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  #1  
Old December 5th, 2005, 08:53
Jeepin Jason's Avatar
Jeepin Jason Jeepin Jason is offline
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Post Durango steering box install (56k beware)

edit: The reason for this upgrade was that my stock box was dying, and had been on its way out since this summer. It'd gotten to the point where the Jeep was basically undriveable. So the box needed to be replaced, and for not much more $$$ than a replacement stock box, the Durango box seemed like a good upgrade. I'd read lots of good feedback on the swap on here and the TJ forums on JU and JeepForum, and while assist might be nice, I really don't have any plans for it, otherwise I'd probably have just sprung for one of PSC's pre-ported boxes. My pump had also been leaking a bit for quite some time, so I decided to go ahead and replace that as well since I was working on it all anyway.

The first order of business was pulling the pitman arm. Since this was the first time pulling the pitman arm or removing the steering box, I made sure to soak everything down with PB Blaster a day ahead of time. The pitman arm popped off without too much trouble, but I've definitely broken my fair share of pitman arm pullers working on other Jeeps.



Either my pump or my reservior has been leaking just slightly for quite some time now, so I decided I'd go ahead an pull the whole assembly out and clean it and inspect it since I was going to be in there anyway. There are about 7 bolts holding the steering pump and bracket to the motor, and they're a fun mix of 13mm and 9/16". Once I got the pump unbolted, I used a small bolt to just hold it up in place while I went to work on the steering box. You'll have to remove the auxillary fan before you can start to unbolt the steering pump.



The two lines connecting to the box take an 18mm wrench, and if you've got a stubby wrench, that would certainly come in handy. You could probably go ahead and unbotl the box from the body before removing the PS lines, but I figured it'd be just as easy to go ahead and remove the lines while the box was still bolted up. The front line is the high-pressure feed line, and the rear line is the return line to the reservior. I had to unbolt the front line and move it out of the way before I could undo the return line.



Since the reservoir was still full, I used a pair of visegrips to clamp off the line while I removed it from the box, that way I'd have a bit more control over the fluid draining out.





Once I got the lines unhooked from the box and the reservior drained, I pulled the pump assembly out and set it aside to deal with later (I may end up just going ahead and replacing the pump since I've got it out and it's got a little over 100K miles on it).





The steering shaft is clamped onto the input shaft of the steering box with a 13mm bolt, so make sure you loosen that before you unbolt the box from the frame rail.


Last edited by Jeepin Jason; December 5th, 2005 at 09:32.
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Old December 5th, 2005, 08:54
Jeepin Jason's Avatar
Jeepin Jason Jeepin Jason is offline
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Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

At this point all that was really left was to remove the 3 bolts holding the box to the frame rail. These are the only things holding the box up, so as soon as you pull these bolts the box is going to come loose. This is probably where it would be handy to have a friend helping, but since I do most of my installs solo, I had to improvise and try to hold the box up with my left hand while removing the last bolt with my right. Silly camera focused on the wrench in macro mode...



Since the box was still attached to the steering shaft, it wasn't too hard to do, and I was able to use the swaybar to help balance the box while I used a pickle fork to pry the steering shaft loose.



So as with all installs, it's out with the old, and in with the new! Well, for now it's just out with the old, I won't get a chance to put in the new box until sunday, or maybe not until next weekend.



I got my Durango box from AutoZone, and it was about $175, with a whopping $165 core charge. I think the Durango box is a bit quicker lock to lock -- I seem to remember reading it's 3 turns to lock, vs 3.5 turns with the stock XJ box?? The Durango box also has a larger piston, so it should put out a bit more power to help steering big tires. I don't know the exact size of the piston, but the outer casing is about 4.125" OD, while the stock XJ box is only about 3.75" OD. I know the stock XJ box uses a 2.75", so assuming the size difference is proportional, the Durango box should have a 3.125" piston.





Oh, and as you can see above, I'm also going to be replacing the stock cast aluminum spacer bracket with a heavy-duty steel bracket and frame sleeves from C-ROK.

All the pics plus a couple more are at http://jeepin.net/photos/durango
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  #3  
Old December 5th, 2005, 08:55
Jeepin Jason's Avatar
Jeepin Jason Jeepin Jason is offline
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Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

To replace the steering pump, the first thing you've got to do is remove the pulley. DO NOT try to use a regular gear puller, YOU WILL bend the pulley (don't ask me how I know). Most auto parts stores should have a pulley puller kit that you can borrow.





