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Steering box question '56 F100

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Old 01-13-2017, 09:52 AM
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Steering box question '56 F100

Had a short but interesting conversation with a guy driving a original looking '56 pick up. I had to show him pictures of my panel, Minty. He asked what I had done about the steering as, in his opinion, the '56 steering box was weak. Next he said he had replaced his with one from a larger truck, it was a bolt in deal (no mods) and the steering ratio was different; made the truck a whole lot easier to steer. Problem was; he didn't know what model this beefier box came from. I'm ready to replace mine and this sounds attractive if true.

Naturally I'm going to the "brain trust" here on FTE looking for answers .....
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Old 01-13-2017, 10:35 AM
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The F350 steering boxes had a different ratio. Larger trucks did to of course but I am not sure if they are a simple bolt in job.

My 55 F350 with radials steers just as easy as my 54 F100 with bias plies.
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Old 01-13-2017, 11:05 AM
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B6C-3504-A .. 1956 F100/250 Steering Gearbox.

B6Y-3504-A .. 1956 F350/500/600 Steering Gearbox.
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Old 01-13-2017, 11:05 AM
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Yes the larger truck boxes do steer easier because of the different ratio. I have done several of these swaps over the years. On mounting hole needs to be redrilled in the frame otherwise it's a bolt on swap.

I like to use f500-f600 boxes as they usually have low miles on them and are in very good condition
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Old 01-13-2017, 11:18 AM
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Too bad I through one away from a f600 a couple years ago when cleaning up
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Old 01-14-2017, 03:00 PM
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Following with interest - same concern

The 56 F100 I own also has original steering & suspension and it's a wrestling match to turn the wheels. Just had new king pins, wheel bearings, shocks, alignment, and some frame straightening, but steering was no better. Truck went back to same reputable shop in Chehalis, WA for steering box rebuild. I obtained internal parts ahead of the second round of work. Disappointing result as it's still no better than when it first went in for work. - One aspect I am rather unhappy about was that the shop used the new worm gear that came on the long steering shaft, but did not use the new gear I obtained that mates to it. (That one was hard to find. Anyone need a new "rider gear, " contact me.) They used the old gear that rides atop the worm. Original worm was clearly chewed up. My thinking was that the original mate-up gear must have had wear or damage too. (Of the old parts I only saw the chewed up old worm gear.). Shop mgr. said it was good and that it would have been "pressed into" the box housing with equipment he didn't have. (He is almost 80 and has been in business at same shop since 1958, supposedly the best alignment / suspension firm in the area.). My experience with Brit cars and wire wheels was that a new spline on a new wheel mated to and old spline shaft hub would result in the new wheel spline wearing down very quickly on the old, worn splined shaft. I hope that won't be the case with my "partially" rebuilt steering gear box.

I am old and have much less arm / shoulder strength than in younger days. Maybe I don't remember the steering on my dad's 51 F1 that I learned to drive in about 1959. I don't recall it steering so hard and it couldn't have been in top shape as it had 185k miles when I learned to drive on it.

Bottom line is that I did not know that a steering gear from a larger truck could work and might make steering a bit easier. I will be watching this thread with interest.

Last edited by brit_wheels_fan; 01-14-2017 at 03:04 PM. Reason: Additional info
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Old 01-14-2017, 03:18 PM
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The trouble with the steering is a combination of us being spoiled with the great cars that we have today, and the addition of tires that almost always put more rubber on the ground. The big truck boxes I believe had a higher numerical ratio. Probably not a big problem if you aren't needing to make really quick turns.
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Old 01-14-2017, 04:55 PM
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Knowing how one should handle

On trying to get the steering / suspension sorted out on Pistachio, my 56 F100, I really don't know with any certainty how one of our old Effies should handle. My experience of 55 years ago with dad's '51 F1 was a long time ago and on a truck that was worn out from rugged use and nearly 200,000 miles. I don't remember it being that hard to turn the wheel, but most of the time it was on dirt or gravel. Dad briefly owned a '56 in about 1967 when I was 16, but it was also well used and I did not get much time driving it. Our '65 F100 we bought new with a six cylinder and it steered easily. Later pickups included a '71 F250 and a '76 F250, but they were easy to drive with power steering. The ''51 F1 I owned just a few years ago I never had on the road and it had to be worn out too. (Sold it as a project truck to harleysman (Joe Dunn) of Tennessee before the move to Washington.) My current truck was obtained about 17 months ago and it steers really hard. In selecting new tires for it, I intentionally avoided wide tires to diminish how difficult it would be to turn the steering wheel.

Pistachio was a six cylinder truck from the factory but had a Y Block 292 transplant at some point in time. Would '56 F100 trucks have had different suspensions for six cylinder trucks vs F100 trucks with V8 engines? I would not think that to be the case.

Some day I would hope to meet someone at an event with a '56 F100 that also has stock steering, suspension, and a V8 and ask if I could sit in it and turn the wheel to get a comparison to my truck. (I do know on the old trucks it was best, if possible, to begin turning after the truck begins to roll, but that does not seem to help much on my truck. Since it is so hard to turn, you need to start turning when it when parked unless there is lots of distance before the turn has to be made.).

