One of the best things about...
One of the best things about this power steering pump kit is that it blends in perfectly with the looks of the Flathead engine.
You wouldn't think that Richard Bellgardt's request was that unusual. Richard drives a '49 Ford F1 pickup, mostly stock, and Flathead powered. He isn't interested in wild modifications. He just wanted to add a power steering system to make the truck a little easier to maneuver through city traffic.
That sounds reasonable, but after making a few phone calls and poking around on the Internet, Richard learned what a lot of guys driving Flathead cars and trucks already know: you just plain can't find power steering pumps for these engines.
Before giving up altogether, Richard mentioned his predicament to the guys at Blundell Speed and Machine. Not only did Chad and Greg manage to come up with a successful system, they managed to make it look like an early factory piece. If fact, it will take some people a couple of looks before they notice it.
The secret (until now) to solving the problem was figuring out how to mount a pump and pulley to the engine--in this case a '49-53 8BA. On these Flatheads, the mechanical fan was mounted on a fan carrier bolted to the generator mounting bracket. Blundell uses that fan carrier assembly for the PS pump, which means that the fan will have to be replaced with an electric fan at the radiator for this application. They also built a custom mounting bracket and pulley for the existing belt system.
Now that the problem has been solved for one customer, Blundell Speed is ready to solve it for others and is now offering power steering kits for 1949-53 8BA Flatheads. The kits can be adapted for 1946-48 59A Flatheads as well. On earlier Flatheads that feature a crank-mounted fan, this pump will work without having to remove the fan. The pump will also work on earlier Flatheads rebuilt to use this later-style timing cover with an upright distributor, but will require the removal of the fan. Talk to Chad at Blundell Speed and tell him what you've got, and he can set up a system that will work.
The pulley pump installation is a half-day job and can be done without pulling the engine out of the car.
The Original Flathead P/S
In case you want to impress your Ford-guy friends or win a bar bet, power steering for Flatties is not new. According to How to Build Ford Flathead V-8 Horsepower by George McNicholl, Ford offered a power steering option in passenger cars in 1953, the final year of the Flathead. If anybody has one of these systems, send us a photo. We'd like to see it.
Honk If You Love Your Horn
In the process of adding a power steering system to the F-1, Blundell Speed had to shorten the stock column for use with the replacement steering box. This meant losing the anchoring point for the lower end of the shaft (now attached to U-joints), leaving the inside shaft to wobble around at the bottom of the column. It usually means losing the horn function, since the horn wire runs the length of the column, exiting out the bottom, where U-joints have been added to connect the column to the box. Blundell has a solution to both those problems: the two-in-one Column Saver and Horn Saver system.
In addition to the pump itself,...
In addition to the pump itself, the Blundell kit includes the mounting bracket, pulley, fittings, mounting hardware, and high pressure line.
Our favorite part of the kit...
Our favorite part of the kit is probably the pulley, which was designed to resemble the water pump pulleys. When left in its natural aluminum finish, it dresses up the engine compartment; painted, it blends in and looks like it could be a stock piece (like the one in the lead photo to the left). There were two different belt widths on Flatheads as well as different offsets from year to year. Blundell offers pulleys for both narrow and wide sizes, as well as different offsets. Tell them the year of your engine and they'll get you the right part.
The pump mounting bracket...
The pump mounting bracket was fabricated to match the mechanical fan bracket on the 8BAs.
The Column Saver portion of the system consists of bushings which keep the steering shaft centered in the outer column housing, and upper and lower thrust bearings which brace it from up and down travel.
The Horn Saver eliminates the problem of the horn wire extending out the bottom of the column and interfering with the U-joints. Instead, the horn wire from the steering wheel is routed out the side of the column housing just above the bottom, clear of the U-joints.
The Horn Saver will work on any 1-inch diameter column, such as the ones found on '32-52 Ford passenger cars and trucks. The kit includes specific instructions on cutting your column and drilling the single hole needed to install the product
The pump and bracket can be...
The pump and bracket can be mounted to the cradle-style generator bracket (as in this application) as well as to the early one-piece generator (above right), or aftermarket alternator mounting yokes (above left). For Flatheads with side-mounted generators, the pump can be mounted directly to the front pad on the intake manifold using a spacer to line up the belts.
The kit includes a -6 AN fitting...
The kit includes a -6 AN fitting and high-pressure output line to the steering box or rack, along with a -8 AN fitting for the feed side to the PS fluid reservoir. By the time you read this, Blundell will offer a cast-aluminum reservoir that mounts directly onto the pump, replacing a remote reservoir.
For many, the solution to...
For many, the solution to the horn problem is a horn button mounted somewhere on the dash instead of in the center of the steering wheel, where Mother Nature intended. For Blundell, the solution is the Horn Saver, a kit designed to keep the horn wires in the column without interfering with the U-joints.
These are the components you...
These are the components you get with the Column Saver and Horn Saver kits. The column is not included, although Blundell Speed offers F-1 columns completely assembled for customers using this column in their car or truck.
This ring, an integral part...
This ring, an integral part of the Horn Saver kit, maintains the electrical connection through a complete 360-degree rotation of the steering column.
In addition to the Column...
In addition to the Column Saver kit, Blundell offers a floor brace that anchors the Ford 1-inch steering column using a set screw. The brace was designed specifically for F-1 applications but may be adapted to other vehicles. It features cut-outs for the clutch and brake pedals and for the shifter linkage on "three-on-the-tree" columns. Floor mounts are also available from aftermarket column manufacturers, including ididit (www.ididitinc.com) and Flaming River (www.flamingriver.com).
P/S In A Different Direction
Wouldn't you know it, right around the time Blundell Speed and Machine was finishing the prototype of its power steering pump on Richard Bellgardt's Flathead, March Performance introduced its own serpentine drive conversion kit specifically for Ford Flatheads. Overnight, Flathead owners looking for power steering have gone from zero options to two. For additional information on March Performance's serpentine system, visit www.marchperf.com.