Fitting everything in on a TJ is a tough.
It gets awfully tight in the front end. (click)
We fabricated a custom mounting bracket
that uses 3 bolts on the back side to hold the sleeve in place.
The only place we could get the Rock
Ram to work was mounting it on the drag link. It just barely
made it in there. (click)
Keeping the fluid lines out of the way
took some thought. The wire-tie seen here didn't last long.
Later, we devised a spring setup that keeps the lines up but
allows droop when needed. (click)
The AGR gear box is the same size externally
as the original box. (click)
Gear box in place.
Turning left up this crevace was child's
play with the Rock Ram on-board, taking very little effort.
The Rock Ram in action. (click)
it working out?
Thus far, the system has worked out quite well. The steering is
once again tight and has very little wander while going down the
road. At first, it was a bit scary to drive. We had so much slop
in the steering prior to installing the AGR setup that even the
most subtle movements of the steering wheel went unnoticed.
previous setup was so sloppy, we also had more than our share of
bump steer on the road. Those of you with TJ's are very familiar
with the "death wobble." In addition to the wobble, we
also had your run-of-the-mill bump steer.
The Rock Ram
has replaced our steering stabilizer. Because of this, it acts as
its own damper and absorbs most of the bumps we have encountered
on the road. We did still have some bump steer, however, our suspension's
conrtol arm caster was incorrect and the control arm bushings were
completely shot, so slop abounded. I am very confident that with
our new Skyjacker Rock Ready
suspension, these problems will vanish.
Having the hydraulic
ram, one would think that you could turn the wheel with your pinky.
This is not necessarily true. AGR's setup for the TJ uses their
smaller ram cylinder. What this does, basically, is bring your steering
back to a more "normal" or stock feel. Steering our 35's
is not much different from steering our other TJ, which is completely
stock and running 30" tires. AGR can also revalve the cylinder
to your liking and we may have them change ours to a slightly lighter
feel. If you plan on running larger than 35" tires then you
should consider a larger Rock Ram cylinder.
Of course, you're
probably wondering how it performs off-road. This is an off-road
magazine, right? We took the Project TJ to our local wheeling spot
to have some fun. What I immediately noticed was that the information
sent to me through the steering wheel was a little less discernable.
In other words, you don't get quite as much feedback from the wheel
as you do without the ram because your steering is now running the
equivalent of Popeye on spinach. However, knowing what you are doing
and the terrain over which you're doing it makes this not much of
of the Rock Ram, of course, is the ability to guide your rig over
the rocks with ease. No longer are you having to battle the wheel
to turn it. You turn the wheel and the tires go where you want them
to. If you're stuck against a rock, you can even move yourself over.
One caveat, of course, is to use your head and realize that the
possibility of breaking parts doing this does exist.
We'll continue testing the Rock Ram and AGR steering setup over
time. Long-term testing is necessary to really know how our custom
mounting work will hold up. For now, everything's working great.
As far as the custom bracketry we had to deal with goes, most TJ
owners won't have to deal with as much if they are still running
a stock or near-stock tie-rod and drag link setup. We may also consider
running a cooler on our setup if we feel it needs it.
Now for the
more technical version of what it is, courtesy of Jake Koetting...
With the number
of TJ's on the trail increasing and running bigger and bigger tires,
AGR decided to do something to help out the steering on these great
machines. The stock TJ steering leaves owners longing for more power,
especially after adding lockers, big tires, and driving in the rocks.
In the past, AGR has come to the rescue with a large piston gearbox
that increased the power to the wheels. More recently, they have
added the "Rock Ram" system to their lineup for the guys
who take rock crawling to the next level. The TJ was left out of
the super-steering race for a while, due to its small power steering
pump. Things have changed.
The stock power
steering pump in the TJ doesn't produce the flow necessary to drive
a large piston gearbox and a Rock Ram. Swapping in a larger pump
takes some fabrication skills. To solve this problem, AGR is grouping
their lower volume Rock Ram with an improved small piston (stock
size) gear box and a bolt-in pump with much more flow than stock.
The result is increased power on the rocks.
The gear box
follows the new "Tri-Bearing" design with an extra bearing
added to help stabilize the sector (output) shaft. At the other
end of the sector, the stock cast aluminum hat has been replaced
by a milled billet aluminum piece with the attaching hardware being
safety wired in place for added security and good looks. This increases
strength and rigidity, making it more difficult for the sector shaft
to move around. The main benefit here is that this design helps
eliminate some of the "slop" generally associated with
steering gear boxes, giving the AGR box a quicker response and more
The stock cast
aluminum cap at the end of the piston has also been replaced with
billet aluminum milled with the AGR logo. The box has two ports
added to the valve area to power the Rock Ram, making installation
fairly simple. The box also features an additional mounting hole
for those that wish to really anchor the box to the frame.
The pump is,
externally, the same size and bolt pattern as the stock unit. Internally,
however, it's a different ball game. This type of pump was originally
designed for use with rack and pinion steering, which requires a
much lower volume of fluid. With the pump in stock configuration,
it is marginally adequate for use with a power steering gearbox.
Adding a ram
cylinder to the stock system only magnifies the stock pump's weak
points. AGR took this pump and beefed it up with larger internals
that outflow the stocker by about 50%, from 2 gallons per minute
up to 3. In addition, they've increased the pump's output pressure
from 1350psi to 1500psi. The increased flow and pressure allows
the AGR pump to power a gearbox and Rock Ram.
What is it?
The Rock Ram is basically a hydraulic cylinder that mounts between
the axle housing and the tie rod. It gets fluid from the same valve
inside the gearbox that controls the movement of the gearbox. This
way, road feel is left intact. A purely hydraulic steering system
allows no road feel. In contrast, most farm tractors are set up
with hydraulic-only steering and are a bear to drive straight down
the road. As a side benefit, the Rock Ram acts as an excellent steering
stabilizer, helping to reduce bump steer. The Rock Ram increases
the power at the wheels by over 100%.
With this set
up, it is advisable to run a cooler for the power steering fluid.
This adds more fluid to the system and helps to remove some of the
heat that is inevitably generated running big tires in the rocks.
In addition, a smaller pump pulley can be used to increase pump
rpm and help turn the tires at idle.
The kit includes
just about everything needed for installation on Jeeps with stock
steering setups, however installing the kit does require welding.
TJ Rock Ram Kit
Rock Ram Cylinder
4 bolt 76 Case O-ring 3 inch piston (stock) TJ has 3 bolt case (extra
bolt can be drilled)
Variable 3 1/8 Turns lock to lock
Ram Fittings ported for more flow
Ram TC pump
6 foot of 5/16 blue hydraulic hose
5/8 male rod end
5/8 female rod end
2 grade 8 5/8 bolts, washers, and nylon nuts
4 mount plates
4 90 degree JIC fittings