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Electric power steering on a 5/1600??

yourdy

Member
Just curious if anyone has used or would use electronic power steering on a 5/1600 car. It seems they have made some of the electric units stronger than they use to and it would save weight and a few extra moving parts. I would appreciate any thoughts. I'm not ready for ps on my build yet but hopefully will be soon.
Thanks for the help! Jim


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Wilson

Well-Known Member
Just curious if anyone has used or would use electronic power steering on a 5/1600 car. It seems they have made some of the electric units stronger than they use to and it would save weight and a few extra moving parts. I would appreciate any thoughts. I'm not ready for ps on my build yet but hopefully will be soon.
Thanks for the help! Jim


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Haven't seen a 5/1600 with electric power steering - most use a Char-Lynn with a center steer rack of some sort. It works, is simple, reduces/eliminates all the negative "feedback" to the steering wheel and takes very little HP. The down sides are that there is little to no "feel", it's hard on the steering rack, expensive and you have to run hydraulic hoses through the driver's compartment.....

One of the major problems in building a competitive 5/1600 car is reduction/elimination of "bump-steer"; the location of the tie rod/steering box junction relative to the tie rod/control arm junction essentially decides how good or bad the bump steer issue is. If you look at a few 5/1600 cars, you'll see that many have the sheet metal frame head cut to allow the tie rod/steering box junction to reside in the "sweet spot" (some cut way more than is allowed in the rule set - that's another discussion........). Because of the rule set limiting what we are allowed to alter, the limited space we have to work with and what's available on the market, most 5/1600's end up with the Char-Lynn. There are only a couple of cars with traditional "power rack" type steering boxes for the same reasons. An electric p/s unit might work - if you can make it fit, can reliably power it, can position it in the "sweet spot" within the rules and it's rugged enough to handle the enormous beating it's going to take (have you ever raced a 5/1600? the beating they take is amazing....). For us, there is no hurry to change what has worked well - with zero problems. There may be some benefits to electric power steering but, as we've all heard said, "you don't get something for nothing"; it still takes horsepower to run - it just gets it through the alternator instead of a hydraulic pump......

Try it out for the rest of us and let us know how it goes!
 

yourdy

Member
Mark,
Thank you very much for your thoughts! It means a lot. This is a new venture for me and a dream of many many years. I have a ways to go but making slow headway on it (being built in my garage in Central Oregon a long way from anyone with one). I have used your car for ideas to help me figure things out along the way.
I have just seen a couple different electric power steering units and didn't know if they could handle the abuse. This being one. Lindsay Engineering-1 - L-EPS Electric Power Steering. If they could they seem lighter weight and simpler. Not that either is always a good thing but just got me thinking of different options really and didn't know if anyone had gone that route at all. I wasn't going to do ps at all to start with but watching the videos you have on your website there is such a huge difference in the amount of steering effort from before you had it to after I can tell it is well worth getting it done now as I'm still building. Thank you again for your response and sharing your thought. Any other thoughts or advise is very much welcome. Here is my front end.
ImageUploadedByrace-deZert1461019717.652540.jpg


And by the way your car is looking great! I bet it feels really good to get it back together and running.
Thank you,
Jim


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Wilson

Well-Known Member
Looks good ! That looks like the same rack we use - SACO Magnum? You're allowed to clearance the frame head up to 1" for the tie rods to clear...... That allows you to lower the rack to get the inner tie rods closer to their "sweet spot". Some racers have clearanced way beyond what's permitted within the rules - they have almost no bump steer but they're also not in compliance with class rules and are exposed to protest as a result...... We chose not to clearance at all but most do and have better bump steer characteristics than we do because of it. Another thought about the steering system - you might want to make a plate to bridge between the backside of the two inner tie rod bolts (double shear). I know the rack is pretty stout where they attach but double shear is better......

We tried the "manual steering" route, it was simple and reliable but the car had a mind of it's own and would sometimes tear the steering wheel out of Trevor's hands then dart one way or the other unpredictably (bump steer in addition to the nature of a rack and pinion steering system)..... Trevor would go through a set of driving gloves every race - and I mean from new to unusable after one San Felipe 250! Between that and one too many "out of our hands" excursions off course where I was nearly impaled by a tree branch, we finally went the power steering route. Many experienced 5/1600 racers had been telling us to make the change, we just learn the hard way I guess.....

Yeah, installing power steering is expensive, adds complication and additional failure points/modes whichever way you go. Ultimately, you'll be faster and safer with power steering than without. We no longer have to fight the car to keep it on course - it goes where we want so we're smoother and faster as a result. All the "feedback" that Trevor had to fight with manual steering is gone - he's used the same pair of gloves for 3 Baja 1000's, 2 Baja 500's and a few San Felipe 250's!

