Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you building power steering kits for 50 year old tractors?

The JPS Kit with my daughter, Lisa

The JPS Kit with my daughter, Lisa

There are still thousands of 8N, NAA, 600, 800 Ford tractors in use today. I refer to them as “little Fords,” “Red and Gray” or simply, “Red Bellies”. These tractors are as popular as ever. I firmly believe, the little Fords will continue working hard fifty years from now. There are some major reasons why I think “we” Ford tractor owners have remained so loyal……and will remain loyal….. to our red and gray tractors:

  • The Ford tractor is the ideal size for us home owners who maintain an acreage.
  • The Ford tractor is easy to work on and parts are readily available.
  • The Ford tractor has served four generations. Owning a “red and gray” is a link to our youth or someone we have fond memories of.
  • In most families, the little Ford is “spoken for” by the grandkids…way before Grandpa ascends to the “Golden Jubilee” in the sky.
  • A Ford is a good investment because they are in such demand. Ford tractors have continually appreciated in value.
  • For one third the investment, the red belly can do the same job (ok….with bit of operator patience and skill) that newer tractors of comparable size can do.
  • The types of equipment (either used or new) that can be purchased for Fords are almost unlimited: Cement mixers, plows, post hole diggers, mowers, blades, loaders……..the list can go on and on.

Most everyone will agree that the little Ford tractors were ahead of their time. However, they had two main limitations. First, the little Fords were too fast in first gear. Secondly, the tractors with loaders were hard to steer.

As I viewed tractor sites on the web, I noticed one question being asked over and over regarding the availability of power steering kits for little Ford tractors. I decided to look into making a power steering unit for the 8N, NAA and the 600 series tractor.

After much research to find the components and spending hours designing the right brackets, I achieved my goal. I am able to provide steering units that will make the operation of these Ford tractors more enjoyable and useful, while increasing their worth.

I think you will agree that upgrading your Ford tractor is an investment that will increase its value while making your tractor much safer to operate.

For what models do you make steering units?

We make power steering kits for the Ford 8N, NAA, 600-series, 800-series, 1801 Industrial, and early 4000-series tractors. At this time we don’t offer one for the 9N or 2N models.

We’ve also expanded our line to include the Oliver Super 55 and 550, as well as the John Deere compact tractors, 650 through 1050.

What does the JPS Unit look like when installed on a Ford tractor?

There is an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictured is my 1954 NAA Ford tractor with the JPS Unit installed.

These images may take a little bit to load, so please be patient. I think you’ll agree it was worth the wait!

How does adding power steering to my Ford tractor make it a safer tractor to operate?

Power steering adds to the safety of operating a Ford tractor in several ways. Anyone who has operated a red and gray, with a loader, knows how hard the steering wheel is to turn, especially when the bucket is loaded. Actually, with a load in the bucket, one does not steer the tractor……..one herds the tractor by using the tractor’s forward movement to help turn the steering wheel. I have experienced the “panicked feeling” of not being able to turn the steering wheel quickly enough to avoid a hazard or obstacle. Not only was I at risk of being hurt by running into the obstacle, I also put my shoulders and arms at risk by straining to turn the steering wheel to avoid the hazard.

Power steering enhances safety for the operator in so many ways. Just being able to control the tractor with ease, under all conditions, is a real plus for operator safety.

What is the Steering Control Unit and what is its function?

The Steering Control Unit (SCU) is the heart of the steering system. It directs the flow of fluid from the Priority Flow Valve to the Steering Cylinders proportional to the degree and direction the steering wheel is turned. The SCU does it’s work, hidden from view, without the need of maintenance or adjustment. By keeping the hydraulic oil clean, you can expect many years of trouble free service from this unit.

Steering Control Unit: a clean installation,

What is a Priority Flow Valve, and how does it work?

The Priority Flow Divider Valve is a 4″ x 6″ device that receives pressurized hydraulic fluid from the pump and routes it to separate systems. It can be mounted anywhere. However, it is best to mount the divider as close to the loader spool valve as possible. It just makes for a cleaner installation. The JPS system uses the priority valve to make sure that the steering unit has all the fluid it needs. The rest is sent to the loader for it’s use. The Priority Flow Divider keeps the steering wheel from jerking or moving when using the loader simultaneously with the power steering. The steering will always be fast and easy, regardless of engine RPM. Another benefit is that the Priority Flow Divider has a pressure relief valve built into it. The correct pressure is set at the factory and will not need to be adjusted. This is the valve that squeals when you turn all the way to the right or left. Even though the squeal sounds bad, it is really a good sound because you know that your system is being protected from high pressure, leading to a hose or steering cylinder failure.

The priority valve, tucked away behind the
hydraulic filter and up close to the loader spool valve

Do you have any plans to build steering units for tractors without loaders?

