When you own a race car, or even a street car for that matter, you perform modification after modification, always in search of going faster, cornering better, or whatever your goal may be. However, speed does not always require powerplant or drivetrain modifications. Sometimes simple items such as removing weight or stiffening your suspension can make a world of difference.
For this particular installation, we were looking to save weight, facilitate better suspension geometry, and gain more control of the steering. If you've ever drag raced, you know you don't want to be headed down the track at over 100 mph in a loose goose. To help prevent this we'll install a Flaming River manual rack and pinion, and PA Racing's chrome-moly tubular K-member with adjustable A-arms. The installation will be performed on a 1992 Camaro RS drag car owned by Alex Rodriguez.
Flaming River is one of the industry leaders in steering components. We used the company's custom Pinto-style rack and pinion, along with its steering shaft kit. The rack and pinion features a steel center tube, and lightweight aluminum casting on the ends. It also features a quick 15:1 ratio. The steering shaft is manufactured using pre-ground alloy steel, and comes with CNC-machined, aircraft quality joints. This shaft provides positive steering response with no backlash, as present in a stock shaft, containing a rag joint.
PA Racing is a specialist in custom front-end suspension systems. It offers many custom applications, such as the K-member we are installing here, which comes with mounting points built right in for the Pinto-style rack. Most products can be obtained in either mild steel or chrome-moly. No matter which route you take, consider the weight loss advantages and improved steering and suspension geometry. According to Jason Smith, owner of PA Racing, the weight savings from a stock K-member to a mild steel tubular unit is around 35 to 40 pounds. A chrome-moly unit saves an additional 6 to 10 pounds. This will dramatically improve your launches at the strip, and knock precious time off of your 60-ft clockings.
The first step, as always, is to disconnect the negative battery cable. Next we proceeded to support the engine since we are going to pull the K-member out. This was achieved by the use of an engine cradle. Slight pressure was applied in the upward position.
Once the vehicle is raised, the outer tie rod ends, center link, and idler arm are unbolted and removed as an assembly. Shown on the right are all steering components to be removed.
The next order of business is to remove the steering shaft. To do so, the upper shaft bolt is removed, followed by the lower splined flange bolt. The upper part of the shaft contains a slip joint to aid in easy removal.
The final steering component to be removed is the steering box. This vehicle contains a manual unit from an S-10 pickup truck, and the three bolts going through the driver side frame rail need to be removed. If your vehicle has power steering, you will also need to remove the power steering lines and the pump.