Leaking Steering Box

It is not at all uncommon to have a leaking steering box. When I rebuilt my steering box some years ago I filled it with Penrite Gearbox oil – the recommended oil at the time. It is very thick and has to be warmed up to get it to go into the steering box.

My guess is that the rubber seal on the steering shaft needs to be replaced. That is a fairly big job. Others have mentioned that the use of Corn Head Grease, a John Deere product, will greatly reduce, if not eliminate leaks. I decide to give it a try.

One can ever so slightly loosen the four screws on the front of the box (no more than 1/8″) to let the old oil drain out. I am betting that most of mine has already drained out so I decided to just fill the box with the Corn Head grease and see what result I obtained.

I used a very small, needle-type, fitting on my grease gun and pumped away until the box was full. I then turned the steering wheel back and forth a number of times – easier if you get the front end off the ground first – to “settle” the grease. I then pumped some additional grease into the box and wrapped up by re-securing the filler bolt to the box.

The image below shows the rebuilt box when I trial-mounted it in the car when it was in primer. A white foam seal can be seen. This seal is there to keep dust/dirt out of the mechanism. It does not actually help to seal the box. I removed to old seal as it was saturated with oil.

Steering Box Installed

I ordered some new seals from Moss Motors. However, I was not about to pull the steering arm just to replace the dust seal, so I made a razor cut in the seal, placed it around the shaft and then used Super Glue to rejoin the edges of the seal. Worked like a charm.

After about a week since I put the Corn Head Grease into the box, it seems to be leak free. We will see how it holds up. If this doesn’t work I will need to remove the steering arm and replace the seal on the steering shaft.

Chapter 56 Restoration Assembly, Week Twenty-Six 6/11/2007

Other than installing the finished motor and the body components I am now down to just a few bits here and there. I am starting to get excited about the finished product after so many months (years actually!) of hard work.

At the factory the two rubber buffers that mount to each of the wheel arch assemblies  were fastened to the assembly before painting the tub, but I installed them after painting to make sure that all surface areas were covered well with paint. Copper split rivets and washers are used to fix each buffer to the wheel arch.

Rubber Buffers

Rubber Buffers 2

The front wing support brackets were added next. I carefully attached them in the same positions they were in for panel fitting.

Front Wing Support Bracket LH

Front Wing Support Bracket RH

The bonnet support plates were added next. These were not fastened tightly so that they might be adjusted easily after the front shroud was installed

LH Bonnet Opening Support Plate

RH Bonnet Opening Support Plate

To avoid losing radiator coolant I decided to add a coolant overflow reservoir tank to the Bloody Beast. I fabricated a bracket to mount it to the superstructure and ran a clear hose parallel to the wiring harness that runs down the RH firewall brace.

Radiator overflow tank

Radiator overflow hose routing

I purchased a stainless steel braided hose for the clutch slave cylinder from Moss Motors. I attached it to the new Lucas slave cylinder and then inserted it into the retainer clip on the frame to screw it into the clutch pipe running up the RH footbox. Doug Reid aka Mr. “Finespanner,” fabricated a short bleeder pipe for me that will mount on the bell housing making it much easier to bleed the clutch in the future.

SS Slave cylinder hose

Slave cylinder

The fresh air hose installation was made easier because of the “pre-fitting” done prior to the tub being painted. The LH hose quickly went into place and the clamps and bracket for the control cable were all tightened.

LH fresh Air Hose

LH Fresh Air Hose

The modern heater (contrasted with the original Smith’s heater radiator box) that I am using from Cape International has it’s own blower fan, and therefore, the original heater blower can be used to circulate fresh air into the passenger side of the cabin. I installed an air intake assembly upside down and close to the front end of the LH hose so the the control cable from the cockpit heater panel could be used to open and close the air inlet valve assembly. It all works like a charm. Perhaps now my victims, I mean passengers, won’t roast while on long sojourns in the summer.