While I am looking into the feasability of it, I’m finding that most of the people, wanting power steering, are needing it because they have a loader on their tractor, which makes their tractor hard to steer. I think most people would agree, that steering a little Ford is relatively easy, unless there is a mechanical problem (or loader) involved. I can build a unit using a power steering pump, however, it is more expensive because of the extra components required.

Are the Steering Cylinders built specifically for the JPS Unit?

We have the steering cylinders built to our specifications. They are matched to the Steering Control Unit to provide a smooth, effortless turn every time, regardless of the engine RPM. The steering cylinders are much stronger than they need to be….and I designed them that way…to make sure you would have years of trouble free service from them. If you should ever have trouble, the cylinder parts are a common size and can be rebuilt in a local hydraulic shop.

Steering Cylinder specifically built and designed for JPS Units

What Kind of oil does the steering unit use?

The JPS Unit uses the same regular hydraulic oil that you use in your loader. The steering kit comes with a filter to make sure that the steering control unit gets only clean oil. In addition, I recommend a friction reducing additive called “Power UP”. Power Up lowers generated heat and reduces mechanical wear because of the friction-reducing abilities it possesses. One thing I want to mention is that I recommend Power Up because I am adamantly sold on the product. I do not receive any advertising fees from Power Up. I have used Power Up in all of my equipment and vehicles over the years and have experienced the savings that it provides me in better gas mileage and lower maintenance costs. If you would like to know more of the benefits of Power Up, contact me at sales@jacksonpowersteering.com.

How long will it take to install the steering unit?

Charles Courtney's 641

Charles Courtney's 641

I would like to relate a funny experience my first time to mount a power steering unit on a Ford 641 Workmaster. I wanted to personally install the steering unit to make sure I had “fixed” all the bugs. Charles Courtney, the tractor’s owner, asked me how long it would take. I thought to my self, “Well, there are less than 20 bolts to remove in order to install the unit…… Surely, I can do it in three hours.” So, I told my new friend that it would take three hours. We agreed to meet at his shop at 7:30 AM. By 9:30 PM. that evening, I was wrapping up another successful “textbook” installation. Charles and I had a good laugh about the length of my three hours!What I had not taken into account was the following:

  • Measuring for the length of hydraulic hoses and driving “miles” to have them made to size.
  • Replacing faulty items on the tractor (oil gauge, etc.) Wanted to replace the parts while the tractor was apart so I could easily get to them. (Didn’t pertain to installing power steering, but I am driven to do the job right!)
  • Meeting Charlie’s father-in-law and learning he was from Kansas! (My, we had a GOOD visit!)
  • Endless searching for misplaced tools ( Does anyone else have this problem?)

To answer the question, I suppose it is possible for the unit to be installed in three hours by an experienced installer.

However, I prefer to take my time and repair or replace faulty items on the tractor while I have it apart. That way, I do not have to come back later to repair it. While the installation is very simple, it will take some time to read the directions to familiarize yourself with the steps of the installation process.

Tell me about the installation process.

Installing the JPS Unit is pretty straight forward. Excellent directions, with ample pictures are provided.

  • Read Directions and make plans where to mount filter and priority flow valve
  • Remove Steering wheel, column and bolts in front panel
  • Install Steering Control Unit
  • Mount Priority Flow Valve and Hydraulic Filter
  • Route and install hydraulic hoses
  • Mount and adjust steering cylinders
  • Reassemble hood and install Steering Wheel
  • Test Drive Tractor

While installing the power steering unit, what items should I check for wear?

The first thing you should do, when installing the JPS Unit, is to jack up the front end of the tractor and check the Front Axle Support Pin and Bushing for wear. To do that, you watch the center pin for movement as you push back and forth on one of the front tires.

View of Front Axle Support Pin

Also you should check the right and left spindle, bushings and thrust bearings for wear and ease of movement. You do that by pushing back and forth on the tire (on each side of the tractor) while looking for movement. Turn the wheels from right to left for ease of movement. If you see a lot of movement or the wheels turn hard, it would be a good idea to replace the pin, bushings and bearings that make up your front axle steering system. Once you install the power steering unit on your tractor, the steering cylinders are so powerful, that you will not detect a problem (steering wheel turning harder than usual, etc.) until wear causes you a breakdown.

Will I need special tools to install the steering unit?

No. I have listed the tools necessary to mount the steering unit in the instructions. All the bolts are standard, so a good standard open end wrench set , 1/2″ socket set, a punch for alignment purposes, standard allen wrench set, steering wheel puller, screwdrivers, pliers, pipe wrench, pipe sealer, floor jack and creeper are among the tools you would need.

Are the instructions for installing the steering unit understandable and easy to follow?

A step by step, descriptive instruction manual with detailed pictures is provided to make the installation process enjoyable and trouble-free. However, if you need some help, I am as close as the phone if you have trouble. I will be very happy to talk you through any problem you might have.

Do I have to take off the loader to install the JPS Unit?

It will not be necessary to remove the loader from the tractor.

