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Old 04-20-2005, 10:52 PM
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Problem: Steering Rack?

I've got a Mustang II IFS with upper and lower tubular A-arms in my 54 Chevy pickup ... not that I'm even sure what all that means, but I'm having a problem that I want to try and fix myself, and I need some help understanding what I need to do and how.

I've been experiencing a problem with my steering getting sticky ... to explain what I mean, you know how when you're driving down the road, you're always making small adjustments with the steering wheel -- an inch to the left, an inch back to the right -- right? Well, I'll nudge the steering wheel an inch to the left and I have to apply more pressure than normal to move it there ... then, instead of returning back by itself, as is normally the case, it kinda "sticks" there and I have to apply more force than normal to move it back.

There's an inch to two inches of play in the steering wheel.

This, as you can imagine, is driving me nuts ... especially because I'll go through this one day, and after the truck sits parked all night, the next day it's not doing it. So, I'm having a hard time figuring out what's causing it.

This was happening months ago, but I let is slide because it would only happen one day out of every 2 months or so. But this past week it seems to be staying in the "sticky" mode ... so here I am looking for help.

I examined the steering column from the firewall to the steering box and can see no problems there. The column exits the firewall, goes to a coupling which joins it to a steel rod that joins with another coupling a couple of inches before the steering box. All that is new and operating properly -- see here:



I don't have a picture that reveals where it enters the steering box, but those of you who are familiar with the Fatman Mustang II setup will know what's there. I don't know squat about all this, but the Borgeson shaft goes into what I assume would be called the steering box. There's a large bolt-head on top of the steering box, and another at the bottom-front of it ... should I open these and see if maybe I need some sort of fluid in there? Maybe it's low? And, if so, what product do I need to buy? What kind of fluid ... or is it grease?

I posted here about this, way back when, and someone said I may need a new steering rack. But I don't even know what a steering rack looks like; how to spot it; what to look for; how to test whatever needs checking.

Anyone feel like helping me find my way in the dark here? I sure would appreciate any help you can give.

Thanks.

Alan
54 Chevy Pickup

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Old 04-21-2005, 10:41 AM
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Here's what a Mustang rack looks like:

From your description I suspect you have a binding problem either in one of the two "U" joints or in the rack itself. Probably the rack. I'm not familiar with the adjustments available with the Mustang rack but I'm sure any Motors or Chilton repair manual will give you a good idea as to what maintenance can be performed on these units. They're not that expensive so worst case you can always pick up a remanufactured unit from your local auto parts store.
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Old 04-21-2005, 02:31 PM
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Thanks, bro' ... the picture really helps.

How difficult a job is this to replace? It looks like something I can handle myself, and I'll be trying.

Any tips ... or make-sure-you-do-this kinda things ... are appreciated.

Alan
54 Chevy Pickup
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Old 04-21-2005, 02:48 PM
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You basically have 5 connections. The two main mounting bolts on the bottom (you can see the holes in the pic) the two tyrod ends that attach to the spindles and the "U" joint that connects the steering shaft.

If you have a Borgenson "U" joint there will be a couple lock nuts with hex screws that you'll need to loosen to get the steering shaft off. You'll need to remove the bolts on the tyrod ends and you may need to use a pickle fork to separate the tyrod ends from the spindles since it is a tapered fit but that shouldn't be much of a problem. There will be a couple pins to remove then the bolts will come off. When replacing them don't forget to put new pins back on. Here's what the tyrod ends look like:



Once you have the steering shaft and tyrod ends loose, the main mounting bolts simply unbolt and the entire unit should slide right out.

When installing a new unit, make sure you screw the tyrod extensions on the shaft approximately the same distance they were on the old shaft (these will come off your old shaft one each end), this is one of the points that will need to be adjusted when you have the front end aligned. The splined steering shaft will simply slide back on but make sure you tighten both hex screws and their lock nuts so it won't slide off at speed.

That's pretty much all there is to it. You will need to have your front end aligned when you're done though. Although you can get close when adjusting the tyrod ends by hand you still need to have the fine tuning done with the proper equipment at an alignment shop. Don't want to wear out those front tires prematurly.

