Randall rack install...

Discussion in 'Classic Mustang Specific Tech' started by dbfarr, Sep 30, 2005.


  1. dbfarr

    dbfarr Member

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    After many disappointments with the steering in my car I have ordered a Randall’s rack to install in my 68 Cougar. I have spent an inordinate amount of time and money on the steering in this car and have achieved little in the way of satisfying my craving to have this car maneuver as I wish. I guess this is my “killer issue”, something I obsess over. Nonetheless, I write a great deal in the course of my studies and am prepared to thoroughly document the installation of the rack, discuss my decision to purchase Randall’s version, and offer criticism on the difference between the original power steering system, the manual steering system (currently installed), and the new rack system. This criticism would include commentary on maintenance, cost of installing, and overall feel.

    I wish to create a project that allows people to make informed decisions about the steering systems they choose in their Mustang/Cougar/etc. I hope to help individuals avoid making the same irritating and disappointing mistakes I have made while sharpening my non-fictional, technical writing skills at the same time.

    All that remains is interest. That is, should anyone feel that this sort of thing would be helpful or beneficial, simply speak up and I will begin right away. I have a great deal to say on the subject of the steering systems available for these cars. I have done all the work my self and have spent countless hours researching multiple forums and speaking to a large number of individuals concerning the primary elements (steering components), secondary elements (Tilt and non tilt oem columns, couplers), and tertiary elements (suspension, etc).

    Thanks.
  2. Tim65GT

    Tim65GT Active Member

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    Isn't that what we're here for? :nice:
  3. 66stangbluework

    66stangbluework New Member

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    i would definately find that as good information, as im planning to upgrade to power steering. I just replaced all the front end components and had my steering box rebuilt and it handles like a different vehicle. I dont mind the manual steering but wonder what power would be like on the old girl :D
  4. ttoney

    ttoney New Member

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    Yep, there will be tons of interest.

    I have guys photo chopping my car to see if I like it with stripes, scoops, wheels etc. I always try to get other peoples input on projects I have not tried myself unless it is basic stuff.

    Collective knowlege is important with this hobby.
  5. gzminiz

    gzminiz New Member

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    I am interested as well, I am still contemplating this. I have so much crap going in new and not original I am wondering what will work together though. 67, 351w, hydraulic clutch, power disc's on all four corners, tremec, etc. Wondering how a new power rack would fit and which one would work best.
  6. dbfarr

    dbfarr Member

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    Ok, looks good

    Alright then.

    The rack is on the way as well as a few other items which I decided to include in this project. I have a spreadsheet on the actual cost (all materials I am using) of this project. I will provide it when I have an accurate accounting.

    Let me first say that this is my second Cougar, the first was ten years ago and a 67’. The steering was power, had a 13 inch wheel slammed on (Seriously, this is how it was described to me at the time), and handled quite well. The wheel had no circumferential play, turned with my pinky, and reported no road feel whatsoever. But it was a hell of a lot of fun! Turn the wheel, car goes (sometimes sideways) round the corner. Major problem with this system was hose burning (which I think I have found a super cheap solution to, i.e. 12$), a vague (at best) sense of wheel center, and extremely difficult to repair once it develops numerous symptoms (which, unless risking being repetitive, I will explain when I get to my current car).

    On the Bendix (cuz, that’s who makes the control valve – the brains of the system) power steering system, I have numerous complaints.

    First let’s discuss the Bendix control valve (here on known as the valve, or if you work on it - @#$%$). The valve works by sensing the movement in the pitman arm via it’s connection to the valve itself. There is inherently 3 or so inches of slack DESIGNED into the valve in order for it to “sense” your input. The problem is these things are 35 + years old and subjected to heavy internal wear. So, chances are, by the time you get it, it is junk. The interior surfaces develop burrs and other anomalies which, even if you rebuild it, will present you with some really cute problems. I.e. car will inexplicably pull one direction or another. So, if you decide to go with the Bendix system and want a permanent solution, I recommend that you buy a BRAND NEW valve. I would rather not get involved in the who does or who does not provide a better part argument. I will say that my luck with Flaming River steering boxes has not been very good, so consider this when looking at their other products (more on this later).

