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Discussion Starter #1
Next up is better steering. I know it needs shocks and struts too, but I can live with that for now. Front axle and tie rods/ball joints all pretty good/new/newish. Stock D44s on 33s, nothing major.

I've adjusted the steering box once already and it helped some. I didn't want to over do it. I may go back and make another adjustment. still have about 30 degrees free play. stock PS PS pump works but does whine a bit. I've lived with it for now.
Rag joint seems good from what I remember, which pretty much leaves steering box and pump. I haven't checked the frame for stress cracks, but assumed good.

My instincts tell me to get the WH sag kit and redtop box. If I get the frame cleaned reinforced (plate/tube), it will be a bit extra as I don't have a welder, but would rather get it done while its being done.

What say you guys? Anything else to check before suffering from sticker shock?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Last I remember (6 months ago) the rag joint appeared to be good. The shaft seemed OK(maybe some slop), but making the adjustment to the steering box DID pull out some of the slop that was/is still there.

If there is there a good way to lock the different components and test for play in each one individually, I'm all ears. Helps to have a friend that knows where to put oil and such to help figure things out like this. It's all cagers and women round my culdasak.
 

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I think you have the main parts addressed..what made the biggest difference for me was the addition of the red head steering box and the borgeson steering shaft..took almost all of the slop out..
 

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Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the "adjustment" screw on the steering box is not for taking out play... tightening this might feel better for a little while, but it will kill the steering box. It is just there to set drag on the shaft, while turning the input with an in-lb torque wrench. Your best bet IMO would be to swap out the steering box first, while its still worth something as a core to Redhead. Upgrading the pump later is easy and surprising not that messy if you do all the steps correctly. Steering shaft is easy enough to get to any time.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Good to hear and thanks for the advise. Yeah I'd heard that about the steering box adjustment to go easy on it. One other thing that I just noticed at lunch is: when turning say left, when you start to bring the wheel back around to the right to straighten it out, there is a small but noticeable 'click' after about 5-10 degrees, then some more freeplay, then actual steering. I think the initial free-play may be the shaft u joint, and the remaining slop in the box. Does that make sense or backwards?

Any special tricks to isolate those and check for play with only one set of hands?

I have a parts truck I'm gonna pull the box off and send it in so I'm not out quite as long, and less $$$ I had NO IDEA they wanted $300 for a core charge - JC!
 

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78 Custom 351M NP435 NP205 Sniper EFI Hedman Headers Magnaflow Muffler 4.56 Gears Grizzly lockers
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I would upgrade the steering box and the shaft at least. I put a new box on mine with a new rag joint, but still have, what I consider, an unacceptable amount of slop in the steering wheel. I haven't checked my shaft yet, but considering what the condition of the rest of my steering components were I'm willing to bet there's a bit of play in there as well.

I mean, if you got the dough, just make a thorough attempt and get it done. I plan on upgrading my shaft and at least replacing my pump if not upgrading it. Mine has begun whining super bad after upgrading the steering gear and I'm assuming that's due to having a hard time bleeding things and it probably ran without enough fluid for too long.

Anyway, I'll be interested to see what you do and see if it eliminates your issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, yes, we will see. Thanks for your input. I'd love to swap it all at once, but you know cash and stuff. The parts truck has engine removed so if I can sneak down there and grab it out this weekend would be great, but if I show up my dad will expect me to go hunting white tail instead of hunting parts... what to do...

It does kinda of make sense that an old tired crappy pump running new gear would just kinda give up. I'll most likely do the box and 1 of the other 2 components and save the last one for a bit later down the road.

This little monster is what made me realize in need to get the 78 steering shit in order. Aftermarket suspension everything and stock motor.
 

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1978 Bronco Ranger XLT, 400/C6 92 K documented miles &1994 Bronco,XLT 85K original miles
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On my '78 I did the tie rod, adj track bar,Adj center link in April. Big improvement. In June I did the WH Saginaw PS unit and the Redhead steering box. Amazing improvement. Do it.
 

