Power Steering Box Leak

EngineerDoug

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Hello all,

I installed a new Firm Feel power steering box in my '68 B-body a couple years ago. Ever since day one, it has been leaking from the input shaft area. I suspect the mistake I made was to buy the box and let it sit around the shop for at least a year before I filled it and installed it. Perhaps the seals dried up a bit?

Anyway, I am not too keen on removing the box to have it re-sealed, as the job looks like a bear. What I am curious about is, how tricky would it be to unscrew the big castle nut and remove the end cap? I could easily install a new seal & O-ring in the cap and save myself a lot of hassle. Has anybody done this before? As long as I only remove the end cap, are there any "gotchas" associated with this procedure?

Thanks!
 

R413

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You are not going to have any success to take that piece off and get it back on in the car.

I don’t think sitting for a year hurt any of the seals on the box. It would have leaked on day one.
 

Demonic

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Inside the input shaft seal is very low pressure, return area. Below that, there is a double o rig seal that holds back high pressure. Stock Mopar pump pressure can be from 700 to 900 psig. If the internal o rings are leaking, a new input seal will be short-lived.
 

Sixpactogo

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I would use Dadsbee's method or what I did by tapping a scratch awl through the top and prying the old seal out with a cotter key puller. Since it leaked from day one, it is possible the wrong seal was installed. It is very important that you use the correct seal with the rubber on the bottom of the seal as shown in Dadsbee's post. Some of the aftermarket seals do not have that and will leak around the outside. Been there done that.
 

Kern Dog

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In some cases, brake fluid in the power steering system can slow or stop a leak. The drawback......is that if it still leaks, it can soften and eat the paint.
 

multimopes

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There is a product named "Seal Lube". I have seen it stop leaks from lots of things almost instantly. The worst was on a power steering box shaft seal. The fluid wasn't just dripping, it was running out in a stream. It stopped it dead for good! This stuff does not change viscosity but works by expanding the seal itself. Good luck!
 

YY1

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If it's leaking from where the steering column goes in it can be an easy fix.

If it's leaking from the bottom (big, round, castelated) it's a "super bitch".
 

EngineerDoug

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Thanks for the ideas/feedback. I suppose step 1 is to determine whether the leak is coming from the shaft seal or the big O rings. Might be worth trying some Seal Lube?

If it's not the shaft seal, the box will have to come out. Maybe the box would have been a leaker from day one.....anybody have any leaking issues with Firm Feel boxes?

Any other steering box vendors that might come more well-recommended?
 

EngineerDoug

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OK guys I did some more digging and find that the box is not leaking from the shaft seal - it's leaking from the area around the big castle nut.

My existing box is a Firm Feel stage II, and it's not as tight as I would like. Note everything else in the steering/suspension is new. Since this box probably did leak from day one, it leaves me with concerns about how it was assembled. It could be a bad seal, or maybe the sealing surfaces inside the box are damaged? I could try an additive to stop the leak, but I am unsure about the long term effects on all the internal seals. Add to that the fact that power steering fluid is combustible (and is leaking near the header), and steering is a critical safety system, this issue needs to be fixed and fixed for good.

Given all of the above, I have decided to upgrade to a Borgeson setup. I don't want to do this job more than once, and the old box has to come out anyway. I have a plan to remove the old box...hoping I can jack up the engine and get it out from the top. I saw a youtube video where "Just Mopar Joe" did it that way on another B-body.


Thanks again for your thoughts/advice.
 

multimopes

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If you decide on a Borgeson setup, try searching Bergman Autocraft who is a sponsor here on this site. Best of luck!
 

EngineerDoug

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Yup, did that. I ordered the box & coupler from Bergman.

I contacted Firm Feel some months ago about the leak. Unfortunately the box was purchased back in 2017, and when all was said and done, I would have to foot the bill for shipping and repair. I am not at odds with their response, but I am disappointed that the box leaked in the first place. Most folks reported great satisfaction with Firm Feel, but I wonder if the cores are just getting long in the tooth?

In any event, I don't feel comfortable opening the steering box beyond the outermost seals. Too much high pressure/critical stuff going on inside, and too much at stake if it is not right.

So I am looking forward to an easy installation and better steering precision with the Borgeson box. And no more leaking all over my freshly completed build.

Thanks for all the tips/suggestions.
 

EngineerDoug

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Victory! Almost. Got the old steering box out and all the new stuff in. Maybe some of the following will help somebody else thinking of swapping out their stock box for a Borgeson setup. Note this surgery was done on a '68 B-body, 440 with TTI headers and a mini starter.
Getting the old box out wasn't too bad:

1) I disconnected the pitman arm at the box and removed the 3 bolts holding the box to the K member (use 12 point 1/2" socket from underneath).
2) Next remove the battery & tray, along with the power steering pump.
3) Remove wires & plugs from drivers side.
4) Unbolt drivers side header at collector & head - tilt it upward and to the rear. Use a little wire to tie it to the brake booster to hold in this position.
5) Drop steering column - 3 bolts holding bracket to dash and 4 bolts at firewall plate.
6) Remove column by either driving out roll pin at coupler, or prying off coupler seal so the "guts" come out.
7) Undo bolt at engine mounting ear that holds dipstick bracket.
8) Jack engine up maybe 1/2" under the pan, just enough without having to unbolt motor mount.
9) The best part.....roll steering box upward and toward the front, past the dipstick and the header, and out!

Once all this was done, the new Borgeson box went in like a dream. I then cleaned up the greasy end of the steering shaft and re-installed the column (temporary). Measure the distance from the end of the steering shaft to the end of the splined input shaft at the box. I took two measurements - one with the column pushed in as far as it would go, and another with it as retracted as it would go. Note this "play" came from sliding along the column mounting bracket under the dash (the one with the plastic sliders). I found there was about 1/2" of wiggle room this way.

I had intended to use the "no cut" Bergman coupler, but was not entirely comfortable with the angular misalignment between the steering shaft and the input shaft at the box. Maybe it would have been fine? Nor was I comfortable with shimming the box at the K member, but here again it was a judgement call. In any event, I decided to use the universal joint style coupler made by Borgeson. I managed to drive out the cross pin at the end of the shaft with a little heat and a BFH. With the new coupler in hand, I measured it and determined how much to remove from the existing steering shaft. Turns out I needed between 0.24" and 0.75" removed - I split the difference and cut off 0.5". This put me right in the middle of the adjustment range at the column bracket. Once the shaft was cut, I slid it onto the steering column and re-installed the column. The coupler mated with the box input shaft and the column bolted up correctly. Now on to drilling the coupler + shaft. This also went well, though I found my drill bits worked better than the bit supplied with the kit. I had heard of folks having problems breaking drill bits doing this, so I just took my time. I started with a small, sharp bit and some cutting oil. Drill through the shaft and out the other side of the coupler, then work your way up to the full 3/16" diameter. Pin the coupler to the shaft and repeat for the other two holes.

Everything went back together like a charm, and now I need to complete bleeding the system, check for leaks at the hose connections, and road test. Hope this helps somebody who might be considering a similar swap.
 

Kern Dog

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The "No cut" coupler would have been fine. The factory coupler itself was designed to allow plunge and extension as well as operation at an angle. The 71-74 B bodys and all E body cars had steering boxes at an angle.
The U-joint coupler works but is not the better option of the two.
 
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