Power Steering Upgrade for Older CJ Jeeps

Jeep Power Steering Swap

Brian GabrielPhotographer, Writer

There’s nothing quite like an old Jeep. The sound, the smell, and the feel of the Jeep are those things everyone talks about, and some just don’t understand. Piloting one of these relics is more like herding it down the road instead of steering, thanks to the old Ross steering boxes. They were mounted to the frame just in front of the driver’s feet and were prone to premature wear. The 17-inch-diameter steering wheel provided the mechanical advantage needed to get the tires to turn, which took little effort when going down the road. However, it took some muscle to move those same tires when running slowly in parking lots, rocks, mud, or snow with that old Ross steering setup.

While there’s nothing wrong with the old way, there is also a lot of modern technology (relatively) that can be adapted to these old Jeeps to improve the steering. You hear a lot about Saginaw power steering boxes and pumps, and that’s because the Saginaw Steering Gear Company has been doing business with General Motors since 1917. The Saginaw steering boxes were mounted up on the very front of the frame to simplify the steering linkage to the axle. Their manual steering box design ended up on Jeeps starting in 1972, and the power steering was an optional factory upgrade. Keep on reading to see how we adapted a Saginaw power steering system onto our Willys CJ-2A. There is more than one way to skin a cat, though, so we also take a quick look at how a few of our Jeep buddies have tackled the same job.