Monday, May 13, 2013

Adventures in Power Steering

In 1953, Studebaker came up with a great idea. They offered mechanical power steering for the first time. In theory it was great--used a lot less engine power and was lighter. Popular Science magazine predicted that this was the wave of the future.

Studebaker's Mechanical Power Steering
Unfortunately, they proved noisy and unreliable, and Studebaker replaced them with a standard hydraulic unit.

Studebaker Hydraulic Power Steering fitted to a 1953 Champion
Studebaker used the hydraulic unit, and a hollow steering shaft through which snaked the horn wire, from 1953 through 1955. After that, they went to a seemingly more complex Bendix power assist unit which offered the advantage of not requiring a different steering box from the manual steering cars. Unable to find an original unit (probably a good thing since parts for them are rare) I have decided to attempt to adapt the more modern Bendix unit from a 64 model to my car. This will allow me to use my stock steering wheel and horn. If this adaptation doesn't work, I'll have to get a steering box and column from a more modern Studebaker at the cost of losing my original wheel.

Power steering parts from a 64 GT Hawk, de-greased and ready for new seals and paint
Fingers crossed!