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'68 Mustang steering questions

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  • '68 Mustang steering questions

    The steering wheel on my '68 Mustang is about 90 deg off with the wheels straight ahead. Is it keyed, or can I just pull it off and put it back on straight?

    Also, the pitman arm is hitting one of the header tubes before it hits full lock. Is the pitman arm keyed? Both tie rods measured out the same on both sides. Just wondering where to start adjusting to straighten things out.

    I've also got over an inch of toe-in with the car up in the air. I'd like to get it close enough to drive to an alignment shop without scrubbing off the tread. Any suggestions?

  • #2
    Sounds like maybe the pitman arm is off but most of the junk I've worked on had a missing tooth / spline to reference it iirc, as did the steering wheel.

    I'd use the tie rod on the drivers side to get your inch of adjusment , that much toe will wipe your tires in five miles or less. The alignment shop should be able to straighten everything out when it's there.

    I saw this, maybe it will help:

    Last edited by Beagle; December 15, 2012, 09:43 AM.
    Flying south, with a flock of bird dogs.


    • #3
      I don't remember if Fords are keyed at the steering wheel spline....GMs are not, but the shaft is marked with a line indicating "straight up", and you should put the wheel on so the it's aligned with the mark. The mark is related the center of travel, and steering gearboxes usually have a "tight spot" at the center, and a bit of slack at the rest of the travel.

      So, I'd start by getting the steering box centered (same number of turns travel each direction, with the pitman arm removed), then put the steering wheel on so it's centered. Then install the pitman arm and adjust the tie rod on each side so each front wheel is pointed where it is supposed to be--straight ahead, minus it's half of the specified toe in.
      Last edited by squirrel; December 15, 2012, 10:31 AM.
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      "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk


      • #4
        The wheel only goes on one way, unless a 67 Cougar has a different column than a 68 Mustang. When the alignment is done, the steering wheel is supposed to be held in the correct orientation. Shops should have a tool that wedges between the wheel and the seat. That way when they set the toe the wheel is clocked correctly. You can wedge the wheel in the right orientation, then adjust the tie rod ends until its close, just make sure the pitman arm is centered before you start.

        Headers can be a tight fit with the power steering on those cars, some headers wont clear the rack at all. The solution is a later steering box that doesnt have the assist cylinder, like a box from a Granada. Then you need the piece that takes the slop out of the center link and pitman. The other alternative is to replace everything with manual pieces, or get different headers. The rear steer makes things so much more interesting on early Fords.


        • #5
          Most of the power steering stuff was gone, so I replaced the center link, pitman arm and idler arm with manual pieces.

          I'll try removing the pitman arm, centering everything, and putting it back together.

          Thanks everybody!


          • #6
            Realized that I had the power steering components in the basement, so I checked the pitman arm, and it does have a missing spline to key it. So, I guess I'll have to leave it the way it is and crank on the adjusting sleeve instead. Maybe if I get the toe-in where it's supposed to be the steering wheel will be straight?


            • #7
              Well, I can't budge the adjuster, so I brushed the threads clean, and soaked it down with P.B. Blaster. I'll try again later.


              • #8
                hmm I don't recall the keys on my 67 or 68 but both are manual steering originally. It sounds like you replaced the 3 main pieces of the power steering needed though so it should line up correctly. I just readjusted the pitman arm a couple splines when I swapped in a different box and didn't have it centered correctly. Same deal with not remembering a fixed location with the steering wheel, although on both I quickly removed the stock steering wheel and used a Grant or LeCarre adapter to use a smaller aftermarket wheel. I simply pulled it back off and turned it a few splines to center it correctly.

                Drag Week Survivor 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 - 2nd Place - Pro Street N/A, 2017


                • #9
                  Another reason why it's important to have the steering wheel clocked correctly to the shaft is that it has an effect on toe changes while turning. The pitman arm follows an arc. When the wheel is centered as well as the pitman arm as you start to turn the wheel a few degrees either way, the the drag link moves slowly in relation ship to the amount of degrees the pitman arms turns. When the wheel is not centered as well as the pitman arm, the more the pitman arms goes toward 90* of the drag link, the more the drag link moves in relationship to the degree of rotation in one direction and less the other direction which effects toe changes left vs right.
                  Overdrive is overrated


                  • #10
                    The pitman arm has a key spline as you already know - you can't goof that up. The steering wheel shaft has an "up/center" line scribed on it that indicates proper steering wheel position, but the shaft splines are not keyed IIRC. You need the shaft oriented correctly so that it works properly - the steering box gear has a high point in it to establish on-center feel.

                    The right way to do this on an alignment rack is to center up the tires with the toe set, and rotate the toe adjusters as needed to get the steering wheel centered up. Back in the proverbial day some tech saavy guys would push the adjustment over just a touch to center the wheel compensating for road crown.