Off topic - it looks like you're using a single circuit brake master cylinder (looks like a single reservoir - maybe it's just a common reservoir for both circuits?)? You're allowed to do so by the rules but that leaves you with no brakes at all if you tear out just one brake line (it will happen eventually and could make for a really bad day!)......

Back to your original question - sorry, I just don't know of anyone who's tried electric p.s. on a 5/1600. I've considered trying one but didn't see an available unit I thought would survive the first race (or even the first silt bed we came to!)..... Maybe the market has some new offerings? The unit you posted a link to looks interesting - might even survive a race!
 
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yourdy

Member
It is a Saco rack but not the magnum. I have been working with Rich at McKenzies for all my parts and he recommended this one over the magnum. He had been a lot of help and great to work with. Also is who suggested this master cylinder too. I never thought about that being a problem though. So I may rethink this master cylinder now. That could be really bad. Thank you for the advice on that. I can use all I can get.

I did clearance my frame head some. I kept it to a minimum but I was trying to get as much bump steer out as I could because I was planning on no power steering. I'm coming to realize though unfortunately my reflexes and reaction times are not what they once were so I've conceded to the idea of power steering now. Also knowing my sons will be driving also I want to give them more control for their safety too. I may look more into that system before going for the standard Charlynn system but I don't want to reinvent the wheel either so we'll see.
Thank you so much for your time!! I really appreciate it! I'm trying to learn as much as I can as I go and the support and advice I've gotten from a few of the 5/16 guys has been refreshing. Going to go to the baja500 in June to do a little more "research". ;) The Negrete Boys have invited me to go along with them and co pilot for a stint in their car. I'm just a little excited.
Thank you!!
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Slowly making progress..




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Wilson

Well-Known Member
reare head notching looks great, nicely done! Everyone at McKenzie's has been really helpful for us over the years, Steve in particular. Can't go wrong there in my opinion.

Running with the Negrete's at the '500 is a great opportunity to learn about 5/1600 racing. If they don't know it, it's not worth knowing - listen to what they have to say. You may not choose to do everything exactly they way they do but they have a depth of knowledge/experience that's hard to find elsewhere (and only a few are willing to share what they do have!).

Brakes - after running the Baja 1000 several times and seeing the many opportunities for disaster in the event of brake failure, I personally would not race with a single circuit system...... I can see how some might rationalize using a single circuit system for a play car in the sand dunes but for a full on race car racing any of the courses we've been on, it makes no sense to me. A stock VW "disk brake" dual circuit master cylinder works fine for us and gives us some redundancy. We don't have/need any proportioning valves in our system; the front/rear balance works out just about perfectly without. We have basically a stock VW brake system until you get to the actual brakes - we have CNC brakes front and rear. They work well with little maintenance. One note of caution though - the CNC microstub rear brake calipers use 4 largish pistons (1.5" dia. I think) per side and the VW master cylinder is barely up to the task ( more pedal travel than we really wanted but it worked). We started with that setup - it worked great initially but over the course of several races, something changed and we could no longer make the VW master cylinder work with the CNC rear brakes to our satisfaction. We changed the rear brakes to Wilwood calipers that use 4 slightly smaller pistons (1.25" I think) and have a firm pedal with the ability to lock up all 4 wheels any time we want again

I'm not sure why you would choose to use a single circuit system over a dual circuit system other than the aftermarket availability of several different size master cylinders to fit your caliper choices...... You still have to use a stock pedal cluster per the rule set, and that limits what you are physically able to do. If you get to run from the "Summit" to the desert with the Negrete's at the '500, you'll see why I'm not a fan of single circuit systems (and that's not the worst example I can think of, just the one you might experience at the '500). We don't use our brakes much but when we need them, it may be to avoid blowing a corner and driving off the edge of a cliff/mountain....... Seriously.
 
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yourdy

Member
Very helpful info! Thank you! I have the same CNC breaks in the front and Wilwood in the rear. The single circuit didn't even cross my mind honestly. It was recommended by Rich as a good master cylinder for a disc break set up but I hadn't even considered the potential complete system failure. I will probably change it out for the stock VW disk break duel circuit like you are running. Not the kind of failure I'm interested in risking for sure. Thank you for pointing that out!
The Negrete's have been great. I meet them at the Slash X race and they took pity on me I think. Super nice guys! Took me and two of my sons in for the weekend and let us help them out and learn as much as we could hanging out with them in their pits. I am very honored that they invited me to go with them to the 500. I hope I can be more of a help than a hinderance for them. And soak up as much info and experience as I can.
ImageUploadedByrace-deZert1461138536.556889.jpg
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NIKAL

Well-Known Member
Looking at the picture above /\, I'm not sure why you cut the whole rear package tray out? That's allot of work to put it back in, and because its old steel, now you will be chasing body cracking.

Plus I suggest you build your lower main rail first before building the rest of the cage (Lower tube from beam to torsion housing.) Then the rest of the cage is built off that lower tube. (Think buggy frame)

Regarding Electric PS, If and when I build another car, I will be looking very close at using electric PS. My UTV has it, and have considered converting my current prerun Baja to it.

