Steering Pump Bleed Procedure?

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Ruff Idol

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Apologies if my n00bness when it comes to power steering maintenance is showing. I have been to hell and back with the steering on this truck (92 C1500), it has never been easy enough to turn the wheel, and I know because I drove a dude's 94 Blazer in the past and it was great - light, smooth response, not as tight/accurate as you'd like but that's to be expected with these trucks.

In my case, I have always gotten a workout in my ride. Steering has consistently been difficult, mostly when the wheel is closer to center. Been through several gearboxes (OEM was shot, threw in a cheap reman and that still had a ton of play, so now I'm on a Bluetop and it's doing pretty good). I have also been through a couple pumps, OEM was squeaking and pulley flopping all over the place due to a bent shaft, so again, I naturally went for the cheapest reman at first not knowing better.

Fast forward to last weekend, I just installed a new Edelmann pump, and after, followed what I thought was a decent bleed procedure - jack up front of the truck, remove the fuel pump fuse, crank over the motor, and while it is cranking turn the wheel from hard left to hard right several times, back to center, stop cranking. I repeated this about 10 times and no more than 20 seconds at a time to avoid starter damage. This was seemingly to no avail; the fluid level in the pump didn't go down much and it became frothy. I waited for the froth to settle and then did a more old-school method of turning wheel back and forth while the truck was off. Still not much success. I finally decided to re-insert the fuse and start the truck while turning the wheel. After a bunch of times doing that the fluid level dropped but not by much, and I know there is still air in the system because the wheel still does not turn very easily even with the front tires in the air. Also if you turn the wheel slightly to either direction and leave it there, you hear air hissing.

I had to leave it at that for now, at least it has been bled enough to get me to work and not ruin the pump. Am I doing something obviously wrong here? How many times do I have to follow this bleed procedure to get decent assist from my power steering? I refuse to believe my brand new pump is having issues, and from what I can tell so far there are no leaks. The hoses are only a few months old and so is my Bluetop rebuilt gearbox. In case anyone is curious, I also just rebuilt my front end over the summer due to totally shot ball joints & tie rod ends - big improvement in general handling but not in steering feel.
 

Erik the Awful

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From Redhead's site:

How do I purge air, or bleed, my steering gear box system?

  1. After installing the gearbox, fill the system with fluid.
  2. Raise the front wheels off the ground, DO NOT start the vehicle.
  3. Work the steering wheel back and forth, lock to lock, 15-20 times.
  4. Leave the vehicle sit (overnight is best) AT LEAST 2 hours
  5. Top the pump reservoir off again.
  6. Work the steering wheel back and forth again 7-10 times
  7. Have a person in the vehicle and another at the pump reservoir with a container of fluid & funnel ready to pour if necessary.
  8. Instruct the person in the vehicle to start the engine. As soon as this happens, if the fluid level drops, be ready to pour in more fluid. The level must be kept at an almost full level or it will suck in air again.
  9. If this procedure is followed properly, the air problem will be solved.
Note that this doesn't match the instructions they sent with the box, but it's close enough.
 

Schurkey

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Once the fluid froths, it's pointless to continue "bleeding" the system. Which is why they tell you to not start (or crank) the engine. If the fluid froths, you have to stop and let the fluid in the reservoir settle. Top-off as needed.

Multiple steering gears, multiple pumps, same problem??? Are you sure the suspension/steering linkage isn't binding? What happens if you lift the front end, unlock the steering column, and grab a tire, swing it through the full steering range? Feel binding? Excessive force needed to "steer" the wheel?
 

Ruff Idol

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Once the fluid froths, it's pointless to continue "bleeding" the system. Which is why they tell you to not start (or crank) the engine. If the fluid froths, you have to stop and let the fluid in the reservoir settle. Top-off as needed.

Multiple steering gears, multiple pumps, same problem??? Are you sure the suspension/steering linkage isn't binding? What happens if you lift the front end, unlock the steering column, and grab a tire, swing it through the full steering range? Feel binding? Excessive force needed to "steer" the wheel?
I will try this. This could be possible after I redid the whole front end.
 

JeremyNH

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I replaced my PSP a few months back when doing a hydroboost swap in my 98 Z71. For air bleeding I threaded a 3/8 bolt into the pump shaft and used an angle drive on my cordless drill to spin the pump while my wife turned the wheel side to side. I added fluid once during and then again at the end. It took several minutes spinning at virtually no resistance but when the system filled the drill almost twisted out of my hand it was so sudden. Waited a few minutes and repeated a few times but it never took more than a few seconds after the first for the resistance to come on. Fired it up and there was a brief ~1 sec groan and afterward all was normal. Been working fine since. Not saying it's the right way to do it but it worked for me.
 

0xDEADBEEF

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The last time I replaced a pump only, I didn't do anything at all besides put fluid in the reservoir. It was bled by the time I got out of the driveway.
 

Ruff Idol

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The last time I replaced a pump only, I didn't do anything at all besides put fluid in the reservoir. It was bled by the time I got out of the driveway.
Normally how it goes for me too, but since my last pump was leaking bad it seems there's a lot of air in the system now
 

Ruff Idol

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I replaced my PSP a few months back when doing a hydroboost swap in my 98 Z71. For air bleeding I threaded a 3/8 bolt into the pump shaft and used an angle drive on my cordless drill to spin the pump while my wife turned the wheel side to side. I added fluid once during and then again at the end. It took several minutes spinning at virtually no resistance but when the system filled the drill almost twisted out of my hand it was so sudden. Waited a few minutes and repeated a few times but it never took more than a few seconds after the first for the resistance to come on. Fired it up and there was a brief ~1 sec groan and afterward all was normal. Been working fine since. Not saying it's the right way to do it but it worked for me.
I don't got a wife but more like a naggy gf, LOL. Should be able to convince her to help me out w this.
 

Vikingdude

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The procedure Erik The Awful posted has worked for me the two times I've needed to bleed PS equipment. 2 hours wasn't enough, it needed the overnight rest.
 

someotherguy

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The factory-recommended method has helped me numerous times, including getting my 3500HD back up and going after it sat open for an extended period, hydroboost drained, etc. Followed to the letter.

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