With the pump reservoir tacked into position, I turned my attention to making up the suction line from the cool blue hose I had bought.
The Twist-Lok fittings are easy to assemble. First, ensure the end of the hose is cut squarely. If it is not, use a sharp knife to make it so.
Slide the red cover over the hose, pushing it onto the hose about 4". Push the Twist-Lok fitting into the hose. You are done when the shoulder of the fitting is flush against the end of the hose. Using a screwdriver (or something similar), pry open the cover a bit, sliding it towards the end of the hose until it too is flush to the edge of the connector.
Here is the -10 fitting after it was attached to the Aeroquip hose and then connected to the reservoir outlet port. Remember that the Russell fittings shown here are made from aluminum. You should NOT be leaning on the wrench too hard. Just a good snug fit is all that is required for a leak free connection.
Remember to watch your bend radius on the Aeroquip hose. If you try to change directions with it too quickly, it will start to collapse. The larger the hose, the bigger the bend radius. In the above pict, you can see the other -10 fitting in the background, which connects to the pump's inlet port. I routed the hose in 270 degree bend between the reservoir and the pump and used about 20" of hose. I could have used less hose by employing a couple of 90 degree fittings but opted not to. Some of the folks that are more in the know about power steering systems say that the 90 degree fittings can reduce the flow and lead to lower performance.
Once the 5/8" suction line was plumbed, I turned my attention to the two remaining 3/8" return lines. The existing low pressure return line from the Hydroboost was more than long enough to do the job. I cut about 6 inches off of it and then attached the -6 Twist-Lok fitting, using the same method as I did on the suction line. When the Twist-Lok fitting was attached, it was screwed onto the -6 fitting that Troy had welded onto the side of the reservoir. The remaining line that needed another -6 Twist-Lok fitting was the low pressure return line from the steering box. Since I have a power steering cooler in my system, the return line actually comes out of the cooler and attaches to the inlet port on the reservoir. The low pressure line from the cooler was not long enough to reach the reservoir. I had a hunch this was going to come up short and had already purchased a three foot piece of low pressure line. I was lucky as that piece was just long enough to reach. I had guessed on length and almost came up short.
With the last of the return lines attached to the reservoir, I opened a quart of Valvoline SynPower power steering fluid and started filling the reservoir. I added about two-thirds of the bottle.
With the reservoir filled, it was time to bleed the power steering system. First, I let it set UNDISTURBED for a few minutes while I rechecked my work (hose fittings, clamps, mounting bolts, etc.) Now is a great time to discover that you neglected to tightening that one fitting....better now then after it is under pressure and spraying down your engine compartment with high pressure power steering fluid! I wiped down the pump body, reservoir, and all the fittings so that any fluid leak could be easily detected.
Using a floor jack under the center of the front axle, I raised it until one of the tires cleared the ground. WITHOUT STARTING THE ENGINE, I slowly began turning the steering wheel lock to lock. The word SLOWLY is important....it means about 1 revolution of the wheel every 8~10 seconds. Continue to add fluid to the reservoir as necessary. As I slowly worked the steering wheel back and forth, the fluid level rose and fell a bit as the bubbles worked their way out of the lines. After about a dozen lock to lock turns, I checked the reservoir level. I added 6 oz. of fluid to bring it back up to the same point where I initially filled it. I did another half dozen lock to lock cycles. The fluid level barely changed compared to before. Time to check for leaks.
There were no signs of leaks on the new fittings I had installed. Satisfied that no obvious problems existed, I pulled the wire that connects the ignition cable to the distributor. (for you distributorless TJowners, you will have to skip this step). With the engine guaranteed not to start, I switched on the ignition key and let the engine crank for about 10 seconds. After cranking the engine, I did another half dozen lock to lock cycles with the steering wheel. I then checked the level in the reservoir. It had not changed. Looks good....time to start the engine.
There was a NO noise from the power steering system. I let the engine idle while I checked the reservoir fluid. Using a bright LED flashlight to illuminate the inside of the reservoir, I made certain that there was no small bubbles or foam showing up. Nothing....crystal clear the fluid was. Just what I was hoping for.
With the engine at about 1200 RPM, I slowly cycled the steering wheel in both direction, lightly contacting the wheel stops. All still sounded great. If the pump begins to get noisy (whines or growls), turn the engine off and let the system set for about 15 minutes. Air in the system will cause the pump to groan and the fluid level will rise when the engine is turned off. Lots of tiny bubbles in the reservoir is a good sign of trapped air in the system. Repeat the above steps until your power steering is operating normally.
With the engine now turned off, I spent a few minutes putting some of my tools away. Another check of the power steering fluid indicated no change in the level, which was good. Since the reservoir has no dipstick attached to the cap (like the stock reservoir does), I wiped a small screwdriver clean and used it. I wanted to make certain I had enough fluid in the reservoir but not so much that it would overflow when the fluid came up to operating temp (or more when the day was spent playing on the rocks and trails). I set the level in mine to about an inch below the baffle plate. This makes for several inches of fluid over the top of the filter and the AN fitting that Troy welded. You don't want the pump to ever suck air and you don't want it to overflow from expansion either.
With the the system bled and the pump tested with the engine running, I replaced the windshield washer reservoir and the coolant reservoir. Everything fit back into its original position, no slicing, no dicing, no moving things around.
The 20 mile drive back to my place and the subsequent startup the next morning yielded no surprises or pump noise. I popped the hood and did another visual to make sure none of the connections were leaking fluid. All were dry so I'll consider this project a success!
Many thanks to Sean at Performance Off-Road Systems for what I expect to be a long and happy pump life. He promised me that I would be very satisfied with the pump's performance. I've got a trail ride scheduled with a friend in a couple of weeks and am looking forward to seeing how the steering behaves in the rocks. As for the Hydroboost's performance, it was working great with the new pump during the trip home from Troy's shop.
Good trails and remember to TreadLIGHTLY!
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