1955-57 POWER RACK AND PINION STEERING INSTALLATION

1955-57 POWER RACK AND PINION STEERING INSTALLATION
by Randy Irwin
1955-57 POWER RACK AND PINION STEERING
INSTALLATION
#53-125
Randy Irwin - Technical Writer
Randy has been involved in the Chevy
parts business for over 25 years. He is a wizard at creating, making and modifying custom
parts for Chevys.
We’ve done a few installation articles on our rack and pinion kit in past
issues, but never one as comprehensive as this. In this article we actually
take a running, driving car equipped with original manual steering and
show you step-by-step how to upgrade it with our popular power rack and
pinion kit.
#53-300
Parts List:
53-125 Rack & Pinion Deluxe Kit, Small Block,
Stock Column
53-126 Rack & Pinion Deluxe Kit, Big Block,
Stock Column
53-225 Rack & Pinion Mega Kit, Small Block,
Stock Column
53-226 Rack & Pinion Mega Kit, Big Block,
Stock Column
53-300 Rack & Pinion Deluxe Kit, Small Block,
Tilt Column w/ Floor Shift
53-301 Rack & Pinion Deluxe Kit, Big Block,
Tilt Column w/Floor Shift
53-302 Rack & Pinion Deluxe Kit, Small Block,
Tilt Column w/Column Shift
53-303 Rack & Pinion Deluxe Kit, Big Block,
Tilt Column w/Column Shift
53-304 Rack & Pinion Mega Kit, Small Block,
Tilt Column w/Floor Shift
53-305 Rack & Pinion Mega Kit, Big Block,
Tilt Column w/Floor Shift
53-306 Rack & Pinion Mega Kit, Small Block,
Tilt Column w/Column Shift
53-307 Pack & Pinion Mega Kit, Big Block,
Tilt Column w/Column Shift
211-21 Chrome Double Groove
Crankshaft Pulley
211-19 Chrome Double Groove Small Block
Water Pump Pulley
51-18 1/2" Fan Spacer
41-12 Small Block Power Steering Belt
41-17 Big Block Power Steering Belt
18-115 Small Block Alternator Bracket
21-185 Tubular Upper Control Arms
#53-307
#51-18
#211-21
4a
#21-185
Tools Needed:
Ratchet
1/2" Socket
9/16" Socket
1-5/16" Socket & Breaker Bar
Tin Snips
Hack Saw
1-3/4" Hole Saw
1/2" Wrench
9/16" Wrench
11/16" Wrench
3/4" Wrench
Hammer
Tie Rod End Splitter Tool
Pitman Arm Puller
4b
Photos 4a & 4b: The idler arm is located on the passenger side of
the car and is held to the frame with two carriage bolts, nuts and
lock washers. Remove the two nuts and lock washers and the
entire steering linkage can be removed from the car.
5a
5b
Time Frame:
8 hours
Photo 1: The original steering
box mounts to the frame just
behind the upper control arm
with three carriage bolts. When
installing the rack, all the
steering linkage should be
removed.
2a
Photos 5a & 5b: The steering shaft that connects the steering
wheel to the steering box is part of the steering box and not
removable. To remove the steering box and shaft, the mast jacket
(steering column) must be removed. If you are not planning on
saving the old steering box, the shaft can be cut at the steering
box to save you from removing the mast jacket from the car. This
will save you some time and keep you from possibly scratching
the paint in the dash area. With the steering shaft cut, the steering
wheel and shaft will slide out the top of the mast jacket.
2b
6a
Photos 2a & 2b: First, we will disconnect the outer tie rod ends
from the steering knuckles (outer steering arms). Remove the
cotter pin and nut from the tie rod end and using a tie rod splitter
and disconnect the tie rod ends from the steering arms. If the
outer tie rod ends and adjusting sleeve are in good shape, they
will be reused with the rack and pinion.
