If you’re like me, you’ve “pretzeled”
stock tie rods on your CJ. For me, the most memorable time was
at Fort Hood, Texas, quite a few years ago. Heading up “Chicken
Foot," one of the more difficult climbs there, I twisted
the rear driveshaft in two. When all the power from my 401 went
to the front tires, it actually bent the tie rod into a “U”
shape, turning both front tires inward as far as they would go!
So here I was, sitting off-camber on the side of a steep hill,
unable to turn. Not a fun time! With 3 winches and about 30 minutes
later, we finally got my CJ down the hill and out of the way so
we could replace the tie rod with the spare one I carried with
me. I mean, let’s get real…just one look at the stock
rods tells you they’re a weak point!
Stock Tie Rod
days of carrying spare tie rods are over! With the introduction
of Big Daddy’s Monster Tie Rod and Drag Link for CJs, you
should never have to worry about bending one again! Just check
out the size of these Monsters!
Tie Rod & Drag Link come with everything you need, IF you
plan to use your 3 existing tie rod ends. Otherwise, you can purchase
3 new tie rod ends and use your old tie rod and drag link as back-ups
(like you’re really going to bend one of these monsters)
or sell ‘em to someone who can't buy better quality stuff!
If you purchase
new tie rod ends, just be sure you get ones with the right threads.
(For example, the tie rod uses one right-hand threaded end and
one left-hand threaded end so you can lengthen or shorten as necessary
to adjust toe).
Drag link (TR-CJDL) retails for $99.00 and comes with the drag
link, a new tie rod end, and two jam nuts. Why only one tie rod
end? Remember, the stock CJ has one “built in” to
the drag link itself, and uses a regular tie rod end and sleeve
at the other (usually pitman arm) end to allow lengthening or
shortening to center the steering wheel and gear travel. The jam
nuts are needed since the drag link does not allow use of an adjusting
The Big Daddy
Off-Road Monster Tie Rod retails for $99.00 includes the rod,
two jam nuts, and u-bolts to allow mounting of the steering stabilizer
around this significantly larger (1 ¼”) tie rod.
It comes in two lengths: 39 ½” for narrow track CJ’s
(TR-CJ39.5), and 42 ½” for wide track CJ’s
(TR-CJ42.5). Narrow track axles were installed in CJ’s prior
to 1982, and wide tracks started in 1982 and were used through
1986. Just to be safe, if you’re not sure, get out a tape
measure and check. Many CJ’s have had axles swapped back
and forth over the years, so it’s worth taking a minute
just to be certain. The tie rod plus drag link with end as a package
retails for $169.00 (TR-CJCN/TR-CJCW).
As far as
necessary tools go, basic wrenches should suffice in most cases.
If you’re not going to try to save the old tie rod boots,
a “pickle fork” comes in real handy for removal. If
you are, a good size hammer and pry bar usually do the trick.
Either way, you’ll need a grease gun and a tube of anti-seize
get to the removal of the wimpy stuff and the installation of
the beefy Monster Tie Rod and drag link!
The first thing we have to do is remove the old tie rod and drag
link. This is pretty straight forward, but there are a few tricks
that may save time. First, remove the steering damper from the
drag link. There’s no need to remove it from the fixed end,
unless you need to replace the bushing, like we did. Then, remove
the 4 cotter pins from the tie rod end castle nuts and remove
the nuts. You can usually remove the tie rod ends by prying or
pushing down on the tie rod or drag link near the end, while at
the same time sharply hitting the edge of the knuckle (near the
hole) with a medium size hammer. This usually works unless the
end hasn’t been removed in a long time. If that fails, another
possibility is to use a torch to heat the knuckle or pitman arm
first, in an effort to expand the metal around the tie rod end
slightly and allowing you to remove it using a pry bar and your
trusty hammer. If all else fails, find yourself a pickle fork,
insert it between the knuckle and rod end, and whack it with your
hammer. This will most certainly damage the tie rod end dust boot,
but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do!
whatever you do, don’t disassemble the tie rod and drag
link assemblies, at least until you get accurate length measurements
off of them. Our best suggestion is to measure from grease zerk
to grease zerk. If you get good measurements, presuming your alignment
was correct in the first place, it should not change with the
installation of the Big Daddy Monster rods. Regardless, we do
recommend getting your alignment checked by an alignment shop
as soon as possible after installation.
using your old tie rod ends, remove them from the tie rod and
drag link. Either way, coat the threads of both new or old ends
with anti-seize compound and install the appropriate jam nuts.
A word of advise - anti-seize is very, very messy! A little goes
a long way. I always use an old throwaway rag or paper towel to
clean up the excess, otherwise it seems to end up everywhere!
the tie rod ends into your new Big Daddy rods, remembering that
two are right-hand (normal) thread and two are left-hand thread.
Thread them in equally side-to-side until the measurement from
zerk to zerk is the same as stock. Try to install both ends evenly,
so you do not have one in further than it needs to be and one
not in far enough to be used safely. Tighten the jam nuts lightly
(by hand) to maintain this length, and bolt the assemblies back
onto your Jeep.
This is where
we ran into a problem. If you’ll notice in the photo, we
decided to switch the tie rod and drag link over to the top of
the knuckles to gain more clearance by using weld-in tie rod flip
inserts from www.goferitoffroad.com.
Unfortunately, because of this and the size of the Monster Drag
Link, the tie rod end at the pitman arm would contact the Monster
Drag Link when we stuffed the left front tire. If you are using
the stock position under the knuckle, you shouldn’t experience
this concern, though. Your installation should go just fine. After
some careful evaluation and some cold refreshments, we decided
to flip the tie rod to the top of the pitman arm as well. It worked
like a charm!
Once we got the kinks worked out (because of our previous modifications,
not the Monster Rods), we were able to stuff the tires up into
the fender as far as they would go with no interference (at least
from the suspension).
As far as
testing goes, it’s like we said in the previous Rockcrawler.com
article about Big Daddy’s Steering
Box Bracket for CJs , “Ok, it’s in, but how
do we test it? We had lots of conversation about this, with ideas
like intentionally running the CJ into boulders”, etc.
of the new Big Daddy Off-Road Monster Tie Rod & Drag Link
is obviously much, much greater than the stock ones. That being
said, you may remember the way we tested the TJ version of the
Monster Tie Rod. Hooking
up a winch to the Monster Tie Rod is certainly not “real
world” but it’s a decent short-term test. Just remember,
it’s like any mechanical upgrade - you move the weak point(s)
from one place to another. Chances are you’ll never bend
or wear out Big Daddy’s “Monsters” but keep
a watch on related parts, such as rod ends, etc.
let you know if we ever bend the Monster’s, but don’t
hold your breath. Either way, because of what it would take to
bend ‘em, I’m not sure I’d want to be around
if it ever happens!
to get a Big Daddy Offroad Monster Tie for your rig?
Brinks is an avid four-wheeler and a contributor here
at ROCKCRAWLER.com. Jack resides near Dallas, TX
and frequents many events in the Southwest.
Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org