Power To The Steering!
Let’s face it: The “total driving experience” is one of the best parts of owning an old beater Jeep. Old Jeeps weren’t designed to place you in a warm, comfortable cocoon that isolates you from offending road noises in order to deposit you safe and refreshed at your destination. Instead, they are transportation in its purest form: brakes that take a couple of pumps to always keep you on your game, a clutch that eventually develops your left leg into that of a linebacker’s, and steering that has to be constantly manhandled like the valve on a giant water main. Maybe we’re just getting old and lazy, but that last part gets old pretty quickly and leaves us wishing for at least one creature comfort from the modern transportation age: power steering.
Fortunately, performing a power steering swap isn’t all that hard and can be accomplished almost entirely with junkyard parts. In many cases, including this one, it’s almost entirely a bolt-in affair. You just need to know what to look for, but there are also a few areas where it would be wise to spend a little extra cash on upgraded aftermarket parts rather than risk using worn-out used stuff. Follow along as we gather up the parts needed to hang a power steering pump and box on an ’84 CJ-7. Even if you’re not working on CJ-7, most of what we found here applies to just about any power steering conversion.
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Modding a P-Pump for $0
Since we were swapping in a fresh remanufactured pump and we conveniently “forgot” to include the pressure fitting when we turned in the core pump, we thought we’d try an old-school trick. The pressure fitting on a P-Pump has an orifice in the center that restricts the amount of fluid volume that the pump puts out. One of the trail tips we’ve picked up over the years is to drill out this orifice from 9⁄64-inch to 5⁄32-inch to boost the fluid volume to the box, resulting in more steering assist. We tried both stock and modified fittings and were surprised at the results. The larger orifice provided a noticeable increase in assist, almost to the point of over-boosting with our little 31-inch tires on the street. However, the increase was welcome on the trail and would be of definite benefit to Jeeps with 35-inch tires and lockers. The fitting is easily accessible: it’s the external fitting that the pressure line connects to. In many cases, it can be removed without even removing the pump from the vehicle. We’ve also heard of people monkeying with the spring that controls the bypass circuit, but we’ll leave that for later.