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AXracer 11-26-2004 05:59 PM

After a couple weeks collecting parts, we finally turned some wrenches today on Gracie! First order is to change the ram assisted style power steering to a real power steering box. The Toyota power steering box came with the pitman arm still on it. Tried everything, liquid wrench, heat, brute force to get the nut off without sucess, breaking a bench vise in the process. My brother called yesterday and I related our exploits to see what suggestions he might have. Do you need the nut or the pitman arm? he asked. No, I said Mid Fifty sent a new nut and pitman arm with the conversion kit. Then why not use a cut off wheel on your angle grinder to cut a slot in both, crack em with a cold chisel and they should pop right off. DUH! I have to get back into car building mode!
Braved the shopping crowds to go to Home Depot to pick up 1/dz 1/16" cut off disks (Won't get caught without on again!), and within 10 min of getting home I had them both off. Took longer to run an electrical cord outside than it did to do the deed. With that done, we put Gracie up on run up blocks and started disassembly. Donna, my wife and building/racing partner worked inside on removing the steering wheel and disconnecting the column while I worked under the hood and underneath. Even with the late start, we were able to completely remove the stock box and column, the column drop and most of the ram setup. Tomorrow we'll start putting in the new box, Ididit tilt column and the Grant banjo wheel. We'll have to wait for the new power steering hoses to arrive before we can actually try it tho. We may have to change out the PS pump for a different one I really don't know what pump is on there now, and the hoses will work for some GM pumps but not others. It's a "lot of fun" to try and discover what parts the previous owners have used. Once we have the steering set, then we can start on the rewiring. The EZ wire kit is here, can't wait to get rid of the rat's nest of wires under the dash. After that the cracked windshield will be replaced so she will pass inspection and can be put back on the road.

56 Effie Aurea 11-26-2004 07:24 PM

Sounds like you're getting a handle on it, Chuck. This setup maintains the original straight axle and drag link, correct? If so, I'm interested in seeing how it turns out. I'm leaning toward the Toyota box myself. Summit sells some nice chromed GM pumps; I think they would work on that but would like to know for sure, too.

Right now I don't have to lift weights to maintain my biceps...all I have to do is try and park Effie:-X10 . If I switch to power steering I'll have to dust off the ol' weight set I guess.

Keith K 11-27-2004 12:06 AM

I would like to do the same PS mod to my 56 F100. Where did you get the Toyota components? I assume you are usng the stock front end? How is the steering and ride? I have been contemplating the Camaro Front clip graft, but an deciding if I want to spend the $$.

AXracer 11-27-2004 12:39 AM

I bought the steeringbox used by searching You can also buy them freshly rebuilt from most auto parts stores or from Mid Fifty. I bought MF's coversion kit which included the bolt in mount, the proper pitman arm, a new pitman arm nut, and a U joint to join the box to whatever steering shaft you are using. If you are planning on using the stock column, you will lose the horn button function in the steering wheel. Since my truck already had a ram power steering assist setup on it I also needed a new draglink. If you are converting a truck that is OEM strong-arm steering, you can use the original drag link. MF offers an extended draglink if you have the springs that move the axle forward in the wheel well. I also bought an Ididit tilt column, column drop and floor mount. To finish off with a clean install I ordered a new floor plate designed for the 2" column and the Toyota box. I also ordered a set of hoses from MF that come with a bunch of adapters to fit a number of different PS pumps. You'll need a pump that matches your engine as well as the mounts, pulley(s) and drive belt. My panel has a dropped axle and reversed eye springs. It rode quite well the way it was except for the slop in the steering (the ride was the reason we decided to try the beam axle first rather than going for the independent clip, plus we don't have our garage up yet so we have to work in the backyard), but obviously we haven't tried the Toyota system yet. We'll be finishing up the install tomorrow, but the hoses won't be here until mid week. I'll post more to let you know how it all went together tomorrow or Sun.

don1077 11-27-2004 07:25 AM

AXRacer: I think you are going to like the Toyota Steering. Next to the A.C I think its the best improvement to the Old Dog. If you havn't upgraded your tie rod consider doing that. MF has one. After about 6 weeks of driving I noticed my old stock rod had a slight bow in it. I paniced and ordered the
heavy duty tie rod. It's nice to be able to one finger into a parking place.

AXracer 11-27-2004 09:41 AM

Thanks Don, There's a heavy duty tie rod in it. It must have been changed when they put in the ram assist. I'm looking forward to the new system, a 1/4 turn of freeplay was scarey!

