“The next issue to address was the sector seal. The Hudson box used a seal that slipped over the sector shaft and was held in place by a spring behind the Pitman arm. This seemed a little too archaic, so another mandrel was made to machine a step in the sector housing. A steel sleeve that accepts a contemporary lip seal was fabricated then pressed on and welded in place.

“The modified steering box was positioned in a mock-up frame to check the fit of the original Hudson mounting flange. It was reasonably close and by drilling three new holes in the frame and shimming the flange with a couple washers it would work, but that’s not my style. Skene and I talked and decided to machine off the stock Hudson mount and weld on a new ’32 Ford-style flange. A stock ’32 steering gear was installed in the mock-up frame to establish the column’s centerline, then the Hudson steering was put in place, aligned properly, and the new flange was tack-welded to the housing. To avoid weld cracking caused by the dissimilar metals (cast box, steel plate flange), the flange was fillet brazed and ground smooth.

“With the machinework completed on the steering box it was time to address the steering shaft. It was shortened, then I machined a Ford-style taper and threads and milled a keyway. An early Ford column-locking lug was added to work with an original ’32 column drop, lock, and switch.

“[Skene] also wanted to be able to use the original ’32-style headlight switch and control rod. The lower cover plate on the steering gear had to be modified with a larger brass tube to allow the light control rod to pass through. I set this up in a fixture to ensure that it was square and then silver soldered it in place. A ’37-39 Ford lower plate could have been used, but finding a good one is becoming more and more difficult. I did use an original ’37-39 Ford light switch bracket and bail, completing the lower end and allowing the use of a stock ’32 light switch.

“Luckily the major internal parts were in good condition, as replacement Hudson sector shafts and worms are nearly impossible to find. The rest of the rebuild involved new bearings, gaskets, new sector bushings honed to fit, and reassembly and final adjustment.

“The only other modification necessary to install this in a stock frame is to enlarge the sector shaft hole from 1-1/4 to 1-7/8 inches. With the sector shaft hole so close to the mounting flange holes, I made up a reinforcing plate to bolt onto the outside of the frame. Other than that, it should be a bolt-in and have much the same look as an original ’32 box, just with much easier steering.”

Neal Jennings