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Thread: Electric power steering (EPAS)

  1. #1
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Electric power steering (EPAS)

    Thought I should start a thread on this subject, as some of you may have interest in this "upgrade". Most of you probably won't have any interest, so please just ignore it if you like. I don't advocate that anyone should install anything non standard on their car if they prefer to not do so, but some people get their jollies by doing just that. I call them hot rodders, you can call them whatever you like.

    Many of these older cars just don't have power steering, many of us don't appreciate the strong arm method all that much. Installing power steering can be done, but it can be a really big job a) finding all the parts to install it, and b) doing the actual installation. There are several approaches to power steering, and at one point Studebaker even did a fully mechanical version. Most use a hydraulic system, with either a conventional steering gear that has hydraulic assist incorporated into it, or a rack and pinion setup with the same. A lot of cars built in the last 10-15 years, are using a totally different approach. Electric Power Assist Steering, or EPAS.

    EPAS is a very clean system, having no fluids, hoses, pumps servos, etc. to deal with. It resides totally under the dash of the subject vehicle. I simply senses when one is turning the steering wheel and an electric motor assists to reduce turning effort. It can also utilize other inputs to control how much assist is provides, such as how fast the car is moving. The faster you go, the less assist you may need, however, when stopped, as in parking, you may wish to have quite a bit of assist. Like all other steering assist methods used for street driven vehicles, there is a fail-safe, so if the assist unit fails, you fall back to manual steering, unhindered by the EPAS. That is, it steers just as it did without the installation of EPAS.

    Through online searches, I've found that there are several companies selling complete kits for installation of EPAS in most any vehicle. These kits are quite expensive, but in some cases they can be a total plug n play install, meaning they are customized to specific vehicles. You are probably looking at $1500 - $3000, but it just bolts in and works. To the best of my knowledge, no one makes a kit for any Studebaker at this time.

    SO, DIY becomes the word of the day, and that is what this topic is about. Do It Yourself Electric power Steering for a Studebaker. Knowing that I am a CASO Studebaker owner, I suspect that there are others of the same ilk, who would like a much cheaper solution, and the good news is that it is now available. For about $150 - $200, you can add power steering to pretty much any 12V car. This topic will go into much more detail as my installation proceeds, but basically, we are going to use a small $60 electronic module, available on EBay, and a used EPAS unit from a Saturn Vue, also available on EBay, for a little over $100. We will have to cut the steering column, and hide this unit under the dash, and the cutting and installation is what will be covered by me here. Warning, I have obtained the parts, (module = $55, EPAS unit $110), but will not begin the install for a month or more, due to other commitments, but I wanted to start the discussion to see if there is any interest, ideas, thoughts, etc. on this subject.

    NOTE: It would not be helpful to post things like "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", or "keep it stock", or "it is not safe to mess with your steering", etc. If those are your comments, I encourage you to simply be polite, and avoid this topic. For those interested, it's their money, their vehicle, and they can and should do as they please. Thank you for cooperating on this point.
    Corley

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    I am looking forward to seeing more episodes of your adventure , Go for it , Ed

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    Corley, you're not the first to install an EPAS in a Stude. Jerry Forester has one in a CK he is working on from time to time, and maybe he will chime in to give us some of his experiences. I'm quite interested in an EPAS for my GT Hawk, as I'm using a GM column with tilt and cruise, and can modify the installation easier before I start the install. That is a ways off so it will be helpful to watch your procedure and progress. Bill

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    President Member r1lark's Avatar
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    Watching this one Corley. I always learn a lot from your how-to threads.
    Paul
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  5. #5
    President Member E. Davis's Avatar
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    I have heard of but not seen this conversion of epas units from Japanese cars to older domestic cars and apparently it is an economical solution to after market power steering and works very well. It will be interesting to follow your progress on this project. Please keep and post a photo record for us. Thanks in advance.

  6. #6
    President Member j.byrd's Avatar
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    Looking forward to it Corley ! My 55 already has power steering, but what a big, heavy, leaky bundle, ha ! Lightness and no fluid and no huge space taken up in the engine compartment can only be good !

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    President Member 345 DeSoto's Avatar
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    I'm 100% interested in this for my 56 K model! Please Post as many photos and as much detailed info as possible. My Wife and I will find the Hawk difficult and uncomfortable to drive, with manual steering...

