Anyone who has had experience with the early Corvettes will tell you the steering gear box is a source of problems. Over the years, I have overhauled many of these steering boxes, and, other than having difficulty getting the parts; I have been able to restore the steering to its design specifications without too much trouble. 

Recently, I was asked to help an NCRS member with a steering problem, and I found the third arm bearing had been contaminated with water and had rusted so badly the steering was almost impossible to operate. If you think about it, the only thing keeping water and dirt out of that bearing is the little foam rubber ring which fits over the top of the bearing. As the years pass, the rubber deteriorates. The result can be a damaged third arm bearing, which is impossible to inspect visually. 

The only way I know of to inspect the third arm bearing is to grab the third arm and try to    move it up and down. There should be no up and down play in the arm. As you can see in the cross sectional view, the bearing is a double row ball bearing, installed in a cavity in the third arm, and held in place by a large snap ring. The stud projects up through the bracket where it is bolted on with a castle nut, and secured with a cotter pin. 

For years these bearings were difficult to find, but now they are being made. The only problem is that, after thirty to forty years, the bearing is rather used to being installed in its cavity, and it is very difficult to remove. 

The Corvette Servicing Guide (ST-12) says you should be able to "tap" it out. I tapped a lot. I always try to follow the directions in the book, but I have never been able to remove one of these bearings by tapping. 

Since the center stud rotates, it is difficult to use it as a puller. I first tried to thread a nut onto the stud and, by stacking up a series of large flat washers under the nut, use the threaded portion of the stud as a means of forcing the bearing out of the cavity. This didn't work. Not only did the stud turn, but since the force was exerted on the threads of the stud, damage to the threads could easily occur.  I developed a puller, which will hold the stud, not allowing it to turn, while pulling straight up on it. 

The two-piece tool is shown in photo #1. You will notice the receiver is made of pipe and washers welded together, and the force bolt is a hardware store item. The threads of the force bolt are the same as the threads of the third-arm bearing stud. (3/4-inch by 16 threads-per-inch). 

The tall nut is threaded onto the stud, as shown in photo #2. The receiver is placed over the tall nut and the force bolt is then threaded down through the receiver into the tall nut (photo #3). The top wrench is used to hold the force bolt from turning, while the other wrench is used to turn the regular nut down the threads of the force bolt. In doing so, the bearing and stud are forced upwards, and easily extracted from the arm (photo #4). By using this method, no damage can occur to the arm or to the stud. No heat is used, which could cause damage to the forging. 

After the bearing has been removed, the cavity can be cleaned and the new bearing can be installed using a little "Anti Seize" to insure that the next time it will come out a little more easily.   

Needed items: 

• (1)1-1/4" X 2-3/4" Galv. Pipe 

• (1) 3" X 1-114" Galv. Pipe 

• (2) 1-112" X 3-1/2" Wrought Washer (or equiv.), (Cut Square and Weld on common center to form receiver) 

• (I) 3/4" - 16 N.F. X 4-1/2" Machine Bolt (Grade 5 rnin.) 

• (1) 3/4" - 16 N.F. Hex Nut (Grade 5 min.) 

• (1) 3/4" U.S.S. Washer 

  1. (1) 3/4" - 16 N.F. Tall Nut (approx. 2-114")

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