I decided to rebuild my spare steering gear a couple of months ago, so I started getting the parts that I needed ready so I could do the rebuild when I had the time. I had ordered a worm shaft bearing kit, new sector shaft seal, along with the side cover gasket, shim pack and column bearing a while back. Then I decided to go ahead and replace the sector shaft bushings while I was at it.
When I went out to get my spare steering gear last week to tear it down, I discovered that the column tube was bent up pretty bad too. So I went on a quest to find out what I could use for tubing without having to buy an imported repro. I asked on http://www.willysmjeeps.com, and was told that muffler tubing was the wrong outside diameter and too thick (wall thickness), and fence tubing wouldn’t work either. I think the dimensions are 1.5″ x .035″ wall thickness. One of the guys answered back that he had looked around and the only thing he could find was aircraft grade tubing online – and he had a 40″ piece left (he had to order a 6′ piece) that he would sell me (shipped) for $25. The cheapest one I could find online was $27 + shipping (but that was a ready to bolt on tube with the bearing).
On the way home from work today, I stopped by O’reilly Auto Parts and rented a pitman arm puller for $15 – I’ll get it back when I take the puller back.
I received the tube yesterday, so after work today I went ahead and started on the rebuild. I cut the tube to length (34.5″), and cut a notch in the end for the clamp. Then I sprayed some primer inside the tube for rust proofing. I clamped the housing in the vice and used a small diameter pipe to drive the sector shaft bushings out. I put the new ones in the freezer to contract them enough to make them easier to install while I cleaned the worm shaft, sector shaft and other associated parts. I also went ahead and installed the new races and bearings on the worm gear.
So, after about 20 minutes I was ready to put the new bushings in – so I grabbed them out of the freezer (the beerator) and ran over to the housing. I was able to push the outer one in about half way with thumb pressure, then used an appropriately sized socket to tap it in the rest of the way (I installed this one from the inside out). The inner bushing went in fairly easy too.
Here’s a pic of the cleaned parts and the housing with the new bushings installed – ready for assembly (almost)!
I decided to check the fit of the sector shaft with the new bushings next because everybody says you have to ream the bushings to size after you install them. I’m glad I did! The shaft barely even started into the inner bushing! I don’t have a reamer, so I got the emery cloth out and started sanding – test fitting – sanding – test fitting – sanding. I did this for about 20 minutes before I got a tight fit with just a small amount of drag. Then I installed the sector shaft seal and the worm shaft. The races were a tight fit through the housing, but they do fit as long as they are square to the bore. A little tapping and the inner bearing race fit perfectly! Then I put the shim pack and the top housing back on, and the worm shaft was done! I forgot to mention that the worm shaft was bent a little bit, so I had to put it in the press to straighten it out as much as I could.
Here’s a pic with the worm shaft installed now:
Then I cleaned the bushings and worm gear, and spread some gear oil on them and installed the sector shaft:
Next, I put the side cover, adjusting screw and oil fill plug in place. Then I installed the bearing in the column tube (that was a tight fit) and installed the tube (I had to sand down the end of the worm shaft tube so that the bearing would slide over it with a snug fit).
And a pic with a nice heavy coat of red oxide on everything (including the vise!). That is the old column tube standing beside the new steering gear.
I guess I’ll throw on a couple of coats of 24087 when it warms up tomorrow and she’ll be ready to play musical chairs with the old one when I get some time to do it!