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    I am interested in how much space the unit takes away from the knee / leg area?

    Are you going to up grade to a bigger alternator?

  9. #9
    President Member r1lark's Avatar
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    Here are some more threads to look at until Corey gets cranked up on his:
    http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...power+steering

    http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...power+steering
    Paul
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  10. #10
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 70Avanti2 View Post
    I am interested in how much space the unit takes away from the knee / leg area?

    Are you going to up grade to a bigger alternator?
    The unit under the dash has a motor hanging out to one side, but of course you can have that stick out to the left or right, where ever it fits best. There is still the work gear hanging down,n no matter what rotation the unit is positioned, but it only hangs down about 2.5“.

    As to the alternator question, keep in mind that unlike a hydraulic pump setup, as is typical with PS, this unit only consumes any appreciable power when you turn the wheel. Driving down the road, it hardly takes any power at all. Also remember, these really were first developed for use in electric and hybred cars, so battery drain is very minimal. So no, you will probably never even notice the power it uses, and no need to crank up the charge rate.
    Corley

  11. #11
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Hot off the presses! Most diy'ers have been using the 02-12 Saturn unit, with an electronic module. This module comes with a potentiometer that adjusts the amount of assist. However, it has been discovered that the Prius unit can be used, sans any add-on electronics, as if not receiving signals from the cars ECU, it defaults to a limp mode, which seems to be just about an ideal amount of assist. So, this is another viable option. For more info, google search “Prius epas“. Lots of info out there..
    Corley

  12. #12
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    EPAS Saturn Vue to Studebaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Corley View Post
    Thought I should start a thread on this subject, as some of you may have interest in this "upgrade". Most of you probably won't have any interest, so please just ignore it if you like. I don't advocate that anyone should install anything non standard on their car if they prefer to not do so, but some people get their jollies by doing just that. I call them hot rodders, you can call them whatever you like.

    Many of these older cars just don't have power steering, many of us don't appreciate the strong arm method all that much. Installing power steering can be done, but it can be a really big job a) finding all the parts to install it, and b) doing the actual installation. There are several approaches to power steering, and at one point Studebaker even did a fully mechanical version. Most use a hydraulic system, with either a conventional steering gear that has hydraulic assist incorporated into it, or a rack and pinion setup with the same. A lot of cars built in the last 10-15 years, are using a totally different approach. Electric Power Assist Steering, or EPAS.

    EPAS is a very clean system, having no fluids, hoses, pumps servos, etc. to deal with. It resides totally under the dash of the subject vehicle. I simply senses when one is turning the steering wheel and an electric motor assists to reduce turning effort. It can also utilize other inputs to control how much assist is provides, such as how fast the car is moving. The faster you go, the less assist you may need, however, when stopped, as in parking, you may wish to have quite a bit of assist. Like all other steering assist methods used for street driven vehicles, there is a fail-safe, so if the assist unit fails, you fall back to manual steering, unhindered by the EPAS. That is, it steers just as it did without the installation of EPAS.

    Through online searches, I've found that there are several companies selling complete kits for installation of EPAS in most any vehicle. These kits are quite expensive, but in some cases they can be a total plug n play install, meaning they are customized to specific vehicles. You are probably looking at $1500 - $3000, but it just bolts in and works. To the best of my knowledge, no one makes a kit for any Studebaker at this time.

    SO, DIY becomes the word of the day, and that is what this topic is about. Do It Yourself Electric power Steering for a Studebaker. Knowing that I am a CASO Studebaker owner, I suspect that there are others of the same ilk, who would like a much cheaper solution, and the good news is that it is now available. For about $150 - $200, you can add power steering to pretty much any 12V car. This topic will go into much more detail as my installation proceeds, but basically, we are going to use a small $60 electronic module, available on EBay, and a used EPAS unit from a Saturn Vue, also available on EBay, for a little over $100. We will have to cut the steering column, and hide this unit under the dash, and the cutting and installation is what will be covered by me here. Warning, I have obtained the parts, (module = $55, EPAS unit $110), but will not begin the install for a month or more, due to other commitments, but I wanted to start the discussion to see if there is any interest, ideas, thoughts, etc. on this subject.

