Steering Upgrade for cars earlier than '65

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Steering Upgrade for cars earlier than '65

Post #1 by CoupeBoy » Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:28 pm

Not my information.

The original source of this document was found here: UPGRADE YOUR STEERING by Dick Harrington -- CometEastCarClub
If you are the proud owner of a 1960-64 Falcon or Comet (with manual steering), you
may have some issues with the steering in your cherished ride. It might be as simple as
getting a good alignment of it may require some replacement of worn parts (see my
previous article on “Front End Alignment” at, The National Falcon News, January 2008;
Legendary Ford, November/December 2007 or visit the Comet East web site on the
internet: ... gnment.pdf).
There are many other issues that can cause the steering to have a mind of its own, they
• A raised or lower suspension
• Wider tires than original
• Radial tires
• Taller coil springs or
• Shortened coil sprints
Other reasons to upgrade your steering are the desire to upgrade your six cylinder (4
lug) suspension to the heavier duty V8 (5 lug) suspension or an upgrade to disc brakes
(Granada conversion).
When the Falcon/Comet platform was designed in the late 1950’s, steering systems
were not very sophisticated and tire size options were few. Tires were bias plied, tall
and narrow. Narrow tires tend to track straighter than wide tires and bias plied tires are
not as sensitive to road irregularities.
When attending car events that focus on Falcons and Comets, few if any of the cars
have the typical bias ply 600 x 13 inch tires that would have been original equipment.
So, odds are good that you maybe less than comfortable behind the wheel while crusin
your baby!
If you are fortunate to have an original 1965 Falcon/Comet V8, you are the benefactor
of a greatly improved steering geometry. History recalls that Ford was committed to
“Competition Proven”. The Falcons went to Rally at Monte Carlo and the Comets went
on Safari (Africa and from the tip of Argentina to Alaska). The weaknesses in the
steering systems were apparent and with the Mustang coming, attention was given to
curing the so-so steering systems. When the 1964 ½ Mustang was introduced, the
steering geometry was improved and the 1965 Falcon/Comet platform benefited as well.

1963-64 steering components
1965 steering components
Comparing the steering components it is easy to see the additional length in the
inner tie rod ends.
1965 Steering Geometry
The improvement in the1965 manual steering geometry was moving the mounting point
for the inner tie rod ends inboard. The tie rod ends mount approximately 3 inches
further inboard than on previous years. The effect of this is to increase the distance
between the inner and outer tie rod ends. This longer distance is similar to the length of
the lower control arm. When the lengths of the suspension components are similar,
they will swing similar arcs, makes sense, right! The result, when the vehicle moves
over an undulation in the road surface (tires moving up and down in relationship to the
chassis); there is less “bump steer”. (Bump steer can be described as the vehicles
desire to change direction due to the effect of an uneven road surface.)

In the photo on the left are the 63-64 V8 inner and outer tie rod assemblies, the
photo on the right shows the 1965 inner and outer tie rod assemblies. Notice the
additional length of the 1965 assembly. The red arrows point to the inner pivot
point of the lower control arm. It can clearly be seen that the 1965 tie rod
assembly more closely matches the lower control arm length.

1965 Centerlink – inner holes are
where the tie rods mount.
1963-64 Centerlink – tie rods
mount at outside edges.
Notice on the 1965 centerlink that the inner tie rod ends mounting holes are
approximately 3 inches further inboard.

