Ladies and gentlemen, I know that this isn’t exactly the time to be in the shop putting an LS in Project Two Face. It’s springtime. We should be racing, right? Well, you know how things go. You’re waiting on parts, you’ve got work, life, etc. Now that manufacturing is starting to come back around and we’re getting some free time, we’re finally starting to make some headway on this project and something exciting is next on the docket.
One issue that I’ve worried about from the beginning was header clearance. Obviously, we’re stuffing a larger 5.3-liter V8 engine into a ’92 Ford Ranger. Although it resembles an S-10, it isn’t the same and is a little tighter under the hood. Rummaging through the LS Ranger pages on Facebook, it is a known issue that the factory steering shaft came with a bunch of extra covers and bushings that were going to be a problem come engine insertion time.
My dad and I had the engine in and out multiple times to check and measure because I cut out The factory engine mounts. We wanted to make sure when we were welding in our new engine mounts, the angle of the engine and drivetrain would be correct. The result was spot-on fitment. The engine comes in and out with ease and cylinder heads have room to spare; without headers that is.
What Do We Do Here?
Looking at different configurations, I had a couple of choices when it came to exhaust routes. I could twist and turn piping to get the exhaust on the outside of the frame rails and run out the back, or, use forward-facing turbo headers and shoot it out of the fenders. Since this is a street/strip build, I’m guessing you think we’re going out the back. Wrong.
For the exhaust, I wanted something rowdy. I’ve got room in the engine bay to put a resonator on each header, so why not go crazy? But, here’s the problem. I purchased some polished turbo headers for the truck off eBay. and once they arrived, they fit marvelously on the passenger side. The driver’s side, not so much. Sure enough, the factory steering shaft was never going to this combination to work.
Because I’ve used Borgeson Universal Co. in plenty of project vehicles, I knew that they could help me out with my issue. Sure, I could’ve gone to a junkyard and Frankenstein-welded something together, but I don’t trust that. I want to use a product that I knew I could rely on and going down the track at full speed, and needed trusty steering components.
Like I mentioned earlier, I searched to find what shaft material, shape, and size I would need and sure enough, Borgeson had it. If you hadn’t guessed it already, the factory shaft is coming out. To replace it, I needed two end joints and a piece of DD (steering shaft) stock rod to fit between the two. This will make our steering wheel to steering box connection.
Let’s Make It Happen
Getting all of the factory stuff off was first on the to-do list. Carefully removing the hardware that held the factory stuff tight, everything came off easier than I expected. Once the shaft was removed, this exposed two joint ends that would accept our new parts. The DD shaft that Borgeson provided was too long. The shaft comes in different lengths so regardless of what you’re working on, you have plenty of material to make your fitment right.
I started by laying the uncut bar stock next to my work area and sawed off a chunk getting it closer to the correct fitment. Once I laid it against the existing parts, I made my marks carefully giving myself some breathing room on each end. The one thing I didn’t want to do was cut it too short because once my new joints were installed, that would make the whole unit too short to fit.
With set screws on each side, you need enough material on the top and bottom of the rod for those screws to bite into. My cut was close enough that I had to shoehorn it into place but it allowed for a perfect fit. Now, let’s talk about the universal joints. The connections on the top and bottom were different. On the top, we needed the joint to connect the DD shaft to the steering shaft knuckle whereas the bottom needed to connect the DD shaft to the steering box splines.
We used P/N: 013449 to make our connection to the steering box and P/N: 014952 to make our steering knuckle marry the DD shaft. As I mentioned earlier, the set screws were tightened down snug and our steering shaft is now three-inches thinner. This gave us a lot more room for our new headers.
Like anyone would, I went ahead and put the headers on the engine to see just how much more clearance we would have. Although we did gain a ton of room compared to earlier, it was still dangerously close to the header. Because it doesn’t make a difference in terms of output, I went ahead and massaged the header lightly just to give myself some breathing room.
If you’re working on a project and steering clearance is a concern, or if you’re just wanting to upgrade your steering components to a more heavy-duty, and reliable part, head over to Borgeson Universal Co.’s website here. Project Two Face is making serious headway and we hope to have it at the track this year. Stay tuned for more updates on our LS-powered Ford Ranger.