Excursion / Super Duty Power Steering Upgrade
NOTE : Pictures with a RED border can be enlarged by clicking them!
Update : My Autozone rebuilt pump is finally getting bad enough to swap. I decided to hit up LEE Power Steering and see if he can get me a NEW (not rebuilt) pump. I showed him my set up and he said not bad but you will still have problems since the reservoir is not baffled. He showed me his small tank and it was just what's needed. He added an extra port for the Hydroboost while I waited. He also check out my PSC hipo pump and he said it should be no problem using it with the new tank as it will NOT foam. This has been in the truck for over a month and all is well! SUCCESS!!! Check the update below.
My Daily driver is a 2003 Ford Excursion 4x4 with the awesome 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel. At some point the overworked power steering pump which was starting to fail. If you have ever tried to turn the wheel of a 4x4 Super Duty without power steering you know what I'm talking about - ARM-strong steering and BAD Brakes. Driving is fine, but parking, slow speed maneuvers became a problem. What do you do? Swap out the pump with a rebuilt of course. How did that work out? Well if someone could make a rebuilt power steering pump that meets needed flow and pressure specs it might be ok. But within 5 minutes of bolting in the pump I knew that it was better but not really good. This problem seems to plague the Super Duty Fords of this era.
Looking on various truck forums (TheDieselStop.com) I found a few people were having the same issues and they were trying various pumps and kits. AGR and PSC performance steering come to the head of the list for supplying a new and enhanced pumps or upgraded systems. After reading lots and lots of threads and issues related to pumps breaking and related issues I pretty much decided to go with the PSC system that uses a Saginaw P-Series pump. I always like the GM power steering and hated the MOANING Ford pumps. The one drawback of these swaps is that the 'Canned Ham' style GM reservoir requires a large and structural part of the power steering bracket to be removed. The bracket is a cheap casting and some have reported it breaking apart after operations. PSC offered a remote reservoir kit that looked like much less material needed to be removed so I was swayed to that kit.
The next concern was the mystical Hydroboost (this is the think between the brake pedal and the master cylinder). It's all over the web that to use an enhanced flow pump you need to have your Hydroboost unit set out for an expensive porting operation. This is only done by a few guy so in for a dime in for a dollar. I gave one of the few places a call, Vanco and talked to them about my application. Here is the gospel from the experts at Vanco -
You do NOT need to port the Hydroboost unit unless you are running a hydraulic steering ram or other higher flow steering system or you are running much larger the stock tires on a high pressue system, even then they would have some comments on if you need it or not. Very honest and could have just done the work but didn't waste my money. Good people if you have questions about it! It's an expensive operation for the port and rebuild so be sure you need it and ask questions before spending the money needlessly.
The PSC kit included a bunch of really nice parts, High pressure pump with special remote housing, billet reservoir with 2 returns (one for steering box and one from the Hydroboost unit) built in filter, all the new hoses and fittings and the special Ford pulley that fits the Saginaw pump. NOTE : PSC Does not sell this kit from their site. They only sell it if you call and assure them that you are running a stock system OR have had the hydroboost ported. Ask them why...
Being paranoid I picked up a used power steering bracket off of Ebay just incase modifications to the bracket went bad, I could at least put it back to stock. I put some parts together and checked fitment with the new pump and housing.
As shown in the pictures below you need to cut a small crescent shape for the new fitting for the inlet to the reservoir and a few other places around the power steering bracket. You can see the few places where I have marked it. I also removed a bit of metal on the front of the pump where a small bump exists. Didn't remove much, but rounded the edges and removed casting flash.
The Reservoir Saga (SEE BELOW FOR UPDATE)
Given the immense size of the Excursions engine compartment you would think it possible to use the super nice PSC reservoir. Guess again. I think I found only one spot to put it in where it's outlet is above the pump fitting inlet. This is behind the radiator right in front of the power steering pump itself. I looked at the mess of plumbing and having to make a bracket (similar to where they mount a coolant filter) and said sadly time for another tank. Looking at Summit Racing I found a bunch of standard power steering tanks. The trick was to get one to fit right above the pump but not above the hood line.
This aluminum tank is a standard 3" diameter x 5" power steering tank. The only modification was to add an additional -6 AN male bung for the second return line. This new fitting should be place low in the tank. It just fits under the hood without hitting. I made a simple bracket and spacer for the alternator to hold the new aluminum reservoir, the tank is held with some large Adel clamps to the new bracket. It's pretty simple. I don't know if it would be possible to just use a Tee fitting for both return lines, but I had seen some discussion that the Hydroboost likes it's own return. It would be worth a try if you don't have the capability to get a fitting welded in.
Using the pump adapter supplied by PSC bolted it all up and check for any bracket interference. I then made a -10 AN line from the aluminum reservoir to the pump fitting. This hose is the inlet to the pump and should be the exact height when tightened up that you want the tank to sit at. You have a bit of up/down play with the tank but not much due to the fittings but make sure it's not sitting too high. Your hose with the fittings will be very short.
