Advice on parts & axle seals for my ’40s Chrysler & wheels that lock up on several vehicles

May 1, 2016 | By Staff


Where can I find a roller shaft to replace the one in the steering box in my 1942 Chrysler?

Also, when I installed the inner axle seals in the rear end I found a 1/8” hole that would bypass the seal if it were seated all the way into the housing. Does the seal go all the way into the housing? Does the seal cover the hole, or should I seat it? If seated, the seal will let the rear end hub bypass the seal, which would let the lubricant run out if parked sideways on a hill. Is the hole a vent for the outer seal and axle bearing? This is not addressed in the Chrysler manual.

In addition, the right rear wheel on the Chrysler will lock up the first time or two the brakes are applied, but they are fine for the rest of the drive. This happens after the car has been parked for a week or so. Could this be a contaminant that has come into contact with the lining? The same thing happens to the right front wheel of my 1970 F-100, and you need to have a good grip on the wheel the first time or two you apply the brakes. My 1943 Jeep pulls to the right after it is parked for a time too. I see no leaks and I have not had to add brake fluid to them.


There is a good source listed below for steering box parts for rebuilding as well as replacements. You will not be able to replace just the worm gear without replacing the sector gear too because they are machined as a matched set. The steering box in your 1942 Chrysler was used from the late 1930s until the early ’50s, so finding parts or a complete rebuilt one is not a problem.

As for the seal, it would have to be seated against the flange to work properly. I would surmise that the hole is just a vent to allow heat and pressure to escape when driving. Without it, the seals would not hold. Most of us assume that differentials, standard transmissions and rear axles are sealed completely, but they are not. Fact is, they have small vents on them that relieve the pressure so the seals and gaskets won’t leak under pressure.

In service, heat builds up in such components and causes the air inside to expand. As for fluid leaking out, neither the transmission nor rear end is anywhere near full of oil in service, so leaks of anything other than fumes are not likely as long as you keep the car right side up.

The only thing you might need to worry about is using too much grease on the wheel bearings. They need to be packed properly so the grease goes all the way into the interstices of the bearings, but stuffing hubs full of all the grease they can hold is not a good idea. As the grease heats up it can leak past the seals and run down onto the brake linings and ruin them.

As for wheels pulling to one side, I would remove each wheel and drum and inspect the linings. Dirt, grease and oil will all cause brakes to grab and work improperly. Also, when you park a car for weeks at a time, don’t leave it with the emergency brake set. Linings can actually stick to drums in that situation to the point where you have to shoot brake cleaner on them and then pound on the drums with a rubber mallet to get them loose.

Clutches will occasionally stick too, so it is a good idea to brace the clutch in a depressed position using two-by-fours against the seat and the pedal to keep the lining from sticking. You only need to do that if the car is going to be laid up longterm, but it is worth doing.

It is interesting that you have three vehicles with pulling brakes. Are your cars parked in a damp or dusty environment? Have you adjusted them carefully to make sure they are all actuating at the same time? Are the wheel bearings and seals intact all around? Any of the above can cause the problem.

To order a steering box or components try:

Andy Bernbaum Auto Parts, Inc. New and NOS parts for 1930-71 Mopars 93 Border St. West Newton, MA 02465 Main Office: Phone orders: