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Discussion Starter #1
Hi MercuryCougar.net,

This is my first posting. I own a 1970 XR7 Convertible w/power steering.

I recently threw about $12K into the car. New paint, convertible top, rear leafs, front coils. Pretty much every part in the front end is new: Flaming river steering box, rebuilt control valve (Mustangs Plus, Stockton, CA), inner and outer tie rod ends, coil springs, spring perches, upper and lower A arms, new 1" sway bar (I also have a .75" for the rear - just waiting for the leaf springs to settle). The idler arm was replaced about a year ago with an aftermarket item. Other new parts include a one piece shock tower brace, frame braces, and so on.

I recently got the car back from the painter, and to my shock and utter surprise, there is still an appreciable amount of lash in the steering. Still, I expected much better after spending the $$$$ I did. Is this something I have to live with, or should I expect better? Is it possible the rebuilt
control valve is a poor example? The steering has always been sloppy. I suspect this is primarily due to Ford incorporating the control valve (similar to my first car, a 1963 Impala which also sucked) in the steering system design. It seems the control valve dooms the driver to some play in the steering, no matter how new the part is.

A couple more thoughts. The painter drove the car to the alignment shop with no power steering fluid. When he did put fluid in, he was confronted with the result of reversed power steering hoses (diagnosed by the alignment shop). When I picked the car up, I found the steering assist to be somewhat lacking, which exacerbated the lash. Eventhough the power steering fluid read on the stick, I added more and found it cured the assist problem. Now it's back to normal - too much assist.

I read one thread where a member complained of his steering not returning to center. I have the same problem, and I'll just pass along what my alignment guy (an old pro) says. It's the idler arm. Apparently, some of the aftermarket parts are not designed like the original Ford part, and contribute to this problem.

I'm open to any and all thoughts. Otherwise, I may again consider installing a TCP power rack and pinion, and sell off the cool new parts I'll no longer need.

70XR7ConvertCat
 

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Maybe you need to find a "NEW" old pro. You should not have a bunch of slop in the steering especailly with the high dollar new steering box and it should return to center.

A binding idler arm could contribute to the return problem but I dont think it would cause the slop. Tell your old pro if hes so sure its the idler arm than for him to go ahead and put another new one of his choosing on it. Then tell him the catch is that if it dont fix it then you just got another new idler arm for free because you wont pay for it if it dont fix it. I bet he wont take you up on it. I'm betting that the too much assist is from the control valve being misajusted and the not returning is from a misalignmet of the front end and the gear box not being centered. mm
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The car tracks straight (hands off), and doesn't pull to either side when braking. So, I'm satisfied with the alignment. I'm going to ask the alignment guy to increase the positive caster, and see if this make a difference. Apparently, this guy's idler arm theory has been proven out at least once before, but would he accept your proposal? Likely not. If I could find a Ford NOS idler arm, I would be inclined to try it. The problem is, they don't exist to my knowledge.

70XR7ConvertCat
 

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frame braces:
i would like to hear about your f/b. are they total contorl
type. and did they have to mod. the drivers side to get
it to fit. if you could take pic,s of it.i would like that.
how does it drive,can you tell the diff. with them installed

thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You can tell the difference, but some of that difference is undoubtably because of the larger front sway bar. I'd like to see what I think when the rear one gets installed. The subframe connectors for a convertible are of a different design than the coupe. I had the frame shop weld them on (recommended) rather than bolt them. You could do this yourself if you have welding experience and a 2 lb. sledge. The connectors weld on each corner and around the torque box which ties everything together. I don't recall whether this is a TCP part. Mustangs Plus has an interest in TCP, so I wouldn't be surprised. I recommend this modification, particularly to a convertible which doesn't benefit from a hardtop to keep everything from tweaking. I'll see if I can post a picture of my setup, but you should be able to search the web for an installation on a Cougar or Mustang, since there's nothing special about my mine.


-+ +-
-+ +- <- weld to frame
\ / /
| | /
+--------+ <-+
| Torque |
| Box |
+--------+
| |
/ \
-+ +-
-+ +-
 

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i have the braces ,but when you put the drivers side up there
the parking brake cable is in the way,
have cut i inch. off to fit.
 

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70XR7ConvertCat said:
The car tracks straight (hands off), and doesn't pull to either side when braking. So, I'm satisfied with the alignment. I'm going to ask the alignment guy to increase the positive caster, and see if this make a difference. Apparently, this guy's idler arm theory has been proven out at least once before, but would he accept your proposal? Likely not. If I could find a Ford NOS idler arm, I would be inclined to try it. The problem is, they don't exist to my knowledge.

