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Keane165's 1970 LeMans

2022 June
of the Month

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Power Steering for pre-1953 Pontiacs ?

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Sorry if I am bringing up something that has already been heavily discussed ?    I love the 49-52 Pontiacs, but with today's radial tires, and my 65 year old arms, I would love to have power steering.  Is it possible (or practical) to retrofit the power steering gearbox from a 53 or 54 to the 49-52 Pontiacs ?   (Not that there is anything wrong with the 53 or 54s for that matter.)  I see that Lares Engineering offers re-manufactured power steering boxes for the 53 and 54 models.    Would that box bolt up to the frame?  I imagine the pitman arm would have to be from the 53 or 54, but how much of the rest of the steering system would have to be changed ?   I would like to swap in a Pontiac V8 that would already have the power steering pump included.   Thanks in advance to anyone who has performed this swap or looked into it !

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I suspect that the corresponding idler arm may also need to be switched to 53/54 model as well, if there are differences between a 52 and 53 pitman arm.

The box should bolt up since there were no significant change in styling between 52 and 54 - especially in the frame. So I would try to compare, online, or call if possible, Lares or some other suspension component companies to see if there are any differences between 52 and 54 suspension parts. I rather doubt there are many or any.

Swapping in a Pontiac V8 will require you to provide amble space between the engine and the movement of the pitman arm. So you may have to do some fab work on the motor mounts to position the engine properly in the engine bay if you stay with your stock frame. It shouldn't take much but that is just one of the considerations you need to have with a V8 engine swap.

A lot of guys often cut their frame and weld in the front subframe of a 2nd gen Camaro or Firebird. This gives them the ability to bolt in the engine of their choice with factory motor mounts and steering & brake pieces, it allows for the use of front disc brakes and power steering. The use of a F-body front subframe also allows you to consider switching to rack and pinion steering. There is a plethora of aftermarket suspension parts for the F-body as well to better improve handling parts. So it opens a lot of doors to the aftermarket by using this setup. 

Nothing wrong with staying with the stock frame and still doing an V8 engine swap. It just limits you in some of your suspension choices.

Are you going to convert the car to 12V? Upgrade to alternator vs a generator when you do this swap?

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     Many thanks for your reply!   Yes, the idler arm should be swapped out as well.   I will try to learn more as you suggest. 

     I would need to have a shop do any front clip swaps.    Thanks for the tip about squeezing in a V8.   Should I get that far I would update to 12v.    



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You are welcome my friend. Homework is the key here.

I would agree that having a professional shop would be a good idea - especially the fab work.

A more modern V8 will want a 12V system for the engine alone but it really isn't that much more difficult to upgrade the rest electrical system of the car. Plus since the wiring in the car is close to 70 years old, upgrading it, the gauges, radio, and everything else just makes sense from a preventative maintenance and safety perspective too.

Also while I preaching about safety. Inspect all the rubber fuel and vacuum hose in your car (front to back) and replace all of it with modern hose. When these cars were built, lead was common in gas. Lead is gone, and now ethanol is in our gas. Time, weather, UV rays, dirt and grime attack rubber hoses from the outside. Ethanol gas attacks rubber hose from the inside out which could cause a leak or worse - a fire. Today's modern hose is made to withstand both ethanol and the elements. Today in judge points shows, judges don't deduct points for modern hose because it is recognized as a safety issue.

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