    I wanted to mention something inherent about the Bendix power steering system while I have a moment. The system uses a lot of pressure, I mean a loooot. Something like 600 psi or so. Anyway, the hoses that go from the valve to the ram are correct when they look like they are crossed. This has got to be part of the “engineers with a hangover” effect over at Ford designs in the 60”s. If you put the hoses in, what appears to be, the non-crossed fashion, you are in for a big surprise.

    See this post
    http://forums.stangnet.com/showthread.php?t=532964&highlight=crossed hose

    You’ll note that there is mention that the ram bracket busted off requiring welding.

    *** THIS IS A CRITICAL ISSUE IF YOU WISH TO USE THE STEEROIDS OR ANY OTHER SYSTEM THAT MOUNTS DIRECTLY UNDER THE STEERING BOX***

    The reason is, as you may imagine, that those mounts are tough to use if welded shut. This results in your having a friendly conversation with the welder of your choice about how to restore the frame rail to its original condition. Otherwise, you won’t be able to mount the rack.

    It’s time for me to start on some of the preliminary work outside, so I’ll finish with the Bendix lecture later.

    Thanks.
  7. 66Runt

    66Runt New Member

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    Just getting ready to install mine

    I just received my kit yesterday.
    The quality of Randalls rack is very good. A mechanically inclined individual should have no problem with the instructions.
    I don't expect to be on the road much before Christmas, with everything I'm doing.

    Look forward to hearing how your install goes.

    BTW: you will need to add in the cost of late model Mustang inner tie rod ends to the price, as well as manual steer 65-66 outer tie rod ends (if you don't have them). In my case it added roughy $225.00, but I didn't shop around.

    Scott
  8. dbfarr

    dbfarr Member

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    Inner tie rod ends

    Car Mustang 1982-1993 Stock Power Steering Tie Rod Ends RH/LH INNER E2RR-00003280-A 19.95 Each

    Not sure but think these are it, they arn't moog... but hey, neither are the ones we buy in our rebuild kits. For the '68, you use your original outers.
  9. 66Runt

    66Runt New Member

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    First quality, second made in the USA.

    It's a personal thing for me.

    When you put 20K into updates/upgrades, what's $200.00 when you get quality made in the good old U.S. of A. parts. :flag:

    And no, I don't use those cheap rebuild kits. But again, it's a personal thing.

    Scott
  10. dbfarr

    dbfarr Member

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    I perfectly understand

    I know, don't get me wrong. But i am pretty poor. So my main interest is to get the project finished under a certain budget so i can apply my attention elsewhere. I align the car twice a year anyway, so if the inners wear quickly, i am sure i can make the case to the wife to use hgher quality units later.

    Honestly, there really is no better quality than moog, i just can't afford to put all this together without making some sacrifices. So with the 20$ dollar units I have to go.

    I did find a guy on Ebay who stocks TRW parts for excellent prices. I haven't had the opportunity to contact him yet though. If he does pan our, I'll mention it here.
  11. dbfarr

    dbfarr Member

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    Original power steering system part 2

    Ok, so the steering box. Can we get a Woohoo for the Saginaw recirculating ball gearbox. I do not know if these boxes ever offered responsive steering without the help of the control valve. The box in my 68 had 3 inches of play, the brand new one I bought had 2 ½.

    These boxes are typically not responsive on their own, they may be with improved design idler arms but I can’t vouch for it either way. Mine was rebuilt several times and still exhibited grinding on the far right of the turning spectrum. I bought a Flaming River box and it had no play with the power steering system working, but still had play with a manual system in place (total conversion – new center link etc.).

    This evidence leads me to the following two conclusions. Either the Flaming river box has no play in it and my idler arm is cheap garbage or the box does have play in it (either its a bad unit or, no matter what, the saginaw system has play. I have seen article that claim otherwise).

    see http://www.fordmuscle.com/archives/2002/07/steeringbox/index.shtml

    for qoute : " With the new 16:1 ratio Flaming River box installed the slightest input to the steering wheel results in movement at the tires. Not to mention that the wheel is smooth and tight throughout the entire range of movement."

    This is not my experience, so decide for yourself.

