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Steering box rebuild...yay or nay?

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by Burbinator, Feb 6, 2002.

  1. Burbinator

    Burbinator 1/2 ton status

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    While I was doing my spring bushings this past weekend, I noticed that my steering box had a decent amount of fluid covering it and the frame rail, but not enough to drip. As far as I can tell, the leak is coming from the input shaft seal. What would you all recommend, a new box or rebuilding the old one? Does a rebuild kit include any new gears? I've never taken a steering box off or apart before, so any input on how to replace or rebuild it would be greatly appreciated, especially on how to remove the pitman arm.

    I'm debating on replacing it due to excessive play on the output shaft. The adjuster makes the steering wheel nice and crisp, but there is some movement in the front left or right when you grab one of the front tires and simulate a slight turn (yes, tie rods, drag link and ball joints are all good).

    This is yet another chapter in the quest to conquer my front end vibration...

    Thanks in advance for your input!

    Haze gray and underway...<font color=blue>or blue, in my case.</font color=blue>
    <a target="_blank" href=http://community.webshots.com/album/26246038MbQsYWKcbo>U.S.S. Nimitz II</a>
     
  2. KRAZIE87K5

    KRAZIE87K5 1/2 ton status

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    You can get a rebuild kit from AutoZone for $20 which includes all the seals, but nothing else. I would personally try the $20 fix before dropping $200 on a refurb'd box.

    You need to remove the pitman arm with a puller (also AutoZone ~$30), and then pull the sector shaft. That will only require centering your steering wheel, removing the 4 bolts holding the square plate to the top of the box. The sector shaft assembly then can be removed out the top of the steering box. Any further than that, and things get foggy... but the seal kit should have instructions as to what to do.

    I think the rebuild is worth a shot, even if it doesn't cure the problem. BUT it might fix it too, right? Just my .02

    <font color=red>GOT MUD???</font color=red>
    My license plate reads:<font color=blue> 8 YR SUV</font color=blue>
    454/TH400/NP205 - 14BFF/D60/w/ 4.10s - 36" TSLs
     
  3. TheLakeRat

    TheLakeRat 1/2 ton status

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    A rebuild kit is the cheapest way to go but its not easy. I do it with my Hydro assist kits that i sell and would be glad to help you out, but for a first timer it's very easy to screw up. You can just reseal the box fairly easy but then you still have all the internall seals and bushings that won't be replaced. I would suggest spending the extra money and get a rebuilt one. BUT, if you still want to do it yourself then let me know and I'll be glad to help.
     
  4. Burbinator

    Burbinator 1/2 ton status

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    That's what I was thinking as well...2 bills isn't that bad.

    Since my truck is a daily driver, I think I'll just replace it. I'll keep my old one, pay the core, get a kit and rebuild it some weekend when I'm not on a time schedule to have it ready for flight Monday morning. I might just take you up on the offer to help out when I do that...thanks!

    Thanks for your input guys...

    Haze gray and underway...<font color=blue>or blue, in my case.</font color=blue>
    <a target="_blank" href=http://community.webshots.com/album/26246038MbQsYWKcbo>U.S.S. Nimitz II</a>
     
  5. muddysub

    muddysub 1 ton suburban status Staff Member Moderator GMOTM Winner

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    my box is leaking BAD, i can watch it drip when the suburban isn't completely level. so i'm just replacing mine.

    --Scott, 1989 GMC Suburban 2500 4" lift, 36" TSLs
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  6. bigmack

    bigmack 1/2 ton status

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    Where are you guys going to get your rebuilt steering box ?

    Mine is leaking pretty bad also, I was going to check at Auto Zone &amp; Napa. Just wondering where to find the best deal.

    Thanks

    '80 K10 350/350/NP205/14B/10B/4.10/4"Lift/Q78-Buckshots
     
  7. fortcollinsram

    fortcollinsram 1/2 ton status

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    LMC has got them for $229 with a $50 core....just an idea...

    Chris

    Was that a speed bump? No, just a Rice Rocket </font color=red> <a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/fortcollinsram>My 87 Blazer</a>
     
  8. txbartman

    txbartman 1/2 ton status

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    If LMC has them for $229, ought to be able to get them somewhere else for under $200 then! [​IMG]

    Brian
    Check out <a target="_blank" href=http://tx85gmcguy.alloffroad.com>My Jimmy</a> with all her projects!
     
  9. m j

    m j 1/2 ton status

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    this is a good thread
    we need to find THE MAN in steering box rebuilding
    after 20+ years the gears have to be showing wear
    how much is too much?
    where do you get new gears n guts for a steering box?
    whats a fair price to pay?
    is an autozone or ??? box just a reseal and out the door affair or do they actually replace gears?

    formerly 77chev
    still a jerk though
     
  10. JK5

    JK5 1/2 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Rebuilding a gear box can be a real PAIN! I`ve done many, be carefull changing input shaft seal, there are ball bearings that can fall out! If you don`t have much patients, and the pitman puller, I would get a new one!!! Find one with a lifetime warrantee!!!
     
