More Falcon Steering Stuff, and a Quickener, and more Suspension Crap…

In the previous post, I mentioned that I crashed a couple months back–this was a result of the first rain and some mysterious conditions (a shitload of pine needles did not help), as I was not remotely speeding.  One of the results of this crash was a bent center link, or tie-bar, which is what I think the Unisteer people called it, but I’m not sure.  At any rate, the steering rack has an external center link, and it got bent when my car went airborne and into a 180…

bent one/new one

bent one/new one

With that replaced (I tried the sledgehammer route first, and it didn’t work), I then came up with the excuse that my steering wasn’t quick enough.  I think the stock ratio of the Unisteer manual rack is around 16:1, so I figured a 1.5:1 quickener was in order.  From Summit Racing in Sparks, NV (close enough to return crap that doesn’t work in person, when the weather’s good), I got a Howe quickener, a crummy bracket, and a shaft support.

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I of course had to make some changes to things, what with shaft couplers and u-joints, and the steering bracket not doing what I thought it would do originally.  I wound up making a real mess of the thing, first drilling holes to mount the quickener, then cutting space out of the thing, then realizing that I’d need to weld a plate to it, because I wanted to bolt it to the original column mounting location (the column is completely gone).  I also got a little pillow block/shaft support bearing that I bolted to the Unisteer firewall plate; it’s cool because it allows for a lot of misalignment.

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The final ingredients included an Afco steering wheel and a Speedway quick release (the grippy nubs on the wheel begin falling out with the first drive).  To replace the original turn signal, now that I’d not have a column switch, I found a Ron Francis turn signal toggle switch that was a really easy swap–I located it in the dash in the original manual choke lever hole, right next to the steering column/shaft.

With this combo, my overall ratio is about 12:1 or 13:1; I no longer need to remove my hands from the wheel on a twisty road; my lock-to-lock spin is 2.5 total turns. It is more difficult, but not impossible in a parking lot (I’m considering doing an electric power steering addition, but not soon).  It feels safer, in that my patty cake abilities will not be tested so much if I need to react quickly with the steering wheel again.

I’ve gone through at least three iterations of the steering shaft, with u-joints, collars, and so forth; I partially welded the mounting bracket to the dash to minimize flex.  My final iteration has a u-joint off the bottom of the quickener, and a solid coupler at the top; I now have a fully collapsible steering column/shaft (three u-joints, in total, below the quickener–two were from the original Unisteer setup), although this was not a goal.  I wound up using a hollow shaft (.75×120 tube) for the top section, as it minimizes weight and flex above the quickener; it also fits in the hanging shaft support more snugly.

I made an additional change to the front suspension, so as to increase higher-speed stability and overall fluidity; suspension bind has become a great enemy of mine, and it is highly present in the original design, hence the pictured changes (Global West lower control arms and strut rods).

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These two items, along with revised upper control arm alignment that has emphasized additional caster, have resulted in hugely better stability and tracking at higher speed; they are also allowing the suspension to work much more effectively, making use of all travel, rather than frustrated bits.

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