In the past couple of issues, we have been throwing parts at an ex-'bagged '94 Chevy truck in the attempt to make it a G-machine. We started off by lowering the thing with a drop kit from Stylin' Concepts that consisted of a drop coil up front and a shackle hanger kit in the rear. That got the truck down enough to make the 18-inch Ultra Wheel/Nitto Tire combo visually work. The rolling stock features the new Hot Schott rim that is wide enough (9 inches with a 10mm backspacing) to hold the 295/45ZR18 Nitto NT-555 that will give us about an 11-inch-wide contact patch. This should be plenty of rubber on the ground to hold the truck, but we would have to get everything else up to par. So, we trekked over to Energy Suspension to have the 12-year-old rubber bushings replaced with a performance-minded set of polyurethane bushings that will deflect much less if at all.
Things were really coming together, and the truck was already feeling better, but there was still way too much body roll when we turned into a corner. We called John Hotchkis from Hotchkis Performance and picked his brain about what would be the proper sway bars for the truck. He recommended his company's 1-7/16-inch bar for the front and a 7/8-inch bar out back. Those results almost immediately made the truck handle flat and gave us a lot more confidence in the truck's cornering capabilities.
We were going to install a bitchen set of adjustable QA1 shocks and do the final testing on the rig, but the steering box was just worn out. No matter how good the truck could corner, we couldn't move the wheel fast enough to make use of it, plus with everything else being so tight now the steering wheel feel was just crappy. We decided to tackle the steering box issue first, and we knew the perfect company to call. AGR has been making quick ratio steering boxes for musclecars for a long time, and we have used the company's products on a few personal cars. The results were great back then, and when we logged onto the AGR site and noticed a quick ratio performance steering box for our truck, the click was made and the order was shipped.
What makes AGR's box better than a stock replacement? The first thing is the option on ratios. The company sells quick ratio boxes, not just replacements. The second selling point would be the steps AGR takes to make the boxes bulletproof and highly efficient. On top of all that, AGR also sells matching pump units for a total performance steering system.
The box features a newly designed total bearing control system that incorporates a specially machined casting, with a triple roller bearing arrangement that supports the sector shaft at both ends, eliminating excess side-play. The bores are mechanically polished to a fine-micron finish, and high-temperature seals are used throughout. AGR whittles out heavy-duty billet aluminum, finned end caps and the four-bolt top covers to provide better sealing properties and enhance the look as well. Internally, you will find oversize stainless guide balls, specially designed valves, and some special conversion work on each gear to improve performance and endurance. After all of that, each gear is 100-percent dyno-checked for pressure, balance, and returnability. Finally, each gear undergoes a fluorescent leak test, so you know your box is ready to install.
AGR also sells matching power steering (P.S.) pumps that have been put through the same steps the gearboxes received. Also, the company performs custom porting to ensure strong fluid flow, while providing a long and cool life. The bearings are custom-sized for maximum performance at any rpm, and each pump is 100-percent dyno-checked for pressure, response, and flow at varying speeds.
Combined with all that technology, you will have a steering wheel that feels like it's hooked to a true performance machine, not just a truck. When it's time to install the parts, be aware you will need to pull the power steering pump down to bare bones and unhook the steering arm. If you don't have the proper pullers and installing tools, you might want to either get some loaners or have a professional do it. The Sport Truck shop doesn't have those fancy pullers and such, so we went over to Streetshock in Redondo Beach, California, one more time and had Shaugn, Brian, and Ryan knock it out for us. These guys rock when it comes to anything suspension. The only complaint we have is the choice of tunes on the stereo. Two hours of Color Me Bad? Really? Next time, we are bringing music! All joking aside, if you are tired of moving the wheel a mile just to change lanes, then read on.