There’s slack in my steering

February 1, 2012 | By Richard Prince


I have been doing mechanical work for about 70 of my 80+ years and I’ve subscribed to Auto Restorer for umpteen years. You have fabulous information for about a dozen of my antiques.

The series on Model A Fords was excellent. I applied the advice you provided and my 1928 Model A went from the necessity of dragging a foot to help the brakes stop the car to almost snapping necks when jamming on the brakes. The carburetor information was excellent as well. She does start in the fractions of seconds whether it’s hot or cold.

However, I have steering problems with my car. It has the seven-tooth sector. I have put in modern roller bearings, which fit snugly on the worm gear shaft. I had to shim about .05-inches so that it doesn’t bind. I used a new worm gear and a new cross shaft that does not come machined to fit. I spent about two days with a Dremel grinder and got the teeth as close as I could come. (They are pretty darn close!) There is no slack in the various knuckles. When the car is jacked up I see that the slack is in the sector. It drives nicely but there are about 5-inches of catch-up between left and right.

In the old days I have heard of filling the sector box with fine sawdust to help take up play but I would like to do something a little better.


Two different steering boxes were used for Model A Fords. The earlier one, installed in 1928-29, uses a 7-tooth sector shaft while the later one, installed in 1930-31 (and possibly late 1929) uses a 2-tooth sector.

You don’t mention anything about adjusting the steering box after you put it back together. The later, 2-tooth sector boxes have more provisions for adjustment, but even with the earlier, 7-tooth sector box you can adjust the end play to take out as much of the slop as possible. If adjusting the sector shaft end play as concisely as possible doesn’t help the problem then the solution normally is to replace the worm gear and sector.

You state that you’ve already replaced the worm and sector but you also say that you “machined” the shaft with a Dremel grinder and this worries me. You may have to buy another shaft and if it needs machining have a professional machinist take care of it.