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socorob

Saturn Electric Power Steering In A Datsun 280Z

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Posted (edited)

After having and moving all the parts around my garage multiple times for about a year,  I finally got some of that motivation to try to see if I could get the Saturn electric power steering into my Z.  Mine is an LS swap with vintage air so not sure if the under dash or under hood part will work with a stock engine or not. Also so far this weekend  I only got the fab part complete and only turned the wheel back and forth in place, I haven't driven it yet, or wired it. My goal was to get all the parts in without cutting any parts of the structure of the car and have no welded parts on the torque side of the motor. It can only fit in 1 spot, with absolutely no play in any direction, clocked around 10:00. If you were to relocate the flasher that's behind the AC vent and remove the bracket holding it, it would give you another 1/4" space fore and aft and probably let you clock it to about 11:00. Hopefully once it's completed, it will drive well. I will start at the steering rack and work up from there.

Parts used:

Woodward UA113109 Datsun U joint

DD shaft

Dorman 614-001 uni-fit cv joint boot (autozone)...2 if you want to put one on the inside of the firewall also to dress it up

Hose clamp

ROL exhaust tubing 548510 (O'Reillys)

2 R18Z bearings (Ebay)

Saturn Vue steering column with metal control box (not plastic one) 2002-2007

Bruno controller (Ebay) http://www.ebay.com/itm/Saturn-Vue-Chevy-Equinox-electric-power-steering-controller-EPAS-/122354361512?hash=item1c7ce364a8:g:I7AAAOSw0cdZfi49&vxp=mtr

Hardened bolt for set screw

5/8 outer snap ring (Ace Hardware)

 

Miscellaneous parts:

primer, paint, bolts, welding wire, flat bar, etc.

 

I got the woodward UA113109 universal joint to connect to the Datsun rack and convert it to DD steering rod.post-37191-0-88817000-1502683265_thumb.jpgpost-37191-0-01328400-1502683405_thumb.jpg

Edited by socorob

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Posted (edited)

Next I cut a piece of DD rod 17 5/8" long. 2 notches need to be made for the set screws on the woodward ujoint and 1 notch for the bolt on the other end for the saturn ujoint. 

 

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The Saturn lower collapsible shaft has a small punch on it the keeps the 2 parts from separating. Bend that up slightly to separate the 2 parts. You will re punch it when you're finished. Pull them apart to pass through the firewall. You have to take the Z plate and cut the pipe out that passes through it to eventually weld on a ROL 548510 from O'Reillys. Inside that will be 2 R18Z bearings tacked at each end of the pipe. Tack the bearings with the Saturn shaft in place to make sure things stay straight. I drilled 3 small holes around each edge and did small tack with a wet rag to cool it quickly. A Dorman 614.001 boot that's cut to fit with just a narrow hose clamp on the big side and no clamp on the small side so the shaft can spin freely will help keep out water, dirt and hot air.

 

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Edited by socorob

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Posted (edited)

The column tubes need to be cut. Before removing the column from the car, trace the bolts that go through the U shaped clamps up into the dash, so you can mount the column while fitting everything into the exact same spot. You will notice that the Datsun steering wheel was installed crooked from the factory. If you try to straighten the wheel so its perpendicular to the center line of the car, you may not be able to get the plastic clamshell back around it without doing some trimming. While everything is apart, it's a good time to clean and grease the bearing and bushing. The Z tube is cut about 11 1/2" from the top down, and the Saturn is cut about 2 1/2" from the bottom up. The tubes slide into one another. I wrapped some tape around the Z tube to make it a tight centered fit. When it was ready to tack weld, I had it mounted on the motor with the steering shaft in place to help keep everything centered and straight. Nothing gets tacked until all the pieces are fitted together into the car and adjusted for perfect fit.

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The Z steering shaft needs to be cut about 11-11 1/4" (lost my measurement) from the top down. The Saturn splined coupler needs to be cut off to use as a sleeve,  2" long. I got a drill bit that was just slightly smaller (1/32 or 1/64) smaller than the bottom of the Z shaft. I put the Z shaft in the freezer and heated up the Saturn coupler with a heat gun. Press the 2 pieces together, may require a rubber hammer, block of wood, etc. Make sure you figured out and mark the depth of how much the Z shaft has to go into the Saturn coupler, because once they are together, that's it, they are jammed and no getting them apart. If you have it correct, weld the pieces together. I used a 5 mm bolt (not pictured, I removed the allen head in the picture and used a regular bolt to drill through the Saturn coupler and tapped the hole, to use to keep the shaft from siding in and out The allen head was too tall and I wanted a little more clearance inside the tube).

