Studebaker Steering Bellcrank: Center Pin Rebuilding
***note: this is for pre-'63 type center pins, using needle bearings and not bushings.
(2) Torrington #B-1612 Needle Bearings
(1) Torrington #B-1612-OH (Oil Hole) Bearing
(1) Cork Seal or Rubber o-ring of correct size- (use bearing/housing to measure)
These are the parts needed to rebuild the steering bellcrank- provided your center pin shaft is in good condition.
Remove the center pin assembly from the car. This can be done by removing the steering bellcrank pinch-bolt (completely), and (4) Center-Pin mounting bolts, remove the "hidden" grease fitting from the rear of the crossmember.. It may take some prying to slide the center pin assembly out of the bellcrank. Remove the assembly out through the crossmember.
2. Once removed from the car, you can disassemble the center pin assembly. DO NOT place the center pin shaft in a vice WITHOUT using a bolt to keep it from spinning as you remove the large retaining nut- you may damage the machined shaft, making it difficult to reinstall. Remove the cotter pin, and use a large socket and breaker bar to remove the retaining nut. It can be quite tight.
3. Shown below are some "typical" used center pins. (L-R) a "useable" pin with average wear, an unuseable pin with rust damage and severe bearing wear, and a well-maintained (greased) or recently replaced pin.
4. After cleaning up the pin and housing, It will be necessary to knock out the old bearings. This can best be done using the vice, and a large flat screwdriver or punch. Try not to damage ONE of the bearings- so that you may use it to create a bearing installation tool. After removal, take one of the used bearings and remove the needles. Then cut a "slot" in the bearing- using a cut-off wheel or something similar. This "slot" aids in removing the tool from the center pin bore- after pressing in the new bearings.
5. This is where I "modify" the assembly procedure. I rebuild my pins using (3) bearings instead of Studebaker's (2). I feel that this helps to relieve pressure on each bearing- spreading it over the (3) bearings. The "middle" portion of a used shaft- generally has no wear- so a "borderline" pin may be salvaged using (3) bearings. The first bearing to press in is the (center) 1612-OH bearing (oil-hole). The oil-hole in this bearing MUST be aligned with the grease fitting in the housing- so that grease may pass through it to the other bearings. If not installed properly- you will NOT be able to grease the pin.
Pressing in the oil-hole bearing:use the press-tool to recess the bearing deep enough- to align the hole with the grease fitting.
6. Install the upper and lower bearings. RECESS the lower bearing the THICKNESS -of the o-ring or cork seal- below the machined surface. This allows the installation of the 0-ring, or cork seal. If you don't recess the bearing to provide room for the seal, the seal will be damaged whenever the car is driven.
Recessed bearings: O-ring installed
7. Pre-Fill the bearings with grease using your finger, or something similar. Lightly grease the center pin shaft. Push the shaft through the housing. Install the O-Ring or cork seal on the center-pin shaft. Install the center-pin SHIMS then the retaining washer. TEMPORARILY install the castle nut, and tighten to the proper torque(remember to use a bolt in the shaft's recess-to prevent damaging the shaft). Test to see if the shaft turns easily. Also check for any movement of the shaft- up and down. If the shaft is too tight, you will need to ADD shims. If the shaft is too loose- or has any "endplay" up and down, you will need to remove shims. I purchase "extra-long" replacement grease fittings. This allows the fitting to stick further out of the crossmember- for easier access and installation. Bench-grease the center-pin assembly- to be sure you can adequately grease the bearings. It will be rather slow- as you have to push the grease through the center bearing before it gets to the outer bearings.
8. Remove the grease fitting. Reinstall the housing into the crossmember. Install the mounting bolts- but do NOT fully tighten- the play allowed- will aid in aligning the bellcrank and pinch-bolt. Install the bellcrank. Align and install the pinchbolt- by using a wrench on the castle-nut to align the slot in the shaft. Tighten the mounting bolts, pinchbolt,and install the cotter pin through the castle-nut. Install the grease fitting. Regrease as necessary.