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Technical steering column bearing upgrade?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by rubberrodder, Oct 27, 2017.

  1. My 1964 Buick Skylark has been my dailey since '82. I am having an issue with the steering column. I have gotten the "mast head" bearing from the dealer twice. They are made so cheaply now, that they have both worn out. The car is drivable, but the center shaft moves around and it's annoying as all get out when my new turn signal switch wont self cancel. AND it scares hell out of my wife!
    Does anybody have any suggestions for a replacement bearing? Maybe a small sealed roller bearing?
    I thought about an "Ididit" replacement column for a split second, till a saw the prices. A better bearing I can afford, a whole new column...not so much.
  2. I would think Tacoma would have a bearing supply house..if not, Seattle will sure have one. Buy a good quality, [SKF, Timken etc etc] sealed bearing in the same dimensions as the GM bearing. That's what I've always done in the past, especially to replace those silly early ford bushings.
  3. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 43,177


    do you have all the parts in there, that apply pressure to the bearing to keep it together? and did you lube it?

    We'd probably need pics and dimensions to help you figure out what to replace it with...although it's probably a safe bet that the shaft is 3/4" diameter, plus or minus a few thousandths.
  4. 325w
    Joined: Feb 18, 2008
    Posts: 5,156

    from texas

    Jim, didn't some of the upper column bearings have chessie race to help hold the bearings in place?
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  5. Sheep Dip
    Joined: Dec 29, 2010
    Posts: 1,572

    Sheep Dip
    from Central Ca

    Any bearing house should be able to match it up with a quality replacement. Remember GM did not make those bearings they bought them from a supplier.
  6. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 43,177


    I've never seen a GM upper column bearing that looked anything like a bearing you could buy from a bearing supply store.

    They're custom made...usually angular contact ball bearings, with very loose tolerances, and strange mounting methods.
  7. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 43,177


    this is an example...

  8. Do you have the heavy spring behind the steering wheel ? That is what holds it all tight and I've seen where many prior owners leave it off.
  9. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 12,040

    from oregon

    Yes, they are a pretty strange design, I was fortunate to buy an NOS bearing years ago for my 67 Nova.
  10. fordor41
    Joined: Jul 2, 2008
    Posts: 877


    go to McMaster-Carr and find a moly impregnated nylon 6/6 bushing. It will last a lifetime
    squirrel likes this.
  11. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 25,387


    I'd say you are stuck using the factory style replacement unless someone has come up with an updated version.
    In all the years I worked on front ends and steering I never had to replace one of those so I'd say that there may be an installation problem such as the possibility of a missing part or spring like ZZebby asked about.
  12. On the '64-65 Buick columns the bearing is actually part of the turn signal switch. It mounts to the inside, center of the switch and is held in place by the spring and canceling cam. Not the best design in my opinion.
    I am going to take the wheel off again, disassemble the column head{again} and measure the tube I.D. and find a bearing with a matching O.D. that fits over the shaft. Then mount it a under the switch.
    Yes! that is exactly the p.o.s. I am referring to!
    And you are correct about "strange mounting methods". Chevy, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile "A" body columns are NOT the same mounting. But the bearing is the same part.o_O

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