It's hard to believe-and it won't be long now-but the El Camino is nearly on its feet, literally. Originally, our plans for Project Brutus blueprinted a corner-carving street car. However, as with any project, budgets rule the roost and they can dictate where parts begin and the wallet ends. So for now, we have brought the El Camino back down a bit to a more moderate budget with ties to basic street/strip duty.
The rack-and-pinion we installed previously wasn't going to do it any justice on the strip, especially the extra weight. Also, some issues with the larger aftermarket steering shaft left little room for 2-inch headers. We were back to a modest approach and favored a manually steered vehicle. Moreover, this would give us a chance to get some great baseline numbers on the car once it's up and running. That's not to say we won't be throwing this thing through the cones, but we are after simplicity and won't have to worry about running power steering lines or adding more accessory drives to the engine.
With our new manual steering...
With our new manual steering box from PST painted, we could go ahead and install it to the driver-side frame. The box is held at three mounting points. We threw in our new Totally Stainless bolts with washers right from the hardware kit and locked it down with a 1/2-inch socket.
Unfortunately for us, though, we didn't have any of the original manual rack. We needed a complete rebuild kit, including new tie rods, centerlink, and adjustable tie-rod sleeves. We picked up the whole lot from PST, which also offers up a 16:1 manual steering box. While our old steering shaft got cut, we found a universal shaft, coupler, and joint from Flaming River. As for this install, we won't be covering how to remove the old hardware; we begin at the steering box and end with installing the shaft last. As our step-by-step opens, we've removed the front sway bar for better access and rattle-canned the tie rods and steering box to protect them.
To ensure that our parts were fastened securely, we got a hold of a complete hardware kit from Totally Stainless. It comes with stainless bolts and all of the nuts, washers, cotter pins, and zerk fittings we needed to button up the frontend. All in all, this install took less than half a day. With the steering in, we can finally get the motor back in and get Brutus rolling under its own power.
All-new tie rods, drag centerlink, pitman arm, idler arm, and manual steering box with a Flaming River universal joint, coupler, and shaft
All you need is a couple of hours and some basic handtools
Next was the idler arm. Using...
Next was the idler arm. Using the stainless hardware, we lined up the two holes on the passenger side and held the arm in place to install the bolts. We used the access holes on the outer frame to match up the nut to the threads of the bolt. It was tightened with a 9/16-inch socket and 3/8-inch wrench.
To transfer steering inputs...
To transfer steering inputs from the driver to the linkage, a pitman arm is used. While this is a non-wear item and isn't regularly stocked at your local auto parts store, we found a used one at a local speed shop for $45. We slipped it onto the gears of the box and installed the lock washer and nut.; make sure the wheels are straight prior to installing the arm.
The PST centerlink came powdercoated...
The PST centerlink came powdercoated so all we had to do was install it to the idler arm. With the supplied crown nut, we sent the ball joint through the link and tightened the nut with an 11/16-inch wrench.