My Saginaw Power Steering Swap (1 Viewer)

John Smith

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This thread will detail a Saginaw power steering install into my 79 FJ40.

I have been running a "minitruck" power steering box with a Tercel pump for 9 years and really wanted to get rid of the stock center arm linkage, along with the drag link that runs beside the drivers side tire. I was also tired of the pretty much manual steering when rock crawling with a auto locker in the front and 36in. tires. Don't get me wrong, the minitruck system did an excellent job on the road, and even did pretty well with 33s and an auto locker, but with 36s it was not happy and neither was I. So I started doing a ton of research here on Mud and started buying parts back in 2006, anticipating the day I would complete my Saginaw swap.

Here is the list of all the parts I used. Please note that many of these have gone up in price since I purchased them.

Parts List:

Power Steering Pump Bracket - wdorry $95 shipped. wdorry no longer makes these brackets but Mud user orangefj45 has taken over production so contact him via PM if you want one.

Frame Bracket for gearbox - Poser aka lcr4wd.com $65 shipped. Not sure if he still sells these or not.

Saginaw Gearbox - Napa Part# NSP276529 $155 + $55 Core Also known as Cardone Part#27-6529 There are many applications but you can use a 75-76 Jeep J20. For some reason Napa now lists part number NSP88277080 for the 76 Jeep J20 application. While my part number is not found using the Napaonline Web site any longer. ***Obtaining the correct Saginaw gear box has been a PITA for many people, myself included. What should be a 4 1/4 turn box with 4 mounting ears often arrives as a 3 turn box with 3 mounts when you open the box. The rebuilders are mixing and matching boxes is my best guess. Check the number of turns along with mounting ears at the parts store or open the box upon delivery to make sure you have the right box!

Many people claim to be happy with 3 turn boxes on street driven rigs, I have read many more stories about people who find the 3 turn box scary fast on the street. Many people who claim to be happy with the 3 turn boxes will not let anyone drive their truck on the street because of the twitchy / fast steering. A friend of mine removed his 3 turn box, that made up my mind. Do the research and make up your own mind if you don't believe me.*** If you want to go junkyarding for a used box and want a great application guide, go to Amazon.com and search for a A1 Cardone 27-6529 then use the "Compatibility Chart" which lists four pages of vehicle applications.The main characteristics of this Saginaw box are flare fittings along with a 13/16" 36 spline input shaft, 4 mounting ears, and 4 1/4 turns.

Pitman Arm - PartsMike.com 49.00 Item# 5352278M SJ arm retappered to 2026 TRE This is a Jeep SJ steering arm that partsmike will ream out to the large 2026 "one ton" GM TRE size. A super deal IMHO.

Saginaw Power Steering Pump - Cardone #20-6801 48.79 + $4 core from Rockauto.com This is a 3/4" non-keyed shaft pump. Not to be confused with the keyed Saginaw pumps.

High Pressure Hose - I used a Gates 364150 from Rockauto which is for a 78 Jeep CJ with a V6. I had to modify this hose by hand bending it to fit the PS pump. After looking at pictures online I believe a better part number would be the same application but with a V8 engine. I believe this part would not require much bending at all looking at pictures. Others have posted that they have used this hose without issue also. At the time I did not know the engines used different hoses. For the V8 application Advance Auto part# 91473 should get you the correct hose.

Low Pressure Hose - Powercraft 70551 11.99 Advance Auto - Application is 78 Jeep CJ7 with either a V6 or V8. If you just want a 3/8" return flare fitting and want to source your own hose you can use Powercraft #39135 or Gates #350150

Power Steering Cooler - Permacool Part# PRM-1007 43.95 from SummitRacing.com

Power steering Filter - Cardone Part# 20-FLT2 19.76 from Rockauto

Column Bearing - Kilian F-350-89 - 19.1 ID / 34.9 OD mm - I purchased this from CruiserOutfitters for $10 Part# PSCB2
This bearing is the same as used on many lawn mowers. Below are the mower part numbers.
Cross reference chart:
Replaces (OEM): ARIENS 05408900
ARIENS 05416200
BUNTON P0209
BUNTON PL0941
CASE C12110
CUB CADET 384881-R93
CUB CADET 384881-R94
CUB CADET IH384891-R94
GRAVELY 011193
GRAVELY 036778
GRAVELY 037823
GRAVELY 05408900
JOHN DEERE AM118315
JOHN DEERE AM127304
JOHN DEERE AM35443
MTD 741-0141
MTD 941-0141
MTD IH-384881-R94
SNAPPER 7028722
TORO 110513
TORO 251-210

