Author Archives: sdcohe

EPAS Back to Work

Due to some health concerns, home improvement projects, and general frustration with fitting the steering column I took a long break from this install. I knew that I needed to finish up the project but wasn’t very motivated to work on it. Plus, I was experiencing some health issues that caused me to become exhausted and out of breath after very little exertion on my part. I finally got myself feeling up to completing the work required to finish up this EPAS installation.

I’ve never been completely satisfied with the clearance between the EPAS and my clutch linkage. If the car had an automatic transmission, I believe there wouldn’t be the same issues. I could just barely get the required clearance so that the EPAS motor doesn’t rub on the under-dash clutch linkage or even bind it up completely. I did eventually find a position that worked, but if you pulled down on the steering wheel the column would sometimes move just enough to cause some slight rubbing. I originally planned to reposition the parking brake lever to gain some additional clearance. I moved the lever over and purchased some washers to use as shims to drop down the lever. I wasn’t completely happy with this approach but felt it would work well enough.

Before I moved the parking brake handle and buttoned everything back up, I decided to test the turn signal switch wiring in case I needed to remove the column to fix the wiring. Upon testing the turn signal switch functions, I found that everything was working except for the front right turn signal. I did some tracing of the wires and soon discovered that the clamp that mounts the steering column to the dash had severed that wire on the turn signal harness. I was able to splice the wire and get the turn signal working properly, but needed to modify the clamp so that it wouldn’t pinch the turn signal wiring harness where it exited the steering column. I dropped the column and ground some metal off of the clamp to gain the clearance I needed.

Now that the clamp was modified, I attempted to reinstall the steering column again. I spent a considerable amount of time attempting to find the sweet spot where the column didn’t interfere with the clutch linkage. I spent about an hour removing parts I had already reinstalled and moving the column around but was unable to find the same sweet spot I had discovered before. Eventually I found that I needed to pull the column forward towards the driver’s seat to reach the same spot I had the column in before removing it to fix the wiring. This gave me the clearance for the clutch linkage but put the clamp very close to the wiring again. That was when I realized that moving the column closer to the driver was the answer to my clearance issues. I was prevented from moving the column far enough forward because of the interference between the clamp and the wiring harness. It looked like all I needed to do was grind the clamp some more so that I could move the steering column a little bit closer to the driver’s seat. It sounds so simple now, but I spent a lot of time attempting to figure it out.

Tomorrow, I plan to remove the clamp one more time and grind it for some more clearance. Then I can move the column a bit more forward and I’m hoping I will have enough clearance with the clutch linkage. It isn’t rubbing now, but it is closer than I am comfortable with, so I would like to gain just a bit more clearance. After that, I bet the floor vent would fit as well, but I’ve already removed it and mounted the EPAS ECU in its’ place. Since I have A/C I don’t think I will miss it too much. Hopefully I can get this project back on track and finally wrap things up. Once the column is securely mounted, I hope to revisit the roller clutch linkage and torque the pitman arm to specs. That should get the car operational again. I still have some other items I want to fix or update, but I think I need to spend some time driving and also work on my health before I tackle any new projects.

EPAS Test Fit Steering Column

I’ve finally reached the point where I can test fit the new steering column and determine how to clock the EPAS motor. The first thing I noticed is that I needed to remove the driver’s side AC vent, courtesy light, and parking brake handle to make some room to maneuver the motor into place. Between all of that, the clutch pedal and linkage, and the driver’s side fresh air vent there just wasn’t enough room for the EPAS motor. While I might have been able to eventually fit everything back into place, I decided to just eliminate the fresh air vent. That would give me plenty of room for the EPAS motor, and also provide a place to mount the EPAS controller box.

Picture of the fresh air vent
Fresh Air Vent

I had no trouble removing the fresh air vent. But now I needed to fabricate a block off plate. I grabbed the lid from a cardboard pizza box and used it to make a template for the block off plate. I traced the fresh air vent onto the cardboard and marked the mounting holes. Then I cut it out and test fitted it on the car. It fit fine. Now I needed to make a more permanent plate out of sheet metal.

