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Author Topic: Power Steering for a 1950 Cad  (Read 322 times)

Offline John Washburn CLC 1067

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Power Steering for a 1950 Cad
« on: November 21, 2017, 06:00:53 PM »
Folks,

Cad eventually made a kit to upgrade the 1949 up model Cadillac with power steering, but finding one is not likely.

Years ago a vendor made a kit to add power steering to these early Cad's but has long since gone to vendor heaven.

Now one can add power steering to a 1950 if they can find a complete unit, including the steering gear and column from a 1952 or 1953 Cadillac (I think this is true). But that is somewhat expensive.

We have a member in Colorado who is older than I who would like to convert his 1950 Cadillac so it has power steering. Anyone got any suggestions? I have the power steering pump and brackets but not the steering gear and column. Not sure if that is all I need to convert it (of course will need the hoses).

Would like to help the member but don't want to spend my life looking for parts for this job.

The Johnny
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 06:03:23 PM by John Washburn CLC 1067 »
John Washburn
CLC #1067
1937 LaSalle Coupe
1938 6519F Series Imperial Sedan
1949 62 Series 4 Door
1953 Coupe DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille
1992 Eldorado Touring Coupe America Cup Series

Re: Power Steering for a 1950 Cad
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2017, 08:51:32 AM »
Try different tires first.  The radials-that-look-like-bias-ply tires have a very skinny tread patch and are able to withstand rather high inflation pressures.  If you put those on a 1950 and pump them up to 36psi, the car will steer like it has a mild power assist.  Sort of halfway between manual steering and power steering.  I did that on a 1950 sedan and it was great.  Diamondback and Coker both sell these.  Great product.

Here are pictures of the first generation of these tires, installed on a 1950 several years ago.
Art Gardner


1955 S60 Fleetwood sedan

Offline Bob Schuman

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      CLC Member #254
  • Name: Robert Schuman
Re: Power Steering for a 1950 Cad
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2017, 09:30:02 AM »
Johnny,

Two comments:
1. I agree with Art Gardner. My 49 came to me from Jack Hoffman with the authentic 820-15 bias ply tires and was very hard to steer. I quickly replaced those with the Diamondback 700R-15 tires and above 2 mph the car steers almost like power steering. I run 50 psi in the front and 45 psi in the rear, and the car does not ride hard. At lower pressures the car felt mushy. These are the same tires as those I drove 35000 miles in my 41 Cadillac at those pressures, and I recommend them.

2. My 51 Cadillac 6137 had a GM power steering system installed early in its life, which works very well. The steering column looks to me as if it is original, as is most of this car. It has the 51 Hydramatic NDLR shift quadrant. Starting in 1952, when Cadillac first offered power steering, the shift quadrant was different because of the dual range Hydramatic that had two positions for Drive. That makes me believe the column does not have to be changed to adapt a 52, or possibly 53-55 power steering gear. Beyond that, I cannot provide any details of this conversion.

The 49 is so little stiffer steering than my 51 that I suggest going to the 700R-15 radial tires as a first step, which may be adequate.

Bob Schuman
Bob Schuman, CLC#254
1949 6237X
1951 6137
2017 CT6-unsatisfactory (repurchased by GM)
1948 Olds 98 Custom

Offline J. Skelly

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      CLC Member #15958
  • Name: Jim Skelly
Re: Power Steering for a 1950 Cad
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2017, 12:03:24 PM »
I wonder if there is a Service Bulletin that describes all parts necessary to complete the conversion.
Jim Skelly, CLC #15958
1968 Eldorado
1977 Eldorado Biarritz
1971 Eldorado (RIP)

Offline Jay Friedman

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      CLC Member #3210
Re: Power Steering for a 1950 Cad
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2017, 12:16:48 PM »
To comment on what Bob wrote, I once took apart a complete '53 steering column that had been removed from the car.  Among other things the shifting mechanism was stiff and needed lubrication.  The gear shifting mechanism could be separated from the steering components, as per the instructions I followed in a '53 shop manual.  So it seems to me that there should be no reason why a 51 NDLR shift quadrant and the other gear shift components couldn't be hooked up to a '52 or '53 steering column.

However, if I remember correctly the outer part of the 1950 steering column is a bit different from the way a '51 to '53 steering column meets the dash and is configured a bit differently.  So, Johnny, you may want to check this out.
1949 Cadillac 6107 Club Coupe
1932 Ford V8 Phaeton (restored, not a rod).  Sold
Decatur, Georgia
CLC # 3210
"If it won't work, get a bigger hammer."

Offline John Washburn CLC 1067

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Re: Power Steering for a 1950 Cad
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2017, 07:22:52 PM »
Folks,

Thanks for all the suggestions. Will focus on tires first.

The Johnny
John Washburn
CLC #1067
1937 LaSalle Coupe
1938 6519F Series Imperial Sedan
1949 62 Series 4 Door
1953 Coupe DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille
1992 Eldorado Touring Coupe America Cup Series