Unisteer R&P turning radius - Vintage Mustang Forums
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Old 01-03-2019, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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Unisteer R&P turning radius

Iím currently considering putting in a Unisteer rack & pinion in my í68 big block with original z-bar clutch linkage. Iíd like to hear from anyone who has installed one. I am particularly interested in whether they suffered any loss of turning radius and whether the z-bar clutch linkage was a problem. I understand that the current offering has a better turning radius than the originals, so please include the year of purchase.
I note that many like the TCP rack, but Iím not a fan of the loss of the bolt-in engine cross member.
Thanks.
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Old 01-03-2019, 04:31 PM
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Talk with Shaun, from SoT. He sells them and runs them in his cars. He seems to be quite happy with the Unisteer. IIRC, he says no loss in turning radius

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Old 01-03-2019, 06:35 PM
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I have one in my 65 with a z-bar. No issues with the linkage. for turning radius, it hits the steering stops on my granada spindles. Not sure how that compares to stock spindles.

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Old 01-03-2019, 09:05 PM
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Why would you want to replace a stronger recirculating ball system with a cheap R & P?
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Old 01-03-2019, 09:55 PM
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Had one on a 66. I didn't install it. It definitely turned sharper going right than it did left. Would usually have to hit reverse to complete a u turn unless I took it pretty wide.

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Old 01-04-2019, 12:48 AM
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Are you going power or manual? Those are two different racks so may have two different results from people. The racks may also differ by year (65/66, 67/68, 69/70) though i'm not sure on that one.

For what it's worth, I have a Unisteer power rack in my '66. It does increase the turn radius somewhat, though I couldn't tell you precisely how much. At full lock, the stock spindles are 3/8" away from contacting the stops. I bought it in 2011 but got it replaced under warranty last year as I killed all of the seals in it (50,000 miles of abusive driving). Not sure if they replaced it with their newest version or not.

I have no issues with my Z-bar hitting the steering linkage, but again, I've got a small block and a '66 so this information is probably not useful for you.

I can say though that I love the rack, even with the turn radius increase... the precision and quicker turn ratio is SO worth it!


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Old 01-04-2019, 01:13 AM
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many people who prefer the aftermarket rack & pinion products have never driven a vintage Mustang equipped with a restored steering box and other steering components in serviceable condition. How can one make a valid comparison in steering quality when comparing 5 decades of wear with a newly manufactured product

Restored Ford steering boxes are using higher quality parts than the new aftermarket offerings, and the cost of restoring the box along with new steering bits as needed will save you a bundle. Enough savings to visit Las Vegas, where you can be relieved of any excess cash much in the same manner as buying a R&P.

I suppose all the millions of drivers who willingly chose to buy a Mustang 1964 thru 1971 were wrong when they thought the car was nimble and a gas to drive.

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Old 01-04-2019, 01:42 AM
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To counteract Z - I pulled a perfectly functioning manual HiPo box out of my car to swap in the rack It had no play and was a dream to drive, except for the extra muscle at low speeds.

Of course, at its best a 16:1 box still has 4 turns lock-to-lock, which can be improved down to 3.75 turns lock-to-lock with a different arm I believe... and the Unisteer clocks in at 2.25 turns lock-to-lock.

Power steering was important for me for a daily driver, but I freely admit that the lightning-quick turn ratio was the thing that put me onto the Unisteer. Otherwise I would have gone with the Borgeson box. But man does that thing steer nice in the canyons and you don't have to put a ton of extra work into it hemming and hawwing back and forth. Guess that's why the Street or Track guys use it too.
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Calamity Jane 1966 Modified Fastback - Driven semi-daily!
Wrecked and rebuilt even better
289 v8, 4-speed, 3.25 9" rear, goodies and stuff.

See my travel blog here for my adventures: http://mapandamustang.blogspot.com/
Over 50,000 miles of North American roads driven on road trips since 2014. More always in the works - stay tuned!

