Power Steering only works one way?!?

So, I've been working on the '63 Suburban. I finally stopped trying to figure out how to get a stock-looking hose for the power steering, and instead figured out what's available from industrial hose places and how to make it work.

It works.

Well, the hose works.

This is a 1963 Chevy Suburban, with a Saginaw power steering box from a

69-72 1/2-ton. So it's the nice herky box, with 'merican threads on the fittings. Pump is approximately the same vintage, but it's very much 'mystery meat'. I've shot my wad as far as hobby dollars for December and part of January on this, so there's no buying parts until I save up a bit.

I got the thing put together and fired up the engine (which is not a trivial operation, given the gas in the tank). Since both the pump and the box were bone dry, I expected some drama when the thing first ran -- and got some, with the power steering fluid foaming out of the pump and generally resembling whipped cream.

But that's not why I'm writing. There are two troublesome things I've noted, and that's why I'm asking:

Troublesome thing one is minor -- the thing makes excessive pump noise when it's "powering". I assume that this is because the fluid is foamy, but if it means a trashed pump I'd like to know.

Troublesome thing two is more, well, troublesome. Going to the left I have power steering (and lots of pump noise). Going to the right the steering effort is much higher, although perhaps not as much as fully "not there" power steering.

I assume that either the steering box was bad from le yarde du junque from which I picked it up, or that sitting dry in the truck for the last five years has let some delicate little valve stick open or closed. I'm wondering if continued efforts to free it up (by running the truck moving the steering from lock to lock) are going to do any good, or if I should just plan on pundling up a ton-o-cash for a new box.

Reply to
Tim Wescott
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First thing to do is get it full. Cycle left-center-right, top off reservoir, repeat until full.

Now you can assess the performance.


Reply to

Excessive fluid foam is usually air leaking into the return side somewhere. Look closely at the low pressure return hose.

If the pump is that noisy, I suspect you may be in the market for both a gear and pump.

Good Luck!


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I put a buick pump on my 1963 Food 4000 Tractor and I can tell you it takes awhile to get the air out and the pump to quiet down. I stuck a

1.5" dia clear (tygon maybe) hose abut 6" long on top of the reservoirto add volume. The reservoir is so small you are always sucking the returned air back in. Start car, turn lock to lock, shut off, wait 1 hour , repeat. Each time you purge some air then you have to let the bubbles surface.

Untill it is full and purged, you don't really know what if anything is wrong. I'm guessing the factory vacuum fills them to avoid the air problem.

Remove 333 to reply. Randy

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Having rebuilt the whole front-end on the Ford van this summer, it took a very long time to purge air on the PS, like several weeks. Until that happened, it was like no PS at all. The factory method is to get a mongo vacuum pump with an adapter to seal onto the reservoir and pump the hell out of it while running the engine and racking the steering back and forth. In my case, a 200 mile round trip at 75 did the trick, when I got back to town after the trip, it was working as I left the exit ramp. And the fluid resembled cherry whip until all the air was gone. Since then, it's behaved itself. With used parts, it's hard saying what the condition is, you might have grit or something in one of the servo valves. Without disassembly, you can't know. If fluid was leaking out, it's easy, stick some UV dye in and track things down. Air leaking IN is harder.


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