Flathead Steering
Steering Gear Adjustments: 1937-48

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The worm and roller type gear was used from 1937 to 1948. Ford used the Gemmer model 305 in Fords from '37 to '40 and in Mercurys from '39 to '42. From 1941 to '48 (Ford) and from 1946 to '48 (Mercury) Ford used their own manufactured version which was similar to the Gemmer 305 gearset. Some minor differences in parts occurred over the years

Figure C

Worm and Roller Type Steering Gear

Worm Shaft End Play

Check by turning steering wheel one turn to right, secure wheel, shake front wheels (drag link must be disconnected). Check movement  of steering wheel hub on column jacket. If endplay is perceptible make adjustments.

The end play in the steering column shaft is controlled by shims and the body (Figure A). To take up worm shaft end play, loosen the 4 housing cover screws about 1/8" and remove top shim. The housing cover should not be removed completely because there is danger of the bearings falling out of place. The shims can be pulled out one at a time after the housing cover screws have been loosened enough to drop the cover 1/8". Tighten cover screws and check adjustment. The shaft should be free to turn with no perceptible drag yet have no end movement.

Cross Shaft End Play

Check by turning steering wheel to center position (turn wheel back 1/2 the total number of turns from either end-stop or place marked spoke straight up or straight down). Shake the steering wheel at ball end. If play or backlash exceeds1/32", adjust the cross shaft (roller shaft) position as follows:

To adjust cross shaft end play:

1) Turn the steering wheel to the center position of its travel (drag link disconnected).

2) Remove the lock nut and plate (Figure B) from the roller shaft adjusting screw and turn the roller shaft adjusting screw just enough to remove excess play from between the roller teeth and worm. Check this by the amount of play felt at the pitman arm. It is better to leave a slight amount of play at this point than to tighten too much. 

3) Replace the plate and lock nut with the plate in the locked position against the roller shaft cover and tighten the lock nut.

4) Turn the steering wheel past the center position of its travel in both directions to see that the adjustment is not too tight. Wheel should turn freely without stiffness at any point.

5) Set the front wheels in the straight ahead position and the steering wheel in the center position of its travel. Adjust the drag link so that it is exactly the right length to connect the pitman arm and steering arm without changing the position of either the front wheels or the steering wheel

6) Connect the drag link to the pitman arm and steering arm



Read steering gearbox adjusting comments by Brian Falkner of New Zealand, an early V8 enthusiast with experience doing this job.    Click here for his notes.

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