RH Fresh Air Hose to Blower

The bonnet catch lever and its connecting rod were then secured to the frame bracket with stainless split pins. Then the anti-rattle spring hardware was attached to the bonnet remote control rod.

Bonnet Catch Lever & Connecting Rod

Although the original equipping of the Healey did not provide for any type of screen for the front of the RH fresh air hose (other than the one in the heater blower), I purchased some plastic flexible screen and attached it to the hose with a clamp. This will hopefully keep bugs and small children out of the cooling system. Time will tell how this works.

Screen for RH fresh air Hose

Adding fluids and lubrication was next on my list. Many on the email list had suggested using a HELP product #42072to replace the original rubber gasket in the brake reservoir cap to avoid brake fluid “spray” getting to the paint. I purchased and installed the gasket and it does fit perfectly and provides a nice tight seal to the canister.

HELP # 42072 diaphragm gasket

I then proceeded to purge the air from the brake and clutch lines by bleeding the system. It is not that this job is hard, but I hate it! Brake fluid is messy stuff and paint does not like it.

Bruce at Healey Surgeons had added steering lube to the idler when he rebuilt it, but now was time to add the lube for the steering box. I used Penrite Steering Box Lube. It is thick stuff. I set the plastic container in a pot of boiling water for a while to heat it up and therefore “thin” it. The container comes with a very handy applicator tube that fit right in the steering box hole. I filled it up and then tightened the fill nut. No leaks the next morning!

Penrite Steering Box Lube

I found out the hard way that filling the rear axle with gear lube would have been easier prior to installing the rear seats, but with the aid of a clear plastic tube I was able to get 3.6 pints of Valvoline 90 weight gear lube into the rear differential.

Chapter 40 Restoration Assembly, Week Seven 1/29/2007

Work on the Bloody Beast was restricted to the weekend. Attention was given to the steering components of the car.

The steering idler and the steering box, along with the aluminum spacers were installed and penrite oil was used to fill the idler. The steering box will be filled later. The tie rods and the cross rod were also installed to the steering levers and the cross rod was adjusted to bring the front wheels into eye-ball (not measured) alignment. 

Steering Idler 1

Steering Box 3

Steering Assembly

The rubber ball joint dust covers that came with the new tie rods were cracking even before they were on the car. Others suggested that Hyundai rubber ball joint dust covers, part # 56828-21010 would fit and were of higher quality so I gave them a try. Korean parts on a sixties british car – go figure.

Tie Rod Dust Seals 2

The steering bracket and steering column support clamp were affixed. The clamp was installed in the third hole from the top of the bracket as it was in the original assembly. All mounting bolts were left loose until the dash fascia is installed to determine proper alignment through the steering shaft hole in the dash.

Steering Bracket 2

The radiator brackets were installed and then attention was turned to completing more of the electrical work under the dash. To protect accessory electrical functions I am adding (modern heater, accessory power supply, sound system, interior lighting, etc.), I added a supplementary fuse block mounted on the air chamber behind the dash. It was available from Victoria British, Accessory Fuse Block.pdf Painless Performance Products, #70103 Cirkit Boss/3 Circuit. A wiring diagram is available on the .pdf link. I used the pink wire to the main fuse block on the firewall, the yellow wire for the 2 speed heater, the blue wire for the amplifier, and the purple wire for the accessory power supply (cigar lighter).

Accessory Fuse Panel

Chapter 16 – Cleaning and Trial Fitting

November 16, 2003

Front Suspension 

Control Arms and Bushings – Installed left and right lower control arms with rubber bushings and fulcrum pins.

Left control arm 3

Right Control Arm 2

left control arm 1

Left control arm 2

December 14, 2003


Steering Box and Idler – Picked up the painted steering box and steering idler from Jeremy Turner. Jack Harper disassembled the units and reassembled following painting. Jeremy did a great job on the steering wheel shaft as it was pitted near the box. Installed the Box and idler. Note for future – install box and idler before front brake hose bracket, as the bolts/nuts get in the way.

