1977 K20, rebuild the steering box??

Discussion in 'Trucks and Trailers' started by mike reeh, Oct 8, 2000.

  1. mike reeh

    mike reeh LawnSite Member
    Messages: 229

    3 PS pumps in my K20, still have no assist at idle.. its not the pump (duh?) im wondering if i should put out the 200 bucks for a rebuilt pump from the parts houses or is it feasible to rebuild the sucker, and where do you get the rebuild kits??

    advice/experience would be great. thanks guys

    mike reeh
  2. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 849

    I replaced the box in my 80 GMC with a rebuilt one. That was a $250+ mistake. In less than 3 years, and less than 10,000 miles, it had too much play. Also, it began leaking where the steering shaft goes into the box. It was so rusted and crusty, that changing the seal was not an option. A friend had steering troubles with a used 79 he bought, and replaced the box, thinking it was the cause. He later found out someone put the pitman arm on the steering box upside down! So he was trying to find the old box in his shed to give to me. He couldn't, but suggested I buy a used box. He paid $100, and the box was "mint".

    I called a local yard, and got one for $160. Not sure what it came out of, but it has no play at all. It's got 5,000+ miles on it from me now, and still no play, and no problems. I would NEVER buy a reman. steering box again.

    I too replaced my box the first time trying to fix a steering problem, which in the end, had nothing to do with the box. I was kicking myself wishing I saved the old one, when the reman. one started leaking.

    I kinda figure my box was 18 years old when I replaced it, and it was not leaking. It had play, but after 18 years and 130,000 miles, I would expect it to. Having the reman. leak after only 3 years, says a lot. Oh, and my 80 GMC came with a snow plow on it from the dealer back in 80, and plowed every storm since. So the front end was under constant stress, and saw miles and miles of 4wd use.

  3. mike reeh

    mike reeh LawnSite Member
    Messages: 229

    I called around for reman. boxes.. you're right, about 200 bucks and I KNEW it wouldnt be my best bet.. the seal kit alone is $40 but its a special order peice, and I need it today if Im going to think about rebuilding it.. Luckily I know a few guys that have been into these trucks since before I was born (literally) and they had a few steering boxes laying around.. I got em both and Im going to install one of them today...( I even took the day off :/ )

    As for the possibility of it not being the steering box, dont say that!! :) Im praying thats what it is.. Im out of ideas.. I KNOW its not the pump/lines.. Ive removed the steering stabilizer in the past, thinking maybe, just maybe it seized up or something.. no go.. Im pretty darn sure about it being the box... As for the pitman arm being upside down, a possibility, but Ive had the steering work "good" before.. and its just gone way way downhill.. its also obvious that someone has messed with the box in the truck, with all the chisel/hammer marks and RTV silicone... Kind of surprising too, because its an all original '77 with about 110K on the clock.. everything has worked like a charm even the AC.. its a camper special and i know most of its life was spent wearing a camper, but I dont think it saw any abuse.. The original sb400 still runs real strong... I'll post more later, after I get a new box in.. wish me luck! :) thanks again for your advice chuck..

    mike reeh
  4. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 849


    I didn't say in your case it wasn't the box!
    In my case, I could just be driving down the road, and all of a sudden my truck would pull hard to the right, nearly striking the curb! No matter how hard I'd fiht it, it would shoot to the right. My box had about 1/4 turn of play. First I replaced the pump. Then the centerlink since it had play. The drag link because it had play. The only thing left was the box, right? WRONG. I decided to replace the ball joints next, because changing the box didn't solve my problem. Since the truck pulled to the right, I started on the right side. Guess what? I found my problem, and it wasn't the ball joints!

    As it turned out.... the axle U joint was siezed. Well 2 of the trunion bearings were. So just driving along, centrifugal force would cause it to rotate, and when the siezed up part was aligned just right, it would cause the truck to pull hard right. Had I bought the truck in the winter, I would have found out about the U joint sooner. Being I bought it in Sept. I was just getting it ready for plowing. I checked the 4wd when I bought it, but didn't go around making sharp turns in 4wd on dry pavement. I drove it in a straight line to be sure the 4wd worked, and that the t case shifter worked, and all gears could be reached.

    Oh yeah, the trunion bearings were siezed due to RUST. The good news is, since Sept 1995, all I have had to replace is that leaky reman. box. Well, that and an axle shaft I snapped while plowing during the blizzard of 96. We got 30" of snow, and all my accounts were plowed, so I can't complain.

  5. Good Day

    Good Day LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Hey Mike,
    I think I got the same truck as you do. Well pretty close mine is a 78 campers special. Yep, you guessed it the steering box on mine is leaking also. What a sticking mess, the power steering fluid lead all over my pitman arm and bushing and totally screwed them up. Oh well. I was reading your "thread" on this subject. What do you think about rebuild kits? Or should I just go to a pick and pull and get one? Any suggestions on taking it apart and or removing a used one let me know. Good Day
  6. mike reeh

    mike reeh LawnSite Member
    Messages: 229

    Okay.. I got a couple used boxes from a friend.. put one in, and guess what!!! STILL EFFED UP... it WAS better but still very bad.. my old box had a lot of play, this used one (from a '79 blazer with stock tires/lift) is much much more sensitive and luckily it doesnt leak a drop. Also I noticed that when I had my old box off, I could NOT turn the input shaft by hand, but with both of the used boxes, I easily could.. that also lead me to beleive that there WAS a problem with the box. Well back to the parts store to get a new pump.. good thing I was doing that too, because that "good as new, rebuilt" pump literally died while I was getting the new one.. in neutral at 3-4K rpm it had ZERO assist.. I actually hurt my wrist, trying so hard to steer the beast.i had to make a stupid looking 6 or 7 point turn just to back out of the parking lot at napa..

    well this brings me to my next point, dont buy a cheapy rebuilt!! go to a quality parts house like Napa for one.. the first 2 were from autozone and they were JUNK. I should have learned my lesson years ago about that, but mark my word I will never buy another rebuilt part from them.. new/brandname is all they are good for, IMO.

    as for rebuild kits, i priced 'em and they are about $40 but it was a special order kit and I didnt have time to wait.. I still havent looked inside the steering box, so I really cant say how hard/easy it is but I have a feeling its not just a walk in the park.. My advice is get a good used one.. i think junkyards guarantee their used parts anyways so you really cant go wrong..

    if you have any more questions feel free to ask :) thanks and good luck

    mike reeh
  7. Captkaos

    Captkaos LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    I bought a steering box from http://www.agrsteering.com Several 4x4 owners and 4x2 owners have bought them and I have heard no complaints. I think you can get the box and pump for around $200. I gave $190 for them before they raised the price.

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