The first attempt on the steering assembly was a valiant one, but it came up a bit short. The U-joint connected to the steering column was at an angle greater than 30 degrees causing the joint to bind when you tried to turn the steering wheel.
After asking around about “what might happen” if I left something this way, the answers of “complete steering failure while driving” didn’t sound too good to me 🙂
Friday I dropped by the Hot Rod shop and picked up another U-joint and support bearing. I looked at some options like a double U-joint, but after talking to a few people, I went with adding in a 3rd section to the steering mechanism.
Yesterday I headed to the garage determined to correct the problem. I started off by sliding on a new support bearing to the existing shaft going to the steering box. No matter what modifications were to come, I needed to keep this angle. But I did need to shorten this length of the shaft to decrease the angles on the rest of the assembly.
I created a little box out of 1/8″ plate steel, tightened the support bearing in place and welded the box to the frame rail. I needed to make sure that I left enough space to weld on the shock tower mount that will be needed for the front air suspension. It “looks” like I will have lots of room for the shock tower, but the truth will only be revealed later when I actually do the fabrication. Let’s just call it an unsolved mystery for now 🙂
By adding in this new support bearing, I was able to cut away the previous box that I created for the initial support. I was able to re-use the box I built previously and welded it down lower, and on the side of, the vertical 2 x 2 cage tubing. I re-installed the support bearing and tightened it in place.
Last was running the final piece of steering shaft from the steering column to this center section. That involved the initial U-joint that was previously causing me binding problems on the steering column, as well as the U-joint that connected the shaft to the rest of the new assembly.
Everything “eyeballed” up like there wouldn’t be any binding. All the U-joints looked like they had clearance, all the steering shaft was clear of the A-arm, headers and brake booster… but the proof was in the pudding. I jacked up the front of the car so that the front tires were free to move for the moment of truth. Bingo! I turned the steering wheel and everything worked as smooth as butter!