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1/17/04


How To Install '80s J-car r&p in '60s Fords How to 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 rod assemblies.

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 tires.

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 frame

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 bump steer

 

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