25 January 2013

how to mount 525 steering box with scrap!

The green 40 ford project june bug is so close,
I've made a detailed STD list and it's only one page.
Of all the projects,
the exhaust is the one that I'd like to finish,
even though it's just modifying the old Lincoln headers.
1940 ford coupe dashboard

Well to do that,
the steering predicament is taking a priority.
The coupe didn't handle too bad,
as long as you were comfortable with the 1/4 turn of play.
Okay it wasn't that bad!
Most of it was a loose tie rod,
but the box still had a tired spot in it.
stock 1940 steering

Part of me wanted to deal with it later.
When I finished the alternator last weekend,
the box was ripped out,
now I had to tackle the project.
stock 1940 ford steering box mount

Many months back I had prepared for this occasion.
After a bit of studying,
the GM Saginaw 525 steering box was supposedly the best upgrade.
I found out this unit was used in 90's Jeeps,
and these were available at the car parts store for way cheaper than anywhere else,
under $200 after the core charge.
The biggest difference in the newer ones is a 3/4"x30 spline u-joint is needed,
the earlier units use a 3/4"x36 spline.
Also the threaded holes are metric.
1940 ford vs GM saginaw 525 steering box

If I didn't get the box last year,
the 40 steering would have remained.
That money would have been better spent on a driveshaft right now!

Check out that bitchin gold paint on the greasy box.
I mentioned earlier how all the suspension was gold back in the 60's.
steering box templates

A couple templates were made to help visualize the position.
The old 40 box is tiny in comparison,
but the steering shaft to steering arm is alot farther.
This was the biggest concern,
as the steering arm was bent to miss the flatheads oil pan.
The 302/5.0 has a different double hump oil pan,
so it was a gamble if there would be enough space.
stool time returns!

At first I thought of using the stock mount and redrilling it,
the 3-bolt patterns are really similar.
There was only an inch or so missing for the forward hole.
If the engine was out I may have done that.
Since the space is extremely cramped,
and I'm working on my back or over the fender,
it seemed easier to do it the long way.
measuring 525 steering box

A plate was made out of 1/4" steel,
and some scrap hole-saw cutouts were sorted out.
Instead of guessing the hole placement,
the spacers were clamped between the box and plate.
They are necessary as the new box isn't flat like the 40.
test plate

With the spacers stick welded together,
the big holes could be drilled.
525/vega steering box adapter plate

This is where the project veered off a little.
Instead of using the threaded holes,
I drilled them out for 7/16" bolts.
Not sure if this was a good idea or not,
as the ears are a little angled.
The threads were drilled out and everything fit,
but I still need to flatten those ears a bit.
more stool time!

The plate was made to replace the original mount,
after it was cut out,
however using the original riveted attachment pieces.
trimmed not cleaned

With everything trimmed down,
the plate was tacked in place.
Now the box could be test fit.
Hopefully this first plate would work.

With the box bolted in place,
it looked like a natural fit.
The steering arm and drag link had plenty of clearance.
Time to weld everything up.
test fit

The stick welding wasn't as fun as I'd hoped.
Upside down out of position welding with obstacles is tricky.
After the first pass with 6011 and a second with 7018,
the mount was crude but very strong.
Nothing a grinder and black paint can't fix.
mounted mount

Some time in the future I'd love to remove the fenders and engine
to really give the frame a good cleaning.
Until then it's gonna look like this.
box mounted

It was very convenient that the ford steering box had the same
spline measurement as the 525 box,
even with the 4 filled spline spots.
steering arms

I don't know where all these steering arms came from!
The bottom arm is original to the car.
The middle arm is strange cause the ball joint is switched to the top.
The top arm is oriented like the bottom but is alot shorter,
so may be good if the steering needs tuning later on.

(Hey J Jeep the hammer tricked worked again!)

Fortunately the original steering arm worked fine.
There are about 3.5 turns lock to lock,
and it looks like that is enough to turn with.
If anything I'll look for a longer steering arm.
modified 1940 ford steering

Of course after this was buttoned up,
I found the mother lode of mounting plates.
Earlier internet searches using "525 mounting plate" were very slim.
Using "vega mounting plate" I found this.
Pete & Jakes 525/vega steering box mounting plate to Ford

This thing is a bit cleaner,
however the box would have been an inch or so higher.
For this engine layout,
I'd rather have it in the lower position.
Plus I saved $60-85, reduced my scrap pile,
and had fun with the grinder!
june bug 40 STD list

Now to figure out the steering column.
That may be more difficult than this was.
At least a couple things can be crossed off the STD list!



  1. The hammer trick always works. IF its not working just hit it more harder....

  2. Yep J Jeep more harder or a bigger hammer!
    I didn' t forget about your prize,
    just slow at picking something out!