Basics for building a custom steering column

Basics for building a custom steering column

By Archie Bosman: Hot rods create an environment that removes us far from the chaos of the real world. And their custom innovations are the luxuries they bring to our lives. For some production shops, developing a one-off design is not in the cards. Others, in contrast, interpret this as laziness or a lack of ingenuity or complacency or some combination of the three. They see it as ignoring an opportunity. Still, to succeed in custom designs you need access to an efficient team armed with specialist knowledge and swiftness—a team that is irrepressible in overcoming obstacles. This is often best illustrated in the completion time of projects and their cost. Before hot rodder Kevin Smith from Manvel, Texas appeared at the ididit booth during the 2015 NSRA Nationals in Louisville, he had already made inquiries at several shops without success. By combining some of his original parts with newly designed components, he was planning a custom-built steering column for a 1962 Ford Thunderbird that he and his son were building and needed specialist help. Here are Kevin’s requirements and how the Michigan firm, ididit, accomplished it. First, the 1962 Thunderbird was equipped with a Swing-away column arrangement. Original and novel technology that promoted easier vehicle entry and exit, naturally, its owner wished to retain it. In addition, the customer requested a column gear-shifting mechanism, featuring automatic shifting; four-way flashers, self-cancelling turn signals, not originally available; and column tilt. Today, 5-position tilt is in popular use, but Ididit has extended the articulation to eight positions, allowing the steering wheel to arc through a total travel of 35 degrees. The...
New belt-drive assemblies for big-block Ford engines

New belt-drive assemblies for big-block Ford engines

Innovators West has revealed details of its new belt-drive assembly for big-block Ford 385 series engines. The hallmarks of a competent belt-drive assembly are to generate less friction; effectively dampen adverse harmonics before they reach the valve train; maintain precise valve timing, particularly at high engine speeds; and demonstrate convenience in valve timing adjustments. The Innovators West new belt drive assembly distinguishes itself by not only accomplishing all these familiar requirements but also makes it available in two indispensable forms: one style is equipped with integral side brackets for serious track use, the other without. The side brackets are regarded as unique. Provided with big-block Chevrolet hole spacing, they accommodate motor plates, power steering pump, alternator, crank trigger as well as external oil pump or a vacuum pump or a belt-driven fuel pump, often a requirement for turbo or blower engines. External competition pumps are customarily mounted on the 1/4in thick aluminum engine mounting plate, but this is rarely satisfactory as the plate is apt to deflect, resulting in imperfect belt alignment. An adjustable drive-belt idler is included to allow for precise adjustment of drive belt tension. This is important when taking into account the production tolerances of new belts and the re-tensioning of used belts. The crankshaft pulley is made from heat-treated steel and the cam pulley hard-anodized billet aluminum. For concentricity, both pulleys are machined in one operation in a multi-axis lathe. Also, a cam retaining plate is provided with two encased roller bearings—one operates between camshaft and plate, the other between cam pulley and plate. Optional high-vacuum seals, alloy steel drive hub, and camshaft drive adapter...
Ryan Hunter and his hunt to perfect the MLS gasket

Ryan Hunter and his hunt to perfect the MLS gasket

By Titus Bloom: SCE Gaskets, headed by Ryan Hunter, recently introduced a new line of MLS (multi-layered steel) cylinder head gaskets that extend to 14 applications with plans to expand LS coverage and to penetrate the Ford Modular ranks. The starting point, he explains, involves forming embossments in the outer stainless steel plates. “The coolant seal is a less aggressive ‘Z’ shape; combustion seal is formed into an inverted ‘U’ shape capable of sealing much higher pressures. My job as a gasket designer,” Hunter says, “is to calculate the clamp load generated by the total number of cylinder head bolts and direct it to where it needs to go, seal embossment shape is a key part of that process. “Combustion pressures are typically between 1600 and 1800psi in a naturally aspirated high performance engine, but less than half-inch away I’ve got 22 to 45psi coolant pressures. In round numbers, 10 head bolt fasteners generate around 100,000lb of total clamp load. What I need to do is to make 60,000lb available to seal the combustion pressures—thereby devoting 40 percent of the clamping pressure to coolant sealing.” The manufacturing process for the MLS gaskets is thus: embossing the sealing areas, cutting to shape and then stress-relieving. If stress relieving isn’t executed at this stage, the embossments tend to revert to their original shape. Stress relieving after forming normalizes the stainless steel plates in their embossed shape resulting in increased spring pressure against the block and head at the seal location. The increased spring pressure – or memory – retains seal integrity during lateral movement between cylinder head and block that occurs...
Wilwood Named as a Series Sponsor with ChumpCar

Wilwood Named as a Series Sponsor with ChumpCar

Wilwood Disc Brakes has teamed up with ChumpCar International, Inc. as a Series Sponsor in 2016. Building on ChumpCar’s abundant racing success, Wilwood has announced a new partnership with the endurance racing specialists, supporting their enduro efforts at more than 40 events annually across four divisions (East, West, Central and Canada). In addition to being listed as a series sponsor, Wilwood will provide contingency ($100 product certificates) to competitors at every ChumpCar event. Each competitor will be required to run at least two Wilwood contingency decals on the sides of their competition vehicles. “ChumpCar’s approach is simple; it provides an affordable series for the ‘average Joe’ that loves driving fast and it operates without gimmicks and high price tags,” says Steve Cornelius, Director of Sales and Marketing at Wilwood Engineering. “Wilwood has been creating race- and championship-winning road racing products for decades. Partnering with a series like ChumpCar is a perfect fit for Wilwood. We look forward with enthusiasm to providing its competitors with support and guidance to choose the right brake application no matter experience level or budget.” Click here for the full 2016 schedule and to register for an upcoming event....
Phoenix Systems and Ford-Branded Brake Fluid Test Strips

Phoenix Systems and Ford-Branded Brake Fluid Test Strips

Probably the most implausible aspect of the Phoenix Systems test strips is why auto shops have taken so long to grasp the innovation. A brake strip check takes seconds to conduct. It confirms the health of the brake fluid, brings peace of mind to the motorist, and often introduces new business to the shop. But now Ford brings refreshing stimulus…   Phoenix Systems has just announced a licensing agreement to produce and market Ford-branded brake fluid test strips. The most interesting aspect of the test strips is the innovative thinking behind them. Though automobile brake lines are made of steel their bores are coated with copper, which eventually deteriorates and contaminates the fluid. The test strip alerts you to the degree of contamination, if any. A brake fluid test strip takes seconds to conduct, provides proof of a needed brake fluid service and often results in additional business for a shop. If, indeed, the fluid needs to be renewed there’s the added benefit that, during the process, evidence of frozen calipers, torn seals or seized ABS units might be detected and addressed. Brake fluid is regularly renewed in race cars, particularly road race cars though less so in passenger cars. However, the practice toward regular checks is gaining ground. Motivated by a simple color test that takes approximately 60 seconds to mature, it provides a visual indication of brake fluid health. Phoenix developed the Ford product with the understanding that the brake fluid test needed to show the exact condition of brake fluid—no more guessing. Changing brake fluid when appropriate halts corrosion, extends the life of brake parts and...