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power steering conundrum - help.

BRE Fabrications LTD

Well-Known Member
May 15, 2010
Country Flag
Right, so here's a breakdown of what has happened:

Did the Happy Valley trip on Sunday. Pretty early on in the day Tommo was kind enough to point out that my steering damper was trying to make like a land rover and break. It got about half way. So, Tony swiftly busted out his tool kit and removed it for me - Thanks again for that.

I went on the rest of the day without it without too much fuss. However this morning the LC started whining when i turned the wheel. I didn't think too much of it, maybe mud where it shouldn't be? or so i thought.

I proceeded to drive 4hrs back from Wales to London. Once home i noticed a puddle develop under the truck. :shock: How badly could i have damaged it on my drive back???

After a bit of poking around and cleaning up the top of the steering gear housing i noticed a small pin hole where the oil was coming out of pretty quickly. Note PS fluid reservior is now empty.

Pin hole:


Now what i'm failing to understand is how the hell did this happen? I'm guessing the broken bolt holding the damper on is related. But how could it have caused a pin hole in the gear housing? Could it be a dodgy housing? Impurities in the metal that causes a weak spot? I have read that there is a pressure reliefe valve somewhere in the PS setup. Should this not have prevented the pressure from getting too high in the system? I would have though a seal would blow before the housing? Is there anyway when whatever impact broke the bolt on the damper struck, that something in the housing could have slipped and knocked a hole into the housing from inside?(i think i'm clutching at straws on that one) Besides if something like that had happened i would have expected the housing to crack.

Ideas anyone?

Now next problem. How to fix it. What are my options. I had a glance on toyodiy and they list the gear housing as over £2000 :o :shock: :cry: :doh: :sick: There are not enough emoticons to describe what i was thinking when i saw that.

So once i managed to drag myself of the road i started thinking of my options. Please comment on what may be feasible or not.
1. Take the gear housing apart, drill out the pinhole and then have it welded up.
2. Try and source a second hand gear housing - Suggestions of any decent breakers anyone?
3. Sell the LC and buy a landrover. At least then i wont be surprised when things break.

Help. :cry:
Looks like the casting was weak/porrus. Could have happened at any time. As long as the gears are ok, I would have clean it up with thinners or the like. Then a spot of weld, but that is me.

Hmm that's a strange one, Ryan! The PS systems on 80s do seem to leak and require an overhaul from time to time. I think you should try and establish the nature of the leak. I know it appears as if the leak is coming from the casing but it could well be a leak from a seal that drains to that point and then forms droplets there, which gives the impression of being the source of the leak. Not saying you're wrong - a pinhole leak from the casing would be a 1 in a million(?) leak whereas these PS systems are known to leak from various seals over time.

If there definitely is a pinhole and it's definitely the source of your leak, then I would go with your option 1. Have it ground out and welded up. Sourcing a 2nd hand unit should not be too difficult (Stef or Karl should be able to assist) as I doubt there is a huge demand for the PS systems on the 80s that do get broken. You might as well plan to rebuild the PS pump while you're at it - the replacement parts are not too pricey from Ian (i.e. £30-40 for the kit). It would be a real bugger to have the pinhole fixed and then find your new oil peeing out of a seal :think:

In the interim, buy the Slick 50 PS fluid from Halfords which is supposed to help stop minor leaks - that will keep you mobile assuming the oil doesn't drain out in a matter of minutes.

Thanks for the response guys.

I did have a pretty good look at it. When the car is running i wiped the offending spot clean with a rag and then saw a puddle develop from what seems to be a pinhole. I have a few shots of the puddle developing and it is coming out at quite a rate. What really confuses me is how it happened in conjunction with the bolt shearing off of the steering damper. Or was that just a bit of a coincidence? Seems unlikely but not really sure where else to look.

I will have another look tonight before i start pulling things off. With regards to the PS pump seal kit does that include any seals for the gear housing?

I will give Thurstons a call and see what the say.

Ryan Thomson said:
What really confuses me is how it happened in conjunction with the bolt shearing off of the steering damper. Or was that just a bit of a coincidence? Seems unlikely but not really sure where else to look.
When you say the damper was "broken" and had to be removed, what exactly was going on? If one end of the damper had come loose and was bouncing all over the shop, then possibly the loose end might have smacked the housing and caused a crack/pinhole?

AFAIK the housing is not a stressed item, i.e. it's there to hold oil and the parts inside but it isn't under load, so it shouldn't crack because of fatigue. If there is indeed a pinhole, it seems likely to be a defect in the steel :roll:
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The bolt attaching the steering damper to the pitman arm sheared off. I don't think it would have been possible for the damper to hit the gear housing. The pinhole is on top of the gear housing which is only accessible from the engine bay. The pump itself seems fine, no wet spots around there. Just the PS fluid coming from the gear housing which sits just inside of the drivers side wheel well.
Here's a pic of the broken bolt/pin that attached the steering damper to the pitman arm. The steering Damper is an OME unit, so it turns out that the bolt/pin comes with the damper and isn't oem.



