Have you ever wondered how many early Corvettes are stashed away in corners of garages all over the country? Maybe their owners feel they’re too valuable, rare, or fragile to enjoy; perhaps compared to a later version they’re just not as much fun to drive; and then finding the time to work on a project is always difficult. Or, it could be the dreaded analysis paralysis—the inability to decide what to do with a vintage Vette. Should it be left as-is, restored, turned into a restomod? While the mental debate rages on that marvelous car just sits. At this point we should confess—due to all the excuses above, and even a few more—there has been a 1963 Corvette sitting dormant in our shop for far too many years. But that’s about to change.
We’ve always felt one of our split-window’s shortcomings was the steering. Years ago the original 300-horse engine’s oil pan was swapped for the larger capacity and longer 340/360 version with trap doors and baffles, which required the removal of the stock steering damper. At the same time the tie-rod ends were moved to the forward holes on the steering arms to quicken the steering ratio. While the faster steering ratio made the car more responsive to driver input, steering effort was increased, particularly at low speeds. Thankfully, the Peterbilt-size steering wheel helped, but what the car really needs is power steering.
With the larger oil pan on a C2, the original linkage-style power steering won’t fit. That’s not a real loss since the OEM-style has little or no road feel and more potential for leaks than Bruce Jenner’s press agent. Couple that with the fact we wanted to keep the large-capacity pan and we decided to go looking for an alternative power steering solution. We found it at Borgeson Universal.
Based on modified Delphi 600 series power steering gear, Borgeson offers kits for 1963 through 1982 Corvettes that were equipped with manual or factory power steering. Individual parts or complete kits are available—we opted for the all-inclusive package that came with the steering box, pump, pump brackets, hoses, rag joint, and the necessary hardware. While the installation procedure varies slightly depending on the Vette’s year, in the case of our ’63 the only modification necessary would have been shortening the splined steering column shaft. We said, “would have been” because we’ll be installing an ididit tilt steering column at a later date that won’t require that modification.
After far too many years of being parked, we’ve run out reasons not to drive our ’63 and it’s on the road to being on the road. It’s going to stay stock in some areas and receive modifications in others. With the installation of power steering completed we’re planning additional improvements to make our Vette a better driver and more user friendly. After all, one good turn deserves another.
01. Uncovered for the first time in many years, our 1963 Corvette split-window has been perched on jack stands in the corner of our shop.
02. Borgeson Universal’s integral power steering box is vastly superior to the original in every way. After driving a C2 equipped with a conversion we were convinced our car had to have power steering.
03. In original power steering applications, a manual box was used with a power ram on the centerlink. Steering feel was virtually non-existent.
04. Borgeson’s power steering conversion is used with the original pitman arm and steering linkage.
05. Removing the pitman arm with the correct puller is much more effective than beating on it with a hammer.
06. To quicken the steering ratio, the tie-rod ends on our car had been moved to the forward holes in the steering arms. This is also where they were located with factory power steering.
07. This is the modified Delphi 600 series steering gear as it comes from Borgeson.
08. The frame-side view shows the new mounting bracket that has been attached to the modified housing.
09. In the original applications, Delphi boxes used hoses with O-rings. These brass inserts are installed to allow the use of hoses with inverted flare fittings.
10. Although the replacement power steering box is physically larger than the original, there are no clearance issues.
11. To ensure proper placement of the pitman arm, the steering gear’s sector shaft has double-wide splines in four places.
12. The pitman arm has corresponding wide splines to match the sector shaft. With the steering gear centered lock-to-lock and the wheels pointing straight ahead the pitman arm will slide in place and be properly located.
13. For our planned engine driven accessories, a triple sheave crankshaft pulley will be required. This is a stock steel double groove pulley from Vintage Air. Note the two flanged holes.
14. For our planned engine driven accessories, a triple sheave crankshaft pulley will be required. This is a stock steel double groove pulley from Vintage Air. Note the two flanged holes.
15. GM has produced a variety of power steering pumps, some use a press-on gear, we used the style with a keyed shaft and retention nut.
16. To utilize the Borgeson brackets, the nuts and studs must be removed from the pump.
17. Borgeson’s pump brackets are beautifully made and they fit perfectly.
18. The bracket with two extensions mounts to the rear of the pump with the supplied bolts. Note the adjustment slot.
19. Two bolts go through the front and rear brackets to attach the pump to the engine block. The bottom right bolt is where the pump pivots to adjust the belt.
20. Included in the Borgeson kit is a dual sheave cast-iron pump pulley that allows for various V-belt configurations.
21. Here, the pump and the Vintage Air crank and water pump pulleys are in place (spoiler alert, we’ll be adding air). There’s no engine-driven fan as we will be using an electric one and the original alternator will be replaced with a CS series one-wire.
22. Here, the pump and the Vintage Air crank and water pump pulleys are in place (spoiler alert, we’ll be adding air). There’s no engine-driven fan as we will be using an electric one and the original alternator will be replaced with a CS series one-wire.
23. When the dashboard goes back together we’ll be adding an ididit tilt column. The extra-long splines allow trimming of the shaft to optimize the steering wheel location.