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Best Steering Kit?

Discussion in 'Jeep Truck and FC Tech' started by mdurbahn, Sep 6, 2022.

  1. Sep 6, 2022
    mdurbahn

    mdurbahn New Member

    MN
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    Looking to buy a saginaw steering conversion for my 61 wagon, I have been looking at Advance Adapters, Herm, or CJ junkyard parts to do the swap. What one would be the best? I have only done the junkyard swap before but was thinking it might be nice to have everything new instead this time.
     
  2. Sep 6, 2022
    SoCalNickG

    SoCalNickG Member 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Whittier, CA.
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    There is A LOT of info on this site. The best way to search for the info is to use your favorite search engine and use "earlycj5.com" and add your search terms i.e. Saginaw steering.
     
  3. Sep 6, 2022
    Buildflycrash

    Buildflycrash More or Less in Line. 2024 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Gulf Breeze FL...
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    I have the Herm Kit in my '66. It works well and I like that it is completely in the engine compartment. There are issues that would prevent me from using it again.
    1. Steering rods cross with a 2hole knuckle (Dana30 front axle)- I worked this out on my Jeep by flipping the Drag link to the top and leaving the TR on bottom. The rods were going to contact & bind /bend otherwise.
    2. Its tight in there. I found I had to remove the steering box to change my fuel pump. (had to remove the fender and the Power steering pump to get the gear out). I also once had to re-tighten the bolts that hold the pump to the Herm Mount I had to take everything apart to do so. (use locktight and get them tight the first time).

    I went with Herm as I had very little experience with (the very little) fabrication required to make the GM gear work.
     
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  4. Sep 6, 2022
    FinoCJ

    FinoCJ 1970 CJ5 Staff Member

    Bozeman, MT
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    I think this thread will struggle to get good responses as there are no 'kits' for the conversion. No matter what route you go, there is quite a bit of home fab work. There are some plusses and minuses to each of the methods you mention - not so much in terms of 'easier' or more vs less fab work, but in terms of what compromises you might have to make and how it affects other components (say pedal and brake MC etc). As a complete response to your question might take pages and pages to type, maybe here are a couple of points to kind of get you going and maybe help focus what you are thinking....
    1) Knowing what engine and any other mods you have will help as there are significant details that differ with such changes - a L6-226 can be difficult to find a pump for.
    2) Are you wanting power steering, or just a manual saginaw box
    3) IIRC, Herms kit (at least from a cj standpoint) is not a saginaw box, but rather a reverse rotation ford style box....this works on cjs (especially 4 cyl), but not sure how it works on a wagon. One advantage of herms kit - at least with regard to a cj - is that it is bolt in, no welding required, although maybe recommended. Its advertised as for the 4cyl, but some have made it work with V6 in cjs (must change the exhaust) - not sure how it works with a wagon 226.
    4) the AA kit is not 'complete' in the sense that its basically the metal pieces for boxing the frame horns, and then the steering box mount, and some u-joints and intermediate shaft to add to your steering shaft. The steering box must still be bought separately. One advantage of this route is keeping an original style steering column and wheel. Not sure if the frame boxing plates are the same on the wagon and the CJ, as this kit is focused for a CJ. You could probably make your own plates, buy a saggy box mount from summit or wherever, and some quality u-joints and intermediate shaft from Boregeson for a lot less.
    5) If not so interested to keep the original column, starting with an Ididit/Flaming River column and intermediate shaft is option - provides some benefits, but adds some additional complexities.
    6) Lastly, My 58 wagon had a swap from the previous owner - it was from a FSJ. If you choose to go for JY parts, maybe FSJ is better option than CJ and the shaft lengths are more appropriate? I've since redone it with aftermarket column and intermediate shaft as the engine swap I did required moving the motor mounts which then interfered with the existing shaft.
    So as you can see, lots of options and I think you will get more helpful and useful response if you can provide a bit more info....
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2022
    Tralehead, dnb71R2 and Stakebed like this.
  5. Sep 6, 2022
    mdurbahn

    mdurbahn New Member

    MN
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    Thanks for the info, I am doing a LS 4.8 engine swap so I want to do power steering and use that pump. My initial thought is wanting to keep everything looking stock (i.e. stock column, interior etc) but I want the steering to feel like a 90's gm truck for a safety upgrade.
     
