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Manual Steering Box... Options? [Please shed your knowledge]


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Hey guys. I'm real close to getting my first year 86 MJ on the road again, but its in desperate need of a new steering box (has the dreaded like.. 3" play in the steering wheel) I've determined its the box, when you turn the wheel left and right you can see the geer box flex at the bottom where the pitman bolts up so i know its worn out and trash. Can anyone please enlighten me to any options besides spending $180 on a new one from the autoparts store? Does anything else in the planet at a junkyard (pull a part nearby) that has a steering box that'll bolt right up? What besides the comanche had manual steering that might be available at PAP? Cherokees? Rare i'm sure though. I'd love trying to get a steering box put in this weekend along with a windshield and ill basically be ready to hit the road.

 

Please, again, I really appreciate any input and help on getting this beast back on the road again. Ready to start finishing my floorpans and full interior rennovation. I'm building a murdered out MJ and using all my available things here at work (tint/audio/video shop) to really fix her up.

 

Thanks in advance, I look forward to any input you may have.

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Your steering gear box is a GM Saginaw box, and was used on Jeep XJs/MJs from 84-96. It was also used in GM autos throughout these same years (Chevys, Olds, Pontiacs, Buicks, etc.). A manual steering box from these GM vehicles will bolt on to your MJ, although you will probably have to reuse your existing Pitman arm, and the steering ratio might be slower or faster, depending on the internal gearing. :cheers:

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Hornbod, Thank you very much for you response. I was wondering if you could narrow down that list a little to make it easier on me when I got to PAP. Should i take my old box with me to compare? Can you by chance list cars/trucks in that year range that I can go straight to in order to try to find one? Chevy vans/trucks? Olds vehicles/pontiac that had option manual or power to steel a box from? I would really appreciate any extra input to make this possible so that I can snag one of these Saturday.

 

Thanks a lot already for your help, this is the best forum for MJs/XJ people, i've always had great people willing to help and give me information when I get stuck.

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There was basically only one GM Saginaw power and manual gear box made in these years for passenger cars and small trucks, until you got into the 3/4 T and up heavier trucks. Just the internals were different. I won't hurt to bring your old one with you though. Look for a low mileage vehicle that's been rear-ended, and of course test for play before pulling it. The link below is for power steering boxes, but also applies to the manual boxes too in most cases.

 

http://www.chevelles.com/techref/ftecref29.html

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Just a short update, this is an 86 2WD MJ. Therefore, not concerned about things like hydro assist. I called (Autozone) and priced a manual gear box for an 88 S10 4Cyl 2WD, and they had it listed at $230 as opposed to $170 for my comanche. AKA not the same part number/gear box. Is there any additional things I can look for while finding a replacement gear box Saturday at PAP? Anything specific that you guys would Know shares a similar gearbox? E.G. "Scope out 80's S10's, Blazer, Fullsize 1/2Tons, etc." ??

 

I know I'm being a PITA, but I'm really motivated for getting both a gearbox and windshield saturday. Once I get a new steering box in, it'll be street ready and safe to take on the road, and Id really like to get it driven down here to my shop this weekend so I can start working on it before and after work.

 

Thanks again guys for the great response to this thread, again, I really appreciate how helpful ComancheClub members treat people on the forum. Nothing but helpful responses and insight.

 

One additional thing, if PS is so much more common, and being at work on WIFI on my laptop I havent had time to search, but does anyone have a standard breakdown of parts nec. from PAP for PS conversion?

 

Thanks a lot guys. Really appreciate it, hope to get pictures up soon once I actually have enough modifications/resto work done.

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Just a short update, this is an 86 2WD MJ. Therefore, not concerned about things like hydro assist. I called (Autozone) and priced a manual gear box for an 88 S10 4Cyl 2WD, and they had it listed at $230 as opposed to $170 for my comanche. AKA not the same part number/gear box. Is there any additional things I can look for while finding a replacement gear box Saturday at PAP? Anything specific that you guys would Know shares a similar gearbox? E.G. "Scope out 80's S10's, Blazer, Fullsize 1/2Tons, etc." ??

 

They have different parts numbers because they have different ratios - the internals are different. They will all work on your truck. I personally prefer a quicker ratio since I'm not off-road pushing around 35" or so tires.

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I'm not 100 percent positive but, considering that the XJ and MJ were AMC designs, and AMC used GM/Saginaw steering boxes in all their vehicles, I strongly suspect that a box out of a Javelin, Hornet, Gremlin or Concord would fit -- and might even be a better ratio. The ratio for the MJ manual box, IIRC, is 28:1 -- which is so ridiculously slow I don't think I could even drive one. I'd fall asleep while turning the wheel to go around any corner on the road.

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I'm not 100 percent positive but, considering that the XJ and MJ were AMC designs, and AMC used GM/Saginaw steering boxes in all their vehicles, I strongly suspect that a box out of a Javelin, Hornet, Gremlin or Concord would fit -- and might even be a better ratio. The ratio for the MJ manual box, IIRC, is 28:1 -- which is so ridiculously slow I don't think I could even drive one. I'd fall asleep while turning the wheel to go around any corner on the road.

 

28:1! :eek: Gawd, I wasn't aware of that. That's twice as slow as the slow 14.1 stock XJ/MJ P/S box. That thing would wear your arms out on a long and windy road. :yes:

 

Although I do remember vehicles I had as a youngster pre-power steering that were about 44.6 turns lock-to-lock. :brows:

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Yeah, the ratios on manual steering boxes are what brought me over to power steering. The AMC boxes were 24:1 in the larger sedans, 20:1 in the Javelin and AMX (yes, you could actually buy an AMX with manual steering), and the Javelin and AMX had an optional quick ratio competition box that was 16:1. All my Javelins and AMXs were set up with the 16:1 QRM box.

 

I can't even imagine trying to drive something with a 28:1 ratio.

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As someone who has swapped PS onto my 2.5, I can tell you there is no noticeable power drain from the engine with this system. PS pump only works the engine when youre doing slow speed parking manuevers, in a straight line the is little to no drain on the engine power. Best swap I ever did going to Power steering. I swapped in the box from my 86 Mj and bought new lines and a rebuilt pump, and a new pulley, and made up a resevior, and Ive been loving it ever since. Good luck, let us know what you end up doing.

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As someone who has swapped PS onto my 2.5, I can tell you there is no noticeable power drain from the engine with this system. PS pump only works the engine when youre doing slow speed parking manuevers, in a straight line the is little to no drain on the engine power. Best swap I ever did going to Power steering. I swapped in the box from my 86 Mj and bought new lines and a rebuilt pump, and a new pulley, and made up a resevior, and Ive been loving it ever since. Good luck, let us know what you end up doing.

 

This is good to know. I heard others say they noticed a loss of power. But, makes sense since its not pumping unless turning. Did you have to change any of the steering linkage beyond the pitman?

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As someone who has swapped PS onto my 2.5, I can tell you there is no noticeable power drain from the engine with this system. PS pump only works the engine when youre doing slow speed parking manuevers, in a straight line the is little to no drain on the engine power. Best swap I ever did going to Power steering. I swapped in the box from my 86 Mj and bought new lines and a rebuilt pump, and a new pulley, and made up a resevior, and Ive been loving it ever since. Good luck, let us know what you end up doing.

 

This is good to know. I heard others say they noticed a loss of power. But, makes sense since its not pumping unless turning. Did you have to change any of the steering linkage beyond the pitman?

 

 

Being that the PS box came from an MJ (or XJ) I didnt change the pitman, and all the rest of the linkage is exactly the same, including the steering shaft. I took the manual box out and bolted the power box in. Thats it as far as thats concerned.

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I didnt notice any difference in power either. I used the power steer parts from a 93 XJ

 

All i needed was the pump,steer box,remote reservoir ,and hoses. I hooked the box to my stock pitman arm and my truck already had the pump bracket i just had to unbolt the idler from it and put the pump in its place.

 

The steer shafts are also different but either will work,my manual one was solid and the power one has a rubber joint in it.

 

only took about an hour and made a huge difference,i can now turn my 33X12.5s with one finger

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Yep, I'd say swap to power as well as they are easier to find in the JY. However, if you are really set on getting a manual one, I have one off the last 87 MJ I parted out laying around somewhere. PM me if interested.

 

:cheers:

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I just wanted to chime in and thank you guys for all the input i received in this thread. I went to PAP saturday and found a 1991 s10 2.5 Iron Duke Manual steering truck with low miles. I honestly don't even know why it was at PAP, the poor truck was totally complete even with manual tranny muncie 4spd. :( could only afford the steering box and was so sweaty and nasty by the time I got it, I didn't pick up any extras this time. Anyways, i've already removed my $#!&ty box saturday and pitman arm yesterday, and brought my new box down to work today to switch arms so I can bolt it up tonight.

 

Just wanted to thank the Mod who chimed in the most and the others who gave me great input on the subject, saved me a good $100 going this route.

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