Thursday, May 3, 2012

Steering Clear: A journey through the innards of a Ross steering box.

It is now time to clean up the steering column and mount the assembly to the chassis.  The steering column and box that I pulled out of the jeep is definitely WWII vintage.  The actual wheel, well, I'm not quite sure yet.  Later in the war, the design of the wheel was changed to have three thin steel spokes originating from the center.  The early war design was more of a thicker plastic/rubber type design.  The wheel I have looks to be early war...but then again, I haven't researched to see what Willys did in their postwar jeeps.  And more than likely, this wheel will be manufactured postwar.   Unless I get lucky!
Original "late war" spare steering wheel left;
possible early war steering wheel buried beneath multiple layers of electrical tape right.
Anyhow, the steering column was pretty nasty looking.  At some point in its life, Bubba decided to fill the box with grease thinking it would be a better lubricant instead of the heavy 90 weight oil it is supposed to have.  The grease makes for extra fun cleaning.
Steering column assembly.

Rust covered and staying with this blog's theme.

Bubba has protected this wheel with electrical tape.  Either the wheel is falling apart underneath it, or he was doing some serious racing and needed the extra gripping action on those tight turns.
I began by cleaning all of the exterior surfaces with the wire brush attached to the hand grinder.  With the majority of the rust and crud off, I attacked the remaining crevices with a small screw driver and hand held wire brushes of various sizes.  I coated it with the rust neutralizing chemical and then braved looking inside. 

One little surprise gift was a trio of little "F" marked maidens.  These three bolts connect the steering box to the frame.
Shh.  Quiet Men...maidens!""

Turns out, Bubba evidently deposited poo inside of it.  At least that is what it looked like to me.  It was like pulling off a one of Nora's nasty diapers...
Everything seems fine...other than being covered in a disgusting poo-like grease.  I like to think of it as a preservative.

Just plain nasty.

The shaft.  This guy runs along the ridges of the worm shaft (pictured above) and
spins side to side making the jeep turn...manual steering style!

My feeble attempt to clean the poo-like greasy substance from the interior.
 I cut out a new gasket for the cover plate.  After installing it, I reassembled the box and taped off the shaft so it could be doused in primer paint.
Newly primed.
 With things cleaned up, I could now reasonably get down to the business of re-connecting the electrical wire that makes the horn go "meep-meep."  The wire was missing the spring at the cap that keeps the horn connection open until pressed.  Since the wire had become separated from the brass ring at the base, I pulled it out of the hollow column and replaced the spring.  Now I had to fish the wire back through the column, pull it out of a tiny hole and then solder it to the brass ring at the base.  Here we go...
Here is the wire resting beside the steering column. 
It goes into the left end and gets pulled out of the right end near the brass contact ring.

Here is the baby tiny hole that the wire needs to get fished out of and needs to be soldered to the brass ring.
I syphoned a small wire through the small hole at the base up the column and then tied it to the horn wire.

I then gently pulled the wire back through the column and out of the small hole.

As a grounding out precaution, I wrapped electrical tape at the base.

I soldered the wire to the ring (which isn't my strongest talent) and then checked the connection with my multimeter.  One end of the meter is connected to the horn button.  The other end is on the shaft.  The "1" indicates that the circuit is open.

The 0.01 indicates that the circuit is closed and electricity would be passing through if connected. 
The horn should "meep-meep" now.
When I cleaned up the inside, it may have been missing some of the ball bearings that allow the column to spin.  I wanted to pull the column just so I could verify and replace if necessary.  Safety first, right?

Well, for once my sixth sense paid off.  Or perhaps for once I actually listened to the voice in my head heeding a warning.  I re-opened the box and pulled the steering column out.  It would only go so far before I had to remove a snap ring that holds the rear ball bearings in place.  The snap ring popped off with great accommodation and I removed the ball bearings and then slid the column out of the box.
Upper retaining cap unbolted and upper bearing has popped out.
This is when my suspicions were justified.  The upper bearing had the correct amount of 5/16" ball bearings (11) and they all seemed to be in reasonable shape.  The lower bearing, however, only had 10 balls in it.  The 11th ball was nowhere to be found.  Interesting.  Also, I discovered were a couple of bearings that had a few small chunks taken out of them.  They have used up their mechanical life and will be retired.   I have a few other donor steering assemblies around, but I also had a new small parts rebuild kit.  I went ahead and opened it up and used a new set of ball bearings for the lower bearing.

 I place a generous amount of grease around the inside of the holder and then placed the new bearings in their proper positions.  However, to get the bearings back on the end of the column, I had to remove half of them, place the remainder in the bearing cap on the lower portion of the column (after it was already in the box) and then drop the remaining bearings into place.  Beginners luck was with me because the procedure went without a hitch.
Old bearing cup.  It was missing one bearing and had a few "suspicious looking" others in the mix.

New bearings sitting in a cleaned up cap; snap ring for the end of the column centered; end of the column (still dirty) left.

New bearings in the cap in place.  I still need to install the snap ring.
I finished assembling the box and then I couldn't help myself...I had to go and test fit it on the chassis.  Besides, it gets one more piece off of my garage floor and put away in its proper place! 
Looks good.   Needs some paint, but it looks good.

No comments:

Post a Comment