Originally, I had manual steering. Along the way, I learned quite a few things about this specific year/month of Mustang that I have found myself restoring. One is the steering is very unique to the first few months of the 67 year run. In the restoration game, unique is not ideal.
I figure it’s a good idea to start in the beginning. Before I started rebuilding, I had the stock manual steering.
This is the steering gear box. The box is bolted to the frame, with the shaft coming down through the firewall, where it attaches to the steering wheel on the other end. At the bottom of the gear box is a linkage called a pitman arm. This connects to the center rod which connects to both spindles via a few independent links with ball joints.
Well, with this style gear box, the steering shaft was actually integral to the box. It came out of the top and had no way to be disconnected. Not super convenient when disassembling them. The late 67 design was what was used in 68+ as well, which has what is called a “rag joint”. It is a way to have a separate steering shaft from the gear box. Fortunately, the new Borgeson kit has a rag joint and a replacement steering shaft. Pro tip: Consider a universal joint rather than a rag joint for an upgrade. Less flex in the steering, so less slop at the wheel.
In a test fit here, you can see the rag joint at the top where the shaft was previously. You might also be noticing that its a lot closer to the firewall. That’s another issue. In the original picture, that 2+ inch tube coming out of the firewall is actually the steering column. The thing you see attached to the steering wheel. The pretty painted part. In order to do the conversion, I am going to have to cut it back several inches so it just clears the firewall and surrounding gasket. Additionally, the test fit showed me the new unit is a bit to the passenger side, so I will have to shim the bottom a few spacers to try to center it in the firewall hole.
So, to get to here, I had some adventures. There is nothing simple about this. This is the first time NPD failed me, and it cascaded into Borgeson sending a wrong rag joint with their kit as well. When it rains, it pours.
Since this being a big item, and many options with a variety of kits, I called the order in. I heard that NPD had low turnover in the sales department, so there are a lot of knowledgeable people to help when you call. I explained I have an early 67 with manual steering and I want a Borgeson conversion kit. I also don’t have the original, so I need a pitman arm as well. The original gear box was MIA after teardown, but I have since been able to recover it.
When the kit arrived, I pull it out and started fitting parts together to see how it’s going to work. Well, the pitman arm was wrong. Mine has a hole on one end, and a stud on the other. They sent one with a hole on both ends. Looking at it closer, its a 65-66 arm, or a 67 power steering arm. The early 67 manual steering pitman arm is unique. When I called in to have the right one sent, I learned that not only is it unique, no one reproduces them. Which is why I doubled down on having my old gear box found with the pitman arm still attached.
The problem was that mid year, they changed the size of the sector shaft from 1 inch to 1 1/8 inch. This is the shaft that the pitman arm attaches to on the bottom of the gear box. They make a reproduction of the later, just not the early. After having to learn so much about steering, I now know that NPD should have sold me the late model Borgeson kit, with the late model pitman arm and everything would have worked out fine. Maybe I could have sold my old pitman arm for a pile of gold.
Randy searched the yard, and found the original box. He pulled the pitman arm, and I was able to clean it up with the blasting cabinet, good as new. Good to know that he also had a new, old stock on his shelf in case mine wasn’t found. I told him he may want to hang on to it since when I looked, they appear to be made of gold according to the prices I saw. Unfortunately, it looks like I didn’t take any pictures of this mystical beast while it was detached.
To step back for a minute, the pitman arm was only my first problem. Once I had that all sorted out, I went back to testing assembly. Lower half is good. Upper half, not good. The rag joint doesn’t fit on the Borgeson side. The steering shaft side is good. I am confused how this is possible. Looking at the rag joint, I am not sure how this thing would ever work. There are no splines on the lower side of it, like there are on the upper.
After calling NPD, who had me call Borgeson, the only conclusion is that their quality control is lacking. This part is not finished. They don’t manufacture a part with a smooth bore, and from an engineering perspective, it could never do the job. So I had to buy a new one to save a week of shipping, then return the original for a refund. Good times.
Once the new one came in, everything fit together and I am back on track.
It will be a while before I get the hydraulic hoses on it since I don’t have an engine yet. They will stay in the box with the pump for assembly post engine install. Next step is to work on the interior to get the column cut to the right length, and get a steering wheel attached. I expect that to be a project of its own magnitude, so I figured I should get this posted rather than wait.
That leaves me with an unused original early ’67 manual steering box. I wonder if it has value to anyone.
The tag says SMB-A 7A20B. Meaning it was made for the Mustang on Jan 20 1967, shift 2 and it has a 19/1 gear ratio for manual steering.
Update: Since I have picked up other projects, I was able to use this box as a core for sending to Dan at Chockostang to get a rebuilt one and avoid extended down time. Even Dan doesn’t need more of these 19:1 ratio long shaft boxes.
Follow up for finishing the steering column and wheel: https://bapony.com/2017/01/03/finishing-the-steering-install/