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Thread: Retrofitting Power Steering

  1. #1
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    Retrofitting Power Steering

    Hi everyone.

    Question about power steering. I searched the forum but didn't really see what I wanted. Is there a difference in steering columns between the power steering/non power steering cars? I want to add factory style power steering to a car that doesn't have it, do I need to change the column, and besides the power box, is there anything else I need to change? This is for a 57 Bel Air 283 automatic. Hm. Might be a good time to add AC as well. That's a subject for a different time.

    Thanks everyone.


    Mike
    Mike
    1957 Bel Air

  2. #2
    Registered Member BamaNomad's Avatar
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    The steering column and steering box are the same between factory PS and manual steering, but the pitman arm is different and maybe the idler arm? Besides those items you need the power cylinder and steering linkages from a PS car, along with the PS pump and lines. Note that the generator drives the PS pump and you'll need the PS generator/pump as well... I'm sure I forgot something, but someone else will help us out..

    If you're adding AC, are you talking about 'factory' air conditioning? (tough to find those parts).. If I misunderstood your comment about 'factory style' power steering, and you are just wanting a more modern upgrade, then the question needs to be re-asked more specifically and the answers will be very different...
    Last edited by BamaNomad; 02-21-2020 at 05:47 AM.

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    Just to emphasize and make it real clear, the steering box and column for manual and factory power steering is the same for any trifive. The "power" part comes from a hydraulic cylinder attached to the steering linkage and the frame. As said, the power steering pump is driven off the back of the generator.

    Aftermarket power steering conversions use a more modern style power steering box and those do require a modified steering column or replacing it completely. Usually with an aftermarket conversion, a later model power steering pump that's separately belt driven is used.

    You can add aftermarket a/c with either one.

  4. #4
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    These cars never came with true power steering, more like power linkage assisted. Big ram and a control valve mounted on drag link.

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    Thanks guys. Bama you're right, I should have asked that question differently. I have a 57 Bel Air that has power steering, with the pump on the back of the generator. I want to buy a 57 Bel Air that doesn't have power steering, and if I do I'd want to add it. So the question really should have been, what all do I need to put power steering on that car?

    I have a spare generator/ps pump that I can use, and I'm guessing getting that power ram would be fairly simple. I want to share the car with my Mother; Granddad had one of these new and that's what Mom learned to drive on. I've never driven a 57 without power steering and I'm afraid that even with that giant steering wheel it would require too much effort for my Mom to steer. Hence looking ahead to the mod. I shouldn't have said anything about the AC, just being a wiseguy.

    So, car without power steering, what do I need to add it? Thanks again everyone.
    Mike
    1957 Bel Air

  6. #6
    Registered Member BamaNomad's Avatar
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    Sounds like you have most of the parts to convert from 'stock' manual steering to 'stock' power steering. IMO, the stock power assisted steering works very well (IF the components are in good shape - and not leaking)...

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    Never understood why the linkage assist PS worked so well on my 78 Corvette and so crappy on my Dads 68 Mustang or 66 Mustang.

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    With any power steering system, the "feel" and road wander characteristics are dependent on the valve that initiates the power assist. If the valve initiates too much hydraulic power too soon you lose the feel of the road through the steering, plus it often "steers" the car when you don't want it too.

    A great example of a crappy power steering valve is the one in a 605 power steering box. Too much too soon.

    I'd speculate that GM worked on that C3 Corvette valve to give it better road feel and less assist with only minor movements of the steering wheel.

    Another deal with the power steering valve - the tendency over the years has been to tighten it up. Also quicker steering ratios are more common in later models - another reason those old cars just don't behave the same way as newer ones.

  9. #9
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    To change over to stock ram assist power steering on a trifive, you need the center link with p/s valve, the hydraulic cylinder and its mounting parts, a power steering pitman arm, a power steering idler arm, and a special length inner tie rod on the driver side, as well as the pump and hoses. It is possible to use a later model belt driven pump, you don't have to have the generator driven pump.

    Authentic Automotive in TX specializes in these components and offers kits.

  10. #10
    Registered Member scorpion1110's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slantflat View Post
    Thanks guys. Bama you're right, I should have asked that question differently. I have a 57 Bel Air that has power steering, with the pump on the back of the generator. I want to buy a 57 Bel Air that doesn't have power steering, and if I do I'd want to add it. So the question really should have been, what all do I need to put power steering on that car?

    I have a spare generator/ps pump that I can use, and I'm guessing getting that power ram would be fairly simple. I want to share the car with my Mother; Granddad had one of these new and that's what Mom learned to drive on. I've never driven a 57 without power steering and I'm afraid that even with that giant steering wheel it would require too much effort for my Mom to steer. Hence looking ahead to the mod. I shouldn't have said anything about the AC, just being a wiseguy.

    So, car without power steering, what do I need to add it? Thanks again everyone.
    Just pulled the whole factory power assist off my 55 Wagon; RAM, Valve, drag link, steering arm, special tie rod end, and a saginaw pump and the hoses. Also the frame bracket. Went to a CPP 500 box with shortened column, hydroboost etc.

    Its clean and for sale if you are interested. PM me so we dont clog up your thread. Its going in the classifieds shortly.
    Scorp

    Rides:

    1955 Chevy 2-door Wagon
    1967 MGB GT
    1970 Honda Trail 70
    1974 Yamaha 175 Enduro
    2004 Tacoma 4x4

    I lost my best friend on 10/3/2018. Rest in Peace Dear Lucy. I miss you everyday.

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