Steering Box Installed

Steering Box In Place – Fill Plug & Adjuster

Steering Idler in Place

Steering Idler Installed with Aluminum Spacer

Steering Column with Brace

January 10, 2004

Blistein Tube Shock Conversion 

Rear Tube Shock Conversion

Installed Udo Putzke’s Blistein tube shock conversion kit in the rear suspension. Two fabricated brackets on each side of the rear of the car. Original lever shock is abandoned completely in the process. Couldn’t complete the final connections because when the leaf springs were jacked up to align the shock for fastening, the entire car raised since the engine is not in the car, thereby giving it sufficient weight. Will have to complete later in the assembly process. Rear tube shock is F4-BE3-2577-HO. The brackets will need to be painted for final assembly. They should be installed prior to the fuel pump.

Tube shocks rear 4

Tube shocks rear 6

Tube shocks rear 2

Front Tube Shock Conversion

Installed Udo Putzke’s Blistein tube shock conversion kit in the front suspension. Two fabricated brackets on each side of the front of the car. Original lever shock is utilized in the process. To make sure the lever shocks would not leak fluid in the future, they were rebuilt by World Wide Imports in Madison, Wisc. The valves are removed from each damper. The standard bolts are used to secure the damper nearest the motor. Supplied long bolts and support rods are used for the outside two mounts. Front tube shock is F4-BE3-2576-HO. The brackets will need to be painted for final assembly. 

lever shock valving

front tube shock conversion 2

front tube shock conversion 1

Aluminum Radiator  – Installed a new aluminum radiator from Cape International. Christmas gift from Jude. It is a piece of art, almost hate to put it in the car! Fit was perfect, although mounting fittings were metric. Easy installation is to loosen lower brackets on frame, secure top two bolts first, then secure lower bolts to radiator. Finally, tighten lower brackets to frame. Pull unit to front of car when tightening to get maximum clearance for fan.

Aluminum Radiator 3

Aluminum Radiator 2

Aluminum Radiator 1

Aluminum Radiator 4

Chapter 12 – Disassembly

February 2, 2003

Front Suspension Components. 

Removed the steering arm by loosening two 11/16” nuts with tab washer connector flattened. Note that the steering arm angles toward the dustshield – not the motor.

Stub Axle Carrier, King Pin, Caliper, Dust Shield

Stub Axle Carrier, King pin, Dust Shield

Brake Caliper – Removed by first unscrewing the brake pipe union. Remove two nuts securing the brake hose support bracket. Remove bracket. Unscrew two caliper retaining bolts.

Removed two rubber bushings from the upper trunnion.

Swivel Pin – Removed split pin at the swivel pin nut and tap swivel pin out with hammer.

Loosen cotter on the swivel pin and retract. Loosen two large nuts (bushings) on “A” arms and remove. Pull out pin and remove “A” arms.

Grease Cup – Pulled out grease cup from hub – fabricated tool with long manifold nut and 5/16” x 3” bolt and the slide hammer.

Straighten and retract split pin on castle nut through the hole in the splines on the hub. Not easy to do!!

Remove castle nut. Brake rotor and hub then lift off of the dust shield and spindle.

From the swivel axle spindle removed the dust cover spring and upper and lower dust covers. Separated the rotor from the hub. 4 bolts  – 2 long ones hold the brake caliper and bracket. 2 short bolts hold the plate to the swivel axle.

Removed rubber “U” seal from around the dust shield opening for the swivel axle.

March 12, 2003

Steering Idler and Steering Box

The steering idler and steering box are next for cleanup. I will have these  rebuilt by someone who knows what they are doing. Probably Bruce Phillips at Healey Surgeons.

Steering Idler 2

Steering Idler Clean

Steering idler 3

Steering Box 6

Steering Box 5

Steering Box 7


The distributor was also in good shape and easy to clean. We may still switch to an electronic unit, but cleaned up the Lucas just in case.

