Leaky Steering Box

7173Mustangs.com

Help Support 7173Mustangs.com:

Fredensborg

I like music, languages, weaponry, and freedom.
7173 Mustang Supporter Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2013
Messages
393
Reaction score
139
Location
Zimmerman, MN 55398
My Car
1973 Mach 1
1980 Bronco
A couple modern Fords
My steering box is leaking, and seems to have a fair amount of play to it. Can this be rebuilt, and is that difficult to do? Or do I need to order a new one? As you can see in the video, the rag joint moves with the steering wheel but the pitman arm barely moves. So I am assuming this is a huge contributor to my sloppy steering.



 
Joined
Jan 17, 2015
Messages
1,536
Reaction score
231
Location
California
My Car
71' Grande project.
Yes it can be done yourself, but you can't repair severe damage. If the casting is worn badly you can't do anything, If the ballscrew assembly is badly worn you can track down oversize balls, Geoff has some threads on the forum of a source, I might have incorporated what he found in the link below. Last thing that can't be easily repaired is a worn sealing surface on the sector shaft. Other than that some special tools are needed like a dial or beam type inch pound torque wrench.

It should also be noted that some slop in the box is by design. There has to be some play between the input shaft and the sector shaft to allow the control valve to function. A lot less than what you have, but even if you get a fresh box from Redhead or another rebuilder it will have a tiny bit of slop which is a-ok.




 
Last edited:

Fredensborg

I like music, languages, weaponry, and freedom.
7173 Mustang Supporter Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2013
Messages
393
Reaction score
139
Location
Zimmerman, MN 55398
My Car
1973 Mach 1
1980 Bronco
A couple modern Fords
I just watched a couple random YouTube vids on rebuilding these...looks like it can be done but it might make a good winter project in case things don't go well. It should be ok to continue driving with this for now right? Or is this so bad that it should definitely be replaced ASAP?
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
As for YouTube video's, most I found are not done by experts, so take what you need and be wary of the rest. The best one I found to reinstall the balls with the ball screw installed in the rack piston, is for a box with reverse rotation to our Ford boxes. It took me awhile to figure that out, but you do it the same way, but start at the opposite end.
As Bentworker mentions, if the casting has deep groves from the 3 teflon seals worn into the valve bore, it is too expensive to repair, so it's only possibly a core return part. I did find replacement sector shafts, but unfortunately not for our year or ratios. If you know a good general machine shop that has OD grinding equipment and can get hard chroming done at reasonable cost, it is doable.
Unless you're very mechanical and understand tolerances and torque specs, I'd just buy a new box and by all accounts, RedHead is the better choice.
 

Fredensborg

I like music, languages, weaponry, and freedom.
7173 Mustang Supporter Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2013
Messages
393
Reaction score
139
Location
Zimmerman, MN 55398
My Car
1973 Mach 1
1980 Bronco
A couple modern Fords
Yeah, the more I look into this the more I think it looks like getting a new one is the way to go. I'll hang on to my old one and possibly attempt a rebuild in the future.

Another dumb question...if this steering box were to completely fail, I would only lose my power steering right? I guess what I'm asking is, if this doesn't get fixed ASAP, I don't have to worry about losing control of the car right? I'll just have to muscle steer for a bit?
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Yeah, the more I look into this the more I think it looks like getting a new one is the way to go. I'll hang on to my old one and possibly attempt a rebuild in the future.

Another dumb question...if this steering box were to completely fail, I would only lose my power steering right? I guess what I'm asking is, if this doesn't get fixed ASAP, I don't have to worry about losing control of the car right? I'll just have to muscle steer for a bit?
The box will be more like a manual box, but maybe harder to turn. It cannot fail mechanically unless something actually breaks inside and I doubt that will happen. I had one that failed to power the right side and that was due to a bad control valve. I still could turn, but with considerable effort.
The problem with trying to rebuild these yourself, is lack of refurbished parts that the pros seem to have access to. With yours, I think you've answered your own question, so buy a new box and as said, from all accounts RedHead seems the best choice. However, I'd want to know the ratio they are offering. 3 turns or 4 turns is not enough info for my liking. 3 turns could be a variable ratio or fast ratio. 4 turns would be more like the stock 17.5:1 ratio found in coups or verts.
As for yours, yes, go ahead and strip it down carefully so you can a) see how it works, b) see what's wrong with it and why it is leaking. You didn't say where it was leaking, but I suspect the bottom of the sector (or pitman) shaft.. If the wear is very minimal, you could try a rebuild kit and see if you can fix it. If not, you're only out a few bucks for the kit.
As I've said many times, I'm NOT an expert on this by a long shot, but I have successfully rebuilt 3 boxes now. One is on my car, the others are there if ever needed. I can offer some help if needed, just ask or PM me.
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Fred, I have to apologize, I didn't look at your video. Duh!
The sector shaft doesn't appear to be leaking, but the input shaft is and to me, that's odd. All the ones I've played with have not leaked there.
While this is not really recommended, you could back the sector shaft lock nut off and tighten the shaft hex a quarter turn clockwise, tighten the lock nut and try it again. NEVER go more that a quarter turn at a time. Less is more in this case. If you find the steering 'sticks' at any point when you test drive it, back the hex off a quarter turn or less until the sticking goes away. ***Mark your original start point before any adjustments***
Doing a full rebuild would almost certainly require bigger balls!! If adjusting the sector shaft helps for now, you might get away with just replacing the input shaft bearing and seals, which is not that hard to do as long as you follow instructions. While at this stage, you might be able to replace the 3 teflon seals and their O rings as long as the bore is not worn out, i.e. 3 district grooves worn into the casting. If you find this, the box is shot, but will be a core return. I say "Might" because this requires careful attention so that is goes back together correctly. Personally, I have not done this without the box being totally disassembled, so a slightly different situation.
These are my suggestions only, no guarantee implied and depends on your own ability to carry out this work.
 
