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  #1  
Old 06-08-2014, 05:49 PM
gudor gudor is offline
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Power steering leak & loose steering

Okay,

Main issue is that I am leaking power steering fluid (no longer a leak, but a pour). I have tracked it down to the bottom of the steering gear (box) just above the Pitman arm. I have read some threads regarding replacing the seals w/o taking the s box off the truck, but I think I want to remove it so I can check everything over.

Then I got to thinking about how loose my steering is (I don't really notice it anymore, as it is a work truck, never goes over 55 mph, etc. However, I do remember when I first got the truck how SCARY it was to drive...I probably have an 1/8th turn of the wheel for play...definitely bump-steering left and right on freeway when there are any types of ruts in the road). Also, when anyone else drives it, it is the first thing they notice. So yes, I would like to fix it.


While diagnosing where the power steering leak was from, I tried to move/wiggle some of the steering linkage around by hand. It was firm and I couldn’t budge a thing. I had my daughter turn the steering wheel left and right. I the slop was definitely evident above the steering gear. So I logged on this trusty site once again and found the following post:


Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeo0o0o0 View Post
There are two possibilities when the steering box is suspect. First check the coupler (AKA rag joint), rock the steering wheel back and forth. There shouldn't be any play between the column and input shaft of the steering box. This is a common wear item. The rubber disc in the coupling deteriorates and breaks apart allowing a lot of play in the steering (don't worry if it fails, there's a fail safe part of the design that won't allow the steering to fail.
Rock the steering wheel back and forth again and watch the pitman arm that comes out of the steering box. There shouldn't be any lag between the input of the steering wheel and the movement of the pitman arm.
If there is play in the steering, don't bother trying to adjust the sector shaft preload screw, that's the screw that's in the center of the steering box cover, it doesn't have any effect on the play.
If you do replace the steering box, two words, Red Head!

With this in mind I checked again. I believe the ‘rag joint’ is called the flex joint in my shop manual (right???). I definitely need to replace the rubber disc as when the wheel is turned, the steering column turns and ONLY starts to turn the input shaft after the couple reaches the metal rod in the picture (which I assume is the fail safe Mike is referring to)…yes, there is a ‘tic’ sound when the steering wheel is turned in either direction from the pin hitting the stop BEFORE the wheels turn. I tried to see if there was any play between the input and output shafts of the steering gear – this was a little difficult to tell for sure because of the flex coupler/rag joint and the wheels were on the ground.

Click the image to open in full size.
So the plan is to pull the steering gear, replace the seals, and replace the flex coupler/rag joint. Am I missing anything obvious, or should I check more? When I get the steering gear out, I will try to assess if there is slop between the input and output (any hints on how to best do this appreciated). How much ‘play’ is okay/expected? As I said, this is a work truck (2 WD F350 dually w/dump bed), that I keep under 55 mph – so I am not trying to make it perfect as a daily driver. I just want to take care of known issues and make it safer. I will consider Red Head, but only as a plan B – I have some experience replacing seals/bearings as I rebuilt the front end of my 4x4 Kubota tractor with success, and I want to do the work myself when possible.


I usually shop at NAPA for local stuff, or Rockauto if I can wait…Please feel free to share info on parts too.


I thank you in advance for taking your time to help out.


