EPAS Steering Box and Clutch Z-Bar

Now that I had my QuickJack set up, I was able to raise the car up and get a good look at whether I could maneuver the steering box out from below. First, I removed the clutch linkage and z-bar in an attempt to get enough room to wiggle the steering box out. That didn’t quite give me enough room. Next, I tried to drop the exhaust h-pipe, but ended having to drop the entire exhaust system as the h-pipe wouldn’t separate from the rest of the system. It wasn’t rusty, just tightly wedged together. After that I had plenty of room to get the old steering box out.

I had a 16:1 steering box that had been rebuilt by Chockostang ready and waiting to install. Before I installed it, I made sure it was centered. I did this by turning the box all the way to one stop, and then turned it to the other stop, counting the turns from one stop to the other. I divided the number of turns in half and then set the box to that number of turns from one of the stops. You can tell when you are in the ballpark as the steering is stiffer near the center of the box’s travel. Being tighter near the center of the steering is by design. With the steering box centered, I wiggled it up onto the frame rail and bolted it in place. The pitman arm has a keyway that needs to match up with the splines on the steering box. The front wheels of the car were already centered, as was the steering box, so the pitman arm lined right up, and I could easily slide the pitman arm back into place. Per the shop manual, the torque specs are 50-65 ft-lbs. for the frame rail bolts, and 150-225 ft-lbs. for the pitman arm on a big block car.

With the steering box finally replaced and still working underneath the car, I turned my attention to the clutch z-bar. I appear to have an oil leak (maybe my next project), so I needed to degrease the z-bar before continuing as it was quite messy. Before crawling under the car, I test fitted the new engine side pivot to the z-bar to make sure the bearing it came with would fit inside the z-bar. It turned out I needed to clean up the inside of the z-bar with a file to enable the bearing to slide in. The z-bar only needed a very minor clean up on the inside. The frame side pivot fit with no problem. With the test fitting out of the way I installed the pivots and z-bar back on the car. It took me a while to get everything lined up and all the bolts started, but I eventually got it all back in place and moving freely.

After making sure that the z-bar moved freely, I attempted to install my new roller lower clutch rod and spring. The bolt on the lower clutch rod was too large of a diameter to fit through the hole in the z-bar. For now, I reinstalled the old lower clutch rod. I contacted the vendor, Opentracker, and he said I should drill out the z-bar to match the diameter of the new rod. In order to drill out the hole for the lower clutch rod, I will need to remove the z-bar again. I will probably circle back around to this modification, but for now I reinstalled the old lower clutch rod. I plan to test fit the upper rod as well to make sure I don’t need to drill out that hole as well.

After finishing all of this I reinstalled the exhaust system. Everything went back into place fairly well. I did need to level the exhaust tips just a bit, but that was only a minor adjustment. I haven’t tested for leaks yet, but I don’t think there will be any major leaks. I might have to tighten a few clamps after I give it a test run. But for now, the car is back on the ground and my next steps involve working in the engine compartment and under the dash.