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Big Daddy Offroad
Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag Link

By Jack Brinks

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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!

Big Daddy Offroad Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag Link
Stock Tie Rod

Well, the 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!

Big Daddy Offroad Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag LinkBig Daddy Offroad Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag Link

The Monster 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).

Big Daddy Offroad Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag Link

The Monster 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 sleeve.

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 compound.

OK, let’s get to the removal of the wimpy stuff and the installation of the beefy Monster Tie Rod and drag link!

Installation:
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!

Either way, 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.

Big Daddy Offroad Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag LinkBig Daddy Offroad Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag Link

If you’re 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!

Next, thread 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.

Big Daddy Offroad Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag Link

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!

Big Daddy Offroad Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag LinkBig Daddy Offroad Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag LinkBig Daddy Offroad Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag Link

Testing:
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).

Big Daddy Offroad Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag LinkBig Daddy Offroad Monster CJ Tie Rod and Drag Link

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.

The strength 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.

We’ll 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!

Looking to get a Big Daddy Offroad Monster Tie for your rig?
Visit www.4x4rockshop.com

RESOURCE
Big Daddy Offroad
710 Greensboro Road
High Point, NC 27260
Phone: (336) 454-5707
Email: Jeep@triad.rr.com

www.bigdaddysoffroad.com

 

Jack Brinks

Jack 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.

Contact Jack at jb77cj7@aol.com

 
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