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Technical 1931 Chevy Steering Swap?

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Edger, Sep 6, 2018.

  1. Edger
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 32

    Edger
    Member
    from Ojai, Ca

    Last weekend I took my 1931 Chevy 5 window coupe for it's first drive since bringing it back to life. I went to the Ventura Nationals and then did the endurance drive and show the next day. The '31 did just fine, it drove straight, it's quick, fun to drive and it didn't kill me. All very good things! The one thing that needs improving is the steering. It has a terrible turning radius to the right and the left wasn't much better. Parking lots and u turns are just out of the question.

    I have attempted to build a traditional hot rod. I tried to use parts that were available before 1964. I restored or replaced the wood. I did have to cut a few minor corners to get it on the road before I die of old age. It has the stock steering box, 1952 Chevy pickup front axle, springs and brakes.

    My question to the forum is: I heard that the trick swap is to use the steering column and box out of a 1952-54 chevy pick up. Is this correct or is there another swap out there from another vehicle that would fit my project?
    IMG_0715.JPG IMG_0704.JPG IMG_0716.JPG
     
  2. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,366

    squirrel
    Member

    55-59 pickup works pretty well, it's a smaller box, fits partway inside the frame, instead of on top of the frame
     
  3. Pitman arm to steering arm ratio is possibly wrong. I'd say the 52 pickup steering arm is too long and is using up steering travel. Is it easy to very easy to steer?
     
  4. Edger
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 32

    Edger
    Member
    from Ojai, Ca

    The ease of turning the steering wheel isn't bad. I have plenty of leverage with the stock steering wheel. In comparison my 55 Chevy with stock steering and a 14 inch steering wheel is tougher when not moving.
    fullsizeoutput_2495.jpeg IMG_0514.JPG fullsizeoutput_2495.jpeg
     
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  5. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,253

    BJR
    Member

    Do the spindles hit the stops on the axle when the steering wheel is turned as far as it can go? If not, disconnect the drag link and see if they can hit the stops then. If they hit the stops with the drag link disconnected, it's the steering box travel that is limiting the sharp turns.
     
  6. Joe H
    Joined: Feb 10, 2008
    Posts: 862

    Joe H
    Member

    I have a '41 Chevrolet truck steering box in my '37. Mine has a very tight turning radius, almost to tight. I can turn around on a three lane road with room to spare, even a wide two lane is no problem. Check your steering stops, that think should turn on a dime.
     
  7. As a few have said check steering stops. But take it a step further. Disconnect your drag link at the steering arm off left front wheel and see if wheels turns the same amount or did it increase? That'll be the fasted way to see 2 things in one test. Is it stop related or to long of a steering arm? Keep in mind, the 52 axle is foreign to the 31 steering box and pitman arm.
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  8. Joe H
    Joined: Feb 10, 2008
    Posts: 862

    Joe H
    Member

    My '37 has a '55 axle with a '41 gear box, and had a'37 box hooked to before the updated gear box.
     
  9. Edger
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 32

    Edger
    Member
    from Ojai, Ca

    I got the front end off the ground and turned it stop to stop. I found a few things.
    1. the drag link hit the zerk fitting on the side of the shackle. I remove the zerk and plan to cap it.
    2. from center to stop are different amount of turns. one way is 3/4 the other is 1 1/4.
    3. right side hits the stops the left does not.
    4.when the wheels are straight the drag link is not straight up and down.

    Johnny Gee tomorrow morning before work I'll pull the drag link off and check it.
    I can see I have a few miss matched parts. Rats!
    Thank you all for the help,
     
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  10. Edger
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 32

    Edger
    Member
    from Ojai, Ca

    This morning I pulled the drag link. The front end turned freely and travel further stop to stop. The one obvious issue is the drag link being to short.

    Would the next issue the pitman arm? To short as well?
     
  11. Drag link being short may just be an illusion. Drag link length is determined by having steering box at mid travel as in. If it take 4 full turns to go lock to lock set the box at 2 turns from either lock. This will be mid box travel. As for wheels/tires travel set them straight and parallel to body center line and with toe set correctly. Now see if drag link is too long or too "short". As for pitman arm being short? Short answer yes. But it would be best to leave it alone and just use a shorter steering arm because you have a solid pitman arm that fit's correctly onto the sector shaft. Try seeing whats out there in this type style that will work for you. There are many types available in styles and lengths.
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  12. Edger
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 32

    Edger
    Member
    from Ojai, Ca

    Johnny thanks for the help,
    I have measured the drag link and it to short. I will look in to a steering arm.
     
  13. Love your ride !
     
  14. Edger
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 32

    Edger
    Member
    from Ojai, Ca

    Thanks it's as much fun to drive as it is to work on! cheers
     

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