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Hydraulic Steering Assist
01-13-2015, 08:33 PM (This post was last modified: 01-13-2015 09:09 PM by Smithy.)
Post: #1
Hydraulic Steering Assist
With larger tires comes extra stress on your vehicle, from the engine and transmission, suspension and axles, brakes and steering. There were many times this past year where I could not steer the Suburban off road when the tires were down in a rut or stuck up against a tree. To help solve this issue I am adding a hydraulic assist ram to the steering.

The ram mounts between the front axle and pushes the tie rod side to side. This not only allows the wheels to turn much with much more force than before, it takes a great deal of stress off of the steering box and frame. The ram uses high pressure fluid from a power steering pump, and is controlled by the power steering gearbox.

Typically the system will require a larger fluid reservoir to account for the extra volume of fluid displaced by the steering ram, a fluid cooler, and filter. Being a diesel, the suburban has a hydraulic brake booster instead of vacuum, so plumbing will be slightly different than normal.


.jpg  .jpg (Size: 6.73 KB / Downloads: 83)

So to begin I built the fluid reservoir mostly out of salvaged scrap. It will hold roughly 1½ gallons and mount where the ABS unit used to be.

I'm not sure what these are for, but these steel bits are roughly the right size, and are 1/8" thick.

[Image: DSCF9173_zps5f9672bf.jpg]

Cut one to length and welded a patch into the notched area.

[Image: DSCF9175_zps7f9fc083.jpg]

The back of the tank will serve as a mounting point, so I cut that out of some 3/16 steel and drilled pilot holes for my mounting bolts.

[Image: DSCF9178_zpsd0565ebc.jpg]

Cut out a pair of end caps

[Image: DSCF9183_zps64dccfba.jpg]

And cut out 2 more to serve a baffle plates inside the tank. This will slow down fluid sloshing around inside the tank and hopefully eliminate the chance of sucking air into the system.

[Image: DSCF9185_zps2674c643.jpg]

For a cap I used an old fuel filler neck.

[Image: DSCF9187_zps9bf02f76.jpg]

Cut down and tacked in

[Image: DSCF9188_zps302287f7.jpg]

Added some iron pipe for a feed port, cut so it will draw from the bottom center of the tank. Also welded in a bung (pipe bushing) for returning fluid.

[Image: DSCF9204_zps43725f7d.jpg]

Welded in the baffle plates. I did elongate a few holes in the lower row to aid in fluid flow.

[Image: DSCF9215_zpse25902ef.jpg]

End caps on

[Image: DSCF9218_zps174dd0d9.jpg]

And a view from inside. The reservoir is upside down in this pic.

[Image: DSCF9220_zps73e6ce74.jpg]

Rear plate welded on

[Image: DSCF9226_zps21db354b.jpg]

No tig available so mig it is. Hope nothing leaks

[Image: DSCF9224_zps38b8535c.jpg]

All sealed up.

[Image: DSCF9227_zps34857aef.jpg]

[Image: DSCF9228_zpsef8d2051.jpg]

Plugged the ports and filled with oil. Will let it sit for a day or so and see if there are any leaks.
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01-14-2015, 05:55 PM
Post: #2
RE: Hydraulic Steering Assist
Great work and a great call, hydro assist is awesome! My TJ uses a Rock Ram and is the first vehicle I've had with hydraulic assist. It still blows me away that I can be in ruts over half way up my tires and still turn those 40" monsters hard over with one hand like I'm driving on flat ground. I'll never go without it again.
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01-14-2015, 06:12 PM
Post: #3
RE: Hydraulic Steering Assist
creative
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01-14-2015, 06:30 PM
Post: #4
RE: Hydraulic Steering Assist
Awesome! Will be watching this closely.

Alvarez Metal Works
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01-15-2015, 01:32 PM
Post: #5
RE: Hydraulic Steering Assist
(01-14-2015 08:35 AM)yellowx16 Wrote:  Really nice work, looks great.

So far so good

(01-14-2015 05:55 PM)BlueCrawler Wrote:  Great work and a great call, hydro assist is awesome! My TJ uses a Rock Ram and is the first vehicle I've had with hydraulic assist. It still blows me away that I can be in ruts over half way up my tires and still turn those 40" monsters hard over with one hand like I'm driving on flat ground. I'll never go without it again.

