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BN1 Steering Box Fluid

Joe Schlosser

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The steering box for a 54-BN1 is supposed to take 140 Weight gear oil

Any suggestions as to brands and alternatives to this weight oil??

Thanks in advance
 

Jack T

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Check out John Deere Cornhead Grease - it has been discussed in previous forums and folks with old cars have been using it in their steering boxes for a long time.

Yeah, I'm using the Cornhead Grease in my BT7. Eliminates the constant weeping of lube from the box.
 

vette

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I have been investigating this very issue of the last few weeks. After a lot of hard running in the Smoky Mtns a few weeks ago I have discovered that the bushings in my steering box and idler are a little loose. More than a year ago I finally decided to put the Zero Weight oil in because the bottom seals were constantly leaking. You can use Penrite or John Deere, or etc. I was out of Penrite and ordered more from Moss when I ordered the bushings, etc. The Penrite is out of stock at Moss right now as it has been on back order for at least a month. As you know the Penrite is thick and is hard to get it into the steering boxs but I have used a cooking grade large seringe to inject it into the boxes. I went to a Heavy Equipment Co and bought a tube of their zero weight grease. This stuff seems to have the consistancy of Penrite. Since it is so stiff I decided to put a zerk fitting on the side of my idler box so that I can use a grease gun on a regular basis to "regrease" the bushings with ease. Considering the consistancy of the Penrite, John Deere and this other stuff I bought (can't remember the brand name right now) I am not convinced that it maintains adequate lubrication. In my opinion, if you can use 140 weight gear lube or even 90 weight gear lube without it running out the bottom too much then you will ensure better lubrication of the bushings. The steering boxes need to be full to keep the bushings saturated. I am pretty sure that the book specs 90 weight gear lube for the boxes. Any brand gear lube will work.
 

Grantura_MKI

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Very interesting, Vette. Penrite is made and labeled as a steering box lube!
i have been using it for years on my and customers vehicles without issue.
 

vette

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D, I respect your opinion, I was just expressing mine. I didn't say that Penrite was no good, what I said was that I believe 90 w or 140w gear lube is better... if you can use it. But another point I live with is that just because they label it and market it doesn't mean it is good for you. Just for conversations sake, if you look at Penrite in the bottle, it is so thick that you can hardly get it out of the bottle. Now just imagine that same stuff in your idler box or steering box, in its natural state how much of it can you imagine is really getting around the bushings. If you have ever taken an idler box apart you can see that the top of the shaft which is machined with a flat surface just under the box cover. The top of the shaft has a rather small hole which is bored down thru the shaft and then exits on the side of the shaft into an oil/lubrication groove in the top bearing. How much Penrite or any other zero weight lube do you think can flow down that shaft and unto the lubrication groove. Then how much of it do you imagine can reach the bottom bushing. You can hardly push the stuff through there under any kind of pressure let alone pour it in. That is why I decided to put a zerk fitting on the side of my idler box. From the center of the box to the hollow area of the shaft between the two bushings, I can at least push some kind of grease to both bushings. I bought a dedicated grease gun just for zero weight oil and decided to push the stuff with my grease gun as hard as I could to see if the lube was getting to both bushings. I pushed hard enough that I then saw the stuff come out my bottom seal. I also removed the top plug and screwed it back in very lightly and also saw the stuff come out around the threads of the top plug. I would say that then the top and bottom bushings were both lubed. Now the steering box has some space in it and if you move the wheels back and forth you can inject quite a bit of the zero weight oil into the box with a large cooking style syringe. Then considering the thickness of the zero weight oil(very thick) it does not pour. After a few operations of the steering box can you imagine that the stuff is pushed out of the contact areas of the peg and worm gear. I can imagine that, and if it is pushed away what can you imagine would push it back into the contact areas. Nothing that I know of unless you routinely keep forcing new stuff into the top then you would probably get more stuff around the contact areas. So I still think that 90 to 140 weight gear lube would provide better lubrication of steering & idler boxes. Since I'm an old timer, i remember when ( '50s & 60's) it was an old back lot trick to push grease into a bad steering box to try to make it operate smoothly for awhile without leaking. This was done at times when the car was going up for sale or the owner couldn't afford to repair the steering box. It lasted for a while.
 

TimK

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My theory (unproven) is that there is so much heat in the engine compartment that it must soften the Penrite in my steering box enough to flow and maintain lubrication on the critical parts.
 

steveg

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...But another point I live with is that just because they label it and market it doesn't mean it is good for you...

In this case, it's pretty unlikely.

More likely is Penrite is a maker of specialty lubricants and knows their business -- which they're still in business, after all. They've picked a viscosity for their steering box lube which they, in their engineering knowledge and specialized expertise, have determined is best for a combination of sticking to the gears under pressure, lubing the bushings and conditioning the seals.

Previous forums have discussed this subject with documentation. The John Deere cornhead grease is close to the viscosity of the Penrite and has a provenance of being used in steering boxes as well.

It does flow, albeit slowly, down the oil groove in the bushing. It's inconceivable the bushing would be bone-dry in a reasonably full box.
 

steveg

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My theory (unproven) is that there is so much heat in the engine compartment that it must soften the Penrite in my steering box enough to flow and maintain lubrication on the critical parts.

Reasonable deduction. After a drive, pretty sure the steering box is hot to the touch.
 

DerekJ

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Vette, if that zero weight 'grease' really is a 'grease' then it shouldn't be used in the steering box. Grease gets pushed around and compacted and does not flow back into position. The Penrite and John Deere products are oils and they flow as intended.
 

andrea

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Mixing 180 EP gearbox oil and Blue grease ( haven't find Deer) I have obtained one mix similar to Penrite as Maionese semifluid
It works well for me no leaks and good lubrication in all the receptacles of the steering box
NOTE : appearance and smell are repulsive:blue:

VW beetle asking OIL not grease and have same steering principle box. more sophisticated
MG TC old Bishop primitive steering BOX ask OIL EP 140 every 3000 Km (I used the same solution)
so grease only aren't the corect solution
 
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