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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
HELP PLEASE! Getting air out of steering when nothing else seems to work???

FRUSTRATION!………….

Brand new PS pump, slightly modified as per direction from WTOR. Astro box set up by WTOR. Heat sink style finned cooler (16” long IIRC). Royal Purple fluid – expensive shit I’m trying not to waste!

I use a 18” long piece of 2” tubing on the pump housing to hold more fluid and allow air to come out without an eruption. After the initial fill (required starting the engine very quickly 4 times to get the fluid in the system) I did a 1 hour gravity bleed with plenty of fluid in the tube so it doesn’t suck air, all fittings cracked and let it bleed until no air was bubbling out anymore. Then I turned the wheel 1 turn each way with the wheels off the ground engine off probably 200 times. Started this cycle with the fittings on the ram cracked until the bubbling stopped. Still gurgling at the end of the 200. After this, got some help and I watched the fluid level in the tube rise up 10” when turning to lock, then go back down on its own without moving the wheel with no bubbles appearing. Then I did probably another 100 lock to lock. Still gurgling. Then I did it with the engine running and wheels on the ground to add some resistance. Still gurgling when I move the wheel with engine off. Got late, quit for the night.

I have my cooler (tubular heat sink style) sitting perfectly vertical lower than anything else in the system so its impossible to trap air in it (or so I think). Cracking the fittings on the ram, cooler, and box make no bubbles, only fluid. I don’t know what else to do!

I’ve read about a bleeder valve on the box, but I don’t see anything on mine. Maybe the posts I read were talking about a different style of box?

Any help is appreciated. I’m obviously doing something wrong. In all of the 3 times I’ve had this truck out, I’ve had steering problems that indicated air in the system every time.
 

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Not completely familiar with the equipment you describe. Give me a little info. Is the Astro box a normal p/s box with spool valve, saginaw screw and piston incorporated, and is it modified to also power a ram through fittings on the box? The key will be bleeding it with the engine running. Just turning the wheel does not force fluid through the system. It won't suck oil out of the reservoir to fill anything. If you want to keep the fluid use to a minimum you will need a super clean work area and leak path, and clean containers to recover it. You will undoubtably need more fluid than normal capacity to bleed, but if you keep it clean and recover it, you can save it for later service.
 

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Without seeing a pic, it's hard to tell how your plumbing is routed, but when I get one that doesn't want to air out pretty easily, I yank the coil wire and give the starter a bump for a second or two to spin the steering pump.

A few more slowish lock to lock turns and then start it. If it whines for more than a second, I turn it off and repeat the process. Always works.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
hose routing: as shown for ram. Cooler routing goes out of box, straight across to far side of cooler (side with elbows), then out the near end back into the pump

Box is from a 1992 GM Astro minivan. Rebuilt, tapped for assist, and modified by West Texas Offroad.





Cooler, its current hanging perfectly vertical with the pipe elbows almost touching the ground so all the air can easily escape out the top. I'll put it back in place once its bled.



Random setup pics:







 

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That's a lot of pics, but it answers the question just fine. Here's what I would do.
1. Disconnect the ram from the box, and plug the box.
2. Make sure the ends of the hoses are very clean, and place them in a clean container of fluid about 3 or 4 inches deep, and at least twice the volume of both sides of the ram. Cover and place the container where it will not get contaminated, but directly below the ram. Once you start cycling steering in a later step, make sure you keep the hoses submerged in 3 or 4 inches of fluid as the ram will draw fluid in and expell air.
3. Disconnect the return hose from the reservoir and cap or plug the reservoir.
4. Clean the end of that hose good, and place that hose in another clean container for return fluid that is at least twice the size of the normal reservoir capacity. This hose does not need to stay submerged. You may continue to use the extension on your reservoir, and you can use a larger container if you want, but this will minimize the extra fluid needed. Again make sure its covered to keep the fluid clean.
5. Crack open the pressure fitting at the box, and make sure the return fitting, and all other fittings in the system are tight. Once fluid seeps out of pressure fitting, squeeze it back up finger tight. Start the engine. Crack the pressure fitting again until you get a good ooze out of it, but don't have it loose enough to spray. Wiggle it till you find a good spot so you don't have to loosen it any more than neccesary. Tighten that fitting back up. Unless you have a super clean leak path, I would not try to recover that fluid.
6. This could be a little difficult, because the fluid will run through the box fairly quickly, and you'll need to stop the engine before the reservoir goes dry. Now run the engine, and turn the steering slowly from lock to lock. You will need to figure out how long each running cycle can be, then start and stop how ever many times neccesary to keep from running dry. You may wish to enlarge your reservoirs, or just keep stopping as needed. You'll need to use the fluid in your catch can to replenish the reservoir periodically so you don't waste too much fluid, so it must be kept very clean. Again, there is no need to keep this hose submerged.
7. Once you've done this 10 full cycles(at least 4 if you find it too tedious), hook the return hose back up to the reservoir, then cycle it slowly with the engine running about 10 cycles. You should feel plenty of power, have low noise, and lose very little reservoir volume, but make it up as neccesary. You will want to have discarded the extra reservoir extension by this point too to get a feel of the real conditions.
8. If all is good, stop the engine and remove the hoses for the ram from their bucket. Make every effort to fill the hoses in a completely vertical line from the ram. Slowly lower each hose one at a time allowing as much fluid as neccesary to ooze out as you bring it down to the box level and hook it up. Remove the plug in the box when the hose is positioned for install and hook up imediately.
9. For best results, you should disconnect the return hose from the reservoir again and repeat step 6, this time with the ram in the system for at least 3 or 4 cycles, but if you find this too tedious, it is very likely that enough air is now out of the system that it will operate normally, and will naturally scrub the rest of the air out in normal operation.