So i spoke to the guys at frogs island, and they said it's not an item that the OME distributer stocks in the UK. They reckon 3 months to get a replacement :(

So any suggestions to a decent machine shop that might be able to make one up for me? Also what grade steel does it need to be?
That's an amazing failure - material defect for sure. Suggest you email those pics OME/ARB in Aus and see what they have to say! You might get lucky have them send a replacement. IMHO there is no way that's wear & tear or anything you could have caused.

The pin on the OEM damper is integral to the damper unit, so the aftermarket dampers come with a new (separate) pin.
If OME won't come to the party, it might be simplest and definitely quickest to buy a new damper, which will come with the necessary pins and nuts. They're not huge money - less than £100 and maybe nearer £50 if you shop around.

EDIT: Just thought of this - Matt Wright has just replaced his damper and suspension. I am pretty sure his damper was toast but the pin should be usable and I doubt he has any need or use for it. His is an Ironman but chances are it would fit your OME, at least getting you up and running while you decide what to do :idea: Give Matt a shout and see if he still has it!
Contacted ARB in Oz this morning, they said it would definitely be covered by warranty. I dont suppose anyone has the UK ARB distributers contact details? ARB Oz said i need to go through the place the damper was purchased from, which is frogs island. Lets just say their customer services leaves a bit to be desired.

I'll PM Matt and see what he says.

Cheers for the advice, i never thought about contacting ARB.
ARB distributors in the UK are TBR as far as I know - they're usually pretty helpful so give them a shout.

Frogs Island.... hmmm...... :liar:
Being trained back in the day when you had to make do, my advice on the steering damper would be to look at various bolts that don't have threads all the way down and find one that the threads are short enough that you can't tighten the bolt all the way down too tight then fit this all the way through from the back side and tighten through the eye of the steering damper - similar way to fixings for normal shock absorbers - you can always take up any slack with large (bigger than the rubber bush) washers. You should have at least one washer either side of the bush and it should really be a nicely polished stainless one to prevent rust forming and eventual sticking to the bush.

Quite frankly looking at the design of that fixing it always looks like a potential failure point.

I'm presuming that the rest of the fixing will comeout of the eye on the top of the damper.

You may well find that a standard shock mounting bolt for another vehicle will do the job. I think the reason for the current setup is just so that you can't overtighten the connection to the shock eye and cause early failure of the bush or to much binding on it as it has to be able to move a little.
Contacted TBR and they seem pretty helpful. They are going to forward on the pics i have sent them to ARB Oz and try get the ball rolling on getting a new one.

I will definitely look at the bolt suggestion Andy, would be good to have as a spare when the new one eventually comes.

Now just to wrestle the Steering box off and get to the bottom of the pin hole... :?
Managed to get the offending part of the steering box off.


Close up of pin hole.

Other side of cover - Note that there are no scoring marks :?

Close up - Looks almost like there must have been an air pocket in there during the casting process.

Can't imagine what else could have caused apart from a bad cast.

Do you guys reckon it's still worth sending it off to be welded? Will the pocket will need to be drilled/ground out before it can be welded up? Looks like an awkward spot to weld up.

Hmmm.... :?:
I'd be tempted to try some chemical metal first. Belzona is good.

If you want it welded, you'll need someone who's got some cast rods & it needs to be welded on negative polarity.
I would ask someone with a knackered steering box if they want to let you have that plate for a beer token ;)
I would fill that with chemical metal. It's not a pressure part. As regards welding, I dunno if it's cast iron or possibly cast steel. But to me, I don't go with the casting fault. Casting and foundries are my background and you don't get 'air pockets' at 1500 degrees C. That looks like erosion of some sort from the outside. The surface looks like it's been attacked. Not battery acid by any chance leaking onto it? Casting faults like cold laps or gas bubbles tend to be very smooth and having it track like that right through the casting is unlikely.
Welding that wouldn't be that hard, In fact you could even lead fill it.

But I'd just go with chemical metal. Frankly, I bet it would seal with RTV!


I don't suppose you happen to know someone that has a knackered steering box do you. :)

The steering box is on the opposite side of the engine bay the my battery, Petrol 80 so only one battery, so no chance of battery acid leaking onto it.
Do you think there could have been an pocket/tract of impurities and that has corroded away over the years?

With regards to the chemical metal, I'm keen to give that a go. Would something like Plastic Padding from halfords do the trick?
Hi Guys
Just wondering what is the result in the driving ability of the cruiser if the steering damper fails like that.
Ryan Thomson said:
I don't suppose you happen to know someone that has a knackered steering box do you. :)
No, might be worth trying Karl or Stef though in case they've got a truck with a broken steering box.

Or you could just fill it :)