When I show up at a car show and my car is covered in mud, it's probably because I drove 2000 miles to get there
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Old 01-04-2019, 06:17 AM
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I toy with the idea just for a major reduction in lock to lock turning. When I look at my autocross videos, I am spinning that wheel like crazy with 4 turns and would love to have 3 turns or less. Unfortunately, I cannot find a J Car rack that is manual and less than 4 turns lock to lock. I have EPAS so I need a manual rack. Kelly's rack is power and I can get her rack in 2.75 turns but only in power. I would hate to undo the EPAS work and more importantly I would really hate to sully up the simplicity of my small block with pumps, hoses and parasitic pump drag, been there with a stock system. Again, unfortunately, I did some horse trading many many moons ago for a new FR box from a later model mustang with a 1 1/8" shaft and a '67 pitman arm so I can't go Shelby arms and by the time I add up rebuilt 1" box, shelby arms, roller idler arm, I'm approaching $6 boat bucks to reduce a 1/4 - 1/2 turn. Racks are dirt cheap on Rock Auto, sub $200 and I'm happy to fabricate the rest but can't find the right combo. A lot of the Hot Rod crowd on the Jolopyjournal (lots of real fabricators on that site) just loop the lines to make a manual rack but that doesn't seem right and since there is a controller, there is likely to be slop in the middle...

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Old 01-04-2019, 08:09 AM
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Iím pretty much committed to my 16:1 manual steering originally power steering for several reasons both good and bad. If you do stay manual box, what Iíve done is to put fresh grease in the box along with a roller bearing idler arm. Itís made parking a little easier, I run 4* caster. One of the big benefits of the roller idler arm is much improved feel. Itís a lot more precise and direct since you donít have a rubber bushing squirming around. Normal driving itís quite easy. One important thing about a rack kit, it must mimic the drag link otherwise itís never going to perform right. The Unisteer and TCP do mimic the drag link, so theyíre ones to look at. Good luck with your endeavors.

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Old 01-04-2019, 08:48 AM
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I have installed a 390/C6 in my 70. I have the factory power steering set-up that was rebuilt by Chock. All new. It drives great, has great turning radius, fits w/o problems. I don't have a Zbar so I cannot comment there. Have you considered the factory stuff, or do you just want to get rid of it.


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Old 01-04-2019, 09:27 AM Thread Starter
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Hi all, thanks for the comments.
@Kelly_H and @zray, your bantering mimics the conversation in my head!

Some more information: One of my main goals is to improve the steering in my 68 GT 390 4 speed FB. I want it be an over-the-road trip car for my fast approaching retirement years; sort of any older, wiser KellyH! (Accolades intended). When I purchased the car the steering was so vague and sloppy it was on the verge of dangerous. The original manual steering was upgraded to power by a PO (source and quality of parts is unknown). Considering the quality, or lack thereof, of every other mechanical system in the car I canít verify that it was done correctly. Iíve installed new tie rods, a roller idler arm from Opentracker and a rebuilt control value from Chock. Iíve also installed Global West full roller tubular suspension with Arnic drop plus subframe connectors; Blisteins from SoT; roller spring perches and export brace from Opentracker. It has new Cooper Cobra 235/60 x 15 tires on 7x15 American mags (replacing old BFGs). Alignment is to modern specs (+4 caster, -1 camber) by an old-school shop. I don't intend to add headers.

The problem is the steering is still vague and sloppy (but not as bad as before). When I jump in my weekend warrior 16 yr old Ranger 4x4 I wish the 'Stang had such good steering! (And letís not compare it to my DD Mini!).

I am thinking of two plans of actions. First, send the steering box and ram to Chock (hell, the entire system from outer tie rod to outer tie rod!), add ZRayís support bracket, and replace the ram bushings with polyurethane. The second option is to install a rack & pinion. Iím also considering 16Ē diameter wheels with modern design tires (225-245/50-55).

I, like most, don't want to spend money on something (rebuild current system) just to take it off and threw it in the corner of the garage (which doesn't have much space left).

I have been very hesitant on getting r&p for two reasons: loss of turning circle and loss of the under-engine support bracket. The TCP version suffers from the second and all other systems allegedly suffer from the first. Shaun posted a comment here that his system (Unisteer product) does not lose any turning circle (goes to the steering stops in both directions). I have had an email discussion with Shaun. My post here was to obtain real-world daily driving commentary. This includes how the racks hold up in a big block car that encounters the pot-holed world of the mid-Atlantic. Yuck!