Pitman Nut & Washer along with frame tube insert - CruiserOutfitters The nut is Part# PSPAN $3, Lockwasher Part# PSPAL $1, Tube Part# PSCMT $10

Power Steering Pulley - Grainger - Pulley Part# 3X586 $35.15 Bushing Part# 3X573 $7.00

Ujoints and Steering shaft - All parts from SummitRacing - Borgeson 36" collapsing Steering shaft Part# BRG-450036 $76.69, Ujoint at the steering box - BRG-014940 $70.95, Ujoint at the steering column - FLA-FR2517DD $78.95. ***Note - I used a Flaming River joint because the only Borgeson joint available that I needed was a strange one with an extended center section. I chose a stainless steel joint since it was only $10 more than the FLA-FR1717DD nickle plated one.

Hardware - I needed to purchase some tools I did not have for this project. For the hole in the frame I needed a 3 1/4 inch hole saw. I also needed a 1 5/16" impact socket to install the pitman arm nut. For my install I needed one 3.5 inch, one 4.5 inch, and two 2.5 inch 7/16" bolts to hold the gearbox to the frame.

Torque Values - I found some torque values for this project while searching the Web. The 7/16" bolts that mount the box to the frame are 70ft-lb. The pitman arm nut should be 185ft-lb. GM tie rod end to pitman arm 45ft-lb.

Before you can install your Saginaw power steering system you must first remove your old setup. I am going to install my minitruck setup into my FJ55 so I pulled the system whole. I won't bore you with pictures of that process.

I started on the frame by making the hole for the tube sleeve. There is no going back now... I decided to recess the box into the frame a bit because I did not want the gear box to protrude past the front of the frame rail. I also wanted to make sure I did not have too steep of an angle on the ujoint coming off the back of the gear box. I did not want to use a "spud shaft" on the end of the input shaft.
sag 119.jpg
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John Smith

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I decided I was not going to even tack in the scab plate until I was able to mock everything up on the truck and make sure it all cleared. So I then started work on the column. I know many people weld the steering ujoint to the column. All of the ujoints I received specifically stated on the packaging to "never weld steering components". I decided to follow their advice and cut a double D into my steering shaft instead of welding it.

This was really a very easy process. Grind some, measure, test fit, grind some more, test fit, done. In these pictures you can see the column bearing installed and the ujoint test fitted. I cut off the column leaving 1.5 inches exposed. I found that the steering shaft hit the driver side motor mount if I left it longer. It is still a tight fit but does not rub the motor mount.

I used medium strength thread locker on all the ujoint hardware for the final install. If you look closely you can see it in the picture on some threads.
sag 208.jpg
IMG_7895.jpg
 
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alex e

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How long are your tube spacers between gearbox and mounting plate? This is the part that I'm unsure of.
 

John Smith

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Once I was happy with the box placement I drilled the holes through the frame. Next I needed to measure and cut the spacer sleeves that go inside the frame which the mounting bolts pass through. Poser's scab plate kit included a length of tubing to cut down to make these sleeves. Once I welded them into the frame I welded the scab plate to the frame. In the last picture you can see where I had to remove part of the shackle mount to clear one of the bolts.
building 030.jpg
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John Smith

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Once I had the gear box taken care of I focused on getting the wdorry bracket installed and making a mount for my power steering cooler. The wdorry bracket came with all the necessary hardware and detailed instructions. Because my truck had factory AC I have the left over mounts for the condenser. I mounted my cooler to these. I did not run a cooler on my minitruck setup and never boiled the fluid but I didn't want to take any chances with this install. The high pressure hose is not 1mm away from the header tube, it is an optical illusion. The ham can Saginaw pump is pretty close to the header tube though and I am going to put some header wrap in that area to insulate the pump from heat. I forgot to put sleeve retainer on the pulley and it started slipping off during the test run. The bolts that retain the pulley call for 95 inch pounds of torque. The belt is a Gates 9465 which is a 1/2" x 46-7/8" belt. I am going to run a 11/16" wide belt but when I was test fitting I found that none of my local parts houses seem to stock wide belts.
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John Smith

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The next step was the plumbing. I had to slightly bend the high pressure hose to get it to align with the pump correctly. Unfortunately the return hose does not clear the bib and I had to route it beside the fender. I am going to source a different hose or fitting that will clear the bib so I can route it next to the high pressure hose.

