Author Topic: rebuild steering gearbox for 1939 LaSalle  (Read 501 times)

Offline Robert Yapp

  • Posts: 3
  • Name: R Yapp
rebuild steering gearbox for 1939 LaSalle
« on: March 06, 2021, 09:55:49 PM »
I am looking for a machinist who can rebuild my worn Saginaw steering gear. There is a lot of play in the steering wheel and the car is hard to steer. Mahalo for your help R Yapp Maui HI

Offline savemy67

  • Posts: 1364
  • Name: Christopher Winter
Re: rebuild steering gearbox for 1939 LaSalle
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2021, 11:49:58 AM »
Aloha Robert,

E komo mai to the forum.

Have you definitely established the fact that the problem is with the steering gear, and not elsewhere in the steering or suspension?  Did you check components with the front wheels off the ground?  Do you have a shop manual for your car?

It may be difficult to find a shop on Maui.  You might have better luck on Oahu, as there are more old-car people on Oahu.

Since the club has a strong contingent of LaSalle owners, I am sure someone else will post soon with some recommendations.

Respectfully submitted,

Christopher Winter

Christopher Winter
1967 Sedan DeVille hardtop

Offline 39LaSalleDriver

  • Posts: 475
  • Name: J. Isaacson
Re: rebuild steering gearbox for 1939 LaSalle
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2021, 09:18:26 PM »
When I was redoing my 39 LaSalle, I did some research in anticipation of what "might be". Turns out, I didn't have to rebuild my steering gear. However, I did find this company that supposedly is able to rebuild them:

I can't speak to their quality, reliability, or pricing but maybe someone else will chime in.

I seem to recall some other company advertised they could rebuild these, but I don't remember who it was and can't find it in my notes.

Also, depending on what you need done, I see Cadillac Parts Ltd. has this available

Can't speak for those parts, but I can say I have ordered other items from them and been very pleased with their prices, quality of products, and service.

As Christopher noted, it would be well worth your time to establish that the steering gear is really the culprit. I initially thought my steering was pretty sloppy, but wasn't sure because I had no experience with an early car on bias tires. As a result, I had no idea how good or bad it really was, but I knew something wasn't right. Not surprisingly, I did have to eventually rebuild my whole front end suspension and discovered that cured a lot of my ills. There's still a bit of play in my steering gear, but it's pretty minimal. I'd even go so far to say the bias tires seem to cause more issues on my car than the steering gear from my perspective. I would also recommend draining your steering gear by loosening the bolts on the plate and heating it up with a heat gun to get it flowing, and then let it drip out overnight. Then replace with a product call Penrite which is designed for steering gear lubrication in antique cars. It's pricey, but I swear by it.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2021, 09:30:38 PM by USNTar »
Jon Isaacson
(formerly USNTar)

1939 LaSalle 5019

Offline Joe G 12138

  • Posts: 207
  • CLC Number: 12138
  • Name: Joe Gibeault
Re: rebuild steering gearbox for 1939 LaSalle
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2021, 03:17:57 PM »
        From everything I have read / researched, not many people are around who will mess with prewar non-Ford steering gearboxes. As far as I can tell, most if not all subcontract them out to Lares in Minnesota. They have by default become the "Go To" guys in that business.
         My '37 LaSalle box is presently in their possession so I can't report on quality, or even final price. Their quoted price (795?) is for the basic seals / bearings / cleanup / painting  type of job with the disclaimer that scarce parts and / or machining will be additional cost. In all fairness, nobody can tell how bad things are until you're into the job.
         As far as time frame, expect a wait. In early December, they  guessed they were about 6-8 weeks behind in turnaround time. They received mine December 14. I called last week (Feb. 26?) to check on progress. I was told they were trying to finish up what came in in November. He remembered which unit was mine and where I was from, and politely apologized for delay due to being very busy and shorthanded. Seemed like a nice guy.
         I'm not getting my undies in a bunch yet; I've seen other delays lately due to Covid, High shipping volumes, bad weather issues, et al. Fortunately  I have the luxury of time (retired) and my own lift (as opposed to getting billed for tying up shop space elsewhere) so I'm rebuilding the entire steering system and running behind myself.    Joe Gibeault

Offline Robert Yapp

  • Posts: 3
  • Name: R Yapp
Re: rebuild steering gearbox for 1939 LaSalle
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2021, 05:48:20 PM »
Aloha Joe G 12138, Mahalo for your response, I am new to the forum and having difficulty negotiating this web site. I am deep into removing my steering gear box, but have been stymied by the problem of getting the steering gear rod out in one piece with the gearbox. Do you know if the cover shaft or tube around the rod has to come out with the rod, or if the bearing and circlip at the the upper end of the rod where the wheel connects can be freed thus removing the steering rod and and gear box while leaving the long 4ft. tube/shaft around it in place? Best regards, RobertYapp

Offline Joe G 12138

  • Posts: 207
  • CLC Number: 12138
  • Name: Joe Gibeault
Re: rebuild steering gearbox for 1939 LaSalle
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2021, 02:32:10 PM »
       On my '37 LaSalle, the way it's built is that the shaft from the gearbox extends all the way up to the steering wheel, thus the outer tube goes with the whole unit. The shipping crate to send it off was about 5 feet long. I'm unable to tell you if you're '39 is built the same way; as it's a different unit because of a column shift instead of a floor shift. Hopefully someone with a 1939 0r 1940 can answer you question accurately.
       By the way, I did get contacted by Lares. It turns out that the worm gear, which is part of that looooong shaft is shot. They will be able to deal with it, but my total cost will just about double. But in spite of the price, I authorized it because the odds of finding a used 84 year old wearing part that's any better is slim to nothing. And having a car that has poor or unreliable steering, braking, wiring, or other core issues takes the fun out of it.      Joe Gibeault

Offline robcars

  • Posts: 19
Re: rebuild steering gearbox for 1939 LaSalle
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2021, 03:05:58 PM »
I just rebuilt my 38 Cadillac gearbox. a few bushings, a welded couple of worn teeth and good as new. Not hard to do. Cost me about 50 in parts.

Online The Tassie Devil(le)

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 12409
  • CLC Number: 18992
  • Name: Bruce Reynolds
Re: rebuild steering gearbox for 1939 LaSalle
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2021, 02:50:01 AM »
G'day Robert,

You have an email from the Moderators that requires your attention.


Bruce. >:D
'72 Eldorado Convertible (LHD)
'70 Ranchero Squire (RHD)
'74 Chris Craft Gull Wing (SH)
'02 VX Series II Holden Commodore SS Sedan
(Past President Modified Chapter)

Past Cars of significance - to me
1935 Ford 3 Window Coupe
1936 Ford 5 Window Coupe
1937 Chevrolet Sports Coupe
1955 Chevrolet Convertible
1959 Ford Fairlane Ranch Wagon
1960 Cadillac CDV
1972 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe


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