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Old 03-18-2019, 04:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hydro assist steering without normal power steering

I've got an old motorhome with Armstrong steering and (so far) apparently no options to swap the box to a PS one. Normal hydro assist relies on pressure from a PS box to know which way to move the ram, but I don't have that. I'm sure I could cobble together some contraption involving a generic hydraulic valve kludged to the steering column, but I'd prefer to do something tried and proven. Anyone run into such a situation before?

Or any other ideas? IDGAF about steering feel or self-centering, but full hydro is out of the question (personal preference regarding safety).

Or, off-chance, anyone know of a power steering box that'll bolt into a 1973 Ford P400? The pump is the easy part; engine is a ubiquitous 300 six.

Last edited by moroza; 03-18-2019 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 03-18-2019, 05:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Steering servo and hydraulic ram

Search "the steering that won the 4500(?) class"
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 03-18-2019, 11:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yup, found it, thanks. Great tech thread! I like that it keeps my steerbox and a mechanical connection to it, but the fab work might end up being more trouble than retrofitting another PS box in the first place. Seems a great option for those who actually need hydro assist.
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Old 03-19-2019, 04:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Is there any reason you can't swap in a modern steering gear? Other than "nobody makes on that they say bolts in to my application".
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arse_sidewards View Post
Is there any reason you can't swap in a modern steering gear? Other than "nobody makes on that they say bolts in to my application".
No, that's the only reason. I have four vehicles, the youngest of which is 25, a bunch of non-vehicle projects, and a life besides. Fabbing brackets for a hydro assist ram is one thing, but figuring out a custom steerbox swap is an unknown but probably large timesuck for which there'sn't much of a time budget.

It doesn't help that this rig is a medium-duty, while the majority of online forums' accumulated knowledge is light-duty vehicles. For every 100 people who know Jeeps and Yotas and Sammies and even C/K full-tons, there are 10 who know in-depth about medium-duties, and among those, 3 have heard of a Ford P-series. Hell, even parts catalogs insist there was no 1973 P-400; my parts shopping is by P-350.

I was hoping for something that can bolt to the steering column or gear, not replace part of it like this (otherwise clever) servo valve solution, and somehow detect steering input, using that signal to direct a hydraulic ram.

Last edited by moroza; 03-19-2019 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 03-19-2019, 08:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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budget? medium duty, go full hydro and just run a slow steering ratio
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Old 03-19-2019, 08:23 PM   #8 (permalink)
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No full hydro. I used to work as an ag equipment mechanic, and saw enough sudden failure of hydraulic seals to categorically refuse to rely on them for steering something that does 60mph.
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Old 03-20-2019, 04:20 AM   #9 (permalink)
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It doesn't help that this rig is a medium-duty
Quit getting hung up on this being "medium duty". There is no hard line between 1-tons and everything bigger. Modern 1-tons are pushing the same kind of GVW (if not more) as your motor-home chassis anyway.

The 2011ish F350, 450 and 550 all use the same steering gear. If I were you I'd do the minimal fab work required to bolt one of those on.

Without an existing power steering system you are going to have a hell of a time adding in ram-assist in a way that is less work than just swapping in a steering gear.

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I was hoping for something that can bolt to the steering column or gear, not replace part of it like this (otherwise clever) servo valve solution, and somehow detect steering input, using that signal to direct a hydraulic ram.
Good fuckin' luck with that

Maybe toss on an EPAS system from a GM car/suv (the one that's popular for swaps). If you're just looking to reduce steering effort so you don't have to exert yourself while you cruise the country in retirement that should do the trick.

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Old 03-20-2019, 05:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Google garrison steering. I think that's just a brand, but it'll give you an idea.
Basically a valve in the drag link that senses directional input and sends fluid to a ram. Pretty old school, but it would work. I think ford used it in the 70's, but I mostly see it on old hunting buggys and hd trucks up here.
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Old 03-22-2019, 09:31 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arse_sidewards View Post
Quit getting hung up on this being "medium duty". There is no hard line between 1-tons and everything bigger. Modern 1-tons are pushing the same kind of GVW (if not more) as your motor-home chassis anyway.

The 2011ish F350, 450 and 550 all use the same steering gear. If I were you I'd do the minimal fab work required to bolt one of those on.
Ok, fair point on the big pickups. I just would hesitate to use something like a Ford Ranger box. Or the one that'd be left over after crossover steering on my Yota.

Stock steering on the P400 is push-pull; pitman arm moves in a vertical plane. Modern F-series moves in a horizontal plane. At first glance I see no problem mounting a steerbox (at least one with pressurized lubricant) sideways; do you?

Off-hand, any common vehicles you can think of that have power-assisted push-pull boxes in this size class?

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If you're just looking to reduce steering effort so you don't have to exert yourself while you cruise the country in retirement that should do the trick.
Cruising it's fine, but despite a 2-foot steeringwheel and something like 7 turns lock to lock, it's a bitch to maneuver at low speeds. Come to think of it, the ratio itself is another reason to swap the box entirely.

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Google garrison steering. I think that's just a brand, but it'll give you an idea.
Basically a valve in the drag link that senses directional input and sends fluid to a ram. Pretty old school, but it would work. I think ford used it in the 70's, but I mostly see it on old hunting buggys and hd trucks up here.
Thanks for the heads-up! It seems a lot less fab work than the 4500-class solution; I can cut a drag link and thread it at home. Looking further... I wonder how they can distinguish between steering input from the driver and steering input from a bump? The force/pressure differential is the same.

Last edited by moroza; 03-22-2019 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 03-22-2019, 09:47 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Stock steering on the P400 is push-pull; pitman arm moves in a vertical plane. Modern F-series moves in a horizontal plane. At first glance I see no problem mounting a steerbox (at least one with pressurized lubricant) sideways; do you?
There's no reason you can't mount a box on its side. Dodge did exactly that with a bracket for a few years in the 80s.
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Old 03-22-2019, 10:32 AM   #13 (permalink)
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post some pics of the box,chances are its a saginaw box which everyone used/still uses
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Old 04-19-2019, 11:17 AM   #14 (permalink)
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What does this look like to you?







Last edited by moroza; 04-19-2019 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 04-22-2019, 06:38 PM   #15 (permalink)
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What does this look like to you?
Pixels!
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Old 04-22-2019, 09:43 PM   #16 (permalink)
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And your mom looks like cells to me.
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Old 04-26-2019, 04:38 AM   #17 (permalink)
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When you get his system figured out, I've got an even more challenging one for you.

I always figured it was impossible, but I'd like to add power steering to a GMC DUKW. Steering effort is about what you'd expect in a tandem without ps.

The steering box is similar to a GMC 6x6 (CCKW), but since this is an amphibious vehicle, GM incorporated a cable drum into the steering box so they could use a cable to operate the rudder. No way I'm going to find a steering box I can adapt to replace that set-up. To get power steering, I'm going to have to think outside the box, if you'll excuse the pun.


Something in the way of a ram mounted somewhere in the linkage might work, but the problem is how to control it. Whatever works for the op just might work for me, too.
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Old 04-26-2019, 05:35 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Any old semi truck style through frame box should work. You will need to build a bracket but it can be as simple as an L-channel on top of the frame and a big flat plate spanning the L-channel and tying it into the web of the frame.
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