When it comes to accessory drive systems, there are two schools of thought: go all-out visually with the nicest-looking pulleys, brackets, and tensioners made, or keep things simple in an attempt to reduce cost and keep a stealthy look. We've featured many cars with both approaches, and there is much to appreciate in either camp. When it comes to PHR's project Street Sweeper, our 496ci big-block-powered 1968 Chevy Chevelle, the goal is to deal out maximum punishment on the street while presenting a low-key vibe underhood. This Chevelle is not about bling, it's about brutality, so we do our best to make our hardware reflect that ethos.
Until now, our Chevelle has relied on some stock big-block pulleys and brackets. There's nothing wrong with stock, except that in our case we were experiencing repeated incidents of throwing belts at high rpm. Dragstrip runs and chassis dyno sessions were increasingly being interrupted by belt tossing-both an inconvenience and an embarrassment. In the case of chassis dyno testing, we were able to observe the belt toss first hand; the power steering belt always ejected first due to a pulley/pump alignment issue. Once the power steering belt came off, it would invariably become entwined in the alternator belt, which then came off. Our mission was to fix the problem without abandoning our aesthetic of simplicity, and for that we turned to the Summit Racing catalog.
The solution to the gross...
The solution to the gross misalignment of our pulleys was March Performance's mid-mount power steering pump bracket kit (PN 20151, $121.95). Everything we needed was in the kit except the pulley and belt.
The core problem was power steering pump alignment, and there are relatively few companies offering power steering pump bracket kits for big-block Chevelles. The problem is that GM A-bodies have a front steer steering box, which interferes with the power steering pump being mounted in the normal low position on the driver side. On Chevelles and other GM A-bodies you need what they call a mid-mount bracket. March Performance offers a mid-mount P/S bracket kit for big-block Chevelles that Summit sells for just $121.95. For the long water pump like we have, it's PN 20151.
Although nothing was wrong with our stamped-steel factory alternator bracket, it was starting to look pretty crappy. We figured since we'd be fixing the P/S pump bracket, we should look into doing the alternator too. We discovered that Summit has a really cool alternator bracket kit for just $69.95; we liked it because it had a tumbled, matte aluminum finish and an easy threaded adjustment strut for tightening the belt. We pulled the trigger on that, and also ordered a 5.75-inch diameter Borgeson power steering pulley for our Saginaw Type I keyway pump. The total cost for all this, including the two bracket kits, pulley, and a pair of new belts, was just $270.87. That's a far cry from a complete front runner system, and so far it seems to work just fine. We've had this baby to red line several times since installing this setup, and it's been trouble free. Moreover, we've retained a very Spartan look underhood, and that suits the Street Sweeper Chevelle just fine.
|WHERE THE MONEY WENT
|Mid-mount power steering bracket kit, LWP, big-block Chevy
|Alternator mounting bracket kit, LWP
|5 3/4-inch power steering pump pulley
|47.5-inch power steering V-belt
|48-inch alternator belt
|*Pricing from Summit Racing
This before shot of the stock...
This before shot of the stock alternator setup shows a beat up, but otherwise serviceable, accessory drive. Our biggest complaint was the difficulty of adjusting the belt tension, which usually resulted in skinned knuckles and a bent bracket.
This is what we started with-a...
This is what we started with-a poorly aligned power steering pump that defied our every effort to line up with the crank pulley. We even fabricated a custom stainless steel bracket, but no dice. The result was frequent belt tossing.
Summit has a pretty extensive...
Summit has a pretty extensive line of accessory mounting bracket kits, including this alternator kit for big-block Chevys with a long water pump (PN SME-2025, $69.95). We like the tumbled matte finish, which exudes a low-key, understated attitude.
We reused our stock power...
We reused our stock power steering pump because the return line on the back of the reservoir was at the edge of the pump, allowing it to clear the cylinder head on the driver side. Here we're bolting on the two braces to the pump using existing holes in the pump.
The March P/S bracket kit...
The March P/S bracket kit includes spacers, which must be placed between the rear bracket and the pump. This creates a space between the two brackets that's the exact width of the water pump attachment boss. March includes more spacers in case you need them.
The main P/S pump bracket...
The main P/S pump bracket in the March kit uses two Allen head bolts and two billet spacer tubes; preassemble them like this and thread the bolts into the water pump loosely.
We found that the adjustment...
We found that the adjustment slot of the bracket produced a very narrow range of adjustment due to the slot's vertical orientation.
This Borgeson 5.75-inch diameter...
This Borgeson 5.75-inch diameter pulley has a keyway, and slides on a .662-inch diameter shaft. This is the most common shaft style for a Saginaw Type I pump, but some use a press-fit pulley on a .75-inch shaft. If your pump has a hex nut on the end, it's the same as ours, and this is your pulley. We ordered the Borgeson billet pulley in an unpolished form for $56.99, but you can get it polished for $6 more.
March's instructions say to...
March's instructions say to install the main bracket first, but we discovered that you can't get the pump behind it if you do. Instead, loosely bolt the pump brackets to the pump brackets first using a 5/16-inch Allen wrench. Note how the return tube on the reservoir clears the cylinder head; this is the only type of pump/reservoir configuration that will work with the March bracket kit. (We know because we tried several pumps.) On most Saginaw pumps, the return tube interferes with the cylinder head on the big-block, so find one with the tube at the edge of the reservoir.
Here's the March P/S bracket...
Here's the March P/S bracket kit installed on our 496 big-block with a fresh 47.5-inch V-belt and the hoses reconnected. We discovered it was way easier to wrap a shorter belt over the pulley before tightening all the bracket bolts, then tightening the bracket bolts, instead of adjusting the pump by the bracket slot. Note how the crank and P/S pulley line up perfectly!
On the alternator side, the...
On the alternator side, the main bracket of Summit's big-block, long water pump alternator kit connects to the water pump with two 5/16-inch Allen head bolts.
Another 5/16-inch Allen head...
Another 5/16-inch Allen head bolt goes through the pivot point, then through a precision billet spacer, and finally into the cylinder head. The alignment of the Summit kit was flawless.
The Summit alternator bracket...
The Summit alternator bracket kit in assembled form. The 496-inch big-block looks much cleaner and belt adjustment is no longer a chore.