  6. Sep 6, 2022
    FinoCJ

    FinoCJ 1970 CJ5 Staff Member

    Bozeman, MT
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    Just so you have full options to research if you so desire....there are some power assist options that keep the original Ross steering box, which is great in terms of keeping your original column and wheel, but if you don't like the Ross box, then they might not be for you (FWIW - the ross set-up on a wagon is a bit better than the cjs). The last one (and the link in that thread to an OWF thread) might be the most interesting as it uses an electric pump - but it might not be aesthetically pleasing if you want very original looking interior.
    http://www.earlycj5.com/xf_cj5/index.php?threads/128518/
    http://www.earlycj5.com/xf_cj5/index.php?threads/149115/
    http://www.earlycj5.com/xf_cj5/index.php?threads/152697/#post-1735716

    Now going back to a more traditional power steering swap, using an LS engine and LS pump should work nicely. Just me (and this is what I would have done if I still had the original wheel and column in my 58), I'd look to follow the AA set-up by removing the column with worm gear from the ross box, cut off the worm gear and install a ujoint (or double u-joint if needed) and run an intermediate shaft forward to a saggy box mounted on the front drive side frame horn. I wouldn't get the AA kit - its easier/cheaper to just source Boregeson joints and intermediate shaft from Summit, along with a generic saggy mount plate that will be welded to to the inside of the frame horns (I'd box in the frame horn as well). At least with mine (gen 1 sbc350 engine), it seemed that the engine mount and intermediate shaft always wanted to occupy the same space. As with any of these type projects, its a lot of fine tuning the fitting and clearance of everything. Certainly, some don't love the exposed position of the saggy box up front - but I think it can be kept high and tight with some effort and patience getting everything sorted. One thing that seems to be reported as CW with this style swap, the lower end of the original column isn't all that strong, and the connection to the ujoint and intermediate shaft will be the weak spot. If that is truly a concern, some here have used a simple retro styled aftermarket column, and made adapters to put the original steering wheel on.

    I'd be interested to know and see if anyone has done the Herm style reverse rotation box on a wagon - OWF might be a better place to find someone who has that set-up. As Scott said above, its nice when the steering box is mounted a bit more protected behind the cross-member and more inside the engine bay. At least with gen 1 sbc, a common PS pump mount is mid-engine on the driver side - and I think that would conflict with the steering box. Of course, there are lots of high mount (and maybe even passenger side) pump brackets aftermarket. I assume LS is serpentine set-up and I just don't know anything about pump mounts for it. After I got the sbc and radiator with electric fan mounted in there - there isn't a lot of room for a steering box. I think Herm's set-up works well with the OEM 4cyl engines as there is a lot more room in the engine bay as compared to when v8s are installed.
     
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  7. Sep 6, 2022
    mdurbahn

    mdurbahn New Member

    MN
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    Jan 1, 2003
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    James -thanks for the links, I do like the idea of the electric option because it allows much more o.e. equipment to stay in place. I have always thought the ross steering to saginaw was more of a safety update but maybe that isn't the case with everything refreshed. The more I looked at Herm's kit the less I wanted to use that one now because of larger radiator and the v8 clearance. I think I will have to look into the electric option a little more to see if it is as good as a borg box set up.
     
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  8. Sep 6, 2022
    FinoCJ

    FinoCJ 1970 CJ5 Staff Member

    Bozeman, MT
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    A well maintained, non-worn out ross box can be pretty decent - but what one considers pretty decent, another might not accept. Same from a safety standpoint - kind of like brakes - what one finds usable another insists must be upgraded for safety or whatnot. And is acceptable upgrade going to dual MC, or upgrading the drum brake size, or self adjusters, or is disc brakes only....Only you can really answer what will work for you. But it certainly seems that if you are considering keeping the Ross Box in some manner - go through the linkage and bellcrank etc, and make sure its all in good working order. And then check and see how much play you have in the ross box - there are two 'pins' or what-not that ride in the worm gear and can be come severely worn. If you have lots of slop or play in the steering, see if you can identify if its coming from linkage or from inside the box. If it needs attention, then you might have to decide how much effort and money is worth putting into getting it working nicely vs a swap to a saggy box. I have power saggy box in the 58 wagon....honestly, the wagon would be fine with manual steering - I don't love the totally mushy, no road feel of classic 70's style power steering. I still run OEM manual ross box in my cj - its is (well maybe was) in okay shape, but its definitely not getting better after 8-9 years of bigger tires and hard wheeling. Starting to think manual saggy box in the cj will happen sooner rather than later....
     
