Borgeson Quick Ratio Steering Box Install

The 12.7:1 Turning Ratio Improves The 1964 Chevelle’s Steering Performance

By Todd Ryden   –   Photography by the Author

Many hot rodders tend to prioritize performance and cool looks before ever thinking about things like steering improvements. Making the move from manual steering to power assists is obviously a night and day difference, but you may be surprised to learn that even updating a stock power steering box with a modern unit can make a huge difference in the way your old classic drives.

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02 A new pitman arm shaft seal and hardware is supplied
A new pitman arm shaft seal and hardware is supplied, but if you’re moving from a manual box to the power-assist Borgeson steering box you’ll need to order a power steering pitman arm. Note the flat spots on the splined shaft–these are placed 90 degrees apart so the pitman arm can easily be oriented properly.

Read More: 1967 Chevy Chevelle Goes From Drag Car To Street Beast

Our case in point is a ’64 Chevelle that still sports the factory power steering. The turning action was easy, almost too easy, and felt unbalanced at highway driving speeds. We recently heard about Borgeson Universal steering box’s all new quick ratio steering box that bolts in place of the factory Saginaw 800 series box used in most ’64 and up GM classics.

03 Before draining the steering fluid we set about disconnecting the steering shaft from the original steering coupler
Before draining the steering fluid we set about disconnecting the steering shaft from the original steering coupler. This consists of two bolts followed by the bolt that clamps the joint to the input shaft of the steering box. Our Chevelle still had the small safety wire assembly on the joint assembly.

The new unit has a quicker 12.7:1 turning ratio compared to the stock ratio of 16:1. To determine your steering ratio, simply count the number of turns that the input shaft makes (where the steering shaft connects) compared to one turn of the output shaft. The Borgeson steering box clicks in at just about three turns lock-to-lock compared to the stock unit at well over four turns. But it’s not just about the turning, as the new box also provides a smoother, more controlled action.

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04 This consists of two bolts followed by the bolt that clamps the joint to the input shaft of the steering box

Read More: Steering Solutions: How To Install Variable Angle Gear (VDOG) and Microsteer

As far as accessories, you’ll need to update the original shaft coupler to a rag joint adapter to fit the ¾-inch 30-spline input shaft of the new box. Don’t worry about searching for one as Borgeson offers this steering coupler (PN 990012). Also note that the new box uses later-model, O-ring style fittings rather than the inverted flares used on ’60s  and mid-’70s Chevys. Borgeson takes care of this by supplying two handy little brass ferrules that adapt your original lines to the new box. Lastly, if you’re moving from a manual steering box to power assist you’ll need to source a factory-style power steering pitman arm.

05 You’re going to need a big socket 1 5 16 inch (or 33mm) to remove the pitman arm from the steering box
You’re going to need a big socket, 1 5/16-inch (or 33mm), to remove the pitman arm from the steering box. A little help from an impact gun or giant breaker bar will go a long way in getting the nut off the shaft.

The Borgeson steering box bolts right in place of the original with the lines in the exact same spot (the larger port is the high-pressure side and is located closer to the engine). In fact, the installation can easily be handled with hand tools, except the need of a pitman arm pulling tool that can be rented at most parts stores. While you’re there, make sure you have a socket large enough to remove the pitman arm nut or you’ll be making two trips to the store.

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06 A pitman arm puller is necessary which can be borrowed from your nearby big box parts store
A pitman arm puller is necessary, which can be borrowed from your nearby big box parts store. Our Chevelle was equipped with power steering from the factory so the same arm can be used, but if you are moving from a manual steering box you’ll need to update to a power-assist pitman arm.

Read More: Pro Touring 1966 Chevelle with LSA Power

Not only did the new Borgeson steering box speed up the turning ratio, but it really changed the overall driving feel with a tighter, smoother feel. The original one-finger steering was a little twitchy on the highway but now it feels much more secure and positive on the road. We expected quicker turning action but not the overall, tighter, improved driving feel that the Borgeson box delivered. Next, we need to go find a smooth, winding road! MR

07 Three bolts secure the factory steering box to the frame rail
Three bolts secure the factory steering box to the frame rail. Two were easy to access but note the location of the top left bolt–behind the bumper bracket! That was a surprise, and we were forced to remove the bumper bracket. The steering box is a beefy piece so be sure to have an extra hand to help with the removal.
08 The new Borgeson steering box is very close to the original power steering unit
The new Borgeson steering box is very close to the original power steering unit and even on a restored vehicle would be tough to spot. Before installing the unit, be sure to center the steering shaft by rotating the pitman stop to stop then back to the middle. Also, make sure the steering wheel is centered.
09 Borgeson supplied a new steering coupler that connects the new splined input shaft to the original steering column shaft
Borgeson supplied a new steering coupler that connects the new splined input shaft to the original steering column shaft. To adapt the original inverted flare fittings a pair of brass ferrules are supplied that simply press right into place in each hose connection. (If you’re moving from manual to power, Borgeson also offers a Hose Kit; PN 925103.)

10 To adapt the original inverted flare fittings a pair of brass ferrules are supplied that simply press right into place in each hose connection

11 Install the new half steering coupler to the input shaft before installing the box
Install the new half steering coupler to the input shaft before installing the box. Confirm the joint connector is fully engaged to the shaft and tighten the set screw and lock nut.
12 With the new box mounted securely using the original hardware we installed the new bolts to connect the steering shaft to the new steering coupler
With the new box mounted securely using the original hardware we installed the new bolts to connect the steering shaft to the new steering coupler.
13 A fresh lock washer and nut for the pitman arm are supplied along with a new seal
A fresh lock washer and nut for the pitman arm are supplied along with a new seal that you don’t want to forget before installing the arm. The nut gets torqued to 125 lb-ft so we got it started with the electric impact.
14 Depending on your application and vehicle goal you may want to consider an accessory cooler for the steering fluid
Depending on your application and vehicle goal you may want to consider an accessory cooler for the steering fluid. Today’s giant, grippy, pro-touring-style tires or routine autocross action can cause fluid to overheat, resulting in erratic power assist and pump issues. Borgeson offers several fluid coolers that will help keep the fluid within operating specs during high pressure driving.
15 Borgeson recommended a standard GM power steering fluid such as ACDelco 10 5073
Once everything was connected, it was time to top off the system with fresh fluid. Borgeson recommended a standard GM power steering fluid such as ACDelco 10-5073. When filled, lift the front tires off the ground to ease the steering effort to bleed the system of air. With the engine running, gently turn the wheels a few times stop to stop. Shut off the engine and top off the fluid to the right level.
16 The Borgeson steering box is a bolt on affair that seriously improves the steering feel and driving experience of your Chevelle
The Borgeson steering box is a bolt on affair that seriously improves the steering feel and driving experience of your Chevelle.

Source
Borgeson Universal Co.
(860) 482-8283
borgeson.com

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