70XR7ConvertCat
You might be on the right track with the caster because most alignment guys are just too lazy to mess with the strut rods to get it correct if they can get by without it. If its close they will just say the heck with it and let it go. But positive caster dose have a direct link to the steering returning correctly.

I still dont buy the idler arm theory that you need a NOS part. Replacement units have been made and used for years and years with most aftermarket replacments being actually better than the originals with Moog parts being an example. Find out yourself by dropping the drag link from the idler arm and work it by hand. If its free without any slop then its not the problem.

The too much assist in my mind is still the in the control valve and maybe you got one thats not adjusted right alothough I have had plenty of problems with them myself with some just never seeming to be "right". I mean face it, its a crappy setup to begin with and sometimes a little of the crap just ends up being lived with. mm
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the input. I'll see how it works out after another visit to the alignment shop.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
modifiedmark, I hope you're still watching this thread. Remember I thought I fixed the poor assist problem with more power steering fluid? I was wrong! Nothing improved. So, my current train of thought is the body and paint guy damaged something by driving the car without any fluid. This explains the poor assist, and the excess lash in the steering, since the control valve (if not damaged) is not likely pressurizing enough to take up the slack in the ball guide. Any thoughts? Remember, when he finally did add fluid, the hoses were reversed. I'm trying to figure out if this episode damaged the pump vanes, or control valve. Can you comment?
 

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quite possible but with a short drive it may not. have you adjusted the screw on the gear box. it will take out some of that slack as well at least on the stock units not sure though if the flaming rivers have them or not.
 

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70XR7ConvertCat, what your decsribing now is different than you did before as you said it had too much assist after bringing the fluid to the proper leval. I doubt the pump was damaged on a "short" drive, but whats your idea of a short drive? But your right about the control valve needing pressure to relive the slop so it very well could be a damaged pump. I have seen lines reversed and no damage came to anything except maybe the guys hands that was on the steering wheel at the time it was started. mm
 

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Redcat was real sloppy when I got her. I lived with it for a couple of years..... I was real close to ordering a complete front end kit from PST but I was talking to my suspension guy and he said he noticed my idler arm was shot.... Well I was going to the nats the next week so I had him put one on and MAN.... what a difference!!!! It's been great ever since. I took it down to the nats and even let a friend drive her back from LA.... really increased the reliability to the point where I WOULD let someone else drive her......... MY .02


Don
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I find it interesting that a majority of these forums seem to focus on the steering systems on these cars, and what can and can't be done with them. I've read through every forum (some going back two years) which mentioned a steering problem of some sort, and there was alot of good information to be found. Don, except for the center link itself, and the power cylinder ram every other part on this front end is (or was) brand new, with the exception of the idler arm which maybe has 300 miles on it since new.

My alignment guy still claims I need to put on an NOS idler arm so the steering will self-center. The difference between this arm and the aftermarket items (in his mind) is the NOS part has a rubber cup around the bracket side ball joint rather than just a zerk fitting.
 

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The idler arm on redcat was indeed an aftermarket replacement and the difference was the way it bolted up it was just shaped a little different. If the I.A. on you cat has only 300 miles on it then I agree with MM, this is not the cause of your problem. an NOS unit will be the same as the Aftermarket one.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #15
modifiedmark said:
70XR7ConvertCat, what your decsribing now is different than you did before as you said it had too much assist after bringing the fluid to the proper leval. I doubt the pump was damaged on a "short" drive, but whats your idea of a short drive? But your right about the control valve needing pressure to relive the slop so it very well could be a damaged pump. I have seen lines reversed and no damage came to anything except maybe the guys hands that was on the steering wheel at the time it was started. mm
Hey Modified,

So, the assist is poor, and there is excess lash in the steering. I speculate the pump isn't pressuring the system enough to take the slack out of the valve. It seems reasonable to expect the pump would make a whining sound if it had been damaged by running it dry, but this isn't the case. A short drive from the body shop to the alignment shop is 6-8 miles. So, if the pump is ok, could the control valve have been damaged, instead? I'm not so concerned about damage caused by the lack of PS fluid, but you might recall the painter had the hoses reversed :angryfi:. The wheel almost certainly jerked out of someone's hands in a violent way when the car was started. Is it possible this would have damaged the control valve? The control valve is a fresh rebuild. The pump is a rebuild, but has a few hundred miles on it (and worked flawlessly).

