It’s all about valve placement. If that valve isn’t in the correct location, it can interfere with other components like engine mounts and other pieces. - John Jennings, Flaming River
The benefits of upgrading to a power assisted steering rack for your ’79-’93 Fox Mustang are clearly in the name, but there are more advantages to it than just the obvious. Having a modern and lighter steering assembly which eliminates old and worn steering components is the name of the game for this street-driven 1992 Fox Mustang coupe; and Flaming Riverhas been hailed as the quintessential supplier of everything steering-related for nearly every Mustang model.
In the scope of this article, we take a closer look at and install the company’s power assisted steering rack assembly for the ’79-’93 Fox body Mustang (PN FR40037) on a reader’s 1992 Fox Mustang. The goal of this is to introduce a proper power steering assembly after years of having a manual rack accompany this Mustang, as we continue to transform the car into a street-driven powerhouse.
Follow along as we show you how easy it is to install one of these systems in a day for any enthusiast.
Our new power steering rack from Flaming River is finished in a cool gloss black color.
Rather than give you what’s in the brochure, we’ll let John Jennings, electronic media coordinator for Flaming River, tell you what this system is all about.
'79-'93 Fox Body Mustang Power Rack And Pinion
All new components – including valve, piston, seals, bearings and bushings, and pinion and rack gears
Robotically-welded design for strength & durability
“The factory unit uses a fixed valve housing, so there isn’t any adjustability to it,” Jennings said. “If you look at some of the newer aftermarket subframes that are available in the hotrod scene that utilize a Fox body steering rack, it’s all about valve placement. If that valve isn’t in the correct location, it can interfere with other components like engine mounts and other pieces.
“With that valve housing being adjustable, the end-user can loosen the mounting hardware, rotate the valve housing, and gain clearance for the lines to install around the engine mounts and other components.”
The company explained that they are pretty aggressive with its valving and the travel they have available on its steering racks. Though with that said, Jennings informed us that these racks can be used for any driving scenario imaginable; from drag racing to daily driving. And for all of you drift guys out there, you can also use this rack on a drift car because of the available travel built in to the rack.
Flaming River has built-in up to six inches of travel into its steering racks, which allows for almost a full inch of extra travel over the factory steering rack. “There’s quite a few different options available there,” Jennings explained. “The torsion bar that we use in the valve is the same size that’s used in the SVT Mustang Cobra R, so it’s pretty aggressive for the performance guys.”
Testing, Testing, Testing
It’s all about trial and error for the guys at Flaming River.
“First thing we do is examine all of the different variations of the factory steering rack,” Jennings said. “We look at the different years and body styles of the vehicle, and we also compare the different tire dimensions, and so on. We look at the differences between the generations, because different model cars will have different size front tires, and even have spacers from the factory for greater steering rack travel. This eliminates the tires rubbing on the subframe, wheel well, etc.”
“We run them, test them, confirm they can clear the factory crossmember, confirm all of the driveline components fit correctly, and all of the associated hoses and lines,” Jennings said.
Jennings explained the company then determines all of the necessary dimensions for the correct placement (as well as the pinion angle of the steering rack) to determine where the valve housing should be located. The mounting locations, as well as the length of the unit and the overall travel, are next. Flaming River uses all of this data to manufacture a prototype unit, which is then installed on a few separate cars for testing.
“When we begin the production process, we put every rack that leaves on a test bench,” he continued. “We can actually duplicate a road trip or a curve for the rack for endurance testing as well. Basically anything you can name, we can test for that scenario.” The rack is then hooked up on the test bench for a few lengthy testing procedures to put it through some extra paces.
Flaming River said every rack that’s manufactured is tested to ensure it has the correct amount of travel and retains the right amount of pressure they expect out of it. “We try to do a lot of extensive testing on these units.” Jennings said.
Converting To Power Steering
The starting point is a manual steering rack and pinion. Perfect for track only cars, but not so much for street driven ones.
Installation took about a day to complete when all was said and done. As one would assume, most of that time was spent connecting all of the components which enable our new steering rack to be power assisted.
It's important to note that when converting to power steering, you're going to have to source the necessary components which make up the entire system. Components such as the power steering pump, brackets, pulley, etc. We were able to find some with ease by sourcing a local junkyard here in Southern California, where 5.0-liter Fox body cars are plentiful these days.
We began the installation by lifting the car on our always trusty Bendpak XP10-ACX in-house lift, followed up by disconnecting the passenger side and driver’s side outer tie-rods.
We then proceeded to remove the current manual steering rack from our Maximum Motorsports K-member, removing the two bolts located on each side of the offset bushings. Removing the rack was as simple as that.
Next, we removed the worn splined shaft and universal joints assembly in preparation for the new assembly included from Flaming River.
Examining the prior setup immediately revealed the significant differences in size.
Test fitting the new supplied splined shaft and universal joint assembly.
It’s important to note that during the assembly of the new power steering rack, we were unable to use the included bushings because of our non-factory K-member in place. Due to this, we reused the offset/adjustable bushings that were installed on the previous manual steering rack, as the new power steering rack needed to be adjusted to install properly. Normally, this wouldn’t be the case, and the included bushings would work properly with no issues.
We then proceeded by connecting the main stainless steel braided line, following the placement of the new power steering rack. We installed the aforementioned offset bushings, then test fitted the new rack. We found that the new included shaft and universal joint assembly needed to be modified for fitment to adhere with the aftermarket K-member in place.
We secured the new rack and shaft in place, then proceeded to install all of the components which make up the power steering assembly.
After modifying the new shaft assembly, cutting it where we marked it in the picture above, we were able to place our new power steering rack in with ease and tighten up the existing inner tie-rods and new outer tie-rods (shown below).
Next, we installed the power steering pump bracket which will hold our used factory power steering pump, followed by the pump itself.
We then installed the included OE line kit from Flaming River, as well as the junkyard hardlines and the serpentine belt. We were looking to be in good shape after that!
These are the necessary lines and fittings that Flaming River recommends to complete the installation. Keep in mind, they are not included with the power steering rack kit. The PN for this kit is FR1636.
This Fox body coupe project car is coming together nicely if we do say so ourselves!
After years of hard racing at the strip, it was time this 1992 Fox Mustang saw some well-deserved street action. What better way to commemorate its new life for the time being than with a modern, power steering upgrade for the street?
While this reader’s Fox Mustang is still under construction during the transition from racecar to road car, we weren’t able to properly fill and bleed the power steering system just yet, so it’s important to keep that in mind for your power steering conversion.
Lower profile and wider tires, along with wider wheels, increases the contact patch significantly–and this creates a demand on the steering assembly; especially during low speed driving. Utilizing a power steering pump will allow the rack to perform at its peak performance during the low speed and turning situations, so it makes things a considerably easier. It also cuts down on the wear and tear of the vehicle, according to Jennings.
Rest assured, we have confidence in this system when the time comes for that procedure, as Jennings explained. “The biggest thing to do is properly bleed the system,” he said.
“We find that contamination causes steering rack failures a lot of the time. Making sure the fluid stays clean is very important; and the more you can limit the introduction of debris or contamination into the fluid and the system, the better. It really helps to extend the power steering life, and it’s also important to make sure that the shafts are dimpled when installing the U-joints.”
Stick with us as we continue to bring you updates on this Fox Mustang project car in the future. We’ll be following up with another segment where we get this Fox body back on the road with its new-and-improved rack-and-pinion steering system and provide some driver feedback from its owner, so stay tuned.