63-82 Steering Box Rebuilding Ok this is another one of - fette
63-82 Steering Box Rebuilding
Ok this is another one of my favorites. Not to sound arrogant but I build the best Saginaw
steering boxes on the market. Not because I'm a super genius but simply I put the time into
them and the extra work required to make them better then the day they were new and
certainly better then some I've had shipped to me that were "professionally rebuilt" I have one
coming in now out of a 63 SWC that was "done" by a vette shop. The guy is my brother in law
so I know he had paid the shop big $$$ to go through the car yet it was all over the road.
What you need to know about these boxes:
1- Do not attempt to adjust the lash unless you have a dial in/lb wrench and the box is out of
the car. I know there are guys who will tell you to use the fish scale procedure in the car, they
will also tell you that vette boxes are NG and to buy a new one- big mistake.
2- Forget about adding grease as the book says, not accurate. If you overfill the boxes they will
leak. They are not vented and heat will expand the grease and either blow out a seal or the oil in
the grease will weep out. Even properly filled this may happen.
3- The 63- E 69 used a full 360* spline while the L69-82 used a coarse spline with a flat milled
into it. The rag joints from 63-66 were the same and are $$$$ now, the Tele joints were
different and I have not seen one. The 67-E69 rags are also different and the L69-82 are all the
same. USE a GM rag if you need one. Pay the $90 or so and get it, forget about those repair kits
I think they're junk. Remember I don't care what a vendor says this is coming from a restorer,
4- The pitman arms for a power car are different then a manual car.
5- Going cheap with this or any corvette rebuild procedure is not worth it. If your box needs
gears or a rag get the best parts. The parts are not going to be around forever so if you're going
to keep your car for a long time, buy that GM rag or master kit while you can. The 63-66 rags
are all aftermarket now, some good some junk. I have a NOS GM rag for a 63-66 and it is much
better then the aftermarket parts out there now. These boxes can be built very good and in
most cases a blueprinted box is all you're going to need.
Ok here we go:
This is what they look like when I get them in. Yours is probably the same. If your car has been
sitting a long time then the grease get acidic and attacks the ball screw in the worm assembly.
Be aware when looking it over.
The first thing you have to do is remove the pitman arm. Some of these suckers are on there
pretty tight so I hit them with the propane then PB Blaster. I use a puller and spacer to protect
the threads on the shaft. Use an impact gun to pop it off just be sure to have the arm turned in
the right direction so it doesn't free wheel into the end of travel. Remove the lash nut and turn
the lash screw out a little. Remove the 3 cover screws and screw the lash screw in to back off
the cover. I have a 3/4 socket set that I use to loosen the side adjusting nut and lock ring.
Here is what an old box looks like with the nut off.
Here are the 2 inputs, full spline and the milled one.
Remove the parts and wash them. Here they are broken down.
I made some tools up to do these all the time but for you one timers here the trick to removing
the bushings. In the cover use a burr and once it cuts through the bushing will spin it out and
you can use pliers to remove it. The 2 in the housing require a homemade tool. Get some
washers the diamter of the bushings and bolt them together. Then grind a flat on one side so
they can be fit into housing and lay flat on the bushing then you can drive them out one at a
time. I made a tool to install them. They are soft so you need to radius the ID like you would a
cam bearings and install the same way.
Now the kits sold are all the same. I have the same ones only I add new shaft washer and nut to
them. They come with bushings and those aren't bad. You can use them and have a good jobBUT if you want the best built box you will have to machine up and fit your own like I do. This
takes time and you need a lathe. Is it worth it for a one time job, that's your call.
Here is a fit lower bushing. It looks like the kit bushing only the sideplay is fit to .002" not the
.005 the kits run in or the.010 the stock boxes are worn to.
Here is a stock bushing
If the gears are still good- they can be set to 11-12 in/lbs and there is no heavy pitting then you
can rebuild them with 54 new balls. I take the shaft and polish it before fitting the bushings to it.
Here are those ball guides, follow the Gm manual on rebuilding the box here.
Look at the ball screw for pitting. If bad then you have to replace the gear set. I can not get the
When I get the gears back and new races in place I dry set the gears to see where they run.
This is another spec to check, the gap has to be between .0015-.002" Shims in the kits will get
you there or you have to machine up some.
When all is good, preload set to 4-5 in/lbs, lash goes to 11 -11.5 ok then you can add grease,
leave room for expansion. I use Mobile 1
Here it is, done and ready to bolt in. If you add the arm torque it to 150 ft/lbs. I also witness
mark the set points so you can see if an alignment shop helped you out and adjusted it. Then
you get to set it up all over again.
This is more involved then it looks and it is not a ebay $150 special. It's your vette- do it right!