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Rack & pinion installs on Studebakers

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  • Rack & pinion installs on Studebakers

    Greetings all,

    A buddy of mine has got me thinking on the subject of rack & pinion steering on a Lark. I did some surfing and found a page referencing a R&C install on a 53 commander using parts from a 1990ish GM and rejiggering studebaker steering arms

    Has anyone our there installed rack and pinion steering in their Lark or Hawk and how much fabrication had to be done to get it to work. I doubt that I could find a R&P unit that I could somehow bolt to my frame and would magicly fit right into the stock steering arms with out modification.

    Jeff T.

    "I'm getting nowhere as fast as I can"
    The Replacements.
    \"I\'m getting nowhere as fast as I can\"
    The Replacements.

  • #2
    Greetings, Jeff,

    Having done enough rack and pinon installations to know better, including one similar to the one you mention, we suggest the questions you should ask yourself:

    1. Why does this seem like a good idea?

    2. What is basically wrong with the Studebaker steering?

    3. What do I plan to do with the car that requires R&P?

    4. Do I have the experience, tools and confidence to fabricate a system which will kill me and others if it doesn't work perfectly?

    After we see your answers, we can give you the benefit of hard-gotten experience.

    thnx, jv

    PackardV8
    PackardV8

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    • #3
      Jeff,

      A local chapter member (Herman Gantt) who has extensive experience with race cars developed one for his '53 that was later produced by Phantom Auto Works. It was a bolt in installation and had rack and pinion as well as modern control arms and disc brakes. Herman won a contest a couple of years ago in a readers poll in some type of hot rod publication for his car. I was able to find an ad for it on page 34 of my November 2003 Turning Wheels.

      Gary

      Guido Salvage - "Where rust is beautiful"

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      • #4
        Why does this seem like a good idea?
        because i need power steering for medical reasons

        2. What is basically wrong with the Studebaker steering?
        too hard to steer when stoped

        3. What do I plan to do with the car that requires R&P?
        drive the wheels off of it

        i am trying that 1997 olds rack&pinion its the perfect width
        keith kirchhoff
        brockport ny 14420

        Comment


        • #5
          quote:Originally posted by keeffer

          Why does this seem like a good idea?
          because i need power steering for medical reasons
          To get power steering in your Lark, it would probably be a lot easier and cheaper to install the power steering pieces from a donor factory power steering equiped Lark. No engineering and fabricating required.



          Dick Steinkamp
          Bellingham, WA

          Comment


          • #6
            Closest thing to a bolt in would be a 85 Buick Skylark R&P. Then you can tell everyone that you have Lark steering. There is a thread around here showing Jerry Forresters conversion so you could look at that to see if you want to go through that hassel.

            Comment


            • #7
              Guido -

              What makes the Phantom suspension modern???

              Go with me here -

              No change -
              1. Frame attaccment points the same.
              2. Basic geometry the same (A big desire!).
              3. Ball joint attachment point, very simillar.

              The good -
              1. Semi modern brakes, though heavy (bad!).
              2. Easier to get brake/spindle parts. (see below)
              3. Lighter A-arms.
              4. More adjustability. (most don't care!)

              Questionable -
              1. R&P, (is it correct geometry wise?).

              The bad -
              1. Lotsa money.
              2. Lotsa work.
              3. Gotta try to remember WHAT it is you have when you do need parts from your local parts store...brand, year, model!!!!

              To wrap it up - no where do I see modern. "Later" or "more" modern...but not 2006 modern. Maybe....1985 modern.

              This is not to take away from the "thought" of what was done at all. Just a ton of money for little gain.

              Just one persons opinion.

              Mike

              Comment


              • #8
                quote:Originally posted by Mike Van Veghten

                Questionable -
                1. R&P, (is it correct geometry wise?).
                Here's a good point. Believing that you can replace the center pivot and tie rods with a rack and pinion and have "modern" handling is probably not correct. The new geometry may get you a poorer handling car along with severe bump steer and other bad things. If you are going to do this, don't "re-invent the wheel". Talk to those that have successfully engineered a conversion. It ain't easy.