Picture of the cardboard template
Cardboard Template

I went to the local hardware store and purchased a small sheet of 22 gauge cold rolled steel. Then I marked the steel using the cardboard template I had made. I used some aviation snips to cut out the plate and drilled the mounting holes in the plate. My snips either aren’t very sharp or I’m just not very skilled at using them because it took me quite some time to cut out the plate. Not perfect, but it won’t be visible.

Picture of the steel block off plate
Steel Block Off Plate

After test fitting the block off plate, I mounted the EPAS control box.

Picture of the block off plate with controller mounted
Controller Mounted on Block Off Plate

I installed the block off plate using some strip caulk as a sealer. I slid the new steering column into position, tightened down the attaching strap, and connected the shaft to the motor. Clearance was very tight, but I managed to find a position that cleared the clutch pedal. If the car had an automatic transmission clearance would be much less of an issue as the clutch pedal was the biggest problem. I reinstalled the clutch linkage, brake pedal, and parking brake handle and checked for clearance again. It turns out I probably could have retained the fresh air vent, but since I have air conditioning it should be OK to leave it off. Plus, it provided a very convenient place to mount the EPAS ECU. My biggest concern at this point is that there is only the strap under the steering column holding it in position. The original steering column had the strap and a mount at the firewall. The replacement column mounts in both places but has a universal joint between the column and the firewall. This universal joint permits the column to move up and down just a little bit if you put some leverage on the steering wheel. I may need to revisit the clamp and beef it up some, but for now I think it will work. My next steps are to stake the motor to the column, wire the column up, and finish tightening up and reattaching everything I removed to make room for the new column. Then I will need to find a good place to mount the adjustment potentiometer, test the wiring, and I can call this job completed.

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.

EPAS Steering Shaft

The weather hasn’t been warm or dry enough for me to want to work outside. Since I’m still anxious to keep the project moving forward, I looked for more parts I can prepare for installation while working inside. One item I could start on is partially assembling the steering shaft.

The steering shaft in this kit consists of two D shaped steel tubes. One is solid and one is hollow. It is designed so that the solid tube can slide inside the hollow tube. Each tube has a matching adapter with a D shape at one end and a splined opening at the other end. One adapter has splines to match the steering box. The other adapter has splines to match up with the EPAS motor. Both adapters are held in place using set screws at each end.

I decided to install the adapters on the ends of their corresponding steering shaft. The install was easy enough, as the adapters are a simple press fit on their respective shafts. I used blue Loctite to make sure that the set screws don’t come loose over time. I also test fitted the splined ends on the steering box and EPAS motor just to make sure I had the correct parts. Everything went together without a hitch.

Here is a picture of the two parts of the steering shaft with the adapters installed and the set screws held in place using Loctite. The shaft on the left is the hollow shaft and uses the adapter that mates up with the steering box. The shaft on the right is the solid shaft. One end slides into the hollow shaft, and the other end has the adapter that mates up with the EPAS motor.

I realize this wasn’t a big accomplishment, but it is one less thing I need to prepare as soon as I can do more work outside.

EPAS Steering Column Wiring

Since the weather hasn’t been conducive to working outside, I chose to work on wiring the new Ididit steering column. I could tackle that job inside where it is warm and dry. The column comes with a turn signal switch that terminates in wires with preinstalled crimp on pins. It also comes with a connector that will attach to the under-dash connector for my car’s wiring harness. It appeared that this would be as simple as pushing the pins on the wire ends into the correct locations on the supplied connector.

My first step was to make sure I could identify all of the wires. I used the wiring diagram in my shop manual and compared it to the documentation that came with the steering column. I was surprised to find that all the color codes on the new steering column matched up with the color codes on my under-dash wiring harness. Here are the wiring diagrams from the shop manual as well as the instructions from the Ididit steering column. Both diagrams include my notes as to the color coding.

Factory Wiring Diagram With Notes
Ididit Wiring Diagram With Notes

Armed with this knowledge, I turned to inserting the wire pins into their correct locations on the connector. I immediately learned that the pins didn’t fit. I puzzled over this for a few minutes before I realized that the new turn signal switch wiring used female pins, but the connector required male pins. The kit did come with a full set of both male and female pins, as well as both male and female connectors. I decided my best course of action was to cut off the female pins on the turn signal switch and replace them with the correct male pins. In the past when installing these types of pins, used a pair of needle nose pliers to bend and crimp the pins and then I had soldered the pins on. This always worked, but the results never looked anywhere as nice as when the factory crimped the pins on.