    Play in the steering is what it is really all about for me, I can’t stand it. I need to feel that the road is accessible to me, not a game of pinball or find the lines. I couldn’t find a reasonable rebuilt control valve (mine was rebuilt and behaved petulantly, I bought another and it had flat spots at 9 and 2 o’clock). So I made a command decision, I converted it to manual. But I digress, more on the manual conversion later.

    Idler arms are quite irritable, and if worn, will make you very unhappy. Worn idler arms are indicated by the car whipping its nose down the road in a shark like motion. Also can be diagnosed when the centerlink drops an inch and a half or so when you release the pitman arm (of course this happened on a “brand new” idler arm a mechanic was supposed to have replaced. This is part of the reason I don’t allow anyone to “pimp” on my car anymore). The 65-66 model year mustangs have a “rollerized” design available which is supposed to handle things quite a bit better. I am not going to explore this one empirically as that particular innovation is not only for an older model car, but also for manual steering. Since my wife weighs 145 pounds 6 months pregnant, manual steering is just no longer an option.

    The power steering pitman arm is made entirely of metal, and unless you drag it behind the car with a rope, won’t wear out.

    I would like to note that many posts concern the later models (67-69) using the early manual centerlink (65-66) in order to implement the Shelby quick steer kit. If this is the case, it seems likely that the later model power steering system will fit the early model mustangs. If you do decide to experiment with this idea, I highly suggest ebay in order to get the parts. In fact many people are selling the system (67-69) in its entirety, as they are using one of the many rack systems available. I do not recommend using the old control valve, steering gear, or idler arm, these things are almost always junk used; Especially the case when the previous owner has spent 1200 to 2200 hundred dollars to replace them. This method of buying the entire system is a good way to get a pump, p/s steering centerlink, and p/s pitman arm.

    So that’s it for power steering, if you know all this already please bear in mind I am writing these posts in the assumptions that someone out there is exactly where I was 18 months ago, completely in a state of ignorance and ready to entrust a large sum of money to some uninterested pimp of a mechanic.

    Total cost of trying to repair power steering system

    1500$ est.

    Feeling like a complete idiot and desperately changing to manual in order to make it to my new university (1000 miles away) before class started… priceless.
  12. Tubo(2-bo)

    Tubo(2-bo) Member

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    Thats the idea information exchange!!
    I was waiting for Mavalgear to come out with theirs, so far they only build a manual Mustang rack.
  13. dbfarr

    dbfarr Member

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    Mavalgear, oh the unisteer rack

    I considered that one, but could not find enough details about where it installed. This is important as I'll explain later. If you are really curious, note how the speeddirect rack mounts.

    My other reasoning was that my wife green lighted this project because she hates the manual steering. I am doing it becuase I am nuts. So, anyway the rack absolutely has to be power.
  14. dbfarr

    dbfarr Member

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    I won't mention names, but

    I have spent some time on another forum where there is a bit of piety going on. Furthermore, members are being rated by the level ($) of their contributions.

    I really don't want to be a class warrior, but I am really struggling financially. I am very close to finishing my degree and have extremely limited funds. It seems very likely that their are others out there who are in the same boat. Nonetheless, I work very hard, and sometimes certain things make me feel, well ... poor.

    So before i started something of this scope, and I think it's becoming apparent what I intend to do. I wanted to make sure that the only capital I have, some level of skill with writing and documentation, would be appreciated.

    I am not angry, do not wish to offend, and am really just trying to put someone else in the position to have all the information necessary to assess their needs and make a rational and financially judicious decision about what to do with the steering in their car.

    There are so many options availible to the diy engineer on these cars. Expense is simply a matter of priorities and budget. The key is to be able to do the major things and not have to re do them again and again.

    I have been able to cull so much useful information off of forums like this one, and in return this is one step i wish to take in order to give something back. More will come as time goes on of course, but for now, this is what I have to offer.

    So end of long winded disclaimer...

