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Offline entropy

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Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« on: November 05, 2019, 09:23:33 PM »
As my car starts to get ever more serious in the power department, it's time for me to start dealing with other aspects of the car that scare the bajeezus out of me....and the flexible steering shaft is stop number one.  Is there anyone out there who has gotten rid of that nightmare cable, replaced it with shafts and u joints *and* who can tell me in detail what I'll need in order to make that happen safely?
1972 "Hoonabout"
SBF swap
8" rear 4.11 posi
T-5 trans
10 point rollcage
Single stage NOS Cheater system

275 rwhp 350 lb/ft on motor.....some thing a bit more than that on the spray.

Offline 71pintoracer

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2019, 01:19:05 PM »
As you stated in my post, that cable shaft might have been the cause the demise of the Pintoracer. So will a later model u-joint shaft work in the early chassis with the V-8? If so l have an extra column in a parts car. Other wise you will have to make a shaft. Years ago (many years lol) when l drove dirt track pinto's we used the weld in joints from Summit with a heim joint to stabilize the shaft. That way we got rid of the rag joint.
If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

Offline 72DutchWagon

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2019, 02:06:32 PM »
I would like to get rid of the flex shaft too, after 47 years it must be past its prime.
When driving over 80 on the freeway it always feels like the steering gets vague, certainly with load in the back.
Reeves already gave suggestions on April 26, 2014 in the post “Flex steering boots –solid with U-joints, you can find it here: https://www.fordpinto.com/general-pinto-talk/flex-steering-boots-solid-with-u-joints/msg147812/#msg147812 .
 I never found a post of someone who actually did it, and I’m very curious to know if it is possible to do with only two u-joints, because the space in which to make the bend to the rack is rather short in the early cars. Or would a third joint and consequently a heim joint be necessary to get it done?
I keep postponing this upgrade because I’m not 100% sure if I only have to order a Flaming River FR2631, FR1916 (or Borgeson equivalent) and a length of  ¾” hardened steel rod to change this.

Offline Wittsend

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2019, 05:31:49 PM »
Not sure if the one year only '73 rack and column are significantly different ... . But..., I used the '73 rack, a section of a Fox body Mustang joint and the steering column from my '88 Turbo Coupe.  I remember having to grind (on the joint) the unique shape of the column to match.  I don't have time now but maybe in the next few days I'll post pictures. Not sure what you are looking for but maybe it is an option?

Offline Wittsend

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2019, 09:56:06 AM »
Here are the pictures. As always, DO AT YOUR OWN RISK. '88 Turbo Coupe steering column to '73 Pinto rack.


It has been a while..., but my recollection was that I used the Fox body joint (a portion of) to couple to the Pinto joint. I just went and looked but I still can't recall specifically. I hate getting old!  I did notice that I needed to indent the inner fender a bit. So, maybe the Turbo Coupe steering column was a bit longer???  Again, as best I recall I used the Pinto steering link and ground/modified the tip of the Fox body link to be an intermediary where as the Pinto link just bolted to the column.


Basically I had to modify the piece (cut off Fox body link) in picture three, to match the shape of the Pinto column (picture one) so it would fit the Pinto link and the other end fit the Turbo Coupe column (picture2)

Offline Wittsend

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2019, 10:21:21 AM »
OK, going back and looking at the pictures I see I had to modify the column support. The machined piece on the column is fixed and not movable. However, the upper support piece can be fit anywhere. Thus, that determines where the Turbo Coupe column will reside. That also determines the column to rack link length.


 Some of this is coming back to me. I cut just the tip of the Fox body link (that was all I used of it) and ground it to match the Pinto link. However, it came short of matching the portion that went into the Turbo Coupe column. So, I had to elongate the hole. The rack is fixed in place. The machined piece on the column fixed it in place and thus the modification was necessary on the tip cut off the Fox body link to make up the distance.


I'm not sure if all Fox body (Mustang in particular) columns are the same but a lot of people use the TC for a turbo swap and might consider this option.  You get a tilt steering wheel in the deal. I had to rewire the horn/turn signals too. But I cut the connector off a junkyard column and didn't have to cut the original from my Pinto. I just plugged the connector in.

Offline 72DutchWagon

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2019, 01:40:42 PM »
Thanks for all the detailed info Wittsend.
Not many TC's around here, but I do have an extra Mustang II column, maybe do a little mix and match when the time comes for this job, probably it will go more in the direction of Reeves suggestions.

Offline Wittsend

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2019, 01:58:24 PM »
Trust me we don't have many Turbo Coupes around here either and I'm in sunny Southern California.  When I did my turbo swap in 2007 I was fortunate enough to already have an '88 TC. It was my daily driver for 10 years. When I went to the self serve yards there were always 3-5 of them. But within about 6 months (2008) there were 1 or 2. By 2010 it was maybe 1 every other month. I don't know that I've seen even one in the past 5 years now.

My hope is that a lot of the Fox body cars (mainly Mustangs) used a similar column and it would be helpful as an option. But, I understand where you are anything American must be rare.

Offline Reeves1

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2019, 08:06:02 PM »
Going to be about 10 days before I can post part numbers.......

Do not forget the shaft has to be able to slide into the upper in case of impact.

I've only had 72s. If you un-bolt the rag joint, the shaft will slide into the upper.

Measure so you get the same travel.....