Once you've pulled the pulley off the old pump, remove the 3 13mm bolts that hold the mounting bracket to the old pump and transfer it to the new pump. Using the pulley puller kit, press the pulley onto the new pump. Don't forget to swap the new o-ring (that should have come with the pump) onto the pressure line fitting before you connect it to the new pump housing.









The C-ROK inner steering plate comes with frame sleeves to reinforce the insides of the frame rail. The sleeves can go in from the inside or the outside of the frame rail, but either way you'll have to do some grinding to open up the holes so you can get the sleeves in. I started out with my dremel (technically it's a Black&Decker Wizard), but the stone I had really wasn't cutting it (pun intended), so I ended up swapping to my pnuematic die-grinder and a bigger grinding stone (which worked much better).



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Old December 5th, 2005, 08:55
Jeepin Jason's Avatar
Jeepin Jason Jeepin Jason is offline
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Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

With the frame sleeves in and the C-ROK plate bolted up (it picks up the rear through-frame bolt used by most tow hook bracket kits and some bumper mounting brackets) it was time to figure out how much I'd have to shim out the new Durango steering box so it would clear the frame.





Since the piston cap was 3/8" larger diameter, I figured I'd probably have to shim about 3/16". I'd hoped I'd only need one washer, but after a bit of trial and error I ended up with two washers in order for the rear of the box to clear the C-ROK plate. Even with the two washers though, the back of the box just barely contacts the plate.



With a total of 3 washers on the bolts (1 on the outside and 2 on the inside), the 4" bolts that had originally come with my C-ROK outer steering plate were just barely long enough to work. 4.25" long bolts would be perfect, but I couldn't even find 4.5" long bolts locally (Lowes & HomeDepot only carry 4" and 6" lengths in that size bolt, and ACE Hardware closed about a year ago), so the 4" bolts will have to do for now.



After bolting the pump to the motor and retensioning the serpentine belt, it was time to connect the fluid lines to the new steering box. Just like with the new steering pump, the new box should have come with two new o-rings for the fluid line fittings. Be sure to swap out the old o-rings for the new ones before you connect the lines, otherwise you could end up with leaks.





The high-pressure line connects to the front port, and the return line connects to the rear port. If you're still running the stock airbox, pulling it out clears up a lot of room and makes life much easier when you're trying to screw in the fittings on the lines.



Once that's all done it's time to fill and bleed the system. The pump and box both came with instructions on how to do this, and any decent service manual (hopefully you've got an FSM - Factory Service Manual) will have instructions on how to do this as well. Basically you fill the reservoir up, let it sit for a minute or two, then turn the steering wheel back and forth lock to lock a few times. Check the fluid level and add more fluid as needed. After you do that start up the motor and watch the fluid level -- add fluid as needed until the level stays constant. Kill the motor, bolt the pitman arm onto the steering box, jack the front end up so that both wheels are off the ground, then fire up the motor again and start turning the wheel lock to lock keeping and eye on the fluid level. This is another time when having a buddy helping out during the install is a real benefit.

Once you've gotten all the air bled out of the steering system, recheck all the bolts and take 'er for a spin. Since the Durango box is shimmed to the passenger side more than the stock box, you'll probably need to recenter your steering wheel. After you're done with the test drive, recheck all the bolts and the pitman arm nut again, and look for any leaks around all the hose fittings.

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  #5  
Old December 5th, 2005, 09:07
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ghettocruiser ghettocruiser is offline
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Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

Nice write up! I seem to remember reading that there were more modifications than that...but that looks like a cake walk! Besides man-handling that box of course. I invented some new curse words when I installed my c-rok brace and replaced my box.

So how does she steer now? Better? Worse? Is it worth upgrading from a perfectly good box? or is this a mod better suited for replacing an already worn out one?

Justin
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  #6  
Old December 5th, 2005, 09:17
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Dirk Pitt Dirk Pitt is offline
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Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

Besides the increased piston size and quicker ratio, what are the advantages of using the Durango box?