Steve C.
 

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A 6-8 mile drive is one that I would not consider short for a dry ps pump, so it could maybe be hurt but most bad ones I have seen all made some noise. I think the dry drive would be harder on the pump than the control valve and I have seen 2 control valves with the hoses reversed and both were fine after the problem was corrected. So there are my thoughts. mm
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thought I would close out this thread with the rest of the story on how this turned out.

After I got the car back from the paint shop after they fixed everything on my 1 1/2 page list of things missed, or neglected, I returned the car to the alignment shop. The mechanic diagnosed the lash to the Flaming River steering box. He attempted to adjust it out, but the sector shaft tightened up, and he realized it wouldn't be possible. So, now I have a warranty issue.

Although I purchased the box through Sacramento Mustang, but wound up dealing with Flaming River directly. This was over the holidays, and to their credit they were quite responsive. I explained I didn't want the shop to push my derelict car out into the elements while the steering box was returned for R&R. They got a new box out to the shop overnight, and once it was installed, goodbye problem. So, I think cougarguy was the only one to zero in on the steering box, which would have been the last place I would check given the circumstances surrounding this, and Flaming River's reputation.

So, my thinking is such: I already paid the paint shop to install this part once (I witnessed this particular part of the front end rebuild), so why should I have to pay to have it installed again? And, how do you know a part like this is defective until you get it installed, anyway?

Today I followed up with Flaming River (Rob) to ask them to cover the $140 labor charge I incurred. According to Rob, the steering box internals were good (I have to take his word for it), but the adjustment had been tampered with and they aren't responsible for that. I asked Rob why would a mechanic play with the adjustment, unless there was a reason to? The answer, of course, is he wouldn't. To this, Rob went into a long list of sins various morons have committed, which no doubt included Flaming River distributors. I won't bore everyone with a recount, but some were humorous. Rob believes Flaming River went above and beyond the call of duty, so they refuse to pay the labor charge. I then tried my trump card, which didn't work. I told Rob I'd hate to have to close out my first MercuryCougar.net thread with this kind of an ending. He didn't seem overly concerned in a self-righteous sort of way.

After spending $400 on this part, didn't I have the right to expect it to work? Sure I did. Rob thinks both Flaming River and I lost on this deal. They have to scrap what they believe to be a good box, and I get stuck with the bill.

I'm not too certain how to summarize this. The original Flaming River part went bad somewhere. Rob claims there is no way it could have shipped that way. I'm confident it wasn't while it was in my possession. Based on my discussions with Flaming River, I get the impression they don't keep a close watch over their distributors. Afterall, if a defective part never leaves their factory, then anyone else down the line is responsible. So, to anyone who may consider purchasing from Flaming River, keep this all in mind and hope you won't have a warranty issue.

Steve C.
 

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Steve thanks for the update. I automatically dismissed the box because you had said it was replaced and that everyone swears by the Flaming river pieces. I guess you can get a bad anything though.

Very few manufactures will reimburse labor, and I can understand it sometimes but sounds like Flaming River is still trying to run some BS by you. Hey no ones perfect and it dont hurt to admit that they had a problem. I would rather have the truth told to me even if its not the answear I want to hear.

I have been looking at new racks for my Mustang II front end conversion and have considered the new Flaming River racks. Guess I'll reconsider now. To tell the truth, besides the engine room you get by removing the shock towers the main advantage to me is getting rid of the whole mickey mouse stock steering set up. I still ask my self what were they thinking when they come up with that setup. mm
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Modified,

Fortunately for you, there are other vendors which have rack and pinion offerings - Heidt's, Rod & Custom Motorsports, etc.. If you don't go with the Mustang II conversion, TCP a rack and pinion, plus coilovers are probably top of the line, but you're going to pay through the nose for TCP anything. The other downside, of course, is you don't get more room in the engine compartment.

Steve C.
 

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I'm for sure doing the MII conversion. I have aquired half the parts already. I have the A frames, rotors, calipers and brackets a complete MII rebuild kit etc already. I'm waiting for my buddy to get back from FLA to see if he still has a set of spindles he said he has.

As a matter of fact I did talk to the folks at R&C today for some of the other parts I need. I'm building my own crossmember but getting some needed parts from them.

I guess I'll go ahead and use a Fox body rack for the car as I have had some good luck with them in some stock cars. Bet most have not seen a midsize Ford front strut frame converted to front steer with a Fox body rack!!

As for the TCP stuff, I have one word for it. Overpriced!! mm
 
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