Vintage Mopar Steering Gears
The Source May Surprise You
John Gunnell - April 04, 2014 12:09 PM
Tim Mitchell is the steering box guru at Midwest Remanufacturing LLC.John Gunnell
You can see the wear on this Mopar steering box roller.John Gunnell
There is also obvious wear on this Mopar worm gear.John Gunnell
The worm gear in Tim’s hand comes from India and will be used to replace the damaged one after it is removed from the shaft.John Gunnell
After the housing is machined, the new roller can be positioned and pinned inside of it Then the housing will be welded up to look like new again.John Gunnell
Tim Mitchell has quite a collection of vintage car and truck steering boxes.John Gunnell
Sometimes the old car parts business can get a little confusing. For instance, when the ’48 Chrysler Saratoga coupe that we’re taking apart turned out to have a leaky steering box, we found what we needed at a Buick-Pontiac-Olds-Cadillac swap meet.
For the record, Midwest Remanufacturing rebuilds steering boxes, pumps, brake boosters and electric motors. We took the Chrysler’s manually operated unit to the Midwest’s industrial strength factory in Bedford Park, Illinois.
Tim Mitchell is the guy in charge of steering boxes. Mitchell grew up in a family business called Acme Auto Remanufacturing and is kind of a steering box collector. He has hundreds of them. Mitchell’s dad, Denis Mitchell, put him to work in his shop when Tim was in the fifth grade.
Tim Mitchell took one look at our 1948 Chrysler steering box and knew right away it was of the Gemmer worm and roller type used on all Chryslers made between 1940 and 1956. This design was also used on Dodge, De Soto and Plymouth passenger cars with manual steering.
Mitchell thought the 1948 Chrysler steering box looked pretty good, but it’s common to find wear on the spur gears and other parts in leaky units. Mitchell showed us the worn parts from a similar Mopar steering box. We could see small indentations in the roller and they had caused damage to the worm gear as well, likely caused by dirt or loss of lubricant.
He wouldn’t know for sure if the 1948 Chrysler needed a new roller or new worm gear until he completely disassembled the steering box. That’s when we asked him, “How are you going to find steering box parts for a ‘48 Chrysler?” We were surprised when he answered our question.
“Not that many years ago, you would have raised a genuine concern with that type of question,” he said. “Today, the Mopar steering gears are readily available in reproduction form from a supplier located in India.” Mitchell assured us that he has found them to be top quality parts. “We have not run into any problems with them, even the ones we use in the steering boxes of heavy-duty Dodge trucks.”
The accompanying photos illustrate the damaged parts Tim showed us and picture the reproduction parts that Midwest Remanufacturing uses for repairs.