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Technical 1940 Ford Steering Upgrade

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Matt C., Dec 29, 2020.

  1. Matt C.
    Joined: Dec 24, 2020
    Posts: 6

    Matt C.

    I have a 1940 Tudor that is mostly stock. I would like to upgrade the steering a bit and understand that the 525 Saginaw steering box can fit nicely into my stock 1940 Ford Tudor. I have read previous threads on this but was really hoping that someone could give me a good list of the steps that would be needed to install the 525.
  2. Bill Nabors
    Joined: Jul 24, 2011
    Posts: 283

    Bill Nabors

    I would get the chassis engineering kit and follow their instructions. Never did one with a Flathead but several SBCs. I have one in
    My 40 but it isn’t going yet.
  3. okiedokie
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 4,337

    from Ok

    525 into a mostly stock 40 will require a good deal of mods.
  4. 31Apickup
    Joined: Nov 8, 2005
    Posts: 2,729


    The 40 box is pretty decent, if it’s loose just rebuild it.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    stillrunners and Moriarity like this.

  5. 1pickup
    Joined: Feb 20, 2011
    Posts: 1,093


    Vega box in my '39 Tudor fits & works good. I'm running a dropped axle with stock brakes & stock wishbone. Only problem is the header (yes, it's a flathead) is damn close to the box.
  6. krylon32
    Joined: Jan 29, 2006
    Posts: 7,419

    Alliance Vendor
    from Nebraska

    I have a 525 box in my 40 coupe and it works great. I used the P&J bolt on frame bracket that replaces he stock 40 mount and everything fell right into place. Mine has a SBC so I don't know about a FH.
    olscrounger likes this.
  7. woodiewagon46
    Joined: Mar 14, 2013
    Posts: 1,920

    from New York

    You will need to get creative with the drivers side header. It will most likely need to exit towards the front and curve under the steering box.
    olscrounger likes this.
  8. Bigmac48
    Joined: Apr 3, 2017
    Posts: 459

    from Dundalk Md

    contact weedburner 40 he knows the ins and outs .mine is flathead 8ba with 525 love it.
  9. 40Vert
    Joined: Jun 10, 2006
    Posts: 614


    I put a Borgeson 525 box in my 40 with the flathead. Easy to bolt the steering box in, Chassis Engineering (now owned by Heidts) and Pete and Jake have a great bracket specifically for the 525.

    The trick (and nightmare) as has been mentioned is fitting the drivers side header. I’ll try to get some pics posted tomorrow.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  10. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 17,100


    I properly rebuild stock box with John Deere cornhease grease for lube will work great. Might cost as much as a new box if you need to buy a new sector and worm, but it will be LOTS easier to do the work.
    stillrunners and Moriarity like this.
  11. nobby
    Joined: Jan 8, 2006
    Posts: 714


    one day someone is going to take the input worm and shaft from a 1963 chevy 2
    and fit it to a chevy saginaw 525
    maybe even the later style s10 manual steering gear boxes
    with the 4 bolts on top
    - first problem however is unlike the reversed chevy 2, there is no where to clamp the outer column at the box. ( you could do it 1971 mustang SMA-T with a 64 shaft - but where are you going to find the box.....) - keep it chevy anyways - switch and wheel spline!! - plus of course, you want a 1 3/4 outer column and not the larger 2'' plus of the 1963 chevy
    anyways moving on,
    you now have a 525 box with a long staft like stock 40
    buy the frame to steering gearbox mount - make this universal so much like the oem ford , it has arced attatchment points on it so as to receive the more upright pick up style - 35 to 40
    note this effects the pitman arms as I would guess that a pick up pitman is bent differently to a car.
    moving on to the fun part
    outer column and steering wheel.
    1 3/4'' outer column clamps at steering box
    passes through foot panel firewall - no mount here, new seal only
    universal column drop for 35-40, simply swap heads or 40 style with added part for 37 pick up - etc etc
    from the get go incorporate
    1. a twin ring contact horn in the upper column, with wireing tails to horn relay, supply horn realy and horn
    2. incorporate self cancelling turn signals into the upper collar, with tails to idiot light led's - supplied.
    turn signal realy and tails long enough to get to firewall
    3. hi lo headlight dip switch, with relay
    4. hazard switch
    make the upper collar and bell reflect the supplied pre assembled 37 curved banjo horn button and steering wheel

    supply the item fully assembled as a bolt in item, with the steering wheel centred with the sector and pitman arm

    or if you like, when removing the old one you don't even need to take the steering wheel off- one unit - out
    new one in
    no u/j phasing
    no column mount a firewall

    price point $1000. plus shipping and tax

    person receives box.

    removes column drop bolts
    lifts out front floor
    drills out original riveted in box mount
    pops taper on drag link

    customer whollops whole assembly in
    connects drag link, bolts in box mount
    attatches column drop
    fits horn relay and horn
    fits flasher relay - wires in new turn signals front a nd rear

    things to consider are steering wheel diameter
    pitman lenght
    box ratio

    buying a really big rake to rake in the dough.

