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Unread 04-22-2015, 04:49 PM   #1
jeepjeepster
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Red Head Steering Gear

I've read several threads about reman steering boxes being useless for eliminating the play in the steering. I had always read good things about red-head steering boxes so I ordered one... The steering on my 94 Grand is 100% factory, actually the entire suspension except the drivers side ball joints are factory. There is no play in any joints that I can visually see.

First off, when I went to install the red head it appeared that it had either been dropped or something was dropped on it. Of course it was directly where the threads started for one of the bolts. The threads were crushed together. Called Red Head and left a message, no call back but ok.. Called them and they said OK to running a tap through it.

Ran a tap through it and installed the steering box. No dramatic change in play in the steering. Maybe slightly better but certainly not $307 improvement. Just to verify, I grabbed the intermediate shaft coming from the steering wheel and rotated it by hand. There is a good 2" of rotational play before the pitman arm starts to move. ALSO, when turning left at low speeds there is a noticeable delay in the power steering. Its like when you first turn left there is no power steering, then it kicks in. This was not present with the 21 year old factory steering box.

Called red head again and they said this can be caused by air in the system or maybe a bad steering box. So I was told to bleed the system again as per the directions and try it again. No change after driving it a total of 4 days (2 of which were after bleeding it again).

Called them again and they are going to send me another steering box but charge me another $100 for core. So currently I'm out $490 plus $17 to ship EACH core back, so $524 total FOR A REBUILT STEERING BOX. Large flat rate box is $17 and only 1 steering box fits in each box. Hopefully when I send both cores back Ill get $200 back. When I asked the dude to verify this he said "Thats what I just said," So by this time he is getting annoyed.

I asked him if there was anything we could do about the delay (AKA, SLACK/PLAY) in the steering box and he simply said "There is no play in our steering boxes." So I ask him if we could someway regear the steering box so that it takes less input from the steering wheel to move the pit-man arm. No real reply from that one.

Did I mention that in the middle of this conversation I was put on hold without warning in the middle of a sentence.

We'll see what the next steering box it all about.

Just some other tid bits to add. When I first ordered it he said a large flat rate box was the best way to ship back a core since it was it was only $17. That keyed me to ask how much shipping would be to me and he said $34. I know its a business so thats ok. This made me chuckle though. I have a 1989 Grand Wagoneer with just as much play as my 1994 ZJ. I ask him how much it was for a steering box for it (at this time I THOUGHT this steering box was going to be awesome....) and he said they charge $74 more for those since they have a hard time finding the steering box to rebuild... So I said well I can just ship you mine and you can rebuild it. He said, "ohh, well thats still the same price." No complaining, just thought that was funny.



This was when I checked for play by rotating the intermediate shaft. Very easy to see whats happening at this point. I can see no play in the intermediate joints.



Factory steering box driving at 60mph(click for video):



Red Head in Driveway with engine off(Click for video):



Red Head Steering box driving at ~50mph(click for video):



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Unread 04-23-2015, 12:26 AM   #2
Kolak
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Redehead has a very good reputation with the TJ guys, but talk to Tom Lee if they can't satisfy you.I've had him rebuild boxes for my customers and he's able to build a box that has very little play on center:

http://lee-powersteering.com/index.htm

Do some Googling and you'll find a lot of reading about Tom Lee. He's a legend when it comes to tweaking the Saginaw steering boxes.
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Unread 04-24-2015, 11:50 AM   #3
jeepjeepster
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Thanks Kolak.

Im amazed the TJ guys like them. I assume it takes care of the play in their steering? At this point Im pretty sick about the whole ordeal. Ive basically wasted over $300 if the next box they send doesn't tighten it up.
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Unread 04-24-2015, 04:26 PM   #4
MurdaJs
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Interesting, first time ive heard bad about them.

Every company has a crappy product slip through, but lame excuses and charging to fix their problem is inexcusible and a true sign of the company
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Unread 04-24-2015, 11:37 PM   #5
kg6mov
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TJ guys put up with less precise components as they aren't in a luxury suv.
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Originally Posted by Texas ZJ1 View Post
I heard someone yell "mall crawler" from the back porch. I'll go see who said that. Be right back.
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Unread 04-24-2015, 11:40 PM   #6
MurdaJs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kg6mov View Post
TJ guys put up with less precise components as they aren't in a luxury suv.
I dunno about that. They aren't jk owners but compared to us they drop coin. Ever see how much a stock tj cost in the first place? I'll be blown, coilovers and armored for the same price lol
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Unread 04-25-2015, 01:05 AM   #7
kg6mov
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I've seen, it's impressive.

