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TECH: Volvo steering in a Shoebox Ford

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Brickster, Aug 5, 2006.

  1. Brickster
    Joined: Nov 23, 2003
    Posts: 1,127

    Brickster
    Member

    This thread was being discussed in another thread and threre are so many shoebox lovers here I thought I'd bring this back up for Tech Week. ENJOY!



    This is my first tech week contribution so here goes. Sorry for the large amount of reading.

    It started about two years ago that I heard about retro fitting the Volvo 140/160 steering box into a shoebox ford (1949-51) this conversion might also work on some other FoMoCo brands and later years but I don’t know that for sure.

    I first started by keeping an eye out for donor parts. I looked on ebay but there are very few older Volvo parts that ever show up there so no luck. Because I have never had any interest in Volvo’s for parts or other wise I didn’t even know what the 140 or 160 series Volvos looked like. I’ll include some pictures pulled from the web. These Volvos were produced from 1968-1975. If you are looking for a power box you will want a unit from a 160.

    As luck would have it I happened upon a 1968 Volvo 140 while tagging along with a friend to find some tri-5 Chevy parts. A deal was struck and I got the box and steering arm for a $75 if I remember correctly. When looking for a donor I checked the play from the input shaft to the steering arm and to make sure the aluminum housing didn’t have any visible cracks. Make sure and check for the wear with the box centered in its travel range.

    Initially I thought I would just build my own components and adapt the box myself. Well after looking at the Volvo box and the Ford components I decided that I would give a call to Jim at Jamco. After getting to speak with Jim for a while he let me know that they were having a hard time getting the salvage Volvo parts and didn’t have a complete kit in stock but he sent me the items he had anyway. They were the floor pan cover, the lower bushing for the column and the frame to box bracket. The parts that were still needed were; the splined end (Volvo splines) that gets welded to the stock Ford steering shaft, a Volvo U-joint, the steering arm and the column clamp. Jim at Jamco was a super nice guy and wouldn’t charge me for the partial kit, not even shipping. He also helped me out with getting the parts I still needed by faxing me a silhouette of the parts and there OEM part number.

    I’m not sure if a Volvo specific repair shop exists in every town but even here in Laramie, WY we have one. It’s called VDR Volvo Foreign Repair 307-721-2984 and owned by Bob Van De Rostyne. Bob was a great help although at first I think he though I was crazy wanting to get these parts for a ’50 Ford. I was recently over at his shop and he has power and manual boxes in stock.

    Well the crunch to get my car ready for the Memorial Day show in Paso came and went and I wasn’t able to get time to get the conversion started so I went on with the stock steering for a while. Fast forward almost two years and the engine in my car was low on power, used oil and had been somewhat abused from playing with flamethrowers. While swapping the engine and cleaning up the frame I decided to dig out the steering parts and finally do the swap. I am not the most organized person and after almost two years I somehow lost the bolt on adapter and the column bushing. So I ended up making everything myself and here’s what I did.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Brickster
    Joined: Nov 23, 2003
    Posts: 1,127

    Brickster
    Member

    First Step: I started with the front clip off, the engine out of the car, the stock steering box and column removed and the car leveled on jack stands. I’m sure all of this is not necessary if you’re bolting in a Jamco or Fatman kit but to engineer the parts it was nice to have the extra room. I would recommend that the idler arm is rebuilt or in very good condition because the box is positioned at the same angle as the arm where it bolts to the frame.

