Borgeson Conversion

My recently purchased 69 came with a rebuildable steering gear box in the trunk, which I took as a clue. The PS pump has a remanufactured tag on it, the lines don’t fit properly, can’t run through the factory frame mounted 2-hole bushing, and are wire-tied together to keep them off the ground. The system screams like an elephant when I get remotely close to the left or right stops…Oh, and everything but the reman pump leaks.

A club member suggested a Borgeson conversion a few months ago and I’m close to pulling the trigger. This car is a driver that I plan to take on trips around town or to work at least a few times a week, so pleasing a concours judge is not on my priority list. 14:1 vs 16:1 already has my ears up. I remember my dad taking potential purchases to a parking lot to spin them in circles and see how many turns it took “lock to lock”, so a tight steering setup makes sense.

This is the suggested equipment when I asked Borgeson’s sales dept and told them I wanted to swap the pump as well: “For this situation you will want to purchase the kit for a manual steering car #999021 and separately purchase the drag link adapter #990003 to eliminate the control valve.”

The install seems simple. The performance upgrade seems like a no-brainer. The simplified system and power vs power-assist upgrade seems like a real improvement in drivability. Have I missed a downside to this conversion during my research?

As always, thanks for any advice you can provide.

I don’t have experience with the borgeson setup but I can tell you that once I finished going through the entire stock system (column, rag joint, steering box, control valve, ram cylinder, hoses) on my 68 it was an amazing difference. No leaks, no noise, good feel.

I’m looking at doing this swap or an electric setup. My
factory system works ok and doesn’t leak(yet) but I want something better and less places to leak.

Iirc the borg box is simply an Isuzu box retrofitted for mustangs/cougars, it’s not a specific built box but works for the application. You will want to run the Saginaw pump for best results as it matches the pressure and flow better then the ford pump can. If you have a manual the zbar can be a hang up as it interferes with the fittings in the box. There are zbars that work with the borg box but they end up not being capable with headers so if planning to have both you may have to get out the welder about modify to suit your needs.

I’m sure others can chime in that have done the swap.

I have a 68 with a bone stock power steering system that has a bit of play, however I still have a plan to swap the original tilt-away column with another fully rebuilt one that I have on hand to see if there is any improvement. I have another 68, also with a rebuilt tilt-away column, that I swapped a Borgeson system into. It is a bit better, but it’s not like driving a new vehicle, but I knew that was not going to happen. I didn’t upgrade to the Saginaw pump, so at parking speed it isn’t as responsive as the stock system. One of the reasons that I didn’t go with the Saginaw pump was because I was pretty sure it was not going to fit with the factory A/C system (and I wanted the under hood to look stock). I am looking into either changing to a smaller PS pulley, or seeing if the pump pressure can be increased a bit to help with parking.
Either way, the entire system needs to be gone through to make sure each part is working the way it is supposed to be. I also think that a proper wheel alignment in required and all the better if the shop is experienced with older vehicles and have the knowledge to tweak things to make the vehicle handle better on modern roads and driving situations, rather than the original setup our cats were given from the factory.
My better half’s 69 XR-7 convertible has factory PS and it works wonderfully.
I’ve also been working on a local club member’s 68 cat to try to improve the drivability and steering. He originally wanted to swap to Borgeson, but I explained that the stock system should drive just as nice as the Borgeson, just as long as everything is working properly. That extra tilt-away looks like it will be going into his car, temporarily, while his tilt-away gets rebuilt.
The biggest complaint is also leaking fluid and that it seems impossible to get it to stop, even after replacing every hose. The hoses are a huge hassle, but if they are installed properly they will not leak. Never put thread tape/sealer on the hose connections.
I’m a Ford guy through and through, cut me and I bleed Ford blue. But I will heartily tell you that the Ford power steering system from the 50s to the mid/late 70s is not very good, but you may need to change it to a rack and pinion, or more modern system, if you want that new car driving feel for your old Cougar.
Hopefully I have not made your decision even more difficult, but who better to give advice than someone that has experience with both.

I put a borgeson in my 68. It is an easy install, cleaner looking underneath than the ford system. The Saginaw pump mount… not as clean looking.

But, it allows hoses to be routed away from exhaust heat.

It works as advertised. And the cost is not really any different than redoing the entire ford system. Not “correct”, but mine’s a goer, not a show-er, so troublefree function was more important than appearance.

If you have long tube headers, the borgeson does intrude slightly more than the factory gearbox. My set from FPA was designed for it and has great clearance. Other brands may be fine or not.

I put the Borgeson setup on my ‘69 with tilt away and a saginaw pump. Works great for the last 10 years, but has developed a little leak. Could not use the z bar with it and my shorty headers so I converted to a hydraulic clutch set up. Never could get the internal throw out bearing to not leak so I built a bracket and installed an external slave cylinder that works flawlessly.