Procedure for replacing return power steering hose on 2003 trailblazer

krajef

New Member
A couple of months ago, my 2003 trail blazer started leaking power steering fluid on the return at the location of the driver side tire on the frame. I could see the leak spraying out hitting my tire and eventually spraying, wetting the entire driver side of my vehicle.
Oh boy, this was all going through my mind over the next few weeks; I had no clue how to replace the line, I didn’t know if the low or pressure side was leaking, I’d never thought I’d be able to reach the steering rack since there was only a small accessible area, I was leery on buying the part from rock auto, I wished I had the money to have a someone fix this for me, I have to get this fixed before I take my family on vacation in July, crap I’m too old for this, hot does the line attach to the steering rack and I could not find any how-to videos on youtube.
So I’ve decided to tackle this and scheduled doing this work on a Saturday and Sunday since I’ve read this will take a couple of days. Here’s my replacement story.
I’ve learned that the low pressure (The return) is the hose that connects into the cooler under the radiator. I decided to buy the replacement part from a local dealer; Tom Hesser’s located in Scranton PA. The cost was $140. The identical part from Rock Auto, I believe was listed at $38.00. I just wanted to be sure the part was correct and now if I had to replace the other side, I would feel comfortable buying the high pressure line from rockauto.com. Okay I have the part.
Saturday, I pull my trailblazer in by brother’s garage; Larry’s gone to Florida for a week, lucky me ;-) My son-in-law Andrew Davis and my niece’s husband Tom Davis arrive to assist. I had a hangover ;-) It’s the rice they brew Coors light with.
The time is oh 11:45AM, Saturday March 15, 2014
Here’s the procedure we followed and made it up as we moved along.
Removal process
1) Lifted the front of the vehicle
2) Pulled driver side tire
3) Lowered the vehicle close to the ground
4) Removed the battery, and the battery tray, etc. Two bolts by the horn we tricky to reach.
5) Took a picture just in case we forgot where something attaches. We didn’t need this just a safeguard.
6) Removed the screws holding down the fuse box. There is a red wire not connected to anything. A google search states that this is used for charging the battery on a trailer and is not connected by default.
7) Unclipped several wire harness clips to allow for slack to move the fuse box out of the way. We used an old piece of wire to hold this out of the way.
8) Disconnected the large wiring connector by sliding the lever to unlock and then unclipped.
9) Removed the two grounds connected to the fender.
10) Removed the connector attached to the break master cylinder.
11) Unbolted the tongue that holds down the two power steering lines on the frame. This bolt was hard to see because it is under all of the wiring. When I loosed the bolt the bracket pulled away from the frame. No biggie.
12) Lifted the vehicle up, higher is better so you can see the rack better instead of crouching.
13) Remove the one bolt that holds the high pressure and return lines onto the rack. I used a quarter inch ratchet, a 10 inch or so extension and I forgot the socket size, maybe 8mm. I was able to slip the socket in from the left side of the strut. Once the bolt was all the way loose I used long pin nose pliers to remove the bolt from the small access window. This wasn’t necessary I just didn’t want to lose the bolt which would be my luck.
14) Using a flathead screw driver I pried the connecting flange away from the rack, this was easy. Here I prayed I’d be able to get this thing reattached.
15) Placed pan under already dripping power steering fluid, oops.
16) Removed the hose clamp from the power steering cooler. Used a flat head screw driver to spin the clamp so I could reach it from underneath with a smaller pair of pliers.
17) Put a second under the dripping fluid.
18) Once the metal tongue was removed in step 9 we then started to unfasten the two frame clamps that hold down the line where my leak was, we also pulled the 4 inch rubber from under this tongue which lies on top of the hoses.
19) Removed the bad return hose. Mine was rotted pretty bad and fell apart where the leak was.
Took a 5 minute break
20) Sent Andrew to autozone for two quarts of power steering fluid.
Installation process
1) Fished the new line in place.
2) Connected the cooler end
3) Connected the Rack end. We had a problem here. We could not get the hose in the retaining brace. The reason was we fished the back side in between the brake lines. Oops, We pulled the back side out and fished correctly and we were easily and able to slide the return hose on the brace.
4) Reattached the retaining brace to the rack using the quarter inch ratchet and from the left. Note that I was able to somehow get my left hand in the work area form the right side of the strut while my right hand was feeling the socket and guiding the hose into place.
5) Reinstalled the two rubber pieces on the frame and hand bent the metal over these rubber whatever these are.
6) Reinstalled the large rubber piece up top under the wiring and reattached the tongue.
7) Reattached the fuse box and the large connector
8) Reconnected the two grounds.
9) Installed the battery box, the battery, cleaned my terminals with a wire brush and connected the battery.
10) Installed the cross member over the battery, removal not mentioned above, sorry.
11) Put the tire on
12) Lowered the vehicle and removed jack so we can finish putting the clips back on
13) Jacked the vehicle up taking both tires of the ground.
14) Turned the key to unlock the steering
15) Filled the power steering pump to level, a quick “please God, no leaks”
16) Kept turning the wheels all the way from left to right (oh maybe 30 times) as Tom kept a check on the fluid level in the pump and added more as needed.
17) Lowered vehicle and removed jack.
18) Started vehicle (Thanked God it started ;-)
19) Checked for leaks. None, yes!
20) Took for drive around block, still no leaks!
21) Put cat litter on fluid spills, cleaned up garage
22) Thanked Tom and Andrew
The day is still Saturday and the time is 3:00PM. I said Man that was not as bad as I though! I planned on being here for two days but this only took a little over three hours!
I should have video recorded this procedure but I didn’t think about it until we were done so I’d like to share our experiences.
Enjoy.