    NOTE: It would not be helpful to post things like "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", or "keep it stock", or "it is not safe to mess with your steering", etc. If those are your comments, I encourage you to simply be polite, and avoid this topic. For those interested, it's their money, their vehicle, and they can and should do as they please. Thank you for cooperating on this point.
    Corley, WE bought the wife's 2002 All Wheel Drive V-6 Vue new, it now has 180,000 miles, ZERO problems with the EPAS and it is a 3600 lb truck. I was nervous when we bought it as 'steer by wire' was new and untried. I will certainly consider the Vue unit as the starting point for my Avanti. Thanks for the lead on the project.

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    Thanks for the post Corley.
    I looked into similar systems for my '59 Lark, but the fact it has the automatic selector on the column pretty much negates the usage for this application. However, my '63 GT is Powershift floor equipped so that may be a candidate at a later date.
    Keep us posted as you have certainly piqued my interest.
    Cheers, Bill

  14. #14
    President Member RadioRoy's Avatar
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    I would love to have something like this in my 50 Commander. At this stage of the game, however, it would require installing a floor shift and the car is too nice for that. I too, look forward to progress reports and wonder... how tall/long is the unit? IE, how much of the steering column will have to be removed?
    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

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    President Member christophe's Avatar
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    It's been used in Europe too . Here is a link to the setup for a Citroën Traction Avant if this is of any help. Best of luck for your conversion.
    https://www.google.fr/url?sa=i&rct=j...95091496675279

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    President Member Kurt's Avatar
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    Corley,

    i too am am getting ready to start this project in about a month. I am converting a 1961 Champ to EPAS. I have already converted to floor shift. The truck is 3 speed OD. That is a major improvement In itself, plus the Hurst Shifter looks cool.

    I have a 2005 equinox unit I pulled at a pull apart yard that I paid $65 for plus the $60 module.

    If if you decide to get one from a pull a part yard, the column is super easy to remove from the vehicle. I had mine out in less than 30 minutes. I will share also, if that is OK, once I get going.
    1962 Champ

    51 Commander 4 door

  17. #17
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt View Post
    Corley,

    i too am am getting ready to start this project in about a month. I am converting a 1961 Champ to EPAS. I have already converted to floor shift. The truck is 3 speed OD. That is a major improvement In itself, plus the Hurst Shifter looks cool.

    I have a 2005 equinox unit I pulled at a pull apart yard that I paid $65 for plus the $60 module.

    If if you decide to get one from a pull a part yard, the column is super easy to remove from the vehicle. I had mine out in less than 30 minutes. I will share also, if that is OK, once I get going.
    Kurt, you may in fact beat me to the install, as I am at least a month away, and have several other projects going at the same time, plus building a house. Please, by all means, share everything you can, as it is all good, and can only help others on this project. Thanks!
    Corley

  18. #18
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    So, why do we need the little module for $60 to make these things work? Well, for some EPAS units you don't need it, for others you do. Google is your friend here, and you can find info on what works with/without the module.

    What the module does is to replace the inputs from the donor vehicles ECU, that would normally tell the EPAS control about what the vehicle is doing. For example, if you are stopped, you need a lot of assist to allow turning the wheel, so the ECU tells the EPAS control to crank up the assist. When hot footing it down the road, you don't really want all that assist, because you would rather have more feed back, or "road feel", so the vehicles ECU tells the EPAS control to turn down the amount of assist. Since the $60 module doesn't know how fast the car is going, what it does to replace the ECUs output, is to provide a value to the EPAS control that is adjustable via a potentiometer. That is, you turn the knob to whatever assist amount you feel comfortable with. As it turns out, you can easily find a happy medium that is OK for parking, and also OK at speed. (Your other half may want more assist, so she can turn the knob up if she wants.) So, for $60 you get a knob to turn, and some magic inside a tiny black box, that plugs into the EPAS control box.

    Front end alignment and self centerring: Some people have found that the factory settings of caster, (on some vehicles), is not sufficient to let the steering self center. That is, you let go of the steering wheel while moving forward, and it whirls around on it's own until the car is going straight again. If there is not enough caster to overcome the resistance of the EPAS, it may not want to self center. It will be interesting to see if the Studebaker has this issue, but it is super easy to correct if it does, just crank in a bit more caster in the front end alignment and you are all set. This is just a warning that this problem COULD raise it's ugly head, we just don't know until we install and test.

