The Unisteer cross steer kit (PN 8000460-01) comes with a rack and a steering link, but yo
By nearly any account, when someone says "Model A" you wouldn't normally come up with the word "innovative" as a synonym. After all, the Model A is 84 years old (it debuted on Dec. 2, 1927), and nearly everything that can happen with a Model A has, well, probably already happened. Long a favorite of the hot rod crowd (where would dry lakes racing be without the A roadster?), the Model A has enjoyed something of a reawakening in the past few years, gaining even more fans.
When speaking about steering components for the hopped up Model A, rodders have relied heavily on the venerable Vega box and cross steering to improve upon the stock factory design. Cross steering usually eliminates any chance of having bumpsteer (when the traveling arcs of the axle and draglink are radically different from each other) but, up until recently, a Vega (or Vega-like) steering box was about the only answer for hot rodders.
Enter Mavel Manufacturing and its subsidiary: Unisteer Performance Products. A company that has built its reputation on remanufacturing power rack-and-pinion steering systems and related products for the automotive world, Mavel created Unisteer to address the aftermarket world and expressly the cars of the '60s, '70s, and '80s, and, more recently, street rods of the first half of the last century. Their contribution is based on a question: Instead of building a new type of Vega-style steering box, why not adapt a rack-and-pinion system for straight-axle chassis designs?
Here's the project: a Brookville Roadsters' '29 roadster pickup mounted to a CCR chassis,
Among the many vehicles they developed a rack system for is the Model A and, best of all, it is a bolt-in replacement with no chassis modifications needed for anyone who was previously running a Vega-based cross steer system. Unisteer also offers the rest of the components to complete an entire installation, supplying parts from some of the best known steering component companies in the street rod world.
Unisteer's new kit (PN 8000460-01) replaces the Vega box and its ancillary parts, and it bolts directly to the old box mounting plate, so you don't have to drill any new holes or do any welding. Of course one of the biggest advantages of this kit is it retails for about $385, compared to $500 for a Vega-type box. You can call the system a half-rack as it pushes out one side of the unit (rather than a "full rack" that pushes out of both sides of a centered unit), and it mounts to the driver side 'rail and connects to the passenger side steering arm.
The unusual powerplant is a 200-inch straight-six that came out of Liz Miles' '66 Mustang
For our application, we installed the Unisteer unit on a new-build Model A chassis that was assembled at California Custom Roadsters (CCR) in Chino, California. The CCR chassis had come with a mount for a Vega-style box, but we asked CCR's Jerry Keifer to show us how he goes about installing the Unisteer kits (he's done a few and is a big fan of the unit).
But since this was a new build, no provisions for any of the steering had been made: no floor to mount a column to, no brace to attach a column drop-nothing. What's more, we wanted a goofy motor for this Brookville-bodied '29 roadster pickup project: a '66 Mustang's 200-inch straight-six backed to a C4 automatic tranny. Several things needed to happen to install the complete steering system in this ride, including a special vibration reducer from Borgeson. They build custom reducers for customers all the time, so it was no big deal, but ours had to have the 9/16-26 splined end on the reducer side, and the 3/4-36 splined end to connect to the steering shaft. It was little different than what they normally manufacture, but they had no problem making one up for this unique setup. Check out the steps it took to go from nothing to a steerable roller that can now be pushed around the shop.