One of the aspects of a 1932 vehicle that needs to be improved for safety is the steering mechanism. The old steering boxes and the linkages that carry the movement of the steering wheel down to the wheels on the ground suffered from years of wear. The design wasn't great to begin with. Many improvements in steering have been made over the last 70+ years. So Deron Shady and I started researching the issue.
One of the common improvements that hot rodders make is to substitute a more modern steering box (the little box of gears that converts the steering wheel's movement to the movement of a steering lever) for the original. A very popular substitution is the steering box out of a mid-1950's Ford F-100 pickup truck. In early October, 2009, a fellow was in Deron's shop who mentioned that he was dismantling a 1956 F-100 and had a few parts available. We acquired the steering box and Pitman Arm. We will have to rebuild it, but it will fit nicely on the roadster's frame rail.
So Much for Simple Solutions...
On November 25, 2009, Deron Shady mocked up the steering arrangement using the F-100 steering box. We centered the steering column beteen the clutch and brake pedals, aligned the column fore-and-aft and oops! The sector shaft that should extend through the frame rail far enough to mount the Pitman arm on it falls far short. The problem is caused by the difference in size between the original Plymouth steering box (on the left in the following picture) and the F-100 box. Here they are side-by-side:
We've done what all aspiring hot rodders do in a situation like this - posted a question on the Jalopy Journal Web site on the Hokey Ass Message Board (H.A.M.B.). We'll receive more possible solutions than anyone could ever digest.
1-17-10 We got lots of suggestions. The final aswer is that we need to use a different steering box, one out of an earlier Ford pickup truck. We need to try the F-1 steering box rather than the F-100. This box was used fom 1940 through 1948.
I started searching the Internet. I thought I had found one on the H.A.M.B., but the seller lost interest. Then, in early January, I found one on Craig's List in Camarillo, California. I contacted the seller and he had no issues shipping the whole steering assembly across the country.
The difference between the two steering boxes is that on the F-100 box, the steering shaft (the shaft that the steering wheel mounts on) goes into the top of the box. On the F-1 steering box, the steering shaft goes into the bottom of the box, engaging the bottom side of the sector shaft. This is a big deal when you're trying to squeeze everything in between the frame rails - headers, starter, steering assembly, clutch and brake pedals, etc. We'll also be using a couple of universal joints to connect the steering shaft to the steering box to make even more space available. When pictures are available, I'll be posting them.