Who Actually Makes a Proper Steering Gearbox? - Dodge Cummins Diesel Forum
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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Who Actually Makes a Proper Steering Gearbox?

Title says it all, but, story time.

Last year I was in need of a new steering gear, as all Dodge owners are, and was poking around the forums getting a feel. Red Head seemed like a good option but at that time I started to hear things about decreasing customer service and backed off. Then I heard about Blue Top so I check them out and give the guy a call. I like what he has to say, no pushy marketing, kind guy, so I pull the trigger. Got it installed and drove it for an hour. Had to send it back because it was twice as hard to turn left compared to turning right and would not return to center either. He rebuilt it at no cost (except for shipping and my time) and sent it back.

I've driven it on and off for the past year, the unit seems to work perfectly and I have loved it. But there's a fly in the ointment...

When I shipped off the unit to have it rebuilt I did the power steering hotrod mods and rebuilt my power steering pump. I was leaking power steering fluid like a civ because pressure-->heat-->expansion. So I finally get around to installing a power steering cooler I learned about from @dauntless89 and whaddya know, I'm still losing power steering fluid (~1qt/100miles). So I put the front axle on jack stands and have a buddy turn the wheel while I look for the leak. It's coming from the front round area of the box and drips while idling and gushes out at full lock. To make sure it wasn't coming from the reservior or the hoses I sprayed everything off with brake cleaner and had my buddy turn the wheel while I looked from the top down. Sure enough, the front round part of the steering gear is the culprit.

I don't wanna bash or talk bad Blue Top but I will say this: the best warranty is the one that's never needed. And since this is the 2nd screw-up on a box that's their fault I won't be sending my box back to them even though it's under warranty. They've already shown themselves incapable.

Now, who actually makes a proper steering gearbox that isn't made from play dough?


1998 12V 4x4 47RE QCSB 3.55 285/75/r18 200K BHAF, Bilstein 5100's, Bilstein Steering Stabilizer, Jaguar Seat, DOR Track Bar
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 10:26 PM
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I thought there was a problem blowing seals after the hot rod mod?

1998 12v, 4x4, Club Cab, Carli, Thuren, BlueTop, Core 4x4, BD Diesel, PDD 5x.012, South Bend
2012 Laramie Longhorn, EFI by Ryan, Carli, Thuren
1995 Dually, Weston's 5x.016, 4k GSK, 5" FloPro, 255/85r16 Toyo M/T, Goerend, ARP, 60# Springs, BW 62/65/14, BW 75/96/1.10, Isspro, Fass 125, BDP Sump, 7mm DV's, 751 HP 1883 FP Torque on NOS
1998 P-Pumped 24v, 4x4, NV4500 swap
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 11:03 PM
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All the seals in the steering box are high-pressure. My box is original, to the best of my knowledge (bench adjusted once since I've owned it). My pressure is at 1600 psi (1400 is factory maximum) and my flow is increased 140% above stock (240% of stock).

The only grief I've had is from the pump, which started leaking internally after about 14 months running at 1800 psi. Replaced the pump and calibrated the next pressure valve to 1600 psi, and 2.5 years later, no hints of a problem.

Steering box is still going strong.

'95 2500 ECLB 4x4, 334k and paused due to epic transformation in progress.
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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 11:35 PM
 
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Did you tell the guy at Blue Top that you cranked your pump up?


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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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If the hotrod pump does cause increased incidences of blown seals, which according to d89 it doesn't seem so, then I recant my statement.

Here's what I've narrowed things down to:

A) PSC extreme box $695 plus a few hours of laying in the dirt and getting nasty plus PS fluid. This would supposedly solve the leaky issues that the factory boxes are known for and appears to be quite a bit beefier. Drag link and steering wheel alignment issues seem to be hit or miss.

B) Reseal kit for current box $20 something bucks plus same amount of time in the dirt and getting nasty. Doesn't really fix issue, likely to be leaking again. And it's not something I wanna do.

C) "The Right Stuff" gasket maker/caulk type stuff and go to town sealing the box on the outside. Definetly a bandaid fix and likely to make a huge mess to clean up later but it's quick and easy and may do the trick. I feel like I have nothing to lose.

D) Part C plus a 50/50 mix of Lucas Stop PS Leak. Some anecdotal evidence exists from 3rd Gen CF users of unknown reliability that a high concentration of Lucas Stop PS Leak stopped their leaky steering gears.



I'll probably go with option D) to limp along and mitigate the mess I make everywhere until I have a drilling job at which point I'll grab a PSC box. Crazy to think that I've gotta spend what a turbo costs just to get a competent steering box.

1998 12V 4x4 47RE QCSB 3.55 285/75/r18 200K BHAF, Bilstein 5100's, Bilstein Steering Stabilizer, Jaguar Seat, DOR Track Bar
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhinopkc View Post
Did you tell the guy at Blue Top that you cranked your pump up?
I did.

There's no distaste in my mouth to him or other pump builders, the engineers at Dodge though...

1998 12V 4x4 47RE QCSB 3.55 285/75/r18 200K BHAF, Bilstein 5100's, Bilstein Steering Stabilizer, Jaguar Seat, DOR Track Bar
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 11:53 PM
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It's really the bean-counters who deserve the malicious thoughts.

'95 2500 ECLB 4x4, 334k and paused due to epic transformation in progress.
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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If I had a shop and the desire to pull the box off and go through, seal, and set the tolerances and adjustments in the box then I would. But at the same time I'm starting to realize that any use of the stock steering box is like lipstick on a pig.

I guess the Ford guys have the 6.0 to curse while we have steering boxes to keep our fires lit.

1998 12V 4x4 47RE QCSB 3.55 285/75/r18 200K BHAF, Bilstein 5100's, Bilstein Steering Stabilizer, Jaguar Seat, DOR Track Bar
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 12:20 AM
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I have not used Lucas in any dodge gear box but it completely stopped the leaky wrack in my Chevy Colorado.

1998 12v, 4x4, Club Cab, Carli, Thuren, BlueTop, Core 4x4, BD Diesel, PDD 5x.012, South Bend
2012 Laramie Longhorn, EFI by Ryan, Carli, Thuren
1995 Dually, Weston's 5x.016, 4k GSK, 5" FloPro, 255/85r16 Toyo M/T, Goerend, ARP, 60# Springs, BW 62/65/14, BW 75/96/1.10, Isspro, Fass 125, BDP Sump, 7mm DV's, 751 HP 1883 FP Torque on NOS
1998 P-Pumped 24v, 4x4, NV4500 swap
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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 09:04 AM
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The Lucas stopped the leak on my son's Jeep.

For the record, I am more than happy with the Red Top box that I've had installed for well over 300,000 miles.

97 3500, 2 WD, G56, slightly bombed, 1.3 million miles. Started the second million on 8/24/13
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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeardedBlondie View Post
I guess the Ford guys have the 6.0 to curse while we have steering boxes to keep our fires lit.

Don't get me wrong, there's no shortage of corners cut on the Dodge Rams, but the same can be said of just about any production vehicle, and it's only getting worse as value engineering becomes more important to conserve profit margins.


One observation I've made over the last several years working with engineers in many different fields is while sometimes there is a compentency issue within the engineering team, far more often they are aware of design or specification shortcomings, but "beefy" costs money and they are only allowed to design things to be so expensive to produce. The number-crunchers must be kept happy. Pretty much the only time engineers are able to veto that are in safety-critical applications, and even then they can only steer a design so far away from "imminent catastrophic failure."


The key to dealing with this is finding a manufacturer who's design shortcomings are something that is a good match for your repair abilities and capacity for patience. I'll take a P-pumped 2nd-gen Dodge's crappy electrical and steering over some of the more systemic engine deficiencies found in Fords and Chevy's of the same vintage.

'95 2500 ECLB 4x4, 334k and paused due to epic transformation in progress.
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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 07-16-2019, 02:43 PM
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Don't blame the poor bean counters... Blame the consumers who overwhemingly prefer lower prices to durability. The customer is always right.
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