Installing disk brakes and
power steering in a 2wd 65-72 F-Series pickup
Thanks to user: Ford_Six
In this article, I will give you direct step-by-step
instructions on how to remove your drum front brakes and install disk brakes,
along with swapping your manual steering for power steering. This article
assumes you have power drum brakes already. If not, you will need to use a
master cylinder for manual disk brakes, or convert your truck to power brakes
also. The truck used in this article is a 72 F250 with an FE 360, but any
truck with twin I beams will be substantially similar.
Why both at the same time?
Well, the start was an upgrade from power drums to power
disk brakes. Power steering had always been on my list of nice-to-have things,
but I never really made the effort to do the swap. I picked up a parts truck
to get the new disk brakes from, and it happened to have power steering as
well. As I looked at what was involved in the swap, I realized it would be so
much easier to do both at the same time, rather than individually. For both
swaps, the steering linkage comes out, and the master cylinder has to be
removed, so it’s only natural to do them together.
Level place to work
Heavy duty jack and jackstands
ï¿½ï¿½ breaker bar
ï¿½ï¿½ and 3/8ï¿½ Ratchets
1 1/8ï¿½ socket and wrench
15/16ï¿½ socket and wrench
ï¿½ï¿½ socket and wrench
9/16ï¿½ socket and wrench
Flare nut wrench set, 3/8ï¿½-9/16ï¿½
Vacuum brake bleeder
14-18ï¿½ adjustable wrench
Tie-rod separator (pickle fork)
32oz Ball-peen hammer
Large flat blade screwdriver or small pry-bar
3/4ï¿½ drill and drill press or power drill and benchtop vise
The first step is to locate a donor truck. For this
project, I used a 75 F250 2wd:
This truck has single piston calipers. This isn’t the best
truck to use, but the brakes allow you to run any factory or aftermarket 16"
wheel without clearance issues, and still provide a significant increase in
braking power over the stock drums. For the most part, any 73-79 pickup can be
your donor, just be sure to record the VIN number and GVW/Front GAWR numbers,
since any time you need parts in the future you will order them for that truck.
It’s also best to use a truck of the same model as the one being converted so
you have the same lug pattern and same basic capabilities.
You will need the complete I-beams, steering linkage,
steering box, steering column retainer, master cylinder, and proportioning
valve from this truck.
Getting started on the conversion, the first thing to do is
strip out the donor truck. I made liberal use of a cutting torch in stripping
my truck out, cutting springs, bolts, radius arms, etc. If you do not have
access to a torch, follow the directions for removal from the truck being converted.
Remove the master cylinder and proportioning valve as an assembly, and remove
the steering linkage and power steering gearbox. Don’t get between the ground
and gearbox, as it weighs about 65lbs.
Begin removing your old I-beams by securely blocking the
rear tires front and back, set your parking brake, and jack up the front end.
Support the front of the frame on jack stands, and remove the front tires:
Remove the 15/16ï¿½ nuts from the I-beam pivots, use the
adjustable to hold the bolt stationary if needed. Do not remove the bolts just
Unbolt the steering linkage, and use the pickle fork and
hammer to separate. Discard the old steering linkage, and unbolt the shocks:
Remove the 1 1/8ï¿½ nut at the lower inside end of the coil
spring, remove the spring retainer washer and spring seat, and set them aside:
Remove the nut underneath the spring seat, and pull out the
bolt holding the I-beam to the radius arm. Cut the old brake hose, and pry the
I-beam forward to disengage it from the radius arm:
Knock out the pivot bolt from the other end of the I-beam,
and discard the old I-beam:
Repeat for the other side.
Place the new I-beams under the truck, close to their proper
positions, lift the pivot into place and install the pivot bolts. Do not
tighten at this time, just put the nuts in place:
Lift the new I-beams into place on the radius arms, and put
the radius arm bolts back in place. Torque to about 150 ft-lbs, then
re-install the spring seat, spring, retainer, and upper nut. Torque this to
about 150ft-lbs also, and re-install the shock bolts:
Repeat for the other side.
Remove your original master cylinder and washer fluid
Unbolt the steering column from the rag joint, firewall, and
underdash mount, unplug the wiring harness, and remove the column. Remove the
upper bolt of the driver’s side brake hose mount, and pivot it out of the way,
then unbolt and remove the steering box:
Old box compared to new box:
Install new steering box from the topside, and bolt in
place. Torque to about 85 ft-lbs, bolt brake hose mount back in place, and
install steering linkage from donor truck:
At this point, you will need to modify or replace your
steering column. I chose to modify mine, since the donor truck was an
automatic and mine is a standard.
On the 2wd columns, the steering box connector is held on by
the splined and swedged end of the steering shaft. I simply cut out the
swedged part with a torch, and used a hammer to tap the connector off. Be
careful not to damage this connector:
The connector will also have to be bored out to about ï¿½ï¿½ to
slip further up the steering shaft. While the connector is off, replace the
inner firewall bracket/gasket with the one from your donor truck.
I determined that I had to cut my column down about 2ï¿½, so I
cut that out and then welded the connector back onto the shaft. Be sure to
carefully measure your column to remove the proper amount:
I also replaced the lower column bearing at this time, since
it was very much needed, and the parts are available from Ford for under $6.
Re-install the column, and making sure you tighten the rag
joint bolts securely. You will also have to install the outer firewall bracket
from the donor truck, since the column is in a slightly different location.
Install the power steering lines, cooler, and pump at this
If you used the loop-style cooler like I did, you will need
to also drill a small hole to mount the cooler to the frame.
Check the pushrod protrusion from the booster, and if it’s
the same as the donor truck, install the master cylinder and the proportioning
valve. Install new brake hoses and new hard lines between the valve and
hoses. Fill the master cylinder, then bleed the brakes using the vacuum
bleeder. Be sure the master cylinder does not run dry, or you will have to
start over. Also re-install the washer fluid reservoir at this time:
Re-install the front tires, jack the front end back up,
remove the jack stands, and lower the front end back down. Turn the steering
wheel back and forth to settle the front end, then tighten the pivot bolts to
about 110ft-lbs. This allows the bushings to set in a more natural position
and not cause alignment issues:
Fill the power steering pump, and spin it by hand to work
the fluid through the system. Capacity is a little over 1qt. if you are using
the round Saginaw style pump. Install the belt, and start the engine. Work
the wheel lock to lock to get all the air out of the system, then check your
fluid level and top up as needed.
If you have a decent brake pedal feel, you are pretty much
done. I would highly recommend driving straight to an alignment shop to
prevent any tire wear issues, and also take a little time to get used to your
truck’s new feel. It will be a whole new animal.
Discuss article HERE