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Steering Box Replacement
 


The steering column needs to be detached from the steering box.  There is a splined coupler that is clamped tight with a bolt. 


Remove the bolt from the coupler.  You can not remove the coupler from the steering box shaft until the box is unbolted from the frame.


Now come the three mounting bolts.  These secure the steering box to the frame mounted bracket.  The steering box is a little heavier than some may expect.  Be sure to properly support the box before you remove the last bolt.  I believe a 13mm socket was used on these bolts. 


Here is a better look at the steering column coupler.  It slid off of the steering box shaft without no problem.  The coupler is splined and could possibly become an issue for those living in the salty winter road territory.  You can also slide a screwdriver blade into the slot on the coupler to gently pry it apart which should help break it free.  We did this during reassembly as we had a tighter fit with the new box and needed a little help trying to get the coupler onto the new steering box shaft.

 

NOTE:  DO NOT TURN THE STEERING WHEEL WITH THE COUPLER DISCONNECTED FROM THE STEERING BOX.  SOME FOLKS HAVE STUPID FRIENDS WHO FIND IT FUN TO SPIN THE STEERING WHEEL.  DOING SO WILL BREAK THE CLOCK SPRING IN THE STEERING COLUMN.   THIS IS THE DEVICE THAT PROVIDES THE ELECTRICAL CONNECTIONS TO THE AIR BAG, CRUISE CONTROL BUTTONS, AND THE HORN.  DON'T BE STUPID, LEAVE THE STEERING WHEEL ALONE! 

 


The old steering box was set in the catch container as it insisted on dribbling power steering fluid.


The high and low pressure line fittings have small o-rings on them that help seal them when screwed into the steering box.  The rebuilt steering box came with a pair of replacement o-rings.  Mike used a small dental pick to remove the old o-ring from the fitting.  The new o-rings were coated with power steering fluid and slipped into position for reassembly.

Update:  I recently exchanged several e-mails with a fellow Jeeper, Brad, who indicated his steering box didn't arrive with new o-rings.  Not wanting to recycle the old rings, he contacted me to see if I had a part number or dimension I could pass along.  It seems that Jeep does not stock just the o-rings as a part one can order. 

The McMaster-Car part # is 9262K445.  Note that this will get you 100 o-rings for about $13 + shipping.  You may want to take the below dimensions and see if  you can find them locally for less.

Here is the info Brad passed along:

The closest thing I could find was 8mm ID and 1.5mm thick from McMaster Carr.

BUNA-N material seems to be the way to go for power steering fluid, petroleum based hydraulic fluid, etc.

I assume the o-rings are metric since the ftg is 18mm, but who knows? I've had the new orings on there for a couple of weeks now with no leaks, so I guess they are good to go.

I believe 5/16" X 1/6" might also work, but didn't try them.




A big thanks goes out to Brad for sharing this information! 

 

At this point, it is time to reassemble everything and get the system filled with some fresh power steering fluid.


Mike used some blue thread locker on the steering box mounting bolts.  The bolts are torqued to 70 ft. lbs. 

Before the bolts are inserted, you need to slip the steering column coupler onto the steering box shaft.  This was best performed as a two man job.  I laid on my back and held the steering box up in position while Mike sipped the coupler on to the steering box shaft.  The steering box shaft and coupler are keyed to ensure they are correctly aligned when connected.  Once the coupler was one the shaft, Mike slipped a couple of the mounting bots though the frame bracket and into the box.  He then applied thread locker to each bolt and torqued them to spec.

Next was the high and low pressure lines and this is where we hit a snag.  To make a long story short, the threads in the low pressure port were messed up.  Not wanting to risk the fitting on the low pressure line, we unbolted everything and took the steering box back for an exchange (Murphy finally strikes!).  The store was out but another could be had at a store about 10 minutes further down the road. 

We caught lunch and headed back to Mike's place to wrap this up.  This time, we checked the threads with a test hook up of the hoses.  All was good.  The coupler was attached and the steering box was once again bolted to the frame bracket.  The hoses were attached and specs say they are tightened to just 21 ft. lbs.  I saw virtually no way to get a torque wrench in that little space so we did a small grunt on the wrench and called it good. 

The pitman arm was next.  It too is keyed to ensure a proper alignment when slid onto the pitman shaft.  The retaining nut is torqued to 185 ft. lbs.  That is several grunts more than  the little grunt used on the power steering hoses.

After the pitman arm was attached, we turned our attention to getting some fluid into the system.  I grabbed a floor jack and slipped it under the front differential.  I raised the jack just enough to lift the driver's side tire off of the garage floor.  With the wheel lifted, Mike poured Valvoline Synpower power steering fluid into the power steering pump reservoir.  After it was filled, I slowly turned the steering wheel from stop to stop (emphasis on slowly....taking about 8~10 seconds to complete one revolution of the steering wheel).  Even from the driver's seat, I could hear the bubbles gurgling in the reservoir.  Every 30 seconds or so, Mike would stop me and he would fill the reservoir again.  Bleeding the air out of the power steering system before starting the engine is a must do job.  After about 3 or 4 minutes, the gurgling had all but stopped and fluid level was remaining constant in the reservoir. 

Mike installed the cap on the power steering reservoir.  I started the engine and let it idle for a few seconds.  Turning the steering wheel from stop to stop, several times, we listened for the growling noise the pump will usually make if there is air in the system.  All sounded normal.  I killed the engine and Mike checked the fluid level in the reservoir.  It had not dropped, which meant we had done a good job on bleeding the system.  It took a full quart of power steering fluid to fill the system.  I've no idea if there was any residual fluid in the steering box or not (one would hope the re-builder had tested the unit before boxing it up for shipment to the auto parts store). 

That was it.  The jack was lowered, the hood closed, and cleanup commenced.  A straight forward project and can easily be accomplished in part of a day assuming you don't have to make too many trip back and forth to the auto parts store (and your pitman arm is in a cooperative mood).

Good trails and remember to TREAD Lightly!
 

 

 

 

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