Part 1: Power steering swap for forearm relaxation
What do you do when it looks like everyone in the world is having fun with Jeeps? If you love Toyotas, you show how easy it is to have the same fun, maybe more, with an old FJ. That was the idea when we came across an old FJ-45 with a dead Straight-Six and a few body dings.
In the future, we hope to get a passel of technical stories out of this vehicle: shortening the bed (basically turning our 45 into a 40), reconditioning the stock axles, and making this the most flexy leaf-spring setup on the planet. But for now, we'll settle for nailing down one issue common on lifted FJs-power steering.
Early Toyotas, FJ-40s through FJ-55s, used worm-and-roller steering gears. Great for forearm building; not so great for long, winding, tight trail climbing on big tires. We should note, this is not necessarily a driveway install without challenge. There is grinding, welding, and torch cutting required. Downey Off-Road showed us how to install the much-needed, AGR-prepped, GM Saginaw power steering conversion.
Because we've got plans for this FJ, we removed the engine, interior, and hood before starting the conversion (of course, this isn't necessary for the install). Our FJ had a column shifter (note the two shafts through the firewall) which we completely removed, planning to install a floor-mounted tranny lever later on. A floor shift would be necessary even if we planned to keep the factory tranny.
Here's the theory: Simply put, we're creating a more direct route for the steering linkage with U-joint and yokes, turning six tie-rod bushings into four, eliminating the less-efficient worm-and-roller box, and saving ourselves the obvious liabilities of exposed linkage in the left-front fenderwell. We're eliminating "middlemen" between the tires and steering wheel--specifically, two extra tie-rod ends and a bell crank.