    Thanks
  15. dbfarr

    dbfarr Member

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    Picture Quality Check

    I thought i would start with a before picture and see if it is clear

    [​IMG]

    Line A is where the Randall/ TCP racks would mount, line B is where the steeriods rack would mount. The shaded area is a problem area for any p/s car that has enjoyed the crossed lines phenomenom (will go into detail later) and is also a critical mounting area for the steeriods rack.
  16. gsxrken

    gsxrken Member

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    I'm glad you're documenting this. Don't worry about the funds. If it makes you feel better, I've had my car for 18 years and it's still not on the road. Through most of the years funds was the problem, now it's time.
    Keep posting, and improve the lighting on those pics!!!
    :)
  17. DarkBuddha

    DarkBuddha Founding Member

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    dbfar, you're obviously well invested in this project (I don't mean monetarily, though that may be the case too). You've hit on many of the usual problematic areas that most encounter on the OEM ps setup. I'm glad you're taking the time to share your insight and experience, as well as your Randall's Rack conversion. I'll be watching this thread.

    I'd also like to say that I still think there is potential for making the original system a good performing system with reasonable feedback. I'm actually pursuing this course myself right now. I spent 7 years daily driving my Mach and making improvements along the way. From that experience, I did find there were some things that made signficant differences in the steering's response and feel. These include rebuilding the control valve and ram (with good results), proper steering gear load adjustment, proper valve adjustment, the use of poly bushings in both the suspension and steering system, and different tire profiles and specs. The combination of these things provided immediate improvement, including improved stability and direction control, improved response to only 1.5" of radial steering wheel play (on a 14" steering wheel) before tire movement (which really isn't very much), and increased roadfeel through the wheel significantly. In the recent build of the system, I've furthered my efforts with more use of poly bushings in the steering system and investigation of idler arm designs, bumpsteer reduction, improved ratio add-ons, and pressure modulation. I hope to share my experience with those over the next year.

    Now, all of that said, I'm not sure I'll see the kind of feel and response improvements a rack&pinion conversion might provide. In fact, I'm not sure if I'll even see a cost benefit comparitively (though that is what I'm hoping since I'm a broke doctoral student with a one year old). But, some of my concerns extend beyond these issues. For example, being that I intend for my car to be a daily drive (and my sole car at that), I have interest in being able to get repair parts locally and at reasonable costs, and even on a Sunday afternoon from a local parts store if I need. Also, I continue to have reservations about the potential of losing turning radius since parking and manuevering on the street and in parking lots is a challenge here in Seattle.

    Anyway, I'm hoping you'll add a couple of things to your list while doing your conversion since no one seems to have investigated or attempted to deal with these in forethought. I think these would be extremely informative for others considering the conversion (including me eventually):

    1. Measure turning radius before and after conversion, definitively.

    2. Cost and convenient sources of replacement parts, including the rack itself (since I've had to replace racks on cars with less than 50k miles).

    3. Measure of radial steering wheel play (giving the steering wheel diameter) before and after conversion.

    4. Any permanent modifications of any component on the car (including steering column or shafts).

    5. Tools necessary for the conversion, including any cutting or welding tools you use.

    6. And ultimately, some kind of measured performance improvement (i.e. track or autocross times).

    That is the kinda stuff that gets lost in the hype of all these conversions. We all talk about wanting more feel, response, stability, and performance, but is this conversion compromising one aspect for another, or does it truly provide improvement across the range? That would help me feel more informed! :nice:

    I'll look forward to your future posts.

    EDIT: Damn. I left out a couple spaces and commas. Sometimes I just type too fast for my own good.
  18. Edbert

    Edbert Founding Member

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    Every Mustang I've owned came with factory power steering, and I hated every one of them regarding the total lack of road feel. I had much the same results as DB here; some good springs, new arms with bushings and ball-joints, 4 gas shocks, then some liberal use of poly and they do waken up a bit. I always went one step further by cutting the fan belt to the pump. The effort required was only considerable in a parking lot and as long as the driver is reasonably physical I don;t see any issues with it. I have put a TCP rack in mine but she's still a long way from the road so I cannot contribute any experience other than the install proceedure at this time.

    I know the budget for this write-up will not allow for the direct comparison of other products like TCP or FR. But if there's enough formatting to the article then others can add info about them using said format and we can cobble up a full fledged story. Once it is "written" I think it should be condensed into a single document and made available via PDF.
  19. stanger53

    stanger53 New Member

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    Power-assisted steering

    dbfarr, since few people have looked into the early Mustang power-assisted steering like you have, I have a few questions and observations. I'm still learning about this system myself.

