How To Install '80s J-car r&p in '60s Fords
install the mid 80's GM J-car rack & pinion into '60s Fords
Junkyard - You will need a used rack from
the junk yard to use during the installation mockup and final fitment.
Obtain the rack, mounting straps, mounting bushings, and both hoses
from a suitable donor car. Read this article
to find which cars the rack can be found in.
Take with you a breaker bar, metric sockets, and tubing wrenches, ginzu
steak knife, as well as a prybar and misc. tools. The first step is to
loosen the steering coupling from under the dash, it's a 10 or 12mm bolt
though a pinch collar on the bottom end of the steering column. There will
probably be lots of plastic dash panels, and a rubber sleeve. The plastic
panels are held with sheet metal screws and the ginzu knife will make short
work of the rubber collar.
Inside the engine compartment use your tubing wrenches to remove the
pressure and return lines and set aside. The fittings are 18mm and 16mm.
An adjustbable wrench works too, just don't strip the fittings.
Next you'll remove the tie rods from the rack. Pry off the bolt retainer,
and then using your breaker bar and a 15mm socket, remove the two mounting
bolts. Pop the outer tie-rods off the spindles and discard the entire tie
Remove the four 13mm bolts holding the rack to the firewall. You can
discard the bolts but save the mounting straps. Now the rack should slide
out one of the wheelwells. Of course the rack or it's hard lines will get
hung up on something in the engine compartment. Curse, move or cut the
offending component, and carefully remove the rack. Don't forget to retain
the mounting bushings.
Prepare - Work safely !
Support your car properly and remove the front tires, this will give
you plenty of room to work while removing the old steering gear. Make a
pair of support blocks for the tires to rest on during the mock-up phase.
I used scrap lumber to make 12"w x 18"l x 8"h blocks. And get four, two
for each side, thick linoleum squares to make turning the tires easier.
A bit of motor oil or grease between the squares helps. Block the back
Out with the Old - You will need to remove
the entire old steering gear.
Disconnect the two outer tie-rods and disconnect the center link from
the Pitman arm. Unbolt the power ram bracket and the idler arm from their
frame mounting points. The whole steering gear should now drop right out
of the car. Next unbolt the steering box from the column, and remove it's
frame mounting bolts. You may have to wrestle a bit with it, but it should
come out the bottom. As usual, with headers you may have to undo the drivers
side engine mount and tilt the motor up out of the way. Don't forget to
put the motor mount bolt back in before proceeding. Remove and set aside
the power ram mounting bracket. Save the whole steering assembly for reference
later. Disconnect your anti-roll bar.
Initial Mock Up - Preliminary fitting to
get a general fitment.
Place the rack on a pair of jack stands in aproximately the position
you think it will best fit. Leave about 1/2" of clearance between the bottom
of the oil pan and either the hard lines or the bellows, whichever comes
closest. Now install the centerlink onto the spindles, making sure
the wheels are pointing straight ahead. You are looking for potential binding.
Imagine the suspension moving up and down and the path the outer tie rods
will take. Ensure that there is adequate clearance between the tie-rods
and the body of the rack. Also ensure that the inner tie-rod couplings
will not contact the rack body from lock to lock. Once you have the rack
in it's final position, make a suitable mark or measurement to guide you
in later steps.
Steering Column - In order to get the most
gradual angles in the u-joints later, the steering column must be shortened.
Mark the steering column about 1/2" from the firewall. Remove the steering
column from the car. Chop end off the column tube and center shaft at your
mark. I clamped the rag joint coupler in a vise and had my assistant hold
the column while I chopped through it with a sawzall. Cleanup the cuts
in both the column tube and the center shaft. Install the column shaft
bearing and spacer in the end of the column tube. Next install your upper
u-joint to the shaft and secure. i had to make a hole in the column that
allowed me to put a bolt through a hole i drilled through the u-joint and
shaft. Reinstall the whole column in the car.
Install rack - Hold rack in place for proper
u-joint and bracket installation
It's probably a good idea to install the lower u-joint on the rack before
positioning the rack. I used jack stands to position the rack. Carefully
measure to ensure that the rack centerline is the parallel to the front
suspension pivots. I measured from the lower suspension arm bolts. In the
side to side direction place the rack so that the driver side mounting
flange is directly below the inside edge of the frame.
Steering u-joints - Connect rack to column
for smooth u-joint operation.
Install the intermediate steering shaft between the u-joints. While
you hold the rack steady from under the car, have an assistant turn the
steering wheel from side to side to insure smooth bind free operation.
Spin the rack so that there is not binding in the u-joints as the steering
wheel is turned. Note the approximate angle the rack's driver side mounting
flange makes with the underside of the frame.
Brackets - Build brackets to hold rack to
See this drawing for the dimensions i used
for these brackets. Install the passenger side bracket, snug not tight,
on the rack and slide it outward until it contacts the frame. Use lots
of lubricant between the bushing and the rack. Rotate the bracket around
the rack until the bracket covers the two idler arm mounting holes. Using
a grease pencil, insert it through the idler arm mounting holes from the
wheel side and mark the back of the bracket. Remove the bracket and drill
where you've marked. Re-install the bracket on the rack, and bolt it securely
to the frame. Again, only snug the mounting strap. You want to be able
to rotate the rack slightly to achieve the smoothest u-joint opration.
Make a cardboard template of the angle between the bottom of the frame
and the driver side mounting flange on the rack. This angle will be the
one you use to cut the 3x3 angle iron to make your driver side bracket.
Cut your bracket body to this angle and complete the construction of the
bracket. Bolt the bracket to the frame, install the bushing and attach
the mounting strap.
Ensure that you still have smooth u-joint operation! If not, check your
angle and modify your driver side bracket. Also, double check that the
rack centerline is still perpendicular to the suspension pivots.
Center link - Connect tie rods and center
link to spindles.
Use this drawing to make your center link.
You must make it's length such that the centers of the inner tie rod balls
are the same distance apart as the stock inner tie-rod pivots from your
car. Assemble the center link, bolts, inner tie-rod, and outer tie-rod
on the bench. Ensure that you have approximately the same dimensions as
your stock unit. Also ensure that you have enough thread in the bolts to
make the center link assembly shorter or longer for the bump steer step.
Ensure that your wheels are parallel and pointing straight ahead, block
them as needed. Install the outer tie-rods on the spindles and adjust
the whole assembly so that it sits parallel to the ground.
Spacer Block - Build spacer block
to mate center link to adapter plate
Use this drawing to make your spacer block.
Adapter Plate - Build an adapter plate to
link the spacer block to the center link.
Use this drawing to make your adapter plate.
Fluid Hoses - connect hoses
Alignment - align and adjust for minimum