View Full Version : Saginaw Steering vs. Bell Crank

12-31-2012, 04:24 PM

I've been looking at future steps in my CJ-3A project, and in a recent conversation was told about Saginaw steering as being safer and more controllable than the existing bellcrank that my Jeep has.

My goal has been to try as be as original as possible, though quite frankly this appears to be getting more and more difficult to do. The main question I have is, is there as big of a safety issue with the bellcrank that I should consider using a Saginaw steering mechanism, or should I continue to try to go old school/original?


1948 Cal Willys Pickup
01-01-2013, 11:09 AM
Hey Jmetz, 48 Cal Willys here. I have the same steering system on my truck as you have, I believe. The only changes I made were a power steering assist as well as a steering damper. My old arms get tired of trying to turn a manual steering vehicle especially when parking. The steering damper helps with sudden shock say when on trail and you het a rut or rock or if you are cruisin the streets in San Jose in front of the Winchester Mystery house and curb a tire because you were distracted, the steering wheel wont break your wrist as it gets jerked out of your hand. Good luck and Happy New Year.

01-01-2013, 12:22 PM
I had wondered about the dampener. Thanks for the advice. Where did you get it from? :)

1948 Cal Willys Pickup
01-01-2013, 07:47 PM
Came with the truck I just refurbished mine. KW sells them but I think you can get from anywhere.

01-02-2013, 10:07 PM
Cool. My steering needs some serious re-examining. Thanks for the tip. :)

01-06-2013, 09:26 PM
Safe steering should be a priority , just last week my wife and I were joy riding and experienced what the Internet blogs call " the Death Wobble " I was driving and a little spooked by this , my wife claims she will not ride until the problem is solved....just this weekend installed a new steering stabilizer on the jeepster....have not driven it yet but I will let you know....

1948 Cal Willys Pickup
01-06-2013, 09:30 PM
Take a look at your tie rods as well. This may sound silly but you may want to also check your lug nuts. Yes I am speaking from expierience. I hate the death wobble. Most recently expierienced it in my neighbors vw bug. It was the tie rods. 40 MPH and I thought the car was going to shake itself apart.

01-07-2013, 02:16 AM
can be caused by a dodgy tire as well.
one of the trucks at work ( late model isuzu 550 ) was getting the wobbles at randum might do it today then be fine for weeks then do it a couple of times and be fine again. took a while to find it but eventually when we sent it to have the wheels balanced they discovered one of the half worn tires was going out of round when spun.

01-07-2013, 08:02 AM
This has all been *extremely* helpful. In all the research that i've been doing about this, I have not found one single person advocate keeping the original steering as a preference over the updated conversion. I never had any intention to simply cart the CJ around to shows - I always wanted it to drive it!

Thanks for all the advice, I think I feel much more comfortable with my decision now. :)


01-07-2013, 07:55 PM
If the old original steering is working I would keep it , I was saying make it safe though , I am keeping the steering I have but will have to install seals and new parts I'm sure in time,
Cal the tie rods seem good lugs all tight , the stablizer is small and was weak so that was the first thing I replaced now I will be checking other parts as time goes on....
Dave as for the tires they have plenty of tread and look in good shape but I think they may be old because they feel hard which could be a problem as well at taking the bumps in the road....

1948 Cal Willys Pickup
01-07-2013, 08:53 PM
Thought this (http://www.kevinsoffroad.com/how-to-fix-your-own-death-wobble/) was a good article.

Nemo von Klepper
01-30-2013, 01:48 AM
One of the bits I gleaned from this thread is something about power assist.

My Jeep started as an emotional purchase on the part of my mum as she had learned to drive in one of these. She would still like to drive it, but being in her 70s, she can't really handle the steering as well as she could when she was 10.

I too intend to drive my jeep normally. I'd like it to look reasonably original but the idea of modified brakes and steering are appealling.
I also want to avoid a Frankenstein monster, with parts from all over, which seems to be the current 4x4 craze. -If my heirs need to rebuild this jeep in 50 years time, I'd hope it'd be straight forward and not a session of Q&A about 2010 4x4 trends.

Therefore: Is there a decent power assist application that doesn't add some unwieldy divice to the front of the jeep like some mishappened misplaced wench?

03-09-2013, 10:40 AM
Therefore: Is there a decent power assist application that doesn't add some unwieldy divice to the front of the jeep like some mishappened misplaced wench?

I was trying to find something like that too, but I have a feeling there isn't going to be much of an option for that. :(

03-11-2013, 05:15 PM

To add my .2 cents to your thread, My vote is in favor of the Saginaw steering box. I have a 1952 M38 http://blog.kaiserwillys.com/m38-customer-photos/bob-moledor When I rebuilt the Jeep I tried to keep it's appearance pretty close to stock, but one of the best modifications I made was swapping out the original steering for a Saginaw box with a one piece tie rod. My first Jeep was a 1946 CJ2A and I have experience the "death wobble" first hand and did not wish to live through it again. So here are the details I have a Saginaw box off a wrecked CJ5. I purchased a mounting plate and one piece tie rod from Advanced Adapters. The mounting plate is welded to the driver's side frame between the bumper and grill. I have 11" drum brakes, Rancho springs that are 2 1/2" taller then originals and I'm running 31x10.5" tires on 15"x7" rims and I have no wobble at any speed and it steers much easier then the original Ross set-up.

Stumpy steve
07-20-2013, 12:16 AM
I am restoring a CJ6 here in Australia, I have not heard of a replacement steering system. Can someone explain it to me? Or where can I find reading on it?

11-18-2013, 12:18 AM
1948 Cal Willys Pickup said, "The only changes I made were a power steering assist . . . "

I'm not familiar with a "power steering assist" on a Jeep. I'm familiar with them on 18 wheelers & they worked GREAT. Easy steering & good road feel.

Please explain. Thanks,


02-05-2015, 01:46 PM
Jmetz, Your steering choice has everything to do with how you plan to use your Willys. Obviously if you are going for a true restoration and plan to run stock tires I'd say do a complete rebuild on your original steering, add a dampener and you should be good to go. I have an M38, we use our Jeep for light off-road adventures. It has a set of rancho springs which are 2.5" over stock height and we are running 10.5x31 tires. I chose to put a saginaw steering box on, a one piece tie rod and a steering stabilizer. I am completely happy with my set up and have NO WOBBLE which was what I was going for. I also have 11" brakes and a dual master cylinder. Everything else is stock and all this works for what we use our Willys for. If I ever do another Jeep it will be a restoration and I will keep it Willys factory correct. So it all come down to how you plan to use the Jeep.