Replace power steering box in 1980 Volare

shadango

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Happy new year to all! Starting off the new year, waking up early and cant get back to sleep because the mind starts chewing on things that need done. I apologize for the length of this post - been crafting it since 7am (its 830 now)... I know that turns some folks off.....but this is where my mind is...LOL

At the top of the list this morning --

My son's 1980 Volare has had a leaky power steering box for a while now.....

It has been on the "to do" list for some time. Leaks pretty good. He is a college student and finding time to do the swap out, let alone the money, is tough. It was planned for this past summer but that didnt work out....

In the meantime I told him to keep the fluid topped off, EVERY DRIVE. Used Lucas steering fluid for a while but that didnt help the leak. So the only way to fix this right is to remove and replace the box.

A lower seal kit is cheap at the parts stores ( we *think* that is where the leak is) but I assume that involves the same amount of work as just swapping the box out.....and in my experience getting the pitman arm off is ROUGH.....with a new box, you dont even need to do that....just use a new one....

But anyways, I want to encourage him to do it right.....replace the hoses and any other parts in the system...we replaced the pump several year ago because it was leaking......but everything else is old.....that means a project and more expense.....so I am just trying to think this all out and was hoping y'all would chime in and help me think it through for him.

A rock auto "BBB Industries" reman unit is only $134 plus $10 ground shipping.....but $50 core....so my guess is shipping the core BACK will be $$$ ( I do not get the shipping discounts that a big company would get)....

Rock has a "new" LARES brand #11031 that they list as "firm feel steering" for $364 and a CARDONE for $5 more (that one doesnt say firm feel steering)...$15 to ship those.....

But having dealt with Rock before on warranty and exchanges, I was leaning toward local parts store over rock....more $ -- Advance wants $162 plus $75 core.....but no shipping and if there is a problem it can be addressed in person locally.....

Oddly, O'Reiley lists a new "LARES" brand (with firm feel steering) for a WHOPPING $925!!!!! YIKES! The regular LARES reman unit they want $725!!! And both have $250 core charges! Who is LARES!?!? Why is their stuff so pricey??

O'Reiley's Master Pro brand reman box is $150....

But a google search seems to say that the parts store rebuilt ones are hit-and-miss.......

So I was suggesting a Firm Feel to him.....I know with them it will be the right piece and it will be quality.....but to add to the pain, Firm Feel says they are 3 months backordered and that is if we send them the box to rebuild. They have nothing on the shelf. $425 for a stage 2, $575 for a stage 3 (which is what I have in my Cuda and I love it) plus probably around $75 shipping both ways I would guess.

And it looks like we would also want to replace the rag joint AND the pot coupler guts -- cant seemto find THOSE parts anywhere yet.....along with the hoses, flush the pump and install an inline filter....hopefully the pump is still good.....

So it's a project.....with my garage queens its easy...start the project and it is finished when it is finished.

But he needs the car. We have next week (holiday break) but I am not sure we can pull the parts together in time and get it done in time for him to head back to school.

So I think it has to wait a while yet.....at least that gives us a chance to pull parts together so they are ready when he DOES have time. Ol' Dad will have to furnish the money for now I guess. LOL

But a couple questions....

First--- when you peer down into the power steering pump reservoir....if it looks empty, is there still "some" fluid left in the system or is it effectively dry? Reason I ask is that when I looked in there recently during some other work we were doing after he had a long drive home, I didnt see fluid. The steering still felt assisted and no obvious/loud noise from the pump (yet). I iknow if it runs dry it will start trashing itself...sending metal through the system.

Second - it has been years since I replaced one of these boxes, and that was on my 72 Cuda...

To do that one, I had to pull the steering column. And that meant getting that pin out of the pot coupler while it was in the car. It was fun but not impossible.

Looking around here on the forum, it looks like there is a rag joint at the firewall......? I have to look at the car because I hadn't noticed that....

So if we have the rag joint is it safe to assume that the steering column doesn't have to be touched? Just disconnect the rag joint, the pitman arm-to-steering link and the 3 frame bolts and it drops out?

Any trouble spots when replacing the box on an 80?

Does the rag joint typically offer any problem? Seems like that with the rag joint, at least then you can take the whole thing to the bench and do the pot coupler....I havent even tried to find THOSE parts yet.....

And this is a dumb question I know.....but should this college student "forget" and run it dry for too long --- aside from destroying the pump and sending metal through the hoses to the box...is there potential for immediate catastrophic failure or lockup? has anyone ever seen/experienced that?

Oye vey.......starting off the new year obsessing over a project....I guess its just like last year....LOL

Thanks for any feedback and whoever wants to chime in...
 
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volare 1977

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My understanding is that most parts store boxes are hit and miss. I put a Steer and gear box in my Charger but it was not cheap by any means. Can`t remember anything specific that was a issue during the install and it wasn`t very hard at all but a F body may be a little tighter I`m not sure. If it is leaking at the pitman arm, it is worth a try at just replacing that seal and see if that fixes you leak. It is about $20. I replaced that seal on a couple of my cars and never had any more issues. You just need to take of the nut and washer, drop the pitman arm with a puller and remove a retaining clip, washer and pop the seals out. One is a dust type shield and the other is a oil seal. Now if the pitman shaft is worn/loose the replacement seal probably won`t fix it for long. BTW, Rag joint shouldn`t be a issue as they come apart pretty easily if you are changing the box out .
 
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Aspen500

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What you heard about parts store rebuilt boxes is true. You may get a good one, you may not.

The pot coupler guts, and the outer housing, are available. I swear I saw the rag joint somewhere recently.

Changing the box on an F-body is exactly the same an A, B, or E-body. Worst part of the job? They seemingly weigh 8 tons while lying on your back under the car, lol.

One source for the coupler parts: Says A, B, C and E body but it should also say F body because they're the same.
Steering Couplers / Adapters

Another source: Store - All Reproduction Parts | Tonys Parts

There is the rag joint rubber part (p/n 3748310) on Ebay.
Mopar 3748310 Steering Shaft Coupling or Rag Joint 3748263 for sale online | eBay
 
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Camtron

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As others have done, I’ve been wanting to install a @BORGESON box in my car. Better ratio, get rid of the slop at TDC. The cost is about as much as a Firm Feel box. Others on here who have had the chance to try both have preferred the Borgeson box as, the FF box still had a little slop in it.
 

shadango

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As others have done, I’ve been wanting to install a @BORGESON box in my car. Better ratio, get rid of the slop at TDC. The cost is about as much as a Firm Feel box. Others on here who have had the chance to try both have preferred the Borgeson box as, the FF box still had a little slop in it.
Is it a direct fit, or are mods needed? Use the same pitman, hoses, etc?
 

shadango

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My understanding is that most parts store boxes are hit and miss. I put a Steer and gear box in my Charger but it was not cheap by any means. Can`t remember anything specific that was a issue during the install and it wasn`t very hard at all but a F body may be a little tighter I`m not sure. If it is leaking at the pitman arm, it is worth a try at just replacing that seal and see if that fixes you leak. It is about $20. I replaced that seal on a couple of my cars and never had any more issues. You just need to take of the nut and washer, drop the pitman arm with a puller and remove a retaining clip, washer and pop the seals out. One is a dust type shield and the other is a oil seal. Now if the pitman shaft is worn/loose the replacement seal probably won`t fix it for long. BTW, Rag joint shouldn`t be a issue as they come apart pretty easily if you are changing the box out .
Every time I have tried to get a pitman off (3 times in my life) it has been miserable.

On my dakota I coudlnt get it off even with a rented puller......ended up taking it to a shop...they spent a couple hours and used heat and it eventually came off.....I guess I sissied out too soon.

On my Cuda I also tried a puller and it was on there GOOD.....but since the box had to go in for rebuild I didnt care at the time.

Changing out that lower seal would be a good option except we all know what can happen with simple jobs......they can turn bad real fast. LOL I am gun shy on taking that chance....have to have the car for late this week.

Is it really as straightforward as you say? The picture shows more parts than two seals and clip....

pitman shaft seal kit oreiley.JPG
 

volare 1977

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I can say I have had pitman arms off many times and never had a issue. When the puller is cranked down while using the puller you can smack the pitman arm on the side with a hammer and the shock will had knock it loose if stuck. BTW, that is not the pic for the lower seal kit alone, that looks like the top seals also. I am not a trained mechanic and learned some things from working on these cars for many years. If I can do it I am sure you can too. It appears you may overthink things at times as I am guilty of that myself.
 
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Aspen500

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At work I have had to use, along with a pitman arm puller, the torch to heat it up, along with an air hammer. A couple times the only way it was coming off was to cut a slit with a 3" cut off wheel and put a new pitman on. Those were more due to the rust than anything else. Then there were the ones that came off with no problem. All a crap shoot.

Leakage from the internal seals can also make the sector or input shaft seals leak, even if the seal is replaced. Kind of like excessive engine blowby can make cause the seals or gaskets leak oil from the pressure.

Side note on the pot coupler. There is a correct black seal (instead of orange) available from various vendors, if you're concerned with it looking original. Plus, on Ebay there's a place that has the TSB coupler cap retaining clip. It prevents the crimped top cap from coming off. They're about impossible to get crimped on securely. I put one on my car and it did the trick.