    You mention that there is inherently 3 or so inches of slack designed into the control valve for it to sense movement. Could you explain this in more detail? You must be talking about movement at the steering wheel because there is physically only about a half inch of travel possible in a properly assembled and adjusted valve assembly. The ball stud only has a few hundredths of an inch of spring slack before it moves the spool inside the valve and starts hydraulic turning action.

    May I ask who rebuilt your control valve or where you purchased it from?

    A properly rebuilt control valve assembly should have no burrs or problems that causes the system to pull one way over the other. This is usually an adjustment problem.

    Although more people have had favorable results from new reproduction control valves than not, they do have their own problems. Both the Stainless Steel Brake and Flaming River valves are built to tighter tolerances and are more likely to bind or stick. The SSBC valve has several parts that are designed differently from the original Bendix. These are not improvements and often cause problems. Because of this, they do not consider their own valve to be rebuildable. The Flaming River valve also is built differently than the original. It does not even use a real seal on both ends of the spool valve, just a rubber o'ring. A round o'ring is often used to seal, but not usually to a sliding surface. The seal surface of the spool valve is extremely rough compared to the original design, so I don't know how this is supposed to hold up over time. Personally, I do not think either repro valve is a superior or even an equal quality design to the original Bendix.

    "Crossed" cylinder hoses. If you look at a 65/66 Mustang, the hoses from valve to cylinder run quite straight and parallel. Top of valve to top of cylinder, bottom to bottom. The drivers side tie rod ends on this model are curved to keep them from hitting the control valve under certain conditions. However, it is common for the adjusting sleeve (when improperly positioned) to have its bolts still hit the valve housing or end cap.
    In 1967 Ford went to the use of straight tie rods. To give them more clearance from the control valve, Ford "twisted" the valve backwards in relation to the centerlink. That means that the cylinder hose ports on the valve housing run more front-to-back while the cylinder ports are more up-and-down. This is why the 1967 and later Fords look like the hoses are crossed. I don't think this was a "hangover" design, just a consequence of a modification needed because of the tie rod change.

    The Saginaw recirculating-ball steering box has been around since the late 50's. It was "state of the art" at the time. Since this is a General Motors design, there is really no difference between the basic design of a Mustang box over a Corvette box. The Mustang box is the same manual or power except occasionally the internal ratios are adjustments are slightly different. It is not a perfect design, but a pretty good one. I thought it strange that the article you linked to made a big deal about Flaming River improving their boxes by using needle bearings to support the sector shaft instead of bushings. Ford changed from bushings to needle bearing on the 1963 Falcon, so the Mustang never has the poor bushing design to begin with.
    May I ask, who built your steering box or where you purchased it from? A box that had a grinding situation towards one lock is generally a sign that the teeth are worn and require the adjustment nut to drive the sector shaft deep into the teeth on the rack block. Sometimes this causes the sector to drag on the inside of the housing at one end. This may have been your grinding. If so, the gears should have been replaced.
    All steering boxes will have some accumulative play, but that your new Flaming River box had almost as much as your old box shows a problem. Most people are happy with their Flaming River box, but I have run across several unhappy users. I have heard that they are made in Argentina, but have not had the chance to take one apart and see for myself. If so, I have seen Argentine reproduction steering box parts and find them of poor quality and design.

    I have seen Mustangs with steering linkages under them from other year Mustangs and even Mavericks, Granadas, etc. Since all of these cars use different length centerlinks and tie rods, and different location holes for them, I do not recommend using anything except what Ford originally designed for each model. The differences in steering geometry can't be good.

    Though my questions and observations were to dbfarr, I would welcome any comments or questions from any other members of the board. Though I have a lot of Ford factory manuals and literature on the power steering systems, and several years experience in rebuilding them, I find that I often learn something new occasionally if I'm not careful :D
  20. DarkBuddha

    DarkBuddha Founding Member

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    I knew I wasn't alone. Either way, I'm all for DIY on a budget, and Randall's rack is right up there.

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