Thanks again.
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Old 01-04-2019, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dobrostang View Post
I toy with the idea just for a major reduction in lock to lock turning. When I look at my autocross videos, I am spinning that wheel like crazy with 4 turns and would love to have 3 turns or less. Unfortunately, I cannot find a J Car rack that is manual and less than 4 turns lock to lock. I have EPAS so I need a manual rack. Kelly's rack is power and I can get her rack in 2.75 turns but only in power. I would hate to undo the EPAS work and more importantly I would really hate to sully up the simplicity of my small block with pumps, hoses and parasitic pump drag, been there with a stock system. Again, unfortunately, I did some horse trading many many moons ago for a new FR box from a later model mustang with a 1 1/8" shaft and a '67 pitman arm so I can't go Shelby arms and by the time I add up rebuilt 1" box, shelby arms, roller idler arm, I'm approaching $6 boat bucks to reduce a 1/4 - 1/2 turn. Racks are dirt cheap on Rock Auto, sub $200 and I'm happy to fabricate the rest but can't find the right combo. A lot of the Hot Rod crowd on the Jolopyjournal (lots of real fabricators on that site) just loop the lines to make a manual rack but that doesn't seem right and since there is a controller, there is likely to be slop in the middle...

Life is so hard ;o)
Ugh, this is the problem I'm always looking for solutions to as well! I would love an EPAS + rack combo just to avoid the hydraulics and get the engine bay cleaned up a smidge more. But alas, you would have to be insane to want a manual rack with less turns lock-to-lock because your arms would fall off trying to turn it I guess, so this remains an out-of-reach option.

What would be really, really, REALLY cool would be if someone came out with a manual box with improved gearing to reduce turns lock-to-lock to somewhere in the 2.25-2.5 neighborhood. Then you just bolt that puppy up to the original drag link so you get your original steering geometry, and stick the other end to some EPAS box, and voila! Perfect steering that no one can bitch about
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Calamity Jane 1966 Modified Fastback - Driven semi-daily!
Wrecked and rebuilt even better
289 v8, 4-speed, 3.25 9" rear, goodies and stuff.

See my travel blog here for my adventures: http://mapandamustang.blogspot.com/
Over 50,000 miles of North American roads driven on road trips since 2014. More always in the works - stay tuned!

When I show up at a car show and my car is covered in mud, it's probably because I drove 2000 miles to get there
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Old 01-04-2019, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJM68GT390 View Post

Some more information: One of my main goals is to improve the steering in my 68 GT 390 4 speed FB. ..."

The problem is the steering is still vague and sloppy (but not as bad as before)......."
Q: How many people have had Chock restore their steering box and, if fitted, the original power steering components, and then describe the steering as ".....still vague and sloppy...."

A: ZERO


Z.

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Old 01-04-2019, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Kelly_H View Post
Ugh, this is the problem I'm always looking for solutions to as well! I would love an EPAS + rack combo just to avoid the hydraulics and get the engine bay cleaned up a smidge more. But alas, you would have to be insane to want a manual rack with less turns lock-to-lock because your arms would fall off trying to turn it I guess, so this remains an out-of-reach option.

What would be really, really, REALLY cool would be if someone came out with a manual box with improved gearing to reduce turns lock-to-lock to somewhere in the 2.25-2.5 neighborhood. Then you just bolt that puppy up to the original drag link so you get your original steering geometry, and stick the other end to some EPAS box, and voila! Perfect steering that no one can bitch about
As my goal is a cruiser, and not a canyon cutter like you, the steering ratio (and resulting lock-to-lock) is not as important. However, the "no dead spot on center" for the Unisteer - per Shaun - is very inviting. If I had a SBF (or 351w) I'd probably look at a unit from Borgeson or Maier. One disadvantage of an FE.

@Kelly_H, may I ask why you picked the Unisteer over the TCP. The TCP looks more robust, but lacks the engine support. The fact your's need rebuild after 50k concerns me (but then, so does a standard box). What I think would look really, really good would be a support from @zray for a TCP rack. But his "originality" mantra would probably prevent that from happening?!

Anyway, a TKO (MDL says a wc T5z isnít really up to a stock 390ís 425 ft-lbs of tq) and 22-gal tank go in this winter. So it will be "on blocks" for a while.

After my decision I'll report back. After installation I will do the same.
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