Wolf's Motorhome Modifications
... and Other Stuff
Power Steering Pump Failure in a 1997 Chevy P-30 Motorhome Chassis
In January of 2005, on returning from a winter trip, I believed the grass beside the garage was dry enough to support the motorhome. I pulled in and the front tires sunk in the mud. In trying to pull out I turned the wheel with only moderately pressure. Without an warning, I lost power steering and brakes. As I wasn't going anywhere anyway, it wasn't a problem. I would sure hate to be moving and have this happen! I was able to get the motorhome out of the grass and parked but only with major efforts devoted to steering and stopping.
Cracking the high pressure line on the pump revealed it was not operating. With a good friend coming to the rescue, we were able to change the pump. Here are some things we learned.
First, get a service manual and spend a good deal of time reviewing the sections covering the pump, how to remove it, bleed it, install it, etc. Review how to remove the belt using the idler. Review the way the belt is routed. Changing over the pulley requires that you have the removal tool. My new pump came with a tool to put the pulley back on.
There are a number of bolts that appear to be unreachable. I mean THEY ARE BURIED. Get a good night's sleep and have a good meal. Be alert and happy. You have a long process ahead of you. Once unbolted, we were able to get the pump out of the engine compartment through a long process of gyrations and what appeared to be magic. What we did not know at the time, was that the pump shaft was broken. This allowed the pulley to pull out from the pump allowing access to the front mounting bolts. It also allowed us to remove the pump. We took it out, changed the cover, changed the pulley, and tried to get it back in. It took an hour to get it set in. Again, we had not yet realized that the broke shaft was our problem. We then learned that THE PULLEY MUST BE PUT ON AFTER THE PUMP IS INSTALLED ON THE ENGINE. Rather than take it out, we backed the pulley back off the shaft, got the bolts in place, and then put the pulley back on. It only required a little less than one quart of power steering fluid to fill the pump and reservoir.
Main lesson that isn't obvious from the manual: IF you can get the pump out (and this will only happen if your shaft is sheared off) you can get the pump out with the pulley in place. If not, you will have to have a pulley removal tool. Put the pump back in place without the pulley. It is a darn miserable process pressing that pulley on afterwards. You will need a 10 mm box-end wrench. You will need incredible patience. Having a good friend helps, too!