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Steering box lube question

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  • Steering box lube question

    I've just joined the Forum and looking through it so that I do not appear too stupid! I just purchase a 1930 2-dr coupe and it does have a steering problem. Almost impossible to steer. Checked the lubricant by removing the filler nut and could see NO lubricant! What lubricant needs to be used in the steering box? I'm reasonably sure that it will also need adjusting or maybe parts replacement. It's a simple question about lubricant, but couldn't find it anywhere so far. Appreciate any answers and suggestions.

  • #2
    600W for lube and follow this


    • Mitch
      Mitch commented
      Editing a comment
      I copied this 1 post to the tech thread on boxes. Thanks

    • Tom F
      Tom F commented
      Editing a comment
      I am in a chapter that belongs to Penn-Ohio. There are a lot of good tech tips for the Model A Ford on our web site. Check them out when you get a chance.

  • #3
    Also be sure to jack up the front end and grease all the steering and suspension fittings. Even my little Original Cub Cadet starts to steer hard when the front axle pins need more grease. If it still turns hard after lubing the steering box and parts, then the steering may need to be rebuilt. It sure made a nice difference on my friend's 29 Tudor.


    • #4
      Kev there are no dumb questions here. Shoot away
      3~ Tudor's & 1~ Coupe
      Henry Ford said,
      "It's all nuts and bolts"
      "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

      Mitch's Auto Service ctr


      • Mitch
        Mitch commented
        Editing a comment
        And air the tires too..

      • Beauford
        Beauford commented
        Editing a comment

    • #5
      When doing adjustment #1 in Beauford’s link do not tighten the bolt to much or you’ll crack the bearing cage. Just a light snug is enough to remove the endplay.
      3~ Tudor's & 1~ Coupe
      Henry Ford said,
      "It's all nuts and bolts"
      "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

      Mitch's Auto Service ctr


      • Beauford
        Beauford commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes, just snug. I must say those directions after I was done it makes your steering perfect. Zero play and so easy!

    • #6
      The original oil was called 600W. That is not 600 weight. It is a heavy pressure steam oil designed for straight cut gears which is what is in the A. Of course the oils were changed over time and the curent oil if you wish to buy bulk is call 680W depending on brand. You can also contact the guy selling steam oil and get smaller quantities

      Re: Mobile 636 gear oil

      [Follow Ups] [Post Followup] [******** Model A Discussion Forum]

      Posted by Marco Tahtaras from ( on Saturday, August 09, 2008 at 9:38AM :

      In Reply to: Mobile 636 gear oil posted by Bob from ? ( on Friday, August 08, 2008 at 10:35PM :

      Mobilgear 636 (Which has been replaced with MOBILGEAR 600xp 680 11/27/2011)

      Energol GR-XP 680

      Castrol Alpha LS680

      Omala 680

      Meropa 680

      Here is some more info

      Re: 600W Thickness -- One (1) Answer

      Read Follow Ups Post Follow Up Model-A Ford Message Board FAQ
      Posted by H. L. Chauvin on Nov. 26, 2011 at 16:34:03

      In Reply to: Re: 600W Thickness, Transmission Gear Grinding
      posted by louis on Nov. 25, 2011 at 17:19:35

      Hi Louis,
      Your former question made sense when someone new to this Forum reads "all" of the many "different" former 600W discussions in the attached archives.

      It appears most "salespersons", (parts suppliers & oil compaies), offer the 1930's 600W substitute, but as Marco noted in the archives in the late 1990's, they are "not" all the same.

      Many articles appear on experiences of switching to thicker transmission oil; thus eliminating driver's not experiencing grinding of transmission gears.

      Gear oil thickness, (resistance to flow), is measured by several methods.

      Kinematic Viscosity per ASTM D445 is one standard method indicating the milimeters squared divided by time in seconds at 40 degrees C, or 104 degrees F, which is closest to trasmission gear oil viscosity after attaining operating temperature.

      For example, per ASTM 445, water has low viscosity, honey has high viscosity.

      The recommended BP Energol 680, Shell Omala 680, Mobile Extra Helca Super Cylider Oil 680, have ASTM 445 measured viscosities, (40 C), of a high 680; Texaco Mepora 680 indicates a thinner 646; however, Valvoline 85/140W drops down to 395, & Castrol 85/140W is thiner at 369.

      One of the "most" scientific test conducted on Ford's 1930 recommended 600W appears to be a gentleman who wrote that he had an old sealed can of
      Ford's recommended 600W.

      After trying many gear oil substitutes, his highly scientific lab test indicated that the 600W was extremely thick, almost like melted tar, & equal to the above mentioned 680 viscosities.

      His test, he dipped his finger in each & watched it flow!

      It appears if one uses recommended gear oil with a viscosity of 680, & gears continue to grind, begin looking somewhere else.

      Hope this helps 1930's future 600W research.


      • Mitch
        Mitch commented
        Editing a comment
        What Kevin posted here in layman's terms means

        600W is a part number and not the physical weight of the oil. The chart above shows other available options to obtain the correct lubricant

      • Mike V. Florida
        Mike V. Florida commented
        Editing a comment
        "The Mobil Cylinder Oil brand of lubricants represents the earliest lubricant product marketed by our Corporation's predecessor companies. 600W Cylinder Oil was produced by the Vacuum Oil Company in the second half of the 19th century and was a breakthrough product of its time. Continual upgrading and application of the latest base oil and additive technology has maintained this product series as a leader in its application areas. While steam cylinder applications are now less common, the reputation of Mobil Cylinder Oils in worm gear applications remains unmatched among mineral-based products."

    • #7
      Be sure the tires are rolling before trying to turn the wheel. A barely perceptible roll will make a huge difference


      • #8
        check tie rod and drag link ends to see if they aren't too tight,check king pins for lube and freedom and make sure the cars load is against the king pin bearing..a whole bunch of things can make them steer hard,do the box first but it pays to check everything from the steering wheel to the tires.


        • #9
          The "600 w" supplied by vendors is pretty much equivalent to 140 wt. gear oil. One can go Restoration Supply ( and see their products. We've had Lubriplate SPO 299 on hand for years (as an alternate to the Penrite lube) and is pretty thick stuff that can be used in many pre ww2 cars. (Not some with hypoid rear ends).
          One knows it's thick with gear changes at cold start up !
          Last edited by plyfor; 01-11-2018, 10:09 PM.


          • #10
            Kevin I've had good luck using John Deere Corn Head Grease, buy it at your local JD dealership.

            Deere engineered the stuff to act somewhat 'fluid' inuse and then it kinda solidifies at 'rest'. The gear boxes on the corn heads would leak just like our Model A steering boxes.

            Use it in the steering box only, not the tranny or rear end.


            • #11
              PennRite steering box lube NO leakee available from Restoration Specialties, Escondido (?), CA. They have an on-line catalog. Also, like others have stated, jack it up and grease everything.
              Pictures, we like pictures.
              Paul in CT
              Post your location as someone may be near you.


              • #12
                I use 250 weight gear oil in the steering box, transmission, and rear end. Has been working good for 43 years.
                Eastern Connecticut


                • Kevin84
                  Kevin84 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thanks for that information, because transmission and differential were going to be my next question!

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