I have a 1978 Jeep CJ-7 that had been converted to power steering at some point. The box started leaking, so I ordered a replacement from the local auto parts store. When I received the new steering box, the input shaft on the box was too big for the steering shaft. I assumed that when this thing was converted they simply used a stock CJ steering box and shaft, but obviously that’s not the case. How do I figure out what steering box will work with the steering shaft on this Jeep?
It’s hard to know for sure without pictures, but more than likely they used a fullsize Jeep steering box. Some of the earlier Wagoneers, Cherokees, and pickups used a Saginaw steering box that is identical to a CJ four-bolt box except that it uses a smaller, 11/16-inch-diameter input shaft rather than a later and more common 3/4-inch-diameter shaft.
You have several potential solutions. You could order a mid-1970s fullsize Jeep power steering box from your parts store, which should have the correct diameter input (assuming they didn’t do anything really weird during the initial swap). You could also change the lower joint of the steering shaft to match the smaller diameter input, which may involve just replacing the joint or could involve changing the whole shaft depending on what they did when they performed the power steering swap. This is probably only a viable solution if the rest of the steering shaft shows signs of wear, but Borgeson (borgeson.com) has steering shafts that will bolt right into your swapped CJ. The third option would be to take your existing steering box to a local rebuilding shop. Most larger cities have shops that reseal and rebuild steering racks and boxes in-house, and often they are less expensive than a replacement from the parts store. If you go that route, you’ll know everything will fit because it’s all the same parts that worked before the box began leaking.