Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Left, Right, or...?

When Ben and I were at the track a couple of weeks ago it was apparent that the Chevelle needed work in a few areas. For one, the car has never been the greatest in the steering department. It’s got a ’71 Chevelle power box and pump, but it has always felt lazy and slow with very little road feel to it. It’s not even as good as how I remember my ’73 Nova’s steering.

Ben mentioned several times that at the top end of the track piloting the car was like steering a barge. He added that response from the car after the wheel was turned felt very imprecise. From the bottom of the track eve I could see the car wiggle as he made adjustments. This didn’t sit with me very well, as I feel my brother’s safety is at stake here. I was wondering what to do about it, however, and didn’t know where to begin.

The next week I drove the car on a 100+ mile trip to Bloomington, Indiana and back. Having several hours to myself in the car at highway speeds I was able to notice a pronounced lack of response from the steering. It wasn’t just slow, it was sloppy. I noted that if the car started to go left and you corrected to the right, it was not a smooth transition. Instead, the car would continue on its leftward course and then sort of jerk to the right. It kind of felt like bumping from left to right rather than steering. At highway speed I felt a bit uncomfortable with it. With the idea of my brother traveling over 100mph in it I felt like I was trying to get him killed. I was deeply concerned, to say the least.

I was determined to correct the problem. I got online and did my research. I went to the wonderful web site,, where I am a member, and culled the fabulous tech forums for all kinds of info. I found I had several avenues available to me for steering box rehab or replacement. I would have preferred to do some home engineering work and swapped some newer gearbox parts into the current box, which would be an inexpensive fix, but not very easy or fast to accomplish. One of the items which I have in very short supply right now is spare time. I knew that even though I had a number of the parts for this venture, it would take forever for me to actually do the work. Hell, it had taken nearly two years just to get the brake system done.

In the interest of saving loads of time and getting my brother safely back on the track as soon as possible, I found that I could order a fast ratio steering box from AGR complete and ready to bolt in. Naturally, the installation will not be as quick and easy as I’ve made it in my head, but at least the box will arrive all set to go and I’ll have removed a whole world of possible problems and frustrations from one area of the swap.

I called Summit today and placed my order and was very pleasantly surprised to find that they would be able to have it at my doorstep before the weekend. Woohoo!

Now you’ll all have to wait breathlessly for my next blog detailing my swear-filled new box installation. Should be a real hoot. When it’s done, though, I’ll bet the ‘Velle feels like a completely new car. I’m really looking forward to it.


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