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$233.93 rack and pinion w/pics (well almost)

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Old 05-06-2009, 10:12 PM   #1
109jb
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Default $233.93 rack and pinion w/pics (updated 5/20/2009)

From the beginning of my 1970 Fastback project I knew that I didn't want to deal with the factory power steering system with it's leaks, on-center deadspot, wandering, etc. I also didn't want to pay the high price of the store bought rack systems. Besides, I like to build stuff and decided I could do it myself. So I did.

First let me say that some of this design is my own and some is based on websites and pictures of other designs. I haven't driven the car yet, so it isn't road tested. I have no doubt in my mind that it will work, but I want everyone to be aware of the facts. I think that anyone that has some fabrication skill and can weld can build this system pretty easily

The first step was to decide on which rack to use and off of which car. I knew I wanted a power rack and had to deal with the mustang rear steer system. A little internet hunting revealed that the GM rack and pinions used on cars like the Beretta and Cavalier was not only a good candidate, but has been used on the Mustang and is the basis for some of the store bought systems. I called up my local junkyard and they pulled a rack for me complete with the mounting straps.

I then went about figuring how mount the rack. I decided to mount it like a website that I found that has since disappeared. I think that design is now being sold as the Steeroids system and mine is similar with a few differences. I had to pay attention to the angles that the u-joints would have to make to hook from the steering column to the rack. I also had to disassemble the steering column to shorten it. I then made the driver side bracket which is just a piece of steel angle and 2 pieces of steel flat stock. It took a few tries with modifications to the bracket to get the u-joints to work smoothly. After mounting this bracket and making sure the rack was level and ran straight side to side, I fabricated the passenger side bracket which is a piece of angle and a piece of flat stock.

All that remained was to get it hooked to the spindles. I decided that I didn't want to mess with the factory steering geometry and thought that it would be rather convenient to just use the stock tie rods and center link. I cut the center link just outboard of the inner tie rod mount and positioned it where the factory system put it. Then I made a bracket that bolted on to the rack and welded the center link to it.

The system works smoothly. The last items I need to do are finish weld the brackets, trim some excess from them, paint them and either make or have made some power steering hoses that will mate the factory pump to the rack. If I make some hoses using AN fittings and hose they will cost me about $125 more than what I have already spent bringing the total to about $360.

All that I don't know is whether headers will clear. I figure since my setup is similar to the Steeroids system, the header limitations will be similar. I plan to use shorties or mid-length myself, but have some long tube headers I will give a trial fit. BTW my engine is a 351W.

Here is what I have spent so far:

Steering U-joints and DD shaft - $178.80 (Summit)
3/4" ball bearing - $4.63 (for steering column)
Steel for brackets - $5.00 (from local fabricator's junk pile)
Misc bolts and nuts - $3.00 (hardware store)
Salvage yard Rack - 42.50

Here are some pictures:
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Last edited by 109jb; 05-20-2009 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:32 PM   #2
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Nice! A little out of my abilities, but good to see someone still doing their own custom fab projects
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Old 05-07-2009, 12:20 AM   #3
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Very nice! What is the thickness for the steel for the brackets? The passenger side bracket looks a bit thin.
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Old 05-07-2009, 12:45 AM   #4
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if you can make one for a 68 ill buy it. lol
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Old 05-07-2009, 12:56 AM   #5
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the pics are good..It looks nice...
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Old 05-07-2009, 01:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 67t5ponycoupe View Post
Very nice! What is the thickness for the steel for the brackets? The passenger side bracket looks a bit thin.
The Driver side bracket is all 1/4" thick. The passenger side is 3/16, but the driver side bracket takes ALL of the side to side load. The passenger side bracket only holds fore-aft and up-down position of that end of the rack.
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Old 05-07-2009, 04:36 AM   #7
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wow! looks great, you can make one for my 69 if you want, or you can make yourself a new/prettier one and I'll buy that one off of you haha

nice work
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Old 05-07-2009, 06:33 AM   #8
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let us know if it actually works :-]
some talent :-)
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Old 05-07-2009, 07:11 AM   #9
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Nicely done! Update the thread when you get to road test it.
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:18 AM   #10
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Think you cold post some of the measurements you used for the brackets?
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:53 AM   #11
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Start building them. Before you button everything up and have a harder time removing it all, make duplicates of your Tell everyone where to get the other parts, then sell your brackets for another $50 tacked on for your time (just to trace a couple brackets)

I'd buy a set. You'd make enough just off the members here alone to cover your TOTAL cost of your system in your car, and that doesn't even touch what you could make on ebay.

Just a thought.
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:44 AM   #12
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I seconds that. With a little research you could probably put a kit together with the brackets, drawings/specifications and a list of rack and pinion system that would work.
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:52 AM   #13
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Yep,, Im tired of my leaky ram.. and the dead spot too. Rack and pinion at that price would be great. YOu could powdercoat the kit for pretty cheap too.
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Old 05-07-2009, 10:40 AM   #14
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Thanks guys. I do plan on making some dimensioned drawings of the brackets and giving more detail of all the steps in the modification. I figure there are a lot of guys like me that want rack and pinion, but don't want the high price of the store bought units. Therefore I planned from the beginning to make the drawings available free of charge to anyone that wants to build it. I have a few things I would want to check before I do that though and the drawings would be "use at your own risk". I'm guessing I can have done what I want to and get the drawings done by the end of the month. As far as producing the brackets, I'm not really interested in that right now because I just have too much going on. The brackets are really simple and can be made with a cut-off wheel, drill and welder if you had to. You could even make the pieces and take it to a welding shop for that step. The only part that required machining was the bearing holder for the steering column. You can't see this part in the pictures, but it is basically an aluminum donut that the bearing is pressed into and keeps the bearing centered in the outer steering column tube.
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Old 05-07-2009, 11:48 AM   #15
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What year/model was the rack pulled from?
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Old 05-07-2009, 01:54 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by REAVER117 View Post
What year/model was the rack pulled from?
The rack I have was pulled from a 1992 Chevy Cavalier. This part cross references to several different GM cars. Here is a list I found online that shows what cars use the same rack:

  • 1982-1989 Buick Skyhawk
  • 1986-1993 Buick Skylark
  • 1986-1987 Buick Somerset
  • 1985-1985 Buick Somerset Regal
  • 1982-1986 Cadillac Cimarron
  • 1991-1993 Chevrolet Beretta
  • 1982-1993 Chevrolet Cavalier
  • 1987-1993 Chevrolet Corsica
  • 1992-1993 Oldsmobile Achieva
  • 1985-1987 Oldsmobile Calais
  • 1985-1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais
  • 1982-1988 Oldsmobile Firenza
  • 1985-1991 Pontiac Grand Am
  • 1982-1986 Pontiac J2000
  • 1984-1985 Pontiac J2000 Sunbird
  • 1986-1993 Pontiac Sunbird
You can actually get a remanufactured unit for about $100 from autozone, advance auto, etc. Problem with the reman units is then you have to buy the rubber mounts and the steel mounting straps separate and pay a core charge. I figured that the salvage part would be fine and if it ever did have problems I would get the reman then. My rack is from a car with the "standard" suspension. There were options for sport suspensions or heavy duty suspensions that used a different rack. The rack I have is 2-3/4 turns lock to lock. Also, I think that some had a different input shaft design, but can be interchanged with a different rag joint. Of course how I did it uses u-joints, which may change which u-joint you buy. That bottom u-joint on mine was 17mm DD on one end and 3/4" DD on the other. I think the other arrangement is a spline typ input shaft.
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Old 05-20-2009, 09:46 PM   #17
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Default $233.93 rack annd pinion (updated 5/20/2009)

Update:

Well I finally got time to temporarily install the engine and transmission to check the clearances of parts and pieces of the rack to the engine. Everything clears but some stuff is tooooooooo close. Not a big deal but I will have to fabricate up some new brackets to get it to have adequate clearance. Everything clears the engine and transmission itself beautifully. The header is the problem. I could probably just get some shorty headers and everything would be fine but I want to make it work at least with the long tube headers I already have.

You can see in the pictures that the DD steering shaft clears the long tube headers, but there is only about 1/16" of clearance right now. The other problem is that the flexible bellows that cover the rack are only about 1/8" from the header. Can you say melt!!! Before anyone asks, the headers came with the car and I don't know what brand they are.

My plan is to make some new brackets that will move the rack forward about 1/2 to 3/4", rotate it forward a touch, and move it about 1/4" to the left. As I said before, once I get it sorted out I will post drawings of the brackets.

Anyway, here are some pictures:

Looks good from this angle doesn't it.
Click the image to open in full size.

Not so good from a slightly different angle.
Click the image to open in full size.

Everything clears the engine and transmission itself. BTW, in another thread someone had a stripped oil drain and in the picture you can see the way I modify all my oil pans if they ever come off the engine. There is a 1/2" nut welded to the oil pan and then I use either a copper, aluminum, or plastic sealing washer and a short 1/2" bolt for a drain plug.
Click the image to open in full size.

Here you can see the bellows and the lack of clearance to the header.
Click the image to open in full size.

Last edited by 109jb; 05-20-2009 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 05-21-2009, 03:02 PM   #18
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What sort of brakes do you have? The reason I ask is because I am doing a swap from drums to disc that I picked up at a show. Guy said they came off another mustang, ran the numbers and they did come from a ford car in the 60's so I should be safe. Did that cause a problem with the tie rods and missing center link? I am anxious to see your specs when it is all said and done! I too own a 1970 mustang, coupe not fastback though, and wanted to try something like this out myself. Hope things fit a little better next time!

Last edited by Stangman70; 05-21-2009 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 05-21-2009, 03:16 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stangman70 View Post
What sort of brakes do you have? The reason I ask is because I am doing a swap from drums to disc that I picked up at a show. Guy said they came off another mustang, ran the numbers and they did come from a ford car in the 60's so I should be safe. Did that cause a problem with the tie rods and missing center link? I am anxious to see your specs when it is all said and done! I too own a 1970 mustang, coupe not fastback though, and wanted to try something like this out myself. Hope things fit a little better next time!
My car has factory disk brakes up front. I guess I don't understand what the brakes have to do with the steering??
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Old 05-21-2009, 03:25 PM   #20
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ohhh that's very close to header.
looks like you unmounted the clutch z-bar. any solution for that?


never mind ... just saw you have an automatic :-]
make sure to point out in the drawing that it won't clear clutch equalizer bar. So either auto or maybe will work with cable operated clutch ...
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Last edited by kalli; 05-21-2009 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 05-21-2009, 03:25 PM
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