I contacted a friend who could advise me on the best way to achieve the correct looking factory crimp. I learned that there are special (and expensive) tools required for this. He recommended that I crimp the pins and then solder them on like I have done in the past. While not as good as crimping with the tool, it should work well enough. So that is the approach I took. I cut off the female pins and then carefully crimped and soldered on the male pins. Then using the wiring diagrams, I inserted the pins into the correct locations on the connector. Then I wrapped the wires in electrical tape to make the harness look nice and tidy. For not having the correct tool I feel like it came out fairly well.

Male Pins Inserted Into Connector
Wiring Wrapped in Electrical Tape

QuickJack Unboxing and Setup

I planned to include lots of pictures of this process, but with all the rain and the mess in my garage I decided to stick with mostly descriptive text. The only consolation is that there are many videos and descriptions of setting up and using the Quickjack. So I don’t feel terrible about having this entry consisting mainly of text.

Costco was having a sale on a package deal of a Quickjack 5000TL along with a set of wall hangers and a set of pinch weld blocks. The combined price was $300 less than the normal price for just the Quickjack without the accessories. I had been wanting a Quickjack or some similar lifting device for quite a while but was unwilling to pay for one as they are expensive. The Quickjack 5000TL is rated for lifting up to 5000 pounds, so it has more than sufficient capacity to lift my Mustang. The lifting points on the mustang are along the pinch weld, so the pinch weld adapters are an accessory I would need to purchase regardless of whether I purchased a package deal or not. I decided that now is the time to purchase one. I know I will get plenty of use out of it.

Quickjack 5000TL
Wall Hangar Set
Pinch-Weld Blocks

The Quickjack requires some assembly before you can use it to lift a car. It was raining outside when I was ready to begin assembly, preventing me from spreading everything out in my driveway to work on. I chose to assemble the hoses inside where it is nice and dry. The thread sealant Quickjack provides requires 24 hours to set, so assembling them ahead of time would make them ready for the next sunny day. Then I would be able to complete the assembly and testing process outside in my driveway.

Assembling the hoses was very simple. I applied thread sealant to the fittings and screwed them together. I made the fittings tight, but not gorilla tight. I can test them for leaks once I complete final assembly and perform testing and bleeding of the unit. I also had a chance to install fittings on the power unit. Those fittings didn’t require any thread sealant, just some lubrication on the fitting O-rings. I also went to the auto parts store and purchased some ATF to use as hydraulic fluid in the pump. The Quickjack instructions specify that you can use any general-purpose ISO-32, ISO-46, or ISO-68 hydraulic oil or one of the following approved ATF fluids:

  • Dexron III
  • Dexron VI
  • Mercon V
  • Mercon LV
  • Any synthetic multi-vehicle ATF

The next warm and dry day I prepared the frames. First, I installed right angle hydraulic hose fittings on the frames. This was as easy as removing a plug on the hydraulic cylinder, screwing the parts into the cylinder, and tightening the fittings with a wrench. After installing the fittings on both frames, I attached the short hoses I had previously assembled to the fittings I just finished installing. The last step in preparing the frames is to pressurize the pneumatic springs with 40-50 psi of air. Now everything was ready to set up the hydraulic system.

I connected the long hoses to the short hoses on the frames and to the power unit. Then I filled the power unit with hydraulic fluid. The instructions said to open the bleeder valves on each frame and run the power unit until fluid comes out of the bleeder. Once I saw bubble free fluid coming out of both bleeders, I closed the bleeders and lowered the jack.

After bleeding I checked all of the fittings for leaks. I did have to tighten up one of the fittings as it was leaking a bit. After that I observed no more leaks. At this point the Quickjack is ready for use. I do still plan to research casters that will make positioning the jack much easier. If I find a solution I like, I will document it in a future entry.

Update: I decided to experiment with some 1″ roller ball bearings I purchased at Harbor Freight. Since this is only an experiment, I attached the rollers using double sided 3M tape. I doubt the rollers will stay attached for long, but as a temporary trial it works just fine. The jacks are now so much easier to move around and position. Once the rollers do come off, I will find a more permanent way to attach them. There are plenty of videos online showing where to attach the rollers to the Quickjack in case anybody wants to duplicate what I have done.