  11. 73k5blazer

    73k5blazer Unplug the matrix cable from the back of your head Premium Member

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    They don't replace the gears, to my knowledge. They just use pretty much the same rebuild kit that you can get.
    I bought the rebuild kit for mine. But then a friend of mine stopped me. He works at Delphi in Saginaw, MI, the same place where these boxes were origianlly made for production many years ago. He asked around and several of the older workers said to avoid doing it yourself at all costs, as there's no possible way to get the tolerances right without the tooling. And if it's not "just exactly right", they'll be play AND it will degrade quite rapidly(&lt;1year). He continued to say that these guys also said that most rebuild shops aren't doing them right either. The guys were so nice that I just gave my box to him and he took it in and had a guy rebuild it for me, using real GM parts. He told me that the sector shaft was worn, very common to be worn, and should be replaced, but no one makes a replacement, not even GM. The only way to get one is to find one laying around a dealer somewhere, if there's even a GM part number for the shaft itself, which I don't think there is, just a number for the Box assembly. Even harder to find was mine, a '73 variable ratio sector shaft, only offered I believe he said until the late '70's because the cost of making it was too high. It's teeth are spaced a little different btw each tooth and each tooth has a different taper to it, where as a normal shaft only has evenly spaced teeth and the same taper on each tooth. As luck would have it, they had 3 of the variable ratio ones left on thier shelf, and used one in my rebuild. They used the real tooling (They kept one set around to do rebuilds for internal GM jobs...) and got the tolerances just right. They replaced most all of the internals with new Saginaw parts as well. Each box gets set a little differently depending on it's internal measurements from wear, and setting it to spec wouldn't produce the proper results, as the box has 25 years of wear on it, or so they were telling me.
    My project is not done yet, so I havn't driven it, so I can't tell you how it is. I would just go for a known reputable rebuild place. If it's just the seal, pop a new one in and call it done. I got lucky for once. Although I believe they asked me to keep my other 4 bolt box (from the parts truck..) around and give it to them if they ask, as the 4 bolt boxes are hard to come by.
     
  12. 8_YOUR_H2

    8_YOUR_H2 1/2 ton status

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    Rebuilding one sucks. I am a DIY guy and I tried to rebuild mine...I screwed it up so bad there was no way I could ever salvage anything off of it except the case. I bought one with a lifetime warranty for $150. I am glad the kid at the parts counter was a moron because it was not a good core.
     
  13. TheLakeRat

    TheLakeRat 1/2 ton status

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    We'll if ya'll are willing to ship them to me, I rebuild boxes for $100. And if you are a CK5 member you could get the porting for hydro assist and a full rebuild for just $225. And I will give you a 6 month warranty on the box.
     
  14. Burbinator

    Burbinator 1/2 ton status

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    Well then...I suppose I'll overnight it to you, you rebuild it in two hours and overnight it back? Gotta have it for the weekly commute! LOL.

    Seriously, I think I'll just get a rebuilt one at the local parts house and save myself the added stress of trying to get it all back together on a tight timetable. Perhaps I'll send you the old one with a "C" note once it's replaced and I can use it for a spare down the road...

    Thanks everyone for your input!

    Haze gray and underway...<font color=blue>or blue, in my case.</font color=blue>
    <a target="_blank" href=http://community.webshots.com/album/26246038MbQsYWKcbo>U.S.S. Nimitz II</a>
     
  15. Blue85

    Blue85 Troll Premium Member

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    Hmmm, Delphi in Saginaw, MI. I think I've heard of that...

    You are right, box rebuilds are only replacing all the seals, not any of the metal parts. However, it usually takes a long time or a lot of abuse to get the metal "too worn". If you get to that point, a new box is a good idea. You can still get the older boxes, they are still run from time to time, but you have to get them from a dealer or GM SPO. You can't always get an identical box, but an equivalent replacement should be available. I have no idea of the price, but it's bound to be high and on the order of 10x what GM paid Delphi for it. The newer boxes are generally better anyway, but you may have to swap hoses to get the right kind of fittings. If you're getting a new box anyway, think about a 2WD box and new long drag link and set up X-over steering.

    <font color=green>Today's Forecast: Partly cloudy with a chance of mud</font color=green>
     
  16. Sparky

    Sparky 1/2 ton status

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    i just bought one for 128 rebuilt from Oreillys, but i got like 30 bucks off cause i know some people. I dont think you will be keeping the core though. Its like 100$ core charge.

    When all else fails... Check the blinker fluid.
    78 K-5
     

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