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You are here: Home Tech Articles & Tutorials Steering / Suspension / Brakes Adding Power Steering to an F100 4x4
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Adding Power Steering to an F100 4x4

July 1, 2006  -  This page will be fairly slow going, with sporadic updates, at best. Since I bought a '69 F100 4x4 Ranger in May 2006 for the box to use on my '67 2WD project, I've decided to keep the rest of the truck as a side project, one to work on now-and-then when I needed a break from the 2WD. This project wouldn't be nearly as in-depth though, and I'd simply rebuild it using good leftover spare parts from the other trucks I've parted out. I wouldn't be as concerned with making it aesthetically pleasing, but more into just making it solid, reliable and fun to drive. Since I have good access to parts trucks, I could also do some upgrades, such as converting it to power steering and brakes. This page will detail the research into the power steering conversion, and I'll post pictures and updates as they become available.

One of the things I'm sometimes guilty of is believing everything I read or am told. Especially if I hear it from multiple sources, I tend to trust the source(s) and consider it true. One such tidbit of information that I've always been told (and I believed) was that converting a 4x4 truck to power steering was as easy as getting the integral power steering box from a '78-'79 F150 and bolting it on, along with the other necessary add-on's, of course, such as the pump, lines, etc. I was told it was literally a bolt-on affair. So, since I'd decided to keep the '69, I made a trip to the local U-Pull-It yard to get some parts. I ran across a '78 F150 4x4 with power steering, and since I was always told that they're semi-rare, I decided to go ahead and grab it, as well as the steering linkage (drag link and tierod ends (TRE).


Fig. 1

Here is the picture taken at the U-Pull-It of the power steering box on the '78 F150 4x4, prior to removing it. You can see that it's mounted on the outside of the frame, behind the front crossmember, right up against the track bar bracket, with the Pitman arm facing forward.


Fig. 2

This is the manual steering box on my '69 F100 4x4. You can see that this one is mounted in front of the front crossmember, with the Pitman arm facing rearward, also on the outside of the frame. (F250s with manual steering have the box mounted to the inside of the frame.) Also note that the bolt holes are not the same between the two boxes.


Fig. 3

This view shows the curved frame gusset behind the '69 front crossmember (yellow arrow). If I were to mount the '78 box onto the '69 frame in the spot it was located on the '78 frame, then this curved gusset would have to be cut out and replaced with a flat section and then reinforced.


Fig. 4

Here's a top view of the curved gusset on the '69 frame.


Fig. 5

This is another inside view showing the factory manual-steering box on the '69. The yellow arrow points to the box's forward-most attaching bolt and nut.
Here is a view of the bottom-side of the frame rail, showing the access hole in the frame for the rearmost bolts and nuts.

So...from studying these pictures and trucks, it seems I have two options here:
 
Option #1 Option #2
Mount the '78 box behind
the front crossmember, up against the track bar bracket
Mount the '78 box ahead
of the front crossmember

This would put the steering box in the place chosen by the factory for the '78, as shown in Fig. 1 above.

Pros:

  • I would be able to use the '78 box's factory collapsible steering shaft between the end of the steering column and the box.

  • I would be able to use the factory steering dampener, since the drag link would end up directly under the crossmember, where the factory dampener bracket was located on the '78.

  • The factory steering geometry would be unaltered.

Cons:

  • I would have to cut out the curved gusset and replace it with a flat section, reinforce it and then drill new holes.

This would put the steering box in the place chosen by the factory for the '69 manual steering box, ahead of (or actually, right on) the front crossmember, as shown in Fig. 2 above.

Pros:

  • The installation would be easier, since there would be no cutting or welding needed, although new mounting holes would need to be drilled.

Cons:

  • Since the '78 box uses a rag joint, I would need to fabricate a longer steering link between the box and the end of the steering column.

  • I would have to go with an aftermarket steering dampener, the stock pieces won't fit.

So I posted a question in the FORDification.com forums, asking the 4x4'ers their thoughts and asked for some opinions on which way I should go. Didn't really get much info there, so I posted the same question in the Pirate4x4.com messageboard and did some some good advice there. Here's a few of the tidbits of info I was given:

1) I can use the early Bronco power steering box, since it's mounted in the same position as my '69's MS box. I did some checking though, and to get one of these outright from Jeff's Bronco Graveyard is a whopping $800! Nah, that's OK...and unlikely that I'd actually find one of these rare setups anywhere.

2) I can't mount the '78 box in the forward location and just flip the Pitman arm around, since it'll steer backwards. (Duh!...why didn't I think of that?)

3) I could use the 2WD box and do a little fabricating to mount it to the inside of the frame, but we already knew about that option from the 4x4 power steering tutorial on this site. However, I didn't realize that wildhorses.com has some custom brackets that will make it go much smoother....or you can buy the entire kit with pump, brackets, steering box, steering shaft couplers, hoses, etc., which ranges between $700 and $1200 for everything. Here's an image borrowed from Bronco.com which shows one of these brackets used to mount a 2WD PS box:

4) The best idea yet....and the least expensive....is to just mount the '78 box in the same location as the '69 MS box, but swap the spool with one from a 2WD F100/F150 box to change the steering direction. About all that would be necessary is the drilling of a couple holes in the frame to mount the box, and of course rotating the Pitman arm around 180 degrees. Here's an image borrowed from BCBroncos.com that illustrates the difference:

Now that sounds easy enough, doesn't it? So...option #4 is what I'll be attempting. Not sure when I'll get around to it, but I'll keep you all informed about how it goes. And of course, I'll be taking lots of pictures, 'cause if this goes as easy and painless as I'm thinking it will, it'll be the subject of a new tutorial and will answer one of the most frequently-asked questions here at FORDification.com.

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You are here: Home Tech Articles & Tutorials Steering / Suspension / Brakes Adding Power Steering to an F100 4x4


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