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Can Power steering run the plow?

Discussion in 'Truck & Equipment Repair' started by PiratePlow, Oct 25, 2005.


Can plows be run from power steering pumps?

  1. Absolutely not!

  2. Yes they can!

  3. Not sure, but I'd like to know too.

  4. Stop wasting bandwidth hoser!

  1. PiratePlow

    PiratePlow Junior Member
    from alaska
    Messages: 19

    I am in the process of triing to use my power steering pump to run my plow. Has anyone else tried this? problems? success?

    88 ford bronco, 302/5.0l 7.5' fisher plow blade.. and I custom fabed out most of the mounting ware. I liked the blade because it was so light weight... about 100 lbs. attached is the original layout.

    In case anyone else is considering this task, I'll list things I tried and problems I found.

    I bought a bigger "extra duty" power steering pump. I originally was triing to also tie in an aditional remote reservoir, but that was not working.

    I hooked up the whole system and it kept foaming the fluid and the pump kept being drawn down to empty.

    When I kicked the engine on, the pump would empty out.. basically it pushed all the fluid thru and it was collecting in the reservoir.. even to the point of over filling it..

    I tried to correct this by:

    capping off the pumps reservoir making it a sealed system.. This stopped most of the foaming, but made the pump whine (there was alot of vaccume on the pump now).

    capping off the remote reservoir (uncapping the pump) This also cut the foaming issue but the cap was bulging at the reservoir.. the pump was low so I added some fluid (while running) when I shut down the system, them pump levels rose and over flowed massively..

    SO.. I've pulled the remote reservoir thought and will just have to see if the pump will hold enough to cover the lift ram. (Since the 2 angle rams cancel each other out in fluid volumes, ie 1 closes while other one opens.. the fluid volume in the system is the same.. only the lift ram is drawing from the system)

    The fluid I was using also may be an issue.. I am using ISO 32 hydraulic fluid.. as opposed to power steering fluid..

    Some experts have probly cringed at things I've done.. right or wrong, listing all the steps is the only way we learn...

    There was too much foam for the lines to work right.. and it's 20 degrees out.. so will let it sit awhile and see if my power steering comes back up.. then if the lines will open my rams..

    more to come...
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2005
  2. PiratePlow

    PiratePlow Junior Member
    from alaska
    Messages: 19

    damn.. i think I figured out the main problem

    It occured to me that I was able to see the fluids flowing so well through the reservoir when i had it hooked into the system...

    that means the pump is always pushing.. the circuits are always open..
    which means when I turn the steering wheel to call for power, that open loop is diverted to use the fluids power/flow/psi BUT! with the other circuit open (the plow system) the fluid will "take the path of least resistance" .. that is.. it will flow through the open plow circuit and not put the force in the steering as i need it.. and visa versa with the plow system.

    So, the only way I MIGHT be able to get this type of system to work, would be to have another valve that directs the flow to exclusively 1 circuit at a time.. That is: either the flow/power ccan go to the plow or the steering, but not at the same time.

    I'ts just a theory.. if there's any hydraulic nuts out there.. feel free to elaborate please.
  3. Mebes

    Mebes Senior Member
    Messages: 386

    I think the pump needs to be before the reservoir.
    Like a well system on a house.

    If you have a reservoir full of pressure, and oil from the pump coming in the top, then out of the bottom going to the rams and steering box then you will have slower hydraulics when multitasking (plow, and steering at the same time).

    The reservoir will need to be able to withstand the pressures of the pump.
    The pump must be able to deliver enough fluid.
    The air that is trapped in the top of the tank will help to push fluid down the lines when the pump can't keep up.

    Good luck.
  4. 85F150

    85F150 Senior Member
    Messages: 340

    it will work, but please tell me you are not using the stock ford PLASTIC pump. It can barely move the tires with teh plow up in the air at an idle. YOu would be better off with the SAginaw pump that came on the vans, or most older gm vehicles. They are a higher volume pump that with slight mods are used to power hydraulic steering even. In my truck with the plow up and at an idle, it turns easier than my 96 t-bird.

    If you have swapped cool, but that ford pump won't last long, also since you are using it for steering to, i would add an inline cooler to help reduce stress on the pump.
  5. Frozen001

    Frozen001 Senior Member
    from Rome NY
    Messages: 908

    May I ask why you don't just go out and get a clutch operated hydro pump...???