It does seem that they have their priorities in a different order, they tend to put offroad above road handling more than we do.
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1996 ZJ Green Laredo V8, 2.5" OME and Bilsteins, 33's, Holes drilled in the roof.
1998 ZJ Platinum Limited 5.9, Backyard parts fodder
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Originally Posted by Texas ZJ1 View Post
I heard someone yell "mall crawler" from the back porch. I'll go see who said that. Be right back.
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Unread 04-25-2015, 02:32 PM   #8
MoparmanNJ
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The steering in my zj is all over the place too. Its next on my list of things to fix. I have to get tires first though. I do know that something in the steering system is leaking. Havent inspected what yet.
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Unread 04-25-2015, 04:14 PM   #9
kg6mov
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IMO, the WJ knuckle swap is the best thing you can do for your steering.
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1998 ZJ Platinum Limited 5.9, Backyard parts fodder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas ZJ1 View Post
I heard someone yell "mall crawler" from the back porch. I'll go see who said that. Be right back.
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Unread 04-27-2015, 06:23 AM   #10
jeepjeepster
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Red Head #2 arrived friday afternoon and Ive got it installed. It seems to have taken considerable play on center out but the steering box has zero resistance. I can turn the steering wheel with a tooth pick at idle while parked. Not saying this is a bad thing but its odd driving down the road with so little resistance. Red Head #1 had what I would call the perfect amount of resistance but too much play on center. Surprises me that two 'rebuilt' steering boxes would have such a difference. Too bad I cant combine their pro's .
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Unread 04-27-2015, 06:44 PM   #11
Kolak
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It's all about the torsion bar and spool valve they select that determines how much effort it takes. Ask them if they have a set size they use or if they offer various combos.
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Unread 04-28-2015, 10:26 AM   #12
jeepjeepster
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Honestly, I would rather never talk to them on the phone again. Ill try to stay calm but lets just say I felt like I was talking to wall. After I got put on hold mid sentence AND was told 'our steering boxes don't have play,' I was ready to ask for a refund but, wanted to give them a second chance.

It has a 1 year warranty so Ill ride it out since it did take some 'play on center' out which is what I wanted to accomplish.

With that, two remanufactured steering boxes shouldn't be that different from what should be a reputable shop. They should feel the same besides not having so much 'play on center.'

Edit: Ohh, and the steering doesn't return to center on its own anymore. The factory box and red head #1 did return to center so my caster should be fine. I can let go of the steering wheel when turning and the jeep continues to turn on its own.
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Unread 04-28-2015, 03:59 PM   #13
Kolak
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That kind of behavior is going to result in the box wearing out rapidly. I'd suggest backing of the over-center adjustment on the top of the box by a tiny fraction of a turn to see if you can get it to return to center more readily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepjeepster View Post
Honestly, I would rather never talk to them on the phone again. Ill try to stay calm but lets just say I felt like I was talking to wall. After I got put on hold mid sentence AND was told 'our steering boxes don't have play,' I was ready to ask for a refund but, wanted to give them a second chance.

It has a 1 year warranty so Ill ride it out since it did take some 'play on center' out which is what I wanted to accomplish.

With that, two remanufactured steering boxes shouldn't be that different from what should be a reputable shop. They should feel the same besides not having so much 'play on center.'

Edit: Ohh, and the steering doesn't return to center on its own anymore. The factory box and red head #1 did return to center so my caster should be fine. I can let go of the steering wheel when turning and the jeep continues to turn on its own.
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Unread 04-29-2015, 02:46 AM   #14
PolkaPower
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Yes, a back off the top nut might help the steering return to center on it's own. BUT you will probably void their warranty and then have no leg to stand on when it comes to exchanges or refunds.
Tread lightly.

Next time go with AGR or PSC.
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Unread 04-29-2015, 08:03 AM   #15
KJK
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When I replaced my steering box I went with a re-manned Mopar box that was specifically for my year and model jeep so that I would be assured of the same steering feel. It had the proper steering ratio and it required the proper effort to turn it. They do a good job as my steering feels as good as new and I've had it now for a few years. I think it was around $375.
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