Aside from its overall ugly duckling demeanor, so far our '72 Nova has seen its fair share of upgrades over the past year and we're on a mission to transform our Nova into a genuine performer. With most of the base suspension work completed, namely 2-inch drop spindles, a power disc setup up front, a multi-leaf rear lowering kit, and new Bilstein shocks and larger sway bars, we were still on the hunt to improve its turning prowess on a budget. Rather than step the suspension up another level with tubular arms and adjustable coilovers, we opted to take a more modest approach by focusing on the basics instead.
Even with all the latest goodies, we were still utilizing its original 37-year-old power steering box and pump to get the job done. Turning the steering wheel during spirited canyon runs or even around town required a lot of effort and getting the tires lock-to-lock took several hand-over-hand spins of the wheel. While cruising the freeway there was little to no feedback from the road and required a lot of input just to keep the car straight. What we needed was more response from the car without digging into the suspension.
Our rescuer came in the form of a Classic Performance Products (CPP) 14:1 quick-ratio steering box. Our CPP equipment came with all the necessary hardware and even a new rag joint for the steering box. We also opted for CPP's new factory replacement pump, which included rubber lines with adjustable ends that swivel, plus a new pulley. While the original pump seemed to be in working order, it strained and whined under the smallest amount of input from the steering wheel.
Helping us with this month's install is CPP's very own Craig Chaffers. Chaffers' years of experience and knowledge made this install a breeze. Not only will our new steering system run smoother and quieter, but the added feedback we can give will allow us to make more efficient use of the suspension underneath the chassis.
Pump: Old vs. New
Since a portion of this install...
Since a portion of this install involves removing the power steering pump, the first order of business was to loosen and remove the factory lines from the steering box. Through the engine bay, Chaffers used a 5/8-inch flare nut wrench. Use caution as some power steering fluid may leak out.
CPP recommends replacing older pumps to protect the new steering box from being immediately contaminated. Years of wear will cause small bits of metal and plastic to collect in the reservoir and circulate every time the engine runs. CPP's pumps are 100% new and compatible with hydra boost systems, and feature a bolt-on key-way pulley, making pulley changes easy. The original bottle neck type reservoir can be adjusted closer to the block, offering additional space for other accessories and their belts. Also included are detailed instructions for an easy installation. Should you need a new pulley, those are available as well. There's no guesswork and you get a factory fit. We reused the original bracket by swapping it onto the new pump. Craig used a 9/16-inch wrench to fasten down the four bolts. New universal mounting brackets are also available.
Steering Box: old vs. new
With the old steering box out, it was obvious this new 14:1 box from CPP was going to get the job done by operating smoother and creating a tighter feel with improved road feedback. Although it has provisions for four bolts, only three are used here; CPP designed this box for many applications (the 4th hole used on Jeeps). The 500 series box for the Nova, Camaro, Chevelle, or fullsize car is truly the best of its kind. It's a simple bolt in upgrade for the factory power steering box and an easy way to convert from manual steering to power steering. Additionally, these will fit the factory power steering pitman arm and 3/4-30 rag joint.
What We Did
Installed CPP's quick-ratio 14:1 steering box and a new power steering pump with lines onto our '72 Nova
Quick-and-nimble steering will lead to better driver feedback and a better performing car.
|THE GRAB BAG
||14:1 QUICK-RATIO BOX
||POWER STEERING PUMP
Access to the rag joint is...
Access to the rag joint is limited, so this was a good time to loosen and remove the bolt that fastens the rag joint to the steering shaft. We used a 7/16-inch socket and ratchet to remove the bolt.
At this time we took the opportunity...
At this time we took the opportunity to drain the power steering pump completely. Once empty, it was only a matter of removing the bolts that hold the pump to the front of the engine. We removed the pump as one assembly with the attached bracket and lines with a 1/2-inch socket and ratchet.
The easiest way to remove...
The easiest way to remove the pump is from the bottom side of the car. Working our way to the pump required us to place the car on a lift. Once up, we began to disassemble the centerlink from the pitman arm and driver side tie rod. This gave us a considerable amount of room to access the steering box.
We then made sure the tires...
We then made sure the tires were pointed straight before removing the box. From there, we loosened and removed the bolts that anchor the box to the side of the front subframe. We used a 9/16-inch wrench with an air ratchet to take off the bolts. With the rag joint bolt already removed, we were able to drop the box out of the car. Depending on your application, you may need to loosen or remove the driver side header gain enough access to remove the box.
As you can see here, the old...
As you can see here, the old rag joint was on its last leg. Years of punishment from the road and blistering heat from the engine have taken its toll. It didn't matter, because every new quick-ratio box includes a new rag joint. It's completely new and comes with all new hardware.
With limited space in the...
With limited space in the engine bay, we went ahead and installed the rag joint to the new box. We then bolted it down with a 7/16-inch wrench and the only thing left to do was install the box to the frame. We used the original hardware from the old box and locked down the three bolts with a 9/16-inch socket.
Should you need a new pitman...
Should you need a new pitman arm, CPP does offer them. Since ours was in such good condition, we decided to save a few bucks and reuse it.
Once the pitman arm was connected,...
Once the pitman arm was connected, we reattached the centerlink with the new lock washer and nut (supplied).
Once the Nova was back down...
Once the Nova was back down on the ground, we started to install our new pump by attaching the new power steering pump hoses onto the back of the pump. The pressure hose is a 7/16-inch tube with an 11/16-18 SAE flare fitting. The return hose is a 3/8-inch tube with a 5/8-18 SAE flare fitting. If your application features O-ring hoses, then you will need to either change over to SAE flare fittings or use hose-fitting adapters that are also available from CPP under PN 500IOA.
After the hoses were attached,...
After the hoses were attached, we lined the bracket up to the front of the engine and reinstalled the steering pump. Before locking it down into place, we adjusted the belt for proper tension and tightened the remaining bolts with a 1/2-inch wrench.
To install the new CPP hoses...
To install the new CPP hoses to the steering box, we first threaded them on by hand and tightened them down with a 5/8-inch wrench. We filled the power steering reservoir with new steering fluid all the while making sure our lines were leak free. Lastly, with the engine running, we slowly turned the steering wheel back and forth and continued to fill the reservoir as necessary. Time for a drive!
"The new steering box is great. Before, the steering was loose and sloppy and made squealing noises at full lock that would wake the dead. Now the steering has a tight, crisp feel to it. The steering is much more responsive and the car does not feel like it's floating down the road anymore. I don't know why I didn't do this sooner" -Scott Haggai, '72 Nova owner