    Seems to me if a hose would fail, not only will your plow not work, but you would not longer be able to drive the vehicle....
  6. murphyslaw

    murphyslaw Senior Member
    Messages: 443

    yes you can use ur power steering pump for the plow. yes it would be easier to just get a clutch operated pump. i used the power steering pump on my 69 Chevy 1ton to run the boom and winches(tow truck) the Saginaw pumps are rated around 2,400 psi but only like 1.4gpm(slow) you need to place the reserve be for the pump(return line) the filter needs to be on the return line befor the reserve(if not the pump has to work really hard to get fluid) place the reserve above the pump and place a non vented cap(most are vented) on the power steering pump. this will prevent the over flow with the engine off. I used ATF because of its anti-foaming property's. You can tie Ur plow supply line in to the pressure side of the pump home(be for the steering box) but beware I'm not sure how this will react with the plow but on my wrecker when i was running a wench or the boom i had NO steering it LOCKED the wheel. i figured it was cause the lack of flow or the excessive pressure created by the winches. make sure you have a vented cap on the reserve with a few inches of expansion room(for when it gets hot or starts foaming). ummmm.. lets see what other useless things can i say..... well i think to finish it off I'm just gonna say i don't think Ur gonna like running the plow with the power steering pump, because of the loss of steering and some of the other hustles Ur going to run in to. i would do as previously stated and just get a dedicated clutched pump and mount it in place of the a/c(if you don't ever use it. thats where i put the compressor for my on-board air). well good luck and hope you don't break the bank.(Lord knows i have an several "worth wild" projects.)
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2005
  7. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 7,901

    My snow 74 Dodge sno-commander uses a power steering pump for the plow and one for the steering, I think it is asking to much for one pump to do both plow and steering. IMO
  8. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,396

    I think you answered your own question, with the valving.

    Yes they can run it, that is the only way plows used to work in the 60's and 70's on pickups, Jeeps and Toyotas. Like SnoFarmer stated. But if I remember correctly, they usually added a pump to operate the plows, not use the same one, just like a clutch pump nowadays.

    I don't think you will have enough flow to run both at the same time, but it would work with proper vavling.

    You don't want the resevoir to be pressurized, clutch pumps operate the same way you have it set up other than if at all possible you want the resevoir higher than the pump. Doesn't always work, but something to shoot for.
  9. PiratePlow

    PiratePlow Junior Member
    from alaska
    Messages: 19

    I think I have it figured out.

    My original diagram shows where I have basically tapped into the power steering line.. a split to both the plow and steering.

    I think that was the mistake.. it shouldnt be a split.. I have recently learned what the term "center open" means with regards to valves. Both the plow controll valves AND steering are center open.

    What I will try is running the line directly from pump to plow valves.. and the return from the valves feeds to the steering.. so with the plow not being moved, its valves are center open.. lets the fluid flow to steering.. only when I am actually moving the plow will it divert the flow to the rams.. It's an easy habit to develop, not to steer while am adjusting the plow.

    If the pump blows or I need to steer while the rams are moving, it's not a big deal.. Just uses a little more muscle to turn the wheels that's all.. I've driven the truck for weeks without power steering before :)
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2005
  10. PLOWMAN45

    PLOWMAN45 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,815

    why dont u use modern tecno
  11. PiratePlow

    PiratePlow Junior Member
    from alaska
    Messages: 19

    why to do it and other things

    The reason I choose to explore this route is because I already have too much crap cramed under my hood. I dont want to sacrifice my AC.. I dont want to try to cram yet another pump under the hood.

    I want under hood hydraulics because the standard on-plow elect powered hydro drain too much on the battery.. 4 to 6 jobs and if I stall, I'll need a jump to get going again.. not to mention the definate increase wear on batteries. I also like knowing I can run my plow in colder temps (-20f ) due to the engine warmed hydraulics.

    I did spend the few extra bucks to by a new "extra duty" steering pump.. it has about 30% more volume output and metal cased.. more durable by all the various research.

    Tomorrow I'll get my hoses made and will be able to test out the set up.

    I've read a few boards whee people have mentioned they were going to try something like this.. but they never followed through with the results.. I will give all the results and if successful, will give the step by step and my genneral costs. will also give periodic reports to how well it holds up. I will mention again that I am using a 7 ft fisher blade that was originally for a bronco II . I wanted the light weight blade so it wouldnt thrash my trucks suspension. Oh yea.. another reason to go under hood.. about 70-100 llbs less wt hanging off the front end.

    wish me luck. :)
  12. 85F150

    85F150 Senior Member
    Messages: 340

    sounds like you picked up the saginaw pump then, is it shaped kinda like canned ham?

