When Stephen Poe decided it was time to get rid of his 1967 Hemi Barracuda for something a little more street friendly, he couldn’t stay away from Mopar. With old school Pentastar blood running through his veins and an affinity to Plymouth’s wicked fish, he knew what he was looking for, and just had to wait for the right moment to reel in another gorgeous car. This time, it was a B5 Blue big-block 1971 ‘Cuda that caught his eye.
But Stephen wanted nothing to do with that ‘Cadillac-style power steering’ that classic musclecars are notorious for. A couple trips around the block with Stephen riding shotgun, and it was a far cry from the feel of the steering in our 1965 Plymouth Belvedere, Project Track Attack, after we installed a Borgeson power steering box.
Our installation back in 2013 was to combat the same problem Stephen was having: lane wandering. One look over the shoulder to change lanes, and the car would begin the trek to the next lane before you’re ready. It was a huge improvement to the larger B-body, but for this beautiful E-body, Borgeson had something new for us.
We had one advantage this time around with the installation: the engine had a couple of bad lifters and a flat cam, so it had to come out. That made it the perfect opportunity for a steering box swap into the ’71 ‘Cuda; we know that the factory gear is more difficult to remove with the engine in place, but when opportunity knocks, Stephen decided it was time to answer.
Mike Williams, of Schrader’s Speed & Style in Azusa, California, made quick work of installing the steering box. After giving it a once over and heaving the bulky factory box out of the way, installation of the Borgeson unit was a piece of cake. He used the same three bolts from the factory steering box, and after centering the shaft that connects the box to the column by checking the lock-to-lock, he reinstalled the pitman arm – the wheels had already been left centered and straight.
All New, Better Price Point, Same Borgeson Quality
So what’s new with Borgeson’s latest offering for the Mopar world? Like the first-generation steering box, the new Mopar power-steering box is lighter than that factory box by roughly 13 pounds, and it’s still running a quicker 14:1 ratio. But, Borgenson’s Jeff Grantmeyer tells us the big difference is inside the box itself, which brings about a lower price.
We were able to drop about $100 off the cost of the box with the new design. -Jeff Grantmeyer, Borgeson
But, rather than pulling a bait and switch, Borgeson decided to pass those savings onto the customer. “We were able to drop about $100 off the cost of the box with the new design,” he said. That savings alone just about pays for the alignment that is recommended afterwards.
The box itself is all-new, not rebuilt or reconditioned. As Grantmeyer has told us plenty of times before, “The problem with a rebuilt box is that you still have 40-year-old technology.” With this new unit, the feel is much firmer, and the lane wandering is history. The new box is re-splined to fit either early or late pitman arms, and will work for 1962-1982 Mopars with either the 1 1/8-inch (PN 800126) or 1 1/4-inch (PN 800127) sector shafts.
Steering Coupler And Hose Kit
Borgeson also provides a hose kit (PN 925113) with the proper 16mm fittings required by the new box, with instructions included to identify the pressure line (closest to firewall) since both fittings are the same size. Because the engine was over by the bench hanging from a hoist, Mike set the hoses aside to wait for the engine to be stuffed back in so that he can route the pressure and return lines properly.
As you might guess, with the smaller box, that leaves a bit of an issue with reconnecting the steering shaft. Borgeson has taken care of that part for you with it’s Mopar Steering Coupler Kit. (PN 036425). Swapping steering boxes from one brand to another requires mating the new box to the original column, and not only is the input shaft slightly different, but the distance between the steering shaft and the new box changes as well.
To install the Borgeson coupler kit, a little cutting and drilling is required, so Mike wasn’t out of the woods yet, or out of the engine compartment. The process is rather simple, and, again, Borgeson provides full instructions on how to modify the steering shaft to accept the Borgeson coupler.
The break in metal-on-metal contact that our coupler provides eliminates this hydraulic noise from passing through to the steering wheel. -Jeff Grantmeyer
If you haven’t noticed that noise before – and who can with a thumping big-block stealing all the thunder – Grantmeyer explained that to us. He said, “The box we are adapting has the hose connections very close to the input shaft connection of the gearbox. The break in metal-on-metal contact that our coupler provides eliminates this hydraulic noise from passing through to the steering wheel.”
Another nice thing about the Borgeson coupler is no more messing with the difficult clamp and rubber seal on the OE coupler housing – that, in itself, is a huge plus. If you’ve ever had to install a new factory coupler, you know that you can easily find yourself with mismatched slider shoes and coupler housing, there are a few different housings based on which car and what model year.
Borgeson provides the instructions of how to measure the shaft for cutting, and the new steering coupler has three holes for inserting roll pins after drilling the shaft. Of course, drilling into a hardened steel steering shaft is not going to work with your box store drill bits, so Borgeson even provides the proper drill bit for this task.
It’s recommended to make sure that the steering is lined up straight, along with the steering wheel. Since the steering hub and the input shaft are splined, adjustments can be made. However, the the steering column shaft and the Borgeson coupler are not splined, so getting everything straight just makes aligning the front end a little easier.
Mike drilled the first hole and inserted the first of three included roll pins. This assures that the second and third holes can be drilled properly, and that the coupler won’t shift if the drill bit tries to walk. A small tap from a center punch helps to keep the drill bit from wandering, and is recommended as well.
Waiting For The Ponies
As we mentioned, the engine had to be pulled so we took full advantage of the open compartment to upgrade to the Borgeson steering box. It can be done with the engine in place, but you might have to unbolt the engine mounts and raise the vehicle a little to remove the large, factory box.
This unit is a new, lighter power steering box for existing power steering cars, but can also be installed on Mopars with manual steering boxes. Borgeson also has a brand new Saginaw-style steering pump (PN 800322) available for both big-block and small-block Mopars, as well as a small-block pump bracket kit (PN 802412) to save you from having to scrounge around the wrecking yards looking for the right brackets.
If you’re looking to upgrade your steering to a modern, firm feedback in your 1962-1982 Mopar, check out the Borgeson website and end your lane wandering. If you’re looking to upgrade your Ford or GM vehicle, Borgeson has you covered there with a modern feel power-steering box.