De-powering a Steering Rack? - Suspension and Brake Forum

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De-powering a Steering Rack?
Sunday, September 12, 2021 8:41 AM
Hi all

I'm wondering if anyone has de-powered their rack and pinion? I found this in an old thread at v6z24.
This sounds interesting to me, since finding a factory manual rack is really tough. Or I should say I've never ran across one in a junk yard. Not sure if they are still available new or reman.
Anyway, if anyone has de-powered a Cavalier rack, how did it go?
I've got a couple extra FE3 racks. I may do one, but opinions from others is welcome.

Re: De-powering a Steering Rack?
Monday, September 20, 2021 3:46 AM
There has never been a manual rack. I ran a looped rack worked but wasn't the greatest. Mike Roofy I think is still running an actual manual rack that he converted.

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Re: De-powering a Steering Rack?
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 2:21 PM
-MD- Enforcer wrote:There has never been a manual rack. I ran a looped rack worked but wasn't the greatest. Mike Roofy I think is still running an actual manual rack that he converted.

I'm under the impression that GM did make manual racks for the J-Body cars, at least the 1st and 2nd gen ones. They are in the parts catalog. It's just they are next to impossible to find one.
As for modifying a power rack, I really don't know how well it'll work. I've seen the loop method in videos. They said it still has some drag, since you are moving fluid in the rack. I think gutting it (converting?) would pretty much make it identical to a factory manual rack as far as feel and feedback goes? It will have less rotation than a factory manual rack too, I believe. I'm going on little info though. Just what some have said about it on YouTube videos. None were about J-Body cars, but there have been various cars people have did this to. They say it works very well, from what I've gathered.
I'm still trying to get a hold factory manual one. A new one is probably very unlikely anymore. But a reman might turn up. There are companies rebuilding them. One place will rebuild an existing one sent to them. I don't believe they sell them outright though.

Oh well, I'll probably de-power my worst rack. I've got one I bought a few years ago that has rust on the outer tube. It will be a good one to experiment with.
Maybe a real manual will turn up for me,,, someday.
Re: De-powering a Steering Rack?
Tuesday, October 19, 2021 7:04 PM
Yes i converted a 3rd gen rack to manual. 1st and 2nd gen racks will not work on a 3rd gen J

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Re: De-powering a Steering Rack?
Thursday, October 28, 2021 5:57 PM
Just do a loop? I don't see the fluid being that much restriction.
Re: De-powering a Steering Rack?
Sunday, March 27, 2022 3:33 PM
I've got an old rack apart now. It is from an 88. The end disk seal is removable on this rack. Some they must be cut off.
Here is a picture of all the parts. Once I get everything cleaned up and ready to assemble, I'll try to get another picture or maybe a short video explaining what needs to be taken out and what should be replaced.
I do not want to cut any of my old hard lines, so I'll buy the correct cup fittings and fill them in with a dab of weld. I may put grease fittings on some of the line cups.

I figure, IF I don't like it, it will be fairly quick and easy to put in the original rack, lines and pump to put everything back to power again. But I feel pretty sure I'm going to like the feel the de-powered rack will offer.
Rack and Pinion.jpg (338k)

Re: De-powering a Steering Rack?
Tuesday, April 26, 2022 2:06 PM
I could not line ends to cap the ports. I did find drain plugs at True Value that do fit the ports. They also had acorn nuts to cap off the two line fittings on the tube.
It's about ready to put it back together. I've got to get the original rack out with the coupler. I'll go by it to let me know how the coupler should be positioned. This should allow me to get the pinion in the proper place so the steering wheel will be centered, when the rack is centered.
I should have it done this weekend, if all goes well.
Re: De-powering a Steering Rack?
Monday, May 02, 2022 2:15 AM
Hey guys
Got the rack cleaned and painted. Ready to assemble.
However, I'm now trying to get a hold of some NLGI 3 grease for the ball and needle bearings of the pinion. So far no one around here has anything except NLGI 2. The original grease was clearly #3. I'll check with NAPA this afternoon to see if maybe they carry it. There are some garages that might have some and would sell (likely give) me a tiny bit from a tub.
Anyway, that is where I'm at.
Re: De-powering a Steering Rack?
Sunday, May 15, 2022 8:44 AM
I've not found any #3 grease. So, I got some Lucas Red "N" Tacky (like the Red really matters). It is Grade 2, but is suitable for the the purpose. It has very good low temperature qualities and high is far in excess of what the rack temp will ever be. I watched some videos on this grease and it's the best option I could find.
It should stay on the bearings, shaft and pinion parts for a very long time (according to the test videos). The "tacky" is supposed to keep the grease feeding as the parts rotate or slide. I'll be putting it together within a few days.
Re: De-powering a Steering Rack?
Sunday, May 22, 2022 9:08 AM
Here is a video explaining what I did to reduce friction as much as possible. This is not a video on reassembly, it just covers some key points on what is required before greasing it up and putting it back together.
I've no idea when the car will be completed. There is still much to be done to it. I still have to make a bracket for an idler pulley where the pump would have been. That will be after an engine is in the car. I'm waiting until then, so I can get a feel of how heavy the steering is with the weight of the engine/trans. If I'm able to turn the steering without extreme resistance, I'd figure out the idler then. No need to spend time doing that until I'm sure the weight (resistance) of the steering when stationary is acceptable.
Re: De-powering a Steering Rack?
Sunday, May 22, 2022 3:53 PM
It's together now and turns well. Some resistance is there, but not stiff or hard to turn. It feels smooth. Now it is just wait and see once the car is ready.

Re: De-powering a Steering Rack?
Wednesday, May 25, 2022 5:36 PM
This is more of an edit really
I failed to mention one option that can be done. The valving can be removed, as I said early in the video. You can weld the shaft to make it rigid. There is a little flex designed in the shaft. My goal is to feel the steering weight before I have a place weld one up. If the steering is overly heavy to the point I would rather use a power rack, I'll not use this one anyway. I hate to spend the money having it done, if the steering ends up being too heavy to begin with. I'm just curious as to how heavy it feels first.
Here is a very quick video of what I mean.

I learned of this months ago when watching vids on depowering. There are a few more that are longer, explaining the do's and don'ts of welding them. Seems it is very easy to get it too hot and warp the shaft. But it is certainly the way to go, if you are going to run one. So, if the steering weight is acceptable, I'll get this done. People are running them without welding. But I'd rather it be, myself. We'll see when the time comes.
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