Budget Quick Steering Box - Team Camaro Tech
Brakes, Suspension & Steering Conversion questions, Steering & Handling

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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old Oct 14th, 17, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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Mike
 
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Budget Quick Steering Box

Like many, I spend way too much money and time on my car, but thats what the "hobby" is all about. Still, if I can get some low-buck improvement in any aspect of my car I'm going to take a serious look at it. My car is an X44 '69 Camaro coupe... and its a restomod. One thing I wanted to do was upgrade the brakes, suspension, and steering. So the front end got power disc brakes (Wilwoods/CPP/TuffStuff), Hotchkis 2" drop coils, Helix tubular uppers and lowers, ProForged ball joints with tall uppers, ProForged tie rods, ends, and the Helwig 1-1/8" front bar is enroute as I write this. Have to give Dave Pozzi props for giving me some tips and information. And thanks to Jeff Loud [LSX69] who prodded me into doing this write-up. Jeff's going to give it a try in his car now.

My car was originally a small block V8, automatic, power steering and dual exhausts. The steering was awful, seemed like 15 turns lock to lock and response was as slow as molasses. While I'm sure the steering boxes from Lee and other high-end rebuilders are without compare... I noticed that on the compatible Saginaw steering box list they had the Jeep Grand Cherokee from the mid-'90s as a decent candidate. I did some searching on CL and found a local guy who was in the process of parting out his sister's JGC that had been T-Boned on the passenger side. I called up and asked if he had a steering box and if so, what condition. He said he'd pull it out and take some pix which he sent to me. Long story short... I drove up to his house and bought it for $45. Obviously looked a little grimy, but it didn't appear to leak, and it seemed smooth when turned by hand.

I set about cleaning it up last winter as one of my many projects. Got it installed a couple months now, and all I can say is "Night and Day" difference. As with all these newer Saginaw boxes, you'll need to pick up the correct rag joint and a set of adapters for the hoses. But other than that, its a direct bolt-in and you use the original power steering arm (or pick one up from Rock-Auto). Thought I'd post some pix of the restoration.



Kinda dry and rusty, but solid and smooth. Started wire-brushing it because if it was going in the car it had to look decent.



Wire-brushing got the box looking pretty decent as far as a used, 20 year old component was concerned.



Having had done other suspension cleanups over the years, I'm a firm believer in using a good metal etching primer.



I like Rustoleum's "Hammertone" paints for cast items. Did my best to clean and polish the oxidized aluminum parts, clear-coated those.



These numbers may or may not be helpful in identifying a '96 JGC box, but I figured I'd include them. The "214496" is so lightly engraved it barely shows up in pictures.



I did find another picture (see below) where you can barely make out the numbers on the end cap.



Sorry about that LOL.



So here's the rag joint you'd need to retrofit the '96 JGC steering box into your '69 Camaro. Probably all three first gen years. Believe its a Chevy S10 rag joint.



Here's the Borgeson adapters, available from many online vendors. These ensure a nice, tight and so far... leak free connection using your existing PS hose.



Depending on which headers you have, you might have to work the tubes as supposedly the '84 and up Saginaw boxes are 1/8" wider (I never checked).



Best I can do from the bottom until I get back on a lift LOL. Last week of July I put on 1053 miles in one week, drove from Massachusetts down to the Jersey Shore for some family vacation time. Real long distance road test for my brakes, suspension, and steering mods. Happy to say nothing happened... the box is still as dry as a bone in the desert.

So the bottom line is that for well under $100 my car's steering is ultra responsive and no longer wallowing all over the road. I'm sure there's plenty of people who will suggest that the only way to go is new, but so many have opted to search out '84 IROC boxes or their equivalent. The IROC/Monte Carlo boxes (if you can find one) has a slightly thicker shaft, maybe a little better feel... I don't know. This started out as an experiment, and I figured if it sucked... I could always go buy a remanufactured box for a couple hundred and hope they put decent parts back in it. This box is 12 years newer LOL than an '84 IROC box so they're both ancient. It did however, turn out to be just the ticket for me. I'll probably upgrade the hoses this winter, maybe braided SS. Hope this little pictorial helps a few people. And don't forget that a wealth of information is over on Dave Pozzi's page, especially the charts showing various alternate choices for steering boxes. Maybe if enough people like this they'll make it a sticky. Enjoy!

Mike

'69 LeMans Blue Coupe, White Interior, 030" over 454, Super T10 4-Speed, Holley 4150, Pertronix Ignition
CompCams XS274S, 781 Oval Port Heads, PYPES Full 3" SS Exhaust, Hooker Comp Headers, Wilwood Calipers/MC
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 17, 11:37 AM
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Richard
 
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

Thanks a bunch for this informed and detailed post on upgrading the steering on your car. I've been looking for something exactly like this. Now all I have to do is head to the junk yard in search of a mid 90's Grand Cherokee. One question, I need to replace the rag joint in my '68. Is the Dorman 31011 the only part that I need to purchase to replace the rag joint? I'm just starting a LS1 conversion and would like to upgrade my steering at the same time as my motor and brakes. Thanks again!
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 17, 04:18 PM
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

In a word, yes.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old Oct 24th, 17, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

The Helwig 1.125" tubular bar is in and it's pretty effective in flattening the cornering. So the front end makeover is pretty much done and I'm more than pleased. The money I saved by using the JGC box obviously went towards other items. I'm in the process of switching to 17" wheels, so that will probably be an improvement over my 15" setup.

Rich... As far as finding a mid-90's JGC box... the junkyards are one source, but check your local Craigslist listing under parts, that's how I found mine. Either way, try to find one that isn't all stained with leaks. Check the movement by hand. Glad you enjoyed the writeup.

'69 LeMans Blue Coupe, White Interior, 030" over 454, Super T10 4-Speed, Holley 4150, Pertronix Ignition
CompCams XS274S, 781 Oval Port Heads, PYPES Full 3" SS Exhaust, Hooker Comp Headers, Wilwood Calipers/MC
JGC Steering Box, Helix Uppers/Lowers, ProForged BJs, SpeedHut Gauges, MOMO Steering Wheel, Budnik 17" Wheels
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 17, 04:53 AM
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

I like restoring on a "budget". 468 out of a 72 Suberban with 5K rebuilt miles with T-400 for $600, sold the trans for a hundred. 4 speed out of a 78 trans am, he upgraded to a 5, paid $100. Suspension: SB moog springs, lowered the front 2", energy poly front bushings and stock ball joints and larger front sway bar. Upgrade cam, heads, intake, carb. . . .$1200. PPG black with pearl white stripes, VA AC, stock radiator and clutch fan, IROC box, $116. Parts from NAPA or Autozone.
BFG on 17 Foose wheels. All new PUI interior with last years 2000 watt stereo system. Best engine last 13 shows, 2 beast paint and best in show 6 times. . . .runs great, handles fantastic with cold AC and great tunes. . . . .total restoration cost. . . .$23K over 2 years and never left the shop out back. . . .#35th Camaro over 35 years.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old Oct 25th, 17, 05:10 AM
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

Just to add. . . started with a rust free Ca car. Added RS Detroit speed, tilt , gauges, tilt from a junk yard as were the Nova disc brakes. Chromed out engine with smoothed firewall.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 18, 11:54 AM
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

Great thread! I posted a link to it in the FAQ sticky thread.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 18, 06:08 PM
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

Excellent post. What can a guy do with a manual box for quicker steering?
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old Jan 9th, 18, 07:45 AM
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

Excellent post!
My car had manual steering and it was a bear to park or maneuver at slow speed.
I got my PS gear box, Pittman attached with pump and old hoses from a member here. ($50 and a three hour drive) It was from a 1967 327. I cleaned and painted the 3 1/2 turn gear box and pump like you did to your's. I got new 350 pump brackets, hoses and crank pulley to fit my 350. I also got a new PS rag joint kit from Ricks. Sold the 327 brackets on ebay for $40.
The difference is amazing!
Only thing is, I can not figure out why the steering wheel is off by about 20/30 degrees to the right. Meaning if steering wheel held straight as prior to change over the car slightly drifts to left. Yes, I swear the wheels and steering wheel was straight ahead when I put it back together. But working by myself didn't help.

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old Jan 9th, 18, 08:21 AM
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

Are you saying that if you were to hold your steering wheel, while you are driving it, so it's not 20 to 30 degrees off center, the car goes to the left? That's what it looks like you are saying. When I did mine, I had the same issue. With my hands off the steering wheel, it was abut 10-20 degrees off center to the left, but the car drove perfectly straight. I just pulled the steering wheel while the car was parked and the wheels perfectly straight and moved the steering wheel 10-20 degrees to the right. Problem solved.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old Jan 9th, 18, 12:13 PM
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisG View Post
Are you saying that if you were to hold your steering wheel, while you are driving it, so it's not 20 to 30 degrees off center, the car goes to the left? That's what it looks like you are saying. When I did mine, I had the same issue. With my hands off the steering wheel, it was abut 10-20 degrees off center to the left, but the car drove perfectly straight. I just pulled the steering wheel while the car was parked and the wheels perfectly straight and moved the steering wheel 10-20 degrees to the right. Problem solved.
Yes. I think.
Before the change over my manual steering was dead on. With only a very slight amount of play due to age. Immediately after finishing the change over to power I noticed the wheel was not straight while on a straight run. If I held the wheel straight the car tracked to the left. Hence, I now have to keep the wheel about 20-30 degrees turned to the right to travel straight.

Sure I could pop the steering wheel and put it back on. As you say, problem solved. But it bugs me that I screwed up somewhere!
I could have nudged the tire while under there or the steering wheel moved while I was wrestling with the rag joint.
How 'bout taking off the Pitman at the center link, nudge both wheels a half a tick to straight ahead and bolt the pitman back on?

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old Jan 9th, 18, 01:06 PM
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

You need to adjust the tie rod sleeves. That's all. The relationship of the pitman arm to steering shaft is
not exactly the same as it was with the manual gear.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old Jan 9th, 18, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

Quote:
Originally Posted by allanjs View Post
You need to adjust the tie rod sleeves. That's all. The relationship of the pitman arm to steering shaft is
not exactly the same as it was with the manual gear.
Yup... when I did mine I did the whole front end over (new control arms, BJs, tie rods, ends, etc.), so got close and when I went in the shop for alignment, my guy tweaked it.
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'69 LeMans Blue Coupe, White Interior, 030" over 454, Super T10 4-Speed, Holley 4150, Pertronix Ignition
CompCams XS274S, 781 Oval Port Heads, PYPES Full 3" SS Exhaust, Hooker Comp Headers, Wilwood Calipers/MC
JGC Steering Box, Helix Uppers/Lowers, ProForged BJs, SpeedHut Gauges, MOMO Steering Wheel, Budnik 17" Wheels
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old Jan 9th, 18, 04:48 PM
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

Yours looks like a different situation than mine. My car went perfectly straight when my hand were off the wheel. I’m no expert in alignment, but it sounds like that is an issue for your car. I know that it is recommended that an alignment be done after the steering upgrade. I waited until I did some more work on it. I had mine aligned after I put new upper control arms, disk brake conversion and coil over shocks. I figured it wouldn’t be a huge deal since I don’t drive it all that much and did the other upgrade shortly after the steering upgrade.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old Jan 10th, 18, 04:14 AM
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Re: Budget Quick Steering Box

Thx Al, Mike, and Chris.
A couple of guys at my local cruise nights said the same thing. I'll get it an alignment once the weather breaks here. Like Chris said, I thought about holding out until I changed over to discs as well. That's not happening anytime soon due to budget restrictions.

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