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Hi all.

I have an 1973 I.H. 1210 4wd that has excessive play in the manual steering gearbox.
I can find almost no info. on the net regarding this gearbox so far.

Does anyone know what manual steering gearbox was used in this model?
I spoke to Redhead gears on the phone, they seem to think it would be a Gemmer, but they're not sure unless they are looking at it.
I cant find any identifying marks on it (steering box), as it's pretty rusty & hard to see down in there, even w/ a bright light.
Is there an adjustment procedure that can take some of the slop out of it? Slop is about 40 degrees out of 360 degrees.
From what I understand, over 20 degrees is abnormal...?
It's a pretty pricey rebuild, so I was wondering about converting to power steering as it seems the gearboxes are available for that application.

Anyone know if I.H. used the same steering column on P.S. as they did manual steering systems on the 1210's?

Thanks in advance, J.D.


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Shotgun Jimmy....My references would have your 1210 4x4 manual steering gearbox in the Saginaw recirculating ball-and-nut camp.  Part #378404C92 would likely be the original I-H parts designation.

If you're lucky enough to have the Saginaw gear, these are rebuildable and also inexpensive in new form.  Borgeson bought the machining for Saginaw manual gears, so you may have a parts source in Borgeson if your gear is a Saginaw type.  Post some photos here, I'll tell you in a heartbeat whether it's a Gemmer-Ross or Saginaw type.

Gemmer parts have become rare, virtually combed through in NOS form.  I have rebuilt many Gemmer worm-and-roller gears from the 1930s to '60s applications.  They are a high friction design and should not be adjusted;  if there is considerable play, the gear needs to be rebuilt with a new worm shaft and roller/sector, bushings, bearings, etc. 

The Saginaw recirculating ball gears seldom wear much over their service life.  If there is excessive play at the wormshaft, the gear needs disassembly, inspection and rebuilding or at least a light overhaul.  For adjustment purposes, the degree of wear and play before adjustment should only be minor;  otherwise, the gear should be removed and disassembled/inspected. 

Before condemning the steering gear, consider the steering shaft/column woven coupler just above the steering gear.  Confirm where the play exists:  With the hood open and front wheels pointed straight ahead to center the steering gear*, move the wormshaft at the top of the steering gear slowly and note how many degrees the wormshaft rotates in each direction before the pitman arm moves.  See if the play is actually at the gear.  If not, you may have a worn out steering coupler, and that would be a simpler remedy with far less work and cost.

*Note:  Be sure the steering gear is on center when judging the backlash or play.  If the gear is off-center, there will be much more play than in the over-center position.  If the steering wheel has mistakenly been re-positioned to align spokes with the front wheels, the gear will be off-center when the front wheels are in the straight ahead position.  If you're in doubt about on-center, disconnect the tie-rod/draglink from the pitman arm and rotate the wormshaft left-and-right to each extreme, counting the exact number of turns.  Rotate back half-way from one extreme.  This is the gear's on-center position where the slight amount of over-center drag is adjusted.

An I-H 1210 4x4 with manual steering in 1973 was somewhat rare.  The load on this steering gear is great, and the ratio is very slow.  If my truck, I would look for a donor 1210 or similar I-H and make a conversion to Saginaw recirculating ball-and-rack piston integral power steering. 


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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi, Moses.

Right now I have decided to go w/ power steering & am searching salvage yards online to find a steering column, power steering pump bracket & power steering box for the 1210. I saw your article here on the Saginaw rotary valve integral steering gear box (great article, by the way), so I am looking to get one & rebuild it (as it probably will...)
From what i understand, the manual steering gear steering column/ shaft is not compatible w/ the power steering gearbox? Is this correct?

This truck also has a Dana 44 front axle w/ open knuckles & drum brakes. I would like to change it over to front disc brakes, however I'm still trying to figure out if 3/4 ton Chevy Dana 44 disc brake open knuckle front axle parts will swap over?
From what I understand, the '73 Dana 44 model year axle was when they switched over to a new design w/ heavier U joints & spindles than the earlier 44's ('68-'72); and that they used the improved design from '73 up until 1979 in the Chevy 3/4 ton trucks?
Would that be the same axle as my open knuckle '73 Dana 44 axle on my 1210?

Thanx, J.D.

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Shotgun Jimmy...You'll need to compare part numbers for the two steering columns, steering shafts, etc.  Or at least compare an I-H donor vehicle's steering column.

I'm not clear about the G.M. parts interchangeability with your 1210 front axle.  G.M. 3/4-ton front axles have 8-lug wheels and disc brakes, but you need to confirm the fit of the knuckles, steering linkage and all other parts.  The '74-'76 I-H 200 series 4x4 trucks would likely be closer in design to your 1973 1210.  Compare '74-up 200 series 4x4 components to your chassis.  Part numbers are not the same as G.M., although you could compare G.M. axles, their track width, brake caliper/rotor style, brake master cylinder, combination valve and so forth.

200 series I-H 4x4 front disc brake assemblies might be a better choice, perhaps a complete front axle swap from a 200 series 4x4.  You'll need a master cylinder for disc front brakes/drum rear.  The combination valve is also different between 4-wheel drum and disc front/drum rear brakes.


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