DIY Steering Shaft for 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

 DIY Steering Shaft for 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

Halloween has come and gone. Now all of the stores and malls are loaded up for Christmas. Yikes!!! The rains haven’t let up for the past month, not to mention the effects of hurricane Sandy, even here in Southwestern Ontario. With all of the rain, it has been difficult to pick up the leaves in our yard. Fortunately, today wasn’t too bad, and I did manage to get out with the tractor to suck up the leaves for a few hours this afternoon. Tomorrow, the Corvette will be moved to storage for the winter. Now, I will have a bit extra room in the shop to work on the 1929 Ford roadster hot rod.
A while back, I was faced with the challenge to fabricate a steering shaft and adapting several salvaged steering universal joints (u-joints) for the hot rod. At the time, I did not have a milling machine or metal lathe so I needed to come up with an alternate method of fabricating a double D shape (DD) on a piece of ¾ inch (0.75”) shaft.

Many of you might remember MacGyver, the adventures of a secret agent armed with the almost infinite scientific resourcefulness in a weekly TV show from 1985 to 1992. Since can’t is not in my vocabulary, and not wanting to be beat out by not having a milling machine, I thought of an interesting solution. You might call it a MacGyver solution. I thought of another way to fabricate the double D (DD) shape on the ends of the steering shaft and adapting steering universal joints from salvaged cars.

I came up with the idea of using my old radial arm saw with a grinding wheel attached to the arbor instead of a saw blade. I have used a similar method to sharper my 16 inch wood planer blades. Using a couple of 6 inch drill press vises mounted to a small rectangular piece of plywood, I clamped the ¾ inch (0.75”) steel shaft very securely. This piece of plywood with the vises and shaft was then screwed to the radial arm saw table. The shaft was mounted such that the outside edge of the grinding wheel was even with the inner most part of the double D (DD) shape. Then light passes over the shaft were made, changing the angle of the radial arm slightly to continue grinding to the end of the shaft. This continued till the desired depth was achieved. At that point, the shaft was rotated 180 degrees and the entire process started again. This method of machining the double D (DD) shape worked out very well and the shaft fit perfectly into the steering shaft universal joint (u-joint) end. Both sides of the steering shaft were ground on the radial arm saw using this described method.

1929 Ford roadster steering shaft - picture 1

1929 Ford roadster steering shaft - picture 2

The next part of this story is how I came up with the proper steering shaft universal joint ends. In the process of collecting parts for the build of the 1929 Ford roadster hot rod, I acquired from a friend, a section of a steering shaft complete with universal joints (u-joints), and a rag joint he had removed from a car and no longer wanted. Another friend was scraping a car in the in the parking lot of the apartment building next door to me. I took the opportunity to salvage a few pieces that I could use for the build of my hot rod. One of the items I removed was another section of steering shaft with a universal joint (u-joint) and rag joint. Not realizing it at the time, it was a good thing I did. Having the two steering shafts with universal joints, I was able to come up with the right combination of ends on the universal joints that would work on the 1929 Ford roadster hot rod. Taking these universal joints apart is no different that working on a driveshaft for any car. The only thing is that everything is much smaller. In no time at all, I had the correct ends on the universal joints that would attach to the steering column shaft, the ¾ inch (0.75”) steel steering shaft I fabricated, and to the Corvette steering rack. The universal joint ends were bolted to the steel shaft and will be welded later on once I am sure of the fit on the hot rod. The shaft is very close to the motor mount, and I just might modify this to a two part shaft with another universal joint and rod end for extra support. If I do decide to go this route, I still have enough pieces left over from the parts I salvaged, to do this. I only thing I would need to buy is a rod end to support the steering shaft. This time I have a metal lathe and a milling machine to make the modifications. Everything gets so much easier with the right tools.

1929 Ford roadster steering shaft - picture 3

1929 Ford roadster steering shaft - picture 4

What did this cost me? Nothing at all, only a bit of my time on a Saturday afternoon. As it would happen, Street Rodder magazine has a good tech article in their January 2013 issue (pages 110 to 114). The article explains how to connect a steering column for a 1951 Chev to a Chassis Engineering steering rack using parts obtained from Borgeson Universal Company. If I didn’t come up with a MacGyver solution to create a steering shaft, I would have needed to do something very similar, as described in the Street Rodder magazine tech article for my hot rod.

1929 Ford roadster steering shaft - picture 5

Several years ago when I started the build of the hot rod, I only took pictures for my own reference. I never dreamed of creating a WEB site documenting the build of the 1929 Ford roadster hot rod. My first pictures were taken with a 35mm film camera. Then I progressed to digital cameras including lots of video clips. The pictures for today’s post were taken with an early and very simple digital camera long before the creation of this web site. This is why I do not have more pictures, especially ones of the u-joints and how I adapted them for this application.

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One Response to “DIY Steering Shaft for 1929 Ford Model A Roadster”

  1. R J ARNOLD says:

    THANKS FOR YOUR SITE!!!

    you are ahead of me with your build I have had my A parts since high school have owned Corvettes so that is the only way to go…

    Can’t wait to have your plans available

    My middle name is McGiver so your ideas will be much aperciated as a reference..

    RJ

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