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Thread: Rack & pinion power steering conversion for my 57 Belair convertible

  1. #1
    Registered Member
    Join Date
    May 2017

    Member #:3417

    Rack & pinion power steering conversion for my 57 Belair convertible

    Hi guys,
    I'm looking for rack & pinion, plus steering box conversion on my 57 Belair convertible. I have a SBC chevy with Doug's shorty 356 headers. I've already
    installed a double pulley on the crank when I installed the new motor. I'm looking for complete system recommendations and any complications anyone else has encountered.
    I had a 57 Belair convertible in 1967 as my 1st. car and wanted to keep the original steering column to have an"appears as stock" interior . I have a B&M 700-R4 and I've
    converted the column shift indicator and used an "I Did It" conversion shift cable to the 700-R4, (what a pain in the Ass that was to make it work! I'm willing to spend the
    bucks to do it right, but being a "back yard mechanic" I'd like to try installing it myself. We all know how well aftermarket parts fit don't we? I just got it on the street in the spring after installing a custom built 383 stroker with the B&M streetfighter 700-R4 and a 9" Ford 3:70 rear with 4 wheel discs and a 4 pass radiator. I can cruise at 80 going to car shows on the highway, (that's the unofficial highway speed limit in Connecticut.) Well, if anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears. I'm sure I'm not the first one to do this conversion and it's always the complications that get to me with delays. Our car show season in CT. ends around Halloween so I'm looking to the conversion around that time before I put it away for the winter

    Please tell me about how long it took you and as requested, what complications you encountered and what systems you recommend. There's plenty of choices out there,
    but if you had it to do over again, would you use the same system and how satisfied are you with it? Gee, after reading this Post with so many questions, I wonder if anyone will respond at all??? Just kidding. Some of my best drive line questions I've posted in the past came back from Tri-Five guys who have already "Gone down this road before me" with the correct answers.

  2. #2
    Registered Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Member #:571
    My recommendation to you is to get a power steering box, not a rack and pinion. The reason for this is that a R&P conversion in the stock chassis is a compromise, it has problems you won't have with the box, it's cheaper, and the results you feel driving down the road are pretty much the same - maybe even better.

    I don't think you'll find a R&P conversion that doesn't have some bump steer. The reason for that is that the inner tie rod attachments need to pivot the same as the lower control arms. But in order to have enough steering travel, the rack is too wide for the inner pivots to line up with the lower control arms. (Also most conversion racks are modified to shorten them.) Even then, you won't have enough steering travel unless you use special short steering arms. This just adds to the expense and trouble. Some kits do have the steering arms as part of the kit (Unisteer). CCI sells them as an option. Others don't even mention this in their catalog or instructions.

    Also it's often a difficult job to get the steering shaft routed correctly to miss the exhaust manifold or headers. I don't have any idea how your Dougs headers would be with a rack, but you might have to replace them.

    Most of these rack conversions cost about $700-1000 for the parts, and that doesn't include any changes to the headers.

    Contrast that to using a Borgeson or CPP power steering box, which will bolt right to your frame, and most headers and manifolds will clear it.

    With either a rack or a box you may have some work to do with your Ididit column, but hopefully that's just a matter of getting the right rag joint or coupler/u-joint.

    A box sells for around $400, and you'll need a rag joint which will be $100 or so. The power steering pump is the same for either a rack or a box. Hoses are similar but they route differently.

    Don't get me wrong, there's really nothing wrong with a rack and pinion - but to use an R&P effectively, you need a front frame clip where the front suspension was made to work with a rack.

    There are two major advantages to a rack - one is it's cheaper to make, and two it's light.

    Also note that the "feel" of a rack is duplicated by the Borgeson or CPP box, this comes from the design of the power steering valve inside the unit. Those two have a "tight" valve, as do most racks. The old 605 power steering conversions for trifive cars has a "loose" valve, and that promotes wandering going down the road - you're steering all the time.

  3. #3
    Registered Member
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Member #:625
    I used a CCP 500 box on both my 55 and 56, they work well if you don't want or spend a $100 on a rag joint get one from a 3rd gen Camaro or S10. back in the 70s my high school auto shop teacher explained rack & pinion the same as Rick light and cheap to build. No real inherent driving or handling advantage


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