From 1928-34 Ford used a side delivery steering box with the drag link connected to the left front wheel. Like most cars of the day, those steering boxes were the worm and sector type. Basically the worm was a very coarse threaded section on the end of the steering shaft and it engaged the sector, which was basically a gear connected to the Pitman arm. Turning the steering wheel was like spinning a screw in a nut, the sector moved up and down the threads and turned the wheels. While this type of steering gear was simple, it was also prone to wear.

When Ford introduced the F-1 pickup in 1948 one of the improvements over its predecessors was the steering gear. Still the side delivery type (as opposed to cross steering used on Ford cars since 1935) the new box was the worm and roller style. The difference is the newer box has a roller that engages the worm gear on the steering shaft. As the name implies the roller spins, which not only reduces friction for easier steering, but service life was lengthened dramatically as well.

Of course it didn’t take hot rodders long to realize that this new pickup steering was a natural to replace the older-style boxes in early Fords.

While the pickup steering is similar in size and shape to the earlier boxes they are not direct swaps. The mounting bolt pattern is different but the big issue is the angle of the mounting flange on the box. For all practical purposes the pickup framerails are parallel up while those of the cars run at an angle—that means if the truck box is simply bolted in place the steering wheel would be closer to the driver’s door than desirable. There a variety of cures for this, including spacers and modifications to the ’rail in the area the steering mounts. We’ve even seen the pickup steering mounted to a plate above the ’rail, but in our view that defeats the purpose of looking somewhat original.

Although we seldom release Editor Brennan on the unsuspecting public, not long ago he did escape the office and find his way into Hot Rods by Dean where an F-1 box was being installed in a ’33 Ford where he snapped the following photos. They’ll give you an idea of what it takes to put a pickup box in an early Ford.

SOURCE
Hot Rods By Dean
1 West Lone Cactus Drive
Phoenix
AZ  85027
623-581-1932
www.hotrodsbydean.com