A Restomod has a few key modifications. One of them is the pursuit of better handling, and that makes the front suspension an important focus. This chapter will cover some basics and performance aspects of front suspension alignment, as well as separate components and complete front suspension packages. Getting your car pointed in the right direction is important too, so performance aspects of the steering system are also covered. Front suspension and steering work together to increase performance and drivability, which is why they are matched together in this chapter to help you get your car tuned for your style of driving.
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There are three main settings of front suspension that affect the performance and drivability of your car: camber, caster, and toe.
If your front suspension bushings and steering components are loose, worn, or broken, you should have them replaced before considering an alignment. An alignment performed on a car with worn-out tie-rod ends or deteriorated control-arm bushings is a waste of time and money. The settings will most likely change before the car gets out of the shop. Worn suspension and steering components are also a safety issue, so take care of these things as a matter of course. A worn steering gear won’t affect the alignment between the two front tires, but it will keep the driver from enjoying the benefits of the alignment. The worn gear will cause steering to be sloppy, less responsive, and even dangerous in some cases.
On a car with upper and lower control arms (as opposed to some strut suspensions that have only a lower control arm), the spindle pivots on the axis determined by the upper and lower ball joints. Caster is the forward or rearward tilt of the spindle on this axis as viewed from the side of the car. On most cars with this type of suspension, caster is changed by adjusting the strut rod or moving the upper control arm on its pivots using shims. A strut front suspension without an upper control arm uses an adjustable upper strut mount known as a camber plate to adjust camber and caster. When viewed from the side, if the upper ball joint is behind (toward the back of the car) the lower ball joint, the car has positive caster. Negative caster is when the upper ball joint is ahead of the lower. Caster has a tendency to cause the tires to move vertically a small amount as they are steered right or left from the centered position. This vertical movement acts to push the weight of the car off the ground, while gravity tries to pull it back down. The force of gravity, which is trying to pull the car down, pushes up on the tire. This upward force on the tire causes the spindle to rotate about its axis to the point that the forces on both the right and left spindles find equilibrium. This equilibrium is found when both tires are pointing straight ahead, assuming, of course, that the caster is the same on both sides of the car and there is nothing bent or out of alignment on either side. Both negative and positive caster can induce this self-centering action of the wheels and give the car more stability at higher speeds.
The self-centering effect does not come from caster alone. It can also come from steering axis inclination. This is the same basic principle as caster, but in the front view of the suspension. If the axis of the upper and lower ball joints leans inward at the top, as a lot of cars do, there will again be a force trying to push up on the car. Some cars get this selfcentering effect using only steering axis inclination and zero caster.
Camber is the inward or outward tilt of the top of the tire as viewed from the front of the car. Negative camber is when the top of the tire tilts inward, and positive camber is when the top of the tire tilts outward. Positive camber is not desirable for handling, because it makes the outer edge of the tire dig into the pavement. If only the outside edge of the tire is on the ground, it does not produce as much cornering traction as having the entire width of the tire on the ground. With negative camber, when the top of the tire is tilting inward, the entire width of the tire has a better chance to evenly plant on the road surface for optimum traction. As with anything in life, negative camber is only good in moderation. Too much negative camber will have the inside edge of the tire trying to keep your car from sliding with unwanted understeer.
Camber can be set on your car with an alignment. Camber-curve is something completely separate from the camber adjustment you get with an alignment (except in the case of a racebred suspension with adjustable controlarm pivot points). The camber-curve is affected by the length of the control arms and the control-arm pivot points. A positive camber-curve actually increases the outward tilt of the top of the tire during suspension articulation, which is completely undesirable and intensifies understeer. A negative camber-curve tilts the top of the tire inward during suspension articulation, which is much more desirable for improved handling around corners. I mention articulation because when your car is steered into the corner, the body leans. When the body leans, the outer front tire articulates upward in the fender opening. An extremely aggressive negative cambercurve can be bad, too. The key to a car that handles well is to keep the largest amount of the tire tread on the road surface, if possible. Negative camber settings help compensate for tire distortion under high lateral loads.
Toe is the relationship between two tires on one end of the car as viewed from above. If, when viewed from above, both tires are parallel, there is zero toe. Toe-in is when the front of the tires are closer together than the rear, and toe-out is when the rear of the tires are closer than the front.
Now that you know what zero toe, toe-in, and toe-out are, you need to know how the settings affect your car. If you aligned the tires with zero toe, the motion of the car moving forward will actually pull the front tires to a toe-out position from the distortion of the rubber suspension bushings and from road friction on the tires. To compensate for the road friction and movement of rubber suspension bushings, most factory cars are designed with a small amount of toe-in. The goal is to have the tires at zero toe for the intended average speed of the car. Factory alignment specifications are intended to minimize premature tire wear and to lower the rolling resistance of the tires. Since factory specs create less rolling resistance, fuel economy is increased. So, if you are planning on driving your Restomod across the United States on the Hot Rod Magazine’s Power Tour, you may want to have your car aligned to factory specs.
With excessive amounts of toe, whether in or out, your tires will wear out faster and your fuel economy will decrease. Most cars are aligned with around 1 ⁄16-to 1 ⁄8-inch of toe-in. A setting of a 5 ⁄16-inch toe-in is quite a bit, but the small amount of extra toe-in increases high-speed stability. Consider 1 ⁄32-inch over the factory setting as a practical maximum. Toe-out has a tendency to make the car turn in faster. People looking for the fast way around corners will find benefits from careful experimentation with toe-out settings. Too much toe-out will cause the car to wander back and forth on the straights because the two tires are trying to steer in different directions. Wandering will get worse with increased road speed as a result of toe-out. Keep in mind that altering the factory alignment specs should only be done at the track.
A little toe-out will help your car’s turn-in around corners and can also help to minimize understeer. What type of driving or racing you plan to do will determine what toe setting is correct for your application. Just as a warning, beware of the condition of your front suspension components. Worn or damaged bushings, ball joints, bearings, tie-rod ends, and other suspension components will act to alter your alignment settings. Getting your car aligned will not compensate for broken or worn parts.
If you want your car to handle predictably on the street and your tires to wear evenly, you should go with the stock alignment settings. However, if you have replaced your rubber controlarm bushings with urethane or solid bushings, you may need less toe-in than the factory’s specs. The factory toe-in compensates for the flex and distortion of rubber bushings. Without the flex, you could try changing the toe-in to closer to zero. You may have to look around for a shop that does performance alignments to get the adjustments you want. A street performance alignment will wear the tires a little more quickly than normal, but the car will grip better on the street. For cars like the early Mustangs, what you’re looking for is the most positive caster you can get while keeping the camber between zero and about 11 ⁄2 to 2 degrees negative. For toein, stick with the factory specs unless you have firmer bushings. With polyurethane and similar replacement bushings, you may be able to move the toe closer to zero. You may need to experiment a little to get something that works for you, but these specs should get you in the ballpark.
The caster recommendation above is done to increase high-speed stability and will increase turning resistance at the steering wheel. The camber is to increase cornering potential, but the further away from zero you get, the twitchier the car will be above about 50 mph or so.
If you plan to run your car on an open track or at an autocross event, the alignment can be more aggressive. A racing alignment is not good for street use. It will cause the tires to wear very fast, and it will be hard to control in a straight line or over rough roads, which makes it very dangerous on the street. If you are going racing, use common sense and trailer your car to the track.
For tighter tracks, you may want to experiment with a little toe-out, but remember, a little goes a long way. On the longer, faster tracks, you may find that zero toe is a better choice. Again, experiment to see what works. Too much toe-out will increase the drag on the front tires and cause the car to wander at higher speeds. Anything over about 1 ⁄16 to 1 ⁄8-inch of toe-out is probably too much.
On the street, you will probably not be throwing your car into the corners as hard as you do on the track. The increased cornering speed increases your body roll and suspension articulation, so increasing the camber a little for extreme conditions may benefit your handling and your lap times.
Adding a little bit of negative camber is good for increasing traction to your front tires. You can experiment with a little bit at a time. When driving on the street, negative camber increases your rolling resistance and will wear the inside section of tire tread, so the extra negative camber should be left at the track.
Basically, bumpsteer is the toe-in or toe-out caused by upward and downward movement of the suspension. Typical symptoms of bumpsteer include needing a steering correction if one wheel hits a bump; needing steering correction under hard braking; or needing wheel correction when cresting a hill. Bumpsteer comes from inadequacies designed into the suspension. Most cheap, economy cars designed in 2005 have less bumpsteer than sports cars designed in the 1960s. Suspension engineering has come a long way since then. Before explaining the technical aspects of bumpsteer, you need to learn about instant center. Visualize an imaginary line that travels through the upper control-arm inner pivot point and the upper ball joint, and then visualize another imaginary line that travels through the lower control arm pivot point and lower ball joint. These imaginary lines intersect at a point called the instant center. To have the ultimate front suspension and a steering system with zero bumpsteer, the imaginary line that travels through the inner and outer tie-rod assembly must intersect the instant center from the upper and lower control arms. That seems fairly simple, but there’s more to it. There are two more imaginary lines. The imaginary line that runs through the upper control-arm pivot point and the lower control-arm inner pivot point must intersect with the pivot point of the inner tie-rod end. The imaginary line that runs through the upper and lower ball joint must intersect the pivot point of the outer tie-rod end. This is all drawn out for you in the illustration supplied by Longacre Racing Products.
Most factory suspension designers for mass-production vehicles have done a good job designing out bumpsteer, but limitations hinder their ability to eliminate it. Racing cars and high-dollar super cars have to perform well and demand a high level of engineering, so engineers go to extraordinary lengths to design steering systems without bumpsteer.
Measuring bumpsteer can be done with some basic tools, but it is much easier with a Longacre Bump Steer Gauge. The gauge makes it easy to measure the amount of toe change during upward or downward travel of the front suspension. Bumpsteer is checked with the car properly aligned, with the wheels steering straight ahead. Start at ride height, and then move the suspension up 3 inches and down 3 inches. If the tie-rod assembly does not intersect the imaginary lines of the pivot points and the instant center, it will cause the spindle to turn inward or outward during suspension travel. This is bumpsteer. If you get your street car down to only hundredths of an inch of bumpsteer during its 6 inches of suspension travel, you’re doing awesome work. With stock suspension systems on most production cars, it’s almost impossible to attain zero bumpsteer. Most people try to get as close to zero as possible.
There are several companies that offer bumpsteer checking equipment, as well as other alignment equipment, including Longacre Racing Products and Pole Position Racing Products. You can also build your own low-tech devices. These devices check the amount of fore and aft movement of the tire through the entire range of suspension articulation.
Bumpsteer can be corrected, or at least minimized, by using spherical rod ends in place of the outer tie-rod ends. Shims of different thickness are used between the rod end and the steering arm to adjust the rod ends up or down, as desired to correct bumpsteer.
In the past, it was necessary to drill out the taper in the steering arm and use a bolt to attach the rod end to the steering arm. In 2001, Baer Racing Inc. started offering adjustable tie-rod ends called Baer Trackers, which utilize spherical rod ends. They offer it for rack-and-pinion and reciprocation ball-steering systems. It takes the guesswork out of bumpsteer adjustment because it comes with special tapered bolts, shims, rod ends, and adjustment sleeves. Baer Trackers are available for early to latemodel Ford Mustangs, late-model Thunderbirds, Cougars, and more. Baer adds new kits to its Tracker line all the time, so if you don’t see your application covered, call and ask about it. Putting together the bumpsteer kit on your own isn’t worth the hassle of finding the correct heavy-duty tie-rod ends, customlength adjusting sleeves, and other adapters. However, if you want to correct or minimize your bumpsteer, and your application isn’t covered by Baer, it is possible to make your own system. You could attempt to get the necessary parts by looking at parts offered by stock-car racing parts suppliers. These suppliers offer tapered tie-rod adapters with “bump” spacers and rod ends to dirt track and asphalt racers. Be careful, because if the taper on the adapter is not correct for your steering arms’ taper, the adapter could break and cause serious damage to you and your car, or worse. Not all racing parts are appropriate for use on street cars, so proceed with caution.
Bumpsteer Corrector Kits
The bumpsteer can be corrected on some model year Mustangs, Falcons, and Cougars with a Bumpsteer Corrector Kit from Pro Motorsports Engineering and Mustangs Plus. When lowering these cars, the tie-rod angles change to become less than desirable. The kit moves the outer tie-rod pivot point forward and down for an improved angle. This kit changes the Ackerman angle, which quickens steering response, so it is great for handling. On the street, the quick steering and increased steering effort may be too much, so these kits are suggested for track use only.
Bumpsteer can be corrected or minimized on cars equipped with rack-andpinion steering. The steering rack can be adjusted with shims to space it to the proper position. If shims won’t fix the bumpsteer, you may have to modify the steering rack mount, which can be costly and time-consuming. In some cases, the engine or other accessories will limit the amount you can move the steering rack.
The first thing to check is the inner pivot points of the steering rack and outer tie-rod ends. They should intersect the imaginary lines of the front suspension and the instant center. Most likely they don’t, so you should attempt to move the rack to a position where they will be as close to those points as possible. Some aftermarket companies offering rack-and-pinion conversion kits for older cars try to adapt rack-and-pinion assemblies from late-model production cars. Some of those racks don’t come close to reducing bumpsteer; in fact, they may even make it worse.
Control Arms and Front Suspension Kits
When it comes to handling, upperfront control arms play a large factor. A few Fords are known to benefit from relocating the mount on the frame. Upper control arms can also be shimmed to adjust camber and caster. Many companies offer tubular upper control arms, but not all aftermarket control arms are created equal. Some front suspension kits completely do away with upper control arms for improved geometry and suspension leverage.
Stock Control Arms
Stock upper control arms are great for low-budget Restomod build-ups. Stock lower control arms can be used by drivers on any size of budget. Vintage racing historians have pointed out that the early Trans Am Mustangs had stock control arms with added bracing. If you are on a budget, you can add some bracing under the upper and lower control arms for added strength.
Control-Arm Relocation – Shelby mod
Probably the most common suspension modification is the Shelby controlarm relocation, also known as the “Shelby mod.” According to history books, Ford engineer Klaus Arning came up with the idea and passed it onto Shelby American, which applied it to the Shelby Mustangs. Since then, people have applied this modification to early Ford Mustangs, Falcons, Rancheros, and Cougars. The modification moves the upper control arm down, which lowers the center of gravity, lowers the car approximately 5 ⁄8-inch, reduces body roll, and increases negative camber gain. These are all considered positive enhancements to most front suspensions – especially for front suspensions that were adapted from early 1960s-engineered six-cylinder cars. Aftermarket companies and Internet websites offer templates and directions that show where to drill 17⁄32-inch holes in the shock towers to move the upper control-arm cross-shafts.
The diagrams for performing the Shelby mod on 19641 ⁄2 to 1970 Mustangs are included in this chapter. These measurements were designed and used back in the 1960s and were also designed for cars using stock upper control arms. Today, aftermarket suspension companies have similar diagrams, but with different measurements. Companies offering aftermarket control arms and other front sus pension parts have found better placement of the control arms to get the ultimate benefits out of their modified geometry. In some cases, the relocation holes interfere with the Shelby mod hole. If you haven’t purchased upper control arms yet, but you plan to do so in the future, it might be best to wait on performing the mod.
If you’re planning to keep stock upper control arms, and plan on performing the Shelby mod, you should take a few things into consideration. Since the mod lowers the car approximately 5 ⁄8- inch, it’s enough to cause problems with the tire fit for larger- than-stock tires. It also puts the upper ball joint at a severe angle and increases the unwanted bumpsteer problems already present with the stock suspension’s pivot points.
The Shelby mod also requires you to use different alignment specs. You may need to find a reputable shop that specializes in custom alignments because some shops don’t like to align vehicles with modified suspension geometry. As long as you follow the Shelby mod diagram, the Shelby “R” alignment specs will apply. Shelby Mustang specs (with the Shelby mod) are from 2 to 3 degrees (depending on whom you talk to) positive caster, 1 degree negative camber, and 1 ⁄8 inch toein. If you perform this mod on a vehicle other than a Mustang, you’ll need to consult a specialty shop for the correct alignment specs for your application.
The mod lowers the control-arm shaft, which increases the angle of control arm and pivots the upper ball-joint stud close to its limit at full “bump” (the upward movement of the tire and suspension when the tire hits a bump). In some cases, the upper ball-joint stud can bind and break. Pro-Motorsports Engineering and Mustangs Plus offer Negative Wedge Camber Correction Kits, which change the angle of the upper ball-joint and allow for more aggressive control arm relocation for an increased negative camber curve. This mod works best with less shock travel to limit droop because the droop has an adverse effect on steering geometry
Aftermarket Control Arms and Suspension Kits Most
Restomods are driven harder than the Ford engineers ever intended. The torsional stresses that come from cornering and braking forces can wreak havoc on the stamped-steel stock control arms. You may think, “Why would I need aftermarket control arms on my car? Shelby’s racecars worked fine for road racing with stamped steel control arms.” With tire technology and braking force from satellite dish-sized rotors, you will be demanding more from a stamped control arm than Shelby and Bud Moore cars did during good days at the track. Since the 1990s, aftermarket companies have been building control arms designed to handle more stress and include better ball-joint angles. These are great for people who want to drive in a straight line and drive hard through the corners. Be careful, though; there are some aftermarket control arms designed for street rods and air-bag suspension systems that lack integral strength for Restomod applications.
The companies mentioned below are the current companies offering performance control arms for Mustangs, Falcons, Comets, Cougars, Cyclones, Fairlanes, Montegos, Rancheros, Torinos, and Mavericks. Some companies offer control arms that are part of a whole kit, or offer coil-over systems that use their control arms or completely replace the upper arms with the coilover unit. Those will be mentioned later in this chapter as suspension systems.
Total Control Products
If you have a Restomod or even a slight interest in one, you probably know about Total Control Products. The company started back in 1995 and offered high-quality performance suspension parts designed for street and track use. At that time, the Ford guys were not willing to cut up their cars or modify them in any way that couldn’t be easily reversed. Total Control took this to heart and built top-notch suspension systems with strictly bolt-on parts.
Total Control Products offers tubular upper and lower control arms for muscle car-era Mustangs, Falcons, Comets, Cougars, Cyclones, Fairlanes, Montegos, Rancheros, Torinos, and Mavericks. You get what you pay for with these parts – they don’t cut corners. Total Control Products control arms are designed to have less flex than the stock control arms because they’re assembled from the best materials and components, and they’re TIG welded for strength and durability. The upper control arms have strong mount provisions to use the stock coil-spring set-up (if you choose not to use their coil-over conversion kit). The upper ball-joint angle has been designed to safely operate with the suggested lower cross-shaft location for increased negative camber gain. For strength and durability, the upper and lower control arms are equipped with high-quality injection-molded, Teflon-impregnated Kevlar rod ends. These do not distort like the factory bushings, so your handling will not be erratic. The lower ball joint is a heavy-duty screw-in type (common in stock-car racing) for easy serviceability and replacement.
Global West is one of the most diversified aftermarket suspension companies. It makes parts for Fords and GMs, and the performance of its products shows that the company is familiar with both manufacturers. The Ford years span from 1964 to 1973 and 1978 to 2002. Global West calls its suspension systems Negative Roll Systems. This refers to the negative camber gain designed into its systems. Muscle car-era models were plagued with positive camber gain, and the Global West systems are designed to fix that problem.
Global West upper control arms are made from tubular steel, and they improve suspension geometry by not deflecting under heavy cornering loads like stamped stock control arms. The length of the arm is modified from stock, so the front tire will be kept on the pavement over the complete camber curve. Global West suggests lowering the control arm location, similar to the Shelby mod. The upper arms are equipped with billet cross-shafts and Del-a-Lum (Delrin and aluminum, pronounced Dellaloom) bushings, which allow smooth, deflection-free control arm articulation.
Global West offers two different lower control arm options. One option is a stock lower control arm with welded boxing plates for strength. These control arms also feature spherical aircraft bearings in place of the control-arm bushings for non-binding, full-range motion, and a new standard ball joint. The second option is a full tubular control arm with a spherical aircraft bearing, along with a screw-in ball joint, like the ones used in stock-car racing.
Global West also makes coil-over kits for 1964 through 1973 Mustangs; 1962 through 1967 Falcons and Rancheros; 1967 through 1973 Cougars; 1968 through 1971 Montegos; 1967 through 1971 Fairlanes/Torinos; 1970 through 1977 Comets/Mavericks; and 1975 through 1980 Monarchs/Granadas. Global West calls its coil-over kits Category 5 (or Cat 5) suspension kits. It still requires the use of an upper control arm, but one with a specific design. The extralong coil-over shock assembly replaces the conventional short shock and coil spring combination. The shock angle was changed for increased performance and leverage. Global West also offers this kit with large-diameter rotors and multiple-piston Wilwood disc brakes for a more complete package.
Revelation Racing Supplies (RRS)
Revelation Racing Supplies (RRS) is an Australian-based company with new distribution in the United States. Don’t let its new arrival throw you for a loop; these guys have been around for years. Every product RRS produces is tested by Australia’s stringent standards to actually perform and be stronger than the part it is replacing. It would be interesting to see how American products would perform on these tests.
RRS front-suspension kits allow you to ditch old, inferior technology and replace it with a coil-over strut set-up. RRS offers different levels of front strut kits for Mustangs, Falcons, Comets, Cougars, Fairlanes, Rancheros, and Mavericks. The kits all replace the existing upper control arms, coil springs, and shocks. In the place of the old equipment, the kits include coil-over struts that bolt in the stock shock mount location, late-model spindles, disc brakes, calipers, brake hoses, and all necessary hardware for an easy bolt-in application that does not require any fabrication. Slotted disc-brake rotors are available in diameters ranging from 11.3 to 13.2 inches. The brake calipers are available in single- and dual-piston floating calipers, as well as four-piston fixed calipers. As for struts, you can choose between KYB heavy-duty and Koni adjustable units. RRS also offers a strut-rod kit with bearing ends to complement the strut kits.
RRS front suspension kits offer improved suspension geometry, reduced (if not eliminated) bumpsteer, adjustable ride height, and up to 5.5 inches of clearance per side with an RRS shock-tower notching kit for big-blocks and Modular engines, all without changing track width. The system works with the stock steering linkage, or it can be used with the RRS performance rack-and-pinion kit.
Fat Man Fabrications
Fat Man Fabrication is probably best known for its Mustang II-type front suspension systems. The company now offers a front strut kit for select shocktower-equipped Ford models from 1964 to 1973. Fat Man’s new set-up is a bolton kit, instead of the invasive Mustang II kit that requires moving the engine up and forward, which adversely affects weight distribution and handling. Fat Man claims that this kit allows an adjustable drop of up to 4 inches (with optional parts) and it is designed to operate with zero bumpsteer. That’s quite a feat, and a far cry from the undesirable bumpsteer characteristics of the stock Mustang. The kit also allows you to use a stock oil pan and stock sway bar without welding. Since the springs are smaller in diameter than the stock spring, this kit allows the builder to trim the shock towers for wider and larger engines.
The kit includes a tilt steering column, coil-over springs, tubular lower control arms (with new ball joints and bushings), upper strut mounts (with adjustable camber), a steering shaft (with U-joints), special steering arms, a rackand-pinion mounting bracket, and mounting hardware. You supply a steering wheel with GM splines; a 1981 to 1986 Escort rack-and-pinion system; and 1994 to 2002 Mustang disc brakes, spindles, and struts.
Griggs Racing Products, Inc
Known more for late-model Mustang racing parts, Griggs Racing Products also has a full line of performance suspension parts for the early Mustangs. Griggs Racing sells different kits for different types of racing, including street, autocross/open track, and American Iron (Pro-Road Race). Each version is specifically designed for the intended purpose. Bruce Griggs advises having a good idea of what you are going to do to a car before purchasing a kit. Changing your mind halfway through or at the end of a project gets very expensive, and this advice applies to all parts of a project. It is especially true with Restomods.
The Griggs packages are more invasive than just bolting on a pair of control arms. These kits take front suspension to a whole new level. The kits completely replace and relocate the front suspension components and pick-up points. In fact, you can completely remove the shock towers if you choose. The suspension pieces are much stronger than the original equipment, so you get precise geometry for predictable handling. Anti-dive, roll-center, and camber-gain problems associated with the stock suspension are addressed with this kit. If you don’t mind breaking out the welder and cutting torch, this kit is a great improvement, and it works best with the rear suspension kit Griggs offers.
The front-suspension kit is called the GR-350 kit. It comes with a tubular K-member, bumpsteer adjustment kit, upper and lower tubular control arms, mini-tower brake kit, coil-over shocks and springs, adjustable racing-style sway bar, spindle and hub assembly, and a rack-and-pinion steering assembly. The kits come in three different levels: Street, Autocross/Open Track, and American Iron (Pro-Road Race). They are designed for the 1965 through 1970 Mustangs.
Gary Martz of Martz Chassis builds drag race and road race subframes for all kinds of cars, including a weld-in subframe unit for Mustangs. Martz’s Rally and Road Race chassis for the Mustang is the center of attention for this section. The installation is a little more involved, but you might feel the results are worth it. Not only is the Martz set-up a huge leap in suspension geometry engineering, it also has a much stronger and more rigid frame. Martz offers an optional Wide-Track frame, so you can run latemodel offset wheels. The frame has extra-long transmission mounting pads, so you can mount just about any available transmission. There are also different mounts for most Ford engines. The customer can choose from production or aftermarket brakes from Baer Racing or Wilwood, and the sway bar is a custom 1- inch stock-car-style unit. The rack-andpinion is a Mustang unit, and it’s available in manual or power versions.
Martz Chassis doesn’t use any Mustang II suspension parts; it makes its own spindles using heat-treated 4140 chromemoly. There is no anti-dive built into the subframe, but some feel anti-dive is overrated anyway. The range of caster and camber is unlimited, but typically the suggested caster ranges from +2 degrees to +6 degrees, and the camber range is zero degrees to + or – 4 degrees. Martz tested its subframe for bumpsteer, and found none for 3 inches of travel. The set-up can be ordered with heim joints or with urethane bushing ends. Martz has been in business for 33 years, so replacement parts are readily available and the system has been street- and track-tested.
Your front coil springs are one of the most important contributors to the handling characteristics of your Restomod. For this reason, it is crucial that you decide on a spring rate that is right for your ride. A spring that is too soft for the weight of the vehicle is great for drag racing, where racers need the weight of the vehicle to transfer from the front suspension to the rear suspension for ultimate traction. Yet, Restomods do more than just drive in a straight line— they rely on the front tires to keep them on track while entering and exiting a corner. A soft front coil spring will also give you excess body roll and cause your inside tire to lose traction in the corners.
Restomods are intended for street use, just as much as the track, if not more. If your front coil springs have a rate that is too high for the weight and set-up of your car, they will give you a harsh ride on the street. Springs that are too stiff may not allow your car to have the body roll it needs to plant the outside tire in a corner. Without traction of the outside tire, the car can push and generate uncontrollable understeer.
Choosing the right spring for your application is not easy. If I told everyone to run a 650-lb front coil spring, I’d be performing a disservice. To make an accurate recommendation, I would need to know your rear spring rate, front and rear shock dampening, bushing types, tire compounds, etc. Every car is different. Sure, you could throw a set of 650- lb front coil springs in your Maverick. You might get lucky and they might be perfect. In the end, consulting the technical department of your favorite suspension company could help you get the exact spring you need. If your suspension company doesn’t have an educated spring recommendation for you, you may want to just get in touch with a reputable spring company.
Coil Spring Basics
There are two different types of coil spring: linear and progressive. They can be identified by looking at the windings. A linear coil spring has equally spaced coils throughout, except at the very end of the spring. The progressive coil spring has coils that are wound tighter on one end of the spring than the other end.
Coil spring rates are identified by how much weight is required to compress the spring 1 inch. A 600-lb spring will require 600 lbs to compress it one inch. A 600-lb linear rate coil spring would require 1,200 lbs to compress the spring 2 inches. A 600-lb progressive rate spring might require 1600 lbs to compress the spring 2 inches. Linear rate coil springs are used on most production cars. Typically, progressive springs are used in racing applications. Coil springs are available in 400 to 3,200-lb rates. The higher the rate, the harsher the ride will be. Typically, only purpose-built road-racecars need more than 800-lb front coil springs.
When you’re trying to increase the performance of your suspension and lower the stance of your car, you should buy some springs designed to perform both tasks at the same time. If you are simply looking to lower your car, you can do it the old-fashioned way by cutting them. Heating your coil springs to lower your car is unsafe and a bad idea. The image of the coil springs in this section shows the ends of the spring are slightly bent to keep the ends fairly flat. The ends fit into pockets in the frame, shock tower, or spring retainer. When cutting coil springs, don’t start out cutting two complete coils, because you may end up lowering your car 5 inches by accident. Cut the spring in one-half coil increments. You may need to install the spring a couple of times before you achieve the desired ride height.
Safely remove the springs from your vehicle. Use an acetylene torch to cut half of one coil. Now you need to bend the end of coil so it will seat in the spring pocket. Heat one-half coil leading to the end of the spring where you made your cut and quickly bend that section down toward the rest of the spring. If you can, turn the spring over and push the spring down onto the concrete to bend the coil. Warning: Don’t quench your coil spring with water or oil! Let the spring cool slowly in the air. If you quench it, the spring will lose its ability to support the weight of your vehicle. After changing ride height, you will need to have your suspension aligned.
Stock front coil springs typically deliver a comfortable ride for the majority of the population. For Restomodders, the rate may be too soft or the ride height might be too high. In the past, it was a cool trick to run “air conditioning” or “big-block” springs for better handling. A stock coil spring for a car equipped with air conditioning and/or a big-block typically has more spring rate to help compensate for the extra weight. Since this is not an exact science, aftermarket springs may be a better choice.
Aftermarket Springs – Available Rates
There are so many companies offering different springs with different weights that it makes sense to tune your suspension with aftermarket springs. Some companies prefer lower-rate springs than others; each company has its own idea of what is best for each application. One company may believe a car should be set up with more oversteer, while another company may believe a car should be set up with more understeer. Since each company has a different idea of what rate is best for each application, you may want to pick a reputable company to ask for help. If you talk with too many companies, you may get too much information for your own good. If you aren’t building a full-on competition racecar, you don’t need too much information. Keeping it simple is not a bad thing. With the right help, you can get your optimum coil spring rate within 100 lbs, which is more than adequate for most Restomods.
Serious racers have been replacing stock-style bolt-in ball joints with screwin ball joints. The welding and machining required to perform this modification should be done by a professional. The screw-in ball joints are stronger and easier to replace in a hurry at the track. Cobra Automotive offers control arms already modified with screw-in ball joints for early Mustangs and Cougars.
Compared to the stock Ford ball joints, the screw-in racing-style ball joint has a larger body and stud. The only way to accomplish this installation is to purchase screw-in ball joints and ball joint adapter rings. You have to weld the screw-in ball joint sleeves into the lower control arms. Since the screwin ball joint may have a different taper (depending on application and ball joint used) on the stud, the spindle will have to be re-tapered. A reputable machine shop should be able to perform this task, but they might have to buy the special drill-bit to perform the modification. Keep in mind that the screw-in ball joint has a different pivot point than the stock Ford ball joint. This modification will change the suspension geometry. Installing a suspension part designed for the stock ball joint might not benefit from the changed pivot point, so be aware of this before you do the modification.
Car builders often overlook the steering system. The stock steering is great for a family cruiser, but if you’re going to drive your Restomod on a road course or just want better performance on the street, aftermarket steering systems are available. You may have either a manual or power-assisted steering system on your car. There are two types of steering systems: recirculating-ball gearbox and rack-and-pinion. The power steering system consists of a steering pump, fluid reservoir, hoses, and in some cases there is an add-on power steering cylinder and control valve. Manual steering gearbox systems don’t work very well on Restomods, since the Restomod tires are generally wider than stock which makes them more difficult to turn.
Upgrading your recirculating-ball manual system to a power-assisted system requires a power steering box, power steering pump, and in some cases, you’ll need to upgrade to power-steering-specific tie rods, center links, idler arms, and pitman arms. You can buy these specific parts from Moog and Rare Parts.
Most Restomod candidates came with the kind of power steering that used a recirculating ball steering box. The steering boxes in 1964 to 1970 Mustangs, Comets, Falcons, and Cougars, and in 1967 to 1968 Fairlanes and Montegos were non-integral units. They all had an add-on assist-type power cylinder and a control valve. The only difference between the actual power and manual steering boxes were the ratios. The fast ratio manual box was the same as the power steering box.
In a recirculating ball steering system, the steering shaft (attached to the steering wheel) turns a worm gear inside the gearbox. Inside the gearbox, there’s a nut (a cage that surrounds the worm gear) with teeth on the inside and on the outside. The nut moves forward and backward inside the gearbox. The internal threads on the nut coincide with the external threads of the worm gear. The worm and the nut are separated by a trail of ball bearings that recirculate in and out of the nut, while creating a rolling screw-like thread. The ball bearings allow the worm to turn inside the nut with very little bearing surface area for smooth operation. The teeth on the outside of the nut pivot the sector shaft, which attaches to the steering pitman arm. A power-assisted steering gear puts fluid pressure on the nut to assist its movement inside the steering gearbox. Less effort is needed for applying to the worm gear (meshed with the steering shaft, attached to the steering wheel) to move the nut forward and backward inside the steering gearbox.
Every steering system has a steering ratio. The ratio of the steering box or rack determines how much the wheels turn in conjunction with how much you turn the steering wheel. A wide-ratio (compared to a close-ratio) steering system will require more full steering-wheel revolutions to turn from lock to lock. This could mean as many as six complete revolutions on a 22:1 wide-ratio manual box for a 1967 Fairlane. A typical Ford 16:1 close-ratio steering box will require 3.75 full revolutions of the steering wheel to turn from lock to lock. This might not seem like a big difference, but considering how much less the steering wheel needs to be turned on a road course, a close-ratio box makes driving much less work. Road-course driving can be physically draining, so the less energy spent on turning the steering wheel, the better.
Power-assisted steering systems have a high- and low-pressure circuit. The power steering pump pressurizes the fluid up to 1,350 psi and forces it through the feed line into the steering gearbox. The low-pressure circuit is the return line from the steering gearbox to the fluid reservoir. From the reservoir, the fluid is sucked back into the pump.
The terms “rear-steer” and “frontsteer” refer to the location of the steering linkage or rack-and-pinion. The linkage on a rear-steer system is located behind the centerline of the spindles, and the front-steer linkage is located in front of the centerline of the spindles. Before the introduction of rack-and-pinion steering, Ford had been a big proponent of the front-mounted strut rod suspension. Due to space constraints caused by strut rods, most of the early Fords are rear-steer cars. Most newer Ford cars have front-mounted rack-and-pinion steering systems.
Until 1966, most Fords (except fullsize Fords) had long-shaft steering boxes, identifiable by their approximately 30-inch-long shafts, when Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards required a collapsible steering column. In front-end collisions, the long shaft could be pushed toward the driver with terrible results. In 1967, Ford switched to using very short shafts that used a rag joint to interface with the collapsible steering column.
A power steering gearbox can be set up with custom-tailored efforts. The effort is the resistance you feel in the steering wheel when you turn it. If the steering box is not built with efforts, you’ll be able to turn the steering wheel with one finger, even when the car is sitting still. This might sound good, but it’s much better to have a little feedback from your steering so you know how your car is reacting to track conditions.
Contact Flaming River Industries if you want to replace your old, worn Mustang 19.9:1 or Falcon 22:1 ratio steering boxes with a close-ratio 16:1 recirculating-ball steering box. Flaming River saw a void in the 1965 through 1970 Mustang steering market, so they started building gearboxes from brand-new parts. Even the cases are new. They used better materials and re-engineered a few of the areas of the box for better performance.
SCOTT CHAMBERLAIN’S 1985 FORD LTD LX
When you mention something about a “hot rod,” most people don’t envision a four-door. To go a little further, most people wouldn’t think of an LTD as a “hot rod.” Jefferson Morris is a guy who thinks outside of the box. He built most of this LTD before Scott Chamberlain took ownership. Since then, Scott has made this car his daily driver and has taken the performance even further.
This is not your grandma’s LTD, or an LTD II, or even a Fairmont – it’s a Ford LTD LX. A total of 3,260 were built between 1984 and 1985. Ford took the LTD and dropped in a 5.0 HO engine, AOD transmission, 3.27:1 limited-slip rear end, sport-tuned suspension with larger sway bars, upgraded bucket seats, center console with floor shift, factory tach, special interior trim, and blackened external trim.
That’s how the car started. It’s been taken further into the performance spectrum since the day Jefferson Morris had the keys in hand. Since the Fox-bodied LX shares many parts with the 5.0 Mustangs, many performance parts simply bolt on. Parts are from the aftermarket as well as Ford. One of the first things to get swapped out was the AOD for a T5 5- speed with a 1987-93 Mustang pedal set, 1993 Cobra clutch, Forte’s adjustable quadrant, and MAC short shifter.
The car has 140,000 miles on it, so the engine had to be updated sooner or later. The current engine is a 1994 Mustang GT 5.0 with AFR 165 heads stuffed with Crane 1.7 roller rockers. The intake manifold is a Ford Motorsport Cobra intake with ported lower runners. Feeding the intake is a MAC cold air kit, Pro-M 75-mm MAF sensor, 65-mm Ford Motorsport throttle body, and 24-lb/hr injectors, all handled by a stock 1987- 1993 Mustang A9L-calibrated ECM.
The exhaust is handled by MAC shorties connected to a stock 1987-1993 Mustang H-pipe to 3-inch single pipe (due to clearance constraints), Dynomax Ultraflows, and 1999 Cobra dual tips. The cooling is handled by a Mark VIII fan (with a trimmed shroud) hooked to a Delta Current Controls FK-35 unit, which takes the high amp surge out of the Mark fan ramping up. The air conditioning is still intact and works great. The battery has been relocated to the trunk, and gets its juice from a 3G 130-amp 1994 Mustang alternator.
The front suspension was upgraded with 1996+ Mustang spindles, 1996+ Mustang lower control arms, inner and outer tie-rod ends, MAC adjustable caster plates, LX springs (high-rate from the factory), and polyurethane bushings throughout. KYB shocks and struts adorn all four corners. The front sway bar is still the stock unit since it was so stout to start with. The rear suspension consists of a Ford 8.8-inch with 3.73:1 gears and an axle girdle differential cover, box-welded stock control arms, and a 1998 Cobra rear sway bar.
The LTD features 1994+ Mustang Cobra 13-inch front rotors, PBR dualpiston calipers, and late 1980s Lincoln Mark VII 10.5-inch rear discs, all controlled by a Lincoln Mark VII master cylinder and an adjustable proportioning valve. Scott notes that with Lincoln Continental parking-brake cables, the parking brakes actually work. Bolted to the brakes are stock 1999-2001 Mustang Cobra 17×8 wheels wrapped with 245/45R17s all the way around. The interior currently has most of its stock luster, but it was upgraded with a Momo Monte Carlo steering wheel, 140- mph police speedometer, AutoMeter gauges, CD/tape player combo from a 2000 Ford truck, modified console for new manual shifter, Cobra floor mats, and a dead pedal from 1987-1993 Mustang. Scott’s car sticks out in a crowd because it’s not your typical late-model Restomod, but it’s subtle enough to avoid attracting undue attention from white-and-black four-door sedans. It’s a great mix of luxury, hot rod, and corner carver. It has enough room to transport more than just a driver and one passenger, while knocking out 20 mpg and running a 13.79 in the quarter mile.
Power Steering Pumps
Power steering pumps provide the pressurized fluid necessary to drive power-assisted recirculating-ball steering gearboxes and rack-and-pinion steering units. Stock pumps are decent for normal street driving. When you start running your car at track events, you may want to look into upgrading your pump. Upgrading a power steering pump is rarely a simple bolt-in procedure, due to hose and bracket configurations. In some cases, you can utilize factory brackets from a different application.
Thompson Slipper Pump
The Thompson “slipper” pump was offered from 1965 through 1977. It has been called “a bucket-type pump,” as well as a few other names I can’t print here. The pump worked well for stock applications. The racers who didn’t ditch it put up with it because there wasn’t a good performance system available. The term “slipper” comes from the eight slipper pistons that are spun around by a rotor inside the internal chamber, somewhat like a vane-style pump. This pump will work fine for most applications, but if you’re going to start running 20- minute sessions on track days, where the fluid can reach 250 degrees, you may want to think of upgrading to a latermodel pump. Those kinds of temperatures can wreak havoc on the pump’s internals. The engineering team probably never envisioned a high-revving 500-hp small-block Maverick running around a road course.
Ford Corporate II (C2) Pump
The Ford Corporate pump used on V-8s from 1978 through 1995 (later on V-6s) is known as the C2 or CII pump. The C2 pump was designed to work better in conjunction with power-assist rack-and-pinion systems. It is known to have problems aerating the power steering fluid, which causes it to groan in some cases. Other than that, it performs great for most Restomods. If one of these fails on you, you might try replacing it with a Saginaw P-series pump (a GM part) with the Ford #F4UZ3C511A pump bracket, the correct pulley, adapter hoses, and some shimming.
If you are sticking with the C2 pump, and you have had problems with fluid blowing out of the vent in the top of the filler cap during racing conditions, you may need to modify the neck of the pump to add a little more expanding room. Cut the top half of the plastic neck off, add a 9-inch heat-resistant 5- ply silicone hose to the neck on the body of the pump, then install the top half of the neck (with the filler cap) to the hose. Use high-quality hose clamps and don’t over-tighten them. Basically, you just want to add length to the filler neck to keep the power steering fluid away from the bottom of the vent in the cap. Don’t plug the vent hole. That will cause a whole new set of problems—the system needs to breathe.
Saginaw TC Pump
This power steering pump is produced by Saginaw for many auto manufacturers, including Ford and GM. If you plan to race your car on a road course, you might want to take a serious look at upgrading to a Saginaw TC pump (transverse-bearing compact pump). These pumps are well suited for racing and high-performance street applications.
TC pumps are used on most domestic cars produced after 1993 with powerassisted steering. It’s easy to find a TC pump to use on your car, but be careful. Saving a few bucks might cause you some headaches. Factory production TC pumps are built specifically for the pressures needed for the steering boxes or rack-and-pinion units they were mated with from the factory, so not all TC pumps are the same. Most have lowdrag bearings on both ends of the shaft. One TC pump in particular has a front bushing instead of a bearing. The bushing creates more friction, causing pow er-robbing drag, and wears out faster than a bearing. Luckily, it can be easily identified by its 3 ⁄4-inch shaft. Using production TC pumps can be challenging since not all of them have the necessary fittings needed to adapt them to your system. Some come with plastic reservoirs mounted directly to the pump, while others use remote-mounted plastic reservoirs.
If you want fewer headaches and better performance from your steering system, spend the extra money to get one of the many available aftermarket TC pumps, which are available in cast-iron and aluminum for weight savings. Aftermarket TC pumps usually come with high-temperature seals and O-rings, as well as low-drag bearings (check with the individual company for specifics). A few companies build TC pumps with different pressures and flow rates that match the performance steering boxes. In that case, get matching components from one manufacturer for best results.
Aftermarket TC pumps are available with all the proper fittings, pulleys, and hardware you will need to hook them up to your steering system. To save you headaches, there are aluminum-mounting brackets available for the 289, 302, 351, and 400 engines. There are even universal brackets if you can’t find one that suits your needs. Not all brackets give you room for the locally mounted reservoir in the position you need, so a little research could pay off, or you could run a remote reservoir.
Some options for aftermarket TC pumps are listed below:
DSE Modified TC Power Steering Pumps
Detroit Speed & Engineering builds brand-new (not rebuilt) pumps for performance applications. DSE has extensive experience with power steering systems and builds each pump by hand, not on an assembly line. DSE offers TC pumps in cast-iron (electroplated for corrosion protection), chromed castiron, and aluminum. They are available with and without a custom DSE racetested integral reservoir. The pumps are built to flow 3.0 to 3.4 gallons per minute at 1,500 rpm. They offer a special pressure valve for use with a Mustang II rack-and-pinion that lowers the flow to 2 gallons per minute, while keeping proper internal system pressure. Without this fitting, your steering may have too much flow, which can make the steering feel too twitchy and over-driven. DSE also offers custom hard-lines, braided lines, fittings, and pulleys for a perfect fit on your custom application.
KRC Power Steering Pumps
KRC Power Steering is a racing power-steering products manufacturer. The company took a good look at the TC pump for racing applications in 1996. KRC could not improve upon the TC design to make it suitable for the grueling abuse of dirt and asphalt racecars, so it designed original aluminum and cast-iron power steering pumps to meet the stringent requirements. The lightweight aluminum pump weighs just 3.2 pounds with the pulley. It operates up to 70 degrees cooler than other pumps, and it can save up to 3 hp. It features adjustable flow rates with optional flow valves. The cast-iron KRC pump meets the same durability requirements and has the same flow features, but it’s less expensive. The KRC pumps have the same mounting pattern as the Saginaw TC pump, so they use the same mounting bracket. The KRC pumps are fitted with the necessary AN fittings.
KRC pumps require the use of an external steering fluid reservoir. Read more about reservoirs later in this chapter. KRC offers aluminum power steering pump brackets for 289, 302, 351, and 400 engines. If KRC cannot locate the pump in the correct location of your engine, it offers a universal bracket you can cut to custom-fit it.
A rack-and-pinion unit is also known as a “steering rack.” American auto manufacturers have been using rack-and-pinion units in most of their car lines since the 1980s due to the compact, weight-saving design. The aftermarket community saw the performance benefit of the weight-saving, compact design coupled with closer steering ratios, and knew they could be offered as an upgrade for older muscle cars.
Flaming River, Revelation Racing Supplies (RRS), Total Control Products, and Wurth-it Designs offer rack-andpinion conversion kits for many 1960 through 1970 shock-tower-equipped cars. These kits work for cars originally equipped with and without power steering. The rack is located in the same location as the original steering linkage (and assist ram on power applications), so oil pan clearance remains almost the same. Flaming River Industries offers a bolt-in rack-and-pinion steering system for 1964 through 1970 Mustangs. It can be installed within hours because it bolts in using original factory holes. The kit replaces the heavy recirculating-ball steering system with a lightweight steering rack. A new steering column and steering shaft is included to further follow the bolt-in features of this kit. They offer a model to be used on 1965 through 1970 Mustangs with Granada spindles.
Total Control Products is another well-known company in the market producing rack-and-pinion steering kits. The company offers kits for 1960 through 1965 Falcons, Rancheros, and Comets as well as 1965 through 1970 Mustangs and Cougars. Kits are available in manual and power-assisted models. The kits are designed to bolt in using as many of the factory bolt locations as possible. Trimming the end of the steering column is necessary on the Mustang kits. There is some cutting and welding to slightly notch the frame when installing the Falcon, Ranchero, and Comet steering-rack kit. The reward of responsive steering outweighs the work necessary to install these kits.
The RRS rack is a complete bolt-in system that can be fine-tuned to correct bumpsteer. It’s also the only system available with a patented linear tracking design to minimize wear, while decreasing deflection. These design features, combined with 2.88 turns lock-to-lock, combine to give you accurate and durable road reel that is comparable with modern sports cars. The RRS kit also has a low roll center, making it possible to eliminate understeer on most applications, including big-blocks. The steering geometry has a complete camber, arc, and steering axis inclination to suit different applications. The kits are available for 1965 through 1970 Mustangs; 1967 through 1970 Cougars; 1962 through 1970 Fairlanes; and 1966 through 1970 Torinos, Rancheros, Falcons, Comets, Montegos, and Cyclones.
Wurth-it Designs offers bolt-in rack-and-pinion kits designed with allaround driving in mind. Kits are offered for 1954 through 1964 full-size cars, wagons, and Galaxies, as well as 1955 through 1960 Thunderbirds. Wurth-it’s rack-and-pinion is a true bolt-in kit; it requires no welding or cutting of the stock frame. It doesn’t hang down under the crossmember, so it’s not a clearance hazard and it doesn’t suffer from bumpsteer problems. You can use it with stock spindles or with Granada upgrade spindles. This kit allows you to get rid of your sluggish and bulky stock steering system and the leaky steering ram. It updates your car to modern-day steering feel with 3.5 turns lock-to-lock. The kit will fit any engine with a front-sump oil pan. What if you want to use headers on your engine? Wurth-it worked with FPA to build some high-quality headers that will clear the steering rack, Z-bar clutch linkage, frame, and bell housing.
Woodward Machine Corporation and Appleton make rack-and-pinion units for dirt, pavement, and road-racing applications. There is quite a bit of planning and knowledge involved in choosing the right unit for your application. When you get the parts, there’s some design and fabrication that needs to be done to correctly mount the rack to your frame and suspension system. There are over 20 different styles of Woodward racks. For help picking the correct rack for your application and installation information, contact either of these manufacturers.
You would find a Woodward or Appleton rack used on an extreme Restomod with fully fabricated suspension, such as the suspension shown in the first photo in this chapter. As seen in that image, a ton of fabrication is required to install it. A bolt-in steering rack was not an option.
Remote Power Steering Reservoir
When running a Saginaw TC pump, it’s possible to use a stock plastic latemodel-style baffled local or remote reservoir. Remote reservoirs give more options for mounting the pump, since you don’t need to mount the pump in a specific position. There are good and bad remote reservoirs on the market, so it is important to be aware of the differences. The return line and the feed need to be placed in proper locations. If the return line is too close to top of the reservoir, the fluid will act as a vacuum and pull air in. This is called aerating. The aerated fluid can cause damage to the steering components. The symptoms will be groaning noises and jerky steering when turning the wheel at low speeds. The return line should be located at the bottom or at least 11 ⁄2 inches below the surface of the fluid.
Power Steering Hose
There are high- and low-pressure hoses in the power steering system. It’s important to use the right power steering hoses in the right places. If you’re running stock power steering accessories and brackets, you can use stock replacement hoses. The stock high- and low-pressure hoses will be made to the right lengths and have the correct pressure ratings. If you’re using aftermarket hose on your stock steering system or a custom installation, you’ll probably need custom hoses. Whether you’re building your hoses, or someone else is doing it for you, make sure they are using the proper hose and fittings for the job. The pressure spikes on the high-pressure side are too much for standard stainless-steel hose and standard anodized aluminum fittings. Using them for custom powersteering hoses is a common mistake, especially on the high-pressure side.
The proper power steering fittings are high-pressure steel, and the hose should be specifically made for a maximum operating pressure of 1,750 psi. A performance power steering system can operate upwards of 1,350 psi, but there are spikes in pressure during operation. There are many high-performance hose and fitting companies, like XRP Inc. They offer power steering hose made of elastomeric tube, polyester inner braid, single wire braid reinforcement, and a polyester braid cover. They also offer a full line of steel fittings and hose ends to make just about any power steering hose for your Restomod machine.
Power Steering Coolers
Power steering systems can generate plenty of heat, even on the street. While on the track, the temperatures can soar to over 250 degrees. The heat sources are abundant under the hood. In most cases, the power-steering box is close to the headers, which can reach over 1,000 degrees. There are ways to cool down the fluid. People have noted a 30-degree drop in steering system fluid with the addition of a remote reservoir. The addition of an inline power-steering cooler is another way to cool the system. There are right and wrong ways to install an inline cooler. Don’t install a cooler in the high-pressure side; it puts too much stress on the cooler. Plus, if the cooler were to get nicked by a rock, there would be 1,300 pounds of pressure pushing fluid out of the system really fast. Just about any lubricating fluid in contact with hot exhaust is a bad idea.
Put the cooler on the low-pressure return side of the system between the power steering box or rack and the reservoir. Coolers can be stacked-plate, extruded-cylinder, or round-tube designs. A stacked-plate cooler is made up of many flat plates (tubes) stacked on top of each other, which looks much like a miniature engine coolant radiator. The extruded aluminum cooler comes in many different forms. They are made of extruded, finned aluminum and are typically at least 8 inches in length with a fitting on both ends. The round-tube cooler is basically a round tube in a straight line, or Ushaped with small cooling fins to help disperse heat. Each design has proven effective in street and track conditions. Be sure the cooler is designed for at least 60 psi and high-heat conditions. A cooler with a 3 ⁄8-inch or -6 AN inlet and outlet is best suited for power steering applications. If it’s a tube-style cooler, make sure the fittings are not soldered to the tube. The solder will melt and you will have a mess on your hands.
Size matters, too. A small 8x4x2-inch stacked plate or 6-inch round-tube cooler will be more than adequate for most Restomods, even on a road course. Anything larger, and the cooling efficiency of the system will be hampered. Some production cars and trucks have been equipped with little in-line coolers. Installing one of these little coolers can reduce the fluid temperature by 30 degrees. The cooler fluid temperature will increase the life of the fluid, the pump, and steering assembly.
As with any cooler, if it’s not placed where moving air can come into contact with the fins, it will be less effective. Place the cooler in a safe place where a rock off the tire or debris from an unplanned off-track excursion won’t cause damage to any part of the system. The factory usually places its powersteering coolers on the frame rail in the engine compartment. Unlike with radiators, some moving air for the power steering cooler is better than none at all. Placing the cooler in front of the radiator where cool air is flowing is not always convenient.
Sleeves Tie-rod adjustment sleeves are a weak link, but they are often overlooked as an upgrade. The stock adjusters are just sheetmetal formed into tubes. They flex under hard driving conditions, which causes variances in suspension geometry. The stock adjusters can also bend, causing the front suspension to be out of alignment. The stock adjustment clamps also make aligning a tough job at the track.
A couple of aftermarket companies offer beefy tie-rod adjusters. They’re stronger than stock sleeves because they completely wrap around the tie rods and have full thread engagement. Their strength maintains more accurate alignment and suspension geometry under hard driving conditions. Hard driving conditions don’t just happen on the track. The street is full of potholes, train tracks, and debris that can knock the suspension out of alignment. All performance-driven cars should upgrade to these adjusters. Adjusting the aftermarket sleeves is much easier for last-minute track adjustments and alignments at your local shop, because the adjustment sleeves and nuts can be turned with common wrenches.
Written by Tony Huntimer and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks