Firm Feel Rebuilt Steering Gear on 1970 Fury 440/727

1970FuryConv

Old Man with a Hat
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I've seen some questions about rebuilders for steering gears. On the rec of @Big_John & @Trace 300 Hurst , I went with Firm Feel. The turnaround for the rebuild is 6 weeks in the shop plus ship. Given that I didn't want to have my 1970 Fury convertible immobile that long, I sent a 1970 power steering gear and Pitman arm that I had removed from a parts car 10 years ago. If you use one of their cores you do have to pay a fairly heavy core charge. I avoided that by sending one myself. The total cost of the rebuild was $690, including $145 for the Diamond Series Pitman arm. From my research this is a Rare Parts Pitman arm that Rare parts has made to OEM or exceeding OEM specs. For steering gears, Firm Feel has different rebuild levels. Stage I is Resto. Stage II is modern feel and tightness. Again on the recommendation of FCBO, I went with stage II. This thread is about installing and testing the power steering gear in a 1970 Fury 440/727 HP exhaust manifolds and 2.5 inch TCI exhaust system.

Comparison of my original Pitman arm and Diamond Series. I see no significant difference. Also, I thought to really take all the slop out of the system from the steering gear, I need to replace my 50-year-old Pitman arm.
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Steering gear and Pitman arms along with associated parts. Firm Feel says it's important to ship your control valve removed from the gear, because the control valve will often break during shipping. Firm Feel will be glad to sell you a rebuilt control valve for $75. However you may have better things to do with $75 if all you have to do is take off your control valve, bubble wrap it, and stick it in the box with the steering gear.
In the bag are 2 o–rings and your 2 mounting bolts. Also the copper washer is for a fitting that the pressure hose attaches to on top of the main valve.
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The steering gear comes back without a speck of rust on the housing. Firm Feel does a really good job cleaning up the gear. I primed with Rustoleum light gray automotive primer.
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I painted mine with Rustoleum Automotive Aluminum spray paint. I went with that over black because I think the aluminum paint looks cool. My car is not original engine so I'm not worried about staying stock.
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The first step of install was to disconnect the battery, use a punch and hammer to knock the pin out of the coupler that holds the steering shaft to the worm shaft at the top of the steering gear, remove the clip from the transmission linkage and pull the transmission linkage rod off of the lever that's on the column, shift the gear into neutral, remove the 3 base plate bolts and the nuts from the studs that hold the steering column against the bottom of the dash shell. Then I was able to pull the steering column backward and out-of-the-way.
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Removing the old Pitman arm turned out to be harder at the steering linkage side then at the steering gear side. On the steering gear side, my steering gear had been leaking like a sieve along with having a wandering problem on the road, so power steering fluid may have removed rust and acted like penetrating oil. On the steering linkage side, I used a pickle fork and a 3 pound sledge, but I could not get the pivot stud to come out of the center link. Finally I gave up, used a puller to remove the Pitman arm from the steering gear shaft, remove the idler arm at the engine cradle, and removed both inner tie rod ends from the outsides of the center link. Then I dropped the center link on the floor. After putting it on my workbench where I could get a good angle with the pickle fork, I smashed the pitman arm off the center link using a 5 pound sledge.
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Pitman arm puller
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Steering linkage on the ground
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old Pitman arm finally removed from the center link
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The steering gear installs with 3 fasteners. 2 of them are bolts and the upper right is a nut and stud. Even though the stud is for alignment, I found it's a lot easier to install the steering gear without the stud in place.
View of the mounting area from below
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Bolt holes for installing the steering gear
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I chose to install the control valve on the workbench. With 2 o-rings held in their respective indents by silicone grease, it's a pretty easy install on the workbench. Also, the main valve on top of the steering gear comes filled with power steering oil. This valve is going to be facing down after you install it. Power steering oil is going to go all over your floor if you wait to pull the plastic plugs and install the control valve on the vehicle. I also removed that fitting that has a screwdriver and installed the power steering hose fitting with the copper washer, while the steering gear was on the workbench.
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I installed the steering gear while lying on the ground below the car which was on jackstands front and back to keep it level during the install.
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Top view
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I installed the Pitman arm after installing the steering gear. I thought having the Pitman arm on the steering gear during the install would be awkward. The diamond series Pitman arm does not have the 2 master splines. Instead it has 2 index marks that line up with the master spline indents on the steering shaft. You can see the 2 index marks.
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Idler arm installed
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Steering linkage installed. After installing the steering linkage on the Pitman arm and outer tie rod ends, I put both feet on the inside front of the passenger side tire and used Armstrong torque wrench to get the specified 175 foot-pounds on the nut that attaches the Pitman arm to the steering gear shaft. I had to use a 34 mm long socket, although I think the size of the nut is probably one in 5/16 inches.
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Great write up!

I didn't change the steering arm, mine was in good shape. I didn't disconnect any of the steering linkage, just left the arm in place and pushed it out of the way.
 
I had Firm Feel do mine about 16 years ago. Still works great. In 1957 the power steering was so light you could steer with your pinky. Firm Feel made it much nicer.
 
So I'm getting there.
This is the torque wrench and socket that I used for that Pitman arm nut.
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Power steering pressure and return hoses installed. Firm Feel uses white paint to mark the master spline on the worm shaft. That's a nice convenience when lining up the coupler on the shaft.
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Steering column install:
There's a notch on my coupler for lining up the main spline of the coupler with the white marked main spline indent of the worm shaft. After I got it started it was pretty easy to pull the coupler down onto the worm shaft and then install the pin that holds the coupler on the shaft.
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Putting the transmission linkage back together involves using silicone grease on the copper sleeve visible and shoving it into the passage on the lever off of the steering column. The washers also get light grease and go on either side of the lever off the steering column. The end of the shift linkage rod goes through both washers and the sleeve. The clip goes through a small tunnel at the end of the shift linkage rod.
The parts
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the linkage back together
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I carefully lifted the steering column in the passenger compartment to make sure that the shifter gauge needle went back into the opening. After that it's a matter reinstalling the nuts and bolts below the steering column.
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Some final views of the Firm Feel steering gear
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I added power steering fluid while my wife turned the steering wheel side to side, engine running, and bled the system. After there were no bubbles in the power steering pump, I was ready for a test drive.

Test Drive: Now is time for the fun part!

Parking and driving in a driveway: Stage II does not make it harder to park or drive at slow speeds. On the other hand, I didn't really notice much difference between the old steering gear and the new steering gear at such slow speed's.

Acceleration: here is where the Firm Feel steering gear gives a major improvement. The car accelerates straight ahead now without tendency to wander, especially under hard acceleration. Big plus with much more feel of the road during acceleration.

Cruise at mid range speeds: Stage II Firm Feel power steering gear decreases wander, but at 35 miles per hour the problem wasn't that big in the first place, so the rebuilt steering gear is a small nice improvement.

Highway speed's: at 65 to 75 miles per hour, with the old steering gear, my car wandered a lot. It gave the sensation that the car was floating and needed constant little course corrections to stay in the lane. Firm Feel Stage II power steering gear gives a huge improvement. The car stays in the lane much easier and I can drive with one hand. Feel of the road is much improved. The car responds to much smaller turns of the wheel to make adjustments for the crown of the road. Overall, I'm really impressed. The huge improvement and highway drivability makes the Firm Feel power steering gear worth every penny of the money I paid.

Does my car steered like a modern rack and pinion car? No. The problem with that line of reasoning is that our cars don't have rack and pinion steering. Firm Feel Stage 2 gives the best power steering experience with steering gear and linkage that I have ever had in a fuselage c-body. And I have owned 7 of these cars over the past 30 years. Wow! What an improvement.

One thought: I rebuilt the 440 3 years ago. Hindsight being 20-20, I really should've done this at that time. It would've made the job hugely easier and less time-consuming. Lesson learned for my 1971 Fury.

I hope this helps somebody. Mo-par to ya!
 
Wow! What a gift to us is the text and pix! This is what can give you a confidence while taking on a first-time upgrade/ repair. Thank you old man with a hat.
 
Wow! What a gift to us is the text and pix! This is what can give you a confidence while taking on a first-time upgrade/ repair. Thank you old man with a hat.
You're welcome!
Let us know how your repair goes. Ben
 
This repair will have to wait until a few higher priority projects are done. But thanks to you I will refer to your post when the time comes and I will let you know. Keep up the good work and generous offerings.
 
Thanks for doing a very complete and informative write up. This is on my list of to do's someday:rolleyes:
 
It's an older MaxJax from when Danmar made them.Single best tool I have ever bought.It moves out of the way when you don't need it.I think Bendpak makes it now...very expensive.If you run into a used one for sale grab it.Epoxy anchors in a 6" slab.If you are curious there is a Maxjax thread over on Garage Journal that has everything you need to know.

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I went with the stear & gear modern feel unit on my '77. There's still an inch or 2 play. 35 mph range lots of correcting not so much at highway speeds. Need things like lower control arm bushings and running old Cooper white walls so there's a not a lot going for it. I don't have a benchmark for what the steering should be but not sure I would go that route again. I don't mind the slow response, after a few days I adjust to it but the sport feel might have been a better choice. Sport feel out of one of those boxes is relative, I'm sure...
 
I went with the stear & gear modern feel unit on my '77. There's still an inch or 2 play. 35 mph range lots of correcting not so much at highway speeds. Need things like lower control arm bushings and running old Cooper white walls so there's a not a lot going for it. I don't have a benchmark for what the steering should be but not sure I would go that route again. I don't mind the slow response, after a few days I adjust to it but the sport feel might have been a better choice. Sport feel out of one of those boxes is relative, I'm sure...
Sound like you have other problems besides the steering box: tie rods? Ball joints? Lots of correcting at 35mph is not my experience. My car is arrow straight at that speed. Either something else's wrong or the steering gear should be returned to Firm Feel, but I'll bet on something else wrong. Best of luck!
 
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