Gudor
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  #2  
Old 06-08-2014, 08:24 PM
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It's been my experience (10 years on Ford ambulances) that just replacing the outer seals is a waste of time. Internal wear allows the shafts to have lateral movement taking out your new seals and you will be right back where you are now in a month or so. You can try the outer seal replacement first it's just a matter if you have more time than money.
Best wishes
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldMetal View Post
It's been my experience (10 years on Ford ambulances) that just replacing the outer seals is a waste of time. Internal wear allows the shafts to have lateral movement taking out your new seals and you will be right back where you are now in a month or so. You can try the outer seal replacement first it's just a matter if you have more time than money.
Best wishes
2x... bite the bullet, get a Red Head unit, and drive on... safely.
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:33 PM
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The seals are relatively easy to replace, especially if the box is out of the truck.
Yes, replace the rubber disc.
Before you remove the box from the truck, check the entire linkage from the pitman arm to the spidles for any slop or play. Do like you did, have someone rock the steering wheel back and forth while you check for play at the tie rod ends. No play in the tie rods is acceptable. Once you do that, jack the front end up and check the king pins and wheel bearings for excess play.
The steering box should have next to zero play in the box itself. The movement between the input shaft and pitman arm should be almost instantaneous.
If there is slop in the box itself resist the urge to adjust the screw in the cover. This doesn't have anything to do with the slop. It's there to set the pitman shaft preload.
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:39 PM
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If you do end up replacing the seals, it's fairly easy to do. I've done it before with the gear on the bench but I think it can be done on vehicle.
Remove the pitman arm from the sector shaft, then there's a snap ring that needs to be removed. Once that's out of the way there is a washer, then a seal, then another washer and another seal.
Remove the first washer exposing the first seal. Take a sharp center punch and pierce the seal, screw in a sheet metal screw and pry the seal out. You can do two screws 180 degrees apart too.
Once the first seal is out, remove the second washer and repeat the process.
To replace the seals, apply a thin coating of grease to the inner lip of the seal and a thin coat of sealer to the outside diameter of the seal (I like No. 2 Permatex non-hardening).
Slide the seal over the shaft and take a deep socket that's just slightly smaller than the OD of the seal and drive the seal in until it seats. Replace the washer then the next seal, washer then snap ring.
Reinstall the pitman arm, hook up the steering linkage and that's it.
If you don't have a socket that's deep enough you can use a piece of pipe or tubing too.
Here's an illustration from the Ford parts catalog showing all the parts involved in the steering gear. The killer on these is getting everything centered. With the exception of the sector shaft Ford basically only sold the internals as an assembly.

Seal kit, steering gear sector shaft
Parts list #64, With gear ID SPA-AB, AJ, AN, BN, BS, BX, CC, CN
Basically this covers all 73-79 2WD F100-350 w/ power steering
D7AZ-3E501-A .. Sector Shaft Seal Kit
Last dealer cost $29.41 List $43.71

Parts International, Farmers Branch, TX has 50 (972) 241-8730
Green Sales, Cincinnati, OH has 19 (800) 543-4959
Manderbach Ford, Temple, PA has 5 (610) 929-3683
Freese Motor Inc., Monticello, IA has 4 (319) 465-3541
Herb Chambers Ford, Westboro, MA has 2 (508) 366-8311
http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/11...+steering+seal

Also....Steering box input seal…piece of cake 30 minutes 78 F250 Autozone part # 8520 $8.99 in stock Ford part # F3AZ-3E502-A .. Input Shaft Seal Kit
undue bolt at rag joint
remove plastic cover on steering column(in cab) loosen steering column bolts(2 bolts to dash)
pull up on column and disconnect rag joint from steering box
drill small hole in dust seal on steering box & screw a screw in and remove seal
remove snap ring
drill hole in seal remove with screw
replace seal,snap ring,dust seal and reconnect steering column

And ....till you can get a Red Head: For the steering - Start by adjusting the slack adjuster - it will be a locknut over what appears to be a bolt with a screwdriver slot. Put a screwdriver into the slot to hold it and back off the locknut. Slowly turn the screwdriver clock wise while rotating the steering shaft back and forth until there's very little to no play. Hold adjustment bolt and tighten the locknut. With power steering this is done with the engine running. Once the slack is adjusted out of the steering box, look at the top of the steering column (still under the hood) under the master cylinder. There's a heavy fiber washer (sometimes referred to as a rag joint) that makes a coupling in the column, usually this is worn out and the cause for excessive steering play.
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78 (79 headlights) 460 4 spd, 4", a/c and 35's
79 351M 4spd 6" Skyjacker Edelbrock-Holley-Hedman 35's
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:38 AM
gudor gudor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldMetal View Post
it's just a matter if you have more time than money.
Best wishes
This is pretty much the case along with the fact I only put 2,000-ish miles a year on the truck.