Required Parts
So what is required to change over to the improved 1965 manual steering geometry? If
you are converting from a 1963-64 V8 car you will need the following parts:
• 1965 V8 Mustang/Falcon/Comet inner tie rod ends (2) for manual steering.
(about $25.00 each)
• 1965 V8 Falcon/Comet centerlink. Note: the Mustang centerlink is too long; this
part is specific to Falcons & Comets. (about $150)
• 1965 V8 Mustang/Falcon/Comet pitman arm. (about $75.00)
• 1965 V8 Mustang/Falcon/Comet idler arm mounting bracket. (about $40.00)
• 1965 V8 Mustang/Falcon/Comet idler arm. (about $45.00)
If your existing V8 outer tie rod ends and adjustment sleeves are in good shape you
can reuse them.
If you have a 6 cylinder car, you will additionally need
• 1963-64 V8 manual steering outer tie rod ends (2) (about $25.00 each)
• 1963-65 V8 tie rod adjustment sleeves (2) (about $10.00 each)
• Spindles (not available new)
It is possible to find some of the components in good usable condition. Used items
used for this conversion were the steering box, idler arm and bracket (new bushing was
installed) and the centerlink.
Note 1: on 1963½ and 1964 Falcon/Comet V8 vehicles, you will also need a 6 cylinder
steering box, the reason for this is the sector shaft diameter, 1 inch sector shafts were
used on 6 cylinder cars and 1 1/8 inch sector shafts on V8 cars. In 1965 all
Mustang/Falcons/Comets used a 1 inch sector shaft steering box. Good news for
those that are converting a 6 cylinder suspension to V8 suspension.
Note 2: The steering shaft length is one inch shorter for 1964-65 Falcon/Comets than
used during1960-63½ production. My preference is for the shorter steering shaft
length. If you use the shorter length, you will need to shorten your steering column
tube and shift tube or get the complete column assembly with the steering box. The
Mustang steering shaft is longer yet, so do not obtain a box that came from a Mustang.
Removal of the Old
Note 3: Before disassembly begins; measure the horizontal distance between the front
tires. I use caulk and mark a groove in the tread on each front tire, measure the
distance and write it on the side wall (We do not want to forget that number now do
If you are converting a 1963-64 Falcon/Comet V8, the steering box, idler arm and
bracket, centerlink, inner tie rod ends will need to be removed. All the steering
components are fastened together with castle nuts and cotter pins; make sure the
cotter pins are removed before attempting to put a socket on the castle nuts. Drop the
centerlink first; to do this you may need what is called a pickle fork to separate the
tapers of the tie rod ends. You can also try a rap with a hammer on the centerlink near
the tie rod end to pop them loose. Once the centerlink is removed, unscrew the inner
tie rod ends from the adjusters. Remove the idler arm and assembly as a unit by
removing the bolts that pass through the passenger side frame rail.
Inside the car, the steering wheel will need to be taken off. If you are swapping to the
shorter steering column, the direction signal wiring will need to be removed as well.
The most difficult part of this conversion is swapping out the steering box (on V8 engine
cars). Under the car, I had to remove the clutch linkage, driver’s side exhaust header
and down pipe as well as the driver’s side motor mount. My car is a floor shifted car, if
the shifter is on the steering column, the shift linkage might need to be removed. The
car was on a 4-post lift, but tall jack stands or ramps would probably work as well. Be
sure to have the vehicle is well supported and the tires blocked. The steering box is
held to the frame rail with 3 bolts. Safety Note: concrete blocks are not designed to
support vehicle weights; under no circumstances should they be used.
For six cylinder cars requiring a spindle change, the soft brake lines need to be
removed and the upper and lower ball joints separated from the spindle.
Idler arm assemblies and mounting
Viva la difference!
In With the New
Note 4: during assembly, place all fasteners finger tight and do the final torque settings
after assembly is complete. It is also recommended that never seize be used for each
nut and taper to facilitate ease of disassembly in the future.

Insert the steering box; it helps if you have another person inside the car to guide the
steering shaft between the pedals and wiring harness. Bolt the steering box to the
frame rail (torque = 45-55 ft/lbs). The interior can be put back together, including
steering column tube, directional wiring. Do not replace the steering wheel as yet. Reassemble
all components that were removed so the steering boxes could be
exchanged. The idler arm mounting bracket can be attached to the passenger side
frame rail (torque = 28-35 ft/lbs). Attach the idler arm to the mounting bracket (torque =
40-55 ft/lbs). The pitman arm is next, but first the steering box needs to be centered.
Most manual steer boxes have 4 5/8 turns lock to lock. Rotate the steering shaft until it
stops. Then rotate the steering shaft in the opposite direction until it stops again. As
you are rotating it, carefully count the revolutions. Then rotate the steering shaft ½ of
the revolutions back, this should be the center. The pitman arm can now be placed on
Idler Arm
Inner Tie Rod End
Steering Box
Adjusting Sleeve
Pitman Arm

