Borgeson C10 Quick Ratio Steering Box Upgrade

By Todd Ryden – Photography by the Author

When thinking of how your truck handles, the first components that come to mind are likely suspension parts. New shocks or coilovers, control arms or sway bars, all have a direct effect on the handling prowess of your truck; however, there’s another important part to consider: the steering.

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The Borgeson Quick Ratio C10 box is all new, from the cast housing to the worm gear, bearings, and other internals. Borgeson also offers new rag joints to help finish the upgrade properly.

Your truck’s steering capabilities are a huge part in not only the handling but also its overall driving characteristics and safety. To be honest, we didn’t put much thought into what a difference the steering performance can make to a truck until we upgraded our original steering box with a new Quick Ratio Steering Box from Borgeson Universal Company. The quicker-turning ratio is definitely a benefit, but the overall steering feel is now tighter and delivers improved control and feel while driving.

Watch: Upgrading a 1971 Camaro Rearend, Suspension, and Brakes

There is just no graceful way to drain the power steering fluid so grab a pan, some rags, remove the two lines from the box, and let it drip.

While equipped with factory power steering, our 1971 Chevy half ton Suburban had no real road feedback and was simple to turn with its one-finger power assist. Actually, it had to be easy to turn since it took over four turns to travel lock-to-lock! Turning was effortless but it was slow and sloppy, exactly what you’d expect from an almost 50-year-old truck steering system.

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While the fluid drains, go to work on the rag joint. Our original one was baked on pretty good and needed just a little persuasion to let go.

The Borgeson steering box has a turning ratio of 12.7:1 versus the stock ratio of 17:1. This ratio is determined by the number of turns that the input shaft makes compared to one turn of the output shaft (where the Pitman arm connects). To put it another way the new box now turns lock-to-lock with three turns of the wheel. One turn less may not sound like a lot on paper, but wow does it make a difference from behind the wheel!

A Pitman arm puller was borrowed from the nearby big box auto parts store. Getting the arm loose was easy, but it was a little trickier to slide it off the steering shaft. We ended up removing it from the draglink as well.

For two-wheel-drive C10 fans, Borgeson has you covered as their new box is a bolt-in for 1967-1987 models. (They have a different model for 1963-1966 owners.) For 1977 and newer trucks the fluid lines bolt right into the 16mm and 18mm x 1.5 O-ring ports of the steering box. For older trucks, Borgeson supplies a pair of brass ferrules that allow the use of the OEM inverted flares.

Four bolts secure the steering box in place, two in front of the front crossmember and two blind ones behind it.

If you’re upgrading a manual steering truck to power steering, you’ll need a new Pitman arm to finish the installation. Also, for 1976 and older trucks you’ll need a new half rag joint to connect the 3/4-20 spline of the new steering box to your steering column shaft. (The older boxes have a 13/16-36 spline shaft.)

Check Out: Installing a 350 crate engine in a 1979 Chevy C10

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Be ready for some weight as the old unit loosens free; these things are not light!

The Borgeson steering box bolts right in place of the original and the lines are in the exact same spot (the larger port is the high pressure side and is located closer to the engine). In fact, the installation can easily be handled with hand tools, except the need of a Pitman arm pulling tool, which can be rented at most parts stores. Also, make sure you have a socket large enough to remove the Pitman arm nut or you’ll be making two trips to the store.

Borgeson recommends installing the new half rag joint connector to the input shaft before installing the box. Confirm the joint connector is fully engaged to the shaft and tighten the setscrew and lock nut.

The quick ratio of the steering is a huge improvement, especially at slow speeds and around the neighborhood, however we’re still surprised at what a difference the new box made to the feel of our Sub on the road.

Before mounting the new box you’ll want to center the steering shaft by turning it side to side then stopping in the middle. Once centered, the four flat spots on the Pitman shaft will be at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions. Have a bolt or two at the ready. It’s a good idea to have someone available to help hoist the new box in place while getting the mounting hardware lined up.
Install the original Pitman arm to the new box. Don’t forget the dust seal that is supplied to go between the steering box and the arm (like we did on our trial run).
A new Pitman arm nut and lockwasher are supplied, and do not be shy about using some muscle on this nut. In fact, the spec we looked up with is 125 ft-lb.
If we had it to do all over again, we’d install the brass ferrules into the fluid ports before installing the box. They went it fine but we couldn’t get a good visual on placement before installing the two fittings.
If we had it to do all over again, we’d install the brass ferrules into the fluid ports before installing the box. They went it fine but we couldn’t get a good visual on placement before installing the two fittings.
The lines fit just like they’re supposed to and sealed tight and sure with the adapters in place.
With the heavy work over, it was time to bleed the system, top it off, and head out for a testdrive. The Borgeson box was as bolt-on as it gets—and the performance of the quick ratio box was instantly recognized.

Borgeson Universal Company
(860) 482-8283

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