I thank you all for the info...I am going to start with the seals and rag joint assuming the gear box is tight when I get it off.

To clarify, do I need to do anything inside the cab? I read that the input seals is done by loosening things inside the cab...but because I am dropping the steering gear, will I just disconnect at the rag joint (on top, plus bolts and Pitman arm down below)?

Thanks again...comments were mainly about going with Red Head, which I appreciate, but I figure that means there wasn't something I should do while tearing it apart.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:07 AM
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No "Red Head" is a steering overhaul and upgrade business that provides a great product.

Do the interim repair or just step up but a complete new one that has been overhauled and up graded as far internal works.

Red-Head Steering Gears - Custom Rebuilt Steering Gear Boxes in USA

Yes on your removal process.
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77 351M auto, a/c, add a leaf 33x12.50's
78 (79 headlights) 460 4 spd, 4", a/c and 35's
79 351M 4spd 6" Skyjacker Edelbrock-Holley-Hedman 35's
99 Ranger 4x4, 98 Expedition 4x4, 73 Bronco Hillbilly-Bug
71 Bronco 302 35" Boggers 5.58 gears spool/locker
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Old 06-14-2014, 07:14 PM
gudor gudor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 77&79F250 View Post
Remove the pitman arm from the sector shaft, then there's a snap ring that needs to be removed. Once that's out of the way there is a washer, then a seal, then another washer and another seal.
Okay, I got the steering gear out, removed the snap ring (output shaft), and now I am to the washer. How the hell does that come out? There is not a lot of room between washer and shaft nor washer and case (so I cannot get anything between them nor wiggle it out, etc.)

I will try compressed air tomorrow, but I cannot get that thing out right now.

Thank you for your suggestions.
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Old 06-14-2014, 08:15 PM
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Does a little side to side tap of the shaft help? Like you said compressed air and a tap (rubber mallet)? If it is a common size washer, self tapping sheet metal screw it and remove and then move right onto the other inner seal.....
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77 351M auto, a/c, add a leaf 33x12.50's
78 (79 headlights) 460 4 spd, 4", a/c and 35's
79 351M 4spd 6" Skyjacker Edelbrock-Holley-Hedman 35's
99 Ranger 4x4, 98 Expedition 4x4, 73 Bronco Hillbilly-Bug
71 Bronco 302 35" Boggers 5.58 gears spool/locker
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Old 06-16-2014, 01:01 AM
gudor gudor is offline
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Okay, I was finally able to get the washer off, and then the first seal...the second washer was much more difficult, and the inner seal impossible. So I broke down and pulled the output shaft out (I was afraid because of what people have said about the high likelihood I would be done because it would be such a PITA). It actually made things simple...came out easy, didn't screw up the input shaft nor spiral gears.

Then I saw why it was so difficult to get the seals and spacers out. There must have been some water over the years as there was some rust - not up in the box, but down where the seals and spacers reside. I cleaned it up - not very bad on the casing, just down by the snap ring. However, the shaft itself had a fair amount of pitting where it meets up with the seals.

Since I have the seal kit already, and returning it is out of the question, I am going to try installing everything and hope for the best...with Red Head likely in my future.

My question is can I do anything to the pitting area on the shaft to increase my chances of success? I did sand the area lightly, but is there anything else I can do (easy/cheap) that might help?

Thanks again.
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Old 06-16-2014, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gudor View Post
My question is can I do anything to the pitting area on the shaft to increase my chances of success? I did sand the area lightly, but is there anything else I can do (easy/cheap) that might help?
Not the best thing to do, but what I've done in the past when dealing with pitted shafts is use JB Weld to build up the pitted areas.
I mix up the JB Weld then spread it around the bad area of the shaft, being sure to work it into the pits. Once it sets up I sand it down so the epoxy is only in the pits.
This fills in the rough pitted area and gives the seals a fighting chance to at least last a little while.
Just make plans for a Red Head in the future.

Since new parts are no longer available, the actual "correct" way to save the shaft is build up the bad area of the shaft with a plasma spray process then finish grind to the correct dimension.
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Old 06-16-2014, 02:26 PM
 
 
 
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