I couldn't find anything in the search. I want to keep my truck as stock as possible. My question is; is there anything I can do to improve steering free play, such as a damper or any upgrades to make the steering safer without totally swapping it out with a modern suspension?
The box swap should work with the F350, it used the same basic setup.
Any pump for a recirculating ball power steering will work. One from a R&P setup will not produce enough pressure. A pump from a land barge (Caddy, Lincoln, Imperial, etc may produce too much pressure. The Saginaw "canned ham" pump is a popular choice since it was used on many vehicles, certain Fords, Chrysler products and all GMs, and the pressure is easily adjusted with an inexpensive kit.
Updates to the linked article:
The Mid Fifty conversion pitman arm WILL fit the manual Toyota box as well as the power box.
There is a newly manufactured PS box available from Miid Fifty that bolts in directly and does not require a conversion mount.
The OEM Toyota boxes are getting a little harder to find, but they are still out there. The TOY box is nearly bulletproof, so don't be afraid to go with a used box.
The Toyota swap is a great way to go if you want power steering, but I thought I heard you say something about you wanted to stay stock. It is possible to replace or rebuild the wear points in a steering system. The tie rod ends, the drag link ***** and springs, the pitman arm ball, the steering spindle ball, the spring pins and bushings, and then the steering box itself can be rebuilt if necessary. All parts are readily available, and the instructions are in the repair manual. You will never get the stock set up to act like a rack and pinion. But you can get most of the play out of it. It all depends on what you need or want. If you live where parallel parking is a frequent event, you may want the power steering. You have gotten a lot of good information from all the posts on everything from tires to power steering to reviving the stock set up. personally I would start with the tie rod ends,drag link, spring pins and bushings, as they will stay even with a power steering upgrade as far as I know. Somebody please correct me if I'm incorrect. I almost forgot king pins. It may not be necessary to replace all these items, but they should at least be checked for wear.
Power steering is something I would like to do. So if I have to fix my steering box, it sounds that this is the time to do it. I had a concern that if I had so much play, that power steering would make it that much worse on the open road.
I have posted a number of times including recently on how to do an inspection of the beam axle suspension for wear. Try doing an advanced search on my user name and key terms like: steering wear, front suspension play, steering free play, etc. limit the search to this forum and the time frame in the last 3 months. If you don't know how to do an advanced search, or don't find the post ask again. Most of the time the majority of freeplay is a worn steering box. Doesn't matter what steering you use, replacing any worn parts in the steering and suspension will make a great deal of difference. As said, the stock steering and suspension is quite good if in good condition, the Toy PS is the icing on the cake.
how long as usual depends... are you modifying the original steering column or going aftermarket? If modifying are you also adding the horn button kit, also is it a floor shift or column shift? How rusted are your fasteners? Do you have a pitman arm or gear puller? Do you have a steering wheel puller?
Mine, using the Toyota box took a weekend, several hours of that was fighting with getting the OEM pitman shaft nut and arm off the Toyota box. I would highly recommend taking off the driver's side inner fender panel at least for ease of access. Put the front axle on jack stands so you can swing the spindle back and forth. Rebuild the drag link ends and replace the grease seals, check the ball on the steering arm for wear, replace if shows any wear. Replace the tie rod with the heavy duty one from MF. If using the stock springs add one set of caster shims between the springs and axle so the axle top tips back more (increased caster). If using lowering springs or have removed leafs to lower add two shims on each side (two shims will likely require using spring centerbolt with longer head.)
Another alternative is the CPP kit which Mid Fifty sells also. I installed mine in about 6 hours including 2 trips to the auto parts store for PS belts. Link on my website with photos of the install. About 500 miles on it and love it, best upgrade ever regardless of route is PS.