3a
3b
3c
Photos 6a & 6b: The steering box is removed through the top of
the engine compartment. Our project car has the alternator
mounted on the front two header bolts on the driver’s side and a
power brake booster and dual master cylinder – all in the way!
We will remove the alternator to make removing the steering box
easier. With the alternator out of the way, there is plenty of room
to remove the steering box.
7a
Photos 3a, 3b & 3c: The pitman arm is held to the steering box
with a 1-5/16" right hand thread nut and lock washer. Using a
socket and breaker bar or impact wrench, remove the nut and
lock washer. Next using a pitman arm puller and a breaker bar or
impact, remove the pitman arm from the steering box.
6b
7b
Photos 7a & 7b: Remove the three nuts, lock washers and
carriage bolts and the steering box can be removed from the car.
11b
Photo 8: Now that we have all the antiquated steering linkage
removed, we can install something that’s really going to make
this classic drive like a champ!
11c
Photos 11a, 11b & 11c: If you measure ten different frames
between the frame rails, you will get ten different measurements.
The ears on the crossmember are leaned in at the top to
accommodate for this variation. When the crossmember is bolted
to the frame, the ears will pull into place and the frame will not
move. The crossmember is held to the frame with 3/8" X 4" bolts
with flat washers and lock nuts.
12a
Photo 9: The Eckler’s Classic Chevy rack and pinion
crossmember is constructed of 1-5/8" mandrel bent round tubing
for superior strength and is a completely bolt-in unit. Our kits
include all mounting hardware and instructions.
10a
12c
10b
13a
12b
Photos 12a, 12b & 12c: The rack and pinion
unit is bolted to the crossmember with two
1/2" X 3" bolts and washers. The driver’s
side of the rack and pinion has a cast ear
where a 1/2" flat washer is installed on each
side of the ear.
13b
13c
13d
Photos 10a & 10b: The rack and pinion crossmember bolts to the
frame on the driver’s side using the stock holes for the steering
box. On the passenger side, the crossmember bolts to the frame
using the original holes for the idler arm.
11a
Photos 13a, 13b, 13c & 13d: The passenger side of the rack and
pinion also has an ear, but this one has a large hole that uses a
steel sleeve and two rubber bushings supplied with the kit. A
cupped washer is installed on the front side of the ear and a 1/2"
flat washer on the back side.
Photo 14: The Eckler’s
Classic Chevy Rack and
Pinion crossmember is so
strong you can use it to
jack up the front end! Other
rack kits on the market use
a flimsy lightweight
support or braces that do
not tie the frame rails
together.
15a
15b
18a
16a
16b
Photos 16a & 16b: The original steering arms are bolted to the
spindles with two 7/16" bolts and nuts. Remove the two nuts and
install the new arms.
17a
17b
17c
Photos 17a, 17b & 17c: The Eckler’s
Classic Chevy Rack and Pinion Kit
utilizes the original outer tie rod ends
and adjusting sleeves so there are no
metric parts installed on your Classic!
The outer tie rod ends and adjusting
sleeves were in perfect shape on our
project car so we will reuse them. If they
were bad, the adjusting sleeves are
available new as P/N 21-08 and the
outer tie rod ends P/N 21-07. Install the
adjusting sleeves and tie rod ends and
set the toe in as close as you can for
now. Once the rack and pinion is
completely installed, the car will need to
be taken to the alignment shop.
18c
Photos 18a, 18b & 18c:
Now we are ready to
connect the U-joints and shaft from the
rack and pinion to the steering column,
but we have a problem. The existing non-CCI headers that are on
our project car are right in the way. If we had some side room,
we could add the 3rd U-joint support kit P/N 53-317 and snake
the shaft around the header tubes, but there is just no room here
to do that. Instead, we will remove the left hand header only and
replace it with the Eckler’s Classic Chevy 3/4-length left header
P/N 24-53C-LH.
19a
Photos 15a & 15b:
The rack and
pinion kit includes new steering knuckles (steering arms) that are
1-5/8" shorter than the original ones. The shorter arms are
necessary to maintain the original steering radius.