    then do the same with the power version.
    1. style wheel
    1 collar
    1 column diameter
    1 box
    1 mount
    1 pitman
    1 load of easy
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2020
  12. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 21,651

    Staff Member

    I would rebuild the stock box, My 40 drives like a dream with the stock box. What is there to gain with a 525 box?
    ronzmtrwrx likes this.
  13. sdroadster
    Joined: Jul 27, 2006
    Posts: 377


    I installed a new 525 in my 41 Ford coupe, and I wish I hadn't. The 525 screws with your horn, the car was not easier to steer, and the exhaust header clearance was minimal. There is nothing wrong with the stock steering box. They are dirt simple to rebuild if necessary, and every early Ford supplier has parts.
    alchemy and Moriarity like this.
  14. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 4,983


    What I find interesting is the 525 box as you never hear talk about them. Yes its a bit larger 30% then the Vega so if space was a issue why not a Vega ? I will agree with the others as well the 40 ford box is a great box and just rebuild the box if needed
    Moriarity likes this.
  15. Matt C.
    Joined: Dec 24, 2020
    Posts: 6

    Matt C.

  16. Matt C.
    Joined: Dec 24, 2020
    Posts: 6

    Matt C.

    Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions, they were very helpful. The challenge is that my father, who is in his early eighties, is the one who drives the car and is having difficulty with the steering especially at very low speeds. I would think that if I were to rebuild the front end and rebuild the stock steering box that the steering would improve.

    I guess the real question though is would a 525 manual steering box provide easier steering than a rebuilt stock steering box?
  17. Matt C.
    Joined: Dec 24, 2020
    Posts: 6

    Matt C.

    So you rebuild stock steering boxes? Do I understand you correctly that by using John Deere cornhease grease the steering is improved?

    What does it cost to rebuild a stock steering box?
  18. The strong point of corn head grease is it has good flow in the box,but is less likely to leak past the simple seal Ford used.
  19. chevyfordman
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 1,059


    Where it leaks is past that horn wire tube, simply put in a tube with threads and nuts on both sides of box, seal with a little Blue Monster and then you can use a thinner steering fluid which makes the steering easier, just saying.
  20. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 17,100


    I don't do it professionally, but have for myself. Just last year I rebuilt an F-1 pickup box, which is basically a 40 Ford box turned on its side (different box casting of course). If you find your sector and it's roller are good shape you will have an easy time. If you need a replacement sector I suggest finding a nice original one from any 1939-1948 Ford passenger car or 48-52 F-1 pickup steering box.

    You'll probably need a new worm gear, and might want to have an experienced old Ford man install it on your shaft. Then the rest is rather easy, just pressing in a couple bushings and having them reamed (not honed with a brake cylinder hone). Make sure to have a nice but not too snug fit for the sector bushings. Then it's just replace the drop in bearings and gaskets (read up on those as they adjust the play).

    Or you can send it to @NealinCA for a complete rebuild, which he is an expert at.

    I think the John Deere grease really helps. But that's only proven from my three or four years experience with it.
  21. call Reds Headers for that flathead
  22. ronzmtrwrx
    Joined: Sep 9, 2008
    Posts: 670


    Just curious as to how wide of a tire/wheel you have on the front.
    X38 likes this.
  23. There more things that can make the car steer hard than just the steering box.
    First thing to check is the kingpins along with the thrust bearings.
    Deep offset wheels, many disc brake kit can increase the scrub radius.
    Tire size and pressure can increase steering input.

    Maybe the box just needs lube and adjustment.

    Cornhead grease kinda flows like oil when it is working; but is thicker and doesn't leak out as easily.

    We put a Lares rebuilt box in a '40; pretty easy job and steered like new; of course the rest of the front end had already been gone thru.
  24. I've noticed an almost miraculous improvement in low speed steering in several cars simply by changing the brand of tyre. Not size, just the brand.

    N.B. Not hot rods.
    ronzmtrwrx likes this.
  25. Matt C.
    Joined: Dec 24, 2020
    Posts: 6

    Matt C.

    Thank you for all of the suggestions!

    I am planning to redo the king pins and the steering components (tie rods, drag link, etc.).

    Interesting point on the size and brand of tires. I believe I currently have 225 75R 15 tires on the car. My plan is to go to a thinner tire to help with the steering.

    What brand tires have you found steer better?
  26. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 21,651

    Staff Member

    My 40 steers great with the 5.90-15's and stock steering box

    Bigmac48 and olscrounger like this.
  27. Matt C.
    Joined: Dec 24, 2020
    Posts: 6

    Matt C.

    Do you use bias ply or radial. What brand do you use
  28. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 21,651

    Staff Member

    Bias ply, 5.90-15 up front and 8.20-15 out back. BF Goodrich silvertowns from Coker tire, drives great and looks right in my opinion
    Bigmac48 likes this.
  29. That's a lot of tire in the front. What wheels and offset is he running? That too can affect ease of steering, handling etc.

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