Month: May 2012

Call to arms

Steering arms, in this case.

For some time, been scouring the internet looking for a pair of original Z28 outer steering arms for the Camaro.  These are extremely hard to find, and not currently reproduced.  (Same story goes for the chrome portions of the ’67 vent windows, if anybody has a pair in good shape, please let me know).

David Pozzi put together as close to a complete detailing of Camaro steering components as exists on the internet here.

I now have three pairs of outer steering arms-

3 Camaro outer steering arms

The leftmost arm is from Speedway Motors, which they are claimed would be shorter/faster than manual steer arms.  Their product description:

Don’t know if you ever thought about this or not, but the steering arms on some cars were a different length depending if they were power or manual steering. The manual cars had a longer arm and if you convert them to power steering you still have slow steering. These forged arms are shorter (faster) than manual steering arms

The middle arm is one I had on the car at purchase.  The car was manual steer, and the state of everything gave me no reason to think any of those components had ever been changed.

The right arm is the more recent addition.

Used two 1/2″ rods to keep the arms aligned.  Measurement is from the rear of the farthest hole.  Angle on the square is up at 2″, so the actual distance measured is 2″ less than appears on the ruler.  I’m looking at the distance from the “back” of the rearmost hole, to the “front” of the tie rod hole, maximizing the distance.  Working back from right to left on actual lengths-

Rightmost arm: 8 1/8″  (part number 3954876)

Steering arms for Z28 Camaro

Middle arm: 8 5/8″ (part number 3916266)

Manual steering arms for '67 Camaro

Leftmost arm: 9 1/8″ (Speedway part number 91034912)

Speedway motors Camaro steering arm - too long!

Tsk tsk on Speedway – their arms are longer than manual steer arms!  There is a clear 1/2″ difference in length with each arm.  If Speedway had made their arms shorter than manual steer arms, they’d be just fine, but they did the opposite.

Why the fuss over 1/2″?  A few reasons-

  • The shorter outer arm length provides a quicker steering ratio.  This means less steering input required for a given maneuver, and ultimately means less hand-over-hand, shuffle-steering maneuvers.  I hate moving my hands on the wheel, and loathe the slow steering of cars like the E36 era BMWs.
  • The shorter arm is less “in the way” of high offset wheels.  Of course, “high” offset in the early Camaro world is anything above zero, but in general the shorter arms help you avoid this situation:

The dreaded tie-rod rub.  The guys that run big bump steer spacers, get it worse.  The above is not my car though ironically, the original steering arms had the tie rod rubbing the inside of the sidewall of 245-14 tires on the ’84 Berlinetta wheels I drove the car down from Sacramento on.  Scary!

With the suspension all together, I’ve since measured for wheels with the manual steering arms, and the size of wheel I’d like to run in 18″, just barely clears in many places.  With the shorter Z28 arms, I could theoretically fit 17″ wheels with similar clearance, at least to the tie rods.

  • These arms are technically the correct part for the car.  A big part of this exercise is to experience what it would be like, to drive a vintage Trans-Am Camaro built to SCCA STX rules.  While I could probably get away with running one of the inferior arms under the “parts no longer available” allowance, it just wouldn’t be the same.

Sorry it’s been so long without an update everyone, still don’t plan on getting into full steam on this for another couple months.  For those of you wanting to see progress that I didn’t run into at the SD National Tour or ET Pro Solo, you can thank your SCCA brethren for one of the most effective guilt trips I’ve ever been on the wrong side of… 🙂

Lots more to come!

Site running in an upgraded home

Spent a little time over the last few days, moving the site to a host in Amazon’s EC2 “cloud” infrastructure.  The dusty laptop in my closet serving was 5 years old at the beginning of this project and is now over 7, long past its due date.

Got WordPress up to latest version and did some other general cleanup.  This should all be transparent to the site’s followers. 

I anticipate providing a lot more high-definition content in the coming months.  Amazon will be able to deliver the site’s big photos and video faster than my pro-sumer home connection could.

Don’t worry fans, this is me gearing the site up for the car’s exciting final build steps!