It would have been easier to drill, tap, and plug for hydro assist lines while you had the box out, but maybe you don't plan on hydro assist.
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Old December 5th, 2005, 09:28
Jeepin Jason's Avatar
Jeepin Jason Jeepin Jason is offline
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Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirk Pitt
Besides the increased piston size and quicker ratio, what are the advantages of using the Durango box?
Those ARE the advantages.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirk Pitt
It would have been easier to drill, tap, and plug for hydro assist lines while you had the box out, but maybe you don't plan on hydro assist.
Guess I should have given some backstory about WHY I was doing the mod... My stock box was dying, and had been on its way out since this summer. It'd gotten to the point where the Jeep was basically undriveable. So the box needed to be replaced, and for not much more $$$ than a replacement stock box, the Durango box seemed like a good upgrade. I'd read lots of good feedback on the swap on here and the TJ forums on JU and JeepForum, and while assist might be nice, I really don't have any plans for it, otherwise I'd probably have just sprung for one of PSC's pre-ported boxes.

Justin, if you've got a perfectly good box now, I honestly don't know that I'd go to the time, trouble, and expense of swapping in a new box. I just finished the install last saturday, and my rig doesn't see much daily driving anymore, so I don't have much seat time in with the new box yet. It seems to work fine though. It's going to be hard for me to get/give good before/after impressions though, since my steering's been going bad since the summer.
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Old December 5th, 2005, 09:39
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MENEZES MENEZES is offline
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Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

great write up jason. It looks like im goin Durango Box, my box is shot. thanks again.
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  #9  
Old December 6th, 2005, 15:10
XJCRAWLER XJCRAWLER is offline
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Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

How's the turning diameter? Did that box have the spacers inside that needed to be removed?
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  #10  
Old December 6th, 2005, 15:21
flexjay87 flexjay87 is offline
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Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

man i can't emphasize enough how good a job you did with your pictures and info you passed on, way to go. hope the new box works out well for ya. keep us posted on if it is a lot better for bigger tires.
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Old December 6th, 2005, 15:28
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ECKSJAY ECKSJAY is offline
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Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

Subscribing to thread.

Nice write-up, Jason.
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Old December 6th, 2005, 15:40
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XJ_ranger XJ_ranger is offline
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Talking Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

incase anyone is lookin at pics trying to figure what goes where - here are some of my basic R+R of my steering box:



Box 1/2 out


Gasket on new high pressure line - Note - always replace the high pressure line, they are like 15.00 and you are putting a 175.00 box in and blowing a high presure line would suck... and then i cary my old one as a spare now...






and this is how i got the old pitman arm off -

Most people dont like to use heat, but if the box you are swaping is going back to the autoparts store or something, then what the heck - why not?

they arent your seals anyway :-)
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Old December 6th, 2005, 16:39
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Jeepin Jason Jeepin Jason is offline
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Thumbs up Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

Quote:
Originally Posted by XJCRAWLER
How's the turning diameter? Did that box have the spacers inside that needed to be removed?
My steering stops hit (1 thin washer on each side) before the box bottoms out, so I'm good to go there. I was a bit apprehensive about the box because of the post on here I'd read about the possibility of spacers inside, but I can only assume that mine does not have the spacers. I've never read anywhere else about troubles with spacers, so I'm inclinded to believe that the spacers are not common.

Shoot, had I known those lines were that cheap, I'd have just replaced those as well!

edit: drove it to work today (~44mi round trip) and everything feels fine. I'm still tweaking the steering wheel to try and get it recentered. I can tell that the new gear has a bit more oomph to it, as well as the different turning ratio. The new turning ratio will take a bit to get used to though (not bad, just different), that or I've just gotten too used to driving the Denali truck lately.

Last edited by Jeepin Jason; December 6th, 2005 at 16:46.
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Old December 6th, 2005, 17:08
MrShoeBoy MrShoeBoy is offline
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Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

I may have missed it but what year Durango did you use when you got it from Autozone? If my box dies again I will probably go this route.

Also do you have a power steering cooler? If not , I highly recomend one. I took a big auto tranny cooler and plumbed it inbetween the low pressure line coming out of the box to the resivoir. I have yet to get a noise from the steering with the cooler on it even when running sand trails in Florida in the summer. Before my pump would start to whine with in 10 min of trail riding.

AARON
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Old December 6th, 2005, 18:20
Jeepin Jason's Avatar
Jeepin Jason Jeepin Jason is offline
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Re: Durango steering box install (56k beware)

'99 Durango, 4wd, V8. (hmm, looks like I actually didn't put that info in the write-up...)

No PS cooler yet, but I've got plans for one.
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