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Early Mustang Steering Box Upgrade
Flaming River improves significantly on an old design.

By now you have probably figured out that here at FordMuscle we are into modifying early Fords. More specifically we like modifications that offer a "step up" in technology. After all there is nothing better than driving a vintage muscle car with the comforts and benefits of modern engineering.

One area in which the Mustang aftermarket has sought to make significant improvements is the steering system. '60's era steering units consisted of a 'recirculating ball' and worm gear design. Basically there are two gears with the slack taken up by ball bearings. When the shaft is turned the gear reduction, typically in the 20:1 range, moves the steering linkage.

The drawback to the recirculating ball design is that over time is develops slack and excessive play. The ball bearings are in there to take up slack between the gears and offer better feel to the driver, however other aspects of the box, such as the long 43" shaft, place a great deal of stress on the internal mechanism which leads to wear.


Cut away of recirculating ball and worm gear type steering box.

Over the years better materials and tighter tolerances have yielded recirculating boxes that hold up and drive just as well as rack and pinion units. However until recently these advancements in technology were not available to early Mustang owners. If you have an early Mustang your steering box is probably sloppy. Your options are to have it rebuilt, which costs in the range of $250-300, and leaves you with a box that still has the inherent weaknesses if came with 35 years ago.

You could take a $1200 plunge and convert to a rack and pinion unit designed specifically for the early Mustangs. However the cost and labor is a setback.

Until recently you simply could not get a new steering box. Fortunately Flaming River saw the need in the market and jumped on designing an improved unit.

What you see pictured is not a rebuilt box, nor is the housing a core unit in which they stuff their internals. The Flaming River steering boxes are all new castings with all new parts and design. While it still uses a recirculating ball mechanism, the components are of better material, and the unit is re-engineered to offer more precise steering input and better road feel. Unlike the original boxes, the new design uses a needle bearing support for the sector shaft, which takes the load off the internal gears. This is what leads to that 1-2" dead play in the steering wheel when it's in the 12 o'clock position. More

Installation

1. The stock steering box was worn excessively. We had about 1" of play in the steering wheel at top dead center. Our '67 is a "long shaft" car, meaning the 43" long steering shaft is integral to the steering box. This makes the box a challenge to remove with the engine in the car.

2. After mid-'67 Mustangs uses a "short shaft" which connected to the steering box using a rag joint, seen above. These steering boxes are much easier to remove, and require no disassembly of the steering wheel or shaft.


3. Using a large adjustable wrench remove the pitman arm retaining nut and lockwasher.


4. A pitman arm puller is required to remove the pitman arm from the sector shaft. We rented one from the local parts store.

5. Working inside the car, remove the steering wheel retaining nut using a 15/16" socket.

6. The steering wheel should come off with a firm pull straight back. Sometimes a stubborn wheel can be freed with a good whack on the shaft with a hammer while someone pulls back on the wheel. If all else fails, use a steering wheel puller tool.

7.
Remove the two column retaining nuts from under the dash. While under there also disconnect the wiring harness connector for the steering column.

8. The column is free to slide off the shaft now. If it wont come up freely you might need to remove the four screws under the dash which hold the seal retaining plate to the firewall.

9. The bare shaft is exposed. Because this is a long shaft car (65 thru mid-67), this shaft needs to come out with the steering box.

10. It's wise to cover the shaft with foam or the Sunday paper. This will prevent it from banging up your dash as you pull it through the firewall. Continue
 

In This Article...
FordMuscle shows you how to install a new steering box in your vintage Mustang.

 

 



 


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