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thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/1/22 8:02 p.m.

My truck has enough play in the steering wheel that my wife refuses to drive it. I've already replaced the tie rods and drag link and tightened the steering box adjustment a bit. I also just had my wife move the steering wheel with the truck off to see if the play was in the steering box or the intermediate shaft. It's all in the box. So now I get to replace it. Problem is, I'm it sure which of the brands I hear about are worth my money. Redhead is the company I see all over, but I also see that their remans aren't always awesome. A thread on the a sportsmobile forum mentioned bluetop, and I see Napa also carries remans. What does GRM recommend? I'd prefer to replace it once and be done. 

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/1/22 8:12 p.m.

I picked up a Motorcraft unit from RockAuto a couple years back.

I fully agree with doing it once, figured that the OEM lasted ~360k I might as well go with it again 

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
2/1/22 8:50 p.m.

All reman boxes are garbage.  Find an old guy to adjust the box properly.

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
2/1/22 9:43 p.m.

This is VERY timely as I have been researching new steering boxes for my 2006 Ford E250. 

Can you buy a new motorcraft unit anymore? The ones I see on Rockauto are reman'd.

I have heard great and not so great things about Redhead, although I can't remember exactly what people don't like about them (can anyone here expand). According to a write up in motor trend, (for whatever that's worth) it's a better than stock replacement with new seals, bearings and a polished sector shaft according to this article: https://www.motortrend.com/how-to/1805-stop-the-play-installing-a-redhead-power-steering-gearbox-and-borgeson-steering-shaft/

I would be all over the Redhead if it weren't for the mixed reviews, again not remembering the issues.

I have been emailing with Bluetop about their boxes. I believe they were started by some ex-Redhead employees, but that may be internet BS. They apparently do the following: "The seals, bearings, and the ball bearings that we size for the worm and piston. The worm, piston, shaft all are used again. There is typically really no wear on those parts at all unless someone has over adjusted the gearbox and driven it for too long." I haven't heard any customer reviews though.

@Streetwiseguy, I get the sense there is a point where adjusting the box just is not enough anymore. It sounds like the channels the bearings move in get worn. I have adjusted mine, and it was better for a while, but then it got loose again in about a month. I believe there might be more going on than adjusting the sector shaft can address, but I could be wrong.

@Mr Asa, are you satisfied with the motorcraft reman'd unit?

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/1/22 11:18 p.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

That's the same stuff I was seeing. Lots of mixed signals. 

WillG80
WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
2/1/22 11:47 p.m.

Rock Auto lists this Edelmann box for your truck. It says it's 100% new and comes with a million mile or 100 year warranty. Anybody know anything about these? More expensive but I have to replace the box in my ambulance soon so I'm in the same boat. 
 

Saron81
Saron81 Dork
2/2/22 8:06 a.m.

Can confirm OEM is still available. $356 MSRP from the dealer. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/2/22 8:08 a.m.

Definitely buy new if at all possible.  I could not count how many reman boxes I have put in that were worse than the one I took out, but it is a depressingly high percentage.  I like the ones that are massively loose due to worn balls/channels, but they also stick and bind because the assembler rammed the pinion adjuster nut down overtight to compensate.

 

The problem is the balls are selective fit, and the remanufacturers aren't going to have twenty different size balls and manually check each box... assuming that the channels are not preferentially worn in the center position so ball size is irrelevant.

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
2/2/22 10:38 a.m.

WillG80, is your ambulance an E350 chassis? Let me know if you (or anyone else) can find a new, non-remanufactured replacement. Rockauto doesn't seem to sell them for an E-series.

@Pete, redhead and Bluetop both claim they do put the correct size ball bearings to get an exact fit. That's their claim at least. But I hear you that it wouldn't matter if the channels are worn in the center position, which is probably where they are worn. Thanks for that consideration. I too think I'd prefer a new box. Just haven't found one yet.

WillG80
WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
2/2/22 10:49 a.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

Yes sir. 1996 E350. Looks like RA is showing an Edelmann for my ambulance too. It must be a new thing because I don't remember seeing any previously either. 
 

I googled Edelmann and it seems they've been making hoses and other PS products for a long time, possibly for some of the Japanese OEMs, but only very recently got into the steering gearbox game so there's no history on their durability. 

WillG80
WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
2/2/22 10:58 a.m.
Saron81 said:

Can confirm OEM is still available. $356 MSRP from the dealer. 

Are you sure it's new and not remanufactured? I'm finding "OEM" boxes that seems like they would be new, but the description says otherwise. Here's an example from oem ford part .com

 

Saron81
Saron81 Dork
2/2/22 12:29 p.m.

In reply to WillG80 :

They are remans. That's all that Ford offers after a few years. I can't remember ever having one come back as defective in 20+ years though. 

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/2/22 8:44 p.m.

In reply to Saron81 :

That sounds promising. I assume you work at a shop or something?

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
2/2/22 10:26 p.m.

WillG80, thanks for posting. For my year (2006), there is now a supposedly new option by some company called Lares. Never heard of them, though some quick research reveals they have done re mans, so not sure it's truly new. I guess if they say it is, it should be. Hmmm.

@thatsnowinniebago, I just learned that apparently the Ford remans relace the sector shaft, according to this forum, which Bluetop and Redhead do not:

https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/1543881-who-has-used-the-cardone-steering-box-2.html

This guy liked the Ford reman'd unit after having a bad experience with a Cardone reman. 

"A significant difference with the new box installed. No more wandering, no more moving the wheel side to side to stay within my lane. It feels really tight, almost too tight but maybe I am not used to it since the old box was shot and the old new one was defective. I lost about 1.5 qts of fluid in the swap but it was well worth it."
 

