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I have been talking to CompressTech about different products/support for the B-Body community and one of those topics was a rack and pinion conversion to fix and greatly improve steering. I am now wondering who would be interested in this type of conversion and how much would they be willing to pay. Depending on interest, we might be moving forward on this setup real soon. Depending on interest I would be willing to donate my car for fitment and testing. Feedback will be greatly appreciated.
 

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Before the second great crash, I read on here that someone did try this setup and found to be cost prohibitive. Not sure just hope one of the early guys who have been here awhile will speak up.

Curtis
 

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When all is said & done, one of the issues that remains is that it "appears" that any add-on system results in no real weight savings, and installation is a PITA, involving welding, etc.

It turns out that the Delphi 670 steering gear, updated from the original 700-800 series Saginaw unit--both are recirculating-ball design--weighs about 6 pounds LESS than the production gear. It uses a R&P style valving setup....whatever that means...but it has worked out well for those that are using it. Available from PPM, Lee Manufacturing, ATS, Detroit Speed, Turn One, etc.

The cost and complexity of a R&P conversion makes it less appealing than the alternative, but I can understand the desire to leave the space it occupies clear for other purposes.

Has to be a reason that NASCAR still uses a "conventional" steering system--if R&P was better, I'd think that it would have been tried, but I've never heard of it happening.
 

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The location and amount of space that a R&P conversion would free up, along with an ABS delete/relocation, would make a large front mount single turbo a much easier deal. It amazes me how little space there is considering the size of these cars.
 

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After doing some research, it looks like any conversion for our cars would be $1,500 to $2,200. I don't see too many people jumping on this one unless steering is improved by an unbelievable amount. You might have a better chance of making this work if you engineered a kit whereby all the brackets and the parts required to add the rack could be purchased and the customer would/could locate their own rack in order to make it affordable. Just an idea.
 

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After doing some research, it looks like any conversion for our cars would be $1,500 to $2,200. I don't see too many people jumping on this one unless steering is improved by an unbelievable amount. You might have a better chance of making this work if you engineered a kit whereby all the brackets and the parts required to add the rack could be purchased and the customer would/could locate their own rack in order to make it affordable. Just an idea.

Just making the brackets is an option. But like said above, if the cost is more than what people are willing to pay will cause this to fail. The rack will have fewer parts to fail or wear out, less ends, and will save some weight.

Now if you need a large turbo, I would think that it will be more of a race car and finding room is not that hard. You just start moving things.
 

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After doing some research, it looks like any conversion for our cars would be $1,500 to $2,200. I don't see too many people jumping on this one unless steering is improved by an unbelievable amount. You might have a better chance of making this work if you engineered a kit whereby all the brackets and the parts required to add the rack could be purchased and the customer would/could locate their own rack in order to make it affordable. Just an idea.
I was just thinking about this conversion too. My wife's '98 Malibu and her '99 Town & Country steer about a million times better than my '94 Roadmaster wagon. It's like herding sheep down the freeway - I just keep it in the lane and I'm happy. Her cars are like go-karts to steer.

I agree with Freedog - gotta find a vehicle that can be a donor. The kit would be like one of Navy Lifer's brake kits: as many production parts as possible and only the unique ones like the mounting brackets are fabricated.

What about a 03+ Crown Vic rack? I'm a novice on steering, but I suspect the trick is to find a rack that has the same end-to-end spacing as the B-body LCA inner bolt spacing to minimize bump-steer (although I could be wrong on this). I don't know if any production racks out there meet the length criteria we need. Then I suspect putting together the appropriate combination of tie rods is straightforward. You just have to figure out the steering shaft geometry and the power steering supply and return lines. Anyway, my price point would be about $350 + junkyard parts for this kit. I don't know if that's realistic, but off of the top of my head, that's what I'm thinking.
 

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A rack and pinion from a GMT-900 truck might work (the late '07-up 1/2 ton pickups/SUVs use rack and pinion steering). http://info.rockauto.com/Cardone/Detail3.htm?/22/221036-01.jpg

I think someone with access to GM's tech website might be able to find out if the "throw" (or whatever the word is) for the new 1/2-ton trucks is appropriate for the B/D-body vehicles.

Just looking at a picture of that rack/pinion (assuming the picture is accurate), I think the "conversion" part would be a bracket that would bolt to the frame at the steering box and idler arm mounts are, and have appropriate bolt holes for the R/P mounts. I assume a steering shaft adapter would be necessary too.

I don't think we could use a Ford R&P setup, b/c I believe Ford uses a much different pressure for their power steering setups.

-Chris
 

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YES!!! A rack kit would be ideal for these cars! I have a salvage yard 9c1 box in my Bonneville and while it steers quickly, it does wander like a herd of sheep on the highway like sherlock9c1 mentioned. Perhaps a bracket kit that would allow the installation of a salvage yard rack would be the cheapest way to go for poor weekend builders like me who are working out the whole time/money equation.
 

