1927-1959 Tie Rod &
Drag Link End Repair
Steering problems on early cars & trucks with straight axles are usually easy to diagnose. Bad king pins, worn or out of adjustment steering box, or worn or out of adjustment tie rod or drag link ends are the three areas of concern. Once the king pins and steering box are confirmed good, the next step is to check and tighten up the tie rod & drag link ends.
Starting in 1927 Chevrolet had a new drag link design. The ends of the drag link had threaded plugs that held cups, pistons & springs in the ends. These pieces mated up with ball studs that were in the end of the pitman arm (on the steering box) and the steering control arm (at the brake backing plate). This design was also used on tie rod ends in 1932-1938 passenger cars & 1932-1959 trucks.
This design is versatile in that pressure can be increased (or decreased) by adjusting the plug at the end of the tie rod or drag link. Adjustment is simple. Remove the large cotter pin that keeps the end plug from turning. Using a very large screwdriver and an adjustable wrench, turn the plug down tighter against the spring, pistons & cups. Reinstall the cotter pin and you are done! If you are unable to get the end to tighten up, there may be a broken spring. This is the most common failure with this type of end. If so, it will be necessary to install a repair kit with new springs, cups, pistons and plug ends.
The beauty of this design is that the internal pieces of the drag link or tie rod end can be completely replaced quickly. Unless the housing is worn or damaged, the internal pieces can make the end like new in minutes. The kit (FS-148) does two tie rod ends for 1932-1959 or two drag link ends for 1927-1959. The specific applications are: Drag Link End - 1927-1952 Commercial & 1927-1954 Passenger (1937-1938 Master GB & HB require two kits to repair the drag link ends). Tie Rod Ends - 1932-1938 Passenger & Commercial (except 1933-1936 Standard or 1937-1938 GB & HB).
Pay careful attention to the internal pieces of the ends as they are removed. Keep them in order so you will know how to install the new parts. The order of installation varies in different years and between the drag link and tie rod ends. If you get confused, you should refer to the specific shop manual for your vehicle. Lubricate these ends often as they have no boots to keep out dirt as was done in the later designs. This is also a very high wear area and regular lubrication is vital.
Ball studs are also replaceable. Original ball studs were pressed and/or welded in place (some applications had bolt in ball studs). New ball studs are available for drag link or tie rod applications. They are available for weld-in or bolt-in applications. SA-157 & RW-603 are the press in type and SA-157T & RW-603T are the threaded versions. Early tie rod and drag link ball head diameter is 1" OD, shank diameter is .532". 1947-1952 pickup drag link balls are two different dimensions. Both have 1" OD ball head diameter. One has a shank diameter of .631" and one has a shank diameter of .7525".
To remove the original ball stud, check for welds. Grind off any welds until they are removed completely. If there are none, the ball stud was originally pressed into place. Using a 20-Ton press, carefully press out the old ball stud and press in the new stud. Weld the bottom edge of the ball stud to secure it. CAUTION: it is important to get a proper welding job done on the ball stud. Failure of this part can cause catastrophic results. It is recommended that a certified welder handle the welding of these studs.
As an option, we have available the threaded type of stud. Either method will work but the reproduction studs have straight sides with no taper. IMPORTANT: If your original stud has a taper, these studs will not work as a replacement. Carefully compare the dimensions of the original stud to the new stud before installation. They should be an exact match to the original.
Note: 1953-1959 trucks used fixed end drag links and must be replaced as a unit.