Good luck.

P.S. Raising the vehicle should not be neccesary, but you may lighten the front end a little if the pressure seems to be too high, but remember, cycle it very slowly and give the air time to stay out ahead of the fluid and not milk up as bad. It would be best if you never got to full pressure by turning the wheel too fast. Raise the front if you can't keep the pressure down this way.
 

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Use a vacum pump, it worked for me, used a vacum pump that we use in the shop to vac down AC for a R134 retro kit or AC compressor change, made an adapter and put it on top of the reservoir, filled up with 1/2 the fluid it holds and turned on the vacum pump, let it run for awhile, then refilled, started the rig, ran the vacum pump while cycling the steering, no air after 10 mins. works fine
 

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I used the bucket technique.

1) Take the ram lines loose from the box

2) Get a keg cup or larger size container

3) Put the hose ends in the container

4) Fill with ATF and place the container above the ram

5) Cycle the ram back and forth (while making sure both hose ends remain submerged) till no bubbles come out

6) Reconnect lines, fill PS pump reservoir and cycle steering with the engine off until no bubbles are visible

7) Start the engine and cycle the steering with the wheels off the ground.


I did all the above and my ram assist worked out great, no wasted Amzoil synthetic fluid or air bubbles. I took it wheeling the next day and it performed flawlessly. My system with a cooler, 1.5 x 6" ram, hydroboost and a J20 box took 2 quarts of fluid BTW.
 

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Been using the vacuum trick for my 20 years as a Ford tech, works 99% of the time. It's nice if you have a pump but can also just use a vacuum source from the engine you are working on, unless it's a diesel. I have a nice cap made by Ford but you can just drill a hole in a stock cap and run the hose through the hole and seal it up good.
 

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Are you sure the noise (I am guessing you have a noise) is from Air, not from a fitting that is to small?
Those pipe elbows probally cause a lot of restriction in the system.
 

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Short of using vacuum to lower the pressure in the reservoir, the return hose must be off of the reservoir to allow the fluid and air enough room to exchange, and to keep the outlet side of the pump from being the low pressure point where air would have a tendency to travel to, thus disabling the pump. Purging the air from the ram would better be done at or above ram level with the least amount of hose turned down into the bucket, but since the motor was going to be running, I suggested having them on the ground and out of the way. With a sufficient amount of cycles, they will still purge and fill if the hoses stay submerged. The important thing is not to hook the rams up until the rest of the system is purged, and the rams are purged, or the empty rams will provide a hiding place for the air from which it will stay trapped in the system, and move towards the pump to disable it when acted upon. My method was meant to be a catch all. For expediency, and most likely success also, try FordFascist method first.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I used the bucket technique.

1) Take the ram lines loose from the box

2) Get a keg cup or larger size container

3) Put the hose ends in the container

4) Fill with ATF and place the container above the ram

5) Cycle the ram back and forth (while making sure both hose ends remain submerged) till no bubbles come out

6) Reconnect lines, fill PS pump reservoir and cycle steering with the engine off until no bubbles are visible

7) Start the engine and cycle the steering with the wheels off the ground.


I did all the above and my ram assist worked out great, no wasted Amzoil synthetic fluid or air bubbles. I took it wheeling the next day and it performed flawlessly. My system with a cooler, 1.5 x 6" ram, hydroboost and a J20 box took 2 quarts of fluid BTW.
specific to #5, I should just turn the wheel like normal, or the ram should be unhooked and cycle it by hand, or ?????
 

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specific to #5, I should just turn the wheel like normal, or the ram should be unhooked and cycle it by hand, or ?????
There's no reason you can't have everything else hooked up and use the steering wheel to cycle the ram back and forth. It would be the easiest way. You may get some fluid out of the box since his method appears not to have filled that yet, or he is accounting for loss from cycling while open. Personally I would plug the box, but that's extra dough if you don't already have them.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hey guys, I tried a bunch of stuff tonight, thanks for everybody's advice. Got some advice my piston may be stuck, so I pulled the pump and checked and it was fine. Gravity bled and got more out. Then cracked the fittings on the ram and box as my wife turned the wheel. Only opened the ones for the direction I was turning, then switched. Seemed to prevent sucking air this way. Definitely made progress there too. Then when all seemed good, I ran it and turned lock to lock for a few minutes. Got a little more yet. But when I shut it off, the fluid still rises up a few inches as I turned each way.