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I can think of better ways of spending my $

Look, it is possible for these cars to have good steering with the stock design! I know it to be fact, because when I picked up my '96 with 0 miles, the steering was fine ad was fine for mayny miles afterwards.
WHen I was in claims adjusting school, they told us that the advantage of recirclulating ball over rack and pinion was durablity. Yes, they wear, but in an accident, one or two piece might be damaged (like center link) but not the whole kaboode. Racks are fragile and expensive.
The reason why recirculating ball feels bad is because there are many parts in the system and their play, when combined, adds up to loose steering. Replacing every part will be cheaper than a rack.
 

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My 03 dodge 3/4 ton truck with the uber heavy cummins engine has excellent road feel.....much better than my 95 caprice. It does have rack and pinion.

I don't really care about the turns lock to lock, the feel is completely absent. If you take your eyes off the road for anything the car is liable to be heading for the ditch in a blink with no clue from the steering.

I would pay some decent money for a rack conversion and would then keep the chebby indefinately...(I'd be even more married to it).
 

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A Recirculating Ball in good condition will steer just as well as any rack. The problem is they wear because of all the joints whereas steering racks hold up a little better. Getting the geometry right is actually pretty complex. You need to extend a line from the UCA axis to the LCA axis. From a front view the rack end needs to pivot on this line and the rack needs to be at a height such that the tie rods are parallel to the LCA. From a top view the axis of the LCA needs to be extended forward and the rack be such a width that ends are at that axis as well. With the way the LCA axis "converges" near the front of the car on a B-Body it would require a pretty short rack. Basically the width of the center link between the inner tie-rod end mounting points. The geometry is similar to an old A-body and the conversion kits for those use a crazy huge bracket system that still uses inner tie-rod ends because a short enough rack could not be made. Look at this:

http://www.flamingriver.com/index.cfm/page/ptype=product/product_id=359/prd359.htm

$2500+ and no advantage except some space savings. I think a B-Body setup would have the exact same issue. Also, think about the extra u-joints to get the column hooked up to the rack input. Opportunity for more wear and slack. I don't see it as feasible. The newer Crown Vics and GMT900 trucks were designed for a rack and pinion from day one. Retrofitting a B-Body seems like a waste of time. The A-Body kit took forever and only happened because people with too much money kept insisting they needed it without really thinking about it.

...and there's my input to an ancient thread.
 

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Matt, I agree and refer back to my previous comments. There are solutions, and while perhaps not as satisfactory as an R&P setup is perceived to be, the cost--even for a brand-new 670 gear and freshening of the steering linkage--is significantly less than a conversion. It does not solve the space allocation issues, true--it's another item that goes with the decision to dump the B-body in 1996, where Ford continued to build and implement newer thinking & componentry into the Panther chassis, including the change to R&P with the introduction of the Marauder (I recall).

Combine that with the ability by OEM's, in engineering and production, to change suspension design to be front or rear steer, to reposition components for ideal packaging, which includes frame configuration, oil pan design(s), and no doubt a number of other things we're not even thinking about--trying to rebuild the front suspension of a fixed design after-the-fact, like the B-body, is a sizable task.

Back in October '09, I had a chance to get up close and take some pictures of NASCAR Cup racecars built by HMS, and there is some pretty trick stuff they do, mostly to build in geometry adjustability (offset slugs in the center link for changing the height & distance of the links travel path, but also for strength and low friction--and the basic design is still the same as "production"--front-steer, center/drag link, idler, and tie rods. And, they are using the 670 gear, for the most part, from what I was able to see. I do not know if NASCAR rules dictate use of a recirculating ball design steering gear as opposed to anything else (ie. R&P), but it would not surprise me.
 

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i have also been looking into trying to find an inexpensive way to put a rack in the b-body. It would be a nice weight savings and save a little bit of space.Thats more than enough reason for those of us building "dedicated drag cars"
 

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For a dedicated drag car look at 03+ Crown Vic, Town Car, Marauder, and Grand Marquis frontend. Its on an aluminum subframe which drops out of the car with 6 bolts. Chop off your framerails, weld on straight rails the correct width, then bolt on the Ford subframe. It will save a LOT of weight and its very compact as well as having good geometry, big brakes, rack and pinion, and being designed for a heavy vehicle. That frontend had to have been designed by a hotrodder. With 4 holes it literally bolts to anything with straight rails that are (I think) 34" apart.
 

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Bill's right. IMO, for 99% of people, the Delphi 670 steering gear is a much better choice. The Detroit Speed steering gear made a WORLD of difference for me. It is better than the two rebuilt steerign gears, and the AGR steering gear, I tried before it, and as good as any rack and pinion steering setup I've tried. Unless you have another reason to go to rack and pinion, like needing to free up space, my advice would be don't bother.
 

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The E39 BMW 540i used a steering box due to some packaging constraints with the V8.

Erik, was your Delphi 670 box blueprinted by Tom Lee or is it just a new off the shelf box?
 
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