PSC also supplies the correct AN fittings on the new hoses and it's simple to reconnect it all. After checking all the lines and insulating some of the return lines that were routed close to the exhaust I was ready to bleed the system. This was straight forward, filled with the proper power steering fluid and got the air out. Guess what? The system worked beautifully!!! No noise, tight package, and awesome slow speed steering. Problem Solved...or so I though.
Fluid Foaming - FAIL
After a quick ride around the block and some turning with foot on the brake I thought I was done. Didn't work out that way. On my ride to work the next day I have a short run from home to the freeway. It's about 5 miles to my exit. As I'm exiting I hear the strange moaning like my pump is running low on fluid. Not sounding good at all. I have a short distance to my work and when I pulled in and popped the hood I could see fluid leaking out of the lid. Opening the lid exposed a tank full of power steering foam. I drove it a few more run to figure out that the PSC pump churns up the fluid so much that the return lines to the tank are just acting like a jacuzzi jet. I played with the level of the fluid an that helped a lot, but the pump just pushes so much fluid around that you really need to use the PSC Large tank. My racing tank is not small, but it's a no-go with the PSC pump. BTW Royal Purple Synthetic fluid helped reduce the foaming but not enough to be usable.
Rebuilt Power Steering Pump to the Rescue
Pondering if I should return to the moaning Ford power steering pump I thought about the problem and said, many people are running a stock 'P' Series Saginaw pump and using smaller reservoirs and not having a problem. I figured I would give it one more go. Picked up an el-cheepo pump at Autozone and swapped it out. The first thing I noticed was the pump has a much smaller pressure relief valve in the back the the modified PSC pump. Things were looking up! I did the R&R on the pump and fired it up. Watching the inside of the tank you could see a small toilet bowl like swirl, revving it up not didn't make it too much worse. In contrast the PSC pump always had a deep and almost violent toilet tornado spinning at idle from all the fluid the pump was circulating. Steering was still very good, not quite as easy as with the PSC pump with feet on the brake and car sitting still but very good! The test drive produced good results as well as 2 - 350 mile runs, good steering and great brakes. No pump foam, and other the a slightly noisy pump (cheep rebuilt) problem seems to be solved.
UPDATE : LEE Power Steering Tank - SUCCESS!
PSC Pump and Ford Adapter
These shots above are the PSC pump, remote house with AN fittings. It's a nice part but you do not need to buy the PSC pump. All parts are sold individually. The PSC adapter is a very slick part (horseshoe looking part with black bolts)
Power Stroke Power Steering Bracket
F8TE-10239-AB is the engine bracket that was on my 2003 Excursion and I think on 1999.5-2003 7.3L Powerstroke engines. The right photo shows the beginning of marking the bracket for grinding. You have a few places to check, and make sure the pump bolts in with no clearance issue or you will break something when you tighten it up. Photo on the left shows when bolted in the lip of the housing just nicks the bracket.
Grinding the 1999.5-2003 Steering Bracket
The bracket need grinding in a few areas to make the pump fit into place. You can see most all of the places in the 4 pictures above. I used a Metabo die grinder and a carbide porting bit to do most of the work, but you could use most anything as the casting material is very soft. With all of these modifications I don't think the integrety of the bracket is compromised. (NOTE : I have been running since Nov. 2012 no issues)
Making the Reservoir Brackets
The bracket that hold the tank to the alternator bracket is made of 1" x .125" mild steel bar. I used the alternator as a size guide and then made a jig out of a long piece of thread rod. My Miller Millermatic MIG did most of the work. Also remember you will need a second spacer for the opposite side of the alternator as this bracket sits between the alternator and the power steering bracket. This will keep the alternator square on the bracket. Also you will need a slightly longer bolt. The original bolt may work but given the cheep metal it threads into, I opted to go for a longer bolt. It's metric, and may be hard to find. I got it at McMaster Carr along with the high temp Adel clamps that hold the tank to the bracket.(not shown)
Finished PartsUpper Left - you can see the spacer that keeps the alternator bolted squarely to the bracket. Again these bolts are a bit longer than stock to ensure the thread is as long as possible into the bracket.
Upper Right - Close view of the Aeroquip line and fitting. Remember to measure the fittings and the line with the notion that it is all tightened up or you will be off in length. I assembled the hose to one side of the fitting then put the other fitting on to get a very close measurement. The fittings have (Aeroquip) has a mark on the fitting to tell you where the hose ends up for easy measuring.
Lower Left - This is the complete assembly. I replaced the alternator with a new one since it's about time. This shows the 3 High temp stainless and silicon Adel clamps. In the final version I only used 2 due to the lower fitting being smack dab in the middle of the clamp. Measure twice cut once or something like that...
Don't forget that you must bolt the pump in completely before assembling the pulley to the pump.
To keep from slicing up your hands on the fan shroud you can install the pump and pulley on the bracket then install the bracket back in the truck. Was much easier that way!