    Second Step: After comparing the stock Ford steering arm and the Volvo arm there is no way you can use the Ford arm but you can modify the Volvo arm to make to work. Cut the outer hole off of the Volvo steering arm and finish end of arm to desired look. Next you need to ream the hole in the Volvo arm to accept a ford tie rod end. I was lucky enough to be able to borrow one from work. The writing on the ream was hard to read but it looked like it said 11/16”. All I know is that it matched the hole in the stock Ford steering arm. I used a ½” electric drill and reamed the ford arm out until the tie rod end stuck through the arm the same amount as it had on the Ford arm. I would recommend taking it slow, use plenty of lubrication and keep checking how the tie rod fits. It didn’t take too much to ream the arm and it would be easy to do it too much. (See pictures 1, 2 & 3)

    Third Step: I heated and bent the Volvo arm to match the amount of offset found on the stock Ford arm. I used an oxy/acetylene torch with a rose bud tip and used caution not to distort the splined end that goes over the steering box shaft. Some people are not comfortable heating and bending steering parts so if you don’t want to do this I think swap could be done bending the arm. When you bend the arm it effectively shortened the Volvo arm to more closely match the Ford arm. I’m not sure either of these modifications were entirely necessary but if you don’t heat and bend the arm it will slightly change the mounting location of the box on the frame compared to how I did it in this example.

    Fourth Step: To build the frame side of the adapter bracket I used ½” thick mild steel. It is certainly overkill but because it is a steering component I would rather error on the side of safety. I built the bracket way too big with the intensions of trimming off the unnecessary material later. I started with a piece 6” x 12’ and C-clamped it to the frame in the area of the stock steering box. A good portion of the bracket hung below the frame. I first marked the top hole of the stock mounting location with a scribe, pulled the bracket off and drilled and tapped this hole. I then reattached the bracket with a bolt and the c-clamp and then used a transfer punch to mark the two remaining holes. I once again drilled and taped the holes. Now this portion of the bracket can be bolted on the frame. (See pictures 4 & 5)


    Fifth Step: Now the location of the box must be determined. I started by centering the steering on the idler arm and cross link. Because there is no steering box at this time you must support the crosslink with additional jack stands and anything necessary to level the crosslink. I used paint sticks between the crosslink and the jack stands for final adjustment. I checked the alignment with a swinging angle finder and bubble level, and also measured front to rear placement with a tape measure. Because the idler arm holds the location of the crosslink on the passenger side you just need to position the drivers side to match. This is also why I would make sure the bushings on the idler arm are in good shape. It is important that the crosslink is perpendicular to the center line of the vehicle from above and level when looking from front to rear. Once the crosslink placement is achieved center the travel of the Volvo box and attach it with the steering arm to the crosslink. Now position the box with its’ mounting surface parallel to the frame bracket and measure the distance and write it down.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. Brickster
    Joined: Nov 23, 2003
    Posts: 1,127

    Brickster
    Member

    Sixth Step: To make the steering box side of the bracket I used a small piece of poster board to figure out how large the bracket would be and where the small relief would be. (See picture) There is a portion of the mounting surface of the steering box that sticks out past everything else and you must take that into account or the box will not sit flat on the bracket. I transferred the pattern to 3/16” mild steel plate. I clamped the plate to the box (the box is on the work bench at this time) and again used the transfer punches to mark the holes. Then drilled and tapped the holes. As added insurance I welded nuts on the back side of the bracket to give the bolts more threads to hold onto. When I welded the nuts on I did it with the bolts in place to index the nuts with the tapped holes in the bracket. After the bracket cooled I ran a tap through the holes to dial them back in. The heat from welding them always seems to distort the threads ever so slightly. (See picture 6)


    Seventh Step: The bracket that bolts to the frame and the bracket that bolts to the box must be welded together with something. I chose to use 2” x 4” x .250 mild steel rectangle tubing. I cut it to the length from the measurement in step five minus the thickness of the bracket from step six (3/16”). Make sure the ends are cut square! I then fully welded this piece of tubing to the steering box bracket, let it cool and bolt it back on the steering box. (See pictures 7, 8, 9 & 10)
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Brickster
    Joined: Nov 23, 2003
    Posts: 1,127

