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Spindle Bushings

By Dan King

 

    Sloppy steering despite new kingpins and bushings (And you did Oly's Saginaw adjustment?) Maybe your spindle bores are the problem...

Spindle Bushing Replacement

    The tubular bronze spindle bushings in your truck's axle are the critical spacers between your axle and kingpins. If the bushings are not tight, the kingpins are loose and your steering is unsafe.

    Spindle bushings are made two ways: to be press-fit in the spindles and then reamed or honed to size, or as prehoned bushings that are a slip fit into precisely machined spindle bores. Many brands of trucks use the first method, which has the advantage that any irregularity or oversize in the bores is taken up when the bushings are forced in, and then honed.

    Chevy light trucks of my truck's era (1952) use the other method, which has the advantage of easy installation in factory-perfect spindles. Unfortunately, it is very likely that a previous owner of your truck ignored worn bushings, to the extent that the kingpin, flailing around in the bores, has battered the spindles oversize.

    I replaced the bushings in my truck twice before I realized that the new bushings were immediately getting stretched out in the oversized, battered bores. Fortunately, however, I also knew that heavy trucks use the same kind of bushings in their leaf spring eyes.

    In the bins at my local spring shop (there is one in every good-sized town) I bound spring bushings that were longer than the spindle bushings, larger in the OD, and smaller in the ID than the stock bushings. I bought four of them, turned a mandrel to force them onto (one at a time), and turned their ODs to a size a little larger than the battered spindle bores. Then I removed them from the mandrel, cut them to length, forced them into the spindle bores, drilled a grease hole into each one, and cut a grease channel with a ball end tool on a die grinder.

    Then I had them precisely honed at an auto machine shop to fit the kingpins (honed bushings drastically outlast reamed bushings). They have now gone many tens of thousands of miles (regularly greased!). MUCH cheaper than finding new spindles.

The Tinker
Dan Wing



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