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Help! steering box 1980

Markali

Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
18
Location
Arizona/California
Corvette
1980 turbo L-82
I had my 1980 l82 stored for many years and when I recently took it back on the road the steering was very loose. I took it to a local shop that had a certified ? GM mechanic, he said it was too far gone to be adjusted and that I needed to replace the box, which I did, and that fixed it. My question is, with only 32k miles on the car, is it possible the box really did need replacing?
Thank you
 

Rex S

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 2, 2009
Messages
270
Location
Bastrop, Texas
Corvette
1974, 1990 ZR1, 1992 ZR1, 1996 CE Roadster
Me thinks you had a younger mechanic that is used to rack & pinion. With 32K actual miles it MAY be due for its first adjustment unless it has been run dry since new OR Mickey & Goofy worked on it back in history.
 

Markali

Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
18
Location
Arizona/California
Corvette
1980 turbo L-82
steering box

Thanks, that's what I was afraid of...ready for its first adjustment, not its first new box.
 

TimAT

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 8, 2007
Messages
708
Location
Gladstone Missouri
Corvette
1969 LS-7 BB
Your best bet would be to drop GTR1999 a note and ask him. He can give you the specs and tolerances. Don't just jump in there and crank on the adjustment- that can get very expensive very fast.
 

GTR1999

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 4, 2003
Messages
1,146
Location
New Haven CT
Corvette
1969,1972,1975
Hi Tim.

To answer this I would need some more information. First off you can't buy a new Saginaw box, they've been out of production for 20+ years. There are some "new" boxes on the market but the ones I've seen I wouldn't use on a lawn tractor.

I can bring any original box back to life and better then anyone's on the planet. The biggest concern are the gears. As mentioned if they were incorrectly adjusted they will certainly tighten up the lash but too much will wear them out. It's not as much mileage as it is condition and setting.
I've had boxes with under 40k miles that were adjusted and needed new gears and I've had boxes with over 100k miles and 40 years that had good gears. Once the gear condition is known then the rest of the internals are changed and the box is setup to blueprinted spec's. I use my own spec's & machine fit the parts.

A quick way to tell is to look at the lash screw in the cover. If there are 2-4 threads showing that is a good sign. If there are none then the gears are most likely done.

Did you get your old box back? I would ask to see who rebuilt it as well. I have repaired MANY boxes that were rebuilt before by both owners and vendors. I even kept some of the more unsual parts I found in them for paperweights.

Examples of what I found opening up rebuilt boxes:
1- no grease
2- upside down rack on the ball screw
3- Welded teeth
4- Welded rag to input
5- Too much grease
6 - Painted only, no internal parts replaced( very common)
7- preload and lash not set correctly,many times worse then a 100k mile orginal box.
A std rebuild box without new gears should be in the $200 range. With new Gears add $250. A custom box figure about $100 more. Many times people get the box replaced but have no idea what it is or what was done. This has lead to the thought these boxes are no good and never were. That the aftermarket boxes and racks are better and that simply is not true. I'll take a blueprinted box with good rag & suspension parts over any aftermarket setup. They fit, look better,hold the value of the car and cost 1/2 the price.

Good luck.:w
 

Markali

Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
18
Location
Arizona/California
Corvette
1980 turbo L-82
steering box

Thanks, Gary, As has happened before, I learn quickly, but too late. Since the car was so wiggly, and I needed to drive it out of storage and to Arizona, I accepted the mechanic's verdict and replaced the box with a used one. He said he went through a few before he found a good one, but who knows? At any rate, I know now what to do when this one begins to fail.
Thank you again,
Mark
 

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