Joined
Mar 30, 2017
Messages
2,201
Reaction score
527
Location
The Netherlands
My Car
73 Grande 351C
71 Mach 1 429CJ
Rebuild my 71 box last year. It's not hard but not easy either.

First to add to the tools cited above:
- you need a pitman arm extractor, ( bought one from rockauto)
- in videos I've seen prior doing mine, you see the guys using pliers to go around the need to use special tools mainly to insert in the 2 slots while you knock loose the ring. Fine to get it loose, but not precise or handy at all to set it back. The right tool was 90 euros here vs modifying an existing tool used to (un)lock discs on my grinding machine that I had in double. 10 mins work.


tool_making.jpg

Not very obvious to the eye and not often mentioned, the balls are to be set back alternating their colours.
In many videos, placing back the balls is presented as a challenge... well, if you push the shaft to one or the other extreme and insert, you only need to turn to free the next space that can receive a ball. That in combo with keeping track of the colour can be confusing, having them in different containers helps.

reinstalling.jpg

the big nylon ring is the only real challenge. It's a L shape lip and the bore is really sharp with no chamfer, so you really need take your time and not damage it (that's the purple one on the image).

Kit wise, I have used this kit from Omega. and everything looked as if it was original

saginaw_guts_cleanup_plating.jpg

Another detail that got me stuck was to get rid of the lock ring on the bottom side. I simply couldn't get it out with any of my snap ring pliers... Till I found out there is a hole in the casting just for that where you can engage a screen driver to lift that snap ring... duh! :)

For the adjustment it's also not that hard, basically all needs to have no play and turn smooth from max left to max right, and you can't have both if it's not tightened or assembled properly. What @Stanglover describes above is true and you feel it right away while it's on a bench. Much harder to gauge anything when in car.
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
6,068
Reaction score
1,062
Location
SW Ontario
My Car
1971 Mustang Mach 1, M code, 4 speed.
Rebuild my 71 box last year. It's not hard but not easy either.

First to add to the tools cited above:
- you need a pitman arm extractor, ( bought one from rockauto)
- in videos I've seen prior doing mine, you see the guys using pliers to go around the need to use special tools mainly to insert in the 2 slots while you knock loose the ring. Fine to get it loose, but not precise or handy at all to set it back. The right tool was 90 euros here vs modifying an existing tool used to (un)lock discs on my grinding machine that I had in double. 10 mins work.


View attachment 65034

Not very obvious to the eye and not often mentioned, the balls are to be set back alternating their colours.
In many videos, placing back the balls is presented as a challenge... well, if you push the shaft to one or the other extreme and insert, you only need to turn to free the next space that can receive a ball. That in combo with keeping track of the colour can be confusing, having them in different containers helps.

View attachment 65035

the big nylon ring is the only real challenge. It's a L shape lip and the bore is really sharp with no chamfer, so you really need take your time and not damage it (that's the purple one on the image).

Kit wise, I have used this kit from Omega. and everything looked as if it was original

View attachment 65036

Another detail that got me stuck was to get rid of the lock ring on the bottom side. I simply couldn't get it out with any of my snap ring pliers... Till I found out there is a hole in the casting just for that where you can engage a screen driver to lift that snap ring... duh! :)

For the adjustment it's also not that hard, basically all needs to have no play and turn smooth from max left to max right, and you can't have both if it's not tightened or assembled properly. What @Stanglover describes above is true and you feel it right away while it's on a bench. Much harder to gauge anything when in car.
Good post Fabrice.
At this point in Fred's issue with his steering, I didn't want to get too involved with details until he decides either to rebuild or replace. For sure, he would need several tools that may not be in the typical tool box. Your peg spanner for the adjuster nut is a neat homemade alternative to an expensive tool for a one time use. ( I cheated and got mine CNC machined at work)
Between us, you, bentworker and myself, I'm sure we can help Fred rebuild is own box, if only as a spare to have on hand.
 
Top