This is the vendor I got mine from.

Rare Mopar 2996935 Steering Coupler Retaining Clamp - most Dodge Plymouth | eBay

It's just the retainer and a copy of the TSB, the other parts in the photo are for reference only. Takes a bit to get it on the coupler. The spring effect is much stiffer than it looks like it would be. :eek:
 
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shadango

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At work I have had to use, along with a pitman arm puller, the torch to heat it up, along with an air hammer. A couple times the only way it was coming off was to cut a slit with a 3" cut off wheel and put a new pitman on. Those were more due to the rust than anything else. Then there were the ones that came off with no problem. All a crap shoot.

Leakage from the internal seals can also make the sector or input shaft seals leak, even if the seal is replaced. Kind of like excessive engine blowby can make cause the seals or gaskets leak oil from the pressure.

Side note on the pot coupler. There is a correct black seal (instead of orange) available from various vendors, if you're concerned with it looking original. Plus, on Ebay there's a place that has the TSB coupler cap retaining clip. It prevents the crimped top cap from coming off. They're about impossible to get crimped on securely. I put one on my car and it did the trick.

This is the vendor I got mine from.

Rare Mopar 2996935 Steering Coupler Retaining Clamp - most Dodge Plymouth | eBay

It's just the retainer and a copy of the TSB, the other parts in the photo are for reference only. Takes a bit to get it on the coupler. The spring effect is much stiffer than it looks like it would be. :eek:
So, if there appear to be NO leask from the input shaft (steering shaft), internally should be ok? From what we can see the leak is just from the pitman arm.

Also, is pulling the pitman off the box only and not from the steering link doable? Found a video online, a guy doing a ram.....he was able to pull the pitman arm off the box and not take it apart from the linkage.

I do tend to overthink, but in this case it is out of necessity....the car cant sit for weeks waiting for parts so I am trying to address/mitigate everything (which I know is not 100% possible).
 

Mikes5thAve

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Replacing the seal isn't too bad of a job.
If the pressure hose hasn't been replaced I'd do that first if it looks at all oily. That's the most common cause of power steering leaks.
 

volare 1977

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I have must been lucky in getting the pitman arm off after seeing some of the others struggles with them I have seen online.. Hopefully yours will be one of the easy ones.
 

Aspen500

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An internal seal COULD cause the pitman shaft seal to leak but if the input is dry, chances are the internals are OK. Might be worth trying a new pitman shaft seal. If it still leaks, you aren't out that much money, and are way ahead in time. Also, the pitman arm will come off much easier then, if you have to change the entire gear.

I don't think the pitman arm will come off while still attached to the center link. The idler arm will prevent the center link from dropping down. Like with the seal, you could try it and if it works, great. If not, you haven't wasted any work. IIRC, you'll also need to disconnect the center link from the idler arm to get the pitman off.

When you do dig into it, be sure to let us know if it came off without unhooking anything, or if I was wrong :) Thought I was wrong once but, turns out I was wrong, lol.
 

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@shadango is your car a V8 or /6?
The reason I ask is the /6 us a much easier job.

Based off of post #1.
Chrysler has a "firm feel" option on police cars and some special order cars. It gives (or should give) better road feedback when driving. With that said, it is not to be confused with the company "Firm Feel" Firm Feel Inc. Steering and Suspension for Chrysler Plymouth & Dodge - which might have used Chrysler's option name for their business.
The "LARES" part description, I believe, refers to the Chrysler option and not FFI (- but could be wrong).

I have had extremely poor luck with reman steering gears (20 for 26 had to be returned, to find one remotely OK).

The lower seal can be replaced and is not too difficult job - but there are two reasons (or combination of both) of why that seal goes out:
- One is from rust (yes, that 4-letter word) on the output shaft. Installing a new seal on a rusty shaft will most likely ruin the new seal or greatly shorten its lifespan. Cleaning the rust from existing shaft (not performing an overhaul at time of seal install) can/will leave debris inside of the gear that might cause more problems.
- Second is from heat. The vehicles with dual catalytic converters (under each exhaust manifolds), on 3-cat cars, the heat from the drivers side front cat can melt the lower seal - which is what happened to the steering gear from my '86 Fifth Ave.

The lower seal is not under full P/S pressure - but it doesn't take much for that seal to leak.

Removing the pittman arm is another problem - and cost for a new arm sometimes make it not even worth it to mess with it (other than removing and re-using the nut and washer).


If you are considering a reman steering gear, I would either recommend getting one from FFI or from Steer and Gear HOME | steerandgear. I have no first hand experience from the later but others have same good things from them (or good things from both).