After filling the system with power steering fluid I bled the air out of it by turning the wheel from lock to lock with no steering linkage connected about 8 times. After I got all the air out I connected up the steering linkage and was able to turn the tires lock to lock with one finger at idle. I was liking the new steering already. It was then that I realized I was one tooth off on the pitman arm so I had to pull it and reinstall it onto the box. I also removed the steering wheel and centered it once I got the wheels pointing straight ahead.

This install was a ton more time and work than the minitruck install but I think I will be very happy with it. I can't wait to test out the new system on the trails.
IMG_7977.jpg
 

John Smith

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How long are your tube spacers between gearbox and mounting plate? This is the part that I'm unsure of.
One appears to be 1/4" while the others are 3/4". Updated with proper size thanks to orangefj45.
 
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Great write-up and pics for anyone looking to do this.....good job! I especially appreciate that you listed the source of all your parts along with their part numbers.....big help for others.
 
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AWESOME write up:beer: I am about to go through this swap and my parts pile looks pretty similar to your list. What suspension/steering set-up are you running?

Edit: Looked at your pics again and it looks like you are SOA w/ 4x4 labs hysteer. Any clearance issues w/ the tie rod?
 

John Smith

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AWESOME write up:beer: I am about to go through this swap and my parts pile looks pretty similar to your list. What suspension/steering set-up are you running?

Edit: Looked at your pics again and it looks like you are SOA w/ 4x4 labs hysteer. Any clearance issues w/ the tie rod?
You are correct, I am SOA with 4x4 Labs steering. With the old steering system the huge GM TRE that was connected to the centerlink would contact the driver side spring when I was flexed out and turning one direction while wheeling. With this setup the pitman arm stops just shy of the driver side leaf spring at steering lock. I have not flexed it out on the trail yet, but using the jack I don't think I will have any clearance issues.
 
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Thanks for writing this up. I have pieced together some of the main parts so far but this really helps fill in the gaps. Could you take a pic or do you have pics of the part of the linkage that mounts at the input of the gear? I have the gear already but am somewhat unsure of what exatly mounts to the splines and what the fitment with the rest of the vehicle will be like.
Thanks
 
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Super job. I'm getting ready to do PS myself and need to study this
thread for at least a week.
Thanks!
 

John Smith

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Thanks for writing this up. I have pieced together some of the main parts so far but this really helps fill in the gaps. Could you take a pic or do you have pics of the part of the linkage that mounts at the input of the gear? I have the gear already but am somewhat unsure of what exatly mounts to the splines and what the fitment with the rest of the vehicle will be like.
Thanks
Ignore the flash rust.
gearbox.JPG
IMG_7984.jpg
 

John Smith

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I just returned from a 30 mile test drive and am happy to report that the Saginaw swap was worth all the money and work. I did some highway, some city, along with a few u turns and some pothole hits at speed to test things out. I would describe the new steering as much like a 70s vintage Caddy, tons of power assist, to the point that you loose some road feel just like my friend's 76 Deville. The Minitruck system felt "heavier" and took more effort to turn the wheel.

The new system is definitely more responsive. I believe this is totally due to losing the center link and the drag link beside the tire. And I had what I considered a tight, no slop minitruck system. I can easily see how a 3 turn box would be way too fast and twitchy for my liking. The old system also had a slight vibration that transmitted to the wheel from somewhere, which I found annoying to the point of wearing Mechanix padded gloves on long trips. There is no vibration with my new setup, I am so happy about that. I will report back once I get some time wheeling with the new system. So far I am loving it. :steer:
 
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Thanks a lot for the pictures, that is exactly what I was looking for, and what I haven't seen on any of the many other Sag PS posts. Do you have any clue if/how the joint type pictured can be taken apart? My rig's PO welded a joint just like that onto my current frankensetup.
Thanks again
 
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nice job john byt i found out on my brothers truck that this steering box is just to responsive on the highway and u are all over the road. also the ears can brake off as i found out last year in NH at the fall gathering before going to fj60 box swap.
 
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Outstanding write up John! Clear, concise, and a reputable parts list to boot! I wish this was available last month when I was doing mine!

One concern I had was bolting through the outside of the frame. I don't like how thin the steel is on the frame so I put a scab plate on the outside of the frame where the saginaw gear box bolts go through.

 

Mace

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3 turn box is a variable speed box, meaning, the first revolution from side to side is the same as a 4 turn box. It is on the bigger turns that it becomes "twitchy"
 

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