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"HOW TO" Shorten a power steering rack.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by tlmartin84, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. tlmartin84
    Joined:
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    tlmartin84 Member

    I couldn't find much on this, so I had to fumble my way through it. Thought I'd offer this up for help to some of the other guys.

    This is a 2004 Ford Crown Victoria rack going on my 56 F100.

    This is how it started:
    [​IMG]

    I narrowed the crossmember 1.5" so in order to keep the geometry correct I need to narrow the rack.

    First thing I did was disassemble it. Not too hard to do. You need a large set of Snap Ring Pliers, a dental pick, and a seal puller (I made mine).

    [​IMG]

    3/8" rebar with a sharpen piece of 1/8" steel welded to end. I had to sharpen it and quench it several times to get it hard enough. Had to have it to pull this seal. It was about 10" down in that cylinder.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    After disassembly, I had 1.5" cut out of the center of the shaft. I also had the machinist make a set of V Blocks to weld it back together.

    [​IMG]

    I then used masking tape to mark 1.5" on the aluminum housing and cut it with a hacksaw so I had good control of the cut. After cutting I used a LARGE flat file to finish the last bit off to have perfectly square butts. I used a flap disc to bevel back the edges for welding and a diegrinder with a sanding drum to get into the grooves on the housing.

    It was then bolted to a piece of 1" tubing to hold in place. When welding I slid a piece of pipe inside the housing to help hold it straight also.

    [​IMG]

    Then they were tig'd.

    [​IMG]

    I had the shaft turned down and polished. I reassembled everything using new seals I got from pskits.com. All of that went back together like it came apart. They provide you with all the soft parts, new dust caps, and nuts to assemble.

    [​IMG]
    http://www.pskits.com/catalog/rackk....html?osCsid=c8e50f80548063d11a0cc247c2f64800

    I ran into one issue. Getting the teflon SQUARE orings to seat properly. They stretch when you put them on. So they have to be shrunk down. I used a hose clamp, I line the inside with a piece of solid hose clamp and placed them around the seals. Then I tightened TIGHT. Next heat them with a butane torch until they are to warm to touch and cool in water. this stiffens them up. Worked real well.

    Here is the final product:

    [​IMG]

    Lastly I had to shorten the hard lines. I cut 1.5" out of them and then used couplers to put them back together.

    [​IMG]


    I wish I had taken more pics, I just get so involved in something I forget to. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
  2. sdluck
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    sdluck Member

    Very nice
  3. fiftyv8
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    fiftyv8 Member

    Well done.
    You dont find too many folks wanting to do this shortening of power racks work.

    I am curious to what you did to the actual rack for shortening?
    I assume you did both ends!
  4. tlmartin84
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    tlmartin84 Member

    Nope cut 1.5" right outta the middle of it. See the pics above, cut it out, put it in the Vee blocks and welded it back together. and turned the weld off.
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  5. PackardV8
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    Spokane, WA

    PackardV8 Member

    Not bad, but ya wimped out on not welding the hard lines back together after you shortened them ;>)

    jack vines
  6. shinysideup
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    shinysideup BANNED

    You couldn't have just taken 3/4 off each sides of the inner or outer tie-rod ends?
  7. tlmartin84
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    tlmartin84 Member

    sure I could have shortened the tie rods....but the geometry wasnt right

    when I dropped the springs out of it and raised and lowered the front end with the tierods up tight i was getting toe in and out of the tires of about 1/2"

    just didnt like it
  8. 1950heavymetal
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    1950heavymetal Member

    Nice tech, thanks for sharing. Could you share some more info on the selection of the Crown Vic, how come you picked this one? just curious.
  9. one37tudor
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    Austin, Texas

    one37tudor Member

    By taking the 1 1/2" out of the center, didn't that change the point that the rack centers on the pinion? Wouldn't that make it have more travel in one direction than the other?
    Or am I just looking at this wrong???

    Scott...
  10. tlmartin84
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    tlmartin84 Member

    Well the rack came withmy cross member and IFS.

    Scott, by taking it out of the housing and rack at the same place it has no affect...