    There is also a trick to boost the power on the saginaw, they are great pumps. But i would still run a cooler mont in front of the rad....alot of fords in the junkyard have them, or at least by me. I picked one off a 70's dump bed ford, just a small 4" by 7" IIRC...It will do wonders for your pump as it won't kill it as soon.
  13. PiratePlow

    PiratePlow Junior Member
    from alaska
    Messages: 19

    DONE!!!! IT works!

    OK.. the pump I bought is a cardone.. extra duty.. from schucks.. napa carried them too, just would have taken longer.. It's about $140, but ya get 40 back on the core... if they're not a stickler about getting an extra duty as a core.

    Then, take my power steering pump pressure line off and go have it re fitted. (The fittings in the power steering line and steering box are unique size/threads. The hydraulic line shop I went too said they had to use the original line, to make the hoses I wanted.) They cut out the whole middle rubber section, then make me 2 hoses using arctic grade hydro line. For my needs, the hoses had to be about 22" long. ! end was one of my original steering fittings, the other was a fitting to sttach it to my plow control in and out ports.

    Pump to plow control.. plow out port to steering box.. steering box back to pump.

    Next, we needed to add just a little more fluid capacity to the pump. I used a rubber 1 1/2" rubber coupling, and use that to clamp around the neck of the pump.. then attached 9" of 1 1/2 PVC.. then i put a PVC cap on the end.. with a few holes drilled in the sides as vents. This gave me the 3/4 pint extra I needed. Otherwise, when I lifted my blade to max, I had no power steering.. (no fluid left to run it)

    I've tested it out.. everything is perfect.. My broother an I were able to sit on the blade and it would still lift us.. (about 475 lbs + plow wt.. about 100 lbs more)

    will take pictures and diagrams later.. as well as give any problems I bump into.
  14. PiratePlow

    PiratePlow Junior Member
    from alaska
    Messages: 19

    some picts of final product

    picture of the pump with the pvc tube extension.

    controls mounted in older-unused cassette holder.

    picture of the plow valves

    working hydraulic diagram

    pump extension 01.jpg

    cable control mount.jpg

    Last edited: Jan 3, 2006
  15. fergus7

    fergus7 Junior Member
    Messages: 15

    Hi could you email me directly I am interested in how you set up the pump on your truck to run the plow my email is
    rodswinamer@yahoo.ca I am going to do the same thing with my S 10
  16. LINY Rob

    LINY Rob Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    if that set up works then good for you, some people dont want to spend $4500 on a plow, especially if they are only doing thier own house or shop.

    Just curious how that PVC extension is going to hold up?
    If that pump is metal cant you get a tube welded on it to extend it instead of the PVC?
  17. fans

    fans Junior Member
    Messages: 22

    can you pass a state inspection

    using the same pump for power steering and the plow. I would guess not. Nothing wrong with a separate power steering type pump though.
  18. icebladez

    icebladez Member
    from sask
    Messages: 74

    this is way cool!!..my only question now is ..how does that panel mounted switch actually work though?..is it something like the more you pull it out,then different angles are the plow are activated??
  19. Mowerpan

    Mowerpan Senior Member
    Messages: 305

    Wow man big thumbs up for that one. I knew it was possible but never wanted to mess around with it. Awesome job.
  20. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    You may want to do a search for milemarker, they make some real nice heavy duty winches, major supplier to the military, and they are powered hydraulically by the power steering pump. probably can glean some good info from there. For the cost of a HD pump you could have gotten into a plow pump. I personally wouldnt recommend going through your factory power steering system like that. Even with an HD pump and newer lines, you are bringing to bear a lot more force than the PS system was designed to handle, and over time it will fail. Failing steering is way too serious, if you lose it at the wrong time you can crash, regardless of if you have driven without PS before. When it fails going around a curve at 45, you will crash before you can adjust to the difference. It is a clever idea, but when you consider the availability of the right parts for that vehicle it doesn't make sense to waste the time and money. With what you have invested you could get a whole parts truck or plow to do it the safer way. I had an 84 Bronco with a working Fisher 7.5 given to me, turned around and gave it to my brother to plow with.
    Was a straight almost rust free truck. The junkyards are full of them, they really have no value. I don't see why you can't fit a stock pump and bracket under the hood. My 84 had AC, plus dual batteries and a ton of extra stuff for an alarm system, air horns, strobe lights and two way radios.

    And how did you come up with only 100 pounds for a plow blade? I think its a little more than that.

    Murphyslaw, doesn't your 1 ton power steering also run your brakes, or did they not start doing that yet in 69?