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  9. Sep 7, 2022
    colojeepguy

    colojeepguy Colorado Springs

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    The front frame of a Willys PU/wagon is quite different from a CJ...I don't believe the AA kit would be all that useful for you.
    Foe my son's Willys PU, we're using a Scout II steering gear which bolts on the outside of the frame. The problem is these are very difficult to find nowadays.
     
  10. Sep 7, 2022
    mdurbahn

    mdurbahn New Member

    MN
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    Any chance you have a pic of that set up? There is a scout junk yard around here I might be able to find that stuff from..
     
  11. Sep 7, 2022
    Fireball

    Fireball Well-Known Member 2024 Sponsor 2023 Sponsor 2022 Sponsor

    Pullman, WA
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    A lot of Chevy pickups had steering gears mounted to the outside of the frame too. That might be another place to look for one.
     
  12. Sep 7, 2022
    Keys5a

    Keys5a Sponsor

    Florida Keys
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    I’ve got a Scout ll frame/axles that has the outboard power steering box. I also have a Willys Wagon frame that has been converted to Saginaw power steering.
    If I remember to take an iPad to my jobsite to take photos, I can get a couple shots of both. If this happens, I can email or text the photos. I don’t do well with posting pictures. The Scout stuff is not for sale as I spent about 3 years scrounging for this setup.
    -Donny
     
  13. Sep 8, 2022
    ITLKSEZ

    ITLKSEZ Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

    Veradale, WA
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    '78-'79 Ford Bronco, or '73(?)-'79 F150 uses the same design, has a reasonable pitman arm (unlike a scout, unless using scout axles that have equally unreasonably long knuckle arms), and are more readily available.

    http://www.earlycj5.com/xf_cj5/index.php?threads/123204/#post-1313243
     
  14. Sep 8, 2022
    colojeepguy

    colojeepguy Colorado Springs

    At the foot of...
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    The Scout box uses uses the same splines as a normal Saginaw box. I put an FSJ pitman arm on ours.
     
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  15. Sep 8, 2022
    Keys5a

    Keys5a Sponsor

    Florida Keys
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    I took some photos of my wagon chassis with the Saginaw conversion showing good placement for a stock D25. They used a section of a GM chassis welded into the inside of the frame rail, and it looks like they sectioned in about 2” of extra length when doing this conversion.
    I also took a couple photos of the stock steering box in place on the Scout ll chassis.
    If you want to see the photos, PM me your eMail or text number.
    -Donny
     
  16. Nov 8, 2022
    Tralehead

    Tralehead Member

    Silverado, CA
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    @FinoCJ good comments! I've got a manual Sag box on my V8 wagon as well, installed by the P.O. He did a decent job but it's mounted under the cross member/grille and is a chore to get to. It's a really small box, not sure what it came from but considering all of the other Scout parts on the Willys...
    Like you I'm toying with the idea of power but I like the compactness and simplicity of the current set-up. And the road feel... It's the parallel parking that gets me. Thankfully he retained the original column so that mongo Wagon (steering) wheel helps with leverage; maybe just a spinner knob?
    It's not at the top of my list right now, but I would like to find out what the smallest power Sag box is, and of course a way to incorporate the pump. The SBC currently has just a two row belt set; one for the alternator, and one for the AC, both of which I consider necessities. I've looked at the aftermarket serpentine kits offered up by the vintage AC companies but wow, they ain't cheap! (look really cool tho)
    My other wish is to somehow make the horn button on the original wheel work. When the u-joint was welded on to the column, the original wire way went away :( Any ideas?
     
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