Power Steering For Our Ex-Army Truck
It wasn't supposed to happen this way. It was originally gonna be a throwaway vehicle. You know:something you hammer together quickly,have some yucks with, and then sell at a ridiculousloss to the next guy. But then somethinghorrible happened. We started to like The EvilTruck. Damn! We hate it when that happensto a vehicle ya love to hate.
If you tuned in to the last segment of this truck's ongoing and sporadically covered saga, "Over the Road M-715, Parts I and II" (May and June '08, respectively), you'll know why it's suddenly so easy to live with. After installing a Ranger Overdrive, a SM465 transmission, and an Atlas II T-case in place of the clunky stock gearboxes, the truck suddenly became a joy to drive. No matter what the grade or posted speed limit, there was a perfect gear available to keep the engine in its sweet spot. And off-road, it's easy to have either 3.0:1 or 2.19:1 low range for crawling or dune running thanks to the Ranger Overdrive.
So, when it came time to decide which vehicle in the fleet would make the annual trip to the Moab Easter Jeep Safari, it was The Evil Truck that got the nod. However, there were still some big hurdles to jump between the two weeks that marked the decision to bring the M-715 to the '08 event and the scheduled day of departure. As you'll read about this month, one of those hurdles was the horrendously inadequate manual steering setup. Trying to manhandle the 38s on the street was bad enough, but it would've been next to impossible trying to turn on tight slickrock trails with the tires at 10 psi. The second, which you'll read about next time, is the torturous stock seating and the complete lack of any protection in the event of a rollover. So, check out how PSC Motorsports made it easy to ditch the factory manual steering for an infinitely better power assist setup. And check back next month to see the truck transformed with better seating and safety for up to eight passengers.
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We didn't actually start this conversion until the day before leaving for Moab. While every single part PSC sent worked and fit flawlessly, we neglected to obtain the correct pitman arm even though we suspected our '68 manual steering box had a larger sector shaft than the Saginaw boxes. We had the stock pitman arm from an '85 Dodge Ramcharger in the shed that matched the Saginaw sector shaft and matched the M-715's 1-ton GM-sized drag link tie rod. The Ramcharger part worked, but its shorter length severely limited the truck's turning radius. Once in Moab, we found an Omix-ADA pitman arm for an '80s CJ at Moab 4x4 Outpost. We had Moab 4x4 Outpost retaper the CJ pitman arm for the GM 1-ton-size tie rod and it worked like a charm.