Power Steering Installation
“I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe.”
— Jango Fett, Attack of the Clones
My car came with not only manual steering when I bought it, but loose manual steering. In time, I was able to swap out the loose steering box and tired steering linkage parts with new or tight pieces, and as long as I was continually driving the car, I never had a problem driving it or felt ill at ease with the steering. I drove the car casually, and adapted to what the car could comfortably do and not do.
My acceptance of manual steering quickly faded when I got used to the power steering of more modern cars. The slight bumps in the road at low speeds, coupled with parallel parking needs in downtown Chicago, made me wary of pushing the car for simple, everyday driving maneuvers like turning the wheels to lane change while at a dead stop at a stoplight.
So, I felt a change was necessary. Power steering in this car would only be a benefit, and that is what I was going to install.
Parts Differences Between Manual and Power Steering
The stock power steering setup on a Falcon uses a hydraulic ram to assist in moving the steering linkage when you turn. The power steering setup I acquired for my car was off of another 65 Falcon V8 car, and it shares very little with its sister linkage, manual V8 steering linkage. The two share inner tie rod ends, end links, one outer tie rod end, and the idler arm. Everything else is different:
Steering Box: The manual and power steering boxes look identical, but it's what inside that counts. The manual steering box has a 19:1 turning ratio, while the power steering box has a "quicker" 16:1 ratio. The differences are very apparent when a manual box is used with power steering, or vice versa. Using a manual steering box with power steering linkage will give you very little road feel, and it would take excessive turns to steer the automobile in any direction. The use of a power steering box with manual steering linkage will give you the quicker, more nimble steering, but with about 40% increased difficulty.
While I performed the Geo Metro Power brake swap, I installed the power box at the same time, feeling that it would be very hard to install the box later without undoing all of the work on the Geo parts. When moving or driving the car for short periods to break in and fine-tune the Geo unit, I experienced first hand the difference between the two types of boxes.
Pitman Arm: The manual and power steering systems both have their own individual pitman arms. My parts all came from 1965 Falcons, so the two pitman arms do share the same size sector shaft (1"), but the power steering pitman arm has more of a bend to it.
When I coupled the power box with the manual steering linkage, I used the manual pitman arm with the power box, and it did fit and work correctly. The only problem with the manual pitman arm is that the power box cannot be utilized completely; my turning radius was terrible! The manual pitman arm did not allow the power box to cycle completely.
Outer tie rod end : The passenger outer tie rod is the same as the manual's unit, but the driver's side is a different story. The drivers side outer tie rod bends on two planes compared to just one like the passenger side tie rod so it can connect to the spindle without interfering with the power steering components under the car. In the Granada disc brake swap, others who have performed the swap have stated that the Granada driver's side outer tie rod cannot be used, and you need to purchase a special outer tie rod from companies such as Mustangs Plus. So far I have been able to mate the Falcon stock tie rod end with the Granada spindle. I have not had any problems.
Center link: The power steering center link has an extra hole to mount the power cylinder. The manual does not.
Removing the Power Steering from a Donor Car
When installing power steering into a manual car, the best thing to do is purchase the entire system or strip it off a donor car. Make sure that the donor car is the SAME YEAR as yours, or else you might have problems. By the entire system, I specifically mean to first remove everything steering related under the car, then remove the related hardware on the engine. This can be done by:
1.) Freeing the pitman arm from the linkage.
2.) Disconnecting the outer tie rod ends from the spindles.
3.) Disconnecting the power steering hoses from the pump.
4.) Unbolting the power cylinder's L-shaped frame bracket from the subframe.
5.) Unbolting the idler arm from the car.
6.) While you are under the car, see if there is a bracket attached to the back of the driver's side motor mount that holds the power steering hoses. Take that, too. When power steering units were serviced, it was common for these to be removed.
The entire steering linkage assembly should now drop out of the car. Now you open the hood and:
1.) Remove the power steering pump.
2.) Remove the bracket that mounts the power steering pump to the engine.
3.) Remove the alternator brackets that attach the alternator to the engine. (Not absolutely necessary, I did it because it was a package deal when I got my parts)
4.) Remove the pulleys.
5.) And last but most important: Get that steering box! In V8 cars, you might need to remove the master cylinder and the driver's side exhaust manifold in order to get the box out. I found that you don't need to remove anything when removing a steering box from a manual brake, V8 powered car if you have another person inside the cab compartment holding the end of the steering box's rod and gently wiggling it while you work the box out from under and around the driver side exhaust manifold.
*Remember to keep and catalog all the bolts that you remove from the donor car!*
Installing Power Steering into a Manual Steering Car
Now that you have the power steering from the donor car, you had better check for leaks while it's easy to remove/replace parts. Check all the hoses by carefully flexing them near the crimps to the hard lines. Look at the power cylinder: is there a buildup of fluid? What about the tie rods? The idler arm? Does the pump look damaged? Does it show signs of leaking?
You should also take the time to degrease and paint your parts. This is the last time they'll be out of the car (hopefully), so why not clean them and paint them to withstand the rigors you are going to put them through?
To install the power steering parts into a manual steering car, you need to:
1.) Remove the manual steering linkage.
2.) Remove the pulleys on the engine.
3.) Remove the alternator and both alternator support brackets. (If you decided to take these from the donor car)
4.) On the bottom of the driver's side sub-frame, you will notice two hexagonal holes. These holes accept frame crush nuts, and the power cylinder's L-shaped frame bracket attaches to the frame with the help of two bolts threaded into these nuts. While the two bolts bolt the bracket into the bottom of the subframe, another bolt should be used to bolt the other part of the L-bracket into the side of the subframe. There should already be a factory drilled set of holes just in front of the steering box bolts on the driver's side wheel well. A bolt should be run through these two holes, and come out in a third hole in the L-shaped bracket.
5.) Install the steering box.
6.) Install the power steering linkage into the car in the reverse order you took it out of the donor car.
7.) If you have Granada spindles and disc brakes, replace the passenger side outer tie rod end with a Granada's. Fit the driver side tie rod end into its respective spindle. If you are not happy with the fit, order a tie rod end made for this swap.
8.) Install the power steering hose holder onto the driver's side motor mount. Run the hoses through the mount.
9.) Install the pump, bracket, alternator brackets and your alternator (if applicable), and pulleys from the donor power steering car.
10.) Connect the power steering hoses to the pump.
11.) Install the belts onto the belt-driven accessories.
12.) Fill the power steering pump.
13.) Start the car, cycling the steering wheel completely from one side to the other.
14.) Check the fluid level. Add more fluid when existing fluid warms up (about three minutes running time).
This is a basic breakdown of the replacement of manual steering with power steering.
I am very happy with the results. The power steering allows easier parking and slow speed driving.
The only gripe I have with the system is the over boosted feel to the wheel. I have a Grant steering wheel on the car and wonder how it must feel with the stock, larger wheel in place. I plan to help the situation by installing front tires with wider tread than the ones I have now. As for this complaint, it is very small compared to the benefits I have received by doing this swap.
Mike in Chicago