18b
19b
19c
Photos 19a, 19b & 19c: The rack & pinion kit includes two large
brass bushings. One of the two bushings will fit into the bottom
of the original mast jacket to support the lower end of the new
steering shaft. Choose the correct size bushing that will slide up
into the bottom of the mast jacket and drive the bushing in so
that it is flush with the bottom of the tube.
Photo 20: When using an original steering column, a new shaft
steering shaft kit is supplied with the rack and pinion kit. This
includes the column shaft, the intermediate shaft and upper and
lower U-joints.
21a
21b
Photos 21a & 21b: The U-joints are held to the intermediate shaft
with set screws and jam nuts. Make sure when the shaft is
installed in the U-joint that the shaft does not protrude past the
inside of the yoke. If it does, the shaft will make contact with the
opposing yoke of the U-joint and create a bind.
22a
22b
Photos 22a, 22b & 22c: First, install the lower U-joint onto the
double-D shaft. Once the U-joint has been located on the shaft,
tighten the one set screw on the flat of the double-D shaft. The
set screw will leave a mark on the shaft. Next, using a 5/16" drill
bit, drill a dimple in the shaft at the mark. The dimple is used as
a seat for the set screw.
23a
26
22c
Photos 26: The
upper U-joint is the
larger of the two Ujoints supplied. The
top of the U-joint
has 3/4"-36 splines
to match the steering column shaft and the bottom of the U-joint
has a 3/4" double-D to match the intermediate shaft.
23b
27a
Photos 23a & 23b: The input shaft on the rack and pinion unit
has a coped-out area for the set screw. With the set screw seated
in the coped out area, the input shaft will be flush with the inside
U-joint yoke.
Photos 24a & 24b: The
new steering column
shaft has 3/4" - 36
splines at the bottom of
the shaft and the same
splines and threads at the top like the original. The same splines
at the top allows you to use the stock steering wheel or any
aftermarket steering wheel.
24a
24b
Photos 25: Install
the steering wheel
or steering wheel
adapter on the
shaft and slide the
shaft down into
the steering
column. Place a
piece of
cardboard or
folded-over paper
between the upper
mast jacket and
steering wheel or adapter. You want to achieve a 1/16" or so gap
between the steering wheel hub and steering column.
25
27b
Photos 27a & 27b: Install the lower U-joint and shaft on to the
rack and pinion unit making sure the set screw is seated in the
coped out area on the input shaft. Lay the 3/4" double-D shaft
next to the upper U-joint and mark the shaft where it will need to
be cut to properly engage the yoke on the joint. The intermediate
shaft is long enough to reach the firewall even if a late model tilt
column were installed
28a
28b
Photos 28a & 28b: The shaft can be cut with a hack saw, band
saw or chop saw. With the intermediate shaft cut, remove the
upper U-joint from the steering shaft, install the now shortened
intermediate shaft and lower U-joint to the rack and pinion,
install the upper U-joint the intermediate shaft and slide the
steering shaft into the upper U-joint.
Photo 29: With the upper U-joint in
place, tighten the one set screw on
the flat of the 3/4" double-D making
a mark. Remove the intermediate
shaft and U-joints, remove the upper
U-joint and drill a dimple in the
shaft just like you did for the lower
U-joint for the set screw.
Photo 30: With the U-joints
located on the intermediate
shaft, we gave the shaft and Ujoints a shot of gloss black paint.
32a
32b
Photos 32a & 32b: We have removed the left hand header only
and replaced it with the Eckler’s Classic Chevy 3/4-length header
P/N 24-53C-LH. This header can be purchased as a pair P/N 2453 (uncoated) or P/N 24-53C (coated). The #24-53 headers will
work with stock front mounts or any brand side mounts,
automatic column shift or manual transmissions, with or without
mechanical clutch linkage and with either straight or angle plug
heads. With the #24-53 headers there is plenty of room for the
lower U-joint and shaft on the driver’s side.
33a
35b
35a
33b
Photos 35a & 35b: Future plans include adding air conditioning,
so we will install a double groove pulley along with the third
track pulley on the balancer. All three pulleys together measure
1-3/4" deep. Using the marks on the fan shroud as the reference
point, cut a 1-3/4" deep notch in the shroud. A fine tooth hack
saw or tin snips works great to cut the aluminum shroud.
36a
36b
Photos 36a & 36b: The power steering pump mounts to the front
of the engine down low on the driver’s side. The pump mounting
bracket P/N 53-27 or 53-27C can be used as the power steering
pump mounting bracket on cars with side engine mounts or as a
combination front engine mounting bracket and pump mounting
bracket on engines with front mounts.
37b
37a
Photos 33a, 33b & 33c: The upper
bearing in the steering column P/N 5321 was bad so this was the perfect time
to change it before we installed the
steering shaft, the steering wheel adapter
and the intermediate with U-joints. With
everything set and the screws on the Ujoints locked down, we had a 1/16" gap between the steering
wheel adapter and the top of the steering column. This gap will
keep the steering wheel adapter from touching the painted
surface of the turn signal housing.
33c
34a
Photos 37a & 37b: The
pump bracket P/N 53-27
(small block short water
pump) is held to the front of the engine with two 3/8" X 3/4" bolt
and lock washers provided.
38a
38b
38c
34b
Photos 34a & 34b: A third track pulley must be added to the
crankshaft to drive the power steering pump. By adding a third
track pulley to the crankshaft, the fan shroud will need to be
notched. Mark the shroud and remove.
Photos 38a, 38b & 38c: The power steering pump P/N 53-28 is
held to the bracket with a 3/8" X 3/4" bolt and lock washer in
front and a stud at the rear that uses a 3/8" flat washer, lock
washer and nut provided with the bracket. With the pump in
place, we now see that the shroud will need to be trimmed for the
power steering pump pulley. This would be true with a big block
or small block engine.
39a
39b
43a
Photos 39a & 39b: Using the power steering pump pulley P/N
53-50 as a pattern, cut a template of the pulley.
40a
43c
40b
43b
Photos 43a, 43b & 43c: Starting
slow, trim the shroud with a cutoff wheel or tin snips until the
pulley will clear the fan shroud
with the pump adjusted all the
way out. This will require the fan
shroud to be installed and
removed several times.
44a
44b
44c
44d
Photos 40a & 40b: With the power steering pump reservoir
touching the upper control arm stud, place the cardboard pulley
template on the power steering pump shaft and mark the fan
shroud at the fan blade opening where it will need to be trimmed.
41a
41b
41c
Photos 41a, 41b & 41c: When the power steering pump was
installed, the shaft made a mark on the shroud. Using the two
marks that were made with the pulley template, center the
template on the scratch that the pump shaft made and mark the
outer circumference of the template. Next, make several small
diameter marks on the shroud to be used as reference points
when trimming the shroud.
42a
42b
Photos 42a & 42b: First, drill a 1-3/4" hole at the center of the
markings to line up with the power steering pump shaft when the
pump is adjusted as far out as it will go.
Photos 44a, 44b, 44c & 44d: With the pump and the single
groove power steering pump crankshaft pulley P/N 53-34
installed, you can see that the fan shroud is in the way of the
belt. Mark the shroud where the fan belt is going to travel and
once again remove the shroud and trim it for the power steering
pump belt.
Photo 45: Before we installed
the fan shroud for the last time,
we made a template of the
cut-outs on the shroud. If you
go to our website
www.classicchevy.com and pull
up either P/N 18-306 or P/N 18307 fan shroud, you can
download the template. Or if you wish you can send a selfaddressed envelope attn: CCI Tech Dept Fan Shroud Template
and we will be glad to send you a copy.
46a
46b
Photo 50: Now you may install the
fan shroud for the last time. The legs
on the shroud get trapped between the
core support and the radiator to finish
things off.
