Type:Cotton Picker Spindle Assembled
Place of Origin:Ningbo, China (Mainland)
Finish:90mic chrome plating
Main market:America, Australia, Turkey, Brazil etc.
Applicable models:All JD cotton pickers
If you’ve ever driven an early Ford Mustang, you know that the factory steering system leaves a lot to be desired. Not only are they prone to slop in the gear box, but the factory geometry comes with a lot of bump steer. If you have ever hit a bump in the road and had to grab the wheel to keep the car in a straight line, that is bump steer. While all cars can have some bump steer, the Mustang’s is really bad. There are options for correcting this issue, and you can always replace the gearbox with a rebuilt unit, but that still leaves you back at the beginning with a marginal steering system that just doesn’t work very well. Add power steering, and you get a leaky system that was practically obsolete before it even went into production.
We’re going to fix that by converting the Mustang to a Steeroids rack-and-pinion system from Speed Direct ($1,817.95; PN 84525). This kit uses a GM center take-off rack that does not need any redesign or special pumps like those required by Mustang II racks or end take-off racks. “Center take-off” means the tie rods come off the center of the rack unit, as opposed to coming out the sides. This means better overall geometry for conversions, which means your car will track true and not have any funky driving characteristics. We have a power kit, but it can be run in a manual form by simply emptying the fluid from the rack and plugging the ports. No damage is done to the internals, and power can be added at any time.
The kit comes with the rack, brackets, tie-rod ends (Heim-joint style), hoses for power steering, and steering linkages for either an aftermarket column or the factory column. If you want to use the factory column, you can, but it does require cutting the column to length, and machining the end to fit into a ¾ DD u-joint. An aftermarket column is much easier, with less risk of making a mistake that could create a dangerous situation. We opted for an ididit column, which is custom-built by ididit for the Steeroids kit. This has the side benefit of adding tilt to the column, which is nice to have when you are big boys from Oklahoma.
You can do this project on a lift or on the ground. This being a 1969 model (where the column is separate from the gearbox), on the ground with jack stands is easy. The ’65-66 Mustangs used an integral box with the steering shaft built into the gearbox, so getting it out on the ground is very difficult. Most people just cut the shaft. We have a drive-on lift, so we used it. You can do this entire install with just a few hand tools. We started by first removing the steering column from the car. There is a clamp-on rag joint at the end of the column. It takes some effort to get this pried off of the gearbox input shaft. The column must be loose from the dash and the lower firewall mount removed before separating the column from the gearbox.
Once the column is out, the entire steering assembly is removed as a single unit. Don’t take the steering components apart at this time; you need some measurements later, and there is no point to taking it apart. First, drop the tie rod ends, then the idler arm from the frame, and then the gearbox. If your car has a power-assist ram, remove it as well. There are five bolts holding the assembly to the frame, eight if you have power steering.
If you have power assist, then you are good to move to assembly, but if not, then you may need to add some crush nuts to the subframe. Most later ’60s Mustangs have them, but not all. On the bottom of the subframe, behind the gear box location are two holes, the factory uses a crush nut in each to create a threaded mounting point. A crush nut is like a rivet, only there is a threaded hole in the center. Speed Direct sells a crush nut kit, but they do not come with the system.
We bench-assembled the rack, which is a lot easier than trying to put it together under the car. The center tie-rod bracket is bolted to the rack with a pair of 17mm metric bolts and Nord-Lock washers, which provide tension on the bolt to prevent them from loosening. The bolts also get a dose of high-strength thread locker. Take no chances when it comes to steering components. The tie rod ends are Heim-joint style, and there is a left-hand and right-hand thread unit for each side. This allows you to adjust the toe of the wheels without removing anything. The joints are Teflon lined, so you don’t have to worry about greasing them. They are secured to the center bracket with metric bolts and red thread locker. The tie rod bracket bolts are torqued to 80 ft-lbs.
Using the original steering system, pull the tie-rods straight, so that the entire linkage system is in a straight line. Take a measurement from center to the center of the tie-rod taper shafts (the part that goes into the steering arm on the spindle). This is the base length for your system. Take this measurement to the new system and adjust the tie rods to match this. Make sure that you adjust each side the same amount, so if you thread in the left side five turns, the right side must be threaded in five turns. Otherwise, you will end up with an off-center rack and your car will not behave properly.
From here, the system goes together quickly, the exception is the steering column. We converted our column to use the factory Mustang upper and lower mounts. The column came with a set a lower support mounts but also a pair of half-moon spacers so you can use the factory firewall support. The upper mount is a clamshell that unbolts from the factory 1969 column and we put it onto the new one. The key to getting this system to work without any binding is to pull the column as far into the car as possible (with the u-joints connected to the rack), with a slight angle towards the driver door. This reduces the angle on the upper u-joint so that it does not bind. The entire install process took less than six hours; and would depend ultimately on the level of rust you have deal with on your old parts. On the ground with jack stands, it might take an hour longer.
Post time: Jun-03-2019