How do you know what length of hydraulic hoses to make in order to fit my loader?

Since every loader is different, it is impossible to know the right length of hose need for the power steering installation. Only the hose length from the steering control unit to the steering cylinders are known and will always stay the same. Those hoses are included with the kit. Each kit contains all the necessary hose ends to make up the hydraulic hoses. It makes for a cleaner installation if the hoses are cut to the right length. The instructions will tell you exactly how to measure the hoses and how to have them made at any implement dealer or farm store.

What keeps the wheels in alignment?

The alignment of the two front wheels is assured in two ways. The JPS Unit is linked from the steering to the front wheels by fluid. There is no mechanical linkage. When the steering wheel is turned, a certain amount of fluid is pumped into one steering cylinder, while the exact same amount of fluid is removed from the opposite steering cylinder. This keeps the wheels in alignment. As a double check, the selector gears are still intact in the steering box. While these gears no longer make the front wheels turn, they help keep the front wheels in alignment. That is why it is important to keep oil (or the correct grease) in the gear box.

What lubricant should I use in the steering gear box.

If your gear box is not leaking, you should use 90 Wt. oil. However, if the gear box is leaking, I would recommend that you fill it with a “soft grease” (such as Power UP’s Thixo Grease) that will not get hard. The wrong grease in your steering gear box is like no grease at all. Over time the wrong grease will set up and create a cavity around the selector gears. The selector gears will become dry and eventually fail.

How do I steer the tractor if the motor dies while I am speeding down the road in road gear?

The Steering Control Unit has a check valve that holds fluid between it and the Steering Cylinders. When fluid power is lost to the Steering Control Unit, the check valve allows the Steering Control Unit to work as a pump. (An example would be like the hydraulic steering in a small boat.) Steering will be stiff, however, it will allow you to guide your tractor to a safe stop.

How much maintenance will the steering unit require?

Once installed, you will need to check the small cylinder bracket a couple of times to make sure it is tight enough to “set”. Then you should change the hydraulic oil filter every six months. At that time you should check all the cylinder brackets for tightness.

What do I get for my money?

Because I believe in doing things the right way, I choose to offer the top of the line steering unit that, down the road, wouldn’t give you trouble…..or me a bad name. Before I started working on the power steering project, I developed a “want” list…..a list of my expectations and goals for the steering unit I wanted to build.

My “want” list:

  1. I want the unit to be repairable…not a “throw away” unit.
  2. I want the steering unit, when installed, to be as invisible as possible….a clean installation that looks like it was made for the tractor.
  3. I want the steering wheel to be positioned the same way as the original steering unit.
  4. I want the number of turns of the steering wheel (from extreme right to extreme left and visa versa) to be two turns, which is the same as the original steering system.
  5. I want the steering cylinders to be strong and repairable, using common parts that can be purchased locally.
  6. I want the customer to be able to mount the unit using existing bolt holes as much as possible, resulting in a clean, strong, steering unit that will work like “factory steering”, yet not destroy the tractor’s antique value by drilling holes or by welding.
  7. I want to write step by step instructions, which are clear and understandable, to make the installation of the JPS powersteering unit an enjoyable experience.
  8. I want my customers, who purchase and install my units on their tractors, to be pleased and to feel their money was well spent.

The JPS Unit is a quality unit, built to be trouble free and last a long time. To get this kind of quality will initially cost more, but will be cheaper in the long run.

Do you offer technical support?

Yes, just call (620) 357-6546.

I’ve been admiring your web site. Did you build it yourself? If not, who is your webmaster?

I am very proud of my website. I have received many compliments on it. But I can not take the credit. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful and talented son-in-law. His name is Chris Dunivan.

Chris received his degree in Graphic Design in 1999. Chris knows how to build a web site. That is obvious. What sets Chris apart from other web designers is his endless creativity, imagination, attention to detail and work ethic.

When Chris agreed to do my website, his knowledge about Ford tractors was limited. So, he bought his own books on Ford tractors, visited the Ford tractor dealerships, and scouted out every Ford tractor he could find to learn all he could about them.

Then, he went to work designing the site. It is so typical of Chris to do more than would be expected. This work ethic is apparent in his work. Without his knowledge, encouragement and advice, I would not have been able to achieve the dream I have had all these years.

If you would like to talk to Chris about developing your web site, you can email him at chris@chrisdunivan.com.

A Message From Roland Jackson…

At Jackson Power Steering our main goal is to provide unique power steering retrofits for classic tractors. It's our goal to earn your trust and respect by dealing with you in an honest and straightforward manner. We know that you have a choice in whom you do business with, and we hope that you'll choose us again and again to help you with your tractor retrofits and restoration needs. To order, call 620-357-6546 or email us at sales@jacksonpowersteering.com

-Roland Jackson

BBB Accredited

Jackson Power Steering, LLC, Tractor Repair & Service, Jetmore, KS