Again, I will be watching this thread wit interest.
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Old 01-14-2017, 06:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brit_wheels_fan View Post
The 56 F100 I own also has original steering & suspension and it's a wrestling match to turn the wheels. Just had new king pins, wheel bearings, shocks, alignment, and some frame straightening, but steering was no better. Truck went back to same reputable shop in Chehalis, WA for steering box rebuild. I obtained internal parts ahead of the second round of work. Disappointing result as it's still no better than when it first went in for work. - One aspect I am rather unhappy about was that the shop used the new worm gear that came on the long steering shaft, but did not use the new gear I obtained that mates to it. (That one was hard to find. Anyone need a new "rider gear, " contact me.) They used the old gear that rides atop the worm. Original worm was clearly chewed up. My thinking was that the original mate-up gear must have had wear or damage too. (Of the old parts I only saw the chewed up old worm gear.). Shop mgr. said it was good and that it would have been "pressed into" the box housing with equipment he didn't have. (He is almost 80 and has been in business at same shop since 1958, supposedly the best alignment / suspension firm in the area.). My experience with Brit cars and wire wheels was that a new spline on a new wheel mated to and old spline shaft hub would result in the new wheel spline wearing down very quickly on the old, worn splined shaft. I hope that won't be the case with my "partially" rebuilt steering gear box.

I am old and have much less arm / shoulder strength than in younger days. Maybe I don't remember the steering on my dad's 51 F1 that I learned to drive in about 1959. I don't recall it steering so hard and it couldn't have been in top shape as it had 185k miles when I learned to drive on it.

Bottom line is that I did not know that a steering gear from a larger truck could work and might make steering a bit easier. I will be watching this thread with interest.
Do you have radials or bias ply? You should try bias ply. I had radials on my 54 from 1999 to about two years ago. I can now with bias plies back up my truck and turn with one arm while looking out the back window. New bias plies are better than we remember bias plies from the old days.
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Old 01-14-2017, 06:27 PM
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I'm sure everyone had their reasons, but just out of curiousity, why not add power steering and make the truck more easy to drive? Wouldn't it be more fun overall?
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Old 01-15-2017, 03:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfracing View Post
I'm sure everyone had their reasons, but just out of curiousity, why not add power steering and make the truck more easy to drive? Wouldn't it be more fun overall?

In my honest opinion the 'really' old school guys didn't know what a good steering truck was they just learned how to deal with it. lol. The old trucks I learned to drive in took the whole road to go straight. The main reason I installed power steering in my 49.
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Old 01-16-2017, 03:21 PM
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Some good ideas to consider

Some good ideas have been presented on the hard-to-steer issues. I did not consider "modern" bias ply tires. The nearly universal recomendation has been to go with radial tires. I do suppose that the stiff sidewall of a bias ply tire would eliminate the flex of the radial sidewall on turning the wheels while parked. Didn't realize that there had been R&D or significant improvements in bias ply tires. -

Might consider going with power steering and will have to investigate options for that. I am not much of a "wrench slinger." I have changed water pump, fuel pump, radiator, starter, etc. - basic stuff. In the past, with MGs and Triumphs I have owned, I have pulled engines and transmissions and have done extensive overhauls. BUT . . . When it comes to suspension (beyond shocks) and other systems that impact vehicle control on the road, I don't trust my wrench skills. I would want experienced mechanics to do the things related to driving safety. - It's important to know your limitations.

I accept that having others do modifications would be expensive, but finding shops that will do modifications (changing to power steering) is also difficult. I live in a small community that is about forty miles from a sizeable town. Apart from tires and exhaust, it has been somewhat difficult to find shops that will do any work on an antique vehicle.

All that being said, I know that some '56 F100 trucks had factory power steering. (I believe there is one, a long bed, in this community that has stock power steering.) Are there commercially available kits from any of the parts suppliers for power steering conversions for our old trucks?

Last edited by brit_wheels_fan; 01-16-2017 at 03:28 PM. Reason: Corrections
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Old 01-16-2017, 08:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfracing View Post
I'm sure everyone had their reasons, but just out of curiousity, why not add power steering and make the truck more easy to drive? Wouldn't it be more fun overall?


I 2nd this motion. I have the hydraulic "Power Ram" steering assist cylinder kit on mine and it works with the stock steering box and works great. Now I bought the truck that way, and mine looks a little on the home made side. But, you could steer it with the palm of your hand. Mid-Fifty sells a kit based on this. They are about $900, and you'll need to provide a power steering pump. On mine they used the old style Ford-Thompson pump, and it mounted well on a 68 Ford 302. Of course your engine would dictate the power steering pump style and mount.
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Old 01-18-2017, 09:24 AM
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Thank's for all the input. All wear parts are new except the steering box. I had bias ply tires, new from Coker, and the truck was hard to control going over pot holes, RR tracks, etc. The radials have been a much better ride, more control and about the same steering effort. Slightly overinflated helps a little.

Adding power steering is a lot more expensive than replacing the stock box but it's looking like that's the direction I'm gonna go. This isn't something I'm doing in the next few months due to several other projects: sailboat needs deck painted and hardware reinstalled plus a Norton Commando with a few oil leaks. So, I'll keep lurking on FTE for ideas.

Thanks again.
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Old 01-18-2017, 01:07 PM
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Thank's for all the input. All wear parts are new except the steering box. I had bias ply tires, new from Coker, and the truck was hard to control going over pot holes, RR tracks, etc. The radials have been a much better ride, more control and about the same steering effort. Slightly overinflated helps a little.

Adding power steering is a lot more expensive than replacing the stock box but it's looking like that's the direction I'm gonna go. This isn't something I'm doing in the next few months due to several other projects: sailboat needs deck painted and hardware reinstalled plus a Norton Commando with a few oil leaks. So, I'll keep lurking on FTE for ideas.

Thanks again.
Maybe a dumb question. But are you still using the stock 18 inch steering wheel? I know of folks who converted to a smaller steering wheel and lost the mechanical advantage (leverage if you will) of the larger wheel making it steer harder. A buddy of mine did this on his 55, and I love to follow him and watch how much he leans cranking on his steering wheel when he corners.
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