The Borgeson gear (one of our forums sponsors, and link is on Right side column) is a all new gear. It was patterned off of a newer Jeep, so it is much tighter and a wee bit faster ratio. If considering this gear, I would recommend using the Bergman Auto Craft (also a forum sponsor) adapter kit instead of the type that Borgeson uses - but that is my opinion only.
The Borgeson gear is much smaller than the original gear - which is a big plus for some of us.
Borgeson size_comp.jpg

Original vs. Borgeson
Borgeson 800126.jpg


On your first post, the NEW Cardone and LARES, steering gear is the first time I have seen or heard of either. I believe another company (Cardone, LARES or other) did something similar to Borgeson and adapted another brand gear to fit our cars. I know nothing about either - but looks like might be a good deal for us.
Cardone:
Cardone 976542gb a.jpg

Cardone 976542gb b.jpg

Cardone 976542gb c.jpg


LARES:
Lares 11031 a.jpg

Lares 11031 b.jpg

Lares 11031 c.jpg

Lares 11031 d.jpg

Looking at the pictures, I would say these were made by the same company.

I currently need to replace the steering gears on both of my vehicles ('77 Volare and '86 Fifth Ave). There is a FFI gear in my garage ready to go for one vehicle but still need a second. My intention was to bite the bullet and get the Borgeson gear - but looking at the above options, I'm rethinking that.
All I need now is guinea pig, err, friend to try one out, first.

BudW
 

Duke5A

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I currently need to replace the steering gears on both of my vehicles ('77 Volare and '86 Fifth Ave). There is a FFI gear in my garage ready to go for one vehicle but still need a second. My intention was to bite the bullet and get the Borgeson gear - but looking at the above options, I'm rethinking that.
All I need now is guinea pig, err, friend to try one out, first.
To try a Borgeson? I'm running two of them. What do you want to know?
 

BudW

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To try a Borgeson? I'm running two of them. What do you want to know?
OK, I need to re-phrase that to:
"I need a guinea Pig, err, friend to try the above mentioned Cardone or LARES steering gear(s) for me".

Sorry for the confusion.
All it takes is a missing word, or two, to change the meaning or intent of a statement.
BudW
 

Aspen500

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I shied away from the original Borgeson because I didn't like the (not very well) welded on mounting tabs, so got a FF Stage II instead. I see the latest Borgeson version has the mounting points cast in so if I were to do it again, most likely would have gone that route.

At work we try to avoid installing a parts store reman if at all possible. It's nor a job you want to do if it can be avoided. Had too many that had no assist OOB, or leaked right away, or 3 days later, or they had a ton of slop and were unacceptable. Run into the same problem with the reman p.s. pumps too. Reman racks are better but have replaced a number of them under the parts one year warranty. Hate having to charge the customer labor (warranty is for the part only) to change it again also. It's a real problem, especially the past few years....................He says, straying off topic. :confused:
 
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AJ/FormS

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I have rebuilt several Mopar P/S boxes. They are not that complicated.
Not in a million years would I pay that kind of money for a rebuilt.
I spent 6 years as a front-end tech, and never had a problem popping the pitman off, and yes it will drop down a fair ways with the idler arm still in-situ; just turn the wheel, and/or pull the center link out of the way down; But the idler arm is easy to drop as well..
Pre-c19, the rebuild kit was still pretty cheap.
I always add a couple of reaction discs, to increase steering feedback and reduce boost at small steering angles.

The steering reservoir, if you can see the guts, may be pumped dry, but just cuz you can't see oil, doesn't mean it was. Nor does running it dry automatically make it junk; the pumps are pretty hardy. The level should be at least to the bottom of the filler neck. If it goes dry, or sucks air, it will make an awful screeching racket until the air bleeds out.
During the bleeding procedure, the oil will heat up and become aerated, sometimes even foamy; and it will expand and want to overflow the reservoir.. it is best to not keep topping it up, until the noise goes away, else it will just keep puking it out. Fill it just enough to cover the guts.
I bleed Mopar systems, with the wheels off the ground because the oil takes longer to heat up and expand, then I just bounce the steering off the stops a few times in one direction, then a few times in the other direction; then top it up as above, and roadtest it. Expect the noise to be greatly diminished, and eventually it will go away. Once it's quiet, do a final top-up.
I have never seen metal junk in a Mopar PS box, it's not like a gearbox or rearend.
The box will never run dry from leak at the sector shaft, because it's uphill from the reservoir at the most-forward end of the box.
In my experience, I have not seen rust penetrate up above the dust seal. Changing that sector-shaft seal in-situ can be a bit of a PITA but doable in most cases. With the factory tool, it is actually pretty easy.
Good luck.
 
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