                IMHO, same with other major changes. Bolting on disk brakes to the front with no other changes may result in longer braking distances, wierd pedal feel, incorrect proportioning between front and rear (and the likelyhood of the car changing ends under hard braking), improper residual pressures front and rear, mismatched front and rear braking abilities, incorrect MC for the application, etc.

                I'm the last one here to poo poo modifying your Studebaker, but keep in mind they did have rooms full of engineers to design these systems to work pretty good. "Upgrades" aren't usually as simple and easy as they sound.



                Dick Steinkamp
                Bellingham, WA

                Comment


                • #9
                  FWIW, I've done a bunch of these over the years and learned a lot the hard way. Whether it is the Phantom kit, a DIY small GM center steer setup, or a Mustang II setup, there are a myriad of problems to be solved and most end up handling and driving less well than before.

                  Said it before and have to say it again, a lack of skill or lack of engineering expertise here can kill or injure you, your family and innocent bystanders.

                  For 99% of the Studebaker driver universe, the cost, time and effort of a R&P conversion far outweighs the few benefits. IMHO, just swap in a completely rebuilt Studebaker power steering into an completely rebuilt front suspension, live long and prosper.

                  jv.

                  PackardV8
                  PackardV8

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I love this forum!!

                    Thanks for the advice and opinions...

                    I found another document where the author, anyone know Rick Tobin, installed R&P on an Avanti using a GM j body car's R&P, had a couple of brackets fabbed that installed behind the front springs to install the rack.

                    Am I going to do this... Who knows!!?? A remanufactured rack runs $80, I would have to make a couple of brackets and change my steering column. It's a shame that I had to get rid of a couple of semisolid Lark frames that I could have experimented upon.

                    I love a challange but... I only have so much time and money and I find it wise (sometimes) to bow to the voice of experience, unless it is my dad telling me something can't be done

                    "I'm getting nowhere as fast as I can"
                    The Replacements.
                    \"I\'m getting nowhere as fast as I can\"
                    The Replacements.

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                    • #11
                      quote:2. What is basically wrong with the Studebaker steering?
                      The steering bellcrank is almost as likely to go up and down as to left and right for the tie rods. The feeling at the steering wheel of some "lack of control" is probably due to a lack of control.



                      sigpic 1963 Studebaker Avanti: LS1 motor and T-56 transmission have been moved rearward, set up as a two seat coupe with independent rear suspension. Complex solutions for nonexistant problems.

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                      • #12
                        you dont have to get rid of your steering columm just machine the shaft

                        keith kirchhoff
                        brockport ny 14420

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          did you ever decide to use a rack and pinion on your stud??

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The steering bellcrank is usually the culprit, when its loose the car is all over the road
                            and then when its tight its hard to steer. Didn't I read about someone making a new
                            design of this? I used modern bearings and a different shaft? Myers? Fairborn? Thats
                            the key in my mind, that and new bushings and tie rod ends. Make sure the kingpins
                            are greased and turn freely.

                            Tom
                            '63 Avanti R1, '03 Mustang Cobra 13" front disc/98 GT rear brakes, 03 Cobra 17" wheels, GM alt, 97 Z28 leather seats, TKO 5-spd, Ported heads w/SST full flow valves.
                            Check out my disc brake adapters to install 1994-2004 Mustang disc brakes on your Studebaker!!
                            http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...bracket-update
                            I have also written many TECH how to articles, do a search for my Forum name to find them

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                            • #15
                              Jeff, I'd be willing to bet that if you got the front end of your Lark in top condition, added factory power steering, and spent the rest of the time, effort and money you would have invested in that R&P job it the rest of the Lark you would wind up with a REALLY nice car that would you be even happier with than with just the R&P conversion.
                              Jeff DeWitt
                              http://carolinastudes.net

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