SL-C Manual: Steering
The steering system is pre-assembled to the chassis for shipping purposes only. It is the responsibility of each individual owner to check, assembly and tighten all fasteners to correct torque settings before the vehicle is driven. A guide to torque settings is in the “General Information” section.
As with the suspension, it is critical that you ensure that minimum thread engagement is adhered to for each of the female rod ends on the steering. The SL-C uses ½” diameter steering rack ends so you want the rod ends to thread into the steel push rods by a minimum of ½”.
The photo below shows the area where the rack ends thread into the female rod ends.
The standard steering column assembly is a modern GM column with tilt and a host of other modern features. This column is integrated into the chassis wiring system with a column-specific connector.
Alternatively, track cars can be ordered with an optional simple, lightweight rod-type column at no extra cost. This column does not have a collapsible feature to help absorb impact in the event of a front-end crash as the standard OEM column does, or stalks or switches for lights, wiper, etc, so race cars will have to wire them separately with that column.
As with the suspension the steering column arrives only loosely installed so you must verify that the fasteners used are suitable and correctly installed including shank length, washers, torque value, locking nuts, safety wiring, etc.
If you need to remove the column, note the location and quantity of washer or spacers used at each of the 4 mounting holes, and be sure to replace them as originally installed at the factory.
Removal and installation is easy; there are four bolts holding the column to the top of the chassis at the top of the driver’s foot well plus the connection from the column to the steering rack.
When removing the column you may find that it is easier to leave the short column extension on the rack, and to disconnect rest of the column from the extension.
Some small amount of adjustment of the column angle is possible, especially if you are willing to give up some of the tilt range of the column. If you do add or remove spacers to adjust the column angle, be sure to test the tilt and telescope functions so you don’t stall the small electrical motors that control the tilt and telescope function due to an obstruction such as the dashboard or chassis.
Some builders with an earlier column and large feet may find that one of the small electric motors used to control tilt or telescope function can foul their right foot. It's easy to relocate this motor up and out of the way- leave it connected to the column, and move the mounting bracket with motor up and a little bit away. That will increase foot clearance even for drivers with very large feet.
Steering Wheel Adapters
The steering column comes with a quick-release steering wheel unit so that a wide range of steering wheels can be fitted that can be easily removed for entry and exit. The first picture below shows the quick-release unit, and the picture following shows the adapter that is supplied to connect the steering wheel to the quick release unit.
The adapter shown above allows MOMO-pattern drilled steering wheels to be bolted to it. The kit comes with a steering wheel that should be protected from damage while the car is under construction. Some builders have wrapped the wheel with bubble wrap or paper and blue tape to protect it.
If the quick release adapter is already drilled for the standard steering wheel hole pattern your car will not have the adapter.
Not all aftermarket steering wheels use the same bolt pattern, so if you choose another wheel than the provided one be sure it matches adapter or quick-release unit provided. If the wheel has a different pattern you may be able to re-drill the wheel, or fabricate another adapter with the desired pattern in it.
In some cases, you may want to space the steering wheel closer to the driver. To do so, fabricate a spacer of the desired thickness similar to the adapter shown above.
For registration in some countries, you may need to fit a collapsible steering wheel boss in place of the quick release boss.
Steering Column Safety
A complete loss of steering is possible if any of the parts of the steering assembly are incorrectly assembled, and this can result in severe injury or death. As with any motor vehicle, the steering subsystem is of critical importance.
You MUST validate that every connection is correct, and properly tightened.
All steering column-related fasteners should be safety wired (and/or Loctited) and checked periodically. This is especially true for the connection from the column to the steering rack because it is difficult to see once the car is finished. You will need to drill the pinch bolt in order to run safety wire through it, so plan for this during assembly. If you elect not to safety-wire this critical connection as recommended here, at least use red Loctite here and check it frequently in use, especially if the car sees track duty.
It is critical that the pinch bolt at the end of the small steering shaft that connects to the steering rack is used, and is installed through the slot in the rack spline. The bolt in the slot forces the universal joint to have sufficient spline engagement as designed by the manufacturers of the rack and the universal joints, as well as locking the universal to the rack.
Additionally, builders MUST fasten the steering rack to the chassis with proper fasteners. At a minimum, lockwashers and thread locker (e.g., Loctite Red) should be used. The recommended installation of the steering rack will use grade 5 or higher bolts that have been drilled for safety wire, with properly-installed safety wire.
Failure to properly install the rack can lead to eventual separation from the chassis, resulting in immediate and complete loss of steering.
Best practices are to inspect the steering column bolts, the pinch bolt, and all fasteners used to attach the rack to the chassis at least once a year. Using paint markers is an easy way to detect movement in the fasteners, and makes the inspection easy and fast. DO NOT skimp on the quality of the fasteners, attention to their installation, or their frequent inspections!
As discussed above, when attaching the column to the steering rack, you must verify that the pinch or locking bolt at the end of the column assembly is centered in the groove at the end of the steering rack. It is critical that the bolt is in this groove because that is what prevents the column end from coming off the steering rack. Be sure to use safety wire on this bolt as it serves a critical function, and a complete loss of steering may result if it is not correctly attached.
If you find that there is a clearance problem such that the pinch bolt on a correctly engaged universal joint at the steering rack fouls the inside of the footbox area, the opening through which the rack spline enters the car can be enlarged to provide adequate clearance.
When complete, check the pinch bolt again, then the rest of the fasteners on the column. Torque the upper four bolts that hold the main part of the column to the chassis to 40 ft-lbs. and use nylon lock nuts or safety wire on these bolts.