Power steering rack upgrade for a VW bus

Custom power steering rack upgrade

Well, once again the guys at Resto Classics have come up with a brilliant solution for the custom powered steering rack for my vintage VW bus! Their collective knowledge and experience have produced a really awesome result, so a big shout out to Nathan for bringing it all together and making it happen for me! 🙂

T3/T25 steering bevel box used in custom power assisted steering rack conversion
T3/T25 steering bevel box used in custom power-assisted steering rack conversion

The heart of the system was the Opel Astra powered steering rack that I had imported from Germany on Resto Classics advice. After more researching, measuring and working through various options, this was connected up via a T3/T25 steering bevel box with a system of universal joints and modified track rods.

custom power assisted steering rack tucked behind front beam
custom power-assisted steering rack tucked behind front beam

Power-assisted steering

The simple brilliance of the solution is that it all fits nicely behind the original front beam and utilises the vacant space that lies underneath the front seat well. The whole install seems so logical, almost as if it was a factory install!

custom power assisted steering rack conversion so neat it looks like factory spec
custom power-assisted steering rack conversion so neat it looks like factory spec

The reservoir for the power-assisted hydraulic system also fits snugly underneath the front seat well. For ease of access of topping up the hydraulic fluid and maintenance, a discreet access hole was made in the tool chest storage area under the front seats.

custom power assisted steering hydraulic reservoir fits neatly under front seat well
custom power-assisted steering hydraulic reservoir fits neatly under front seat well

Billet fittings

Along with custom hydraulic hoses, a neat custom billet spacer with rose jointed (‘Heim’ join in the US?) fixings to the track rods was used to give the correct spacing and clearance for brake pipe Flexi pipes etc. whilst allowing for any play.

all in the detail – custom billet spacer and rose joint fixings
all in the detail – custom billet spacer and rose joint fixings

Upgraded steering and disc brakes

So, the moment of truth, what does it all drive like? Well, it was my first chance to take the bus for a brief test run after having spent ages getting up close and personal with the Epoxy Mastic 121 paint. Really looking forward to testing out the new power steering rack system, and of course, the Fellows Speed Shop front disc kit with Billet hubs, Porsche 944 discs and Willwood 4 pot callipers. They looked so good it was a shame to cover them up! Mind you the bus is in need of a good clean, but at the moment, that can wait, time for a drive…

seems a shame to hide the Fellows Speed Shop Billet hubs
seems a shame to hide the Fellows Speed Shop Billet hubs

Transformed driving experience

To say I’m pleased with the result is an understatement of biblical proportion! It has utterly transformed the driving experience from my brief test run! 🙂

It’s hard to believe or even begin to explain the difference. I had a good original steering box before and had grown used to the ‘keep fit’ use of the steering wheel. The new power steering rack was a totally different experience. I had to remember that the steering was actually still connected to big heavy 15″ steel wheels with big R15/195/80 tyres!

original VW steering wheel keeps you heading in the right direction
original VW steering wheel keeps you heading in the right direction

Not Stock, not a problem

Apart from the sheer ease of use of the power steering rack (honestly, you just cannot begin to believe how good the transformation is until you have driven the bus! 🙂 ), it also has the added benefit of increasing the buses ground clearance as the lower position of the original steering box has now been removed. Along with ongoing easy maintenance, it also has the added benefit of giving the bus a better turning circle. So basically, what’s not to like? The guys at Resto Classics really had done a sterling job of transforming the buses ride and handling. Way better than the old steering box!

good condition LHD original VW split screen steering box
good condition LHD original VW split screen steering box

As for the brakes, even though the discs are still bedding in, the difference is really noticeable! Don’t think I’ll be needing a servo, after all, they really are that good! Happy days indeed 🙂 The test drive was all too short as I needed to get back to Resto Classics for the next stage of the work, sorting out the roof and gutters…

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