A couple of notes:
One quart of fluid is all that we needed to fill the system.
We've noticed that there were two rubber caps that came with the new hose. I don't know what these are for, I assume these are to either plug the rack or cover the hose so that dirt don't get in. I don't know. I know I don't have any leaks and I did not need to replace the seals in the rack.
Also I did what I could to remove the grime from the rack before I pulled the bolt so dirt would be minimized. It's probably a good idea to pressure wash that area before replacing but I'm thinking about this after the replacement hose was installed.
 

IllogicTC

Well-Known Member
Thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of the Nation. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before someone has the "Oh craps," finds this thread and breathes a nice sigh of relief that they aren't flying blind or forced to buy a Haynes on top of the other costs.
 

cornchip

Well-Known Member
I'm doing this job as I type this reply. This is one tough job best tackled in small steps. I just fought to get the OEM cup seals out of the rack. The instruction with the return line recomend a oring pick to remove them. In the vehicle is a different mater. What ended up working was a 1/4 inch wrench, using the open end to catch the metal lip of the seal and lightly pry backwards. Worked better than the pick by a long shot. Again, what a pain this is. Who designed this thing anyways? Wow. Back to the grind. :crazy:
 

cornchip

Well-Known Member
Done. All seems good...airs bled out and drives fine. The connection to the rack was a small headache needing a second pair of hands from the top. A tip.....I cut the band clamp on the return hose above the rack to disconnect the rest of the line, Made posistioning the hold down plate easy not having to fight two lines at the same time. Cannect and install a new hose clamp and done. Thanks krajef for the info.....helped quite a bit.

Later....
 

tgood

New Member
Glad I found this post as my 2002, sorry for the earlier typo, bravado started to leak power steering fluid.
I also took this project in baby steps and so far have not broken any parts. I purchased a pick set from Harbor Freight $7.00 minus 20% coupon part 69592.
Used the angled pick and came in on the driver side wheel well and "WALLA! the cup seals came right out. I got all three lines from Advance Auto , they were in stock, guaranteed to be OEM fit and they were. The bendable brackets that hold the lines together were cleaned with my improvised 20 cup coffee urn with Purple Power cleaner, also from Advance Auto. Cooked all brackets rubber collars and screws for about 12 hours. Wire wheeled the brackets straighten them back to original form and epoxy spayed them gloss black, I had on hand.
Attached the bendable bracket that goes under the radiator and carefully fished the hoses into place. I attached the pressure and return hoses to the pump first thus giving the hoses some sort of attachment to lessen movement. Next crawled under and attached the bracket that's under the radiator. I lubed the rubber collars with Dawn so I could slide it into place. Next came installing the cup seals and gently lowering the two hose ends into the racks fitting. I was able to save the plastic snap fitting and flex ring from original. Thus holding the return hose in place for proper alignment into the rack. With both ends now firmly attached I will proceed, baby steps, to attach the large rubber collar on the frame followed by the two smaller ones. One of the frame clips had rotted out but was able to find a replacement in my parts cans. Now with all the lines attached I'll proceed with attaching the remaining clips.
Note: I took a sharpie and marked on the new lines where the brackets were on the OEM lines. This made it easier get things into proper place. I can't stress enough to clean everything including all tools. Take the time to lay out the removed lines and lay the new ones next to them for alignment purposes. I was amazed how things went in properly by following these simple by important rules of a shade tree mechanic.
Kerjef's step by step removal of left front wheel, fuse box and battery and battery tray were most helpful as I began this project.
Will add another post when things are finished. But I don't anticipate any problems as I have taken my time and really studied the entire charts and Kerjef's steps and much time just looking at the engine compartment and under the frame.
Maybe My Military Intelligence training has taught me to observe before committing to action.
 
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Mooseman

Moderator
@tgood , are you sure you are following the correct instructions? krajef's are for a 2003 TrailBlazer, which is in the GMT360/370 family of vehicles. You vehicle, a 2000 Bravada, is actually based on the older S series Blazers/Jimmys.
GMT360/370 use a rack and pinion, yours is an old style gear box. IIRC, the power steering pump is directly above the gear box and replacement of the hoses is extremely easy compared to GMT360/370, which snakes along the frame and above the shock tower.
 

tgood

New Member
@tgood , are you sure you are following the correct instructions? krajef's are for a 2003 TrailBlazer, which is in the GMT360/370 family of vehicles. You vehicle, a 2000 Bravada, is actually based on the older S series Blazers/Jimmys.
GMT360/370 use a rack and pinion, yours is an old style gear box. IIRC, the power steering pump is directly above the gear box and replacement of the hoses is extremely easy compared to GMT360/370, which snakes along the frame and above the shock tower.
I corrected my typo I've got a 2002 bravada
 
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RamTest

New Member
Just finished power steering lines on a 2009 TrailBlazer i6. Replaced the pressure line and the return from rack to cooler. After being under there for a while, looks like I'll be changing (or by-passing) the cooler.

Taking tips from everyone here and over at Trailvoy got it done without too much aggravation, but it's a messy, oily job.

I did NOT spend any time undoing the rusted holddowns. I just cut the old lines into pieces, left a small section of line around the holddowns, and simply zip-tied the new lines to the old holddowns and remaining old hose. I bent downward the holddown under the fan to maintain clearance. The worst of the line corrosion was at the holddowns. (NEVER leave any sharp edges on the remaining bits of lines...cut them clean.)

To cut the steel tube, I used a cheap mini tubing cutter, and also a sawsall with a hacksaw blade. To cut the pressure hose I used tin snips where I could not get the sawzall in place. You need tin snips because the pressure hose has a metal core. No way a razor will do. That and an 8mm socket with maybe 8"extension, and a 16mm (i think) open end for the pump end and that's it for tools.

I removed the left front wheel.

I loosened a few big wiring holddowns under the hood for a little extra room.

I also loosen the wiring holddowns running down the top of the frame toward the fuel tank (probably directly under the drivers left foot, you'll see them).

I unplugged the maf wiring connector on the air intake hose and moved hose back a bit, removed the air filter housing, and the washer reservoir (2 nuts, 2 electrical connections, water tubing) to get at the power steering pump fitting, and disconnected the battery.

That's it. Nothing else was removed. Obviously the more you remove the easier the job, but not required.

For the most part, I followed this very thread.
These are the required steps... 1, 2, 7, 13 (8mm), 14, 18 (just bend the "tongue" back).

I used Gates OEM-style replacement lines. Fortunately the old seals remained in the rack and are working fine. The new lines were a bit sharp on the edges at the end, and to prevent them from hanging up and damaging the re-used seals, I lightly sanded the sharp edges, and added a bit of silicone grease to help them slide in. I just fished them under the electrical lines, from the top near the shock tower. Twist, push, pull, get them in there. Leave them hanging loose until the connection at the steering rack is complete, then start securing the lines.

With a 2-step ladder, I was able to reach down from the top, between the engine and the master cylinder, to line up the new hoses with the rack. There's a lot of room, but you need long arms :smile: .

I lined them up from above, pushed them in a bit, then went below and put a little more pressure on them, and they popped in. Got the retaining bolt in place, and the worst was over.

-------
It's a messy job. Get a fresh bottle of Dawn dishwash liquid. Or get a whole lot of gloves. I had to wash the crud off my hands about 10 times. Power wash the whole area under the hood and behind left front wheel at a self-serve car wash before you start. I used a cheap mattress protector for ground cover, and am very, very glad I did. Fluid goes everywhere. For OEM-style lines, save the old little plastic retainer to hold the new lines together in the retainer plate. After mine popped off into oblivion, I used a zip-tie to hold the new lines together which worked fine. It took me about 4 hours on a hot driveway, but I took a lot of breaks. Years ago probably would have taken me 2-1/2 hours. I'll probably go back and double up those zip ties to prevent chafing...maybe another 15-20 minutes or so.

Mine is a bit of a hack with the zip ties. But the lines are secure and they won't corrode in the factory holddowns like the originals did.

Allow PLENTY of time in case those seals cause a problem. But you should be able to pull them from above... they're in a really bad spot.

I'll be sore tomorrow... it sucks getting old.
.
 
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Mooseman

Moderator
I corrected my typo I've got a 2002 bravada
Ah OK. I also double checked your profile and it also said 2000 Bravada. Let us know you also make out.

@RamTest , glad you got it done. And I can sympathize with getting old. :cry:
 

RamTest

New Member
As the saying goes, "it's easy, once you know how."

A few days after doing my lines, I did them for a friend who couldn't do it or pay to have it done. The power-washing was done before I got involved.

It took 2 hours in the driveway, including cleanup, no breaks. This TB was also a 6 cylinder.
 

tgood

New Member
Ah OK. I also double checked your profile and it also said 2000 Bravada. Let us know you also make out.

@RamTest , glad you got it done. And I can sympathize with getting old. :cry:
Just got done with the lines and reattached the fuse block, changed the oil and filter as well as the air filter. NO LEAKS. This entire project was a back burner project as we have other vehicles to drive. I opted for taking off the cross member as there was a huge amount of grease buildup. I use this vehicle as a truck and pulling my utility trailer. Don't want a vehicle fire.
Tomorrow I will back down the driveway and remove the left front tire and jack it as high as I can and pressure wash the undercarriage.
Once everything is reattached and clean then it's off to the corner garage to fix the A/C.
This entire project was done during the hottest time in July in Nebraska. The hottest day was 97F Humidity 75% so I only worked early in the mornings and evenings. I wasn't in any hurry and the patience paid off. The money I saved on labor will go towards the A/C. Since I am part Dutch and Scottish my wife says I give a new meaning to being tight.:crazy:
 

jmonica

Active Member
Thanks everyone for all of your helpful information. Mine has started leaking under the bracket at the strut tower.
My driveway is covered in fluid. I live in a community where they complain if you keep your garage door open too long and there isn't a single solitary hose connection in the neighborhood to prevent people from washing their cars. I regret the day I moved in here, but I was in a bind at the time because I have a child and I needed a place to live quickly.

Anyway, I am going to tackle this job tomorrow. Honestly I love working on cars, but I am not looking forward to this project. Even more after reading all of the comments here. Some jobs are more enjoyable than others. But such is life and we do what we have to. With any luck I will have to done with enough time left over to watch the Steelers game! Thank God for DVR's!

I really wish I had a helping hand because it helps me to talk through stuff as I run across the small things that inevitably come up. The pressure is on as well because it has to be done Not having enough room in my garage means the vehicle will have to be half pulled in and so I can't leave it like that overnight.

People on this board have helped me so much over the years and I really an grateful that there are nice people who take the time to explain how to do things. After over 300k miles and having had replaced everything from the engine to the transfer case exhaust, and everything in between alone over the years, the nice people on this forum have saved me countless thousands of dollars over the years. Thanks everyone!
 

jmonica

Active Member
I'm doing this job as I type this reply. This is one tough job best tackled in small steps. I just fought to get the OEM cup seals out of the rack. The instruction with the return line recomend a oring pick to remove them. In the vehicle is a different mater. What ended up working was a 1/4 inch wrench, using the open end to catch the metal lip of the seal and lightly pry backwards. Worked better than the pick by a long shot. Again, what a pain this is. Who designed this thing anyways? Wow. Back to the grind. :crazy:
Dear Sir,
I know thatyourpostis two plus yearsold. Should you happen to stumble by this post again, please accept my great big thank You for suggesting to use the `1/4 wrench to getthe old cup seals out, I'm truly greatful after 4+ hours of trying. Took 10 seconds for both with your trick. You're a genius! And awesome. Thank YOu very much!
 

cornchip

Well-Known Member
I've thought about this repair since I did it. When it went on me I had to get it done as I only had the TB to drive and couldn't afford to be down without wheels.

Next time if it should happen again, I'm going to machine a AN6 port/NPT 3/8 barb fitting block to affix to the rack. Then get an AN6 to AN6 hose. With an adapter fitting to the pump (16mm?? something) you could forget all the bent tube crap and rout the hoses as you see fit. I see that working perfectly and being a quick job. As it turns out, I hacked my return line and bypassed the stock cooler in favor of a "Derale" 13224 that I mounted behind the bumper (maybe I'll take a picture later). The Derale is made from Aluminum....no rot.
 

Jstrong

New Member
Just finished power steering lines on a 2009 TrailBlazer i6. Replaced the pressure line and the return from rack to cooler. After being under there for a while, looks like I'll be changing (or by-passing) the cooler.

Taking tips from everyone here and over at Trailvoy got it done without too much aggravation, but it's a messy, oily job.

I did NOT spend any time undoing the rusted holddowns. I just cut the old lines into pieces, left a small section of line around the holddowns, and simply zip-tied the new lines to the old holddowns and remaining old hose. I bent downward the holddown under the fan to maintain clearance. The worst of the line corrosion was at the holddowns. (NEVER leave any sharp edges on the remaining bits of lines...cut them clean.)

To cut the steel tube, I used a cheap mini tubing cutter, and also a sawsall with a hacksaw blade. To cut the pressure hose I used tin snips where I could not get the sawzall in place. You need tin snips because the pressure hose has a metal core. No way a razor will do. That and an 8mm socket with maybe 8"extension, and a 16mm (i think) open end for the pump end and that's it for tools.

I removed the left front wheel.

I loosened a few big wiring holddowns under the hood for a little extra room.

I also loosen the wiring holddowns running down the top of the frame toward the fuel tank (probably directly under the drivers left foot, you'll see them).

I unplugged the maf wiring connector on the air intake hose and moved hose back a bit, removed the air filter housing, and the washer reservoir (2 nuts, 2 electrical connections, water tubing) to get at the power steering pump fitting, and disconnected the battery.

That's it. Nothing else was removed. Obviously the more you remove the easier the job, but not required.

For the most part, I followed this very thread.
These are the required steps... 1, 2, 7, 13 (8mm), 14, 18 (just bend the "tongue" back).

I used Gates OEM-style replacement lines. Fortunately the old seals remained in the rack and are working fine. The new lines were a bit sharp on the edges at the end, and to prevent them from hanging up and damaging the re-used seals, I lightly sanded the sharp edges, and added a bit of silicone grease to help them slide in. I just fished them under the electrical lines, from the top near the shock tower. Twist, push, pull, get them in there. Leave them hanging loose until the connection at the steering rack is complete, then start securing the lines.

With a 2-step ladder, I was able to reach down from the top, between the engine and the master cylinder, to line up the new hoses with the rack. There's a lot of room, but you need long arms :smile: .

I lined them up from above, pushed them in a bit, then went below and put a little more pressure on them, and they popped in. Got the retaining bolt in place, and the worst was over.

-------
It's a messy job. Get a fresh bottle of Dawn dishwash liquid. Or get a whole lot of gloves. I had to wash the crud off my hands about 10 times. Power wash the whole area under the hood and behind left front wheel at a self-serve car wash before you start. I used a cheap mattress protector for ground cover, and am very, very glad I did. Fluid goes everywhere. For OEM-style lines, save the old little plastic retainer to hold the new lines together in the retainer plate. After mine popped off into oblivion, I used a zip-tie to hold the new lines together which worked fine. It took me about 4 hours on a hot driveway, but I took a lot of breaks. Years ago probably would have taken me 2-1/2 hours. I'll probably go back and double up those zip ties to prevent chafing...maybe another 15-20 minutes or so.

Mine is a bit of a hack with the zip ties. But the lines are secure and they won't corrode in the factory holddowns like the originals did.

Allow PLENTY of time in case those seals cause a problem. But you should be able to pull them from above... they're in a really bad spot.

I'll be sore tomorrow... it sucks getting old.
.


Do you happen to know what size the bolt is for the bracket holds the two lines on the steering rack? I dropped mine on the frame somewhere and cant find it

Sorry on a 2005
 

cornchip

Well-Known Member
Don't quote me, but it might be something like a M6-1 x 20mm long. Been awhile since I did this job.
 

Jstrong

New Member
Ya i need to know hahaha i dropped the bolt like a dumbass trying to help my buddy out bow we are at a standstill till i find it, buy a nee one, or try a junkyard
 

Mooseman

Moderator
A pic should be able to get them out however if really stuck, I believe there is a Spent-Moore tool specially for that cup seal.
 

raemedy

New Member
Hi Guys,
I have to replace my power steering lines on my 02 trailblazer. I cannot find a listing the the exact three lines I need for this. Rock Auto only has two listed as does Advanced Auto and AutoZone. That would lead me to believe that there are only two lines but every forum and video I look up (though there aren't many) have conflicting information about how many lines there are and none of them call the lines out by name. Can anyone help me with this? Thank you in advance.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
These are the lines:
Pressure line from pump to rack
Return line from rack to cooler
Return line from cooler to pump reservoir

The two that usually rust through and need replacing are the first two as they rust right at the top of the shock tower inside the rubber isolator. If you look at RA, they list both return lines as "gear to cooler" and "cooler to pump".
 

dfire

Active Member
Hello everyone I am brand new here. I am currently trying to finish up this return line.When trying to line up the pressure and return to the bracket that attaches to the gear I am having a lot of trouble. I think it has a lot to do with where I am running the hose down. I spent 8 hours tonight for this one hose and man am I beat. Anyways , If anyone has some useful advice I would appreciate it very much!
 
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MRRSM

Lifetime VIP Supporter
I realize that this first Video involves snaking the Hosing and Pipes around the 5.3L Engine Block... vs your 4.2L Engine... but if you follow along with what the Young Man working under the vehicle is doing to overcome the obstructions and obstacles to access and gain traction over everything he is working with... it may provide you with some additional ideas on how to approach your situation(s):


 
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dfire

Active Member
@MRRSM Yes I’ve watchen all the material I could and looked up quite a bit on this before doing the job. It took my awhile lastnight but I got everything ran and into place minus connecting to the gear. I edited my message from lastnight to make more sense😅. I normally have bad grammar but wow that looked like gibberish lol.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
I think I had to lower the R&P to allow me to insert and tighten the pipe hold down clamp on the gear.
 

dfire

Active Member
@Mooseman Thank you sir! just watched a video on that and it definitely gives you more visibility and access. One more question though and I know this isn’t the best picture but can you tell if there is a seal on the rack here? I don’t think there is but a more experienced person would know better than myself. Also they did not fall out when detaching the lines. It’s possible who ever worked on it before never installed themDC2FB103-4C24-4410-BAE1-215DB58337EB.jpeg
 
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Mooseman

Moderator
More than likely, they are there in the rack. It's a cup type seal that needs to be pulled out. Early years used a cup seal on both but then later, used an o-ring on the pressure line and a cup seal in the low pressure return. I can't remember which year was the switch but new lines come with both. If the new line came with the o-ring, use that. Instructions with the set should explain this.
 

dfire

Active Member
Yeah I have the cup style seals for the new hose. I’m picking the other one up in the morning. It’s possible the person before me installed an O ring because I was definitely getting some rubber out with the pic. The rack holes are indented so it doesn’t appear to be a cup style seal on there but now that you mention people using o rings that makes sense. Thanks for all your help!
 

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