Last edited by Centerline; 04-21-2005 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 04-21-2005, 06:37 PM
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Thanks a MILLION, bro'! I really appreciate you taking the time to explain all this and to get those pics for me, too.

This sounds like a simple enough job ... and I guess the only tool I don't have, that I'll need, is the pickle fork.

Is it necessary that the pickle fork be powered? I don't have a compressor or anything -- just hand tools ... so can I operate a pickle fork by hand, or with a hammer?

I'm starting to look forward to doing this now, thanks to your explaining everything.

Also, I hear Flaming River makes the best steering rack -- goes for about $200 ... do you agree? Or do you suggest any others?

Alan
54 Chevy Pickup
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Old 04-21-2005, 06:44 PM
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I'm not familar with the Mustang rack, nor manual racks in general, but the power steering racks I've seen have a nut with which you can adjust the preload. If the preload is too tight, the steering will bind. Too loose and the steering will be a little sloppy.

If you picture the rack as a very long cylinder that goes side to side, that intersects with a short cylinder that is angled, at one end of the short cylinder is where the steering shaft bolts. At the other end of that cylinder is a cap that can be pried of to expose the adjustment nut for the preload.

In my (limited) experience, assuming the rack or something else isn't worn out, if the preload was too tight, then you wouldn't typically have sloppiness in the steering. However, your binding and sloppiness aren't necessarily caused by the same component - the rack could be binding and some other part is worn, or conversely something else is binding and the rack could be worn (or needs the preload snugged a bit).

Don't know how applicable any of that is to your situation, but I didn't see it mentioned above. I hope someone more knowledgeable than I will chime in if I'm sending you off in the wrong direction...

Also, you want to be sure the rack is bolted down tight. If its sliding around, nothing will be right, although usually you'll get "clunking" if that occurs.
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Old 04-21-2005, 07:24 PM
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Alan,
You can use a pickle fork and a big hammer (2.5 to 10lbs). The pneumatic fork is a lot easier.
Bob
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Old 04-21-2005, 07:53 PM
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ckucia -- This is a manual rack ... thanks for the info.

Bob -- Thanks, bro' ... a sledge it will be, unfortunately.
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Old 04-21-2005, 08:29 PM
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check for worn splines on steering rack or universal joint. could also be worn steering column.
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Old 04-22-2005, 08:22 AM
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Alan,
There was an interesting article about steering on page 90 in the Feb. 2005 issue of Street Rodder. I tend to agree with the previous comments, but this may give a bit more insight.
Good luck,
Ed
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Old 04-22-2005, 02:04 PM
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Thanks, all

Hey, Ed -- Anything specific about that article?

Alan
54 Chevy Pickup
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Old 04-22-2005, 04:49 PM
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Horvath
The info you have from Centerline is excellent info, and yes the flaming river is an excellent rack although others are good also and about the same price, one thing I noticed in your pictures is you are using borgenson unions which I think are the best, BUT--- You do not have a support bearing on your steering shaft and yours is by the pictures over 16" in length between the unions, they recommend that you use a support bearing if your seering shaft is over 12" and I would recommend when you order your rack that you verify this because it may casuse undue stress on the rack and cause an early failure to the rack because of undue stress. Just a suggestion and the cost is minimal compared to replacement of steering racks every 3 to 4 years.
30dee
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Old 04-22-2005, 05:39 PM
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Thanks for that info, 30dee!

What exactly is a suport bearing? Where does it go and what does it looks like?

PS -- Here's a shot of my rack:



Alan
54 Chevy Pickup
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Old 04-22-2005, 06:07 PM
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Alan,
I think, 30Desoto was referring to steering shaft support bearings.
They encircle your steering shaft and give it support, so it doesn't flop around.
Check it out: http://www.borgeson.com/Supportbearing.htm
Bob
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Old 04-22-2005, 06:15 PM
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Horvath
Angliabob is good, I have a problem setting up links or pictures and Mama called me for dinner, well worth the break
Borgeson is just one style and flaming river also carries them, usually around 60.00 but if you want the pretty ones can cost just alittle more.
30dee
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