    Brickster
    Member

    Eighth Step: Now reattach the steering box assembly with bracket to the located crosslink. Make sure it hasn’t moved if it has relocate it. Measure the angle of the idler arm where it attaches to the frame and clamp the steering box with bolted on brackets at the same angle. At this time make a few tacks to attach the bracket together and run the steering through it entire travel. If all is good remove the bracket from the box and frame and fully weld it on the bench. This is when I removed the extra material from the frame side of the bracket and then painted it. This portion of the modification is done. Now all that is left is to attach it to the steering column. During final assembly use loctite on the steering arm nut and replace cotter pins on the tie rod ends. (See pictures 11 thru 21)
     

    Attached Files:

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  5. Brickster
    Joined: Nov 23, 2003
    Posts: 1,127

    Brickster
    Member

    Ninth Step: Let me start this portion of the modification by stating that I’m using a 1951 Ford column for the ForOmatic. It is column shifted but unlike the three speed manual the shifter mechanism is located inside the column jacket. Cut the stock steering column and shaft off at the end closest to the steering box just enough to be able to bolt it back into the dash. Continue to trim it until there is enough room for the steering u-joint. Because the Volvo steering gear splines are different from anything offered from suppliers like Flaming River you must use the stock Volvo parts. In order to get the splines on the end of the hollow Ford steering shaft I used a Volvo steering box input shaft from a damaged box. I also got this from VDR in Laramie. The input shaft is hardened so the gears will last a long time but it is next to impossible to machine in its’ stock hardness. I used a rose bud torch and heated the entire input shaft up glowing red and let it cool slowly. This removed the temper from the shaft and made it possible to machine it. First I cut the portion of the shaft off that has the actual steering gear on it and then chucked the splined end into the lathe. I turned down a portion of the shaft so that it would slip inside the stock Ford shaft and keep them in line. Then I cut a deep bevel in both the splined donor end and the stock steering shaft so that I would have maximum welding penetration. (See pictures 22, 24, 25,26 & 27)
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Brickster
    Joined: Nov 23, 2003
    Posts: 1,127

    Brickster
    Member

    Tenth Step: I had to build a support bushing for the lower end of the steering column. For this I used some black Delrin I had on hand for building some shaping mallets, it can be found from McMaster-Carr. Because of the automatic column this was just a matter of whittling away on the lathe until everything would work together. There ended up being about six different surfaces and two holes, one for a grease zerk. (See pictures 31, 32 & 33)

    Eleventh Step: This last step was to close up the floor so I made some poster board templates and transferred them to 18 gauge and closed up the hole in the floor. (See pictures 28, 29 & 30)


    Summary: This was one of the best modifications I have done to my Shoebox since I’ve owned it. It has incredible road manners now. It was quite a job driving the car at highway speeds before but now it’s a pleasure. I’m curious how the power box would work but for right now I love driving my car again.

    Helpful Links
    http://car-part.com/
    https://www.mcmaster.com/

    Brick Casper
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Special Ed GT
    Joined: Jun 21, 2004
    Posts: 287

    Special Ed GT
    Member
    from Denver-ish

    Brick, thanks for the great info. This week I finally got started mocking up the motor on Dano's old '51; I think I'll do this steering box swap before I fabricate the headers. Thx again.

    Hank
     
  8. krooser
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 4,591

    krooser
    Member

    What's the advantage of this swap?
     
  9. Brickster
    Joined: Nov 23, 2003
    Posts: 1,127

    Brickster
    Member

    Better newer steering box and the ability to go power. This also uses a steering u-joint so the angle of the column can be changed.
    This box also fits in the same space as the original.

    I wanted to do it because my stock box was worn out and couldn't be adjusted any more. This one is more responsive and seems to use less effort to steer.
     
  10. Brickster
    Joined: Nov 23, 2003
    Posts: 1,127

    Brickster
    Member

    brought back for tech week.
     
  11. Johnny1290
    Joined: Apr 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,841

    Johnny1290
    Member

  12. KoppaK
    Joined: Dec 21, 2004
    Posts: 1,526

    KoppaK
    Member

    50% less turns lock to lock I guess.
     

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