Tech Articles

Simplify Your Steering: Bushings to Bearings

Trading bushings for bearings in '53-'62 Corvettes

By Andrew Bolig

Compared to the steering assemblies the Corvette has been using over the past few generations, the straight-axle front suspension is extremely simplistic. The initial design was for a passenger car, and that is exactly how it worked under the Corvette. There are options available to the early Corvette owner who wishes to update his or her Corvette's suspension to an independent front system, but if you wish to keep your Corvette basically stock but make it more enjoyable to drive, Stainless Steel Brakes has you covered as well. The company provides an upgraded kingpin package that uses roller bearings instead of the original bushings. The bearings will last longer and make steering easier due to the reduced friction of the bearings. The Corvette Clinic was installing kingpins in a '58 Corvette, and we went along to show our readers what it takes to install bearings where bushings once resided.

1. (above and right) The original suspension used bushings pressed into the spindle, where the new kit uses two roller bearings on top and bottom of the spindle to help support the spindle and reduce friction when the steering is turned


2. The new kingpin (left) is longer and has different diameters than the original.

3. (next two photos) Clean up all the existing parts before trying to install any of the parts from the kit. It will produce much better results, and you won't have to worry about dirt getting in the bearings. Press the bearings into the upper portion of the spindle. Because the kingpin isn't uniform in diameter, you can't install the lower bearings into the spindle at this time.

4. (next two photos) The bearing between the spindle and knuckle is installed with the lip facing the knuckle, and then the kingpin is slid into place from the bottom. Be careful. The groove for centering the kingpin is not at an equal distance from the ends. The longer side should go to the bottom set of spindle bearings. There are shims supplied with the kit if necessary; our set did not require any.

5. (next three photos) Install the centering pin to keep the kingpin in place. The centering pin doesn't have a head on the end and, when we tightened the nut, the centering pin pulled through. Stainless Steel Brakes has seen this happen on a few worn knuckles, and sent us a knurled centering pin that would not pull out.



Simplify Your Steering: Bushings to Bearings (cont.)



6. (next two photos) Now press the bearings in from the bottom of the spindle. Be sure to start the bearing into the bore squarely or you could damage the bearing. There is a tool supplied in the kit to press the bearings over the kingpin, but be careful not to press the outer bearing into contact with the inner bearing. As with the upper bearings, there should be some distance between the two bearings.

7. To seal the ends of the kingpin, the kit comes with O-rings and caps. Install the O-ring and then tighten down the cap with the grease fitting supplied in the kit.

8. (next two photos) To plug the original grease fitting holes, the kit contains Allen screws to put into the holes. Don't run them in until they contact the bearing because they could distort it. Screw them in just so they seal the hole.

9. Put some grease into the bearings, and you're ready to install the rebuilt spindles. We're only showing how to assemble the kingpins using this kit, but to cover the entire installation, see "Steerable Straight-Axle" in our Oct. '01 issue. Back issues are available by calling (800) 429-0106.



Corvette Clinic, Dept. CF
701-D Cornwall Rd.
Sanford, FL 32773

Stainless Steel Brakes Corp., Dept. CF
11470 Main Rd.
Clarence, NY 14031

(800) 448-7722
(716) 759-8666 in N.Y.