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PSC Motorsports

ROCKCRAWLER.com
PSC Motorsports
How Tom Allen Steered His
Company to the Top of the Sport

By Jack Brinks

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PSC Motorsports
PSC Motorsports' 10,000 sq. ft. Azle, Texas facility
Company Overview
Tom Allen has been in the power steering business longer than most off-roaders have been around.  He started his first business re-manufacturing rack & pinion steering gears in 1983. Twelve years later, he opened his first retail business, building custom steering gears and systems for racing and off-road applications.  A few years after that, he sold his part of that business.

PSC Motorsports started out very small, in a 1200 square foot building in Tom’s backyard. Tom’s wife of 19 years, Kim, handled office duties in the kitchen of their home.  Before long, however, it was time to think bigger, as the business had doubled every year.  That prompted a move into PSC’s current facility, located in the small town of Azle, Texas.  This new building is almost ten times the size of that original shop.  Wanting to consolidate off-site machining operations, Tom is currently in the market for an even bigger facility.  Ah, such a problem to have!

With business doubling every year, and 2006 starting out looking like even another record breaker, PSC Motorsports currently has 14 employees and over 200 dealers.  Over 90% of their business is off-road related, with much of it generated from their website: www.pscmotorsports.com, even though a retail sales counter is manned by off-road savvy employees, like General Manager, Karl Westendorf.  In fact, I was impressed that several times during my brief visit customers were escorted back into the shop area to help them determine what they needed for their rigs.  Nothing like a business that employs folks who know what their talking about! 

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PSC Motorsports parts counter and showroom
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Vehicles in progress in the shop

The Manufacturing Process
Steering gear and pump cores are received in bulk from several reputable suppliers.  After initial inspection, each one is disassembled, thoroughly cleaned, and then inspected again to insure quality of the housings.  Any question or concern and it’s scrap!

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Box of cores, waiting to be cleaned
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Cores in process
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A worker cleans each core
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Cores ready to be turned into PSC boxes

Once clean, the parts are sorted and stored, waiting for an order.  Tom says he utilizes the “just in time” manufacturing process for most parts, mainly because of the variety of applications, but also in order to reduce inventory of unnecessary parts.  When the order comes in, the machining and modification process gets put into motion. 

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PSC machining and assembly area
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A gear box being built

So what makes PSC’s stuff work so well?  Lots of little things, like enlarging the pressure ports in the rotary valve of the steering gear, along with custom machining of the torsion bar (see accompanying cross-section of a power steering gear for location). 

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PSCThe rotary valve “senses” the force a driver puts on the steering wheel, directing pressurized fluid as necessary to provide “power assist.”  The key to the rotary valve is the torsion bar, which is a thin rod of metal that twists as torque is applied by the driver through the steering wheel.  The top of the bar is connected to the steering wheel through the column and shaft, and the bottom or the bar is connected to the worm gear, which moves the rack-piston, which in turn (no pun intended) moves the sector shaft.  The sector shaft is connected to the steering linkage through the Pitman arm.

So, why does this custom machining of the torsion bar matter?  Because it’s a big part of what gives the steering it’s “feel.”  If the torsion bar is too stiff, you can get a jerky reaction.  If it is too soft, the steering can feel mushy.  Also, larger ports in the rotary valve (see photo for comparison) allow more fluid to move faster, ready to react to the driver’s wishes.

PSCAnother plus is the PSC power steering pump.  A larger (thicker) elliptical pump ring is the biggest difference.  Almost all pumps are of the “vane” type, using a rotor with numerous vanes inside the elliptical pump ring to create pressure.  Fluid is trapped between the vanes as it rotates, forcing the fluid out under pressure as the vanes move from the longer diameter of the pump ring to the shorter diameter.  The thicker ring moves more volume, working well with the increased demands of the hydraulic assist cylinder (which is also manufactured by PSC).

Many other parts, such as reservoirs, caps, pulleys, and gear plugs are machined locally in Denton, Texas, at Marshall Precision Machining.  A quick trip up the road was interesting, to say the least.  It’s amazing what can be done with the knowledge and right equipment.  It was exciting to watch gear end plugs being machined with the PSC logo, and various gears and pulleys being machined, but the highlight was checking out a huge 1610 front axle u-joint yoke they make from solid stock. Check out the photo!

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Finished parts at Marshall Precision Machining
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Tom Allen holds a 1610 yoke

Once all of the individual parts have been assembled, the guys in shipping take over, putting everything into kits for boxing up and shipping out.  While reviewing this part of the process, Tom’s young son, Josh, assembled a cutaway reservoir for us. Like father, like son!

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Parts in bins waiting to be shipped
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The gang hanging out in the shipping area
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A cutaway reservoir for us to have a look at
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Josh holds a cutaway reservoir

If you ever get a chance to spend a few moments talking to Tom Allen, you’ll begin to understand what is meant by the term “entrepreneur.”  First and foremost, though, he is an engineer, fortunately with a passion for off-roading. Just check out the engineering on his yet-to-be-finished rig. Ford 9” center sections with Unimog portal ends!

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PSC also sells products from other companies in the off-roading business, like Bilstein, Blue Torch Fab, Borgeson, FK Rod Ends, Poison Spyder Customs, PRP Seats, Rubicon Express, Superwinch, Teraflex, and Wilwood. Pretty much everything you’d need for rig!  And, if you want to bring them your rig, they’ll even install it for you!

RESOURCE

PSC Motorsports
11468 FM 730 South
Azle Texas 76020
(817) 270-0102

www.pscmotorsports.com

 

Jack Brinks

Jack Brinks is an avid four-wheeler and a contributor here at ROCKCRAWLER.com. Jack's a Texan and frequents many events in the Southwest.

Contact Jack at jb77cj7@rockcrawler.com