Gallery: Bringing Your Classic Mopar Into the 21st Century With Borgeson

How many times have you looked for parts for your Mopar and had to weed through a thousand ‘other’ makes before you get to Mopar? You see what options you have for a GM, and you only wish someone would do something special for the Mopar crowd. Well, you haven’t looked hard enough, because Borgeson Universal has a few treats for the Mopar crowd. Not only does Borgeson address some of the steering issues known to plague classic Mopar A, B, and E body cars, but you might say that Mopar got the best deal when it comes to replacement power steering boxes.

It’s no secret that the factory box takes up an enormous amount of space on the front suspension – so much that the engine is cocked to one side to make room for the steering box. It’s huge, it’s heavy, and if your car is anything like this gorgeous 440 six-pack ‘Cuda, then it’s leaving its mark everywhere it goes. That’s when the owner decided to do something with the leaky, sloppy steering box in this car. The box had been rebuilt, but like so many rebuilt boxes before this one, it was merely an expense that makes you feel all warm inside. The drops on the pavement and the sloppy feel, however, brings about disappointment.

Borgeson’s Jeff Gantmeyer has told us plenty of times, “The problem with rebuilding a factory steering box is that you’re still stuck with 50 year old technology.” You can’t replace the internals with better components, so a rebuilt unit merely has new seals and O-rings, but the power valve inside is still trying to steer your car like a tuna boat. The replacement steering box from Borgeson – the second generation steering box – is packed with features that makes it a no-brainer if you’re rebuilding your classic Mopar. Replacing an existing unit is little more work than removing the heavy, factory unit to send it off for a feel-good coat of paint.

Grantmeyer said that when Borgeson was getting complaints about the cost of the first generation replacement steering box, they listened. Borgeson went back to the drawing board and came up with a better plan and came up with a great solution. The current replacement unit is not only slightly smaller still than the previous version, but they’ve cut the price down a little over $100, making it very affordable. But aside from the lighter weight (it shaves about 13 pounds off the K-member) you’ll find a better, firmer feel to it with a quicker 14:1 ratio. “That means no more lane-wandering when you’re looking over your shoulder to change lanes,” Grantmeyer told us.

Upgrades For Your Steering

We’ve had regular discussions with Grantmeyer over the years, and Grantmeyer has told us, “Having access to a waterjet means we can fabricate our own bracket system for power steering pumps.” This makes a complete conversion a simple chore compared to the time consuming way it used to be done. How many times have you searched for brackets when you wanted to add a power steering pump? How many times have those brackets been wrong because they fit a TRW pump and not the Saginaw pump you wanted to install?

Well, forget the wasted trips to the wrecking yards, because in addition to the new steering box, Borgeson can supply you with a new Saginaw pump for both small-block and big-block, and a fresh set of brackets to mount the pump to your engine. This means no searching, and no wrong brackets when it comes time to either upgrade to a new pump, or convert from manual to power steering. Even the pump is a brand new unit, and the brackets were fabricated by Borgeson for the Saginaw pump.

For this installation, we replaced only the pump, and because the car has air conditioning it required a little fabrication to the bracket kit that the car owner purchased. The Borgeson kit would have eliminated that need – 20/20 hindsight, isn’t that what they say? Still, the pump installed without issue and being a new unit meant peace of mind, too. Borgeson even provides the pulley and hoses, so everything to convert or upgrade is available in just one place: the Borgeson website.

Replacing The Factory Steering Box

Borgeson starts with a brand new steering box for the Mopars; this isn’t a rebuilt unit that gets a new seal here and gasket there. This is a fresh, modified unit that wasn’t removed from a wrecked or used car. Borgeson re-splines the sector shaft for the early (1.125″) or late (1.25″) Mopar pitman arms. Borgeson also offers a two-piece replacement hose kit to mate your Borgeson box to the OE Saginaw power steering pump or Borgeson’s Saginaw pump kit.

Small block cars have a little more room, but big block cars require a little more effort. This ‘Cuda has a set of headers, and they had to come out, as well as the torsion bar on the driver’s side. Again, this is no different from what you’d have to do to replace the steering box with a rebuilt unit, except you won’t need to send your core in after purchasing the Borgeson box. Since some of the bolts hit a water jacket, that also meant draining the coolant. But this isn’t news to Mopar owners, we’re kind of used to the joys of working on Mopars. Another option would be to raise the engine a little, but the easiest method was to remove the components mentioned above.