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Now put it all together in the car and clock, line everything up, get the motor where it needs to be, and put some tacks onto everything. It helps to have blocks of wood, etc to prop everything in place and at the right angles a depths. Make sure everything is absolutely perfect, then tack it up, remove from the car and weld. I had to get a new 5/8" outer snap ring from Ace hardware to use on the top of the column to hold the bushing in because the original one just bent out when I removed it and wouldn't snap back. When you're finished, it should look something like this. Reinstall into car. Put switches back on column before installing, you can't get to some of the screws once the column is in place. I used a piece of flat bar to make a bracket going from one of the bolts that hold the motor in place up to the steering support column for more bracing. You can also remove the bolts from the motor and spin it 180 degrees to get the power wires in a better place, if needed.

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REMEMBER, THIS IS IN A 1978 WITH VINTAGE AIR AND JCI LS SWAP, NOT SURE IF THERE ARE ANY DIFFERENCES IN THE STOCK SETUP. IF YOU RELOCATE THE FLASHER AND BRACKET, YOU MAY NEED TO ADD A LITTLE LENGTH TO THE DD AND REMOVE SOME FROM THE SHAFT AND TUBE. ALWAYS TEST FIT THE PIECES BEFORE WELDING.

Edited by socorob

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Posted (edited)

For a little more clearance, I removed the control box from the motor. I decided to desoldered the wires from the control board, to be able to leave them as long as possible coming out of the motor. MAKE SURE YOU MARK THESE WIRES AND NOT CROSS THEM, THE MOTOR WILL MALFUNCTION IF YOU DO AND TURN THE WRONG WAY AND DO WEIRD THINGS IF YOU DO. THERE ARE 4 WIRES, 2 BLUE, 2 BLACK, SO THEY ARE EASY TO MIX UP, SO TAKE YOUR TIME AND LABEL IT! I soldered some longer wires back onto the control board so they will reach from where I mount it to the motor.

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I heat shrinked and used a zip tie with mounting screw hole to one of the allen head bolts to use as a strain relief.

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I had an aluminum plate laying around, so I bolted the control box to it, with heat sink paste between the box and the plate.

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The box had heat sink paste between it and the motor, so I did the same. You will need a Bruno control box from Ebay. I mounted the plastic box for that on the same plate. Since I no longer have the factory ecu, I will try to mount it where that was under the plastic cover.

The Bruno controller come with a knob to adjust the amount of assist. I want to eventually put it in the dash where the factory trip reset was but now I just have an empty hole, since I'm using speedhut gauges. It's not long enough and would have to have a bracket made inside the dash frame to do this. I will leave enough slack in the wires just in case the dash ever needs to come out for anything, then I will mount it in there. For a temporary mount in the meantime, I made a bracket and mounted in to the bracket that holds the hood release and vent cable, using the screw that's between the 2 cables..

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That's how far I got this weekend.

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Edited by socorob

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Thanks. I haven't driven it yet, so can't say if it's good or not. Hopefully I can get a chance to work on it an evening or 2 this week to get it finished to see how it drives. To me the steering was one of the few things that let the car down. What I would like to do is get a 240 rack (that is if they fit into a 280, does anyone know?), I have short knuckles waiting to go on, and get a smaller steering wheel to get quicker, easier steering in my car.

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Great stuff, good write up. I did this last winter and am very pleased with how well it integrates into the Z. Bruno's control unit has this weird little 2 second delay before it kicks in but I never need more than an 1/8th of a turn of the knob for lots of assist.

I like how you managed to use so much of the Saturns steering shaft, I couldn't get that stuff out of my donor car.

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Connected all the wires up except power. Made a little plate to cover where the sensor wires go into the motor. A 5/16-24 tap works in the holes already in the unit to bolt the plate to. Reinstall the little P shaped gasket back into it. By mounting the control box up high, I was able to plug the motor directly into the control box without having to lengthen the wires.

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Got it working last night. I only went up and down the street at slow speed, but power steering is wonderful. When I hooked it up, it turned easier right than left. If you remove the cover from the Saturn control box, there are 3 potentiometers. If you turn the one labeled VR1 in very small increments one way or the other, you will find the setting to get it equal.

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I have a Saturn electric power steering unit and the electronic interface available for anyone who would like to do this conversion.

I was going to use this on a Miata engine swap, but decided to engineer a new engine bracket and retain the hydraulic PS system.

PM if interested.

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