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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 97TJ's steering pump seized a few months ago; so I replaced it with surprisingly little issues. Since then the steering gear started leaving unsightly stains in the driveway. I decided to replace the gear instead of new seals; and went with the 98 Durango upgrade. I am a backyard wrencher at best and have no training other than trial and error; a lot of error. I got new hoses, since I didn't replace them when I did the pump. I had a hard time removing the pitman arm from the gear. I had a puller on it and with as much force as I could muster, hit the pitman arm with a 3lb sledge. After a few hits and more torque on the puller it finely let go. Rest of the job went OK, till I tried to put the pitman arm back on the new gear. I reversed the procedure by torqueing the nut and hitting the arm, re-torqueing, hitting... I couldn't get the arm to seat on the shaft as far as the old gear. In my opinion, it could go about another 3/16" or so. The nut is on the shaft with about 2 threads showing on the bottom. That nut is TIGHT. When I got the rig put back together, I filled the system and went through the process of bleeding and cycling the steering wheel. The steering wheel got really hard to turn after a few turns, and ended up replacing the pump again (under warranty). So here are some questions...
Did I get the pitman arm on all the way and did I go about it correctly?
Could I have damaged the gear by the force of installing the arm?
Did I cause the pump to fail by turning the wheel too fast or with the wheels on the ground?
The steering linkage attaches to the gear one way I think. But my steering wheel is cocked clockwise 45degrees. Is the pitman arm off by a few cogs or the linkage off a few?
Like I said, a lot of error and trial. Hope to hear some good feedback with little criticism. Thanks for reading.
 

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The pitman arm has 4 dead splines in it that correspond to the ones on the sector shaft of the steering gear. So in essence you should not be able to install it wrong. From what you say it could be the case. Pitman arm should not need hammering to get it on the nut should pull it tight without issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I didn't take the pitman arm off the linkage. In order for me to miss the dead spline and install incorrectly, I would have to rotate the shaft on the gear, correct? I didn't want to disturb the shaft on the gear, thinking it was preset to center from the rebuilder. None of this info was in the instructions, and didn't have anybody to give feedback.
 

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First thing you do after bolting the gearbox on is turn it left and right counting the turns so you get it centered then watch for those splines, they are hard to miss, line them up tighten nut. From there you might have to adjust the draglink to get the steering wheel straight
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
looks like I'll be pulling off the pitman arm again soon. Should it seat fully or a 3/16" gap?
 

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looks like I'll be pulling off the pitman arm again soon. Should it seat fully or a 3/16" gap?
There will be a bit of a gap between the pitman arm and the bottom of the steering gear. If you just take the nut of you might be able to see the splines and see if they are correctly engaged
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Removed and inspected the pitman arm and it was on correctly. I confirmed the four dead splines and tried to center the steering wheel. It is still in the same 45 degree slant to the right. The pitman arm connects to a tie rod end with a coupler a few inches away. If I loosen that coupler, and turn it like a turn buckle, that should rotate the steering wheel back to 12 o'clock. Will it also screw up the alignment? In theory my suggestion should work, but I don't want to make more work for myself.
 

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The one that is connected to the pitman arm is the drag link. The tie rod is the long rod that ties the two wheels together. The drag link goes from the pitman arm to the tie rod.
Adjusting the drag link will have no effect on your alignment. If you adjust the tie rod it will.
So yes, the "turnbuckle" coupler on the drag link will rotate your steering wheel to where you want it with no effect on anything else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The steering seems very tight now. A little more effort is required to turn the steering wheel than before. Not like manual steering, but not as easy as with original equip. Could that be from the Durango gear being a little beefier? I am just afraid that there might be something wrong or the pump will fail do to overwork.
 
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