Mustang MonthlyHow To Drivetrain
Classic Ford Mustang Power Steering - How To Install Power Rack-And-Pinion Steering
The bolt-on system from Randall's Rack and Pinion makes it easy to upgrade vintage Mustang steering
Classic Mustang steering was nothing to write home about even when the cars were new. They may have looked like Mustangs, but they drove like Falcons. Mustang manual steering was and still is a chore, especially with a dinky aftermarket steering wheel. Power-assisted steering remains a nightmare because it leaks and is prone to other failures. However, with the bolt-on rack-and-pinion steering from Randall's Rack and Pinion, you can improve your Mustang's steering without being obvious. Best of all, you can install it in one day and be ready for cruising that night.
What we like most about Randall's rack-and-pinion is the attention to detail and forethought in the design. These guys thought about every aspect of rack-and-pinion in '65-'70 Mustangs and figured out how to ease installation. We were shocked at how easy it was once we took off all the old stuff.
Tucson's Laurie Slawson is a Mustang Club of America board member and show judge who also grabbed an MCA Gold with her concours '68 hardtop. A few years ago, she decided to step out and build a Mustang restomod. Laurie wanted a big-block fastback with a "rumpity-rump" demeanor. One of her goals was rack-and-pinion steering, but the challenge was installing it in a big-block car. Not all of them fit. Randall's answered the call with its bolt-on system.
For the installation, Laurie enlisted the help of Jimmy's Broadway Auto-motive in Tucson. Because her 390 had been pulled for a teardown and build-up, it's easier for Jimmy's to complete the conversion while we shoot our photos for this how-to.
To install the Randall's rack, remove the existing steering system: steering gear, idler arm, inner and outer tie-rod ends, and so on. With power steering, also remove the control valve and power ram. In fact, it's a good idea to drain the power-steering system before disassembly begins.
Mustangs from '65-'67 have a long, solid steering shaft to be reckoned with along with the steering gear. Raise the car enough to clear the steering shaft. To get there, remove the steering wheel and column, two locknuts, and a collar, disconnect the turn-signal switch, and loosen the column at the firewall. This frees up the steering gear for removal. On '68-'70 models, disconnect the rag joint at the end of the steering shaft at the gear.
Overall steering-column length must be 28 3/8 inches. This is from the top of the column to the top of the shaft assembly provided by Randall's. Carefully place your steering column in a vise, and cut it to size with a saw. Don't use a pipe cutter as a shortcut because that will make it impossible to fit the bearing-supported shaft.
'65-'67 Solid-Shaft Steering Columns
When you're doing a tilt-away or '68-up collapsible steering column, a Randall's conversion is straightforward. For '65-'67 solid-shaft columns, this is a test of fabrication skills. Randall's suggests cutting the steering column as shown to take 3 inches off the tube. The steering shaft has to be cut and machined into a double-D shape to fit to the steering coupling. This mandates a visit to a machine shop. The steering column tube should be 28 3/8 inches from the collar at the steering wheel to the tube end. The accompanying images should give you some idea of what's involved. Detailed instructions come with the Randall's Rack and Pinion system.