Here is a picture of the 1″ rollers I used. You will need 8 in all.

EPAS Disassembly

Before i started work disassembling the steering in preparation for the EPAS install, I needed to get the new steering column ready. When I ordered my EPAS kit I had three choices for the steering column: chrome, black, or unpainted steel. I chose unpainted steel so that I could paint the column to match my dashboard color. I carefully taped up the column to protect the wiring and motor. Then I cleaned up the column with wax and grease remover. I set the column on an old steering wheel I had to stand it up for painting. I then used several coats of self-etching primer and two coats of interior paint on the column. For a driveway paint job, it came out fairly well.

Painted Steering Column

Now I could start removing the old steering and clutch parts. I unplugged the steering column wiring harness and unbolted the column from the steering box. Next, I unbolted the column seal retainer that bolts to the firewall. I found that some of the bolts were only finger tight. I think that they were most likely over tightened in the past and the holes in the firewall that they screw into are enlarged. I think I will address that by installing nut-serts, but I may just use a hammer and dolly to flatten the metal surrounding the holes back into shape. After removing the upper column retaining bracket the entire column came straight out.

I now turned my attention to the steering box. I removed the pitman arm bolts and used a puller to remove the pitman arm. Then I removed the three bolts attaching the steering box to the frame. With the steering box now unbolted I attempted to remove it from the car. I thought it would drop out the bottom but there was insufficient clearance to remove it. It wouldn’t come out the top without removing at least the master cylinder and brake booster. I think that if I remove the clutch z-bar and linkage I can fit the box out from the bottom. I may need to drop the exhaust h-pipe to gain some additional clearance. I took a break at this point because I have a Quickjack on order that should help me out a whole bunch working under the car. My next post should be all about unboxing and setting up the Quickjack. Then I can get back to work on the EPAS conversion and clutch linkage upgrade.

EPAS Preparation

Once again, the car show season has ended and I’m preparing for my winter projects. I’ve been collecting parts, and my plan is to install the electric power assist steering (EPAS) I purchased last winter. While I am working under the dash, I also plan to change my clutch linkage to use bearings rather than bushings which I hope will address my clutch pedal not always returning to its’ home position.

For the EPAS, I purchased a kit from EPAS Performance. This kit includes a tilt steering column from IDIDIT which has already been cut and has the electric motor preinstalled. The kit is quite expensive but is complete and appears to be an easy install. I’ll probably pay for saying that later when I do the actual install. Here is a picture of the kit, minus the steering column.

EPAS Performance Kit (w/o IDIDIT column)

While i am upgrading the steering, I decided to also install a rebuilt steering box. In 1967 Ford used multiple steering boxes in the Mustang. While there were other differences, the specification I am looking at is the steering gear ratio. Manual steering cars had a 19:1 ratio, while power steering cars had a 16:1 ratio, which results in quicker steering. I assume the manual steering cars had the 19:1 ratio to make them easier to steer. Since I will have power steering, I felt it made sense to swap to a 16:1 power steering box. The 19:1 box has about 4 5/8 turns from lock to lock. The 16:1 box has about 3 3/4 turns lock to lock. Switching steering boxes should quicken up the steering a bit by removing almost one full turn lock to lock.

Using the identification information on Stangersite to help find the correct steering box, I was able to purchase a used 16:1 steering box on Facebook Marketplace. I then sent it off to Chockostang to be rebuilt. Chockostang is an expert on Mustang steering boxes and is well known for doing quality rebuilds on them. Chockostang warned me up front that returning my box would be delayed because he would be on vacation. But as soon as he returned from vacation, I got my rebuilt steering box back in the mail. Here is what the rebuilt box looked like when I got it back.

Rebuilt Steering Box (SMB-K)

To address my clutch linkage issues, I ordered the full roller treatment from Opentracker Racing. I purchased their frame and block side pivots for the Z-bar, and the roller clutch rod kit. Then I purchased the Mustang Steve ball bearing clutch pedal shaft kit. After these parts are installed my clutch linkage will have all the bushings replaced with bearings and should operate as smooth as possible. Here are pictures of the clutch linkage parts.

Opentracker Frame Side Pivot
Opentracker Block Side Pivot
Opentracker Roller Clutch Rod Kit
Mustang Steve Roller Bearing Clutch Pedal Support Kit

While I am working under the dash, I may attempt to address some nagging issues, such as one A/C vent that blows less air than the others and replacing the dash knee pad. Right now, my motivation is less due to the cold. But hopefully I will find the proper motivation to get to work very soon as I hope to attend a lot more car shows and events this year as compared to the last several years.

Dash Knee Pad

I had mentioned in a previous post that I had accidentally damaged my original dash knee pad. This post is to document what replacement pad I found and how I refinished it in preparation for installation. While it seems straightforward to me right now, by the time I have to refinish another vinyl part I most likely won’t remember what steps I followed.

My first step was to find a replacement. I searched the Mustang vendors’ catalogs and eventually found one at National Parts Depot. The description said the quality was poor. I thought, how bad could it really be, and went ahead and ordered the part. When it arrived, I opened the package and inspected the part. It was just as described. The embossed stitching was uneven and crooked, and the grain was wrong. I decided it was better to keep the damaged original rather than replace it with this new part. I dropped the whole idea of replacing the pad since no suitable new parts were available at that time.

Several months later I saw a post from Rick Schmidt on the Vintage Mustang Forums that he was having reproduction dash knee pads made to his specifications and that they were much higher quality than the other pad I had purchased. I went ahead and ordered the part. It came in any color you want, as long as you want black.

When the part arrived, I could see it had the correct grain and the stitching was even and straight. I stored the part away until I had an opportunity to refinish it in red and install it. I was in no hurry as I had bigger things to worry about and the original pad would work for the time being. Recently I decided to take a shot at refinishing the black reproduction pad in red.

I had some difficulty remembering the steps I followed in the past for refinishing vinyl parts. Luckily, I still had all of the products I had used on a shelf in my garage. I’m not positive as to what I had done in the past, but the steps I followed this time are:

  • Clean the part using a vinyl prep spray. The instructions on the can said to spray the part and wipe it off in one direction.
  • Treat the part with an adhesion promoter spray. The instructions on the can said you can apply multiple coats 10 minutes apart. I used two coats. After that the can says to dye the part within 10 minutes of applying the final coat of adhesion promoter.
  • Spray the part with vinyl dye in the desired color. I used thin coats. The first coat didn’t completely cover the part, but that was OK as I planned to use additional coats. I ended up with 3 coats, applied 10 minutes apart.

Roller Bearing Idler Arm

I decided it was time to install the roller bearing idler arm I had purchased from Opentracker. My old idler arm was actually in good shape, but I was hoping that the roller bearing version might help with steering effort and maybe tighten the steering up a bit. It should be an easy install and I was feeling motivated, so I jumped right in.

Here is a picture of the idler arm ready to install. Notice that there is a castellated nut and cotter pin where the idler arm attaches to the frame bracket just below the lower mounting hole. This became a minor issue which I will discuss later in this post.

For comparison, here’s what the old idler arm that I removed looked like.

The first step was to remove the old idler arm. I was afraid I would have issues removing the tie rod end from the idler arm, but when I unbolted it the tie rod end slipped right out without the need for the tie rod end puller tool I had purchased. The frame bracket bolts also came out without a hitch. So far so good.

When I attempted to install the new idler arm, I was unable to put the nut on the lower frame bracket bolt. The castellated nut and stud attaching the idler arm to the frame bracket was partially blocking the hole in the frame bracket. My first instinct was to grind down the stud that was protruding through the castellated nut just enough for everything to fit. I decided against this plan as I was concerned that I might get metal bits in one of the roller bearings or weaken something. For plan B, I chose to install the lower bolt backwards since the head of the bolt was able to clear the protruding stud and castellated nut. This is backwards from how it would normally be installed, but I didn’t see a good reason why it wouldn’t work.

Once I had come up with this plan, the new idler arm bolted into place with no issues. I will be getting a front end alignment in the next few days, weather permitting, and then take the car for a test drive. Hopefully all this work will make a noticeable difference in how the car rides and handles. Since I only made a couple of changes (Arning drop and roller bearing idler arm), I should be able to get a good handle on how much the Arning drop affects handling.