The completed conversion! This is a complete bolt on process, every
component bolts on to original mounting points. The idler arm bracket does use
the 6 cylinder lower mounting hole rather than the two lower V8 mounting
holes. Ford was kind enough to provide the holes in the right frame rail for both
6 and 8 cylinder suspension systems.

the steering box sector shaft. The pitman arm should be pointing towards the front of
the vehicle. Place a lock washer and a nut on the sector shaft (torque = 85-110 ft/lbs).
The centerlink is fastened to the idler arm and the pitman arm (torque = 35-47 ft/lbs).
Screw the inner tie rod ends into the adjusting sleeves on both sides of the vehicle. It is
a good idea to do a visual thread count on the inner and outer tie rod ends so an equal
amount of thread is protruding from the adjustment sleeve on each side. The inner tie
rods can now be attached to the centerlink (torque = 35-47 ft/lbs).
Check the horizontal measurement between the tires. To get your alignment toe-in/toeout
close to the measurement taken in Note 3, you need to turn the adjusters on each
side of the vehicle. To keep things as close as possible, measure the centerline
distance between the tie rod ends (on each side of the vehicle) and try to get the same
measurement on each side. When the tie rod end centerline distance are about the
same and the horizontal measurement is close to what you started with, you can
tighten everything up and insert the cotter pins where required. Double check
everything; you do not want something falling apart while in motion.
With the front wheels facing straight ahead, replace the steering wheel (torque = 25-35
ft/lbs). At this point it is probably a good idea to get an alignment done. If you have
had an alignment recently, the only adjustment needed would be for toe-in/toe-out as
camber and caster are not affected by the steering linkage.
1968 Mustang Daily Driver Rebuild (on hold for the Season 3/1/2015)
1963.5 Falcon Convertible Build (just getting started 3/15/2015)
Case 1830 Skidsteer FordSix Repower Thread (started 4/4/2015)
1970 170/C4
1967 200/C4
1965 240/bellhousing/flywheel/clutch/3.03 bell pattern
1975 250/flexplate
1975 300/flywheel

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Re: Steering Upgrade for cars earlier than '65

Post #2 by bubba22349 » Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:51 pm

:beer: X2 Yes absolutely the 1965 up Falcon steering parts are a big improvement along with a LOA or aka the Shelby Drop and the right front sway bar like say a V8 GT bar or more depending on use. A set of Koni shocks, set of the upper roller spring perches and a good set of Radial tires to round it all out. Optional but good for a safety improvement is the later steering boxes like Mavericks or Grenada (the collapsable column with rag joint) plus a front disk brake upgrade. Good luck
A bad day Drag Racing is still better than a good day at work!

I am still hunting for a project car to build but with my current low budget it's not looking so good. My Ex- Fleet of Sixes these are all long gone! :bang: 1954 Customline 223 3 speed with O/D, 1963 Fairlane project drag car with BB6, 1977 Maverick 250 with C4, 1994 F-150 a 300 with 5 speed.

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Re: Steering Upgrade for cars earlier than '65

Post #3 by CoupeBoy » Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:24 pm

I've got tons of research and gathering to do

Way out in the back at Dad's there is a '66 Mustang that isn't good for much more than giving me parts for other projects.
It was a V8 manual car with drum brakes, some guy at the scrap yard that dad bought it from crushed the top with a front end/pay loader.
I'm taking the rearend out for the C-code '65 parked out by my back barn.
Likely the leaf springs for the Falcon
The Steering/Front suspension will be pilfered for upgrades for the Falcon
I'm hoping the doors are solid enough to provide their shells, even if I have to reskin them, I don't care about the windows or regulators.
I've got a '68 parts car also that is going to donate its steering box and column, I'm still on the fence about adding electric power steering and/or quicksteer.
Only recently I thought I read that early falcon strut rods are adjustable like the '67+ units.
which would also mean that if I wanted to rid myself of the upper control arm shims, all I would need to add is a '67+ lower control arm adjustable brackets.

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