Source:

https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/1482338-another-whats-the-best-steering-gear-questions-5.html

WillG80
WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
2/2/22 10:39 p.m.

In reply to Saron81 :

Thanks, that's great feedback. Based on your experience and what Eric posted below, that's the direction I'll likely go when I buy a replacement. 

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/2/22 11:52 p.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

Nice, thanks. Sounds like that Ford reman is probably the way to go then. 

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
2/3/22 8:02 a.m.

You're welcome! I guess the only thing we don't know about the Ford remans are if they fit new bearings/deal with the issue Pete mentioned above. I'll try and do some more research today.

Another data point, I emailed with U joint off-road (they do 4x4 conversions for Econolines) and they said they use Ford steering boxes. They didn't specify if they were remans, but given that Ford doesn't make new ones, I assume that's what was meant.

I still feel a bit torn between the supposedly new box from Lares and the Ford reman.

WillG80
WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
2/3/22 8:32 a.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

Eric, I have a U-Joint 4x4 kit on my ambulance. I went the DIY route and did the entire install myself. The steering box typically doesn't get changed, they use what's on your van. They only supply a new pitman arm to go from the van box to their linkage. 
 

If you have any questions about the kit and install I'll get happy to help where I can. 

Saron81
Saron81 Dork
2/3/22 9:50 a.m.
thatsnowinnebago said:

In reply to Saron81 :

That sounds promising. I assume you work at a shop or something?

A dealership... since we used to see these trucks under warranty, lol. 

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
2/3/22 10:40 a.m.

Here is a bit more info I learned during research regarding Lares from posts on the Ford trucks forum for various models (This is for an Excursion, posted last year). Take if for what it's worth. You can read through it here: Linky. Here is one person's take on it:

"so the choice becomes, motorcraft rebuilt box with lower tolerances but new sector shaft or a red or blue remanufactured with your desired options to a tighter tolerance but a used sector shaft. if you want the best, buy a remanufactured Motorcraft box and have it sent to red company to get a #3 torsion spring."

There is a lot of opinions all over the board in my research. Most people who went with Bluetop are are happy. Some people swear by Redhead. Although not everyone, as seen above. That said, it seems like Bluetop made it right. Bluetop also told me that they will resurface the sector shaft if it needs to be, but they don't often find that it's a problem.

Someone was unhappy with a re-built Lares, but is that the same thing as a new Lares? I don't know. Some people on that forum say no one makes new boxes anymore. I'm getting confused at this point.

@Will, that's good to know, so maybe they don't know much about steering boxes. U-joint is just a few miles from where I'm located and they quoted me 24k for a turn key set up (yikes!). So if I go that route, I'd be doing it myself. I'll keep that in mind that you have done it. 

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
2/3/22 10:59 a.m.

I'm going to try to break it down by company for clarity (I have some time on my hands, apparently):

Bluetop (from my emailing with them): (Me: what's replaced in a rebuild?) The seals, bearings, and the ball bearings that we size for the worm and piston. The worm, piston, shaft all are used again. There is typically really no wear on those parts at all unless someone has over adjusted the gearbox and driven it for too long. (Me: What if there is wear?): Yes that would get fixed too if that was worn.

I have one more email to them asking about the channels being an issue on center, per Pete's concern above. Edit: Here is their response: "Yes it does. (I asked if their reman resolves this on center issue with the channel) Thats where the oversized ball bearings fit the groove perfectly. There really is never any wear in that spot more so just two surfaces that were not matched up correctly at factory when new."

From searching on forums, I have found one complaint of a new box getting sloppy, which BT rectified. They don't carry a box for E-series off the shelf, so I would have to send mine in, which they say is a one-day turnaround. That complicates things for me, but they carry boxes for most Ford trucks. They seem to be the go-to now. There was even a group buy on the Ford truck forum. 

Ford Motorcraft (info I've found on forums, so may not be true): New sector shaft, but bearings are the same (lower tolerances). I haven't seen anyone complain about them on any forums. Most complaints are about Cardone and Lares remans. Edit: did find a complaint of one leaking after a while, think it was 60k miles. Edit: One person said they had a leak in a redhead and got a Ford instead and prefered the tightness of the Redhead despite the leak.

Redhead (also forum research): Some people "swear by them." I found some complaints, (don't have links) and there is an opinion among some that quality is slipping, hence the move to Bluetop. Edit: Found evidence of a leaking box that had to be replaced with Ford reman, but that the person liked the RH better due to better steering feel. Here's a link to the thread on sportsmobile where people have issues. It's funny, people still prefer the RH over the Ford reman in terms of steering response.

Lares: Supposedly new. Can't find much about them except people having issues with their remans. But is this new box really new like RockAuto says it is? Some folks on the forum say there is no such thing as a new box, but am I to believe them?

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/3/22 12:48 p.m.
Saron81 said:
thatsnowinnebago said:

In reply to Saron81 :

That sounds promising. I assume you work at a shop or something?

A dealership... since we used to see these trucks under warranty, lol. 

Haha, makes sense. 

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
2/3/22 3:21 p.m.

Just made a few edits/addition to the above post after doing more research and hearing back from BlueTop again. I recommend re-reading that post if you saw it a few hours ago.

After all this research, I'm leaning toward the Blue top unit, but I'm still torn and could be convinced to go with the Ford or the "new" Lares.

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/3/22 4:12 p.m.

In reply to CyberEric :

Them acknowledging the on-center wear is good to hear. 

WillG80
WillG80 GRM+ Memberand Reader
2/3/22 6:22 p.m.

Thanks for posting all that research. It sure seems like the bluetop boxes are nice. The mixed reviews on the redheads the last few years scare me so I probably won't consider them for myself. 
 

Do you by chance have a price comparison between the 3? I'm too lazy to look it up right mow

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