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Have you checked the taper pin in the front axle where the track bar attaches for slop/wear? If the pin is worn and loose this will cause your front axle to wander and affect your steering.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for those tips guys. I haven't checked that pin, but I will. I'm 95% all the front axle stuff and bushings are good as they are new/newish. Local ford mechanic just redid the front axle bearings and hubs said it was GTG.
I do need to grease the ball joints though.

After thinking about it, I am leaning toward doing the Box and pump now. Reasoning is that stuff is stock locations/mounting. If everything is bolt on, that makes my day go much mo bettah as I don't have a proper shop for fab (yet). I see the steering shaft as being a bunch of test fitting, finagling, in and out, make sure it is all set up just right. I think that part would be better off down the road with more time.
 

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Have someone turn the steering wheel back and forth. Like mentioned above watch the ends of the track bar where it goes to the front axle and the frame on the other end and see how much movement there is.
 

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agree on Both ends of the trac bar need to be checked and also what everyone else has posted thus far. I have seen the 78/79's with worn out holes at both ends (lol).
So if the holes or bushings are bad on the trac bar, the box will move the whole truck, then start to move the steering wheel. Just the way the Solid axle setup is on these older trucks. Another source of this maybe the trac bar bracket itself on the frame side, especially if there is a drop bracket installed there, they bend/flex.
Also these steering boxes can be a hassle to bleed sometimes, make sure to give yourself good amount of time. This had lot of good info on that process and ways of doing it. Power Steering Problems - 73-79 Ford Truck
These trucks are known for cracking the frame behind the box too, check it really well while yours is off.

Borgeson Shaft, Red Head box, New Steering links of some kind (I have the clysdale kit from WH), tapered axle side bolt/stud, re-inforcent frame side bracket, all brought my 78 back to better then new shape.

Also on these Dana 44's a bad or sticking axle u-joint can make funny stuff happen. Regardless if your in 4x4 or not, those joints must be able to move. That could be your steering hard spot issue. I would also remove the stabilizer if you have one as that is another item that can cause hard spots, if its not the box.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Scored! Got the PS Pump off oll Rusty earlier today. Was quite a bit easier that I had anticipated. I tried to get at the rally steering wheel, but gave up early because the allen screws seemed to be metric/weird. Anyway, I just undid the two bolts in the rag joint and the 300lb. PS pump cam off the rail (We had cut the lines earlier to remove the engine). There seemed to be very little slop in this unit, only about 1/16" or 1/32/' at the pittman arm.

I'm going to clean it up this week, and clean up the frame on the truck and inspect it. What else should I look for /check. What should I be looking for as far as cracks or reinforcements? I'm gonna try the PS pump and bracket ordered later this week.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
So just talked to the mechanic and got his view on things. He agreed the PS box I pulled off should be GTG based on what I told him about the minimal play. I asked him about checking the frame and he said its more rare on these fords, but was more common in box chebbies.

I asked if I could inspect/tell with the OLC/Current PS box on the truck and he said usually they spider web between the mounting holes so you cant tell until you take it off. He said they do sell weld in reinforcement kits for about 100, but he didn't suggest welding that in unless there is evidence of cracking. Welding frame can make it more brittle or something.

I'm going to do as much work as I can on this, the shop is only a couple miles away. If I remove the old PS box/pump, can I mount the new box without the pump and still have steering enough to move it around if needed. I might let them put the PS pump in with all the hoses and fitting get all the bubbles out and such, let them button up and test it and give it a once over. he said it would probably be a couple hours work for the PS box and pump install. Does that sound about right? Anything else to check/mention? thx.
 

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Pitman arms are not super expensive. I have had some I could not get off without cutting, however I live in a Salt/Rust state too. So I would consider a new pitman arm if yours looks like it now is one with the box shaft.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
eww, I didn't think about that. The old box has the old pittman arm still on it. So I could just slap it in the way it is right? I don't want to fight to pull the arm off just to put it right back on again. Understanding the alignment might need to be adjusted, but should be close enough.
 
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