There have been a few times where I would be hanging off the steering wheel and it still wouldn't turn. It will be nice to do the one finger steer.

(01-14-2015 06:12 PM)AA1PR Wrote:  creative

There are reservoirs commercially available. Given the option to buy or build I will almost always try to build it myself.

(01-14-2015 06:30 PM)AlvarezMetalWorks Wrote:  Awesome! Will be watching this closely.

Still working on the welding skills, need more practice.

There will be some system differences if you run assist on the Pathy.

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01-16-2015, 10:46 AM (This post was last modified: 01-16-2015 11:56 PM by Smithy.)
Post: #6
RE: Hydraulic Steering Assist
Thanks for the kind words so far

I had some faint seepage around the return port, went around it again with a fat pass, then gave it a coat of paint. Same hammered bronze that is on the wheels.

[Image: DSCF9230_zps840f8a1c.jpg]

Up next is modifying the power steering pump for more pressure and volume.

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01-20-2015, 04:45 PM (This post was last modified: 01-20-2015 04:50 PM by Smithy.)
Post: #7
RE: Hydraulic Steering Assist
I found this pump in the junkyard out of a 2013 Chevy Express ambulance. Best part is it only has 35 miles on it. Smile

This is the same standard Saginaw pump found on most older GM and Chrysler/Jeep vehicles. I wanted to use a van pump because the cans are different. It already has a nipple for a remote reservoir, and only one return port instead of 2.

[Image: DSCF9246_zps15af402e.jpg]

First I removed the pulley and mounting bracket. The vehicle this came from had a 6.6l Duramax, so those parts wont fit mine.

Next remove the high pressure fitting from the back of the pump.

[Image: DSCF9248_zps94547c7c.jpg]

Pull out the fitting, flow piston and spring.

[Image: DSCF9252_zpsa6a2aa37.jpg]

Stretch out the spring so it is 2-2½" long. This will help maintain pressure at higher RPM.

[Image: DSCF9255_zps9089ff32.jpg]

Next pull the flow piston apart. The end unscrews, inside is a spring, ball bearing and a seat. If yours has any shims remove them one at a time. This will let the pump build more pressure, but be careful, too much pressure will damage the steering box. Mine didn't have any shims, so I left it alone.

[Image: DSCF9256_zps9342a0cf.jpg]

Next drill out the orifice in the pressure fitting, this will allow for more fluid flow at or near idle. It is recommended to go 1/16 to 1/8" larger than stock, but no larger than 5/32". I drilled this one to 9/64", It started at 1/8". If it isn't enough I can go larger. Its more difficult to make a large hole smaller.

[Image: DSCF9257_zpsa082d5f3.jpg]

And none of this is an exact science, its more trial and error, so do any mods gradually, and at your own risk.

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01-20-2015, 05:09 PM
Post: #8
RE: Hydraulic Steering Assist
Will you be running two separate pumps - one for the hydroboost/power steering and another for the hydro assist?

Also - 35 miles and in the junkyard?

Mike
2000 XJ Cherokee - 3.5'' lift / 32'' Tirerecapper Pizza Cutters / Front Locker
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01-20-2015, 06:11 PM
Post: #9
RE: Hydraulic Steering Assist
They must have wrecked it. That's shocking lol.

BTW I'm really not a fan of Hydroboost system. We have a brand new ambulance at work that tossed the belt for some fucking reason. That's when I quickly realized that not only could I not steer very well (as expected) but the damn brakes didn't work (not expected). I almost backed through the garage door while I was trying to change bays so I could put it on the lift. Started it up, put it in reverse while with the brakes held. The damn thing started backing up anyway!

Alvarez Metal Works
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01-20-2015, 07:59 PM
Post: #10
RE: Hydraulic Steering Assist
Yeah, the ambulance chassis literally fell off the back of a truck.

Plans are to use one pump like the factory setup. One issue with hydroboost and hydro assist steering is the booster becomes a choke point for fluid flow that the assist ram needs. Some have issues others dont. Will set everything up normally and go from there.



I would take a hydroboost over vacuum any day. The added assist is 2-3 times stronger than vacuum, which is great for larger tires. Stopping any vehicle of that weight is a challenge with no assist. Plus its smaller in size and will work in engines with little or no vacuum, like diesels or race engines.

Driving broken cars is fun isnt it, lol

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