Above: It’s a tight fit in there, and that means that some components need to be removed – specifically the header and the torsion bar. However, not because of the Borgeson box – because Mopar. With those components out of the way, the box is far easier to remove.

Once the original box was removed, the difference was night and day comparing the two steering boxes. Not only was the Borgeson box smaller, but installing it was a straight shot – no need to hire a contortionist to figure out how to twist and turn and snake the new steering box into place. Access to the three mounting bolts was a piece of cake, and in no time we were ready to tackle the steering shaft.

Above: It’s amazing how much more room there is for the Borgeson steering box. If you think size matters, this smaller, lighter unit will change your mind and you’ll be glad you swapped out the larger, heavier unit. We have first-hand experience on the street and the track, and the steering feel and response are a vast improvement.

Also available from Borgeson was a replacement universal joint to mate the new steering box to the factory steering column shaft. There have been some concerns over the years that a universal joint won’t offer the same flexibility and steering column movement that you get from the factory coupler. Grantmeyer told us, “We have addressed the issue by inserting a vulcanized rubber bond between the inner and outer housing on the universal joint. It provides enough flexibility that it isn’t a concern regarding shaft movement.”

This connection between inner and outer housing is much firmer than the OE coupler, however, Grantmeyer assures us that owners won’t have any problems like they might have with a solid universal joint. The provided joint is made specifically for Mopar steering columns and mates to the Borgeson steering box, so there’s no guesswork. But, as you might guess, we also had a modified steering column with this ‘Cuda, so a little grinding and cutting was necessary to remove the universal joint that was welded to the steering shaft. For any original steering shaft, the Borgeson universal joint is a direct fit.

Above: Unfortunately, the steering column already had an aftermarket joint between the steering shaft and the original box. It had to be removed, and the shaft had to be measured and cut for the new Borgeson coupler. The old joint was welded in place, the Borgeson coupler installs with three roll pins that secure it firmly.

After cutting the old universal joint from the steering shaft, the new universal joint installed with ease and we were able to follow the instructions that came along with the kit. Another nice feature of this kit is that Borgeson provides you with a couple drill bits to drill into the factory hardened shaft; yeah, they thought of everything here. After measuring the distance per the instructions, we marked where to cut the steering shaft and with the shaft reinstalled we inserted it into the universal joint to drill the first hole. There are three roll pins provide to install the universal joint, which will secure it and keep things in place.

Above: The Borgeson coupler is designed to fit the input shaft and the factory Mopar steering shaft, so standard off-the-shelf couplers won’t work. Borgeson even supplied the hardened steel drill bit to drill into the factory steering shaft, so no guessing at what size is needed for the three roll pins.

The last step was to install the provided power steering hoses, refill the radiator and add power steering fluid to the new pump.  Borgeson recommends raising the car and turning the wheels lock to lock several times and adding fluid as needed prior to starting the engine. Filling the pump won’t cut it; once the fluid starts circulating the pump could run dry before you’re able to get more fluid added. Therefore, bleeding the system is always best to make sure that the system gets plenty of fluid circulated prior to engine start up.

With a new pump and steering box from Borgeson, this ‘Cuda is a little more stable on the road, and the old system is just a bad memory. Gone is the slop and the one-finger-steering, welcome is the firmer steering response and quicker ratio, making the car steer and handle like it should have from the beginning. There’s just something wrong with having gobs of horsepower and a sloppy steering system that gives an uneasy feeling. We’ve been there, we saw the light, and now you can do the same with a modern steering system from Borgeson. Be sure to check out the Borgeson website and see what they have to offer up for your Mopar.

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Michael Harding

Michael was first fascinated with a wind-up toy car at five years old, and just had to take it apart to see how it worked. Not much has changed, except he is now taking apart real cars and building them for street and road racing. His love for Mopar goes back to his first musclecar: a 1970 Dodge Coronet. His current Mopar is a 1965 Belvedere II that he road races.

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