    (Caster really doesn't affect tire wear much at all, so no worries there. Besides, even if it did, on these old cars, the tires age out prior to tires wearing out anyway, so who cares. I tow a Miata behind our motorhome, and when I first started towing it, when going around a corner, the front Miata wheels would go to full lock, one way or the other, and start sliding along behind the motorhome, never self centering. I found it had zero caster. I cranked in a couple degrees of caster, and that problem vanished. Totally vanished. No more towing issues at all.)
    Corley

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    President Member r1lark's Avatar
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    Oh oh.......cranking more caster into the typical '51 - '66 Stude passenger car is not real easy due to the suspension design. Most of us just put in the max we can get (which is not a whole lot without modifications) and live with it. The '51 - '66 Studes are "caster challenged".
    Paul
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    Quote Originally Posted by r1lark View Post
    Oh oh.......cranking more caster into the typical '51 - '66 Stude passenger car is not real easy due to the suspension design. Most of us just put in the max we can get (which is not a whole lot without modifications) and live with it. The '51 - '66 Studes are "caster challenged".
    No, "not real easy", just impossible without modifications. Most cars with '51-61 kingpins cannot be adjusted even to zero caster.

    Yes, the later kingpins have some advantages and can often be adjusted past zero into positive caster, but seldom even to one degree and I've never gotten them to two degrees positive.

    There are methods of modifying the Studebaker front suspension mounting to achieve additional positive caster, but they're beyond the scope of most home builders.

    jack vines
    PackardV8

  21. #21
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by r1lark View Post
    Oh oh.......cranking more caster into the typical '51 - '66 Stude passenger car is not real easy due to the suspension design. Most of us just put in the max we can get (which is not a whole lot without modifications) and live with it. The '51 - '66 Studes are "caster challenged".
    Ha! Don't panic yet, you may not need it.
    Corley

  22. #22
    President Member 53commander's Avatar
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    Looking forward to reading more on your efforts here. I'm a fan of electric steering, however working in service at a dealer it takes away the "service" aspect because in my experience they are pretty bullet proof and never need any kind of service except maybe a zero point calibration every once in awhile. Just as an FYI for those who think electric steering is "fly by wire" it's really not since you still have a mechanical link to the actual steering gear. If it fails you are still able to steer the vehicle.

  23. #23
    President Member r1lark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PackardV8 View Post
    No, "not real easy", just impossible without modifications.
    Jack, the 'not real easy' was tongue-in-cheek............
    Last edited by r1lark; 05-18-2017 at 08:18 AM. Reason: correct spellin'
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    President Member Kurt's Avatar
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    Once I get around to doing this project, I have one thing that I keep thinking about. The original steering shaft in my Champ is hollow. The horn wire passes up thru it. When I cut it off to fit it he EPAS I intend to couple it together with some type of universal joint. For those who have done steering modifications before, what is the safest way to make that connection? Weld the joint? Flatten the shaft on a couple sides? Have it keyed? Combination of things? Something else? I have managed to live 51 years so far, I wouldn't want an unsafe steering connection be the cause of my demise............
    1962 Champ

    51 Commander 4 door

  25. #25
    President Member swvalcon's Avatar
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    I would weld the shaft or use a bolt with a lock nut but not a key. We built a Vega drag car and used a key for the u joint. Guess what somehow the key came out but was not noticed until the end of the run. My seventeen year old son was driving the car at the time and car ran just over 120 on the top end. He said it started to drift toward the guard rail when he lifted after the finish line and when he tried to correct it the wheel just spun. So he let it coast as far as he could and then stuffed the brakes as hard as he could.The car came to a fast straight stop and he managed to limp it off the track. Told him we never talk about this with your mom if you ever want to go racing again.

  26. #26
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swvalcon View Post
    Told him we never talk about this with your mom if you ever want to go racing again.
    HA HA! So you keep secrets too! Let me tell you about, oh, no, that is still a secret! HA!

    With regard to Kurts post:
    I intend to buy straight couplers that fit the splined shafts on the EPAS unit, both upper and lower shafts, and weld the other side of those to the Studebaker steering shaft. At least that is my plan... That way I can always remove/replace the EPAS unit if it goes south, or for whatever reason. Summit, Jegs, and Speedway are sources for those couplers for sure, but there are other places that specialize in steering components that can supply them as well, and they are not too expensive. They come with splines on one end, both ends, double Ds, straight shaft, keyed, or what ever configuration you can imagine. (The hard part is counting those tiny little splines so you get the right thing.)

    As to the horn wire, I have not torn the Avanti column apart yet, but I imagine it has a horn wire through it as well. If so, I'll probably just drill a small hole above the welded joint, so the wire can come out of the shaft there, then wrap it around the shaft several turns before exiting the column, so when the wheel is turned, it can wrap or unwrap as needed. Quite a few older cars used that technique for horn wires. (The EPAS has a round area that supports the column shell, so these items are all inside the shell, meaning no support bearing is needed.)

    The other possibility that I see is to replace the upper section of steering column with a new one, possibly with tilt or/and telescope, and those mostly handle the horn with a slip ring. Those also have other switches and dodads as well, so lots of wires to deal with. TBD.

    By the way, I should have mentioned earlier that you will need 12v for this to work for you. If your car is 6V, I'm sorry, but that won't really work with the EPAS system.
    Last edited by Corley; 05-18-2017 at 09:55 AM.
    Corley

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    My 52 Hudson Wasp electric ps project

    http://s294.photobucket.com/user/stu...20PS%20project

  28. #28
    President Member r1lark's Avatar
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    Am I the only one who has trouble with Photobucket? Seems like it never finishes loading, ads obscuring the photos, etc?
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  29. #29
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    the steering shafts on the later Champs have a history of breaking, Some think its because of bad body mounts , I replaced ours with a nos one , Upon removing the old one , I examined it and thought someone could make another shaft and put it inside the old one and weld each end Thus making it stronger, I know it does not help with horn wire , But I wanted to pass that info about the failing steering shafts and my idea of making it stronger , ED

  30. #30
    Speedster Member Endl98's Avatar
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    EPs on imports such as Nissan Hyundai, , do not require a module, they default to power steering, where most American car default to no power steering, simple 3 wire hook up and you have power steering.
    1 Family owned 63 Studebaker Avanti 63r-1705 White with Orange interior , R2 4 speed.
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  31. #31
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    I have it on my Lotus 7 replica. I believe it is from a small chevy (cobalt?). It has a small dial and knob to adjust the assist. It works fine and has about one turn lock to lock and a lot of movement on the steered wheels. You can get very very sideways and simply turn the wheel and keep driving.
    Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

  32. #32
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kdancy View Post
    My 52 Hudson Wasp electric ps project

    http://s294.photobucket.com/user/stu...20PS%20project
    Great to see you guys chiming in on this, it may be awhile before I get to mine. This Hudson install looks a bit more complicated than I anticipate the Avanti will be, due to the shifter along side the column.

    Good on you!
    Corley

  33. #33
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    Here are some vids that may help:


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKzCaEjvJeM (cheap way)

    Controller on ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Electric-Pow...RZJvZk&vxp=mtr

    Other DIY options non-Saturn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4TYQ_KJSpc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Asom84Ci9VI (expensive way)


    of course these are stick shift cars, so if separate shifter rod is used it will be more complicated.
    Last edited by Dan White; 05-29-2017 at 08:24 PM.
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  34. #34
    President Member Jerry Forrester's Avatar
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    Yeah, that second link is mine.
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  35. #35
    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Jerry, Those pictures pretty much show everything a person needs to know. Great job, looks like you did/are doing your Starlight right! One advantage you have on me is that you don't have a bunch of other crap under the dash to deal with. Since I'm basically not changing anything, nor restoring anything inside the Avanti at this time, I've got to work around all the crap under there, and find a spot where it fits, and that I can build mounts to support it. (We must keep in mind that the unit will have rotational forces that must be held in check as it helps rotate the column.) In your case, the column clamp is the only thing I see in your pix to control rotation, I'm sure you must have something else that is hidden. You would not want that unit to climb around the column on you.
    Corley

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