At what point do I stop trying and hope its good? There are zero air bubbles or foaming in the fluid as I watch the reservoir. Zero pump noise. Can't seem to get any more air out turning the wheel either running or not. Safe to try it?
 

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I didn't read every comment above, but did you try unbolting your cooler and letting it sit vertically (inlet on bottom, outlet on top) while trying to bleed the system? You want it horizontal once it's bled, but to get the air out is has to be vertical. There's a lot of space for air inside the cooler when sitting horizontal since the inlet and outlet are at the middle of the chamber and not the top.

Good luck...My full hydro was frustrating as hell to bleed but somehow it works GREAT now.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I didn't read every comment above, but did you try unbolting your cooler and letting it sit vertically (inlet on bottom, outlet on top) while trying to bleed the system? You want it horizontal once it's bled, but to get the air out is has to be vertical. There's a lot of space for air inside the cooler when sitting horizontal since the inlet and outlet are at the middle of the chamber and not the top.

Good luck...My full hydro was frustrating as hell to bleed but somehow it works GREAT now.
Yes, its hanging vertically right now.

Any other help this morning guys?
 

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Any other help this morning guys?
When I installed a new pump and res in my system (large B&M cooler, PSC P-pump, ram, hydroboost, a quart res, and a large filter) I just did the usual bleed procedure for a few minutes until it stopped foaming. Then top off the res, run it for a bit, and keep topping off while running. When shut down it would puke. Repeat the steps in bold a few times until it settled down. Kinda messy, but it works fine now. Of course, I used cheap parts store fluid, so its not as painful. I used up nearly a gallon jug of the stuff, and I estimate my system holds about 4 quarts. I never cracked any fittings or changed the position of the reservoir while doing this. all the air bled out through the res.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Wow, I wish mine were that easy. This Royal Purple fluid is $5/12 oz. If I would have known I would have all these bleeding problems, I would have filled it with normal stuff first, then switched it out later. Ugh.

Everybody keeps talking about foaming, and the fluid looking like a "milkshake" in the reservoir. I've never experienced that yet. I think all my air is trapped in the box. I can hear it gurgling down there when I turn. Or is this normal? I've also never been able to get it to burp when I shut it off like you have (darkstar). Wish I could, I wouldn't mind wasting some fluid if I could just get the damn air out!
 

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Hey guys, I tried a bunch of stuff tonight, thanks for everybody's advice. Got some advice my piston may be stuck, so I pulled the pump and checked and it was fine. Gravity bled and got more out. Then cracked the fittings on the ram and box as my wife turned the wheel. Only opened the ones for the direction I was turning, then switched. Seemed to prevent sucking air this way. Definitely made progress there too. Then when all seemed good, I ran it and turned lock to lock for a few minutes. Got a little more yet. But when I shut it off, the fluid still rises up a few inches as I turned each way.

At what point do I stop trying and hope its good? There are zero air bubbles or foaming in the fluid as I watch the reservoir. Zero pump noise. Can't seem to get any more air out turning the wheel either running or not. Safe to try it?
I think at least 2 very credible sources basically told you that you could not bleed the ram with it connected to the system. Are you saying you are still trying to do this? When you say you only cracked the fittings associated with the direction you were going on the ram AND THE BOX, I have to ask, you do realize that one fitting on the box is pressure(to the box and rams through the box), and one fitting on the box is just a low pressure return? Its hard to tell from your post whether you understand that due to the wording you chose.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I think at least 2 very credible sources basically told you that you could not bleed the ram with it connected to the system. Are you saying you are still trying to do this? When you say you only cracked the fittings associated with the direction you were going on the ram AND THE BOX, I have to ask, you do realize that one fitting on the box is pressure(to the box and rams through the box), and one fitting on the box is just a low pressure return? Its hard to tell from your post whether you understand that due to the wording you chose.
What is most frustrating about this whole ordeal to me is that there is no single way that everybody agrees works. While 2 very credible sources told me I can't here, I've talked to several others who have done it multiple times with everything hooked up with no issues. There's the Howe directions, and I talked to the guys at WTOR as well. Then talked to a few friends who have been doing this stuff for years. With the underside of my truck currently covered in sand stuck to random fluids and no way to wash it right now, I don't want to disconnect anything if I can help it. I'm waiting for that as a last resort. I'm also out of fluid until more comes in Thursday.....

Correct me if I'm wrong here........... When I turn the wheel to the left, the top port on the box and the right port on the ram are pressurized, and the bottom port on the box and the left port on the ram are return. Opposite for the other direction. So it made sense to me to crack the ones that are under pressure, then close them during return so it lets air out under pressure, but doesn't suck it back in during return. Just like bleeding brakes - don't crack it until its under pressure, then close it before relieving pressure. Yes?

So I think I've pretty well go it. Only thing that concerns me now is I looked at the fluid tonight after taking my big tube off the pump housing and it looks to have a little bit of a metallic look to it. Hard to believe I've completely destroyed a brand new pump with under 5 minutes run time in the garage. Have yet to ever year any whining noise or see bubbles in the reservoir with this pump. Maybe its still left over from my previous pump grenading on me?
 
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