On manual steering 1963-1976 Corvettes, the relay rod is often overlooked when attempting to fix sloppy steering. However, it can be one of the leading causes of an ill-feeling steering wheel. In a previous article, we showed you how to rebuild your Corvette’s steering box. Now we’re moving to the relay rod. Actually, it is best to do both of these at the same time; that way you only have to pay for one front end alignment.
Because it is located near the front tire, the relay rod gets lots of abuse and gets hit by a lot of road debris. You can overhaul your relay rod with a new rebuild kit from Zip Corvette Parts, which comes with everything needed for a complete refurbishing.
The most difficult part of the relay rod rebuild is actually removing the relay rod from your Corvette. It is possible to rebuild the relay rod still in the vehicle if you prefer not to remove it. This is also a good time to replace the idler arm assembly. At this point your Corvette’s steering system is almost entirely rebuilt. The steering procedure will only take about an hour, assuming the relay rod is already removed from your Corvette. You will need a 5/16-inch socket and wrench, a large flat-bladed screwdriver, and some MAPP gas, available from any hardware store. Not everyone will need to heat the relay rod, so try yours first before buying the MAPP gas.
Click on the images for expanded views – it’s much easier on the eyes.
01: Our Corvette’s relay rod was almost completely worn out.
02: To get started, remove the seal retaining clamp. It is attached with two bolts.
03: With the seal off, you can see the road grime and dirt that have worked their way past the seal ball stud over the years.
04: With the retaining bracket off, remove the seal. Use a pair of cutters or dykes to remove the cotter pin from the end of the relay rod. You may have to clean the end of your Corvette steering relay rod to be able to see it.
05: Next, unscrew the end plug, using caution because they can be tight and you do not want to strip the slot. If you run into difficulty, you may need to apply some heat with a torch to get it to break free. If you do not have access to an torch, then you can pick up some MAPP gas at your local hardware store. Make sure you use MAPP gas though because propane will not get hot enough to make much difference.
06: With the end plug off, remove the spring and ball stud from the end. You may need to use a flat-blade screw driver to pry them out.
07: Now you can remove the ball stud by sliding it towards the end of the relay rod, then pulling straight out. You will see the cut out in the relay rod for the ball to fit through.
08: Gently tap the end of the relay rod on your bench until the spring and seat falls out, then clean the inside of the relay rod to remove all old grease and dirt. Go ahead and remove the zerk fitting on the bottom of the relay rod also.
09: Here is the Zip Corvette Parts kit, part number SC-725
, which includes everything needed to rebuild a Corvette relay rod except for the grease.
10: Now that you have a clean relay rod, lets start the assembly process. Start by packing the inside of the relay rod with heavy-duty bearing grease.
11: Next, insert the first spring. After you have pushed the spring as far in as you can, insert the seat. There is a small machined area of the seat that needs to be faced in the up position, which you can see through the slot in the relay rod.
12: Once the seat is in place, grease the ball end of the stud and insert it through the top of the relay rod. Then slide it into the seat.
13: With the ball stud in place, install the second seat and spring. Make sure you use plenty of grease. Note that this time the seat goes in first and then the spring.
14: Now you can screw the end plug into the end of the relay rod. Tighten it until the slot in the end plug lines up with holes in the end of the relay rod. The plug should be flush with the end of the relay rod.
15: Place the cotter pin through the hole to lock the end plug in place.
16: Place the rubber seal over the relay rod and then bolt down the retaining clamp. Then install the new zerk fitting.
Relay Rod Rebuild:
1963-1976 Corvette Steering Relay Rod Rebuild
Text and images by Justin Abbott
Source: Zip Corvette Parts
8067 Fast Lane | Mechanicsville, VA 23111 | (800) 962-9632
Corvette Parts List Related to Article: