Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
December 5, 2010
Photos By: Pete Epple

Last month, we detailed the dyno test of our True Street project's 427ci engine, and this month we sought to drop it between the fenders of our Repeat Offender. To accomplish this we had to address some issues with the front end components to make a proper home for the Windsor. This included a tubular K-member, and a new manual rack and pinion assembly from Flaming River.

Flaming River has long been associated with producing high-quality replacement and high-performance steering components for a variety of vehicles, and it has the late-model Mustang market dialed in. The company's manual rack has long been a favorite of racers as it offers more room in the engine bay for bigger engines and larger-tube headers, as well as a decent weight reduction compared to the factory power steering rack, pump, and associated lines and brackets.

We contemplated keeping the power steering on project Repeat Offender, and even looked at the brand-new assemblies that Flaming River offers, but in the end, the aforementioned attributes of the manual rack won out as our True Street endeavor is all about going fast in a straight line.

Before we installed the rack and pinion, we needed to address the shot lower front control arms and ball joints. When we installed the front suspension components several issues back, we didn't realize how bad the parts were, but we're fairly certain it is all factory '85-spec stuff that's long since run its course of usefulness. That being said, we were planning on rebushing the control arms and ordering new ball joints, but an opportunity came up to employ a hand-me-down tubular K-member and A-arms, so we opted to go that route.

Said K-member was relieved from associate editor Pete Epple's Three-Valve swap project, as it made way for a new piece from Maximum Motorsports. Other than the paint being gone and having a bit of surface rust, the custom K-member, which was fabricated in New Jersey by chassis-guy Joe Gambino, was a stout piece, and the tubular lower control arms employed spring perches for use with a factory style coil spring. After using a combination of sandblasting and chemical stripping, we had our friend T.J. Gant at Power Powerdercoating cover the tubes with a deep grey powdercoat. It's an almost black finish that gives the piece a unique look without standing out too much.

We also had to trade out the spherical rod ends that hung the control arms, as the chrome was peeling and the spherical bearings were largely seized up. We dialed up Summit Racing for a quartet of black oxide rod ends. The K-member was already equipped with screw-in style ball joints that were in great shape, so we didn't have to worry about those.

With the K-member and A-arms installed, the Flaming River manual rack bolted up easily. We ordered ours with the installation kit, which includes new rack bushings and hardware, along with new outer tie rods. We also went for the Flaming River steering shaft with low-profile Borgeson joints. This would improve the accuracy of steering inputs, as well as offer improved clearance for the substantial exhaust headers that we will be employing. We mocked the steering shaft up for your viewing pleasure, but we'll revisit the actual installation once we have the headers in the car, as there are some adjustments that can be made to work around the header tubes.

While we would normally weigh everything to show you the weight difference, the point was largely rendered moot, as our tubular K-member is a custom piece, and the numbers wouldn't be exactly what you might see with other brands of tubular K-members. As far as the rack goes, Flaming River says that there is about a 30-pound weight reduction when ditching the factory power steering for its manual rack.

Next month, we'll bring you more of Project Repeat Offender. Our deadline to get the project finished in time for the NMRA season opener in Bradenton, Florida, is fast approaching, and there's a lot of work to be done yet. Stay tuned.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery