Power Steering System Upgrade

In May and June of 2021, I decided to upgrade the power steering on my 1993 custom Chevy Indy Pace Truck. There were several reasons for this.

  • I could tell that the power steering pump was on its way out from the whining noise it was making.
  • The power steering fluid was very dark and not healthy looking
  • There was decreased “power” in the power steering
  • After the Cunningham Machine steering shaft update, my steering wheel was off-center. Adjusting the tie rods to correct this was not going to work as the original tie rod adjusters were rusted in place.
  • I noticed there was increased “play” in the left to right motions of the steering wheel.

Step 1

  • I replaced the original steering shaft from the end of the steering wheel to the input of the original Saginaw steering gearbox. I ordered and installed the Cunningham Machine 1988-1994 Chevrolet/GMC Truck Steering Shaft
  • This definitely improved the steering play and performance and gave me the motivation to finish the rest of the steps!
OEM Steering Shaft
Cunningham Machine Steering Shaft

Step 2

I researched upgraded performance power steering options and decided on and ordered the following items from Summit Racing, LMC Truck, Rock Auto, and my local NAPA Dealer:

  • AGR-283352 Steering Super Box 2
  • AGR-807324 Power Steering Pump
  • AAZ-20-7828 Cardone Power Steering Pump (rebuilt)
  • 34-1122 Adjusting sleeves (2)
  • 269-2729 Inner Tie Rod Ends
  • 269-2728 Outer tie rod ends
  • 7-2427 Power steering pressure hose
  • 7-2434 Power steering return hose
  • 268-3705 Idler arm assembly
  • 268-3691 Idler arm
  • 45C0045 ACDELCO Pitman Arm

Following the AGR Installation Instructions, I replaced the rebuilt Cardone pump with the new AGR Pump – basically, I just used the Cardone outer container. Then I masked, cleaned, and painted the AGR components with Eastman rust preventing and encapsulating paints.

AGR Steering Components
AGR Steering Components Painted

Step 3

  • I removed the front alternator/PS pump bracket from the 383 Stroker,
  • Removed and replaced the PS pump onto that bracket
  • Re-installed the PS bracket
  • Removed the Cunningham Machine steering shaft, then the OEM Saginaw gearbox and pitman arm from the frame
  • Coated rusted and exposed sections of the frame with Eastman rust encapsulating coatings and paint.
  • Installed the new AGR Steering Gearbox with the new Pitman arm, and reattached the Cunningham Machine shaft
  • Added AC Delco power steering fluid to power steering pump and bled the system per AGR Instructions
  • Reconnected the Serpentine belt to drive the power steering pump
  • Started engine and tested the power steering system for performance and leaks. All Good!
New AGR Power Steering Pump
New AGR Power Steering Gearbox
New Power Steering Hoses

Step 4

  • Removed passenger side tie rods and idler arm assembly from the frame
  • Replaced Idler Arm assembly on frame (the most difficult part)
  • Made new tie rod assembly from inner-outer tie rods and new adjuster sleeves to match the length of old tie rods (which were aligned correctly).
  • Installed, tested, and torqued all the connections and castle nuts with cotter pins
  • Repeated the tie rod assembly procedure for the driver’s side (easier because it does not have an idler arm assembly.
  • After test driving, I then used the adjuster sleeves to center my steering wheel! All Good!

July 2021 – Steering Column

I’ve noticed over a long period of time that even after I upgrade suspension and steering parts, there is a rattle that is noticeable only when I drive over a series of rapid, small bumps in the road surface. Recently my friend Dan came over to do an oil change, and I had him rack the steering wheel back and forth rapidly while I looked under the hood for where this rattle might be coming from.

I found that at the end of the steering column, where the shaft protrudes from the end of the housing, and where I had connected my Cunningham Machine shaft assembly, there appears to be some play in the shaft. Sure enough, after a little research, I learned that there is a bearing inside the end of the lower steering column that needs replacement when it wears out.

I found and ordered a lower steering column bearing replacement kit online from a seller on eBay. After it arrived and I installed it on my truck, there was still significant play. I found the same kit at another source (manufactured by Crown Automotive) and noticed that it was exactly the same as the kit I returned to the eBay seller.

So, having learned about the “play” that is a part of this kit, I actually super-glued the bearing into the nylon bushing to fill up that slack. This has produced a satisfactory result for a minimal cost.

New AGR Power Steering Gearbox
New AGR Power Steering Pump
New AGR Power Steering Pump