46c
Photos 46a, 46b, 46c & 46d: The
first groove on our balancer
pulleys closest to the harmonic
balancer will drive the water
pump and alternator. The second
groove is for the water pump and
air conditioning compressor and
the third groove runs the power
steering. The single groove, chrome, power steering pump pulley
P/N 53-34C fits inside the double groove, chrome pulley P/N
211-19. The pulleys are held to the harmonic balancer with three
3/8" X 3/4" bolts. Lower the fan shroud down in the engine
compartment and lean it back on the engine and install the
crankshaft pulleys.
46d
47a
51c
51b
51a
Photos 51a, 51b & 51c:
The slotted end of the
pump adjusting arm P/N 53-29 or 53-29C anchors to the back of
the power steering pump with a 3/8" flat washer, lock washer
and nut. The other end of the adjusting arm attaches to the upper
water pump bolt.
52a
52b
47b
Photos 52a & 52b: The pressure hose P/N 53-38 (small block) or
P/N 53-74 (big block) has a brass fitting on the end where it
attaches to the pump and an 18 millimeter male O-ring fitting
where it attaches to the rack and pinion. The brass fitting screws
into the female inverted hole in the back of the pump.
Photo 53: The return hose uses a hose
clamp at the power steering pump and
has a 16 millimeter male O-ring fitting
where it attaches to the rack and pinion.
Photos 47a & 47b: Next, install the water pump and water pump
pulley. A chrome double groove pulley P/N 211-19 will be used.
48a
48b
Photos 48a & 48b: A 1/2" fan spacer P/N 51-18 is installed
between the fan blade and water pump pulley so that the tips of
the fan blade will clear the third track pulley on the crankshaft.
Photo 54: The 18 millimeter
pressure port on the rack and pinion
is to the left of the input shaft while
the 16 millimeter return port is to
the right of the input shaft.
55a
49a
49b
55b
49c
Photos 49a, 49b & 49c:
We are going to swap out
the black double groove pulley P/N 53-30 on the power steering
pump for the billet aluminum chrome single groove pulley P/N
53-311 for a more custom look. The pulley is keyed to the pump
shaft and is held in place with a nut supplied with the pump.
Photos 55a & 55b: Before
screwing the hose fittings into
the rack and pinion, make sure you lubricate the O-rings with a
light coat of power steering fluid. When routing the hoses, make
sure they are well away from the hot exhaust and the harmonic
balancer. We routed our hoses under the side engine mount.
Photo 56: The return hose will need
to be cut to length and attached to the
power steering pump with the
supplied hose clamp. The pressure
hose screws onto the new brass
fitting on the back of the pump.
Photo 57: Install the power
steering pump belt P/N 41-12
(small block) or P/N 41-17
(big block) and adjust.
Photo 58: Our project
car had the alternator
mounted to the
outboard side of the
driver’s valve cover.
This will no longer
work with the pump
mounted down low on
the driver’s side of the
engine. Our P/N 18-115 alternator bracket will mount the
alternator on the inboard side of the driver’s valve cover allowing
the belt to clear properly.
With the front wheels off the ground, fill the power steering
pump with power steering fluid and start the engine. With the
engine running, turn the wheels all the way to the left and then to
the right ten or 15 times to work the air out of the system. Put
the car back on the ground, top off the power steering fluid and
take it for a test drive. Remember the toe-in setting is only close
and the car will need to be aligned. Below are the correct
alignment specifications that must be used to make the car drive
properly. Do not use original alignment specs printed in the Shop
Manuals! If proper caster specifications cannot be achieved,
upper tubular control arms with offset shafts and ball joints P/N
21-185 will need to be installed.
Caster
Camber
Toe In
Driver’s Side
2-1/2 to 3-1/2 Degrees Positive
0-Degrees
1/8" to 3/16"
Good Luck!
Passenger Side
2-1/2 to 3-1/2 Degrees Positive
1/4-Degree Negative
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