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.
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!)
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
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)
Move on to Rack and Pinion Page 2: Installation.