Conversion of an early model Mustang to Rack and Pinion Steering.

This is Wal Marshall's story of the conversion of his 1970 Sportsroof 351C. 

1. Why?

My 1970 sportsroof came with just the factory manual steering, and with a 351C motor and 8 inch rims, it was HARD WORK manoeuvring it about at low speed. Parking was a real chore. Further, the steering was tired, sloppy and well past its best. Most of it needed replacement, including the steering box. I decided to convert to power steering. 

After pricing up the costs of the necessary new and replacement parts needed to achieve a factory power steering set-up, (new power ratio steering box, control unit, rams, ball joints, hoses, pump, belts, pulleys etc,) the cost was substantial. Installing second-hand parts would reduce the cost, but with the risk that I would have ongoing problems with worn and leaky parts. 

I decided instead that I would convert to powered rack and pinion steering, for the following reasons:

1. Finding and installing the parts for a top quality factory system was big money anyway.

2. The factory power steering system was never very good; vague in feel and response, and notorious for leaks.

3. The rack and pinion steering would provide vastly improved (yr 2000 era) steering feel and precision.

4. The system came as a complete bolt-in kit, with no cutting, welding, or permanent modifications required to the car. The car could be converted back at a later date if required. 

5. All parts were brand new, top quality and fully guaranteed by the one supplier.

5. When installed, the car looks totally standard unless you climb underneath (..or drive it!)

Click to enlarge any of these images (in fact any in this whole article)

Stdpssetup.jpg (47462 bytes)

Typical standard Ford Power steering set up. Note the low hanging hoses.

 boss rack.JPG (104271 bytes) Complete Total Control Products powered rack assembly as installed in a 69 429 Boss. (Note: TCP bottom suspension arms are also fitted to this car)
underhoist.JPG (57504 bytes) Completed TCP rack installed in my 1970, as viewed from the rear looking forward. (The car is on a wheel alignment hoist).

2. Getting the Parts

I ordered the rack from Total Control Products (TCP) in the US at the end of March 2001. There was a 8 week back order period, (due to the kits being so popular), and the rack was shipped at the end of May.  As these kits are expensive, I ordered only the rack kit and not the optional power steering pump kit. As the factory pump will work OK with the rack, (albeit the steering a little light) I decided to use a rebuilt second-hand pump sourced locally in NZ. 

While the rack was being made and delivered, I scoured the country for the remaining parts I needed: ie

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Mustang power steering pump: second-hand from a friend, stripped, repainted and new seal kit installed.

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Pump mounting hardware: second-hand from a mate in the USA; Special extra long mounting bolt from Southern Mustang.

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Dual groove crank pulley: second-hand from Rare Spares in Christchurch

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Off-set water pump pulley: second-hand from a local speed shop.

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Two new fan belts: new from Repco.

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Inner tie rod ends: new from Southern Mustang. (Outer rod tie rod ends had already been replaced)
(Note: The standard factory inner and outer tie rods are reused with the rack conversion).

By mid June, the rack kit had arrived, and I had all the parts I needed to do the job.

My first impressions of the rack kit were very positive, and were to remain so for the rest of the conversion. The rack is beautifully made and finished. It is also very strong and very heavy; the bare rack alone being 13 kg! The photos below show the components as received. (Click any to enlarge image)

Rack kit.JPG (41669 bytes)

Rack head top.JPG (40805 bytes)

Complete Kit

Rack head top

Dscf0118.jpg (303471 bytes)

Dscf0119.jpg (299218 bytes)

Dscf0120.jpg (300212 bytes)

Power Rack assembly from underneath

Dscf0110.jpg (300295 bytes)

Dscf0125.jpg (214447 bytes)

Dscf0124.jpg (207351 bytes)

Nuts bolts and plates to mount the rack

High & low pressure hydraulic hoses.

Steering column adaptor and connector shaft

 Move on to Rack and Pinion Page 2: Installation.