I felt obligated to attempt to document my install since
Sammie0126 and TimF150 did SUCH a GREAT job.
They both have 4wd, and I found the 2wd was simplier since
the tie-rods didn't go anywhere once it was pulled from the
I got the Red-Head sttering box for "Christmas".
We've been busy visiting family and finally got an entire weekend to
tackle the Red-Head Steering box install..
I have a harbor freight just down the road, and I need to buy stock in that place, I've become addicted to "tools" as much as the Excursion..
All purchased from Harbor Freight during this install:
* pitman arm puller $10
Pitman Arm Puller & Tie Rod Puller
* air die grinder kit $15
1/4" Air Die Grinder Kit
* 25" breaker bar (1/2" drive) $12
1/2" Drive 25" Breaker Bar
A few observations, I purchased 2 new "o-rings" at the my local Ford dealer for the hoses. They didn't fit - nor did the fittings that came off the old steering box have any on them. In addition, the "hoses" have flared ends which appeared to seat and seal just fine. In fact, I was VERY
surprised at how EASY all my bolts/screws/fittings came out.
Being a Southern Truck I have virtually NO rust and I was VERY happy
Procedure for the 6L
1) I pulled the front-end up a set of heavy-duty SUV ramps to gain more
room underneath - being a 2wd there isn't much room under there.
This also pretty much means the steering wheel is centered.
2) I used Sammie0126's method of using the seat-belts to hold the steering wheel in place.
3) disconnect both batteries
4) REMOVE the driver side battery (this helps to build muscles)
5) REMOVE the driver side battery hold-down tray
6) REMOVE the air filter assy
7) REMOVE the intercooler tube (loosen the clamps and twist and pull)
You can now see the steering box!
8) Remove the cotter-pin and nut from the tie-rod end,
use the pitman arm puller to separate the tie-rod from the pitman arm.
I found there was just enough room to get the wrench in there to
tighten until is POPs.
I had to twist/pull/yank to get the tie-rod off after it popped.
It doesn't move very far - and didn't require the cable ties which I
had to remove to get the tie-rod out of way.
9) Pull back the plastic shield and remove the bolt holding the steering shaft on. Tap the shaft back off the steering box a few inches.
10) Put a drain pan under the steering box
11) Disconnect the lines (I used a flare nut wrench, 5/8" I think)
I used a wrag & tiny squeeze clamp to minimize the fluid loose from the
lower hose which I wedge against the radiator & intercooler outlet.
I stuck the upper hose up against the degas bottle to keep it up
high so it wouldn't drip.
12) Remove the 3 bolts holding the steering box on from the driver's wheel well. I was able to grasp the pitman arm while I undid the last
bolt and it would rest on the stablizer bar until I could grab it with both
hands to lower it.
At this point, I decided to INSTALL the new Red-Head steering box
BEFORE I messed with the pitman arm. I didn't want to mess with
purging air nor let it drip and make even a bigger mess.
13) I set the Red-Head Steering box on the front sway bar and
fed through the lower bolt and lined it up with the box. I gave it a few
turns and then repeated with the other 2 bolts. At this point I then
tightened all 3 bolts
14) Re-connect the hoses and tightened them down.
Wipe up the fluid to keep the area clean - before you start putting stuff back.
15) Re-attach the steering shaft by gently tapping in to place. I had
to gently "wiggle" the shaft a tad to line up the splines and then it
slid on pretty easily with a few taps.
16) Re-install the driver-side battery, and re-connect both batteries.
I then started the engine and verified no leaks from the hoses and
pumped the brakes a few times and topped off the power steering
fluid. I ended up only using 1 QT to top it off.
17) Disconnect both batteries, remove the driver-side battery and
Slide the steering shaft cover back down and snap it onto the line.
18) re-install the CAC, Air-filter, driver-side battery hold-down tray, driver
side battery, and re-connect both batteries.
19) remove pitman arm from old steering box (
I had already visited all the local parts stores and tire places and
NOBODY had a pitman arm puller large enough to fit the steering box.
The pitman arm puller from harbor freight, fit over the pitman arm, but
the "slot" in the feet hit on the teeth of the shaft and wouldn't slide
on far enough..
So, I went back to harbor freight and bought the air die grinder kit.
I then ground down about 1-2 MM from the "feet" of the puller.
I keep checking against the steering box to make sure
I only removed what was needed.
Viola, the pitman arm puller now slide past the teeth and the screw lined
up with the bolt. I used my air-wrench and tightened and tightened
and hammered and used WD-40 and I took a break.
After eating lunch and spending some time cleaning up the garage
while the WD-40 soaked in ... I went back to Harbor Freight and bought
the 25" 1/2" drive Breaker Bar.
I took 2 minutes of standing ON the steering gear and pushing down on the breaker bar.
I got about 1 entire round more with the breaker bar, but still the
pitman arm was connected. I then got the hammer and gave it a few
TAPs and heard a loud "POP" and magic the pitman arm was free!
20) install pitman arm on the NEW steering box, it's pretty easy to line
up the pitman arm since the tie-rod end sort of tells you where it needs
to go. tighten that nut down.
21) Connect the tie-rod. I needed to turn the steering wheel about 2 degrees to line things up and I pressed the tie-rod onto the pitman arm
put on the nut and installed the cotter pin and gave myself a high-5.
I cleaned up, pulled off the ramps and turned the wheel from lock-to-lock
while rolling down my driveway and WOW did it feel nice.
I checked underneath for leaks and still found it nice and dry.
I went on a 10 mile drive and the difference is amazing.
It NO longer steers like a truck - it feels just like my wifes Explorer.
The wheel is tighter/firmer (like her Explorer) NOT "too easy" to turn
like before. It tracks perfect and the boat feeling is GONE.
I checked underneath for leaks and still found it nice and dry.
I checked the Power Steering Fluid reservour and it's good too.
I want to thank the folks on FTE for the info/confidence/know-how to
tackle something like this.
My old steering box has some pink paint dots and a big "X" on it, perhaps it was already replaced by the PO???
Gotta ship back the core for my deposit back...