Power Steering Parts Trouble

“Power Suit, Power Tie, Power Steering”

My Mustang came from the factory with power steering.  Since the original plan was to drive the car on a regular basis, I’d decided to keep the power steering setup for the sake of drivability.  And while I kinda regret that decision, second-guessing myself and switching over  now would cost money I don’t have.  The more I’ve read on vintage Mustang linkage-type power steering systems, the less I like them.  People complain of leaks, limited road-feel, and twitchy-ness at higher speeds.  But I’ve also read and watched some encouraging snippets on properly setting up the system to ameliorate these issues.  A few courageous souls out there assert that the system isn’t the issue, but rather that they aren’t properly set-up.

Having a good, tight, fresh rebuild and using new hoses takes care of the leak issue.  Getting the alignment right should address some of the twitchiness.  Ford originally called for very little, if any, castor on these cars.  Adding in more positive castor should help the car feel more planted.  Add in the fact that I’m going with all new suspension components and keeping everything stock, the system should be as tight as it’s ever going to be.  So at least I have a plan in place to make the system “workable.”

Fitment Issues

Going with stock components, though, hasn’t saved me from some very frustrating trouble.  Things don’t fit, and that shouldn’t happen.  I can understand it when reproduction pieces don’t play nicely with one another, but I’m matching Ford with Ford.  Most of the steering linkage has been in since I got it back from paint a year ago.  I’d held off putting the power cylinder on because I didn’t need it at the time.  This past weekend I went to finally put it in, and guess what?  It doesn’t fit.

power steeringThe threads on the ball stud (where the power cylinder attached to the drag/center-link) are too short.  The castle nut bottoms out on the threads before it tightens against the drag-link.  So instead of creating a tight mechanical weld, the nut gets to the bottom of the threads, the stud starts spinning, and the thing stays loose.  My first thought was, “maybe there’s supposed to be a washer there.”  So I pulled out the assembly manual.  Unless I’m reading it incorrectly, no washer is required.

 

Either the power cylinder, which I bought two and a half years ago, is a defective rebuild, or the drag link is.  Since I couldn’t install it, I’ll try getting the power cylinder swapped out first, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll pull the drag-link/control valve assembly.  Let’s hope it’s the power cylinder!

Why the difference?

To add insult to injury, while I was under the car I discovered that the drag link rubs on the oil pan when I turn the wheel hard right.  So I’ve got another problem there, and I’m stumped on that one.  The only thing I can guess is that the engine mounts are to blame.  But I can’t figure out why that would be the case when the linkage didn’t scrape the pan originally, the brackets are the same, and the block dimensions are identical.  Everything is stock!

Maybe the rubber isolators are compressed more than the old ones.  I find that hard to believe considering these are new, made in U.S.A. parts, and the old ones had been supporting the engine for 50 years.  If anything the new mounts should have resulted in raising the engine, not lowering it.  Oh well, something else to investigate!