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STEERING SYSTEM
FLAMING RIVER
CONTROL VALVE & BALL STUD ASEMBLY
Around 2004, Flaming River introduced a replacement Control Valve and Ball Stud assembly that was made of all new castings and components. Below is a teardown and examination of a typical 1968-1970 Flaming River valve assembly. All these valves have the 5/16" pressure port, but other than that, are identical to the earlier 1960-1967 valves. The information below is based on examination of several valve assemblys over a period of several years, so it should be fairly representative of most Flaming River valves, including currect models. However, their design and construction may change at any time.
It should be noted that all of these valves had been installed on a vehicle and removed due to some kind of defect or warranty problem. Some had a few hundred miles on them, but some were hardly driven at all before removal.
Flaming River Control Valve
Flaming River Control Valve
This webpage is intended to show the design and construction of the Flaming River reproduction control valve and compare it to the original Bendix units that came on early Fords. There are significant differences.
The Flaming River reproduction control valve is made in Argentina. While the Flaming River control valve looks pretty much like the original Bendix valve, virtually every piece is different in construction or design. The valve assembly shown above consists of 58 separable parts, only 14 of which seem to be identical to original parts. The assembly appears to be a all new construction without using any currently existing replacement parts. In fact, many pieces from the Flaming River valve and an original Bendix valve will not interchange between the two. The Flaming River valve cannot be considered a "concours" replacement for the original Bendix unit. The Flaming River valve incorporates features found in so many different versions of the Bendix valve that it isn't like any exact year or model Bendix valve ever built.
There are a lot of small differences in the Flaming River Control Valve from the original, but it is the major differences that should be noted.
The main difference is in the Spool Valve and the seals. The original Bendix valves used a double-lip seal on both end of the Spool Valve, with plastic bushings that fit inside the seals for support. The FR valve has nothing like this. Instead, it uses large round rubber o'rings on the ends of the Spool, with a thin aluminum insert to keep the o'ring from coming out of the housing.
O'ring Spool Seal
O'ring & Washer on Spool End
O'ring & Washer on Spool End
Spool End - Nicked & Scratched
Original Bendix Valve:
Spool seal is double-edged on outside to seal to housing bore and keep it in place
Squared-edge seal was held in place by seal design and other standard parts
Seal design allows fluid pressure behind it to help it seal
Square-edged seal does not move in housing bore
Spool seal surface is smooth to slide easily in seal
Flaming River Valve:
Spool seal is a round o'ring, so there is only one sealing surface on the outside of the seal to the housing bore (Picture A)
O'ring requires extra metal washers to keep it in housing bore (Picture B and C)
No extra sealing action from fluid pressure with an o'ring
O'ring can move back and forth in housing when stuck to spool
Spool surface is rough and scratched
(Picture D)
A
B
C
D
It is not known why the FR control valve uses o'rings instead of the original style seals. It can't be availability or price, because the original seals are readily available and cheap, and they wouldn't require any extra washers to retain them in the housing. It is also noted that the Spool Valve is not nearly as well machined as the originals were. All machined surfaces are rougher and nicked, and the edges are not cleanly beveled. The ends of the Spool, which should be smoothly polished so as to slide easily through the seals, has a rough surface texture and the surface is a lot of nicks and scratches.
Another special problem related to these o'rings is that the ends of the Spool are .011" larger diameter on the FR valve compared to the originals. This may have been done in order to fit the special o'rings, but it also means that standard rebuild kits available for original style valves will not work in the FR valve.
Flaming River Steel Bushing
Flaming River Steel Bushing
Another main difference is the Ball Stud Bushing.
The original Bendix valve used a steel-backed sleeve with dimpled bearing bronze on the outside. The bushing was covered with a special bronze material because it was softer than the steel sleeve it slides in. This is so that the softer bushing will wear over time and could be replaced if needed without having to replace the sleeve. The outer surface of the bronze bushing was heavily dimpled to allow it to retain more grease around it and keep it lubricated.
Original Bronze Ball Stud Bushing
ORIGINAL STYLE BRONZE BUSHING
FLAMING RIVER ALL-STEEL BUSHING
The Flaming River has an all-steel bushing, with no dimpling. It has a rougher texture machined inside, but this shouldn't affect anything. However, the smooth steel outer surface will wear the inside of the ball stud sleeve as time goes on, so it should be lubricated more often than the originals.
The original bronze bushing is readily available, but may not have been used due to cost.
Based on the major differences in the Spool Valve, Spool Seals and Ball Stud Bushing, it would appear that the Flaming River control valve was designed to be replaced and not rebuilt.
Ball Stud comparison
ORIGINAL BENDIX
FLAMING RIVER
Another major difference is the Ball Stud. The Flaming River ball stud is necked down quite a bit compared to the original Bendix part, and is not as thick and heavy at the base.
It is not known why the FR ball stud is made smaller in this critical area. The original style ball studs are readily available, so perhaps it was a cost consideration.
Ball Stud comparison
FLAMING
RIVER
ORIGINAL
BENDIX
PAGE 2
Flaming River Valve - Page 2