a loose gear case. Has anyone ever done this? How well did it work?
Ditto on Stephen, times when the case is loose, the upper column housing is cracked too.
As for rivets, when placed I like to pre-drill to be sure the holes are aligned, then rivet. Maybe with oversize holes from wear, a taper pin might be best.
Donnie, be sure to re-check the cluster and note the case bottom to have the later (model year 1922) version with groove for the long stop pinion to prevent over center. That's a real Ford better idea on the T!
Was cleaning up an nice column for a project last week until I opened the cover, the gears are super fine, but the housing is the old style, no groove. So changing that out for this later version for safe driving.
Dan, My housing is the later style with the groove. But I do not think it matters on my application. The Laurel undersling brackets and the steering arms will hit and act as a stop way before it could go "over center" David, that "competent welder" is getting harder to be "competent" The old eyes are going, and if you "cant see it" you "cant weld it". Im using 200 cheaters and a 500 watt quartz light right now. The old saying "old welders never die, they just "fade" away" is getting more personal every day ... Thanks for the input ....
When I restored my '25, I had to have oversize rivets made for the quadrant, which was NOS. That isn't an easy job either, because NOS quadrants don't have the holes drilled in them. If you look at a few restored cars on tours, you will notice the rivet heads on these vary considerably. I wanted mine to be exactly like the factory rivets, and that is why I had them custom made. In addition, I found it works better if you have two people to do the job.
I was wrong! The tube was diamond shape from the beginning, however the brass steering box was two piece and riveted together just below the gears. It was those rivets which can brake causing failure of the steering. The box became one piece around 1915.
As Norman has mentioned, you probably have the 2 piece gear case. I have seen these where the solder joint has broken and the rivets are then working loose. I trust this is not the case for you. If it is, it requires complete disassembly, cleaning and fluxing, soldering and reriveting
I just replaced the steering column on my 25 coupe. It was cracked about 3/4 of the way around. Hidden by the horn button. I noticed that the horn would blow, and spark and throttle rods were binding at odd times. Pretty scary situation. I had never heard this discussed on the forum before, and now it seems it is more common than I thought.
It a very common problem. Every time you turn the wheel the gear case is trying to rotate in the end of the sheet metal column which cracks it. I'm not a big fan of the design but it's been working for well over 100 years so apparently it's not too bad. When I rebuilt the steering column and front axle in the car of one of our local club members his column had 4 long cracks in it that ran down from the gear case towards the firewall and when I took the quadrant off two pieces about two inches long fell out of both sides. The only thing holding the column together was the quadrant and one rivet as the other one was broken. I gave him another tube and threw the old one in the recycling bin.
The problem with the column cracking probably has more to do with the fact that we drive almost exclusively on pavement while these cars were driven on unpaved roads that offered less resistance when turning the wheel. That is why it is best to avoid turning the steering wheel while the car is not moving. That is what puts the most strain on the top of the column where the gears are. Before power steering that was standard practice. I have seen early cars where the steering box was pulled through the frame so it isn't hard to see why the thin metal of the steering column on a T is going to crack.
Stephen D H, One of the first ones I ever worked on was broken almost exactly that way. Multiple cracks from the end running forward. They ranged in length from just short of an inch to fully two inches. It was for a friend, and I did weld it, but also advised him to get a better one, which as I recall he eventually did.
David S, I have NO doubt that Donnie B is a "more than competent" welder. I am quite certain that he is far better than I ever was or will be (even with his aging eyes). I have never claimed to be a really good welder, but I seem to get by on most things. My real talent has always seemed to be repairing or making things that others could not. One of the few times I was working alongside a true welder, working on one of those tricky repairs, he asked me "Who taught you to do flame-shaping?" I replied "Is that what it is called, I taught myself that". He then said it is an artform that few welders can do well. He also said he was impressed by my flame-shaping skill. And he was a certified welder. I have never been properly trained (my dad taught me), and never taken any sort of certification test.
These days, I don't know if I could pass a certification test or not? The only welding equipment I have used in almost thirty years now is my dad's oxy-acetylene rig (which is older than I am, and the gauges haven't worked for a few decades now), and the Lincoln AC buzz-box arc welder he bought when I was about ten. I did take a metals and machine shop course about 45 years ago which included some instruction in welding including then common heli-arc, TIG and MIG. However I have never used them since and therefore have no practical experience with those. The past ten years or so, I have wished I could afford one of the new wire feed welders. I think I would like using one for many of the welding projects I do. Less distortion due to extreme heating would be nice. But I seem to get by with what I have.
Sorry for the prattling.
But my comment towards Donnie B about finding a "competent" welder was firmly tongue-in-cheek. I know he is far better than I.
Wayne, so was mine, hence the . Dave
I use steel strapping material
When was the long pin added
Thought on the cars with 3 short pin in the case the pitman arm hit pan and frame to keep it from ovef steering