New Reins for Old BroncosMost of the early Bronco's came without factory power steering. While this provides for a simple, low maintenance steering system, it can make serious rock crawling "interesting". If you own a early Bronco with factory power steering, consider yourself lucky. For those that don't, this article will describe several possible solutions to your steering woes.
Early Broncos were made back when a 70/14 was a wide tire. However nowadays, any Bronco worth its kick is outfitted with at least 33x12.50x15-inch tires, generally mounted on 10-inch-wide rims. This increase in tire width generally does not cause problems at "normal" speeds, but when crawling over rocks or other difficult terrain at "trail" speeds of about 5 mph, this extra rubber can mean quite a bit of extra effort to crank.
Most of the time this is just an annoyance. Real men can handle any Bronco, right? Well, sure, but do you remember the last time a large rock grabbed that big, wide, expensive tire and jerked the steering wheel it was attached to right out of your hand, sending it spinning madly in circles?
There are a number of ways to overcome this problem.
Of course the best course of action is to round up a Ford factory power steering unit for any early Bronco. These units were first introduced in 1973 along with the automatic, however they were (and still are) very expensive! Expect to pay about $1200 for a good power steering unit, one in which the worm gear in the box which can still be adjusted or is fresh. While it's always possible that you could find a power steering box that is equivalent, it's time-consuming and will be lucky to find one.
- Install a factory power steering unit
- Find a compatible unit to install.
- Install a kit available from several sources
The second solution is to modify an existing power steering unit. Several members of the EBR have done this with good results. You can use a power steering unit from a Ford Lincoln/pickup truck, or from a Nissan pickup truck. We will outline the procedures for all of these units in this tech bulletin.
The other solution is to buy one of the kits available from several sources, such as Wild Horses Four Wheel Drive out of Stockton, Calif., and Richard Duff of James Duff Enterprises Inc., located in Sequim, Wash.
Install a Ford Lincoln BoxSeveral readers report taking the Lincoln power steering box and fitted it with the stock Bronco pitman arm, shortened the drag link approximately 3 inches (varies on amount of lift the Bronco has), using the stock steering column, shorting the shaft a minimal amount and outfitted it with U-joints.
You will have to use a pair of rubber hoses to connect the box to the power steering pump. See if you can use or modify the lincoln ones. You will also need to remember that you will have to equip the engine with the proper pulleys to accommodate the extra belt that will be required for the pump. Be certain to use a pump that has factory brackets for your model engine. This way the pulley and belt setup are already taken care of.
A '67 Lincoln Continental power steering box is a junkyard item. It's still available (but becoming less so) and relatively inexpensive-about $100 to $150 for a good one. You'll still need power steering pump, hoses, belts and homemade bracketry. The stock drag link may have to be shortened about 3 inches. It will require some welding, so you should know what you are doing here, or have a friend who is experienced help. The steering is very inportant (it should go without saying). The unmodified early Bronco pitman arm is retained and used with the Lincoln installation.
The Lincoln box mounts to the inside of the Bronco framerail and uses one of the stock steering box holes (the bottom left). Therefore, a new upper left and bottom right mounting point have to be fabricated and then attached. Small brackets do the job here. One of the advantages of the Lincoln over the F-150 box is its closeness to the bottom of the frame, staying out of harm's way: off-road obstacles and suspension components.
'77 Nissan Pickup BoxAnother method for achieving power steering in an Early Bronco is the mini-truck power steering box from a Nissan pickup truck. As mentioned above, the stock Bronco has three mounting holes. In a Nissan installation two are used, with a third requiring a slight enlargement and an additional upper left requiring a new hole to be drilled for the Nissan box to be attached to the outside of the framerail. A Ford power steering pump, pulleys and belt are used along with hoses that are U.S. fittings on one end and equipped with Metric on the Nissan box side. All of this should pose no problems and the drag link does not require shortening.
A Nissan power steering box from a '77 pickup bolts to the outside of the framerail, unlike the Ford units that mount to the inside. The Upper left bolt still needs installation to complete the four-bolt hookup. Most difficult part is the mating of the Bronco pitman arm to the Metric threads on the Nissan box. Or use the Nissan pitman arm and match it to the Bronco drag link.
The tricky part of this installation is the pitman arm. You are dealing with a U.S.-fitted drag link that attaches to the pitman arm and Metric threads on the steering box output shaft that needs to be matched to the pitman arm. You most likely will need to have a pitman arm modified by a welder to accommodate the two different ends.
F150/250/350 2WD Conversion KitsThere are a number of kits and solutions available to convert the '69-'79 Ford F150/F250/F350 2WD pickup boxes for use in the Early Bronco. These steering boxes provide four turns lock-to-lock and make for a nimble Bronco. Several readers have preformed this conversion with good results. These boxes mount inside the frame. The sector shaft on the box is longer than that of the stock box (see picture at right), which means you don't need a dropped pitman arm if you have a lift on your truck. In fact you really need at least 2 - 3.5 inches of lift to perform these modifications, due to clearence for the steering box and suspension components. Unfortunately this requires a bracket (preferrably welded to the frame) that helps to hold the power steering box to the frame. These brackets and several other conversion kit pieces are available from Bronco parts houses.
You may encounter some interference with the the drivers side tank of the radiator. A universal tool (hammer) may be used to correct this, or you may angle the box a bit to clear. You will need an adjustable drag link, which you can get from several of the parts houses.
For the pump, two types are generally used, the Saginaw "canned ham" pump (seen to the left) and the stock Ford pump. Both types have been used with success. The Saginaw pumps came on both Ford and Chevy trucks. They are not as common on the Fords. If you use a pump from a Chevy you will have to weld a bracket from a Ford pump and find a belt that fits. You will also have to obtain an adapter fitting for the pump so that you can use the factory trucks p/s hose. (You can't use the Bronco one because the truck box has a different fitting).
There at least two professionally designed kits available from Bronco parts suppliers. The two that the EBR has experience with are from James Duff and Wild Horses. None comes cheap, but they're less expensive than a stock unit and much more reliable, easy to repair and or replace. As is so often the case, you get what you pay for: research, engineering, quality and proven parts. The kits range from a base of $600 to $1200, with a list of options available that affects the final price tag.
SummaryThere you have it: a few ways to a happier off-roading experience with your early Bronco. There are also conversions involving Toyota 4x4 box as well as kits from Bronco Parts and Protofab. (If you know anything about these kits, please send mail to the webmaster) The professional kits feature components that are proven, and they can be easily replaced or serviced virtually anywhere in the U.S. However, they too can be very expensive. With the exception of the factory system, all will require some amount of welding and mechanical know-how. In return, the reward is a Bronco that will respond easily and smoothly on the trails as well as the highway.
SourcesJames Duff Enterprises Inc. 261 340 Hwy. 101 Sequim, WA 98382 360-683-2160 (Bronco power steering kits and other components) Wild Horses Four Wheel Drive 1263 N. Pilgrim Stockton, CA 95202 209-943-0991 (Bronco power steering kits and other components) Bronco Parts 8169-A Alpine Ave., Sacramento, CA 95826 916-737-9264 (Bronco power steering kits and other components) Fly-N-Hi Off-Road Centers (ask for: Billy Smith) 3319 W. McDowell Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85009 602-272-2433 Ted Riley Costa Mesa, CA 92627 714-957-6127 K Bar S 3753 Scripps Way Las Vegas, NV 89103 702-871-1941 (Bronco parts & accessories) Kentrol P.O. Box 3304 Youngstown OH 44513 216-549-2235 (Bronco parts & accessories)