Distributor 7

Distributor 8

Distributor 9

Distributor Clean

Boot Latch and Lock Assembly

The boot latch and lock assembly was in reasonable shape but the chrome will have to be replaced as it is cracked rather badly.

Boot Lock

Boot Handle & Lock

Master and Slave Cylinders

The clutch master and slave cylinder will both be replaced with new items.

Clutch Slave Cylinder

Clutch Master Cylinder with aluminum spacers

Master Cylinder Brake

Headlamp Dip Switch

 The switch didn’t look too good, but it worked fine and would clean up.

Dipper Switch

Dipper switch 4

Brake and Clutch Pedals 

Curiously, one of the previous owners of the car added spacers on the brake and clutch pedals to minimize reach. We won’t use the spacers.

Clutch Pedal 1

Clutch Pedal 2

Clutch Pedal 3

Brake Pedal 4

Brake Pedal 5

Windscreen Wiper Motor

The next item to tackle was the windscreen wiper motor. It was disassembled, cleaned, lubricated, and painted. I tested the motor and it seemed to work fine.

Wiper Motor 3

Wiper Motor 4

Wiper Motor 6

Wiper Motor 7


Chapter 9 – Disassembly

Steering Column Sealing Plate – Removed four sheet metal screws securing each of two sealing plates through which the steering column passes. Note the felt “gaskets” on the inside face of the plates.

Front Suspension and Steering  

The disassembly of the front suspension and steering assembly was a messy job. Lots of grease and grime built up over the years. I first jacked up the car. Disconnected the cross tube and side rods from the steering levers. The cross tube was 5/16” from the side to the nuts. Released cotter pins and took lever arms off. Used a fork and hammer to free the ball joints from the side rods at the inner and outer connections. Pulled the rods off.

Stub Axle Carrier, King Pin, Caliper, Dust Shield

Cross Tube, Ball Joint, Steering lever and Side Rod

RH Steering Lever

Stub Axle Carrier, King pin, Dust Shield

Cross Tube and Side rods

LH Steering Lever

Cross Tube Ball Joints –  were removed by repeating the same action as above. Unscrewed the mounting bolts from the steering box. This requires removing the 7/16” bolt that secures the left brake flexible fluid hose. 

Steering box – After removing the mounting bolts, the box and rod can be pulled out through the front of the car.

Steering Box in Place

Steering Box Oil Filler Cap

Steering Box Side View

Steering Box Mounting Position

Steering Idler –  Unscrewed three bolts to the mounting bracket and lifted the idler away.

Steering Idler

Steering Idler 2

Aluminum Spacer Block Mount

Aluminum Bracket Spacers – for steering box and steering idler were removed. They appeared to be interchangeable.

Removing Aluminum Spacer Block

Aluminum Spacer Block

Front Suspension Coil Springs – Removed two bolts and nuts at a diagonal. Nuts on top and bolt heads under bottom spring bracket plate. (this is opposite the picture in the manual so we need to check other cars before reinstalling) Inserted two threaded rods with nuts into those holes. Then removed the other two mounting bolts and nuts. Finally, gradually relieved pressure on the threaded rods until spring tension was removed. The left spring was broken on the bottom coil.

Coil Spring and “A” Arm with spring pan removed

Spring Pan

Anti-Sway Bar Bracket

Tub on Stands

Front Suspension Arms, Brake Rotors and etc.  It was difficult to remove the arm bushings. They required extensive “torching” for heat and hammering, but all eventually released. Then removed the fulcrum pin securing the shock absorber arms and the four bolts to the shock towers on the frame. One hole on the right tower had been stripped and broken. Each shock had the remains of rubber rebound buffers on the towers. Once the shock was removed this permitted the removal of the left and right king pins and assembled units.

Front Shock Perch

Bent “A” Arm Bracket


Radiator Brackets were removed from the frame. Two 1/2” bolts for each bracket. We will be replacing the original radiator with an aluminum unit from Cape International.

Radiator Lower Mount

Radiator Mount Bracket

Radiator Brackets Removed