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  • Front Axle / Front Suspension: C/K rack and pinion

    Has anyone put a rack and pinion on a stock suspension '53/4 C/K?

  • #2
    I did it , I used a Jaguar XJ6 series 2 rack , Quick steering arms , The studebaker power steering pump and a steering column from a 1980"s Trans am , Ed

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    • #3
      Try a search here. There are a dozen threads on that conversion over the past ten years.

      The most successful use a center-pivot rack where the arms bolt onto a fixture at the center of the rack. Late-90s small GM are the most commonly found.

      Be aware most racks don't have sufficient travel to use with the stock Stude steering arms. The aftermarket quick steering arms are usually necessary.

      If one tries to use a rack with the arms on the ends, noticeable bump steer is present on all those I've driven who tried that.

      Many years back, a local guy did a R&P with the arms on the end. He proudly asked me to drive it. The first corner I took medium hard, hit a bump and his car moved over half a lane. I looked at him and he said, "Well, I never drive it that hard!" I said, "Then why go to a rack and pinion?" He said, "Well, it is something new and different to talk about at shows."

      jack vines
      Last edited by PackardV8; 03-15-2021, 02:40 PM.
      PackardV8

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      • #4
        Give the "search" function a try. MANY discussions on this swap.
        Just a hint, this swap takes a car with some "bump steer", and gives the suspension "much" bump steer. Conflicting pivot points.
        With a complete suspension change, yes it can be done, but to complete the swap well, it's a lot of work and or a lot of money if you don't have the means to do it yourself.

        Here's mine -
        https://public.fotki.com/-Mike-/60_lark/0133net.html

        84 Corvette parts, "shortened" Mustang rack and pinion. NOTE that a standard length Mustang R&P is much too long for proper steering.
        The control arm pivot points and the R&P pivot points MUST be in the correct alignment...or, you get ugly steering in corners and bumpy roads.

        Mike

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Mike Van Veghten View Post
          Give the "search" function a try. MANY discussions on this swap.
          Just a hint, this swap takes a car with some "bump steer", and gives the suspension "much" bump steer. Conflicting pivot points.
          With a complete suspension change, yes it can be done, but to complete the swap well, it's a lot of work and or a lot of money if you don't have the means to do it yourself.

          Here's mine -
          https://public.fotki.com/-Mike-/60_lark/0133net.html

          84 Corvette parts, "shortened" Mustang rack and pinion. NOTE that a standard length Mustang R&P is much too long for proper steering.
          The control arm pivot points and the R&P pivot points MUST be in the correct alignment...or, you get ugly steering in corners and bumpy roads.

          Mike
          I was figuring on the control arm part, but where on the control arm? They are positioned so that it seems to me, it would be a guess as to the right pivot point on the rack to match good enough to not have bump steer. I also have Mustang spindles that have the 'arms' on them, and discs. Haven't decided to use them yet. Just gonna have to get into it and see what works best. I've done rack swaps before and they have worked fine. I just hate turning the wheel 10 times to get around a corner!

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          • #6
            All basic geometry. The following information can be found in any GOOD automotive (racing or design) suspension book.

            1. Draw a line between the upper control arm pivot point and the lower pivot point. Actually tape a piece of string from the center of upper fastener head to the center of the lower fastener head.
            Note that if the R&P's location is outside of the upper and lower control arm points, just extend the "line" as required. Though, it should not be higher or lower than either of the pivot points!

            2. With the R&P in hand, locate it where you want it..."height" wise in the frame.

            3. The racks tie rod arms (2, one each end), inner pivot points, MUST be on the string line for the first step to a zero bump steer placement. Note, that as you move the R&P up and down, because the string is at an angle, this will require the racks pivot points to move, so you must be accurate with your height placement.

            4. The second step to a zero bump steer is the racks tie rod arms "outer" attachment points must be "level" to the R&P centerline to the steering arms, off of the spindles.
            Depending on where you place the R&P body, height wise, this may take shims, or bending of the spindle arm, or a very good R&P height placement to attain that level. The more "off" the level it is, the worse the bump steer will be.
            Again, the more "level" (to the earth) the "entire" rack and pinion assembly is, the better off you will be.

            All this said, if the above information is done exactly, you will have attained a perfect, no bump steer front suspension.
            BUT... as in life, VERY LITTLE is perfect. But the closer you can come at attaining each of the above points, the better your cars steering will be.

