Borgeson Universal Straightens-Out Our Steering Troubles

Anyone who owns a classic car – better yet, a beater of a classic car, knows the troubles of worn-out parts. Going through the checklist of components that need replacing can be a daunting task. Such was the case for this 1972 Monte Carlo. Below, we’ll walk you through the installation of some Borgeson Steering components that brought its steering back to life. 

“It might not be pretty, but you ain’t gotta be pretty to be fast.”

The car was purchased on the cheap, with the hopes in mind of creating a budget sleeper. Subsequently, it went through a host of changes and upgrades. The once clapped-out 350 was swapped out for a stouter 383 stroker. The TH350 transmission was also rebuilt. Some things not yet touched were the suspension, steering, and brakes. 

With the updated motor and transmission installed, our jalopy had a newfound zest for life. But, more power usually necessitates improvements elsewhere, and this Monte begged for better handling. Since it had a nasty power steering leak coming from the steering box, it made sense to start there.

Borgeson only makes steering components and has been around since 1914, so it is the authority on steering. In fact, it produced power-steering conversion boxes for Ford cars dating all the way back to 1949, and Chevy going back to 1955. It also produces manual boxes for those applications as well, if someone is so inclined.

Updating worn-out, and outdated power-steering parts is it’s expertise and it had the perfect thing for our old A-body.  

We talked to Jeff Grantmeyer from Borgeson about our project. He told us, “these boxes are true bolt-ons going back to ’64 and up on Chevelles, ’68 and up on Novas, ’67 and up on Camaros and all the G-bodies, so they’ll also work on a Monte Carlo like yours. It will fit the original flare lines or O-ring lines, and they include the adapters for flare lines. Customers with a pre-’77 car, like you, will need to swap out a rag joint too. The real beauty of the box is the ratio. It’s a 12.7:1-ratio box, which knocks you down to less than three turns lock-to-lock. It’s done with a nice effort to it, so you feel like you’re driving the car, and not floating all over the road.”

“We overbuilt the box, it will handle a 4,400 pound front end,” Jeff Continues. “We know the cars aren’t going to hit 4,400 pounds, but when these autocross guys are loading it up in a corner with some fat tires on it, there is an incredible load back into the box. So, we built it with that in mind.”

The old adage “never waste an opportunity to upgrade” holds true here. He recommended we try out its new 12.7:1-quick-ratio steering box for some added performance, along with improved drivability. 

After removing the stock power-steering box and placing it side-by-side with the new Borgeson unit, there were some apparent differences. Namely, the separate valve housing bolted onto the box – much like the Delphi 600 series of box. At one time, everyone was using a Delphi box, but they became very hard to get ahold of, and when you could, they were expensive. That’s supply and demand for you. 

According to Jeff, that’s where the quick-ratio Borgeson box met it’s genesis. They saw a need in the market, and knew they would be the ones to fill that need. Jeff told us, “We were selling the Delphi boxes in remanufactured or refurbished condition, but the supply was running thin. The prices just kept going up and availability down. So, we put about two years of work into bringing our box to market. Now we have something we can reliably provide our customers.”

Another added benefit, for those of you who might need more room in your engine bay to accomodate a swap or maybe a turbo setup, is that these Borgeson boxes are actually smaller in some dimensions. That wasn’t a goal it set out to accomplish, but a byproduct of sound engineering. 

You can see the Borgeson Quick Ratio Box has smaller dimensions than a standard GM box. When you’re trying to fit an intercooler, turbo-piping, and everything else under the hood of your ride – every bit of open space matters.

Its focus wasn’t to make a smaller or lighter box, but a more stout box that could handle the load customers put on them. The real beauty is it isn’t a remanufactured box. Steering boxes can only be rebuilt so many times before theres nothing left to rebuild. Borgeson knew that, so it stepped in and created something excellent. 

We can say that because of the rigorous testing we have put this new steering box through. Mere days after installing our box, we drove this Monte Carlo from Temecula, California, up to Bakersfield, and on to Las Vegas, Nevada, for SEMA 2018. The car and the box handled the trip without so much as a hiccup. From Bakersfield to Las Vegas, the route took us over the Tehachapi mountains, which aren’t exactly straight roads – we put the steering through its paces. 

The Borgeson box made navigating California and Nevada’ highways so much more fun. Previously, making long sweeping turns was met with some considerable wobble. Even something as simple as making a U-turn required maximum effort and seemingly countless turns of the wheel. 

Suffice to say, the drivability of the car went from sketchy, to fun in only a few hours. Check out our gallery below with captions and see how our installation went. 

We started the installation process by removing the old components. This meant using one of the only “specialty” tools needed for the project. Once the nut securing the Pitman-arm to the steering box was removed, we could use the Pitman-arm puller to separate it from the steering box.

Next, we disconnected the power steering lines – we made sure to use flare-style wrenches so we didn't round off the fittings. We then located the three bolts securing the steering box to the frame and left a few threads in when we loosened them. We used a small pry bar to separate the steering box from the input shaft. Once it was free, we were able to remove the old steering box.

We removed the old power steering pump with the lines and pulley still attached. While we were at it, we removed the old rag joint and swapped in the new one.

With the old pump off, we removed the pulley and installed it on the Borgeson pump. The pump came with all the hardware and brackets we needed for the install, but the directions didn't tell us exactly how the brackets mounted. After some finagling, we got it oriented correctly.

Before we could install the new quick-ratio steering box, we had to orient the center position. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this, but we placed the steering box on the workbench and marked each lock point from side-to-side, and found the middle between the marks. This got us in the ballpark, but the car still needed a proper alignment after the install.

 

Putting in the new box was probably the most difficult part of the install. If you are planning on doing this, we highly recommend the help of a friend — one person to hold the box in place, while the other guides the coupler onto the splined shaft. We gave the box a couple of whacks with a rubber mallet to seat the splined shaft into the coupler, and then threaded the bolts the rest of the way through the frame. We also took this time to drop in the brass ferrules for the flare-style hoses (right).

The new power steering pump went in next. Using the hardware and mounting brackets supplied in the kit, the new pump went in easily. We also connected new high-pressure and return lines.

The final step of the install was to add power steering fluid. With the Monte running, one person turned the wheel lock-to-lock several times, while the other kept an eye on the level and watched for the bubbles to stop rising out of the reservoir.

A couple of hours of work, and our steering feels immeasurably better. Plus, we don’t have to put a drip pan under the Monte anymore.

For more information on all the options Borgeson offers, check out its website here. 

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About the author

Vinny Costa

Fast cars, motorcycles, and loud music are what get Vinny’s blood pumping. Catch him behind the wheel of his ’68 Firebird. Chances are, Black Sabbath will be playing in the background.
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