On my last Baja play trip we were having dinner at Jardines in San Quentin and there was a rally nice 2 seat a-arm prerun buggy (ecotec engine) with 35" Baja TA's in the rear & 35" MT Baja Pro front tires. After talking with the guy he said he had electric PS on his prerun buggy. He had got tired of the Hydraulic PS issues (Two failed pumps in two trips was enough!) and converted his car to Electric PS. He said its been one of the best improvements he has made. For one he eliminated the pump, lines, servo, power ram rack, reservoir etc.. Two he said even if the electric unit failed or was turned off you can still steer the car, just like a non PS car (This is true as its the same way on the utv) so your not going to crash if it craps out or locks up. I'm not sure how it worked but he said his unit had a control box with a dial where he could adjust the speed and amount of feedback the electric unit made? He was saying he had a few thousand Baja miles on his car with the electric PS and has had zero issues. Plus the whole system installed was much less then what he had paid for his Hydraulic kit. He said he bought his Electric PS as a kit from a guy who makes them up, and said the actual PS unit was a GM unit. He thinks its from the car platform, like the Chevy Cobalt, Cruise or Impala. The other prerunner with them said they too were impressed with how well it worked and if he was to do it over, he too would do Electric PS.

And like Wilson said above; most 5/1600 guys end up using the Charlynn set up, as it easier to make work, but on our 5/1600 we did the Ram style and was able to make it fit and works great. We stayed within the 1 inch pan rules and have our rack dropped as far as possible. So its do-able. Its just allot of time and hard work, but like everything, if you take the time and work at it, you can make it work. Just got to think outside the box of what everyone else does.

Regarding the brake master cylinder, back in 2001 we were running the duel circuit master cylinder with duel CNC brake fluid reservoirs, when most were running the Single Bus Master cylinder, with plastic reservoir. Our theory was like what Wilson said; you wont lose 100% of your brakes if you have a failure at one wheel. Back then you had to run drum brakes and master cylinders could fail and wipe out your brake shoes too. When the rules changed and we could run disk brakes, we looked and found a place that could machine & rebuild a duel circuit master cylinder to accommodate disk brakes. At the time no one was making aftermarket stock masters for disk brakes. This was just one of those small details that made our car so advanced for its time.
 

yourdy

Member
Thank you for your input! The package tray was cut out years ago WAY before I ever thought I'd be doing this. Unfortunately so was the dash. I have a "new" dash welded back in and I'm working on the rear package tray now. Fun stuff for an inexperienced welder. But I'm getting there.
As far as the main hoops go on the cage. I was under the understanding that they both had to have plates welded to the base of them and bolted with a backer plate to the floor pan to be SCORE legal. Am I mistaking on that? I very well could be. It was my interpretation of the cage requirements in the rule book.
I'm completely new to this so I'm just trying to do it as close to what the rules state.
The real world use of electric power steering is very helpful and gives me hope there is a good reliable option to use. Thank you for that info. It is nice to hear. :)


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NIKAL

Well-Known Member
T
As far as the main hoops go on the cage. I was under the understanding that they both had to have plates welded to the base of them and bolted with a backer plate to the floor pan to be SCORE legal. Am I mistaking on that? I very well could be. It was my interpretation of the cage requirements in the rule book.
I'm completely new to this so I'm just trying to do it as close to what the rules state.
The real world use of electric power steering is very helpful and gives me hope there is a good reliable option to use. Thank you for that info. It is nice to hear. :)
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Yes per the rules if you were to bolt or weld a cage directly to a pan or floorboard you are required to use a backer plate. But that is not the correct way to build a cage. What you are wanting to build is a full tubed chassis with a bug body over it. You want to tie in both front and rear suspension points to the chassis. This is why you will want to run a tube from the lower beam, all the way along the pan and tie it into the rear torsion housing. Then you notch the body for the tubes to go through. In regard to the rear torsion housing you should also consider trussing it in to make it stronger. you will want to notch the rear frame horns to the seem line to allow you to lower the Bus gear box.

If I was you I would either wait until the Baja 500 when you can take a close look at several 5/1600 at Contingency or the Negrete's car up close. Or maybe call Ernie Negrete and ask if he can take a few pictures of their car for you in the places of interest so you can get a better understanding of what your needing to do.
 

yourdy

Member
Thank you for the explanation. I was just under the impression that it had to be bolted to the pan. I like the idea of having a tube running the entire length of the car tying the front beam into the rear Torsion housing. I'm not going to have time to do any work on the cage until after the 500 anyway so I'll just scope it out more when I'm there. Thank you very much for your input! I need all the help I can get. And I have notched the rear frame horns already. . No torsion housing bracing yet though. Was planning on it. Thank you!


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