    Had I taken it off of the opposite end of the piston it would have affected it.
  11. you narrowed it the correct way and turned a "pretty good" crossmember choice into a "great one" with this modification. subcribed!
  12. go-twichy
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    go-twichy BANNED

    well done! great work, i hope it work as good as it looks.
  13. tlmartin84
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    tlmartin84 Member

    Thanks, check the link in my signature to see the whole setup on the f100.
  14. CTFuzz
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    Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

    CTFuzz Member

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    We did the same thing on a '56 F100. In the second picture you can see we moved the "piston" on the rack to center it.
    [​IMG]
    Nice work on the frame................Amazing stuff there.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  15. nice! did you simply machine and reweld the piston after moving?
  16. CTFuzz
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    CTFuzz Member

    No , we had to make a new piston because the old one was ruined when we tried to remove it........
    [​IMG]
  17. tlmartin84
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    tlmartin84 Member

    The original piston appeared to be press fit, welded and the turned down to a taper. I am not 100% on that though, It may just be pressed. Regardless I don't think you can cut the old one off and reuse it.

    It would be nearly impossible to get welded back. So you have 2 options, make a new piston like CT did, shorten the shaft, weld the new piston on, and retap the shaft to accept the inner tie rod.

    OR do as I did, cut the shaft in to and reweld it. It's a lot less work,and just as accurate if done properly.
  18. tlmartin84
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    tlmartin84 Member

    The old piston is also designed to be used to properly seat the inner seal.
  19. jcapps
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    SoCal

    jcapps Member

    Nice job and great tech. Thanks for sharing
  20. 2 ways to do it is always cool!
  21. lionsgarage
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    Washington

    lionsgarage Member

    Very nice tech, and for those that worry about such things, if the weld was ever to break you would only loose the right side tie rod control and would easily be able to safely control the vehicle to a stop with only steering on one front wheel, don't ask me how I know!
  22. Scumdog
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    Las Clutha, New Zealand

    Scumdog Member

    Hence the reason you won't be allowed to modify a rack in that manner if you live in NZ...and want to drive it on the roads here.
  23. tlmartin84
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    tlmartin84 Member

    I knew that would come up, it's not as safe blah blah blah. Thats why I hesitated to post on here because someone turns it into a pissing match.


    The housing was super porous, so the weld has to be stronger than the original housing. The shaft was 1" soft steel that was hollow with 1/4" sidewalls. So apparantly ford wasn't to concerned with strenth. The only part that was heat treated was where the teeth are on the rack, you could see the heat localization on it.


    I had a precision machinist cut and do the turning of the shaft. I would put the guy that welded it up against anyone. They both worked for ABB building prototypes for all kinds of stuff........goverment stuff that you and I will never know about. Cutting shafts and putting them back together was done more than once in their line of work so if they say its good...........then its good.


    I am putting my life in their hands as well as everyone elses on the road which is why I had them do it instead of attempting it myself, or trust it to anyone but these guys. I dunno about the laws in NZ but if a modification like this, done by these guys isn't "acceptable" then I hope none of the "big 3" have cars there. Because these "two" have helped design parts on them as well as the US armed forces.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2012
  24. tommyd
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    tommyd
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Very nice work. Thanks for sharing it.
  25. parklane
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    London Ont. area

    parklane Member

    Excellent write up and expaination. And 2 ways to do it too .:):)
  26. willymakeit
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    Springfield Mo.

    willymakeit Member

    Thank for posting. I may never use it, but I still enjoy reading about how things can be done.
  27. the shaft needs to be hollow to provide the quick steering response required driving a vehicle. As long as the weld is done properly why would anyone question the mod. something tells me a tierod would fail before the shaft.:D
  28. go-twichy
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    go-twichy BANNED

    this front end intrigues me, is it possible to tell me the measurement from the disc rotors (where the rims will touch) left to right? you said you removed 1.5" right? i would like to know the stock measurements before the cuts. thank you.
  29. tlmartin84
    Joined:
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    tlmartin84 Member

    Stock on 03 and newer Crown Vic is 67.375". I made mine ... 65.875"

    My rear axle is 63". So this will work out pretty well with some high offset wheels, the rears being an inch wider than the fronts of course.

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