Offline LongTimeFordMan

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2019, 08:54:08 PM »
Do 73s have the same problem
Red 1973 pinto wagon DD, SoCal desert car, Factory 4 speed, 3.40 gears, Stock engine, 14" rims and tires, 60 K original miles

Offline entropy

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2019, 11:29:05 PM »
Going to be about 10 days before I can post part numbers.......

Do not forget the shaft has to be able to slide into the upper in case of impact.

I've only had 72s. If you un-bolt the rag joint, the shaft will slide into the upper.

Measure so you get the same travel.....


I can wait.  Mine is also a '72 and I'm not going to touch it until I find an example of it done and done right that I can rip off with both hands....and part numbers will *definitely* help.
1972 "Hoonabout"
SBF swap
8" rear 4.11 posi
T-5 trans
10 point rollcage
Single stage NOS Cheater system

275 rwhp 350 lb/ft on motor.....some thing a bit more than that on the spray.

Offline 72DutchWagon

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2019, 02:06:31 PM »
 I decided to pull apart my spare mustang II steering column. Will I be able to mate the bottom part of the Mustang II steering shaft to the top part of my 72 Pinto Wagon shaft? I figure that that would be a good starting point for the conversion.

Offline Wittsend

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2019, 02:49:18 PM »
Maybe my pictures above will be helpful but at this point you should just be able to to disconnect the current shaft from the link and see if Your mustang II shaft will fit into the coupler. If not there is the "At your own risk" of grinding it to fit like I did.  Hope it works out for you.

Offline Reeves1

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2019, 10:59:25 AM »
Sorry for the delay. Been super busy !

Info is for 71 / 72 cars (I've only worked on 72s)

In this first picture you see the slip shaft on the left. You can also see where I cut the flex shaft , where it rounds like the rest of the slip shaft. Left = bottom. Don't know why it turned.




Upper U joint location. You will need a length of 3/4 " bar stock to replce the flex shaft.
Flaming River part number FR1916. 3/4 x 3/4 NB U Joint.





Lower U Joint.
Flaming River part number : FR2631. Forged U Joint 3/4 x 9/16 - 26


Offline 72DutchWagon

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2019, 01:53:39 PM »
Thanks Reeves, you confirmed the numbers for the u-joints that you already posted several years ago, so no doubts there.
What do you think about my plan to not cut up and weld 3/4 " bar stock into the original flex shaft, but use the bottom half of a Mustang II shaft (which probably is the same as a 74 up Pinto shaft)?
Will it be a direct fit to (slide over) the top half of the 72 Pinto shaft?

Offline Reeves1

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2019, 07:36:48 AM »
I have no idea about newer cars / parts.

All I can say about what I'm going to do will be test fitted this winter in my blue car.

Over Xmas I hope to have the engine mounts / trans mounts & other engine compartment stuff done by spring.

My plan is to drill a hole in each side of the slip shaft about 3" to 4" from the end. I'll weld around the end & the holes, after sliding in the round stock.
The round stock will only stick out about 1.5" - enough to weld on the U Joint.

I'm sort of caught up on home chores ..... so may install the steering column & see what I can.
I'm fairly sure the length cut out (flex shaft) will be plenty to allow for the U joint system.

Offline Reeves1

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2019, 12:01:08 PM »
You folks got me thinking...... so I put the dash, back supports for all I needed to mount the steering column. Also the used rack.

If you look at my above post / pictures, the top U Joint should not go in that location.
You will need a section of 3/4" shaft welded into the slip joint - approx  5" to 7" long. You need to get the top U Joint outside (towards engine) the rubber boot that plugs the steering column hole in the fire wall.






I did not take any accurate measurements. That is a welding rod inside the slip joint & top U Joint ! LOL
Just wanted an idea of what I....and you , may be facing.

If you are going to do this, make sure you think it through very well.

Another thing to consider is your welding skills.
If not 100% sure, get a Pro to weld it up after tacking it in place.

Steering is a "fairly" important part of any vehicle  ;D


FYI - if you right click the pictures & "save as" you will have them in the future & be able to see them bigger on your computer...

Offline Wittsend

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2019, 02:22:24 PM »
I would definitely install the column before cutting/welding any pieces in. Angles do strange things and a little can often add up to a lot if things need to be moved slightly. As noted in Reply #4 (fourth picture) I had to indent the inner fender because the T/C steering column extended a bit further than the Pinto column.

Also column related. I have  '64 Studebaker Daytona that came with a bench seat. That seat basically allowed you to put your butt where you preferred it.  I swapped in a set of bucket seats from a Nissan Maxima.  I measured accurately, made sure they were parallel and square to the car. . . , then I sat in them and was confounded. I felt like I was sitting side saddle. Eventually I took a string and pulled it perpendicular to the column. The column was pointing at the drivers side rear tail light!  I had to angle the seats inward before my shoulders and line of sight felt square with the steering wheel.

You are dealing with columns not seats but they still need a proper relationship.  I don't think it will be an issue..., but you should give it at least a trial consideration. A 1/4" different at the mounting point could be 2"-3" at your shoulders.

Offline 72DutchWagon

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Re: Time to deal with the 1972 flex shaft...
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2019, 03:18:08 PM »
Images saved and info noted! Not in a hurry, probably spring project!
Mustang II lower steering shaft has it's own problems, sent email to Borgeson to ask what connects to this.