RedHead Steering Gears (Rebuild)

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Sep 19, 2009
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Seattle, WA
Does anyone have experience with rebuilt steering gearboxes from RedHead Steering Gears? My rig had a bunch of steering free play so I replaced the steering gear with an ATSCO rebuilt unit and there was not any improvement. TRE's are brand new and I checked the fasteners on the plate that holds the trunion bearings in place. It also appears that other people here have used ATSCO units with similar results. I'm also considering trying to get a hold of a used steering gear but it is nearly impossible to find one with limited corrosion and under 200k miles. RedHead seems to have a decent reputation and they are somewhat local to me so I can drive the vehicle to them to sort it out if there's a problem.

For those that are interested the ReadHead part number is 19721 and they can be found here: https://redheadsteeringgears.com/
 

Pin_Head

 
 
 
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How do you know the box is the source of the play? You actually have to get under the truck and find where the slop is. The box play is adjustable.
 
Joined
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How do you know the box is the source of the play? You actually have to get under the truck and find where the slop is. The box play is adjustable.
Couple things:
- The box play is not adjustable, at least not externally. You can adjust how the cross shaft meshes with the ball nut but backlash of the input shaft is not externally adjustable. The cross shaft can be adjusted to the point where the vehicle will not self center but play in the steering wheel will persist.
- Not sure why you would think I haven't been under the truck when I specifically mentioned that the tie rods and trunion bearing retention have been addressed.
- I know play is in the steering because lots of movement can take place on the input side of the steering gear with no movement on the output side.


Anyhow, I decided to try and source a used steering gear for now because a local shop indicated that they have had trouble with ReadHead steering gears. I would spend the $600 on the ReadHead gear if it were a sure thing but it's a bit much for something that might work.
 

Pin_Head

 
 
 
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The reason is because you didn’t say that the box had excessive play after adjusting it properly. If the rebuilt box is defective, send it back and get another one that is good.
 
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Had a redhead box on my Dodge Cummins, never had an issue and worked great right out of the box
 
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Define this, with the steering centered, how much free play, measured at the steering wheel rim? When it was installed, was the steering wheel centered to steering box center?
It's about 1.25-1.5" of free play. This might technically be within spec but it is very hard to drive in urban areas with ruts and congestion. It was installed with the wheels pointed forward and the box centered by ATSCO. It actually drives pretty well on smooth less congested roads. The steering wheel turned under its own weight when disconnected but I re-centered it after installing, it is centered now.
 
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I don't know the caster angle but steering wasn't an issue until years after the suspension work was done. No alignment setting will compensate for 1.5" of void in the controls.

It does seem that a majority of people have had good experiences with RedHead. I think I will try that out if I can't get it solved with a used replacement or rebuilding a box myself. Once the used one goes on I'll have two to experiment with.
 

Pin_Head

 
 
 
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1.5 seems pretty normal, but it will feel loosey goosey if you have zero caster. You will think you are driving a boat.
 
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... No alignment setting will compensate for 1.5" of void in the controls. ...
Rack and pinion type can be made mostly/close to tight, this is a reciprocating ball setup and can't. If everything else correct, should drive well with much more play than you are reporting. That is in spec, so doesn't sound like the builder messed up.

If you haven't done anything to change caster, other things can cause what you are reporting. Rocking the wheel takes into account the drag link ends, are the tie rod ends tight? Any bad bushings, or loose hardware, especially panhard or rear of the arms? Is the wheel bearing preload correct? Toe can cause straight line wander and is pretty easy to knock out and check/set, don't know your setup, but would start at ~1/8" toe in.

Alignment Setting Toe
 

Pin_Head

 
 
 
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Rebuilders typically use slightly oversize recirculating balls to bring worn worm gear and followers back into spec. If the box is out of spec, send it back and get a good one.
 
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Caster has been corrected and the truck drives well in most situations. Ruts cause vehicles of all kinds to change course and it's really hard to manage with 1.5" of free play. When I say free play I'm talking about zero resistance to turn the wheel. I've yet to drive a Jeep Wrangler (JK) that has anything close to this amount of free play and they also have recirculating ball steering.
 

satchel

 
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I probably have about the same amount of play.

I have taken my truck into a well respected land cruiser shop in Denver and they are rebuilding it with a new worm gear and all that. I've used West Texas Offroad before and while I'm sure they rebuilt the unit to spec, it didn't resolve any play I had in the steering wheel, probably because they aren't replacing the worm gear internals, which are still available from Toyota according to my shop.

When I mentioned the previous rebuild experience (different truck) to the shop doing my current build, they affirmed what I wrote above and state that the rebuild they are doing should produce a very noticeable improvement in the steering play. I'll try to update here when I get it back.

Caster has been corrected and the truck drives well in most situations. Ruts cause vehicles of all kinds to change course and it's really hard to manage with 1.5" of free play. When I say free play I'm talking about zero resistance to turn the wheel. I've yet to drive a Jeep Wrangler (JK) that has anything close to this amount of free play and they also have recirculating ball steering.
 

alia176

 
 
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I probably have about the same amount of play.

I have taken my truck into a well respected land cruiser shop in Denver and they are rebuilding it with a new worm gear and all that. I've used West Texas Offroad before and while I'm sure they rebuilt the unit to spec, it didn't resolve any play I had in the steering wheel, probably because they aren't replacing the worm gear internals, which are still available from Toyota according to my shop.

When I mentioned the previous rebuild experience (different truck) to the shop doing my current build, they affirmed what I wrote above and state that the rebuild they are doing should produce a very noticeable improvement in the steering play. I'll try to update here when I get it back.
I'm curious if there's a spec that one can check to ascertain whether to use new warm gear internals.
 
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satchel

 
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Erie, Co
I assume the shop I am using for the rebuild has suggested the replacement based on past experience working on other trucks with this symptom, but not sure.

They have worked on enough of these trucks that I feel comfortable taking their word that this will significantly tighten the box. Once I know for sure this made a significant difference I'll post back, but don't have any other info about their process/troubleshooting steps at the moment.

Happy to ask them about any specs they may have once I know this actually resolves the problem.

I'm curious if there's a spec that one can check to ascertain whether to use near warm gear internals.
 
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It appears that new steering gears are available from Toyota for a somewhat reasonable price of $1600. I think the P/N is 4411060212 and it requires pitman arm 4541160360. I will probably go this route because a worm/valve assembly and sector shaft will cost about $1000 on top of the rebuild price. It would be nice if there were a sure bet in the $600 range but I don't think there is.
 
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