Brothers Trucks 1947-1959 Front End Rebuild Kit Installation

03/01/2016

Brothers Trucks 1947-1959 Front End Rebuild Kit Installation

03/01/2016

The complete frontend rebuild kit from Brothers consists of a new link; tie rod ends; and kingpin set. You’ll notice that both the tie rod ends, and the drag link are a more modern style, providing better performance and longer life. The one and only minor drawback is having to modify the steering arms for use of the new components. But once that’s done, you’ll have a solid setup.

It’s almost not worth mentioning, but the first course of action is to obviously tear the frontend down, starting with the removal of the backing plates. It should be noted, though, that you should pay attention to where particular parts went, such as the steering arm spacers, to make reinstallation a bit easier.

Old kingpins can be your friends (like the passenger side), or they can ruin your entire day (like the driver side, which you’ll soon see). With this particular setup, start by removing the grease caps (like engine freeze plugs) first, then drive the kingpins out with the proper size brass punch. It’s a good idea to note the number of shims used, which may alert you to excessive wear between the spindles and axle.

After the passenger side came apart so easily, we were thinking, “Man, we’ll have this wrapped up in no time.” Not quite. The driver-side kingpin was content where it was, and when approached with the idea of coming out, it flat-out refused. It took a torch and the sacrificing of numerous driving devices before it would oblige. (The little butane torch in the background was used at first; it took a real man’s acetylene torch to get the job done right.)

Here’s the old tie rod and steering arm, as well as the Pitman arm and the drag link (accumulated gunk and all), which should give you an idea of the difference between old and new. The tie rods cinched to the balls on the steering arms with an end screw and a cotter pin, while the drag link was secured with a nut and pin.

With everything disassembled, the first step in renewing the frontend was having the spindles sleeved and reamed. Obviously, the old bushings had to be driven out before the new ones were pressed in.

As mentioned in the story, if the new kingpin bushings press in too easily, you have worn-out spindles. These went in with just barely the right amount of resistence – any more and we would have been on the phone looking for replacements.

A 1940’s-era Sunnen connecting rod pin bushing tool was used for reaming spindles. The wire leading down in front of his left hand connects to a foot control, while the amount of reaming is controlled with the dial directly above the honing bit.

Like the bushings, the kingpins should slide in place with sufficient resistance. We made sure the pins stayed mated with the spindles they were reamed for

Next up, we modified the steering arms to accept the new tie rod ends. Though there are rebuild kits for the factory tie tod ends, there are several advantages from the newer ones offered by Brothers.

The balls on the steering arms needed to be removed, there are various methods of removal – we used them all, starting with the grinding of the pressed end of the balls, as well as cutting the head of the ball off entirely.

After heating the ends of the steering arms, and attempting to press the balls out, we drilled through the center, then proceeded to drive them out with a punch and hammer.

After all the banging, it was finally time to start putting things back together. The new tie rod ends were threaded onto the tie rod arm with a nice dab of anti-seize.

From this point on, grease played a major role. Everything from the spindle bushings and shims to the axle and kingpins received a heavy dose of grease. We used Red Line’s CV-2 synthetic high-performance red moly grease for its high-temp, high-speed, and high-load protection. We installed the spindle with the lower pivot race (facing upward), followed by the shim.

With everything lined up carefully, the lubed-up kingpin was driven in place, making sure the machined slot for the pin’s lock bolt is line up with the hole in the axle.

From here, it was all downhill – the backing plates and steering arms went together like new. Along with making sure everything was tight as could be, cotter pins were installed everywhere necessary.

With the old balls removed, the new-style tie rod ends fit perfectly. The toe-in was set after the steering box was centered and the new drag link installed.

With the drag link – since it has joints like the tie-rod ends – pay close attention to the travel of the rear joint and make sure it clears the leaf spring. We had no problem, but noticed it was close, especially with the cotter pin in place.

Again, grease was the word as the sun went down. It was at this point that we started to doubt the integrity of our wheel bearings and races, but figured they were good for a few more miles. The test drive would prove us wrong, so you it's time for Brothers tapered roller bearing conversion kit. Other than that, the rebuilt frontend was the perfect complement to the new leaf springs and provided a firmer, more responsive ride.

author

Staff Writer
1698 Posts