Keith K 11-27-2004 09:52 AM

Thanks for the information. I will be very interested on how it all works out. This is a must have mod along with Power Brakes fro my 55. Currently the steering is all stock. Relocating the horn should not be a problem. I kind of remember some older trucks with a large button on the cloumn, maybe attached with hose clamps of something similar. Wonder of those are still available. JC Whitney would be my guess.

AXracer 11-28-2004 11:22 PM

Update day 2, 3:
Day 2- finished removing the ram assist system. Found that someone had drilled a couple extra holes for the OEM box, evidently to change the column angle (?) I cleaned the frame around the mounting area then attempted to install the new mount. First snag- the mount did not want to go in against the frame. MF said to check for bent flange, but mine was a straight as an arrow. I couldn't find a way to get a view of what was going on, so I had to go by feel. Finally realized someone had moved the rubber suspension bump stop rearward, and the nut was in the way. Removed the bump stop and was finally able to bolt the mount in. Now I just needed to bolt the box to the mount, or so I thought...
The Toyota box is quite heavy and awkward to manuver into place. Finally strongarmed it in, and then realized there was no possible way to bolt the box to the mount with the mount bolted in, so I took the box back out, and unbolted the mount.
Snag #2 with the shape of the mount and the hole locations there was no way to put the bolts in from the top as MF indicated in their drawing, so they would need to go up thru the mount and then the box and the nylon lock nuts would need to go on top. Easier said than done I soon discovered it was near impossible to get a wrench on the nuts closest to the apex of the mount's V shape. I tried nearly every type wrench I owned. A box wrench would get on the nut, but once you ran the bolt up tight you couldn't get it back out, and any open end wrench I tried the Jaws were too thick to get in the tight space. Finally in despiration I pulled out a pair of longnose Craftsman wonderpliers someone had given me as a gift as lo and behold they held well enough for me to pull the bolts down tight. Thank you Bob Vila!
Now the trick was going to be getting the even more unweildly box and mount into place (did I mention the mount was constructed from 2 lengths of 1 1/2" square steel bar stock and weighed about 15# alone?)and bolted in. With me laying on my back trying to hold everything in place with my fingertips, My wife told me we were no where near the bolt holes with the sector shaft through the hole in the frame. Kinda expected that, as the instructions said we "might" have to enlarge the hole an 1/8" towards the front. Take it all out and pull out my old long neglected die grinder. Mark a line ~3/16" more towards the front for good measure and start grinding. Took about 20 minutes to remove that much frame. Ok now we're ready to bolt it up! work the box back thru the frame and into position. I tell Donna just stick a drift pin in one of the holes and use it to line up another and screw a bolt in.
Snag # 3 No matter how much we try we can't get any of the holes to line up, and the sector shaft is tight up to the front of the enlarged hole. I ask her to mark where it's hitting and I take the assembly out once more. I mark it another 1/4" bigger and start grinding again. Ok, one last try! This time she tells me she can get one of the holes to "almost line up" but the other two are barely visible, and the sector shaft is still tight against the hole in the frame. By this time my arms feel like rubber and she's getting very frustrated as well. Another 1/8" is ground away (a 1/2" total in case you haven't been counting) as the sun starts to set. By now I'm not going to get beat by this, so we rig up a light and go for it. But alas she gets one bolt started and I crawl out to assess the situation, and it's still "mission control we have a problem!" the sector shaft is still hitting and the other two holes are only 1/2 showing, so we call it a night, and dejectedly put the tools away and go inside to warm up and nurse our very sore muscles over some supper.
It absolutely POURED Saturday night so our work area was covered in soaking wet leaves and the ground underneath is soft and wet when we came out to work Sunday.
I had the foresight to spray all the inner panel bolts with liquid wrench before we quit Sat, so now the bolts that wouldn't budge the day before yielded to the wrench and we spent ~ 45 minutes removing the inner fender panel before making another attempt at installing the box to make it easier to see and could hold the box from the top. I also got the bright idea to throw a C clamp on the mount to help hold it in place so I could get my own view of the situation with the alignment. In the light of the day, I didn't like what I saw! The sector shaft was still rubbing and the holes still wouldn't quite line up. Time for plan B! I had Donna get inside the truck and eyeball the shaft of the box in relationship to the line the steering column was to take while I pulled and pushed the sector shaft back towards the center of the now much larger hole and rotated the box around it to get the best angle for the connection. Once I had maneuvered it into a suitable position, I marked the new position of the holes in the mount, moved the box away for the last time and drilled/elongated a new set of holes thru the frame. Sucess at last! I bolted the mount in with some thick large washers that I had left over from installing shoulder harnesses in our race car against the frame. Once my new MIG welder arrives I'll weld them to the frame. If I had to do it over, I would have made a 1/8" plate that had the sector shaft hole and mounting holes in the right places, centered it over the shaft hole in the frame on the outside, drilled new mounting holes and bolted the whole mess together, would have made a more sense and a lot less work. I installed the new pitman arm and drag link. Surprisingly the new rather pricey end kits I bought for the new draglink didn't include grease fittings or cotter pins!
Now for the fun stuff! We unpacked the U joint, Ididit column, Grant wheel and Ididit adapter, the flaming river billit floor mount and column drop as well as the MF floor plate that was supposed to be for this install. I temporarily screwed the plate to the floor to hold it and the end of the column in place, put the U joint on the box's splined shaft and got ready to slip the column in place. First time I got inside and Donna got under the fender to guide the shaft into the joint. Again the hot rod gods were not smiling and try as she might the shaft would not go into the joint. Ok, switch places and try it again. I lined up the shaft and joint but they still wouldn't slip together! Go back inside and unscrew the floor plate to give us more wiggle room on the bottom end of the column. A lot of wiggling, pushing and a few raps on a block of wood on the steering wheel end of the shaft and it finally begrugingly went in. Attached the column drop and temporarily put the wheel in place to see how it was all going to be together. WHOO HOO it was outstanding. But wait, the floor plate was now 3/8" too high on the floor! Oh oh another mod needed... Pulled the column back out, Marked the hole in the plate 3/8" higher and brought out the die grinder one more time. Wish I would have had a 2" holesaw, but another 20 minutes of grinding and the shaft hole in the plate was an oval. Put it all back in for what we hope is the last time until we take it apart for painting. The shaft went back into the universal with very little effort, there must have been a small burr the first time. We picked up all the tools and leftover pieces, put the wheel and tire back on and let down the jack until we can work on it again.
I know that this is long and detailed report, but I hope it helps to show that even bolt on mods don't always go the way they're supposed to, take more time than expected and also provides insight for anyone else doing the same mod after us to make it easier for them by knowing what to expect.

Keith K 11-29-2004 08:59 AM

Souns like you had a fun filled weekend. Thanks for the story. Now I know, to knock this mod out before I put the body back on the frame. I wonder if the holes not lining up is typical?

AXracer 11-29-2004 09:39 AM

Like I indicated. the holes lined up with the mount, but once I put the box on the mount and tried to get it to line up with the sector shaft thru the frame they wouldn't line up without extensive grinding to the sector shaft hole. I'd suggest cutting a pattern out of stiff light cardstock like a file folder. Cut a hole the size of the sector shaft and slip it over the shaft with the box on the mount, Use the ball end of a ball peen hammer to tap lightly over the holes in the mount to cut an accurate pattern. mark the shape of the mount on the paper and cut it out. Now lay the pattern over the sector shaft hole on the outside of the frame and see if you prefer to cut the sector shaft hole larger or move the mount holes. Had I known in advance to do this I could have saved myself a couple hours time and very sore muscles from wrestling the box in and out.
One other thing I forgot to mention: if you buy a used or rebuilt box, bolt it to the mount and you'll see where you need to grind ~ 1/4" off the end of the mounting flange on the box so it can fit tight against the frame.

imlowr2 11-29-2004 04:59 PM

Sounds like it's not going in that easy? Just some info... I know you can get the Toyota Steering boxes in a foreign car junk yard. AXracer - I'm curious if your having difficulty with your exhaust manifold (headers) after the install? A friend installed the Toyota box and could no longer fit his 5.0 headers. By the way, I sure wish I had 1/4" play. I think I'm at about 3/4" LOL....

AXracer 11-29-2004 06:19 PM

My headers are tight to and towards the rear of the block (CSB) so space around the steering box is not a problem, the Toyota box isn't a lot bigger than the OEM box. My play wasn't a 1/4", but a 1/4 TURN of the wheel! On a tight curve, a changing crown, or getting passed by a semi it would suddenly try to change lanes!
It would be an easy install NOW, knowing what I learned. That's why I wrote this report to try and save the next guy a lot of the extra work I went through.

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