            As I noted in my above post, I actually had to have my R&P body and rack shortened, to fit my car. I don't know if they will still do this work, but I bought a new Mustang R&P assembly from Flaming River. They were kind enough to perform the work to get my assembly to where it needs to be. Interesting thing with this assembly, a note came with it saying, "no return and no guaranty"..! I also need to add some short shims to the tie rods to complete the assembly.

            Hope this is comprehendible and helps some.
            Ask me any questions to further explain, if you have any.

            Mike

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            • #7
              Mike, Thanks for the info. It's pretty much the way I have done it in the past. The 'trick' is to get the right width rack to match up with the 'lines'. As far as height, I have gotten the rack tie rods as close to parallel as possible to the lower control arms. Looks like I'm gonna have to take some measurements and go hunting in the junk yard. The last one I did was on a 52 Desoto, and I used a Dodge Omni rack. It was the perfect width and works great.

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              • #8
                The reason I used the XJ6 rack also was it fit perfectly and I was familiar with it , My brother owns the car now and 25 years later the used rack I put in needed to be rebuilt , But he found one already rebuilt and purchased it , Ed

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                • #9
                  Several (about 10-12) years ago I installed a CTO (center take off) R&P off of an 89 - 96 Skylark (the performance one w/ 15-16" wheels, NOT w/ 14" wheels). I'm on the third version now (installed 2019, which is working quite well). Problems? getting the rack C/L far enough forward to correctly align w/ the steering arm (substituted the "fast steer" arm available from S.I. and others - A needed change in order to get full lock-to-lock turning)). Also needed to fab' an adapter to provide steering linkage attachment at the rear of the rack (stock is front take-off). also took a few tries to get the rack -to-frame brackets done correctly (it is a very tight fit to avoid misalignment with the steering geometry.
                  Also required a few welding classes at the local community college (the early welds were done by shops -became expensive as a trial and error method (in my case lots of errors) for good fitment.

                  Very easy to steer, more precise than stock (less play even after a complete rebuild of the linkage). Was it worth it? As an experiment, absolutely. Will you find it worthwhile, well . . . .? (try it and find out). Current problem is finding a rack - New or rebuilt units are not currently available, used units may or may not be in good condition.

                  Importantly, enjoy the process and its problem solving, PaulK

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                  • #10
                    Seems like I'm gonna be on my own on this job. I was hoping to find someone who had done it, with none of the experimentation. Now I'm leaning toward the short arms and adding power steering. And, being a cheap SOB, I will probably shorten the arms myself. Done lots of fab work (like 50 years+) and I am very proficient at welding. I'm getting lazy though. Got a long way to go on the car yet so maybe something will come up down the line. Thanks for your input!

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                    • #11
                      This is a Flaming River Chevelle conversion kit. Cost is about $3900, I'm not suggesting you spend that but the principle should work with about any R&P set up to convert it to a center tie rod mount that's necessary for a Studebaker setup.

                      Click image for larger version

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                      Bob

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                      • #12
                        Here's a thought: build something like the Chevelle setup above, but mount it in front of the crossmember, and couple it to the cylinder arm on a Studebaker bellcrank made for bendix power steering. You would get all the R&P advantages, but retain the exact original Studebaker steering geometry. You'd need to build a very long steering shaft with several U-joints, and probably a collapsible section for collision safety, but I think there would be room to do it.
                        Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by yeroldad View Post
                          Seems like I'm gonna be on my own on this job. I was hoping to find someone who had done it, with none of the experimentation. Now I'm leaning toward the short arms and adding power steering. And, being a cheap SOB, I will probably shorten the arms myself. Done lots of fab work (like 50 years+) and I am very proficient at welding. I'm getting lazy though. Got a long way to go on the car yet so maybe something will come up down the line. Thanks for your input!
                          You don't need to weld anything to shorten the arms. Just heat and bend them.

                          These are what they sell, I understand they were for Avanti originally.
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                          These are some I heated and bent, compared to a stock one (on top). I didn't want it as short as what they sell. After 60 years, the only way I found to get them out of the spindles is to remove the spindles from the car and use a press to get them out.
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                          • #14
                            The other option is to shorten the threaded end and re-machine the taper and threaded portion. However, the machinist who did this for me said, "Don't bring those in here ever again."

                            jack vines
                            PackardV8

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by bensherb View Post

                              You don't need to weld anything to shorten the arms. Just heat and bend them.
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                              Nice job bending/shortening the steering arms! I had not thought of this. Folks do similar all the time on early Ford spindles to gain tie rod clearance on dropped axles. In fact, the 'old school' method of dropping early Ford axles was the same basic process.
                              Paul
                              Winston-Salem, NC
                              Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at: www.studebakerskytop.com

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