Q

I was reading an article about a beautiful '36 Ford owned by Landis Chisenhall in the October Issue of STREET RODDER, what a car! In the article you talk about a power steering cooler. My car is a '46 woodie, Chevy 350, 350TH with a Saginaw power steering box. I had to run my exhaust around and very close to the steering box and as a result it gets hot on long runs. Do you recommend any cooler? I guess I would have to have power steering hoses made up to reach the location of the cooler because I would have to locate it in front of the radiator.

Any ideas? Thanks.

...invest in an infrared temperature gun; they can be found for under $30.

Robert Nelson
Via the Internet

A

According to the numbers published by a leading steering gear manufacturer, power steering fluid temperature 150 degrees above ambient (or 250 degrees max) is considered extreme and will adversely affect performance and component life. To find out exactly how hot your car's steering gear is running invest in an infrared temperature gun; they can be found for under $30.

With the exhaust in close proximity to the steering box it's probably a good idea to add a cooler—in any case it certainly won't hurt. You can find power steering coolers in salvage yards on a variety of big cars. However, a used cooler must be thoroughly cleaned before installation, which is a lot of trouble when you consider a new one can be had for $20-$80—and they come with new hose and mounting hardware. To find a cooler that will fit your needs, go to streetrodder.com and simply type "power steering cooler" into the search box and a variety of them will pop up.

Some other things to consider: Fabricate a heat shield to go between the steering gear and the exhaust. It could be mounted by the bolts in the steering box and by leaving air space on both sides of the shield the power steering fluid temperature should be reduced. Additional options are ceramic-coated exhaust components or insulating them with header wrap.


Q

Along with the new Coyote engine I see the new Mustang uses electric power steering. It seems like a good idea, is it adaptable to street rods?

Ken Wright
Via the Internet

A

This new electric power has actually been around for a while. Produced by a company by the name of Nexteer (a former division of Delphi), Ford calls the system EPAS (electric power-assisted steering).

Unlike systems that mount to the column and help turn the steering shaft, the Mustang's system has the steering wheel directly connected to the pinion gear in the rack. Sophisticated electronics monitor a variety of variables, including steering input and vehicle speed, and then a control unit provides the appropriate level of power assist by way of an electric motor and another pinion gear acting on the rack.

While it's easy to be wary of new technology, especially one that includes more sensors, wires, and control units, these racks work extremely well and provide exceptional road feel. They don't have the maintenance issues found with conventional power steering—there are no hoses to leak or fluid levels to maintain. In addition, electric power steering frees up horsepower—there is no hydraulic pump to run and the electric motor only draws current when power assist is required.

So with all this good news there has to be some bad, and that would be the expense of an aftermarket system. But while the price may be prohibitive now, remember the first calculators and digital watches that came out. They cost a bundle, but as production went up, prices went down. It may not be long before electric power steering is the norm on most cars, including street rods.